Wednesday 8 May 1661

This morning came my brother John to take his leave of me, he being to return to Cambridge to-morrow, and after I had chid him for going with my Will the other day to Deptford with the principal officers, I did give him some good counsell and 20s. in money, and so he went away.

All this day I staid at home with my workmen without eating anything, and took much pleasure to see my work go forward. At night comes my wife not well from my father’s, having had a fore-tooth drawn out to-day, which do trouble me, and the more because I am now in the greatest of all my dirt.

My Will also returned to-night pretty well, he being gone yesterday not very well to his father’s.

To-day I received a letter from my uncle, to beg an old fiddle of me for my Cozen Perkin, the miller, whose mill the wind hath lately broke down, and now he hath nothing to live by but fiddling, and he must needs have it against Whitsuntide to play to the country girls; but it vexed me to see how my uncle writes to me, as if he were not able to buy him one. But I intend tomorrow to send him one. At night I set down my journal of my late journey to this time, and so to bed. My wife not being well and I very angry with her for her coming hither in that condition.

38 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"as if he were not able to buy him one"
What a Sponge!...,some of his relatives are something else!...,and SP is behaving like a Sucker send him the Fiddle.

Glyn  •  Link

Whitsuntide is also known as Pentecost.

Pauline  •  Link

"SP is behaving like a Sucker"
Wait a minute! Sam has been told that he is the heir of this uncle; he has been groomed to respect him and to expect of him. Vexed he may be, but he intends to honor the request.

Maybe the uncle is not well enough to traipse about on the errand.

Maybe the uncle thinks Sam has an old one he can part with.

Maybe the uncle only thinks it is fair that prospering Sam help him help out the less-well-off family members. Letting Sam know that he inherits not only the estate but obligations as well.

Vicente  •  Link

"What a Sponge" Sorry, don't fully agree, to-day, a pound is nought, does not buy a gob stopper [ a farthing's worth]. Items not in use, should be recyled, especially if allowes a person [even family ] to earn a living, I remember a rich Uncle giving me a 20 year old bycycle[too big for me britches], it was more precious than a 5 old Jag. would do for a teen age nephew to-day.
A Pound would keep a student in luxuries for the whole term.
besides That is what family should mean in a way, somewhere between out right Scrooge [never give] and a soft touch[always give, should be earnt in some way ].

Emilio  •  Link

"very angry with her for her coming hither in that condition"

Very upset at her coming home to all the "dirt", and even mentions his worries about her twice. Coming home to the work zone wasn't the best idea, but maybe Elizabeth wants her husband to turn to in her distress.

dirk  •  Link

"having had a fore-tooth drawn out to-day (...) I very angry with her for her coming hither in that condition"

His wife in agony (having had a tooth extracted, without painkillers), and Sam angry with her because she came home like that. Am I missing something here?

dirk  •  Link

tooth cont'd

Sorry, missed Emilio's annotation above while posting mine.

Mary House  •  Link

Poor Elizabeth, coming home to such a house and such a husband. Was there any remedy for the loss of a "fore-tooth?" Any type of false teeth in the 17th century?

Vicente  •  Link

False teeth, there were even transplants that were used to fill the missing space, just like cabbages.[in the 16th and 17th Cent:]
"...The earliest example of a dental prosthetic is Phoenician and dates to the 6th-4th century BC. It is made of gold wire and holds two carved ivory false teeth. However, the most prolific manufacturers of dental prosthetics in the archaeological record are the Etruscans (also 6th-4th century BC), from whom around 20 examples are known..."…

Mary  •  Link

Finding a fiddle for Perkin

Perkin lived in a small, rural spot in Cambridgeshire and Brampton, Uncle Robert's place of residence, was not exactly a metropolis. Highly likely, therefore, that locating a suitable fiddle in either place at short notice was not possible. Much more likely that Cousin Sam, living in London, either had such an article at his own disposal or could obtain one with much less ado.

As for the matter of payment, I concur with Pauline's points.

Mary  •  Link

against Whitsuntide.

The restoration saw a renewal of the practice of celebrating Whitsun with Whit Walks, Whitsun Ales and general merrymaking. Hence the need for a fiddler to play for the dancing.

One factor prompting the revival of these church and country festivities was the fact that Charles II himself was born at Whitsuntide in 1630.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

"...coming hither in that condition."

I'm afraid I read this as do Dirk and Mary House - Elizabeth would surely have still been in pain, and probably bleeding profusely. Sam, I suspect, would have preferred that she convalasce elsewhere.

Jackie  •  Link

I suspect that Sam's annoyance is at least partly frustration. His wife's indisposition due to a very obvious bit of dental work must have been just as effective in altering his plans for when she returned as a well-timed headache.

Pedro.  •  Link

Whitsuntide is also known as Pentecost.

I presume Whitsuntide is an English word, as I had trouble trying to explain this time of the year to some of my Potuguese friends. To them of course it is Pentecost.
More interessting is that to some of the younger English generation, (obviously not our annotators), did not know what I was talking about. For some time now this has been known as Spring Bank Holiday weekend!

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

Whitsun was "White Sunday,"
because, I have heard, in early times there were many baptized at that time, who would appear that day in white robes.

Perhaps Sam was angry at his wife trying to nurse her mouth, etc. in his house which was still "in the greatest of all my dirt"? It could have been solicitude.

Mary  •  Link

'in the greatest of all my dirt'

Not only is the house in a mess, but it looks as if the larder may be bare, too. ('All this day I staid at home ... without eating anything'). Unless they can rustle up a dish of bread-and-milk or some egg-nog, Elizabeth looks unlikely to find light but nourishing slops in the house and the nearest cookshop probably doesn't supply much in this line.

However, there is no mention of high words, so perhaps Sam kept his exasperation to himself and his diary.

JWB  •  Link

"...against Whitsuntide to play to the country girls;..."
Philip Larkin reread due.

helena murphy  •  Link

Perhaps to contemporary readers Sam could be more sympathetic to his wife after having had her tooth extracted,but physical pain and discomfort were a fact of life which one was expected to take in one's stride.Let us recall that Sam had a serious operation for the stone in a sensitive area without anaesthetic,not to mention the unfortunates who, without painkillers were hanged,drawn and quartered while still alive.Prince Rupert had had his head trepanned twice for a war wound which involved boring a hole into the skull while in one's senses ,from which he survived.Interestingly enough he spent his convalescence in designing new surgical instruments for the medics rather than on finding medicine to alleviate the pain of the said procedure.

Sjoerd Spoelstra  •  Link

Angry for coming hither.....
Couldn't Sam be angry in a protective kind of way ? In that he would prefer her to stay at his fathers' where people could take better care of her ?
Or is that my 21st century mind finding excuses for Sam ?

David A. Smith  •  Link

"very angry with her for her coming hither"
All is explained if for 'angry' one reads 'upset.'
She's hurting, the house is all a-hoo, he's being sucker-touched for financial favors. His patience reservoir is empty.
Some days the only remedy is 'and so to bed.'

Australian Susan  •  Link

Whit Monday in England used to be the time for Church parades with lots of little girls in white dresses, Boys Brigade bands, GFS et al all marching through city streets. I used to be taken into Manchester as a child to watch this. The Church festival is now known in theAnglican Church as Pentecost and the former Bank Holiday of Whit Monday (variable as Whitsuntide depends on Easter) has been morphed into the Late Spring Bank Holiday of the last Monday of May and no longer linked in with the Church calendar at all. In the ancient Church (c 200-600 AD) baptism of the catachumens took place after the Great Vigil of Holy Saturday evening. The participants had full immersion baptism and were then clothed in a new white garment to sumbolise being clothed in the light of Christ nad born again. They would wear these white garments every Sunday until Pentecost. In England this survived as wearing White at Whit and mixed in with pagan celebration leftovers to welcome summer.

dirk  •  Link

John Evelyn's diary for today:

"His Majestie rod in state, with his Imperial Crowne on, & all the Peeres in their robes in greate pomp to the Parliament, now newly chosen (the old one disolv'd) & that evening declared in Council his intention to marry the Infanta of Portugal:”

I’m a little surprised that Sam doesn’t mention any of this. I have the impression that Sam has been giving us less info of this kind lately than he used to some weeks/months ago - or am I wrong? Maybe his mind is on other things (the work in his house i.a.).

vicente  •  Link

Dirk, you have a point. He is in another mode now, that of executing his functions, rather than that of being a Gopher[P.A.], finding out which way the wind doth blow, he is in a carriage more than skulking on foot around the Fleet Street Pubs, picking up the gossip of the town. He stills has the function of keeping the Sandwich fillings and spillings straight.

Glyn  •  Link

There does seem to be a characteristic pattern to Pepys behaviour - he regularly gets imposed upon by his extended family, grumbles about it to himself but ends up doing what they wish. Since his actions are generous one shouldn't bemoan his letting off steam in the diary.

As to his wife I agree with previous contributors - he's angry because she is in pain and would be better cared for back at Pepys mother's house rather than in all of the dirt of his place. I wonder where Jane and Pall are?

vicente  •  Link

"I wonder where Jane and Pall are?" Like most of those that reside beneath the stairs, they are not seen or heard, even though they be in plain "site". My guess, they are running around trying to clean up and upsetting 'those Hard working ferigners'

vicente  •  Link

Another event missed by Sam, opening of Parliament."...8 May His Majestie rod in state, with his Imperial Crowne on , & all the Peeres in their robes in greate pomp to the Parliament , now newly chosen (the old one disolv'd) & and that evening declar[']d in Council his intention to marry the Infanta of Potugal:..."

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Ld. Chancellor's Speech following the King's Speech to the entire Parliament [sic] seated in the House of Lords

[ I.a. he notes the King, who has, in his Speech just announced his intention to marry "the Daughter of Portugall."] "is preparing His Fleet to fetch Home our Queen. "…

Reminder to Pepys from yesterday's Diary entry: today the Earl of Sandwich was to go "to the Hope [ the Thames estuary ] to see in what condition the fleet is in."…

Gerald Berg  •  Link

Not to be indelicate, but I would be fairly upset if my wife came home looking like she'd just been in a hockey game. The only thing that would forbear my remarking on it is how upset she would be for having had it done; let alone me sticking my finger in the wound! Having said that, there is no indication that Sam said anything about it to her. So coming at it again: Is there a difference between drawing or pulling a tooth? Google unhelpful on the point.

Mary K  •  Link


No difference in this context.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re ‘draw’OED has:

‘III. Of extraction, withdrawal, removal. * With that which is taken as the object.
32. trans. To pull out, take out, extract (e.g. a cork from a bottle, a tooth from the jaw, a charge from a gun, a nail, screw, etc. from what it is fixed in, bread from an oven, stone from a quarry, a root, pole, young plants, stumps at cricket, etc. from the ground, a card from the pack). Also, to bowl out a batsman.
. . 1709 R. Steele Tatler No. 34. ⁋5 To cut off Legs, as well as draw Teeth . . ‘

Pandora  •  Link

Draw means pull, which is why the Drawers are the ones pulling Sams beloved wine into pint glasses.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"my wife not well... having had a fore-tooth drawn out to-day,"

? By Leeson (… ) or by de la Roche, the dentist who lived not far from Pepys's father. Methods of extraction are found in J. Woodall, The surgeon's mate (1617), pp. 28/376…
The surgeon's tools"…
see also
The operator for the teeth shewing how to preserve the teeth and gums from all the accidents they are subject to : with particular directions for childrens teeth : as also the description and use of the polican, never published before / by Charles Allen.
Dublin: Printed by Andrew Crook and Samuel Helsham for the author and are to be sold by Robert Thornton and by the author, [1686?]
Early English Books Online [full text]…

John Pennington  •  Link

Best construction I can put on it:

He was a man of much business hampered by the unexpected responsibility of looking after a convalescent. Maybe he didn't express his anger openly; in which case by recording it, he's just being sincere. (I'm afraid there might have been words though because Sam probably would have been "vexed" and not "angry" if it had just been mental.)

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

1. Until antibiotics came along in C20, having a tooth pulled could absolutely be fatal in a non-trivial percentage of cases, due to infection in the wound. Sam may know that "the greatest of dirt" in his house is not the best place to convalesce, hence being first "troubled" and later on "angry" about her return.

2. But speaking of "I am now in the greatest of all my dirt," we still want to know the scope of work in these renovations, clearly more than just putting in a pair of stairs. But looking back to March 25 (… ), Sam told us then: "This morning came workmen to begin the making of me a new pair of stairs up out of my parler, which, with other work that I have to do, I doubt [believe] will keep me this two months and so long I shall be all in dirt; but the work do please me very well." I missed, in commenting earlier, that there was "other work" besides the stairs, and that at the start he estimated completion in two months — so it is pretty major work; right now about six weeks in and still it's a filthy mess. I'm going to guess the workers won't finish before the end of May.

LKvM  •  Link

A foretooth is a "cutting" tooth, or incisor, of which there are eight: four in the upper jaw and four in the lower jaw.
Since Elizabeth is known to be a beauty, let's hope the drawn incisor was one of the four less visible foreteeth in the lower jaw.

RM  •  Link

“…after I had chid him for going with my Will the other day to Deptford with the principal officers…”

I get a sense of office politics anxiety here, in this time of patronage and duplicity: Pepys is perhaps concerned that while he was away his colleagues have taken the opportunity to use John as a stand in, perhaps to tease out information, or simply to amuse themselves with John's relative lack of discourse and thereby cement their own inter-relationship and standing in front of the more senior Slingsby.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

There were no dentists as such in Pepys' day, but those who undertook the drawing of teeth were members of the Barber-Surgeons' Company.

As this is the first, but far from the last, incident of dental pain that he records, please post your valuable "in general" observations to…

The "this day" observations still belong here of course.

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