Friday 7 March 1661/62

Early to White Hall to the chappell, where by Mr. Blagrave’s means I got into his pew, and heard Dr. Creeton, the great Scotchman, preach before the King, and Duke and Duchess, upon the words of Micah:— “Roule yourselves in dust.” He made a most learned sermon upon the words; but, in his application, the most comical man that ever I heard in my life. Just such a man as Hugh Peters; saying that it had been better for the poor Cavalier never to have come with the King into England again; for he that hath the impudence to deny obedience to the lawful magistrate, and to swear to the oath of allegiance, &c., was better treated now-a-days in Newgate, than a poor Royalist, that hath suffered all his life for the King, is at White Hall among his friends. He discoursed much against a man’s lying with his wife in Lent, saying that he might be as incontinent during that time with his own wife as at another time in another man’s bed.

Thence with Mr. Moore to Whitehall and walked a little, and so to the Wardrobe to dinner, and so home to the office about business till late at night by myself, and so home and to bed.

35 Annotations

First Reading

Bullus Hutton  •  Link

..saying that he might be as incontinent during that time with his own wife as at another time in another man's bed.”
Hmm, going to have to work on that one!

David  •  Link

I don't know if Dr Creeton knew it, but the subject of his sermon -- Michah 1:10 -- is actually a Hebrew pun:

Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust.

The Hebrew "Ophrah" connotes dust.

Ruben  •  Link

Michah 1:10
Ophra was (and is again) a town in Israel. The idea of the Prophet was to use the name of the town, to prophetize the destruccion of Israel.
"Ophra" with a small change becomes "efer" that means dust, a substance used to put over your cloth to signal grieve after the death of someone: when Ophra will be destroyed, you will came there and mourn, rolling yourself on the dust....

Steven Riddle  •  Link

He discoursed much against a man's lying with his wife in Lent,

At one time in the Catholic Church Lenten regulations included fast and abstinence from meat and from sexual relations. This was by no means universal, but it is chronicled in Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter. Whether this is an outpouring of puritanism or a momentary resurgence of a once widespread practice, it is difficult to tell from the context.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Punning in Hebrew ...

Dr. Creighton, the former Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge and future Bishop of Wells, very probably knew Hebrew, as the study of that language was part of a church leader's education. His famous sense of humor may have been behind his selection of this obscure verse as his text. In the house of dust, roll yourself in it? Wish I got the joke ...

Glyn  •  Link

What is so special about this service on a Friday, that the royal family is there and Sam is pulling strings with church musicians to get himself a seat? Was this the date of some important religious or royal anniversary, or are Friday services a regular thing?

And when the preacher says that prisoners are treated better in jail "than a poor Royalist, that hath suffered all his life for the King, is at White Hall among his friends" - is he perhaps referring to himself? It almost sounds as if he is using his chance to speak to the king to make some kind of job application.

Sjoerd  •  Link

to put Bullus more at ease: probably the third meaning of the word "incontinent"? (… )

-Not restrained; uncontrolled: incontinent rage.
-Lacking normal voluntary control of excretory functions.
-Lacking sexual restraint; unchaste.

Josh  •  Link

The preacher's wit, or lapse thereof, is a nice point. The choice of sermon-text is possibly the most unpromising that even a seminarian could imagine, as though we had flashed back from "Beyond the Fringe" and "Esau my brother is a hairy man, but I am a smooth man." And would a sermon before the Royal Family necessarily prompt you to discourse on what other people do the privacy of their marital beds? Plus ca change.

DrCari  •  Link

Might the Friday sermon be for Good Friday?
Perhaps the preacher's jaded view of sexual relations during Lent was a pious jab at King Charles and Duchess Castlemaine. Their amourous activities were public knowledge and subject to widespread criticism. The Duke was no slacker either when it came to debauchery.

dirk  •  Link

Good Friday & Easter 1662

In Britain Easter 1662 falls on 30 March, the first sunday after the full moon of 24 March (3 April continental - Gregorian - calendar)


vicenzo  •  Link

dust unto dust? I doth think after a little Ash Wednesday

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sunday, March 9, 1661/2 would have been Laetare Sunday, Mothering Sunday, and half way through Lent, and weeks away from Ash Wednesday - the first day of Lent, so this Friday Chapel Royal service is a mystery. March 7th is St Perpetua's Day. She was an Italian virgin saint and martyr from the the first centuries of Christianity. She is part of the Calendar of the Book of Common Prayer, but hardly likely to be the occasion for a special service in Whitehall in 1662. The Old Testament lesson appointed for Morning Prayer on that day is Numbers Ch. 14, not Micah. Curioser and curioser as Alice would say. Dr. C. definitely seems to be having a go at the loose morals of the Royal Court. Very bold of him.

JWB  •  Link

St. Perpetua Day
Date comemorates her matryrdom at Carthage. Recent confrontation with Algiers could have occasioned this remembrance.

Pauline  •  Link

"...heard Dr. Creeton, the great Scotchman, preach before the King..."
Maybe just a lenten-time preaching on the off Friday, as Dr. 'Creeton' had obligations in Wells for the holiest days of Lent.

Can anyone unscramble the "Just such a man" sentence?

"Just such a man as Hugh Peters;..."
Meaning Peters was also comic or that Peters in the man in the following example of having it good in Newgate?

"...saying that it had been better for the poor Cavalier never to have come with the King into England again;..."
'Creeton' says this or Peters? Poor meaning no money or about to be in lesser than the guys sent to Newgate?

"...for he that hath the impudence to deny obedience to the lawful magistrate, and to swear to the oath of allegiance, &c., was better treated now-a-days in Newgate,..."
The humor is lost on me.

"...than a poor Royalist, that hath suffered all his life for the King, is at White Hall among his friends."
Any chance he is saying that the Royalist is swept into a debauched scene at Whitehall that makes Newgate Prison look religious and pure?

Or is the comedy somehow that he is saying the opposite of what he means: Peters thought he was so right, look where he is now; and look where the poor Royalist is--Whitehall!

Mary  •  Link


Doesn't necessarily mean what we would nowadays understand, but rather the opposite of tragical in the classical sense; low, mean, undignified, trivial, base.

Mary  •  Link

an unusual Friday service.

Perhaps we should look for a date that was significant in the political process that brought about the Restoration, and take this as some kind of commorative service. During February and March 1660 critical negotiations were going on between Monck and Charles concenring the terms upon which the latter should be restored to the throne. I haven't yet been able to find any reference to a specific event on March 9th 1660. Perhaps the corresponding Lenten Friday of 1660 might yield a result?

Such an occasion could well explain the tenor of this sermon.

JWB  •  Link

unusual Friday service
The more I think about it, the more I think they are observing St. Perpetua Day because of the expedition vs. Algiers(Carthage). Montagu is the expedition commmander and Sam, as his Lord's eyes & ears at the Admiralty, would want to discover and report what was being said at court about the adventure. So he wheedles his way into the service. Also the text from the prophesy of Micah would fit the occasion-slavery and the judgement of God.

JWB  •  Link

Can anyone unscramble ...?
Perhaps Sam deliberately mispelled Creighton's name as comment on the scrambled nature of the sermon & the doctor's brain.

JWB  •  Link misspelling misspell is on my brain.

Nix  •  Link

"Comical" --

A near-contemporaneous citation from OED (by the son of Samuel's colleague, no less) --

"b. Of persons: ? Low, mean, base, ignoble; or ? clownish. Obs.

"1670 PENN Lib. Conscience Pref., When they had sacrificed their divine Socrates to the sottish fury of their lewd and commical multitude, they..regreeted their hasty murder."

vicenzo  •  Link

Since January, he has wanted to exprrees his Zeal and Affection .

Australian Susan  •  Link

St Perpetua
If her day was really being celebrated here, why were they not using the correct readings for that day as set down in the BCP Calendar??
In 1662, the 1650s were only a very short time before, when the Prayer Book was abolished and all ceremonies, rituals vestments etc. Celebrating Saints' days was "papist", which was a synonym for "traitorous" in those times (and became even more so in the 1670s - but the definition of what counted as "papist" changed). So at this time only the so-called Red letter saints' days would have been celebrated. Red letter because they were printed in red ink in the Book of Common Prayer's calendar. They were the biggies like St Peter, St John and so on, although venerating the Virgin tended to make all these recently Puritans queasy, so Marian devotion faded away. I honestly don't think anyone would have been celebrating St Perpetua especially as she would have been perceived as "foreign" and 17th century Englishmen were much more fundamentally xenophobic than they are now. Before anyone points out that Sts Peter, John etc. were all Jews,let me add that the English made such people honourary Englishmen and depicted them as such in paintings and sculpture! So, I still think that this occasion is very odd indeed. Unless Dr C is so famous that he is travelling about preaching and just happened to turn up at the Chapel Royal at that time. Or Charles wanted to hear him, and summoned him to preach at a day convenient to Charles. If the latter, Charles must now be regretting it.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Pauline's Problems
I also think this is a convoluted and crabbed text! I took it to mean that Charles has forgotten some of his loyal followers who were with him in exiles and returned with him to no purpose as they are now poor and might as well be in Newgate.

Pauline  •  Link

"...the most comical man that ever I heard in my life. "
Because Creighton is famed as a lively speaker, I'm going for a meaning of "comical" between clownish and how we use the word today. I talked myself (above) into thinking that he has entertained the congregation with humorous ironic sarcasm about Peters and his ilk and how "well" they have done since the restoration and how "poorly" the royalist have done. (I hear the voice of Ann Richards bringing down the house with her speach when running against George Bush for Governor of Texas.)

Alan Bedford  •  Link

Can anyone unscramble ?
Sam tends to spell names as they are pronounced (or were pronounced at the time). Kind of like Shakespeare spelled Anne Boleyn’s last name in Henry VIII: “Bullen”.

Pauline  •  Link

"Sam tends to spell names as they are pronounced "

Yep, that is clear.
The "can anyone unscramble" question had to do with the "funny" part of Creighton's speach about poor Cavalier vs. "he that hath the impudence to deny obedience to the lawful magistrate, and to swear to the oath of allegiance, &c.,"

vicenzo  •  Link

It was just a coincidence it be this Sanctus dies, for his sermon.
Reading between the Lines, Creighton was a well known preacher and he was invited to pulpit of the House Of Commons for one of his Sermons , but he was sick in Jan and on now had his opportunity to Say his Piece in front of the upper betters, and he was liked by the King [see the Lords 30 Aug. '60,] There are many that can dish out and the Victims enjoy it, and others, it be the Gibbet.… wells…

Pauline  •  Link

"had his opportunity to Say his Piece"
I see it like you do, vicenzo, he is a public speaker much in demand. Here he is; it has nothing to do with what day it is.

Pursuant to my reference to Ann Richards above. Her speech was actually at the 1988 Democratic Convention and "poor George, he was born with a silver shoe in his mouth" referred to George I. I guess I just didn't realize that I was that old.

vicenzo  •  Link

spelt as herd :Creeton could be a Sam pun : creetonne: unglazed, printed cotton or linen; OR cretin: a foolish person?

vicenzo  •  Link

"He discoursed much against a man's lying with his wife in Lent, ” The preacher doth want the Ladies, wives, and women to have a break from the production line, so that he will be a welcome for a nice snack, a popular hobby in the days of my ill gotten youth, for the local preacher to goe the rounds to keep up his calorific intake while doing a little fasting.
N.B. At this time Corn was scarce as noted by the House of Commons and its efforts to prevent hoarding of grains.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

No pun intended ...

Let's all remember that English spelling was not yet standardized in the 17th century. In the various signatures known to be Shakespeare's, for instance, he spelled his own name differently each time. And in none of them did he spell it as we do now.

Yours truly, Wrecks Gore-Dunne.

aroaldo  •  Link

"St Perpetua"
Greetings from Natal,Brazil.
If I recall correctly, Saint Felicity and Perpetua are comemorated together;
there is a beautiful white climbing rose named after them;since one was aristocratic and the other a slave some bad people have said they were lesbians,but that is another story.

Second Reading

John York  •  Link

From information in other entries Robert Creighton was chaplain to Charles I. He was due to preach to parliament on 30 January 1661/62 but had to withdraw due to illness. 30 January was the fast-day for murdering the late King and is still, in 2015, in the Church of England's calendar as the saints day of Charles, King and Martyr. The sermon is for the fast day of Charles, King and Martyr, not for the saints whose day's fall on 10 March.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"upon the words of Micah:— “Roule yourselves in dust.”"

L&M: A loose recollection of Micah, 1. 10. Robert Creighton, chaplain to the King, was Dean (later Bishop) of Bath and Wells, and Professor of Greek and Public Orator at Cambridge. Pepys always enjoyed his verve and humour in the pulpit; Evelyn found him 'extravagant' but 'very eloquent' (17 November 1661, 29 May 1663). For his 'strange bold sermon' on adultery (preached before the King), see…

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