Tuesday 4 February 1661/62

To Westminster Hall, where it was full term. Here all the morning, and at noon to my Lord Crew’s, where one Mr. Templer (an ingenious man and a person of honour he seems to be) dined; and, discoursing of the nature of serpents, he told us some that in the waste places of Lancashire do grow to a great bigness, and that do feed upon larks, which they take thus: They observe when the lark is soared to the highest, and do crawl till they come to be just underneath them; and there they place themselves with their mouths uppermost, and there, as is conceived, they do eject poyson up to the bird; for the bird do suddenly come down again in its course of a circle, and falls directly into the mouth of the serpent; which is very strange. He is a great traveller; and, speaking of the tarantula, he says that all the harvest long (about which times they are most busy) there are fidlers go up and down the fields every where, in expectation of being hired by those that are stung.

Thence to the office, where late, and so to my chamber and then to bed, my mind a little troubled how to put things in order to my advantage in the office in readiness to the Duke’s orders lately sent to us, and of which we are to treat at the office to-morrow morning. This afternoon, going into the office, one met me and did serve a subpoena upon me for one Field, whom we did commit to prison the other day for some ill words he did give the office. The like he had for others, but we shall scour him for it.


25 Annotations

Pedro.  •  Link

"there are fidlers go up and down the fields everywhere, in expectation of being hired by those that are stung."

Tarantula, causes tarantism (an epidemic dancing mania) and the fiddlers are hired by those that are stung? At first sight I thought Sam was having his leg pulled, but old Tempter was indeed a much-travelled fellow. And those serpents in Lancashire?
http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?artic…

Vincent Bell  •  Link

Tarantism an imaginary convenient 'disease' used during the pre-1660 puritan period to excuse / allow dancing in the fields to the sound of fiddlers it seems, see..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarantism

vicenzo  •  Link

For the Lancashire lass, it be the Love bug? along with "daddy it be a frog last night" as said to pops when he sees the prince.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Back down to earth today and either getting on with work or worrying about it for Sam, but he cannot resist a good story and relates them for us. I had not heard of the spitting serpents of Lancashire. There are spitting snakes, but they are not bird catchers:bird eaters either take babies from nests or wait in trees to ambush snakes (see http://reptilis.net/serpentes/senses.html for a description of the latter). I think this is another example of the "rational" explanation for seemingly inexplicable behaviour of birds, others being barnacle geese being born from barnacles and swallows hibernating at the bottom of streams, both of which were current nature "facts" in Sam's time.

JWB  •  Link

"...we shall scour him for it."
I can think of a good use to which Mr. Field could make of three pyes.

vicenzo  •  Link

ne'er a mention, ne'er a word about these words . So there are events that he doth deem not worthy of an entry."...whom we did commit to prison the other day for some ill words he did give the office..."

daniel  •  Link

tarantella

Ah, yes, the oft quoted connection betweeen spider bites and dancing to a fiddler till you drop (or recover). I have heard several descriptions of this feat from various Neapolitans but Sam's is certainly one of my favorites.

vicenzo  •  Link

legend of St. Leonard
"In the south of England there lived a holy hermit named St, Leonard whose hut was surrounded by a glade of noble Beech trees. The saint loved the trees, but by day he could not sit under their shady branches because of the vipers which swarmed about the roots, and by night the songs of many nightingales disturbed his rest. So he prayed that both the serpents and the birds might be taken away, and from that day no viper has stung and no nightingale has warbled in the Hampshire forests."
http://www.the-tree.org.uk/BritishTrees/beech4.htm

vicenzo  •  Link

see H of L page:"...my mind a little troubled how to put things in order to my advantage in the office in readiness to the Duke's orders lately sent to us, and of which we are to treat at the office to-morrow morning …” admiralty jurisdiction Bill is in progress at Lords meeting hall
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compi…
The house of Lords is discussing the jurisdiction of the Admiralty on Thursday in the Princes lodging
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compi…
No wonder Sam be a little upset ne’er be on the wrong side of wronged prince. Did he put a guy in the pokey without the rite papers?

Paul Chapin  •  Link

scour
Can anyone with OED access tell us exactly what this word meant to Sam?

Mary  •  Link

scour.

OED quotes this sentence to illustrate the figurative use of the verb.

To beat or scourge; hence to punish or treat severely

Xjy  •  Link

Worth mentioning
Vince says "ne'er a mention, ne'er a word about these words . So there are events that he doth deem not worthy of an entry."...whom we did commit to prison the other day for some ill words he did give the office..."
So, too trivial to mention must be things like people spraying the authorities (Sam’s office) with vitriol, and the response of the authorities to this (throw ‘em in the slammer).
Respec’!
Sometimes we get a glimpse of the social setup that allows Sam his “musique” and oysters and parading before the ladies in church…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

One must admire Ed Field's style...Very twenty-first century. I would guess he chose to slap Sam with the subpoena as the non-titled and most vulnerable member of the office.

The words? Maybe just "Gentlemen, your books wouldn't bear close observation and we're tired of paying kickbacks. I shall go to the Parliament about this." Or perhaps a noting that poor seamen are being cheated of their miserable pay via the ticket scam while the Navy Office parties with obscene pies...

vicenzo  •  Link

corn shortage MP's take action:
Scarcity of Corn, &c.
Ordered, by the Commons assembled in Parliament, That, in respect of the great Dearth of Corn, and Sickness of the People, his Majesty be humbly moved to remit the Rigour of the Law for the strict Observation of this Lent ensuing: And that his Majesty be humbly acquainted, That this House hath received Information, that there is Plenty of Corn in Ireland, and that great Quantities thereof are bought up for Foreign Parts: And humbly, therefore, to beseech his Majesty to give special Order to his Justices and Council of Ireland, to take such an effectual Course, that no sort of Grain may be transported out of Ireland, but upon good Security, to bring and vend the same in England.
And the Members of this House, who are of his Majesty's Privy Council, and Sir Richard Ford, are desired to attend his Majesty with this Order.

From: British History Online
Source: House of Commons Journal Volume 8: 4 February 1662. Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8, (1802).
URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compi…
Date: 07/03/2005

Terry F  •  Link

L&M note: "This was the beginning of a series of disputes lasting until the end of 1663. Edward Field of Wapping had accused the Board of failing to act on the embezzlement of [three pieces of] timber [marked with the King's broad arrow, worth £15] by one [William] Turpin [labourer, of Wapping]. 'Spleen' or 'hopes...of reward', as Pepys wrote, might well inspire such allegations (*Further Corr.*, p. 4), and Turpin was in fact later acquitted in the Admiralty Court [ http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/03/17/ ]. Field, now committed for slander, successfully sued for wrongful arrest on the technical ground that the Board had no authority as magistrates within the city. The diary tells the rest of the story....

Terry F  •  Link

L&M note cont'd: "In October 1662 [Field] brought an action against Pepys and was awarded £30 damages; in November 1663 he sued the whole Board and obtained £20 damages plus costs, after demanding an out-of-court settlement of £250. Meanwhile, on an order of the Duke of York, Batten brought an action in the Exchequer on the original charge of slander and on 3 June 1663 was awarded £10 damages. This, inter alia, led to the act of 1664, giving the Board powers of magistracy within the city: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/03/22/
None of the papers concernin Field have survived among Pepys collections"

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"then to bed, my mind a little troubled how to put things in order to my advantage in the office in readiness to the Duke’s orders lately sent to us, and of which we are to treat at the office to-morrow morning."

For the Duke's orders see this annotation:
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1662/01/09/#c5323…

Bill  •  Link

"speaking of the tarantula ... there are fidlers go up and down the fields every where, in expectation of being hired by those that are stung"

TARANTATI, those that are bit by the Tarantula.
TARANTISM, a Distemper arising from the Bite of a Tarantula.
TARANTULA, a venomous Ash-coloured Spider, speckled with little white and black, or red and green Spots, whose Bite is of such a Nature, that it is said to be cured by Musick.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Vicenzo wrote: "...They say every woman dreams of snakes at least once in her life... "

I'm not sure the snakes women dream of are necessarily reptiles.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

On Monday 24 September 1660, Pepys and Batten "were sworn justices of peace for Middlesex, Essex, Kent, and Southampton". JPs, (magistrates) had considerable discretion in local law enforcement, but were also subject to the law themselves. To be a JP in several counties was probably not usual, but one can infer that this wide remit was to deal specifically with matters involving the Navy and the discipline of seamen where the ships and dockyards were based. The City of London was technically in Middlesex, but the writ of Middlesex magistrates did not run there, as the City appointed its own JPs. Hence today's subpoena against Pepys, as committing a man to prison within the City was "ultra vires" (beyond their powers) for Middlesex magistrates. Hence the 1664 Act, referred to above by Terry F, giving the Navy Board extra powers.

http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/09/24/

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

‘tarantism, n. . . < Taranto name of the town . . but popularly associated with tarantola the tarantula spider . .
A hysterical malady, characterized by an extreme impulse to dance, which prevailed as an epidemic in Apulia and adjacent parts of Italy from the 15th to the 17th century, popularly attributed to the bite or ‘sting’ of the tarantula. The dancing was sometimes held to be a symptom or consequence of the malady, sometimes practised as a sovereign cure for it.
1638–56 A. Cowley Davideis i. Notes §32 We should hardly be convinced of this Physick, unless it be in the particular cure of the Tarantism, the experiments of which are too notorious to be denyed or eluded.
. . 1883 Chambers's Encycl. IX. 296/2 Tarantism may be defined a leaping or dancing mania, originating in, or supposed to originate in, an animal poison... The gesticulations, contortions, and cries somewhat resembled those in St. Vitus's Dance, and other epidemic nervous diseases of the middle ages . . ‘

Paul Chapin 05.02.05:

‘scour, v.2 < Middle Dutch . . schûren
. . 9. fig. To beat, scourge. Hence, to punish, treat severely.
c1386 Chaucer Parson's Tale ⁋596 He..broghte a yerde to scoure with the child.
. . a1593 Marlowe Tragicall Hist. Faustus (1604) sig. D3v, Ile teach ye to impeach honest men: stand by, Ile scowre you for a goblet.
. . 1662 S. Pepys Diary 4 Feb. (1970) III. 23 We shall scowre him for it . . ‘

[OED]

Terry Foreman  •  Link

" one Mr. Templer (an ingenious man and a person of honour he seems to be) dined; and, discoursing of the nature of serpents, he told us some that in the waste places of Lancashire do grow to a great bigness, and that do feed upon larks, which they take thus: They observe when the lark is soared to the highest, and do crawl till they come to be just underneath them; and there they place themselves with their mouths uppermost, and there, as is conceived, they do eject poyson up to the bird; for the bird do suddenly come down again in its course of a circle, and falls directly into the mouth of the serpent; which is very strange."

L&M: This story may be based on a misunderstanding of the fact that birds often attack snakes: see e.g., E. Topsell, Hist. Serpents (1608), pp. 25+. It has not been traced elsewhere. Pepys's informant may have been Benjamin Templer, ex-Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, whose Northampshire living at Ashley ws not far from the Crews' country house at Stene.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"He is a great traveller; and, speaking of the tarantula, he says that all the harvest long (about which times they are most busy) there are fidlers go up and down the fields every where, in expectation of being hired by those that are stung."

The move awat from the agrarian life to the cities is underway ... this is the only mention of the harvest in the entire Diary. Pepys has lost his roots in the soil of his ancestors; but the idea of owning the buildings and concept of being a country gentleman still attract him.

This article is mostly about the British harvest season in the 19th century, but does refer to many customs that date back to Saxon times.
https://www.countryfile.com/how-to/food-recipes/b…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In the poem “Hock-Cart, or Harvest Home” Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674) describes the harvest procession in his Dean Prior, Devonshire village, sometime between 1630 and 1648:

"COME, sons of summer, by whose toil
We are the lords of wine and oil:
By whose tough labours, and rough hands,
We rip up first, then reap our lands.
Crowned with the ears of corn, now come,
And to the pipe sing harvest home.
Come forth, my lord, and see the cart
Dressed up with all the country art:
See here a maukin, there a sheet,
As spotless pure as it is sweet:
The horses, mares, and frisking fillies,
Clad all in linen white as lilies.
The harvest swains and wenches bound
For joy, to see the hock-cart crowned.
About the cart, hear how the rout
Of rural younglings raise the shout;
Pressing before, some coming after,
Those with a shout, and these with laughter.
Some bless the cart, some kiss the sheaves,
Some prank them up with oaken leaves:
Some cross the fill-horse, some with great
Devotion stroke the home-borne wheat:
While other rustics, less attent
To prayers than to merriment,
Run after with their breeches rent.
Well, on, brave boys, to your lord's hearth,
Glitt'ring with fire, where, for your mirth,
Ye shall see first the large and chief
Foundation of your feast, fat beef:
With upper stories, mutton, veal
And bacon (which makes full the meal),
With sev'ral dishes standing by,
As here a custard, there a pie,
And here all-tempting frumenty.
And for to make the merry cheer,
If smirking wine be wanting here,
There's that which drowns all care, stout beer;
Which freely drink to your lord's health,
Then to the plough, the commonwealth,
Next to your flails, your fans, your fats,
Then to the maids with wheaten hats;
To the rough sickle, and crook'd scythe,
Drink, frolic, boys, till all be blithe.
Feed, and grow fat; and as ye eat
Be mindful that the lab'ring neat,
As you, may have their fill of meat.
And know, besides, ye must revoke
The patient ox unto the yoke,
And all go back unto the plough
And harrow, though they're hanged up now.
And, you must know, your lord's word's true,
Feed him ye must, whose food fills you;
And that this pleasure is like rain,
Not sent ye for to drown your pain,
But for to make it spring again."

Maukin, meaning is obscure. It could be a cloth, or the Harvest Queen.
Fill-horse, shaft-horse.
Frumenty, wheat boiled in milk.
Fats, vats.
Stout beer, that's the intoxicating version.

There was usually a buxom young woman waving the last straws of wheat cut during the harvest, or the last cut bale of straw dressed in women's clothing, included on the Hock Cart (the last cart in the parade) indicating the link to the goddesses of the Ceres, but it is unlikely anyone there knew that. These obscure traditions are all part of the romance of customs, which link us back to prehistoric times and our long-forgotten ancestors.

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