Friday 10 January 1661/62

To White Hall, and there spoke with Sir Paul Neale about a mathematical request of my Lord’s to him, which I did deliver to him, and he promised to employ somebody to answer it, something about observation of the moon and stars, but what I did not mind. Here I met with Mr. Moore, who tells me that an injuncon is granted in Chancery against T. Trice, at which I was very glad, being before in some trouble for it. With him to Westminster Hall, where I walked till noon talking with one or other, and so to the Wardrobe to dinner, where tired with Mr. Pickering’s company I returned to Westminster, by appointment, to meet my wife at Mrs. Hunt’s to gossip with her, which we did alone, and were very merry, and did give her a cup and spoon for my wife’s god-child, and so home by coach, and I late reading in my chamber and then to bed, my wife being angry that I keep the house so late up.

38 Annotations

First Reading

David A. Smith  •  Link

"a mathematical request ... moon and stars, but what I did not mind"
The longitude, perhaps, the longitude?
What a throwaway line!
'Went to see FDR with a letter from some nutty Hungarian, something about atoms, but what I did not mind.'

David A. Smith  •  Link

"he promised to employ somebody to answer it"
Sam has encountered Sir Paul Neale before:…
But what about is opaque.
Samuel Butler (1613-1680) 'freely showers ridicule on Sir Paul Neale, probably the original of the astrologer Sidrophel (perhaps a parody of "Astrophil") and on Lord Brounker’, see… .
Can anyone shed light on good Sir Paul?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"by appointment, to meet my wife at Mrs. Hunt's to gossip with her,which we did alone"
As I understand it gossip in this case was not "girls talk" between Mrs Hunt and Elisabeth but rather a chat betwwen SP and his wife.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Interesting to see Sandwich display an intellectual bent...We know he's a music fan and Sam has gone to see experiments with/for him in the past, I believe.

Avik  •  Link

What's considered late?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

One minute " meet my wife at Mrs. Hunt's to gossip with her, which we did alone, and were very merry…” an intimate comradery…(I gather Sam enjoyed the ‘gossip’ every bit as much as Beth)

The next… “I late reading in my chamber and then to bed, my wife being angry that I keep the house so late up…” (though I’d guess poor Beth was lonely)

vicenzo  •  Link

a Sir P: Neil made his mark by looking at land on Neptune and his nay sayers were not into the trident business.

vicenzo  •  Link

This day, may have introduced Sam to the ideas of shipping and need for Astromony, clocks ,Maths involved as the Royal Society was the main source of Scientific Discovery.
"...Sir Paul Neil, Mr. John Evelyn, Mr. Henshaw, Mr. Slingsby, Dr. Timothy Clark, Dr. Ent, Mr. Hall, Mr. Hill, Dr. Crone, and diverse other gentlemen, whose inclinations lay the same way. This custom was observed once, if not twice a week, in term-time; till they were scattered by the miserable distractions of that fatal year; till the continuance of their meetings there might have made them run the hazard of the fate of Archimedes: for then the place of their meeting was made a quarter for soldiers. ..."


Mary  •  Link

"keep the house so late up"

Elizabeth may indeed be lonely, but the servants will also be feeling disgruntled, as they cannot go to bed until the boss has retired for the night and Elizabeth's anger on their behalf is perfectly reasonable.

Mary  •  Link

"an injunction is granted..."

By means of this injunction, Trice's action at common law against Pepys in the matter of Robert Pepys' estate is halted and the matter is referred to the Court of Chancery; this will mean a lengthy delay in settling the dispute.

andy  •  Link

something about observation of the moon and stars,

As David points out above, the search for a reliable system of determining longitude was certainly exercising sea captains at that time. I'm short on remembering the details but I think the book "Longitude" and the display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich describes using observations of the Moon on a background of stars as an early attempt to determining Longitude, more hopeful than anything else, whereas accurate methods later developed were based on inventing an accurate timepiece capable of keeping on Greenwich mean time in the high seas, and comparing observations at sea with worked-out prediction tables for Greenwich.

I remember Sam commented a year or so back that a ship's captain had shown him his watch which had a couple of marks engraved on it. (I can't remember the date though). The consensus on this board at the time was that these were masonic symbols but my minority comment was that they could have been part of this same quest for longitude, perhaps a means of determining angle of observation between two time points?

Linda  •  Link

I find it interesting that Paris had, and used, its own meridian line until 1911. In fact, 130 round brass medallions lie across Paris north to south, following this line with the name, Arago, and the letter n and s on them.

Australian Susan  •  Link

I wish Sam had been more interested in the maths and the astronomical observations: I would have liked to have heard more about that than dreary squabbles about striking flags!

Martin  •  Link

The Wardrobe for dinner
I may have missed this, but do we yet have a good explanation of what the Wardrobe actually is? A dining club? Someone recently explained the mysteries of the place to Sam, but he didn't tell us what they are.

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

The Wardrobe
Martin, The Wardrobe was a dwelling, the official residence of the Master of the Great Wardrobe. Pepys' patron, Edward Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, is currently the Master of the Wardrobe and Lord and Lady Sandwich (and their children) live at the Wardrobe, which is why S & E Pepys go to dinner there so often.

tjcarr  •  Link

..did give her a cup and spoon...
I'm not sure if we covered this, but when did this custom of giving a cup and spoon to a child for its christening originate? Would these have benn sterling silver? It just so happens that I purchased one of each last month for my nephew's christening.

Ruben  •  Link

interest in the maths:
to Australian Susan:
Samuel had no maths education. He knew that. So, if you read my spoiler in the background info "education" you will see what he did about the subject...

David A. Smith  •  Link

"something about observation of the moon and stars"
If the links at this site…
are reliable, we have a useful chronology :) of the longitude:
1530: Gemma Frisius demonstrates that with a good timekeeper and stellar positions, one can calculate longitude.
1598 Philip II offers prizes for the best methods.
1668: Cassini catalogs times of immersion and emersion of Jupiter's satellites.
It wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility that Sandwich, on behalf of the Navy -- principal beneficiary of accurate longitude -- would be looking for these things, or that he might expect Sam to shepherd the research even if Sam didn't understand it.
And if you think a layperson can't effectively direct a scientific endeavor, I submit for your consideration General Leslie R. Groves:…

andy  •  Link

Glyn suggests I should put up the link to my comment on 30 april 1660 re the sea-captain's watch, which he's kindly provided as :…

and I agree with Australian Susan that it would have been great if, in relation to the sea, he had concentrated on astronomy and maths rather than law - but then he would have been in different professional circles...and might have had less to say...

Sjoerd  •  Link

There was a serious battle going on between the "big" maritime nations for solving the longitude problem. The dutch "Staten Generaal" were trying to obtain Galileo's cooperation at this time, who had been studying the moon, but he had already been sort of locked up by the inquisition.

To measure the movement of the moon seems a likely way of determining longitude at sea, but because it is a so called "three body problem" (earth, sun and moon each playing their part) it was at this time impossible to make any dependable tables for it. To show that the subject of longitude was very much on the agenda at this time:

A poem written in 1661 described the work going on at Gresham College

The Colledge will the whole world measure,
Which most impossible conclude,
And Navigators make a pleasure
By finding out the longitude.
Every Tarpalling shall then with ease
Sayle any ships to th'Antipodes.…

So apart from the scientific interest: it would have been of huge political interest as well.

tc  •  Link

...the moon and stars...

It is sometimes hard for us in this age of GPS to realize these early mariners were heading out without any way of accurately fixing position on the open sea. It was Dead Reckoning...and many captains were almost supernatural in knowing where their ship was placed on an open sea...but many wound up dead because they reckoned wrong. Most ships made a point of asking any other ship they ran across, if it wasn't an enemy they felt obliged to attack, what their last known position was. There was a lot of comparing of notes amongst captains, and a lot of seamen had to spend uncomfortable hours in the chains throwing the leadline when a ship approached a landfall. Making first soundings was a vital notification of the accuracy of a dead reckoning course; the leads had hollows in the bottom that were filled with tallow, and samples of the bottom could be brought up for the captain/navigator/sailing master to see and sometimes even taste: sand, or mud, or whatever. It was an arcane art. Cloudy days could completely screw up any attempts to use the moon and stars, and anyone who has tried to fix a star in a sextant from a moving deck knows how difficult it must have been using less-than-modern equipment.

Harrison's famous chronometer is still decades away.

vicenzo  •  Link

There was a lot of latitude in useing the sun dial, it could be in error of up to 16 minutes, they so were longing for a better way to get to the Indies [east or west]. Finally they [FS]created The royal Observatory which was founded 1675 to solve the question. [A good place to visit to find father time and how we got our spices]
understanding Log books {which I sure Sam endeavoured to scour}…
Sam! if he used a Sun dial, could have been in error by as much 16 minutes.…
then there was the origin of First Latitude and Scale [a bone of contention, who was the first]
Portuguese map-maker Pedro Reinel first drew latitude scale on the prime meridian (starting point for measuring longitude) in 1506.

David  •  Link

For a delightful fictional work on the search for longitude, including the now disfavored tortured psychic dog technique, Umberto Eco's The Island of the Day Before…, is good reading.

dirk  •  Link

Samuel's maths - re Ruben

It's almost certainly incorrect to say that Sam has had no mathematical education. As a learned man he certainly studied the "Seven Liberal Arts" in his student days - the equivalent of a Grammar School curriculum, including mathematics (part of the so called "quadruvium").

The Background Info on [Education > Pepys' education] states that Sam had problems memorizing his multiplication tables (a practical necessity in a time without calculators), but that doesn't imply he had no mathematical insight!

Pedro.  •  Link

Today John Evelyn says..

Being called into his Majesties Closet, when Mr. Cooper (the rare limmer) was crayoning of his face & head, to make the stamps by, for the new mill'd money, now contriving, I had the honour to hold the Candle whilst it was doing; choosing to do this at night & by candle light, for the better finding out the shadows; during which his Majestie was pleasd to discourse with me about severall things relating to Painting & Graving.

upper_left_hand_corner  •  Link

"Gossip" has changed meaning over the years.

Somewhat before Pepys' time it meant being a godmother, godfather or baptismal sponsor. Pepys may still be using it in that sense. At Pepys' time and later, it had generalized to the female friends invited to attend the birth and afterwards.

It had already started to acquire its present meaning by 1662, though.

Pauline  •  Link

"Gossip" has changed meaning over the years.

Upper left, thank you for this good information. Clearly Sam is using ‘gossip’ in this sense you present.

Ruben  •  Link

Samuel's maths
Wheatley in his introduction to Pepys writes:

“He knew nothing about the
navy, and so little of accounts that apparently he learned the
multiplication table for the first time in July, 1661.”

Second Reading

Pat McCann  •  Link

John Harrison, the clock maker, who finally solved the longitude problem, was born about 3 miles from where I live in Wakefield. there is a blue plaque on the house opposite Nostell Priory, where his father worked as a carpenter.

Bill  •  Link

"to meet my wife at Mrs. Hunt’s to gossip with her"

GOSSIP, a God Father or Mother in Baptism.
A GOSSIPING, a merry Meeting of Gossips at a Woman's Lying in.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

I think it's difficult for us to comprehend difficulties of navigation before Harrison's clock. Around 1958 I sailed on three cargo ships as a cadet, something like a midshipman without any authority. Our only electronic navigation instrument was a RDF (Radio Direction Finder) which, to the best of my knowledge, was never used for navigation because, even after two or three days of cloudy weather our uncertainty of position was always less than the RDF's uncertainty. Thus we were dependent on dead reckoning. But computing our speed was much, much, better that that used by sailing ships (counting how many knots in a knotted line slip past one's fingers in some period of time measured with an hourglass) and our last known position was much more recent and accurate than it would have been before the chronometer.

The route of many ships across the Atlantic would involve sailing south pretty much along the coasts until the altitude (angle with the horizon) of the North Star matched the altitude of the destination and then sailing East using dead reckoning to estimate Longitude and watching for land birds, floating debris such as tree branches and leaves, and the peculiar clouds that form over islands to forewarn the proximity of land.

Still, groundings (and collisions) continue to occur to this day.

In Sam's day many countries established their prime meridian based on the country's capital city and not all the charts had North at the top which further complicated exchanges of position.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘gossip, n. . . Old English godsibb < god god n. and int. + sib akin, related = Old Norse guð-sefe . .
1. One who has contracted spiritual affinity with another by acting as a sponsor at a baptism.
a. In relation to the person baptized: A godfather or godmother; a sponsor. Now only arch. and dial.
. . a1684 J. Evelyn Diary anno 1649 (1955) II. 567 The Parents being so poore, that they had provided no Gosships.
1689 R. Milward Selden's Table-talk 44 Should a great Lady, that was invited to be a Gossip, in her place send her Kitchin-Maid . . ‘

Third Reading

Ruslan  •  Link

Broken links on the Wayback Machine:

vicenzo's "This day, may have introduced Sam to the ideas of shipping":…

David's "something about observation of the moon and stars":…

David's "General Leslie R. Groves":…

Sjoerd's "A poem written in 1661":…

vicenzo's "understanding Log books":…

vincenzo's "Sun dial":…

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