Sunday 5 May 1661

(Lord’s day). Mr. Creed and I went to the red-faced Parson’s church, and heard a good sermon of him, better than I looked for. Then home, and had a good dinner, and after dinner fell in some talk in Divinity with Mr. Stevens that kept us till it was past Church time.

Anon we walked into the garden, and there played the fool a great while, trying who of Mr. Creed or I could go best over the edge of an old fountain well, and I won a quart of sack of him.

Then to supper in the banquet house, and there my wife and I did talk high, she against and I for Mrs. Pierce (that she was a beauty), till we were both angry

Then to walk in the fields, and so to our quarters, and to bed.

34 Annotations

First Reading

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

This is really amusing -

Sam getting into a big theological discussion that causes him to miss church.

And the jumping contest in the garden, as I take it to be; sometimes it seems to me these people of an older time were more frank and childlike in their pleasures (wasn't there a race once, with Mrs. The. Turner?)

cindy  •  Link

"...and there my wife and I did talk high, she against and I for Mrs. Pierce (that she was a beauty), till we were both angry."

What is he thinking! C'mon Sam, never have a discussion like this with your wife! You can't win! Maybe he can save it "...but she compares not with thy beauty my dearest."

dirk  •  Link

"these people of an older time were more frank and childlike in their pleasures"

Let's not forget Sam is merely 28 years old! (He was born on 23 February 1632/1633.) This is a playful young man, at an unguarded moment. Some of today's college students aren't much younger - and I've seen college students do weirder things than jumping contests...

Vicente  •  Link

"...Then home, and had a good dinner..." strange use of "home", when 'tis but a room in a Posting house.
"... better than I looked for ..."
Low expectations from the rural mob.
No bull[in the fields that is] to improve his thinking?

David Quidnunc  •  Link

They might've had a few too many at the "good dinner" and again at the banquet house, although the walk in the fields makes it seem as if it was just youthfulness -- and Spring.

Spring is in full flower here -- has been for a week or two. How is it in England this time of year? Leaves back on the trees? Flowers pushing out their petals? Fresh look to the grass? It couldn't have been much different back then. I assume a walk in the fields there would be pleasant at this time of year. Even pleasanter for Londoners.

I imagine they would have noticed the birds singing -- and how it would've been quieter than in London. Not a bad way to soothe an argument. Probably not many flies buzzing around either, this time of year. Maybe some cow or horse manure though, out in those fields.

Mary  •  Link

fountain well.

L&M give 'fountain wall' here, which sounds a bit less risky than jumping over an old well.

PHE  •  Link

Argument with Elizabeth
This is an example of the unique nature of Pepys's diaries - that he should describe such a trivial event, but in sufficient detail for us to feel 'we've been there', bringing his diaries to life and dramatically reducing the 350 year time gap.

Xjy  •  Link

350 year time gap
This is worth dwelling on -- thanks for mentioning it, PHE! A bit like the Romans of the late Republic and early Empire must have felt looking back at earlier (Hannibalian) centuries. Different but still the same in surprisingly many ways.

AlanB  •  Link

Re. Sam's long jump record. Yet again Sam 'fails' to develop the opportunity!Vincent posted on an earlier occasion when Sam made himself a 'sandwich' but failed to record its contents so denying us all of a 'Pepys'
Sam could just have recorded his distance (or height)in this 'game of dare' and made reference to past olympics with the intention of perhaps encouraging the king to revive the games. At least he holds the first record for Guilford!

George  •  Link

Will he continue from Guildford to London by road tomorrow or proceed by the new fangled River Wey Navigation, recently built by John Weston of Sutton Place?

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

David Quidnunc - not sure where your 'here' is, but I'm in Maine and I know that spring in England is somewhat more advanced than it is here!

George  •  Link

Sorry for misinformation. It was Sir Richard Weston who brought back the technology for waterways and opened the Wey up to barge traffic in 1653 but I don't know whether it was used much in the early days for passenger traffic. There was much iron founding in the weald at that time and the produce from the foundries (including cannons and cannon balls for the Navy) would have been transported to London by barge. Also Gunpowder from the mills at Chilworth, just South of Guildford.

Mary  •  Link

Sam's walk in the fields.

The 1661 weather in the south of England seems to have been no worse than we have had here this year, so Sam and Elizabeth might have enjoyed a colourful country walk. Flower meadows will not be at their most colourful for another week or two, but the bluebell woods are just about at their peak now. Daffodils and narcissus are fading, but forget-me-nots are in full flower and buttercups and daisies are getting going. Primroses have been in flower for several weeks, as have celandines and other shade-lovers. Cowslips are blooming well. As for the trees, most are now in leaf; the oaks and hazels, always amongst the last, have greened up greatly in the last week despite wet and grey weather. Hawthorn is also coming into bloom, but the damsons and wild plums have already dropped their blossom.

JWB  •  Link

Competitive, ain't he?
Pugnacious. One trip with Sam w'ld have done it for me.

Hic retearius  •  Link

Mary, a great picture in the tradition of Browning!

"Oh, to be in England now that May is there
And whoever wakes in England sees"

(Sorry about the month, Bob.)

David Duff  •  Link

Further to yesterday's entry and comments, as my youth was spent in and around Guildford, I was delighted that Sam had trod (or staggered) similar paths to me!

On the subject of hospitals and beds, I was reminded of a visit to the famous Hospice de Beaune, which is supported, of course, by donations of grapes from the Burgundian vinyards that go into the production of the wine of the same name. The beds in that hospital are wide enought to accommodate two patients on a head to toe arrangement. For convenience, a high altar was placed at the end of the 'ward' so that the patients might slip (fall?) out of bed and say their prayers.

Another Judy  •  Link

Mary, Hic Retearius, Vincente. The nettles are also in full crop; who's for nettle soup?

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Thanks, Mary

I'm in southern Connecticut, Jenny, which seems to have roughly the same kind of spring, at least as measured in daffodil and oak progress (all I can identify).

The Gulf Stream, I've heard makes England warmer despite it being so far north. Its most southern point just crosses the 50th parallel, and far northern England is as far north as Moscow or the southern tip of Alaska. Even the northern tip of Maine is farther south. There are icebergs in the Atlantic farther south than England (the Titanic struck one at about 42 degrees north). No doubt this is why the English never complain about the weather. If there were any justice in this world, most of that rain would be snow.

Vicente  •  Link

Duff: Shere, Surrey, Bedser Twins, Comptons ,England their England, the blacksmith, shandy, bluebells, primroses, on and on.
[England their England, A. G. MacDonell]
Even palm trees grow there. 'tis wot dreams are made of?

Vicente  •  Link

P.S. The palm trees are at Torquay. Nettles, need a Dock leaf and pretty wench and a hay stack.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Bluebells in woods and blossoms on cherry trees are two of the things I really miss about Kent! England in spring is wonderful - make sure you appreciate it! Here in Brisbane we are in autumn. It is like a disappointing August in England. No leaf fall will occur except for some non-natives (beware the greenies don't tell you off for planting wicked trees). Bird migration will start soon and we will get scaly breasted lorikeets who don't like Melbourne winters (can't say I blame them). Unbeknownst to him, Sam would be seeing the swallows and martens nesting which had travelled all the way from Africa. If he noticed them at all - not much for mentioning bird or plant life is he? He probably thought birds spent the winter in streams, which objectively, is hardly more far fetched than saying that these tiny creatures fly to and from Africa every year! And no more far-fetched than believing barnacles on ships hatch out barnacle geese.

Pedro.  •  Link

"Sam would be seeing the swallows and martens".

I wonder if he listened to those nightingales that used to sing in Berkeley Square?

Mary  •  Link

No mere convenience

The presence of a high altar at the head of a ward was far more than a convenience. When the early infirmaries were founded by religious houses, both the physical and the spiritual 'cure' (i.e. care) of the patients were intrinsically bound together. Continual spiritual sustenance was accorded greater importance than mere physical support and ease, welcome though they might be to the sufferers.

Barbara  •  Link

I understand there never were nightingales in Berkeley Square, except in the song. These days London is very short of birds: sparrows have declined enormously. If I wake early, and am lucky, I hear a dawn chorus of a single blackbird. Pigeons, however, continue to flourish.

In Pepys' day there would have been much birdsong, on account of the green countryside surrounding the city.

Second Reading

Tim  •  Link

All rather OT but
"Even palm trees grow there."
alas - not palm trees at Torquay but cordyline Australis - NZ cabbage tree or Ti kouka will. A variant of the lily family - grow quite happily in snow in NZ

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Dirk, Pepys may be a mere boy of 28, but his wife is only 20--and they've been married for nearly 6 years, married when she was only 14.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Remember that in our (Gregorian) calendar, it's really May 15th: spring should be quite advanced: day-length will be the same as at the end of July.

Weavethe hawk  •  Link

Not one mention of the "red faced parson", Mr Holland, which I would have thought to be an interesting topic. Anyone know how he came to be known by that sobriquet?

Bill  •  Link

There was some discussion of "the minister of the Town, with a red face and a girdle" yesterday.

Tim  •  Link

Face must have been extremely florid, to be mentioned twice - This in an age where high blood pressure would have been not unusual among the well-eating and well-drinking classes to which the parson would belong

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

I suggest that ‘red-faced parson’ was simply Pepys’ nickname for this person. In my youth my family referred to our local librarian as ‘the loud-voiced lady’ even though we knew her name - Mrs Charlish - as a private family joke.

This is a private diary, not written for publication so SP might naturally use his nickname for someone, particularly for a minor character in his life.

John Pennington  •  Link

When Pepys uses the "I for . . . him/her against [x]" formula he's almost always talking about an ideological or theoretical dispute. Here it's like he thinks the question of Mrs. Pierce's beauty is a matter of indifference to them, but for the fact that they disagree.

This is a case of Whoever brought it up is at fault.

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