Sunday 17 February 1660/61

(Lord’s day). A most tedious, unreasonable, and impertinent sermon, by an Irish Doctor. His text was “Scatter them, O Lord, that delight in war.” Sir Wm. Batten and I very much angry with the parson. And so I to Westminster as soon as I came home to my Lord’s, where I dined with Mr. Shepley and Howe. After dinner (without speaking to my Lord), Mr. Shepley and I into the city, and so I home and took my wife to my uncle Wight’s, and there did sup with them, and so home again and to bed.

29 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Scatter them,O Lord,that delight in war"I think I would have loved the sermon and I wonder why SP didn't like it! may be he is in league with Bush and Blair...

cindy b  •  Link

Psalm 68:30
"Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people, till every one submit himself with pieces of silver: scatter thou the people that delight in war."

I expect that the Irish parson was using this psalm to make Ireland out to be Israel and England to be Egypt. I think SP's reaction is probably very typical of the average Englishman of the day.

Susan  •  Link

Anyone know who this "Irish Doctor" is who so upset Sam and Sir William?

George  •  Link

Could be that Sam is a mite peeved with the Parson's choice of subject since it might be construed as an attack on the Navy, and delivered in a "navy" church and in front of naval commisioners...

Bradford  •  Link

The Irish Doctor maintains the alternative function of those inspired from above since the time of the prophets---inveighing against the status quo, as opposed to supporting it.
No doubt there is too a little pleasant pride at tweaking his listeners, albeit at some danger to himself---but that is another prophetic tradition.

dirk  •  Link

the Irish preacher

Couldn't it be that the Irishman had been so aggressive in his sermon because of what the English military (Cromwell) had previously done to Ireland? Now that the regime had changed, perhaps he thought it was relatively safe to take a "verbal" revenge?

alex  •  Link

I don't think an Irish protestant at this time would have preached against English imperialism in Ireland.

It's possible that Pepys did not object to the subject of the sermon, but to an incompetent presentation. He often lists the biblical text for sermons, so the second sentence here is not necessarily intended as an explication of the first.

dirk  •  Link

the Irish preacher - reply to Alex

The diary entry says explicitly "unreasonable" and "impertinent - I take it that refers to contents rather than form of the sermon. And even an Irish protestant preacher could still feel Irish and hurt by the storm of unreasonable violence that had ravaged his country. Certainly now that the Cromwell regime had fallen into disgrace in England itself.

I wish we had the text of the sermon...

David Quidnunc  •  Link


Pepys uses a pretty particular word for a pacifist pontificating from a pulpit (if he was a pacifist). That one word paints the perfect picture of plenty of our present-day preacher pacifists who play on the perseverance of their patient parishes (but perhaps that's just my personal perception predicated on my own pugnacious politics).

Did "impertinent" mean anything different back then than it does today?

vincent  •  Link

sample of the out pourings
"...18] When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from [5] the rebellious- that you, [6] ....
21 ]Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies, the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins. ....
23 that you may plunge your feet in the blood of your foes, while the tongues of your dogs have their share." ....
30 Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
the herd of bulls among the calves of he nations.
Humbled, may it bring bars of silver.
Scatter the nations who delight in war.
the rest at…

vincent  •  Link

Reading between the lines , my impression is that he was not in too good a mood[his day was spoilt] after suffering that Sermon.

Ruben  •  Link

WE are the chosen, and always rigth
THEY are beligerant, left sided people who want war...

Roger Arbor  •  Link

Excellent! Good to stir up the congragation with something they don't want to hear. If that is what the text says, that is what you preach.

BUT, a text without a context is a pretext. Poor Sam.

alex  •  Link

"And even an Irish protestant preacher could still feel Irish and hurt by the storm of unreasonable violence that had ravaged his country."

I do not believe that an English-speaking Protestant settled in Ireland would consider himself 'Irish' in opposition to the English at this early date. I think this is a case of reading modern-day attitudes back into the past.

Xjy  •  Link

"tedious, unreasonable and impertinent"...
Sam's expectations of others are rising -- now he slams a preacher (indicative of status of the profession, no?) for not serving up a concoction sufficiently attuned to demands of his audience. Same put-downs as the powerful use today against those who refuse to toady...

andy  •  Link

It obviously hit home. Good on the Irish preacher, say I. Should have stopped the warmongers in their tracks.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

David Quidnunc- meaning of 'impertinent.

My OD gives two definitions:
1. Irrelevant (now chiefly in law);
out of place, absurd.
2. Intrusive, presumptuous; insolent,

Sam may have been using it in the first sense, but that still leaves us with tedious and unreasonable.

I suspect this preacher was not standing at the church door after the service, shaking hands with the congregation.

Emilio  •  Link

"tedious, unseasonable, and impertinent"

Yes, I did type that right - that's what L&M's version of the line is, which supports what George and others above have been saying. Also, the L&M short Glossary gives the meanings "irrelevance, garrulity, folly" for 'impertinent', which point in much the same direction.

Sure Sam objects to the sermon itself, but even more he's enraged that the preacher dares to say such 'irrelevant' things in front of the officers of the Navy. Seems like the preacher's words are a bit too relevant. In a later age I could picture Sam, red-faced, shouting "I'll write a letter to the Times!"

And Cromwell was also the first thing I thought of when I found an Irishman making this particular sermon. I don't have any problem imagining an Irish Protestant being outraged at what had been done to his country; let's not forget Swift, another Irish Protestant who will have a number of harsh things to say about English rule in Ireland.

bradw  •  Link

Let's not forget that sermons of that day were often the intellectual, political and esthetic highlight of the week for many Englishman. Sam's criticism could have less to do with the text chosen, or even the moral content, than with the delivery. Sam may have meant to rebuke the good doctor's tone and elocution, the closeness of his reasoning, the composition of his writing, or the choice of real world examples. If we could question him about it today, Sam might say, "Well and good for an end to war, but really, English arms have of late accomplished an extraordinaryily peaceful transition of rule, and the stilling of warlike agitators. To demand the beating of every sword to a ploughshare before a fortnight's up, is to put the nation at risk from lawbreakers, subversives and pirates. Besides I could scarcely make out his accent."

Glyn  •  Link

Back in 1982, shortly after the Falklands War the nation held a service of remembrance and thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral. It was a big state occasion, with Prime Minister Thatcher seated near the front with the politicians and the generals, etc (the disabled soldiers were out of sight somewhere at the back).

At which point the then Archbishop of Canterbury called for prayers for the dead Argentine soldiers as well as for the British ones, said that any war was a matter of regret even when it liberated a people, and preached a sermon that was wholly without the triumphalism that the Prime Minister was expecting. Mrs Thatcher was incandescent with rage. I imagine that Pepys and Batten's reactions were similar although on a smaller scale.

Although this sermon might have something to do with Ireland, I suspect as do others here that it was more to do with the fact that the vicar was preaching an anti-war message to the administrators of England's navy.

Incidentally, if I recall correctly (and I suspect that I'll be swiftly corrected if I am not) - this verse may have had a well-known naval connection - so the preacher may have been lulling his audience into a false sense of security when he announced the text for the day (as any good orator should). I'm pretty sure that after the Spanish Armada of 1588 (consisting of 100+ warships) was destroyed by storms, Queen Elizabeth I issued a commemorative medal with an inscription saying something like "God blew and his enemies were scattered" (or something like that). Was that a reference to this particular verse? If a different one, could it have been the text for today's sermon?

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Thank you Glyn - I, too, thought of Thatcher and the Archbishop of Canterbury. I rather doubt whether Sam has any patience with pacifists. I wonder how he felt when William Penn joined the Quakers and stopped wearing his sword.

Nix  •  Link

William Penn the Quaker --

Actually, it was Sir William's son, the William of Pennsylvania fame, who became a Quaker. And the Britannica tells me he did so, against his father's wishes, after being sent to the family's estates -- in Ireland:

"William was the son of Admiral Sir William Penn. . . . In Ireland William heard Thomas Loe, a Quaker itinerant, preach to his family at the admiral's invitation, an experience that apparently intensified his religious feelings. In 1660 William entered the University of Oxford, where he rejected Anglicanism and was expelled in 1662 for his religious Nonconformity. Determined to thwart his son's religiosity, Admiral Penn sent his son on a grand tour of the European continent . . . .

"In 1666 Admiral Penn sent William to Ireland to manage the family estates. There he crossed paths again with Thomas Loe and, after hearing him preach, decided to join the Quakers (the Society of Friends), a sect of religious radicals who were reviled by respectable society and subject to official persecution."

Hic Retearius  •  Link

Well done, bradw.

Right on. There was no television, no radio, no neighbourhood movies. There were no newspapers in the sense that we think of them now. Certain, ahhh, literature from France and the new plays were really the sole diversions. With morbidity and mortality harsh realties of everyday life, religion was central in everybody's thinking. Like today's weekend football game, the thesis of the Sunday sermon and the quality of the intellect that pitched it could be expected to power the week's discussions among the "Monday morning parsons".

As to an earlier matter, literary merit; Sam is not engaged in creating prose for the ages but "memos to file"; quickie notes from himself to himself.

The diary and preaching trigger the memory of Boswell, another Samuel and a dog: do let us be surprised that this diary is done at all. It is a joy that it is so intimate and so intellectually accessible to us over three centuries later.

Hic retearius  •  Link

Sermon; Glyn, Jenny
Is this the equivalent up with which old Sam has just had to put?
In it Lord Runcie, who was dying of cancer, confirmed he had directed the Falklands sermon, attacking the attitudes of “those who stay at home, most violent in their attitudes and untouched in themselves” at the government of the day.
The sermon, at what the government had seen as a triumphal service at St Paul’s Cathedral after the Falklands war in 1982, provoked attacks on the archbishop for a supposed lack of patriotism, all the more aggravating for ministers because, having won the Military Cross as a tank commander in the second world war, he could not be depicted as ignorant of warfare.…

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters. Exodus 15:10


Might this be the verse? For what its worth, I see the impertinence as you and George do, preaching against war in the Navy's church.

E  •  Link

Hey -- the Falklands War Service didn't really put the disabled at the back -- that was a fabricated incident for a television programme. When the makers were challenged that the real guy they featured had been right at the front in his wheelchair, they said "Oh but that was the way he felt he was treated"????

StewartMcI  •  Link

Perhaps more pertinent then, in 1982 and now...

O Eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens and rulest the raging of the sea; who hast compassed the waters with bounds until day and night come to an end; be pleased to receive into thy Almighty and most gracious protection the persons of us thy servants, and the fleet in which we serve. Preserve us from the dangers of the sea, and from the violence of the enemy; that we may be a safeguard unto our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen ELIZABETH and her Dominions; and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our Island may in peace and quietness serve thee our God: and that we may return in safety to enjoy the blessings of the land, with the fruits of our labours, and with a thankful remembrance of thy mercies to praise and glorify Thy Holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Beginning of today's entry in the Rev. Ralph Josselin's diary:

"Snow, cold wintery weather, a nip for our pleasant warm winter before."…

Webster's New World, definition #2 for the transitive verb: "to sever." So Josselin means "an end to our pleasant, warm weather." We could call that day's weather "nippy," but that seems to be a coincidence.

Second Reading

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

No coincidence; OED has:

‘nip, n.3 < nip v.1 . . 13. trans. a. Originally: to check or destroy the growth of (a plant), as by the physical removal of a bud or the like, or through the action of cold or frost.

. . 3. a. A severe check to the growth of vegetation caused by cold; the effect of sharp cold upon plants or animals. Also: the quality in wind or weather which produces this; a feeling of biting cold (esp. in a nip in the air ).
1614 D. Dyke Myst. Selfe-deceiving v. 87 The flattering of the Sunne raies often drawes forth the blossomes very earely: but afterward come cold nippes.
1645 Milton Epitaph Marchioness of Winchester in Poems 25 So have I seen som tender slip Sav'd with care from Winters nip.
1684 G. Stepney To Earl of Carlisle 61 So hasty fruits and too ambitious flow'rs,..find a nip untimely as their birth.
. . 2000 Calgary (Alberta) Sun (Electronic ed.) 14 Dec., Nothing like a nip of winter in the air to get the hockey blood flowing.‘

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