Sunday 10 February 1660/61

(Lord’s day). Took physique all day, and, God forgive me, did spend it in reading of some little French romances. At night my wife and I did please ourselves talking of our going into France, which I hope to effect this summer. At noon one came to ask for Mrs. Hunt that was here yesterday, and it seems is not come home yet, which makes us afraid of her. At night to bed.

18 Annotations

First Reading

Susan  •  Link

"took physike all day". Why is it that anyone at this time who took medicine, then spent the whole day at home, usually in bed? Was that thought to make the medicine more efficaious? Was that the general instructions given by apothecaries? What did these "physikes" consist of? This was still happening in the 18th c as well.

vincent  •  Link

What a combination, His wife French novelettes and strong dose of Epsom salts with cod liver oil and what else. "...Took physique all day, and, God forgive me, did spend it in reading of some little French romances..."
"Guardey loo.....oops" ' 'tis the stuff of Peter Sellars or Tony Hancock'

vincent  •  Link

The English Physician (Culpepper's Complete Herbal). Nicholas Culpepper…
The juice of Fumitory and docks mingled with vinegar, and the places gently washed or wet therewith, cures all sorts of scabs, pimples, blotches, wheals, and pushes which rise on the face of hands, or any other parts of the body.
more on worm wood
Wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris is common mugwort) while Artemisia absynthium is common wormwood
".....The infusion, drank evening and morning for some time, helps hysterics, obstructions of the spleen, and weakness of the stomach. Its oil, taken on sugar, and somewhat drank after, kills worms, resists poison, and is good for the liver and jaundice

the herbalyst was in fashion then and at the cost[rising,risible] of pills today, will be again ever more fashionable

Susan  •  Link

So, one now has this image of Pepys sitting in bed reading risque stories, swigging doses of purgative and ever so often taking himself off to......Where? Does he have a commode in his chamber? Or some kind of sanitary receptacle in a cellar, regularly emptied by a servant, or was he reduced to squatting over a chamber pot in his chamber?
Actually I probably don't want to know.

vincent  •  Link

Susan: Chamber pots /camode {closets some were very decorative , a sight to be seen; }were available whether SP had a fancy one at this is not known? but he certainly had a jakes down in the dungeons ; there is some where a description of an eminent lady using one [Camode enclosed] with SP discussing important papers I do believe.

bardi  •  Link

Is Sam afraid of, or for, Mrs. Hunt or the person who came looking for her?

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Mrs Hunt came calling yesterday ...

and isn't home yet? I am more and more convinced that Elizabeth and Mrs Hunt are using each other as alibis, much as my wife and her friends used to do when pajama parties were scheduled at Soprano-type homes in New Jersey in the 1960s! (After all, respectable Presbyterian girls weren't supposed to socialize with Meadow Sopranos :-) Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that Elizabeth didn't come home at night, and Sam at last received word from his boy that she was staying with Mrs Hunt, who was ill? I wonder, had Sam not been home when the messenger came, what Elizabeth would have told him.

mary  •  Link

The elusive Mrs. Hunt.

Sam and Elizabeth are afraid for Mrs. Hunt; i.e. afraid of what may have befallen her.

vincent  •  Link

2 reasons for anxiety. The kissing Frenchman [enchante?] and Mrs Hunt[old neighbour] was ill on the 15th of last month.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"took physique all day" The late Princess Diana,God bless her soul,was said to take colonic irrigation,now we have SP with his frequent laxatives!one wonders if this is an english preocupation.

Jackie  •  Link

It's fair to say that the diet of those in Sam's social classes in those days were not terribly high in fibre. Meat, meat and meat seem to be the main parts, along with a balancing portion of offal. (There were a small group of vegetarians around in those days whose menus did not seem to feature many vegetables, just huge artery-busting quantities of dairy products and milky puddings).

Carolina  •  Link

A. de A
Yes, the English are obsessed with their bowel movements !
In hospital you are asked if you have "opened your bowels today" ? regardless what you're in for.

Laura K  •  Link

brits perhaps no more obsessed than anyone else

The same questions are asked in hospitals in the US, although worded differently. "Eliminations" are a sign that the body is functioning normally. No matter what the reason for a hospital visit, it's actually a legitimate question.

As for colonic irrigation and physiques, that's a different story. In the Princess's case, it may have been part of an unhealthy obsession with weight. Sadly, laxatives are often part of an eating disorder regimen.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"At night my wife and I did please ourselves talking of our going into France, which I hope to effect this summer. "

L&M note they did not go there until the autumn of 1669.

Third Reading

LKvM  •  Link

Regarding "Where? Does he have a commode in his chamber? . . . Or was he reduced to squatting over a chamber pot in his chamber?"
I have wondered about this too, and I've read that church pews even had chamber pots in them, in case somebody needed to take a leak during a long sermon.
Slight spoiler (Vincent started it!): Vincent mentions that at one time Sam entered a main room in his house and embarrassed an "eminent lady" who (as Sam wrote) was "doing something on the pot," so chamber pots seem to have been placed conveniently throughout the living spaces. That eminent lady was My Lady herself, Countess Sandwich, who was perennially pregnant and therefore undoubtedly needed access to chamber pots frequently.

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“God forgive me”: a breach of Pepys’ internal moral code rather than (or as well as) divine commandment? Is the failing simply the frittering away of time which could have been better employed, or the nature of these French romances? I wonder if anyone has collected, categorised and analysed the self-confessed failings which prompt this plea.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I read it as you do, Eric.

Although we read of his frequent days spent with former colleagues and old friends in bars, and probably judge this idleness by 21st century standards, Pepys did not view these outings as a waste of time. This was "intelligencing" and the cementing of alliances. Perhaps little valuable information was learned -- but sometimes helpful hints came his way. Knowing who's up, who's down, what's in and what's out was essential to his -- and therefore the Navy Board's -- ability to function.

Remember, no TV, streaming or daily newspapers, no email or X nor Instagram or Facebook.
A weekly Gazette came out with the Royal propoganda digest -- that Pepys never mentions it probably indicates that he didn't find it useful.
And there were pamphlets -- thousands of them -- where someone printed up their arguments on a subject; weeks later someone would print their argument against that point-of-view. This could go back-and-forth for years. You can't run a business based on that.

So Pepys takes time when he can to check in with his old colleagues at Whitehall, the Sandwich's family and servants, school and university friends, well-connected relatives, and walks Westminster Hall, just finding out what's happening -- and telling them what he needed them to know about the Navy's dealings, sowing the seeds for future favors and actions.

Today, Pepys truly took a day off and did nothing of any redeeming social value -- beyond taking care of his health as best he could, paying attention to Elizabeth, and practicing his French.
Not an altogether wasted day.

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