Sunday 17 March 1660/61

(Lord’s day). At church in the morning, a stranger preached a good honest and painfull sermon. My wife and I dined upon a chine of beef at Sir W. Batten’s, so to church again. Then home, and put some papers in order. Then to supper at Sir W. Batten’s again, where my wife by chance fell down and hurt her knees exceedingly. So home and to bed.

25 Annotations

dirk  •  Link


Seems a sermon has to be painful in order to be good. Calvinist influences?

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

So Lent isn't observed rigorously (if not religiously) it seems. Not noteworthy enough to elaborate.

"My wife and I dined upon a chine of beef at Sir W. Batten

Alan Bedford  •  Link

Forty fast days of Lent do NOT include the Sundays, as was pointed out a few days ago... In traditional Catholic (and Anglican) teaching, Sundays are feast days celebrating the Resurrection and are exempt from fasting.

Susan  •  Link

"Lenten" as an adjective came to be used in a perjorative sense of a meal as a bad or poor meal - to "dine upon Lenten fare" meant to have a bad dinner (at any time of the year). Did that develop from the experience of those such as SP who are faced with a dinner in Lent of "colewarts and bacon" which is not nearly so appetising as a "chine of beef"

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

A 'painfull' sermon would point at human weaknesses and got people to think with shame about their own real or supposed vices. It need not be calvinistic to be shown an insight into one's failings. In my youth I remember the R.C. priest of my village's church being able to start people to do some self-examination; he was not a harsh man.

Firenze  •  Link

Painfull sermon: I would understand this to mean that the preacher had taken pains to prepare it - that would chime with the 'good honest'. The sermon is therefore being judged as a piece of professional work - any regular churchgoer, 17th or any other century, would have quality judgments of the preaching, the singing, the conduct of the service.

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

Would 'painfull' be the same as 'painstaking'? Ye English comment!

Pedro.  •  Link

Painfull sermon:
I think this is the first time we have had a one described as "a good honest and painfull sermon." I think the painfull must refer to the presentation as Sam did not describe the one on "The Demon Drink" as painful!

Mary  •  Link


OED sense 4: characterized by painstaking; performed with labour, care and attention; diligent, assiduous, laborious, careful.

This usage is now regarded as archaic.

Emilio  •  Link

A couple of the examples from Mary's OED entry

1565 T. Stapleton tr. Bede's Hist. Ch. Eng. 79 In consideration of their vertuous sermons and painefull preaching. 1638 in 10th Rep. Hist. MSS. Comm. App. v. 486 The long, paynfull and profitable service donne unto us by James Lynch.

Seems pretty conclusive to me - this must be the sense Sam is using.

Pauline  •  Link

Firenze, Mary, Emilio
This kind of insight and research makes reading the diary together here at Phil's so great.

Now we need an OED fix for Elizabeth's "painful" knees.

Katherine Keller  •  Link

Having slipped and fallen on ice about a month ago and suffering subsequent *massive* bruising + hip and back ache, I wonder at the remedies avalible to Elizabeth to ease her pain.

(I treated myself to several motrin, a shot of rum, and a hot bath.)

But beyond a hot or cool compress and a glass or three of wine or spirits, what treatments were there to ease pains of this kind?

Turning to opiates for something like this strikes me as rather impractical, or because raw opium is much less potent than morphine would it have been used?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"hurt her knees exceedingly" salycilic acid the component of Aspirin is found in the bark of the willow tree( Salix?)Salce(in italian,cf Kiri te Kanawa in Othello-willow song just before she is strangled)salgueiro in portuguese; so Elisabeth could have been drinking some infusion or applying some salve(same etymology)

Ruben  •  Link

Knees & pain
are associated to human nature from the day we got off that tree and walked on two.
In Elisabeth days any remedy was "good", because there was none. All the "treatments" were based in "intuition" or worse.
If I, as a time traveler, fell on my knees in 1661, I would try to keep my knees high and as cold as possible for at least a few hours.
Opiates were a good option to treat pain, generally speaking, but in 1661 they did not know how to dosificate them properly, making it an alleatory treatment, not better than the dessicated skin of a toad or human sweat.
More about the history of opiates in:

dirk  •  Link


According to Culpeper, an efficient painkiller would have been:
"PELLITORY OF THE WALL: A Pultis made hereof with mallows, and boyled in Wine, with Wheat Bran, and Bean Flower, and some Oyl put thereto, and applied warm to any bruised Sinew, Tendon, or Muscle, doth in a very short time restore them to their strength, taking away the pains of the Bruises."

"Pultisses" being decribed as:
"those kind of things which the Latins call Cataplasmata (...) They are made of Herbs and Roots (...) being chopped smal and boyled in Water almost to a Jelly, then by adding a little Barley Meal or Meal of Lupines, and a little Oyl or rough Sheep Suet (...) spread upon a cloath and applied to the grieved place."

Oddly enough Culpeper doesn't seem to know of any painkiller substances in willow bark - although he mentions it in connection with fever.…

Ruben  •  Link

Cataplasma is a Latin word still used in Spanish (and English) for a wet compress applied on the skin.
I see in the dictionary that in English they are many "willows". The willow trees (picturesque tree near still waters) and shrubs , the Kilmarnock willow in Scotland, and willow oak, an American tree.
To read about the poetic value of the Willow see:…

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

I've also seen 'cataplasm' used in pre-20th century novels as another word for poultice. 'Plaster' or 'plaister' was another.

Nigel Pond  •  Link

Jenny, and hence the English use of the term "sticking plaster" or just "plaster", a generic term for a "Bandaid"?

Glyn  •  Link

I imagine Dirk's "pultisses" is the contemporary English word "poultices" (although the old English spelling seems more "modern"). A "poultice" is defined as "A soft, moist, usually heated mass of material applied to the skin to alleviate pain, inflammation, or irritation, to act as an emollient, or to stimulate the circulation locally; a fomentation, a cataplasm".

Most people would have gone to herbalists for minor ailments: and in Elizabeth's day the books of Thomas Culpeper (the most famous herbalist) were best sellers, for housewives to treat their families at home.

Susan  •  Link

Mallow has a softening and soothing effect, and is still used in handcreams and the like, but I don't think it had any painkilling properties. I have a facsimile Culpeper from the 18th century (the book remained a standard work for a very long time) & he does not seem to have many painkillers. Lots and lots of concoctions to "ease the bowels" - probably used by SP?

vincent  •  Link

"...a stranger preached a good honest and painfull sermon..."

was this the on the menu today.?
16 proverbs 16
16: How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!
or was it this
18: Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
19: Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Just a humble thought cribbed from J. Evelyn

tc  •  Link

...hurt her knees exceedingly...

Perhaps she just fell and skinned her knees, which we should all remember from childhood as bloody and nasty and that it hurts exceedingly. And then the bloody cuts scab over, and look horrible. Poor Elizabeth! Would she be wearing stockings that would be ruined in the fall? Another expense for poor Sam?

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Nigel - yes, I think that's probably where the term 'sticking plaster' came from.

tc - but Elizabeth will have had long skirts on, so maybe just a bruise? Bruises on kneecaps can be terribly painful.

Stewart Cavalier  •  Link

Ruben, how can you say there were no remedies ? There were dozens of herbal potions (just read Ellis Peter's Cadfael series)some of which are still being used to-day in France (I don't know about other countries)and salves, not to mention herbal teas.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Diary of the Reverend Ralph Josselin

March. 17. God good to me and mine, in many outward mercies, for which my soul does heartily bless his name, my little Bettie yet continues ill, god good to me in his word and worship, lord make my heart good for I am yours, this day fair, few grey peas sown, and very few oats, [Wet March] yet god will remember his covenant to and with Noah, and will do us good in his due time. children very profane their parents sit at home, and they play in the streets openly at cat and other sports.…

Josselin in context: Youth and Authority: Formative Experiences in England, 1560-1640 Paul Griffiths - 1996…

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