Wednesday 25 December 1661

In the morning to church, where at the door of our pew I was fain to stay, because that the sexton had not opened the door. A good sermon of Mr. Mills. Dined at home all alone, and taking occasion from some fault in the meat to complain of my maid’s sluttery, my wife and I fell out, and I up to my chamber in a discontent. After dinner my wife comes up to me and all friends again, and she and I to walk upon the leads, and there Sir W. Pen called us, and we went to his house and supped with him, but before supper Captain Cock came to us half drunk, and began to talk, but Sir W. Pen knowing his humour and that there was no end of his talking, drinks four great glasses of wine to him, one after another, healths to the king, and by that means made him drunk, and so he went away, and so we sat down to supper, and were merry, and so after supper home and to bed.

23 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro.  •  Link

Snow at Xmas.

Most of us here in the UK have seen snow on this Xmas Day, which is not so common in these days of "global warming."…
In the Diary up to the present time, Sam has only twice mentioned snow, (Except cozen Snow of course) on the 4th and 15th of January 1660.

dirk  •  Link


John Evelyn notes in his diary entry for today:
"The ill weather kept me from Church:"

So maybe snow after all?

Bradford  •  Link

Or, another installment in Mr. Pepys's Hints for Shedding Unwanted Company. Would that we had started a list early on.

Clement  •  Link

"John Barlow, a seaman of extraordinary talent, gives a bleak account in his Journal of his first Christmas at sea in 1661:

"So coming to Calas (Calais) the next day it was Christmas Day and the first Christmas Day ever I had out of England, but not the last by a great many. We had but small Christmas cheer, not having Christmas pie or roast beef, or plum podich and suchlike, I remember that the poorest people in England would have a bit of something that was good on such a day, and that many beggars would fare much better than we did: for we had nothing but a little bit of Irish beef for four men, which had lain in pickle two or three years and was rusty as the devil, with a little stinking oil or butter, which was all colours of the rainbow, many men in England greasing their cartwheels with better: and also we had not two or three days to play in and go where we would, as the worst servants had in England, but as soon as we had ate our large dinner, which was done in three or four mouthfuls, we must work all the day after, and maybe a great part of the night . . ."…

I can imagine old Barlow one-upping his wheelchair mates in the garden of the Old Sailors Home with that tale.

daniel  •  Link

"drinks four great glasses of wine to him"

This is quite ingenious.
I will attempt to use this tactic the next time such a situation occurs.

Happy Xmas!

Charlezzzzz  •  Link

No mention of Christmas Eve. None of Christmas. None at all. Surprising, since the celebration of Christmas came back with the Restoration. What will Sam do next year? Will he ever give Elizabeth a Christmas present?

Ruben  •  Link

"..., and she and I to walk upon the leads, and there Sir W. Pen called us,...".
This means they walked on the roof, as Sir Pen also did, not a good idea if it was snowing.

Bob T  •  Link

drinks four great glasses of wine to him

I got a chuckle out of this incident, because I had done the same thing to a world famous entertainer some years ago, in similar circumstances. Fortunately, it only took one stiff drink to send him over the edge.
The people in Sam's time must have developed various strategies to deal with drunks, because of the large quantity of alcohol they consumed.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"no end to his talking...........and so he went away"
sometimes it can backfire and you are stuck.

JWB  •  Link

"...up to my chamber in a discontent."
A lot of this kind of behavior at Christmas time, especially among the 6 & 8 year olds. Ohio dressed to the nines this year: minus nine degrees and nine inches of snow. Merry Christmas!

dirk  •  Link

"my wife and I fell out, and I up to my chamber in a discontent. After dinner my wife comes up to me and all friends again"

One of these remarks of Sam's that make him feel so much alive to me. Who hasn't been there before? Sam is somewhat of a temperamental fellow, isn't he - and so it may seem is Elisabeth.

Maurie Beck  •  Link

drinks four great glasses of wine to him

I wonder if any of Sam's friends or acquaintances have done the same to him?

Martin  •  Link

..the sexton had not opened the door. . .
Just can't get good help these days.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

So did Sam sulk out Xmas dinner in his "closet"? Or just throw his (undercooked?) meat plate back on the table and run upstairs for a few minutes till Beth rolled her eyes and went up to persuade his Lordship to return...

Jane suppressing chuckles as Wayneman sneeks over to take advantage of the situation and grab Sam's left-behind wine and dinner...

Glyn  •  Link

Four glasses of wine

I think that this entry has been condensed: I'm fairly sure Pepys went into more detail than this in his diary. Could someone check with the Latham version of the diary?

Presumably it would have been unpatriotic to refuse to have a drink.

Mary  •  Link

No abbreviation worth mentioning.

The only omission in this version of the diary is the '&c.' (etcetera) that L&M show after 'to the King'

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

"where at the door of our pew I was fain to stay, because that the sexton had not opened the door"

FAIN, glad, desirous
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

So the sexton didn't open the door when SP wanted to leave the pew?

jpmrb  •  Link

@Bill (& everybody too!) : i guess that here, “fain” is used in the OED meaning defined in A.2.b below:

FAIN (…)
A.A adj.
1.A.1 Glad, rejoiced, well-pleased. Often in phrases, full fain, glad and fain. Const. of; also followed by inf. or subord. clause. Now chiefly dial. or poet. (…)
2.A.2 Const. to with inf. Glad under the circumstances; glad or content to take a certain course in default of opportunity for anything better, or as the lesser of two evils.
b.A.2.b This passes gradually into the sense: Necessitated, obliged.

Bryan  •  Link

I think SP was forced to wait outside because the sexton didn't unlock the door. You can see the staircase leading up to the Navy Office's pew in the drawing below.…

Bill  •  Link

Thanks jpmrb and Bryan, I think you've got it correct.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Will he ever give Elizabeth a Christmas present?"
Probably not -- gifts were usually given on New Year's Day. The 3 Wise Men were not at the nativity.

Last year brother John delivered a new cloak and muff on Christmas morning, which had just been made for Elizabeth. I suspect these were practical necessities more than gifts as we think of them today. Yes, they doubled as her New Year's gifts, but she needed them ASAP.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

People have used songs and music as a part of celebration for as long as we have recorded history. The word ‘carol’ comes from Latin, meaning both sing and joy. Thus, carols are songs of joy.

The songs we know as Christmas carols have both sacred and secular roots. Some began as hymns of the church.

Secular celebratory carols have a long history, well established in the British Isles by the time of Christianity. These songs were incorporated into rites that marked the arrival of each new season and integrated into observances of Michaelmas, Christmas, Easter and Mid-Summer Day.

By the 17th century, carols fell out of favor for most celebrations, except Christmas. Many of the songs retained their secular, even profane and sacrilegious nature. Consequently, when Cromwell came to power in the mid-1600’s, carols were strictly forbidden, as was any celebration of Christmas.

After the Restoration of the Monarchy, carol singing was embraced once again. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen and I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In are lyrics found in 17th century texts.

The practice of going door-to-door singing carols was known in the time of Shakespeare. Groups of usually lower-class men went singing from house-to-house and remaining until someone paid them for the efforts. Payment was more likely to make them go away rather than in appreciation of their songs and talent.

Carols sung while going house-to-house included both secular and sacred songs, some of which are familiar today, including: Deck the Halls, Here We Come a-Wassailing, We Wish you a Merry Christmas, and The Twelve Days of Christmas.

During the 18th century, the lyrics of Christmas carols became more decorous and gentile. They even became popular among the upper classes. Families sang carols in their homes and religious-themed carols were sung in the church.

Carol hymns which are familiar today include: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks at Night (written by Nahum Tate, published in 1702).
[the list then goes into 18th and 19th century songs - SDS]

17th century info taken from…

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