Sunday 26 February 1659/60

(Sunday). My brother went to the College to Chapel. My father and I went out in the morning, and walked out in the fields behind King’s College, and in King’s College Chapel Yard, where we met with Mr. Fairbrother, who took us to Botolph’s Church, where we heard Mr. Nicholas, of Queen’s College, who I knew in my time to be Tripos,1 with great applause, upon this text, “For thy commandments are broad.” Thence my father and I to Mr. Widdrington’s chamber to dinner, where he used us very courteously again, and had two Fellow Commoners at table with him, and Mr. Pepper, a Fellow of the College. After dinner, while we sat talking by the fire, Mr. Pierces man came to tell me that his master was come to town, so my father and I took leave, and found Mr. Pierce at our Inn, who told us that he had lost his journey, for my Lord was gone from Hinchingbroke to London on Thursday last, at which I was a little put to a stand. So after a cup of drink I went to Magdalene College to get the certificate of the College for my brother’s entrance there, that he might save his year. I met with Mr. Burton in the Court, who took me to Mr. Pechell’s chamber, where he was and Mr. Zanchy. By and by, Mr. Pechell and Sanchy and I went out, Pechell to Church, Sanchy and I to the Rose Tavern, where we sat and drank till sermon done, and then Mr. Pechell came to us, and we three sat drinking the King’s and his whole family’s health till it began to be dark. Then we parted; Sanchy and I went to my lodging, where we found my father and Mr. Pierce at the door, and I took them both and Mr. Blayton to the Rose Tavern, and there gave them a quart or two of wine, not telling them that we had been there before. After this we broke up, and my father, Mr. Zanchy, and I to my Cosen Angier to supper, where I caused two bottles of wine to be carried from the Rose Tavern; that was drunk up, and I had not the wit to let them know at table that it was I that paid for them, and so I lost my thanks for them. After supper Mr. Fairbrother, who supped there with us, took me into a room by himself, and shewed me a pitiful copy of verses upon Mr. Prinn which he esteemed very good, and desired that I would get them given to Mr. Prinn, in hopes that he would get him some place for it, which I said I would do, but did laugh in my sleeve to think of his folly, though indeed a man that has always expressed great civility to me. After that we sat down and talked; I took leave of all my friends, and so to my Inn, where after I had wrote a note and enclosed the certificate to Mr. Widdrington, I bade good night to my father, and John went to bed, but I staid up a little while, playing the fool with the lass of the house at the door of the chamber, and so to bed.

44 Annotations

First Reading

JR  •  Link

Who Prinn? The Heir of Charlecote arrived today from An Eye for Books in Dublin. Thanks to whoever recommended it...

Keith Wright  •  Link

If the Tripos "speeches, especially after the Restoration, tended to be boisterous, and even scurrilous," as the footnote says, then that of "Mr. Nicholas . . . who I knew in my time to be Tripos, with great applause, upon this text, 'For thy commandments are broad,'" demonstrates again the change in the atmosphere at Magdalene.
Given the neutrality of his tone, any judgment on whether Pepys relishes or regrets the alterations perhaps tells us as much about each reader as about our author.

Keith Wright  •  Link

PS: Of course, his Sunday behavior thereafter---no sermons, and a positively Boswellian consumption of drink---shows another side of Sam's off-duty, out-of-town character.

crouchback  •  Link

is this the first outright reference to the old hanky-panky by our boy sammy ? i've been reading every day and can't recall off the top of my head.

language hat  •  Link

"put to a stand":
stopped in my tracks, set back on my heels

stand (OED):
5 a A state of checked or arrested movement; a standstill; spec., the rigid attitude assumed by a dog on finding game. Chiefly in the phrases to be at a stand, to come to a stand, to bring or put to a stand.

1649 Cromwell in Carlyle Lett. & Sp. (1850) II. 243 He could reach them with nothing but his horse, hoping to put them to a stand until his foot came up. 1698 Fryer Acc. E. India & P. 10 The Winds shrank upon us from off the Coast of Ginea.. and had left us at a stand. 1774 Goldsm. Hist. Greece I. 139 Nor could he ever be persuaded to believe.. that at the first pass he came to, his whole army would be put to a stand.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Precisely Keith Wright, a point I thought I had made through inferences in my own lengthy interpretation of the atmospherics at Cambridge...also in today's entry, we can see from Montague's sudden, unannounced departure for London that political events are about to reveal great advances and reversals in various men's fortunes...

After Sam hears of Montague's hastening to London, my reading of the rest of the diary entry is that Sam is distracted and wants to be back in London as soon as possible.

What is the precise meaning of Sam's characterisation of his attitude upon hearing that his lord has left Hinchinbrooke for the City: " which I was a little put to a stand."

Does this translate as puzzled, surprised, flummoxed, alarmed, annoyed, worried?

language hat  •  Link

Whatever you think of his morals, you have to admire the rhythmic brio of "playing the fool with the lass of the house at the door of the chamber"!

Nix  •  Link

Samuel might have been "put to a stand" -- but he was not so upset that he dashed back to London to see (and be seen by) Montague. Instead he goes out for some fairly serious toping: a cup of drink before afternoon services, then drinking at the Rose until the sermon's done, then toasting the king's health until dark, then helping to put away a couple of bottles of wine at supper. I would have been snoring in the corner before the final toast. I can report that college reunions haven't changed much in 343 years!

Dave Bell  •  Link

"Thursday last", when Sam's boss left Hinchinbrooke for London, was the day before Sam left for Cambridge, and it's likely that Sam left London only an hour or two before his boss arrived.

We might guess that Sam is a bit embarrassed by this, maybe a little reluctant to travel on a Sunday, but will he set off for London tomorrow, or wait to see if a message might come with instructions?

Derek  •  Link

Mr Prinn: I'm assuming this is the same Mr Prinn (or Prin or Prynne) referred to in the 21st February entry.

See Paul's note on him at…

Derek  •  Link

Mr Nicholas' text for Tripos was from Psalm 119 verse 96:

'I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.'
(King James Bible)

Alan Bedford  •  Link

“For thy commandments are broad” does not appear to have been the text of the Tripos oration, but the text of the Sunday morning sermon which he preached at St. Botolph’s. Sam’s intent seems to be overcome by some of his run-on sentences.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

The editor's footnote is instructive, but perhaps a little elliptical for American readers who may not have heard the term before. The Tripos, a term specific to Cambridge University, is a comprehensive honors exam, originally in mathematics but then extended to other fields as well. I first came across the term in a biography (autobiography?) of Bertrand Russell, who of course was one of those who aced this exam. The OED explains that the Tripos list, a list of those who have just successfully passed the exam, was until 1894 printed on the same sheet as the humorous verses composed by the Tripos, the officially appointed humorist that Sam refers to. The word comes from the 3-legged stool (tri-pos) on which the Tripos sat. The exam and the list survive, I believe (there are no doubt people reading this who know for sure), but apparently the university no longer gives official sanction to the humorous disputant and versifier, perhaps because of the "scurrilous" manner in which some Triposes fulfilled the duties of their office. Too bad.

language hat  •  Link

For Americans unfamiliar with the term, it should be noted that this is a final honors examination at Cambridge; the name is pronounced "TRY-poss" (it's singular, not plural) and is a modification of Latin tripus 'three-legged' (referring to the stool occupied by a participant in a disputation at the degree ceremonies).

language hat  •  Link

Blast you, Paul!
But at least I provided extra help with pronunciation...

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Just reporting what EVELYN said ...

. . . so don't any Cambridge alums/students/fellows/partisans get mad at ME, but on 1 September 1654, the year Pepys graduated from Magdalene, John Evelyn (who didn't know Pepys then) visited Cambridge and generally badmouthed the place, including the churches. Here's part of that day's diary entry:

"The Schooles are very despicable, & publique Librarie but meane . . . The Mercat [Market?] place of Chambridg is very ample and remarkable for old Hobsons the pleasant Carriers beneficence of a fountaine: But the whole Towne situated on a low dirty unpleasant place, the streetes ill paved, the aire thick, as infested by the fenns; nor are its Churches (of which St. Maries is the best) anything considerable in compare to Oxford which is doubtlesse the noblest Universitie now in the whole World."

Did I mention that Evelyn was an Oxford man . . . ?

James Casey  •  Link

Just to confirm that the exams at Cambridge are still referred to as the Tripos.

Andrea  •  Link

"but did laugh in my sleeve to think of his folly"

good old Sam can be really mean... i love this entry today - it gives a quite personal insight to his character. Like a little schoolboy he is not telling his dad that he had been at the Rose Tavern before. Surely he must be smelling of beer and smoke.

Alan  •  Link

Sam really is a cheapie. He gets well into his cups at the Rose, gets a second crew together and gets deeper into his cups and then complains that because they were so drunk no one noticed he paid and he lost his thanks, his big opportunity. Well, I suppose the same could happen today when needy alumnists go back to college.

tamara  •  Link

JR: it was me
who recommended the Heir of Charlecote. It's so cool that you actually went out and found it! I hope my memory of it isn't overly rosy, but I remember rereading it repeatedly at about the age of 12. Hope it's fun.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

"Hobson's choice"

"Hobson the pleasant carrier" mentioned by Evelyn was a well-known character at Cambridge and Milton wrote a couple of poems about him.

Here's a brief reference:

'Hobson was eighty-six when he died [1631] and he had served the university for over sixty years by driving a regular coach between The Bull, a London inn, and the University, carrying students, guests, letters, and sometimes parents. He also hired out horses. The expression "Hobson's choice" originated as a sarcastic reference to Hobson's insistence that anyone hiring a horse must "choose" the one closest to the stable door.'

Brian  •  Link

Heir of Charlecote? I assume this is a reference to a written work. I tried my local (USA) library’s catalog but came up empty. Can anyone supply the author’s name.

PS - I found this site through a very small article in the New York Times. Reading Sam’s work (and the annotations) has become part of my daily ritual. Absolutley loved the ‘Happy Birthday’ annotations a few days back.

Emilio  •  Link

More on Hobson
Let me add that Hobson followed his famous policy not out of stinginess but out of concern for his horses - people knew which horses were the fastest and would choose them over and over again if given the chance. To keep his horses from wearing out, he would put each at the back of the stable as it was returned, meaning the one nearest the door was always the best rested.
Milton wrote the poems on Hobson during his own school days, and they're actually some of my favorites of his work. They're punning and quite fun to read, and they also say a lot about the affection that Milton and the other students had for the man. They also prove, contrary to popular expectation, that Milton did have a sense of humor. Here's the link for the second poem, called "Another on the Same":

mw  •  Link

Andrea, you are so right! I'm fascinated by his self perception grounded on honesty, I often think Sam's suitability as a person for trust and responsibility is based on this virtue. Sam's love of the all things sensual appears to be fundamental to his virtue. Perhaps it is a historical perspective but he appears to be relativily unaware of what he is "doing" to himself. All the better for Sam.

gerry  •  Link

the "Heir of Charlecote" is by Mark Dallow. There are a number of copies available at

Keith Wright  •  Link

It seems to me that Pepys could be considered mean to Fairbrother only if he laughed in the man’s face, over the latter’s ham-handed attempt to ingratiate himself with Prinn. Instead, he has the presence of mind to remember that Fairbrother has always treated him “civilly,” and returns the favor, as a worldly man ought, reserving his frankness for the Diary. Perhaps, behind this restraint, is the recognition that Pepys himself tries to improve his standing with others (thus his regret over losing the “credit” for having stood for two bottles of anonymous wine)---and the worldly knowledge that there’s always someone who can look down and laugh at you as you clamber up the greasy pole.
---Which doesn’t prevent the whole entry from being a great example of the social comedy still going on three-plus centuries later.

Pauline  •  Link

Keith hits the nail
on its head.

Jackie  •  Link

With regards to the pitiful verses - how many of us have not bitten our tongues (while chuckling inwardly) when a friend has shown us some dreadful doggrel or story which they have composed and seem to believe has literary merit when all of the evidence is against?

Sam's response is very much as many of us would do if some friend, having massacred a song at karaoke asks us seriously if we think they've got a chance to make it as a professional singer!

Glyn  •  Link

where we sat and drank till sermon done

Andrea and mw are so right about this entry - it's infuriatingly typical of the man. He can't find a pub in London to drink in when he should be at he Sunday sermon but has no problem finding one in Cambridge - he then doesn't tell his father but has the bravado to take his father back in the afternoon. Is he still acting like a naughty boy with his father, or would the father not mind. I have the feeling that Pepys mother was more strict than his father, but have no evidence for that.

Seriously, should we worried by Samuel's alcoholic intake. We know that Londoners tended to eat out a lot in these years (many were migrants to the city with few cooking facilities, so it was easier) Pepys is in his 20s and enjoying himself; and working irregular hours and networking, but still.

You would think that he would spend more evenings at home with his wife to save money (eating those pigeons he's rearing). Or at least take his wife Elizabeth to a tavern occasionally (there was no stigma on wives going to taverns with their husbands). How loving is this marriage?

Perhaps David Quidnunc or someone else of a mathematical nature could go through February's entries and let us know how much wine and beer Pepys consumed. But he seems not to drink whisky or other spirits.

Pauline  •  Link

Let's cut him some slack, Glyn
He's having a reunion back at his old college as well as settling his brother in as a new student and introducing his father around. He's an adult; he makes his own way. Whether he attends a sermon or not is his own choice, there is no "should" about it.

Maybe he feels he is neglecting his father and so doesn't say he has already been to the Rose Tavern; maybe he feels he is drinking more than he wants his father to know or spending more money than he wants his father to know. Whatever the reason, I'd say it is within the bounds of how an adult child behaves when traveling with a parent. Sam is no shining saint of a man; he gets to be who he is.

michael f vincent  •  Link

Pub is not a bar: For many people pre t.v., it was the living room for socialising,not sitting at home with a computer etc.. There were p.houses at every road crossing, market place .
People liked getting to-gether in a rookery and jaw. We just have diferent tools today but our true natures have not really changed. Unfortunately Pubs are dissapearing One village I know about had 5 pubs , the population has grown and there is only one left (barely).

Keir Finlow-Bates  •  Link

Is there a chance that the Rose Tavern mentioned is the building on Trumpington Street opposite Peterhouse? It's an old inn-like building that used to be called 'The Little Rose', and was taken over by the Loch Fyne company a few years ago. Also, does anyone know where the Three Tuns (mentioned yesterday) might have been?

Nigel Pond  •  Link

Re Tripos

Whereas at Oxford, final exams are referred to as "Schools" an abbreviation for "Final Honours School of ......" (Jurisprudence in my case).

Keir Finlow-Bates  •  Link

The Rose Tavern could also be the Rose and Crown Inn that was situated on what is now known as Rose Crescent. This would make more sense, as it lies between Lion Yard (and the Falcon where Pepys was staying) and Magdalene College, whereas the Little Rose would have been a bit out of the way.

Second Reading

John King  •  Link

Sam's first extra marital affair as recorded in the diary.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Sam's first extra marital affair as recorded in the diary." -- I hope you're not serious. Flirting isn't cheating.

Pepys running from London service to service, denomination to denomination, and inn to ordinary, is all part of his information-gathering activities for Downing and Montagu. When he gets to Puritan Cambridge and finds his friends toasting the return of the King, he can relax for the first time in months/years. He's as tired of politics-masquerading-as-religion, and impressed farmers being used by both sides as cannon fodder, and then not paid for their sacrifices, as anyone/everyone. He sees it up close every day. Elizabeth doesn't need to play politics, and he never breathes a word of reproach about her rarely going to church.

Nothing's changed: I am often struck by how rowdy and drunk some young people are on vacation.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Gossip is charming! History is merely gossip. But scandal is gossip made tedious by morality." -- Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Don't you think Pepys and much of the population of England was ready to get away from the tedium of morality?

Their "bad" behavior for the next decade or two was as much political as rebellious. Like violent suffragettes, the Black Panthers and the Soweto riots, when people stand up to authority, and authority doesn't give way, the results are messy. As armchair observers, we can cluck in judgment, especially when that authority claimed that morality, and God, was on their side and threw the Bible in the face of every challenger.

The drank and swore and swived because they could.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"So after a cup of drink I went to Magdalene College to get the certificate of the College for my brother’s entrance there, that he might save his year. "

L&M: John, admitted to Magdalene in June 1659, had transferred to Christ's before taking up residence. /he would be allowed to count the term as part of his period of residence: D. A. Winstanley, Unreformed Cambridge, p.42.

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

Paul Chapin, 2003: "the 3-legged stool (tri-pos) on which the Tripos sat"

Reminds me that today, aspiring humorists performing in comedy clubs still use a stool (more often four-legged) as their single and essential piece of stage furniture.

More, from the university library, on the origins and evolution of the word term tripos and the role of the Tripos on the stool:…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Mr. Pierce at our Inn, who told us that he had lost his journey, for my Lord was gone from Hinchingbroke to London on Thursday last,"

Here's a puzzle: Why had Pearse "lost his journey"?

On February 22, "to Will’s, where Mr. Pierce found me out, and told me that he would go with me to Cambridge, where Colonel Ayre’s regiment, to which he was surgeon, lieth."…

Col. William Eyre MP of Neston, Wiltshire (fl. 1642–1660), was a parliamentarian army officer and politician. On 29 November 1648 Capt. William Eyre was returned as the Member of Parliament for Chippenham.
Capt. William Eyre was admitted to the Rump Parliament on 15 January 1649. At the end of the Protectorate, the restored Rump commissioned Capt. William Eyre colonel of a regiment of foot previously commanded by John Lambert.…...

James Pearse, Surgeon, gained his Commission in Col. Eyre's Regiment on January 31, 1660…

If Lambert/Eyre's regiment had marched to London after Montagu (or Lambert), Pearse and Pepys would have crossed paths with them on their journey.

I guess Pepys was in his cups again when he wrote this narrative, and confused his thoughts in the telling??? I have not found a history of Eyre/Lambert's regiment at that time; Lambert usually had the best troops.

john  •  Link

Apologies if the following on the Tripos is too recent.

Wooden spoons
At the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century a wooden spoon was presented to the student at the bottom of the examination class list of the Mathematical Tripos. Examinations were tough in those days. In one year, there were 36 hours of examinations. The Senior Wrangler scored 16,368 out of a possible 33,541, and the candidate who received the wooden spoon scored a princely 247. Fortunately, the heroic era of the Tripos is long gone.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"After dinner, while we sat talking by the fire, Mr. Pierce’s man came to tell me that his master was come to town, so my father and I took leave,"

The obvious has just occurred to me: Surgeon James Pearse's "master" must be the elusive Col. William Eyre MP. Duh!

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