Wednesday 16 October 1661

In bed till 12 o’clock. This morning came several maids to my wife to be hired, and at last she pitched upon one Nell, whose mother, an old woman, came along with her, but would not be hired under half a year, which I am pleased at their drollness. This day dined by appointment with me, Dr. Thos. Pepys and my Coz: Snow, and my brother Tom, upon a fin of ling and some sounds, neither of which did I ever know before, but most excellent meat they are both, that in all my life I never eat the like fish. So after dinner came in W. Joyce and eat and drank and were merry. So up to my chamber, and put all my papers, at rights, and in the evening our maid Mary (who was with us upon trial for a month) did take leave of us, going as we suppose to be married, for the maid liked us and we her, but all she said was that she had a mind to live in a tradesman’s house where there was but one maid. So to supper and to bed.

17 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro.  •  Link

"and some sounds"

Sounds? Swim bladders of fish?
A delicacy in the Far East.

Josh  •  Link

Just so, Pedro: "SOUND: fish-bladder," says the "Shorter Pepys" Glossary.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...upon a fin of ling and some sounds, neither of which did I ever know before, but most excellent meat they are both, that in all my life I never eat the like fish..."

Wonder what inspired this daring choice? Something Elisabeth pressed, having had it in her family's travels, perhaps?

Mary  •  Link

"their drollness"

The most likely gloss on this use of 'droll' (supported by OED) is that Pepys found the pair unintentionally funny. He's implies that he is amused by their cheek in insisting on a 6-month contract rather than submitting to a probationary term.

JWB  •  Link

I think Sam means some other fish caught @ sound, like the ling with its barbels to feel along the bottom. He does write"...meat they are both." I don't think he'd call a fish bladder meat.

Bob T  •  Link

I'm surprised that Sam has not eaten ling cod before. They are an ugly fish, and that is probably why they are still considered second best. Im sure that many readers of this diary have eaten them too without knowing, because they are called by a different name after they have been processed. Many "garbage fish" have euphemistic names, rock cod being one of them. I caught a ling in Newfoundland a while back, and it was pretty good eating.

Bob T  •  Link


Mary should have been a diplomat, she appears to have the right skills. There was something she didn't like, and she stick handled around it.

Pauline  •  Link

"stick handled around it"
Bob, I have never heard this phrase. What is your sense of it? My vision is that she plants the stick and swings wide of having to give real reasons. But that is just the stick. Where's the handle? Likely a verb instead of a noun? The old stick face that allows one to finesse on out the door?

Steve A  •  Link

"Stick handling" is used in hockey (ie Canadian hockey) to describe using ones hockey stick to maneuver the puck around an opponent. Also more generally as in, "His stick handling skill has improved." It is quite aptly used to describe maneuvering an issue.

vicente  •  Link

stick handled: Never play with the [under 14's] boys vs. the girls in shinty; the girls handle their sticks aplomb. They stick handled the lads and not that little round orb.

GrahamT  •  Link

Stick Handled:
I'm with Vicente on this. At my school after one mixed matched of Hockey (on grass not ice) it was decided not to continue as it was thought that none of the boys would ever become fathers after the treatment the girls handed out.

Second Reading

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘ling, n.1
1. A long slender gadoid fish, Molva vulgaris or Lota molva, inhabiting the seas of northern Europe. It is largely used for food (usually either salted, or split and dried) . .
▸c1300 Havelok (Laud) (1868) 832 Ne he ne mouthe on the se take Neyther lenge, ne thornbake.
. . 1667 S. Pepys Diary 20 Mar. (1974) VIII. 121 Had a good dinner of Ling and herring pie . . ‘

‘sound, n.6 . . Of obscure origin; perhaps an error for squid.
1611 R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues, Seche, the sound, or Cuttle-fish.’

Louise Hudson  •  Link

My Joy of Cooking cookbook defines sounds as cod cheeks. Pepys said they were excellent meat, which would fit, unlike fish bladders, as JWB pointed out.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Rev. Ralph Josselin's family in Earl’s Colne, Essex

Oct: 13. God was good to me in manifold outward mercies, a very comfortable season my heart through grace not left as sometimes to vanity, evil is as my death, but when lord will you slay it in the actings thereof, all my sisters by my father and mother here at Colne with me supping this night together and not together again though my sister Ann went not until october 16. about noon, my sister Mary in town never coming up to see us in all that time.

This night my daughter Jane was taken sick very strangely, not able to go or help herself and so continued three or four days, and then somewhat better, like the gout or joint ague.…

John Matthew IV  •  Link


Please do not post references to the future. Let us who are reading this one day at a time learn about these events as they happen.

Thank you.

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