Sunday 3 November 1661

(Lord’s day). This day I stirred not out, but took physique, and it did work very well, and all the day as I was at leisure I did read in Fuller’s Holy Warr, which I have of late bought, and did try to make a song in the praise of a liberall genius (as I take my own to be) to all studies and pleasures, but it not proving to my mind I did reject it and so proceeded not in it. At night my wife and I had a good supper by ourselves of a pullet hashed, which pleased me much to see my condition come to allow ourselves a dish like that, and so at night to bed.

49 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"which pleased me much to see my condition come to allow ourselves a dish like that"
Was chicken a status symbol then?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Perhaps the "hashed" preparation was the important thing...They had the luxury of having the bird deboned and only the best meat kept?

Pedro.  •  Link

Thomas Fuller.

One of the quotations attributed to him.
"If thou are a master, be sometimes blind; if a servant, sometimes deaf."
Sam could have smiled to think the master should have been a little deaf yesterday!

and one for today?
"Learning makes a man fit company for himself."…

Also for more Fuller quotations see site mentioned in background by Language Hat..…

David Cooper  •  Link

"in praise of a liberall genius (as I take my own to be)" This is ironic in view of the US election results from 343 years in the future! But it does illustrate one of the delights of this way of reading Pepys. How else would you constantly be relating his thinking to ours in the twenty-first century?

Judy B  •  Link

I suspect he means "liberal" in the older sense of "generous." In other words, in his not-so-humble opinion, he has a lot of genius! As in a "liberal" or full helping of something.

Anyone with a Middle-English dictionary?

Pauline  •  Link

"I suspect he means "liberal" in the older sense of "generous.“
Which is still with us, and which informs our political use of the word as well.

daniel  •  Link


this is still a bit of an irony to read on such a day as today here in the US.......


indeed, even until the thirties and into the fifties in the US, chicken, unless one lived on a chicken ranch, was a rare treat, reserved for sundays or even holidays.

Bradford  •  Link

Pursuant to Daniel's remark: though it's unclear which American politican first used the phrase, he would hardly bother to promise a chicken for every pot if it were likely there was one there already.

daniel  •  Link


very good!

Louis  •  Link

Pepys "did try to make a song . . . but it not proving to my mind I did reject it and so proceeded not in it."

Much as Samuel Johnson, 122 years later, after a stroke left him unablet o speak, "tried his faculties" by mentally composing a prayer in Latin: "The lines were not very good, but I knew them not to be very good." The exercise of self-judgement is a sign that one still has a fairly full count of marbles.

Which you can also apply to the abovementioned elections, if you have---a mind to.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: "liberall genius"

I don't know if Sam necessarily means "generous" ... I read this more as "well-rounded" -- meaning that his genius lies in his ability to take in, digest, and exhibit a wide range of skills and interests. Essentially, he's a deep, multi-dimensional kind of guy, able to see and interpret the many shades of gray that make up life, rather than a shallow, dogmatic, one-dimensional person like the one recently elec ... oops, better not go there.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Nothing like physique and a good book to make for a quiet and pleasant Sunday...

dirk  •  Link

"liberall genius"

I read the word "liberall" to refer to the "liberal arts" - "artes liberales" (cfr. infra). Sam has shown considerable interest in the subjects covered by the 7 liberal arts before...

Also the word "genius" in this context shouldn't be taken in its present day meaning, but rather as a synonym of "(trained) mind".

"The expression artes liberales ... does not mean arts as we understand the word at this present day, but those branches of knowledge which were taught in the schools of that time. They are called liberal (Lat. liber, free), because they serve the purpose of training the free man, in contrast with the artes illiberales, which are pursued for economic purposes; their aim is to prepare the student not for gaining a livelihood, but for the pursuit of science in the strict sense of the term .... They are seven in number and may be arranged in two groups, the first embracing grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic ...; the second group comprises arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music .... The first group is considered to be the elementary group, whence these branches are also called artes triviales, or trivium .... Contrasted with them we find the mathematical disciplines as artes quadriviales, or quadrivium ...."
Abridged from:…

"Aristotle ... considered that 'this education and these studies exist for their own sake' as part of the pursuit of excellence in intellectual and moral activities. Such activities are ultimately important because they are the most fulfilling pursuits available to human beings."

Larry Bunce  •  Link

I found this on a website named They have a section on 17th century English cookery.

How to hashe a Capon.

Roast your Capon almost enough, then cut all the flesh from the bones which will mince, and mince it small; put it into a pipkin with white Wine and a little strong Broth, five or sixe hard yolkes of Eggs, with nine or ten Chesnuts minced very small, an Oxe Palate sliced very thin, a little Bacon (if it be not rusty) minced small, some powder of Saffron, a hand-full of Pistaches; stew all these together with the gristles and bones (which will not mince) till it be tender; then put in a large piece of Butter, a little Vinegar or minced Lemmon (if you have it) with a little of the peel, and a little Salt; shake it well together and let it not boyl; then lay thin white-bread tostes in the dish; pour this meat on it, and lay the bones in order about the dish with Sippits, Barberries, halfe yolks of Egges, or greene and what other coloured garnish you fancy.

dirk  •  Link

"did try to make a song in the praise of a liberall genius"

Applying the techniques of the "liberal art" of music [considered to be a branch of mathematics!] to the subject of the "arts" themselves. - Technically this would be "meta-arts": the something with itself as a subject...

Roger Arbor  •  Link

Having been brought up in 50s England with all the rationing and shortages that entailed, the thought of having a chicken was simply impossible. The only time I ever tasted chicken in the years from 1945 to around 1955 or so, was at Christmas; and then at considerable expense. We too thought ourselves 'rich', even though we lived in a prefab. (For those who have no idea what that is... a pre-fabricated house... largely made of wood and cardboard). Here's to you dear Samuel.

Mary  •  Link


Used here in the sense of a natural characteristic disposition, inclination; natural bent or turn of mind and temper.

Peter  •  Link

Strange that Sam tells us about taking physic, but doesn't tell us why. He hasn't told us of any ailments for the last few days. Is he just pampering himself? The Restoration equivalent of a day at a health farm, perhaps?

Mary  •  Link


This regularly (no pun intended) refers to a dose of laxative. In Pepys' day 'purgative' would probably have been a more appropriate term, as the results nearly always seem to require the patient to spend the following day very close to the jakes.

Bob T  •  Link


What did Sam use for toilet paper? The Romans used a sponge on a stick. The Vikings used wool, and I read recently of an Italian nobleman who used the "waste paper" from government offices. I also read that the French nobility used lace. Now that's about as decadent as you can get.

How about Sam? Whatever he used, the population of London must have used a lot of it.

Nix  •  Link

Samuel's use of "genius" --

according to OED, the common modern usage ("native intellectual power of an exalted type") did not develop until the 18th century:

"This sense, which belongs also to F. genie, Ger. genie, appears to have been developed in the 18th c. (It is not recognized in Johnson’s Dictionary.) In sense 4 the word had come to be applied with especial frequency to the kind of intellectual power manifested by poets and artists; and when in this application "genius", as native endowment, came to be contrasted with the aptitudes that can be acquired by study, the approach to the modern sense was often very close. The further development of meaning was prob. influenced by association with senses 1 and 2, which suggested that the word had an especial fitness to denote that particular kind of intellectual power which has the appearance of proceeding from a supernatural inspiration or possession, and which seems to arrive at its results in an inexplicable and miraculous manner. This use, which app. originated in England, came into great prominence in Germany, and gave the designation of Genieperiode to the epoch in German literature otherwise known as the "Sturm und Drang" period. Owing to the influence of Ger. literature in the present century, this is now the most familiar sense of the Eng. word, and usually colours the other senses. It was by the Ger. writers of the 18th c. that the distinction between "genius" and "talent", which had some foundation in Fr. usage, was sharpened into the strong antithesis which is now universally current, so that the one term is hardly ever defined without reference to the other. The difference between genius and talent has been formulated very variously by different writers, but there is general agreement in regarding the former as the higher of the two, as "creative" and "original", and as achieving its results by instinctive perception and spontaneous activity, rather than by processes which admit of being distinctly analyzed.”

BradW  •  Link

BobT's ???????

I remember from a Connections broadcast that until the 19th Century, paper-making required a good deal of cotton fiber, and that the burgeoning need for paper made cotton rags a scarce commodity, and paper correspondingly expensive. The remedy was a wood pulping process that was perfected in the Napoleanic era, which made newsprint (and I suppose Charmin) cheap and easy to make.

So in Sam's time I expect paper would have been too difficult for the average Londoner to reliably find at those odd moments of need. Though perhaps one laid in a supply of old foolscap when a purgative was scheduled....

Bob T  •  Link

?????? Answered

I just did what any pre-schooler would have done - I googled it.
Sam most likely used straw or a scrapper. You had to be tough to live in them thar days.

vicente  •  Link

Pullet was choice, then there was the old boiler [tough as nails and no longer could lay eggs] that was the choice for those short on the dough. For those that were lucky to go to the local butcher, that was good, but for us hay seeds, though we may have been indulged in all the fowls and game, but we payed the price of catching, killing and plucking the said sunday dinner.
Physique: the first question from the white coated one during my ilgotten youth, was "how's the Bowels ?, moving well we trust" ye nodded because Castor oil was ****** ******. nuthing like haveing a bowl of Blackberries, saves ye from purgatory.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Toilet Paper"
In Brazil, in the countryside up until some years ago,folks used corn cobs reasoning that it was ideal because it would clean(limpa)scratch(co?a)and comb(e penteia)

Nix  •  Link

Corncobs --

I recall my grandmother telling us that they used corncobs when she was a girl (circa 1900) in Indiana. My brother and I reacted with disbelief, disgust, and much bawdy laughter.

Maurie Beck  •  Link


When my mother was growing up during the depression, her family had chicken for Sunday dinner. It was a highly anticipated meal. On Monday morning, my grandmother would invariably find chicken bones under my mother's pillow.

Terry Willingham  •  Link

My parents kept 300 chickens on a smallholding during the 50s in rural Essex, England. We rarely ate them. We sold them at market and bought cheaper meat such as beef. How times change!

Josh  •  Link

3 hours at least to hash a pullet, and 15 minutes to eat it. Such is human life.

vicente  •  Link

"We rarely ate them"; of course, only those that failed to survive going to the local market or could not or would not wait for the wringer before Christmas or stopped a Laying . Poor old Rhode Islands or Leghorns. Oh! how they clucked.

dirk  •  Link

"toilet paper"

Mussel shells and similar (*not* oyster shells) were also commonly used for this purpose ("scrapers").

Pauline  •  Link

"toilet paper"
In nature, ferns work; even salal (*not* poison ivy or nettles).

Glyn  •  Link

34 responses to a very ordinary entry? I guess that if you want a big reaction you just mention chickens, or lavatories, or both.

We are reading about him a few centuries ago, and he is reading about the Crusades a few centuries further back, which brings it home to me how similar he is to us. He is reading about The Crusades, and that reminded me that he often goes to the Temple Church just off Fleet Street to go to services or buy sheets of music from John Playford, who had a shop there:……

so he would have seen the (I think) 8 or 9 effigies of Crusader knights that are in in the oldest part of the Temple. I can certainly imagine him reading their names on the tombs, then going back home to look them up in his book - it's what anyone would do.

Bradford  •  Link

Was human skin so much tougher then that these methods of cleaning the human behind did not leave everyone with a constant case of diaper rash? As a urologist once asked me, "What kept these people from having constant urinary tract infections?"

vicente  •  Link

Pursuant to Glyn's WC[jakes et al]: no other animal has a problem with cleansing de derriere except some do use a strange device called a bidet. The diet has changed. 'Tis that some societies have very strong protocol reguarding Cleanliness.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Holy Warre"
Glyn,I think we are talking about chickens and lavatories because it is diversionary or escapist if you will;
Holy War is still very topical

Glyn  •  Link

What I want to know is: in what recent year was the tipping point when we all switched from hard lavatory paper to soft lavatory paper? I am sure hard paper was the norm in the 1960s (and 1970s?) and you would have been considered strange if you had used anything else. Now you can only get the soft stuff and apparently it's clogging up all the sewers. In what year did it all change?

vicente  •  Link

The rumour went like this : The Ambassador to the court of St James, Introduced The Queen to the product because at one point, he was the CEO to Crown Zellabachs Toilet Products. My relatives got a great kick,by putting soft toilet tissue in the downstairs Loo and it was marked for the " Yanks only".

Pat Stewart Cavalier  •  Link

The promise of a chicken in every pot was not first made by an American politician (ne vous déplaise), but by Henri IV, king of France late 16th - early 17th century, grandfather of Louis XIV, who promised that each French family would have "une poule au pot" on Sundays. Somewhat earlier.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

"This day I stirred not out, but took physique ... a pullet hashed, which pleased me much to see my condition come to allow ourselves a dish like that"

I think the two phrases are related. A "physique," a purgative, that required a person to remain home all day must have been quite harsh. To be able to eat chicken at the end of that day would have been a relief.

Bill  •  Link

"did try to make a song in the praise of a liberall genius (as I take my own to be) to all studies and pleasures"

LIBERAL, bountiful, generous, also honourable, genteel.
GENIUS, a good or evil Angel or Spirit, supposed to attend upon every Person; also a Man's Nature, Fancy or Inclination.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

This is another case where words have a much different meaning than they did 350 years ago. Sam is saying he has a "genteel Inclination" to all studies and pleasures, remembering that being liberal (i.e. honourable, genteel) was very important to him as he rose in the world.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

"which pleased me much to see my condition come to allow ourselves a dish like that"

Having a chicken to eat was probably something most of the population of London never experienced. Even in the US some 300 years later, in 1928, Herbert Hoover ran on the campaign pledge: "A chicken in every pot," which implied that the majority of the population didn't get chicken.Of course, many didn't get it after he was elected, either, for at least another 15 or 20 years.

As for toilet paper, anything might have been used, including a rag left near the latrine that everyone else used.

john  •  Link

Bill: "A physique [that] must have been quite harsh."

Indeed, anyone who has undergone the mandatory cleansing before a colonoscopy can attest to that.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

In Cuba most meats are (were?) under government control and so inaccessible to all but the few. Chickens were not. However, they were so skinny that the locals referred to them as being "pre-cooked".

Tim  •  Link

Right up to the 1970s, we only ate chicken at Christmas. Otherwise it was beef or mutton, with the occasional pork.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has;

‘genius . . II. Character, ability, and related senses.
6. a. A person's characteristic disposition; natural inclination; temperament. Obs.
a1586 Sir P. Sidney Apol. Poetrie (1595) sig. I3v, A Poet, no industrie can make, if his owne Genius bee not carried vnto it.
. . 1690 J. Evelyn Mem. (1857) III. 318 Its being suitable to my rural genius, born as I was at Wotton, among the woods.’

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

John Rede, an English merchant at Lisbon, to Sandwich
Written from: Lisbon
Date: 13 November 1661 [N.S.] [3 November English style]
Shelfmark: MS. Carte 73, fol(s). 598
Document type: Holograph

The English fleet has been long expected and much desired at Lisbon. A delay in filling up the regiments to be embarked is supposed to be the cause of the delay.

The Queen of England has been somewhat indisposed, having hurt her foot. The President of the Jesuit College (who taught her Majesty English) says of her that she hath so masculine a spirit, that he is sure no dangers or troubles incident to a Winter Voyage would delay her embarkation.

Carte Calendar Volume 32, June - December 1661
Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Edward Edwards, 2005
Shelfmark: MS. Carte Calendar 32
Extent: 464 pages…


Lisbon -…

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.