Saturday 1 September 1660

This morning I took care to get a vessel to carry my Lord’s things to the Downs on Monday next, and so to White Hall to my Lord, where he and I did look over the Commission drawn for him by the Duke’s Council, which I do not find my Lord displeased with, though short of what Dr. Walker did formerly draw for him.

Thence to the Privy Seal to see how things went there, and I find that Mr. Baron had by a severe warrant from the King got possession of the office from his brother Bickerstaffe, which is very strange, and much to our admiration, it being against all open justice.

Mr. Moore and I and several others being invited to-day by Mr. Goodman, a friend of his, we dined at the Bullhead upon the best venison pasty that ever I eat of in my life, and with one dish more, it was the best dinner I ever was at. Here rose in discourse at table a dispute between Mr. Moore and Dr. Clerke, the former affirming that it was essential to a tragedy to have the argument of it true, which the Doctor denied, and left it to me to be judge, and the cause to be determined next Tuesday morning at the same place, upon the eating of the remains of the pasty, and the loser to spend 10s.

All this afternoon sending express to the fleet, to order things against my Lord’s coming and taking direction of my Lord about some rich furniture to take along with him for the Princess.1

And talking of this, I hear by Mr. Townsend, that there is the greatest preparation against the Prince de Ligne’s a coming over from the King of Spain, that ever was in England for their Embassador.

Late home, and what with business and my boy’s roguery my mind being unquiet, I went to bed.

30 Annotations

First Reading

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

"Much to our admiration"

meaning just that they "wondered at it" (older sense) not that they "admired" it as praiseworthy.

Pepys is learning now that to rise in the world means not to rest as tranquilly as before.

But I wish I had a taste of that venison pasty.

Valerie McKnight  •  Link

I'm sure the pasty was good on Saturday, but the unrefrigerated leftovers for Tuesday - oh, dear! These were men of iron digestions, indeed.

It's interesting that even after that unsettling business news, Sam can still enjoy dining and conversing as much as ever.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

for any Imbassador
L&M substitute the word "any" for "their" thus making Mr. Townsend's assertion even broader. They go on to footnote the entry as follows: “He came as Spanish ambassador-extraordinary to congratulate Charles II on his restoration. … Thomas Townshend’s department (the Great Wardrobe) furnished Camden House (in the city) and two neighbouring homes for him”

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Prince de Ligne
per Wheatley(Braybrooke): "Charles Lamoral, Prince de Ligne, had commanded the cavalry in the Low Countries, was afterwards Viceroy of Sicily and Governor of Milan. He died at Madrid in 1679. He had married, by dispensation, his cousin Maria Clara of Nassau, widow of his brother Albert Henry, who had died without issue. In our own time his descendant, the Prince de Ligne was Ambassador Extraordinary from Belgium at the coronation of Queen Victoria.)

Paul Brewster  •  Link

essential to a tragedy to have the argument of it true
L&M explain this "At this time there was an increasing desire in some quarters for verisimilitude in drama. Ben Jonson had professed 'truth of Argument' and 'integrity of Story' as principles of tragic composition in his address 'To the reader' in Sejanus(1605). Most Restoration critics, however, were in general agreement with Thomas Rymers's assertion in 'The tragedies of the last age' (1678) that history cannot illustrate truths 'universal and eternal' as well as fiction can."

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Bickerstaffe will not be out in the cold for too long.
As a minor plot spoiler, he gets his clerkship in June 1662.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

! -- DW sure loves them!
as before a Gutenberg editorial comment

chip  •  Link

How would they keep that venison for 3 days without refrigeration? The only thing I can think of is keeping it warmer than 138 degrees farenheit so no bacteria could develop. Did the ovens have holding areas? I always assumed that before freon, they just kept a large stock pot on the back burner and threw anything in there. I have kept veal and beef stocks simmering for days and throw just about anything in there (ends of tomatoes, celery leaves, onion skins, etc.). And is Pepys saying that save one dish, this was the best meal he ever ate? If so, I wonder what that was? Surely some desert...

Mary  •  Link

The venison pasty

If The Bullhead had a really cool larder (say, on the north side of the building, equipped with a marble slab or two) and if the pasty contained enough spice, then it's by no means impossible that it should have remained edible for several days. Or perhaps there was a cool-room in the cellar? 3 days is not really so very long to keep a dish without benefit of refrigeration, provided that it is covered and kept reasonably cool. We are speaking of London, remember, not somewhere with a balmy late summer/early autumn continental climate.

Firenze  •  Link

I can remember a pre-refrigeration society, and I don't recall any greater level of digestive upsets. Rather the contrary. I think people were inured to coping with naturally occuring organisms which we, in our controlled-atmosphere, preservative-drenched, chill cabineted culture, can't.

Sam Sampson  •  Link

Yet Another Pasty Thought

Firenze, I'm still unchilled, and go along with what you say (every day). Sam's "pasty" would have been a haunch of venison doused in flour, or maybe pastry - certainly bigger than a modern pie (pasty). Three days in somewhere half-cool would be no problem.

Awww... Shucks... I'll have to break the rules and shoot another deer. A month of eating the tucker is my best record with no gut problems - or refrigeration..

Cheers - Sam

David A. Smith  •  Link

"with business and my boy's roguery my mind being unquiet”
A tough day. Sam must feel that he has dodged a bullet: here was Bickerstaffe, properly established in office (by the same bona fides as Sam himself), rudely dispossessed of it because someone else got the King’s ear. Sam now realizes, if ever he forgot, that for the nonce his station depends entirely on Montagu’s patronage and in avoiding offending any of the high and mighty. And with all that, he’s got a thieving boy whom he knows he must fire but whose firing intimidates him (because he’s never done it before, I suspect). So it is psychologically understandable that he defers grasping the nettle and instead takes refuge in merriment and epicurean delights: one wonders how many bottoms he pinched while at table ….

Paul Brewster  •  Link

the Duke's counsel
L&M use “counsel” instead of “Council”.
Back on the 25th of August 1660… , both L&M and Wheatley use “counsel” in roughly the same context. It seems to me that unless this particular occurence was written out longhand the spelling and capitalization would have been a matter of editorial choice since the appearance of both words in shorthand would have been the same. I like L&M’s choice. To modern ears, council implies a body of some sort and I don’t believe any such body was involved here. Sounds to me like it was just the Duke’s opinion or the opinion of an unnamed single consellor to the Duke that re-shaped the document.

Glyn  •  Link

from his brother Bickerstaffe,

Of course, Brer Bickerstaffe isn't his actual brother - it means 'colleague'.

Larders or pantries with marble floors would have kept food cool for a few days, but just because these people didn't have electricity doesn't mean that they weren't ingenious enough to have refrigeration.

It's probably too expensive for Pepys' private use, but aristocrats such as Montagu and large organizations such as the Admiralty Office would all have had "Ice Houses". Basically, they were small underground buildings in the shade, where winter ice was put down in between layers of straw. It was surprisingly effective, you could have your chilled wine and fruit sorbets right through the summer (if you were rich enough), as well as chilled meat (but probably too sophisticated for working city folk).

Brad W  •  Link

just because these people didn't have electricity doesn't mean that they weren't ingenious enough to have refrigeration.

True, but prior to the publication of Koch’s postulates in 1880, I’m not sure how strong the connection was in people’s minds between disease and the conditions conducive to the growth of microorganisms in food. Traditions and anecdotal evidence may have supported using salt, spices, smoking, cool temperatures or canning as ways to keep food safe longer; but nobody was sure why it worked, and as some of our correspondents have shown above, there was still the magic-sounding “strong stomach” to explain those cases when old food didn’t sicken the consumer. The myth of he strong stomach tended (and still tends) to muddy the waters, obscuring more rational explanations, like for instance a massive overgrowth of something non-infectious to humans which by chance occurred on that old doughnut that’s been under the phonograph for a month, which just happened to render it “safe” for people with “strong stomachs”.

I will say that if you ever see a botulism case you’ll think twice about culinary Russian roulette.

Erna D'haenen  •  Link

Prince de Ligne is still a name in Belgium. An eighteenth century descendant, Charles-Joseph, of the Pepys de Ligne was known as "the charmer of Europe". Of one of his numerous illegitimate children he said "Ce n'est peut-être pas une Ligne droite, mais c’est une Ligne”. My mother likes to tell about the time when she was a little girl (in the 1930’s) and the then Prince de Ligne was staying at the Castle of Beauvoorde in her village. Apparently, the whole village tiptoed about for weeks on end. These days, the de Lignes have to take in tourists, like everybody else. See…

Glyn  •  Link

Why is a Belgian a Spanish Ambassador? Is he ambassador for Belgium or for Spain? Lots of Catholics and Papists seem to be rushing to congratulate the new King, but where are the messengers from Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia?

Glyn  •  Link

And aren't we technically still at war with Spain? I think we were in Cromwell's time.

Frans  •  Link

Seeing that Charlie arrived from the Netherlands to claim his throne in England, I would think he got all his congrats before he left.

john lauer  •  Link

food preservation by chilling --
(in summary) we think was not done because of lack of knowledge of germ theory, and therefore no demand for commercial ice houses and daily delivery to consumers with 'ice boxes'. And very low demand would have correlated with very high cost.

But ice cream and sorbets and chilled wine were known and used at that time.

Humans survived for another 220 years without that understanding?! Amazing.

Mary  •  Link

The Prince de Ligne and Spain

At this date Flanders and the southern provinces of today's Netherlands were still ruled by Spain (the Spanish Netherlands), though during the 1660s the young Louis XIV of France was beginning to nibble away at these Spanish possessions and by the end of the century had extended his power to the southern borders of The Netherlands. Orange resistance to his expansionist plans was fortified from 1688 onwards by the accession to the English throne of William (of Orange) and Mary.

Nix  •  Link

! -

I doubt it is a Gutenberg "editorial" addition -- more likely a scanning error due to a spot on the page.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

I stand corrected. On a second reading of the material, it is more likely that the scan mistook a footnote superscript for an exclamation point. A quick review shows that this happens quite frequently. It seems that Wheatley for the most part only inserts exclamation points in religious exclamatory expressions (ex. God forgive me!). The rest of the occurrences in the electronic text would seem to be footnote-related scan errors. In most cases the text associated with the mistaken footnote is not inserted in the Gutenberg version. This particular "!" and the one I noted previously represent instances where the footnote was inserted and the scan error allowed to stand.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

To expand on the post of Erna D'haenen:

"Prince of Ligne is one of the most prestigious Belgian noble titles. It goes back to the eleventh century and owes its name to the village in which it originated, between Ath and Tournai. The lords of Ligne belonged to the entourage of the Count of Hainaut at the time of the crusades. They began the progressive rise in the nobility: barons in the twelfth century, counts of Fauquemberg, and princes of Épinoy in the sixteenth century. Lamoral I received from the emperor Rudolf II the titles of Prince of Ligne and Prince of the Holy Roman Empire."…

An image of the Castle of Beauvoorde…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Today Lords and Commons are in a frenzy to pass Acts prior to the King's recess of Parliament until November.

Bill  •  Link

I wonder if this talk of refrigeration and microorganisms misses the point of a pasty. Baking meat inside a pastry layer will preserve it longer than just leaving that same meat on a shelf. That pasty will taste just fine in a few days.

Tonyel  •  Link

Some years ago I pumped out the flooded cellar of an 18c farmhouse and found a channel in the stone floor which allowed spring water to trickle across. (This had got blocked - hence the flood). Judging by the hooks in the ceiling beams, this was the recognised way of preserving large amounts of food - and it was certainly damned cold, even in summer.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Remember also that this was in the middle of the Little Ice Age… when temperatures were lower than today; and in a much smaller London the heat island effect of living ion a conurbation, very obvious today, would have been minimal. So the nights would have been distinctly chillier than now even if the day, as today was, was hot: 24 C.

Digestions were also more robust and well able to handle slightly 'high' meat OK, which today would give most stomachs indigestion and loosen the bowels of some.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Here rose in discourse at table a dispute between Mr. Moore and Dr. Clerke, the former affirming that it was essential to a tragedy to have the argument of it true, which the Doctor denied, and left it to me to be judge, and the cause to be determined next Tuesday morning at the same place, upon the eating of the remains of the pasty, and the loser to spend 10s." And so, on the 4th instant, Pepys's verdict:…

Third Reading

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

The prince de Ligne, ambassador extraordinary for Spain: Just the name and title evoke pump and luxury, of the sort that bring head-shaking in taverns and even at Court, and gets you into Sam's carnet mondain. Venetian ambassador Giavarina, whose job obviously includes watching that scene closely, has been tracking Ligne for months and reported home a couple of weeks ago that "warships have already been despatched to the coasts of Flanders to fetch him, at his request" - this alone would get him on Sam's radar. Warships plural, for "[h]e comes with a large suite of over 100 persons. He brings four coaches and six, a large number of pages and lackeys and will be accompanied by a number of distinguished persons of Flanders, who are bringing their coaches and six, and liveries at their own cost, to render the embassy as splendid as possible." Giavarina's letters are at…, this one is dated September 3, new style, August 23 Pepys standard time. Ligne was expected "next week" at the time, so a bit of delay maybe.

A suite of over 100 persons! What do they even do? Most of them will probably have nothing more to do than look pretty. By definition, the court of Spain travels in style and must be awesome, but in this case there's stuff at stake. There's the port of Dunkirk, a strategic gateway to Holland that's currently in English hands and, 'tis said, available at the right price. There's Spain's interminable war with Portugal; the poor Portuguese ambassador has been angling for the king's eye ever since Charles returned - from Spanish lands, heh heh heh - and he can't afford quite so much soft power but, Giavarina also reported on September 10 (new style), "he makes very liberal offers, which extend to a marriage between the Infanta of Portugal and this king" - that will never work, the wags say, "with a most extensive dowry in Brazil, the East Indies and some port in Portugal itself". "Portugal" did meet Charles in July, but on 30 July (n.s.) Giavarina passed on gossip that "he paid 10,000l. sterling to the grandees of the Court to smoothe the way". Surely an exaggeration, but not a surprise either; the court's gotta catch up on 11 years of not getting bribed. We doubt, however, if the prince de Ligne will have to do anything quite so gross.

And finally, there's England's demobilization of much of its army and navy. As soon as he got this news, Giavarina reacted with "if the most serene republic wants troops this will be an excellent opportunity for getting as many as she requires". He puts the loot at 10,000 men, "all good veteran troops [who] would be glad to serve her in the war with the Ottoman". Well, maybe, but since legally they cannot serve forreigne princes, the king must approve. Spain surely has its eye on that as well, either to get them, or to steer them as far from Portugal - aye, to Venice, why not - as possible.

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