Monday 26 November 1660

(Office day). To it all the morning, and dined at home where my father come and dined with me, who seems to take much pleasure to have a son that is neat in his house. I being now making my new door into the entry, which he do please himself much with.

After dinner to the office again, and there till night. And that being done the Comptroller and I to the Mitre to a glass of wine, when we fell into a discourse of poetry, and he did repeat some verses of his own making which were very good.

Home, there hear that my Lady Batten had given my wife a visit (the first that ever she made her), which pleased me exceedingly. So after supper to bed.

26 Annotations

First Reading

vincent  •  Link

'tis nice SP and his father are socializing now{Mama is with stone}
and His wife meets with approval. One can feel the pride reflected.

Mary  •  Link

"and there till night"

(For overseas readers). He's not necessarily working very late; sunset in London this week is shortly before 1600h, so night arrives early. This will move steadily earlier until mid-December, when it will set at 15.52. Sunrise at present occurs at 07.40h and in mid-December will reach 07.50h before the days start lengthening again.

Roger Arbor  •  Link

"Neat in his house".... Funny, I always considered Sam to be a tidy man, invariably complaining when things are not laid out to his liking. A compulsive obsessive... bringing order out of chaos. Rather a summary of his life in the service of the Royal Navy; he certainly left it in rather a better state than he found it.

Mary  •  Link


In this instance would mean 'refined' or 'elegant'. cf Ben Jonson, 1601: 'a neate, fine street'; 'a neat and commodious mansion-house' described in the Gazetteer of Scotland, 1806.

vincent  •  Link

"neat". Still use this form for refined, marked as tasteful simplicity; glad ` it did not mean bovine

Linda Camidge  •  Link

Isn't (or wasn't there once) an Americanism - "that's really neat" - with similar meaning?

And re sunrise - it actually carries on getting later, cruelly, until early January. January mornings are darker than December mornings. Which has nought to do with Pepys, I know.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

"a son that is neat in his house"

NEAT clean, trim, cleanly and tightly dressed, clever.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Bill  •  Link

Linda, actually the latest sunrise in London will be at 8:06am every day from Dec. 26, 2013 to Jan. 4, 2014 so January mornings aren't darker than December's. (The shortest day is, of course, Dec. 20.)

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

To expand on Bill's point, because the Earth is close to it's January perihelion, Kepler's second law means that, in the northern hemisphere, solar days are longer than the average 24 hours close to the winter solstice, so astronomical noon moves a little forward each day. At London's latitude, the earliest sunset is around 10th December, and the latest sunrise is around the 31st/1st January, with the actual shortest day in the middle.

In Pepys time this would have been about 10 days later, because Britain still used the Julian Calendar.…

Kepler's laws and Descartes' methods helped Pepys' mate Newton come up with his theory of gravity.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Errgh - got it wrong: it would have been about 10 days EARLIER according to the calendar. The "October" revolution occurred in Julian November; Julian Christmas is in Gregorian January. The Julian calendar was a remarkable achievement, but it slightly over-estimated the solar year, meaning that the calendar was slowly moving out of sync with the seasons.

So all the seasons would have started about 10 days earlier in Pepys' time, so he's closer to midwinter and the solstice than we are!

Bill  •  Link

Sasha, no problem, we always appreciate someone who explains science to us. Thanks. And back to Linda and my comment about the latest sunrise. If it occurs today around Jan.1 (Gregorian) then in Pepys' time it would have occurred on January 11 (Julian). Linda is right (the latest sunrise in 1660/61 London occurs in January) because I forgot about the Julian/Gregorian calendar mismatch.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

In a course I took recently, I cursed my tutor (mentally) for the multiple errata, and then the errata to the errata. Well, hoist by my own petard, my corrected correction is "The (Julian) October revolution occurred in Gregorian November ..."

Let E be an astronomical event, such as a solstice; let t(E) be its date in the Julian calendar, and let T(E) be its date in the Gregorian calendar. Then, in Pepys' time, t(E) = T(E) - 10, or T(E) = t(E) +10.

So, for Pepys, an event such as the winter solstice occurs around Dec 21st - 10 = December 11th. And "today" in Pepys diary, corresponds to 26th November +10 = 6th December in OUR (Gregorian) calendar.

However, for a fixed CALENDAR date such as Christmas, C in the Gregorian calendar and c in the Julian, then T(c) = T(C) + 10, or t(C) = t(c) - 10.

So, England would have celebrated Christmas 10 days later than the Catholic countries. By 1752, when Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar, the difference was 11 days: now it's 13. Russian Orthodox Christmas is currently celebrated on January 7th.

Bill  •  Link

It was my mathematical hubris, not Sasha, that caused my seemingly intractable conundrum. Astronomical events happened earlier in Pepys' calendar than in Rome's, and Rome's is the one we use today. So my original statement is also true for Rome in Pepys' time but, by his calendar, those latest sunrise dates would be Dec.16 to Dec.25, 1660. December had the darkest mornings for him too.

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

""a son that is neat in his house"

NEAT clean, trim, cleanly and tightly dressed, clever.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675."

I still use neat in that respect as in "I like my whisky (and whiskey, too) neat" so it survives. Today's bartender's tend not to understand though, in the US at least.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

I'm a mathematician Bill, but I also suffer from mathematical hubris - welcome to the club! :D

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘neat, adj. A. adj. I. Senses relating to elegance, smartness, etc.
1. a. Of a thing, a place, etc.: characterized by an elegance of form or arrangement, with freedom from unnecessary additions or embellishments; of agreeable but simple appearance; finely made or proportioned; well-formed. Also as n. Now freq. coinciding with sense A. 4b. In early use the handsomeness of the thing appears to be the more prominent idea; later the notions of simple elegance or regularity of form predominate.
. . 1602 B. Jonson Poetaster iii. i. 30 Here's a most neate fine streete; is't not?
1630 M. Godwin tr. F. Godwin Ann. Eng. i. 113 Hampton Court, the neatest pile of all the King's houses.
1674 in C. R. Lounsbury Illustr. Gloss. Early Southern Archit. & Landscape (1994) 240 A neat Coffin of Black walnutt . .

. . 4. b. Put or kept in good order; trim, tidy.
. . a1616 Shakespeare Taming of Shrew (1623) iv. i. 102 Now my spruce companions, is all readie, and all things neate?
1673 J. Ray Observ. Journey Low-countries 427 At Switz..the people..keep their houses neat and cleanly, and withal very polite and in good repair . . ‘

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Since Pepys is buried in paperwork at the office today, he's oblivious to some arrests being made around town:

After the Restoration, Praise-God Barebone was looked upon with a jealous eye, and on Nov. 26, 1661, was apprehended, together with Major John Wildman and committed prisoner to the Tower, where he was confined for some time.

On the meeting of parliament early in the following year, the Lord Chancellor thought fit to alarm the house with the noise of plots and conspiracies, and enumerated the names of several persons whom he reported to be engaged in traitorous designs against the government.
Among these were Major Wildman, Major Hains, Alderman Ireton, Mr. Praise-God Barebone, &c.

How far the charge against these persons was substantiated, or whether it was only a political engine of government to get rid of suspected individuals, we will not take upon us to say. Certain it is, that Mr. Barebone had now to contend with the strong arm of the civil power, which was directed with all the acrimony of party prejudice against persons of his stamp.


This article says James Harrington was also arrested in November, but many other accounts say he was not arrested until after Christmas, so I've removed that piece of info from the above version.

David G  •  Link

The prior commentators did not mention the Comptroller’s verses, which Sam apparently enjoyed. Curious as to what they were like, I checked some compilations of Restoration verse and ran a Google search but found nothing written by Slingsby. Before I research him at our local university library, does anyone know offhand whether any of Slingsby’s verses survived?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In the House of Lords today:

Order to prevent Robberies and Disorders in London, &c.
The House being informed of the great Disorder in London and Westm. and the Countries adjacent, and of the great Robberies and Murders as are daily committed:
It is ORDERED, That the Lord Chancellor do acquaint the Lord Chief Justice of England with this Information; and desire him to send to the Lord Mayor of London, and the Justices in the several Countries adjacent, to take special Order, by keeping strict Watches, and other lawful Means, to prevent these Disorders.

But the Commons appear to be unaware of any unusual activities.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Sorry, David G., I know nothing of Slingsby being a poet worthy of reprinting. Maybe a manuscript in a library somewhere ...? But probably not. Good luck hunting -- you never know what the Google librarian will turn up.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"After the Restoration, Praise-God Barebone was looked upon with a jealous eye, and on Nov. 26, 1661, was apprehended, ..."

I should read my own annotation -- this is next year! Sorry everyone!!!

Angela Framptona  •  Link

David G, San Diego Sarah, I found this article on JSTOR: The Restoration Poets and Their Father King by Larry Carver, published in Huntingdon Library Quarterly, Vol 40, No 4 (Aug 1977) pp 332-351. A ‘Slingsby’ is mentioned - Slingsby Bethel - but he seems to have been a politician rather than a poet, so possibly a different Slingsby.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

According to several sources, Slingsby Bethel (1619 - 1697)'s mother's maiden name was Slingsby -- so he could have been a cousin or in-law of the Controller. He was a Parliamentarian, but more radical than our Col. Robert Slingsby:

"... As MP for Knaresborough in 1659, he opposed Richard Cromwell’s attempt to succeed his father as Protector. He also opposed Gen. Monck and the Restoration (1660).
He moved to Rotterdam, communicated with the English republican exiles around Edmund Ludlow in Switzerland, and plotted an uprising in England with Algernon Sidney and others.
The revolutionaries were divided, a division deepened by Bethel’s attack on Cromwell in his first major pamphlet, The World’s Mistake in Oliver Cromwell (1668).
His second was The Present Interest of England stated (1671).

When revolutionary tactics changed in the mid 1670s, Bethel returned to England. He published his third main work, The Interest of the Princes and States of Europe (1680).

Sidney helped him become elected as one of two Sheriffs of London (1680).
To be eligible for office, Bethel had to take the Anglican sacrament. His willingness to do so, coupled with the partisan and frugal manner in which he conducted himself in office, drew criticism from royalists and moderate Whigs.

He was satirized as ‘Shimei’ in John Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel (1681).
Gilbert Burnet noted he ‘was a man of knowledge, and had writ a very judicious book of the interests of Princes: But as he was a known republican in principle, so he was a sullen and wilful man; and turned from the ordinary way of a Sheriff’s living into the extream of sordidness’.

Bethel’s ‘sordidness’ included packing juries, brutality, suborning witnesses, frugality, and assault and battery.
He defended himself in The Vindication of Slingsby Bethel Esq. (1681).

In the royalist reaction of 1682, he fled to Hamburg and the United Providences. In his absence, he was convicted of riot and assault and fined heavily in 1683.

Abroad, Bethel returned to revolutionary plotting with other exiled Whigs, including Locke. He was excluded from those pardoned by James II in 1687, and returned to England only after the 1688 Revolution.

In 1689, the House of Lords reversed his conviction.

His last public office seems to have been on a committee preparing regulations for the Bank of England.

Bethel was one of the earliest English exponents of continental European interest theory.
Drawing on Machiavelli, Harrington and Pieter de la Court, Bethel analyzed politics in terms of hierarchies of domestic and foreign ‘interests’. England’s over-riding domestic interest was trade.
From this he argued for republicanism and toleration.
England’s overriding foreign interest was maintaining the balance of power. From this he argued for a Dutch alliance against France.

There's more at…

David G  •  Link

I have not located any verses by Robert Slingsby, but I did find a book that he published in 1660: A Discourse of the Navy, 1660, / by Sir Robert Slyngesbie. A copy is available on line at and hard copies are in the Harvard Library and the New York Public Library. When I then put "Robert Slyngesbie" into Google, I got many hits for vendors selling copies of the book, including, bizarrely, Walmart, but nothing further about poetry.

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