Sunday 30 December 1660

(Lord’s day). Lay long in bed, and being up, I went with Will to my Lord’s, calling in at many churches in my way. There I found Mr. Shepley, in his Venetian cap, taking physique in his chamber, and with him I sat till dinner.

My Lord dined abroad and my Lady in her chamber, so Mr. Hetly, Child and I dined together, and after dinner Mr. Child and I spent some time at the lute, and so promising to prick me some lessons to my theorbo he went away to see Henry Laws, who lies very sick.

I to the Abby and walked there, seeing the great confusion of people that come there to hear the organs. So home, calling in at my father’s, but staid not, my father and mother being both forth.

At home I fell a-reading of Fuller’s Church History till it was late, and so to bed.

19 Annotations

First Reading

Joe  •  Link

Anyone care to guess what Will's diary entry for today might look like?
Would he just sit and wait for his master in the kitchens, or would he go off on other errands?

SQ  •  Link

Anyone knows what was meant by "taking physique"?

vincent  •  Link

My guess:" Will rites: bin here over 6 months, no raise, seen in side more churches, enough to last a life time. I' ve lit the way, tasted goose and udder, The Mrs is nice, and that girl has not given me a peck but me ears are aked, yet oh! well"
just a thort.

vincent  •  Link

"..taking physique.." Ugh! taking a concoction like Daffy's Elixir [still the rage even 1929] a quote of a quote Restoration London Liza Picard P. 92 "... preparing and the administration of phisick to the poore......"

Ruben  •  Link

"taking physique"
is a nice way to say "taking a purgative": drinking or eating a substance that have the effect to empty the bowels.
A way considered to clean or purify your "humours" that were "disturbed" by eating or drinking who knows what, or because you felt ill or weak.
In conclusion: superstition still around us.

SQ  •  Link

...taking physique...
It seems that one needed to stay in after "taking physique". Back in 15 January 1659/60, Sam wrote that "I slept late, and then in the morning took physic, and so staid within all day." Today Sam sat all morning with Shepley who "took physique". Emptying of the bowels would explain whay they had to stay in. Many of the substances taken were no doubt toxic?

Robert Hooke took many toxic substances which made him very sick.

Ruben  •  Link

taking physique
Read Evelyn's description of the way King Charles II was treated some years later. That was the thing to do those days.
They knew nothing about dehidration (one of the consequences of "taking physique") or other nasty effects of a purgue.
They treated the body like we treat a carburator: if it does not work well, lets clean it.

Ruben  •  Link

Evelyn's account on how the King made it to Heaven in spite of the excellent treatment he received:
February 1985: I went to Lond, hearing his Majestie had ben the moneday before surpriz’d in his bed chamber with an Apoplectical fit, & so, as if by Gods providence, Dr. King (that excellent chirurgeon as well as Physitian) had not ben accidentaly present [to let him bloud] (with his lancet in his pocket) his Majestie had certainely died that moment, which might have ben of direfull consequence, there being no body else with the King save this doctor & one more, as I am assured: It was a mark of the extraordinary dexterity, resolution, & presentnesse of Judgment in the Doctor to let him bloud in the very paroxysme, without staying the coming of other physitians, which regularly should have ben don, & the not doing so, must have a formal pardon as they tell me: This rescued his Majestie for that instant, but it prov’d onely a reprieve for a little time; he still complain’d & was relapsing & often fainting & sometimes in Epileptical symptoms ’til Wednesday, for which he was cupp’d, let bloud againe in both jugularies, had both vomit & purges &c: which so relieved him, that on the Thursday hops of recovery were signifiedin the publique Gazett; but that day about noone the Physitians conjectur’d him somewhat feavorish; This they seem’d glad of, as being more easily alaied, & methodicaly to be dealt with, than his former fits, so as they prescrib’d the famous Jesuits powder; but it made his Majestie worse; and some very able Doctors present, did not think it a feavor, but the effect of his frequent bleeding, & other sharp operations used by them about his head: so as probably the Powder might stop the Circulation, & renew his former fitts, which now made him very weake:
Thus he pass’d Thursday night with greate difficulty, when complaining of a paine in his side, the drew 12 ounces more of blood from him, this was by 6 in the morning on friday, & it gave him reliefe, but it did not continue; for being now in much paine & strugling for breath, he lay doz’d, & after some conflicts, the Physitians desparing of him, he gave up the Ghost at halfe an houre-after Eleaven in the morning, being the 6 of Feb: in the 36t yeare of his reigne, & 54 of his age:

J A Gioia  •  Link

physic and the stone

for those remarking a while back at the apparent prevalence of kidney stones in that era; if in addition to the salt and chalk in the diet we add the dehydrating properties of the widespread application of laxitives, one wonders if most people in london didn't rattle when they walked.

Tom Carr  •  Link

"taking a physique"
In the 1970's my grandmother here in the USA would give us children a “physic” if we exhibited signs of being unwell. It was usually in the form of Milk of Magnesia (Magnesium Citrate). Indeed, one does need to stay in all day after ingesting the concoction to be as close to the bathroom as possible! She would also make sure that we drank plenty of water throughout the day. Thankfully our mother finally convinced her that this was not necessary. At the age of 91, she no longer takes them herself either.

Emilio  •  Link

Venetian cap

I'm struck with the contrast of Shepley wearing his (presumably exotic or fancy?) Venetian cap while sitting around "taking physique". Can any of those who know something about fashion give us an idea of what such a cap might have looked like?

Just from the phrase I imagine something like an elaborate stocking cap, or something vaguely middle eastern due to Venice's trade connections? Or maybe it's simply a stock name for a plainer-looking type of headwear.

Katherine  •  Link

Despite some of the incredibly toxic compounds used back in the day "to take physic", flushing out the intestines and colon forms the basis for many modern day detoxifying fasts. If done in moderation (and correctly) flushing your intestines aids digestion and overall health.

If you want to put a modern spin on all this physicking, it's the colonic irrigation of its day. ;)

Ruben  •  Link

"detoxifying fasts" are the same old "physic" with a modern, fancy name. There is nothing to "detoxify" in the contents of the intestines (except, of course, if you ingested a poison).
The same nonsense as in SP's days, justified by incredible claims and the credulous ignorance of many.

language hat  •  Link

taking physic:
It's worth remembering that the medical profession did more harm than good (think of all the people pointlessly bled over the millennia!) until the discoveries of antisepsis and (especially) antibiotics. It's especially worth remembering when your doctor is acting omniscient; just picture him as Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber:…

"Why, just fifty years ago, they thought a disease like your daughter's was caused by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors, perhaps caused by a toad or a small dwarf living in her stomach."

daniel  •  Link

Pity about old H. Lawes being so ill; he would live on for a couple more years though. to the record, to "prick a tune" or such means to set in down on paper in notation, as opposed to playing it only be ear

Second Reading

joe fulm  •  Link

No mention of Christmas until the day before Christmas day (or santa/reindeer jingles in mid October), and still no mention on the 30/12 of New Year celebrations. Just went into my local shop and they already have St Valentine day cards displayed (for Feb 14th). The rise of Markets may have eliminated European wars but it has led into a bland duller age.

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