Tuesday 22 April 1662

After taking leave of my wife, which we could hardly do kindly, because of her mind to go along with me, Sir W. Pen and I took coach and so over the bridge to Lambeth, W. Bodham and Tom Hewet going as clerks to Sir W. Pen, and my Will for me. Here we got a dish of buttered eggs, and there staid till Sir G. Carteret came to us from White Hall, who brought Dr. Clerke with him, at which I was very glad, and so we set out, and I was very much pleased with his company, and were very merry all the way. … [What was censored here? D.W.] We came to Gilford and there passed our time in the garden, cutting of sparagus for supper, the best that ever I eat in my life but in the house last year. Supped well, and the Doctor and I to bed together, calling cozens from his name and my office.

43 Annotations

Australian Susan  •  Link

So now we know that wives did not go on this trip - so Elizabeth's determination to go seems rather unreasonable. A group of wives on a work trip could be a merry outing, but one wife would have had rather a miserable time, I think. And where is the other Sir W? Sam seems to be having a jolly time though, doesn't he? Was the censorship something to do with the eggs disagreeing with him? Eggs were often suspect as Inn fare in that century.

Bob T  •  Link

Not the Eggs
It is more likely what they did in the coach that was censored. But you could be right if they were fast acting eggs :-)

JWB  •  Link

"buttered eggs" .... "sparagus"
Hollandaise in vivo? My asparagus this year is the best ever too.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

Sam should be careful,asparaginin when passing through the urethra causes a burning sensation and since he has had urinary problems in the past it is better be aware.

Pauline  •  Link

"And where is the other Sir W? "
See yesterday's entry.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

On the whole, though I sympathize with Bess being unhappy about having to stay home and miss the fun...Missing the Queen's arrival and all likely being what's irking her...Sam is being relatively good to her in the Diary. It would not be surprising to find an annoyed spouse of either gender ranting about his/her unreasonable, complaining partner in a sit like this, yet Sam is fair and seems to appreciate her side.

Pauline  •  Link

"...best that ever I eat in my life but in the house last year..."
I think he means in this very hotel last May 4:


This link and its surrounding entries will remind us of the good time Elizabeth had last year travelling this route. Naturally she wanted to go this time too, and Sam was in a pickle in trying to avoid disappointing her. We will see soon enough why these travelling gents have left the wives home this time---business or pleasure? I'm betting on the first but that they are all hoping for a chance at a little naughtiness too.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

correction-it makes the urine smell bad in some people but actually it does not cause any burning

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

See last spring that was sprung:
8 Persons : I dothe believe usual seating be 6 in and 2 out, the two ladds be up with the coachman. Seeing the Sights, one that be good, would be Lambeth Palace rising out of the trees like a modern Barbican Monstrosity although not worth a mention by Sam, it being the Latest Grandisement to a Bishoprick.

Dave Kathman  •  Link

The censored part (from Latham and Matthews):

He, among [other] good Storys, telling us a story of the monkey that got hold of the young lady's cunt as she went to stool to shit, and run from under her coats and got upon the table, which was ready laid for supper and dancing was done. Another about a Hectors crying "God damn you, rascal!"

Mary  •  Link

buttered eggs.

Extra-buttery scrambled (shirred) eggs.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"and were very merry all day"
Had Elizabeth come they would not be so merry.

Stolzi  •  Link

"the Doctor and I to bed together,
calling cozens from his name and my office"

I'm a Clerk of the Acts, your name is Clerke, we must be cousins, ha ha ha! Move over, cousin, you're hogging the bed.

Sjoerd  •  Link

I think the annotation by David Kathman answers the question "why wives weren't encouraged on the trip" quite definitely...

dirk  •  Link

On "asparagus"...

"The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex"
by Hannah Woolley, London, 1675

Section "A Bill of Fare of Suitable Meat for every Month in the Year"


1. Green Greese, or Veal and Bacon.
2. Haunch of Venison roasted.
3. A Lumber-Pye.
4. Rabbits and Tarts.

Second Course.

1. Cold Lamb.
2. Cold Neats-tongue-Pye.
3. Salmon Lobsters and Prawns.
4. Asparagus.

(Yes, this is one single link!)

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I'd bet Elisabeth would've loved the monkey story. I remember the time she had a laughing fit over a spilled chamber pot.

But then, Clerke would probably not have dared tell the story...Ah, well.

Sam, you're an idiot (like most of us)...She wants to be with you and life is short.

Pauline  •  Link

Robert G., I like your take.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"After taking leave of my wife, which we could hardly do kindly"
In this continuing saga of marital negotiations, I see Pauline and Robert G's notes, but there's no indication that Sam's decision was his to make. Rather the reverse: the clear professional etiquette is men only -- remember, folks, we're in the 17C! -- and it would be an extreme gaucherie, to say nothing of impertinence, for Sam to try to insist. (And he would doubtless have been slapped down for asking.)
To the contrary, I think his previous dissembling speaks well of him, for in effect valuing Elizabeth more than other men valued their wives. It just came a-cropper when he had to fess up. Will our boy learn to be more direct? Will he stop trying to be too clever?

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Picking Asparagus

I assume that Pepys & Company are at some tavern or inn in Gilford when they go out to pick the asparagus. If they were guests in someone's home, wouldn't he give some indication of that?

He writes of the asparagus as being in the garden, so I assume either the subject of asparagus came up when talking with someone who worked at the inn. Perhaps the person at the inn was asked what kind of food was available and said the asparagus was good this time of year, or someone in Pepys' group, knowing the asparagus season was rolling around, asked if they had some.

But why pick it themselves? Maybe people at the inn were too busy and the innkeeper or innkeeper's wife said they were free to go out and get it themselves. This was work for underlings, but status-conscious Sam doesn't complain at all. He must really have been in a good mood and must really like asparagus.

Yet there are only four mentions of asparagus in the diary, according to the L&M Index volume, along with one other mention to a "sparagus garden."

Chris Wood  •  Link

Tavern in Guildford
Sam and company probably stayed at the Angel Posting House in the High Street, now the Angel Hotel.
The high arched entrance to the coaching yard is still there!

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

for the desperate ones that want to the SP bed, go here>
then guildford surrey angel gate
just use the arrows to follow the route inch by inch or town by town
till ye get to the navy yard.this site is so easy to use.

Pauline  •  Link

"But why pick it themselves?"
David Q., I have myself convinced by "the best that ever I eat in my life but in the house last year" that this is the same inn he and Elizabeth stayed a year ago---a year ago less about two weeks. So maybe the asparagus wasn't on the menu yet, but the staff sent him out, or accompanied him out, to see if maybe a few were ready for picking.

See posts above for link to last-year's trek to Portsmouth.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Pauline, so "in the house last year" refers to THAT INN? That makes a lot of sense.

I'd feel even better if we could confirm somewhere that "house" could mean "inn" back then.

It might well have been Pepys himself who brought up the subject of asparagus. I think your idea about it possibly not being on the menu yet (this would be very early in the year for it, wouldn't it?) would explain why an asparagus lover might find himself going out into the garden to choose his own.

From the inn's perspective, the guests are less likely to be dissatisfied if they decide just which ones they want. From the asparagus lover's perspective, he gets just the ones he wants. From the perspective of the friends of the asparagus lover, they may have some fun with it.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

"...there passed our time in the garden, cutting of sparagus for supper, the best that ever I eat in my life but in the house last year...."
There is not a gardener in the world, that is not proud to show off the seasons first cuttings, nothing quite like having fresh young veggies or fruits. [It took me yrs. to stop grousing about over aged, large past their best foods]. There is nutin like pickin' a juicy apple off a tree and ye be sharing it with a angry wasp, or pull out a nice young carrot out of the soil, bang off the dirt and start munchin' and ...... The phrase its on the house is a natural saying of a Taverne of the old school.

Mary  •  Link


I'm with The Old Salt here: freshly cut asparaus is a different animal from asparagus that's been sitting around in the kitchen for several hours. The English asparagus season is just beginning and runs till about the end of May.

Glyn  •  Link

"After taking leave of my wife, which we could hardly do kindly"

When young and living in the country, my family had a large dog that loved going on car drives, sticking her muzzle out of the window; when she couldn't go with us she would be locked in the garden, but would sometimes escape and chase the car down the country lanes, hoping we would change our mind. It would sometimes take 2 or 3 corners before we managed to shake her off.

Somehow, that makes me think of Elizabeth lolloping after the cab as they frantically order the driver to go faster, hoping they change their mind.

language hat  •  Link

"I'd feel even better if we could confirm somewhere that "house" could mean "inn" back then”
From the OED, def. 2.c.:

A building for the entertainment of travellers or of the public generally; an inn, tavern. (See also ALE-HOUSE, COFFEE-HOUSE, EATING-HOUSE, PUBLIC HOUSE, etc.) Also, used attrib. of wines selected and bought in bulk by the management in a restaurant, hotel, etc., to be offered at a special price, and often served from a carafe or by the glass. “house!” an exclamation to summon the landlord or waiter (obs.). “on the house”: at the expense of the tavern, saloon, etc.; also transf. and fig. (orig. U.S.).

1550 CROWLEY Epigr. 285 In taverns and tiplyng houses. 1638 SIR T. HERBERT Trav. (ed. 2) 220 The Coho house is a house of good fellowship.. in the Coho house they also inebriate their braines with Arace and Tobacco. 1668 G. ETHEREGE She Would if She Could I. ii, He has engaged to dine with Mr. Courtal at the French house. 1696 DOGGET Country Wake V. i, House! house! (beating on the Table). What, are you all dead here? house! 1773 GOLDSM. Stoops To Conq. IV. Wks. (Globe) 665/2 Were you not told to drink freely, and call for what you thought fit, for the good of the house? […]

David Quidnunc  •  Link

After all this, would you believe I actually dislike asparagus?

But I wouldn't mind trying it fresh from the garden. Thanks everyone, I think I understand it much better now, although the reason for Pepys and company cutting it themselves still seems a bit odd.

Thanks, Dirk, for the reminder about your earlier post, which really settles that for me. I'd read (and cited on the Asparagus page) that the season begins May 1, and wasn't the weather in Pepys' time a bit colder than now? But perhaps the "season" is for fully-grown, supermarket-ready asparagus. Do our English garden experts (thanks, Mary and Old Salt!) find it fully grown by now? Or are you picking baby asparagus (or adolescent asparagus)?

And if we're going to compare the growing season in our time to that of Pepys' time, should we take into account the calendar difference of 10 or 11 days? Since those days were removed when the calendar was changed over in the next century, I assume our growing season appears that much later in the springtime calendar than in Pepys' time, making even my citation (assuming that source is right) about a week and a half late.

Thanks, Languagehat, for the definition, which now completely settles that question for me. Thinking about it since my last post, I recall the phrase "on the house" for complimentary drinks or food given out by a restaurant or bar. The phrase may have originated in the U.S., as Languagehat cites, but it likely reflects use of "the house" in the sense we're using it here. Also, "the house" is used in casinos nowadays in the same sense (I see almost a million Google citations for "casino" + "the house").

Again, thanks so much everybody!

language hat  •  Link

My wife is planting asparagus in our new garden.
I look forward to those fresh young shoots!

Pauline  •  Link

After all this, would you believe I actually dislike asparagus?
Yes, David, you will have to avail yourself of some fresh asparagus, cooked carefully (and not overcooked.) As for getting around the idea that it is odd that Pepys and company went out into the garden to cut their own, consider Sam's considerable curiosity and charm and his arriving with a yen for the asparagus he had eaten here a year ago. The host says he hasn't started to cut it yet, but come, let's see what's available--if you will have it, we will cut it. They have traveled all day and now they are stretching their legs among the vegetables as the sun sinks low in the sky; and the host is jovial and accomodating. Perhaps a bit of a highjinx that they insist on cutting their own. Maybe just being in the garden as it is cut qualifies for "cutting of asparagus for supper". Sam notes it in the diary because it was pleasurable. If he rereads this entry he will be reminded by this one sentence the pleasurable details of being in the garden at the end of the day.

Or maybe Sam demanded that the asparagus be fresh, and the host rolled his eyes and handed him the knife.

tc  •  Link


Language Hat may have to wait before he tastes his wife's fresh shoots (of asparagus, that is!), as it takes some time to get harvestable shoots

The missus and I moved into a charming little cottage up in the hills of Connecticut some years back, and promptly planted asparagus root stock, which threw out lots of foliage, but no shoots. We learned it took from two to three years to develop the shoots.

And of course, two years later we moved out and on, in the just-greening early spring; and as I was walking to my car to drive away for the last time, I saw the very first shoots, the still-tiny but soon-to-be-harvestable first shoots, peeking up through the dead leaves in the asparagus patch...

If I hadn't moved so far away, I would have made some midnight raids on my old patch, to finally reap what I had sown...

language hat  •  Link

Drat! Good thing I'm a patient man...

Pedro  •  Link

April 22 I662 Sandwich somewhere north of the Burlings...

This morning we met a merchant ship bound for the East Indies with my Lord Marlborough and at noon the Convertine with Capt Povey and soldiers for the East Indies also. They gave us news that all was well in England.

(Journal of Edward Montagu by Anderson)

Lord Marlborough was on his way to carry out the handover of Bombay as part of the Marriage Treaty for SPOILERS at this stage see...

Lord Marlborough


Shipman, Sir Abraham (Governor of Bombay)


Terry Foreman  •  Link

The gents and their clerks ate and surely drank well: L&M say the tab for this trip (to be found in the Public Record Office [now in the National Archives] Adm. 20/3, p. 62) came to ca, £88.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

£88 for 10 nights away, for 7* people, cost approximately 36 shillings per person per day, including the clerks/servants. Price comparisons are difficult, because patterns of spending were very different. But consider that a skilled craftsman, like a carpenter, might be paid 2 shillings per day: a comparable figure today might be £100. So, in modern money, from the point of view of the carpenter, the cost to the public purse of this jolly would have looked like £88 000, (more than £10 000 per person) rather than £88 - and they still shared beds!

The senior person on the trip was Sir George Carteret, Treasurer to the Navy, so there shouldn't have been any problems about approving the cost, but if he didn't bring his wife, that would have set the example for the others. I wonder if Sir George shared a bed?

* or 8, if Sir George brought a servant.

Mary K  •  Link

£88 cost.

Expenses on coach and horses for the duration probably included in this sum.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

I'm sure you're right Mary :)

According to one source quoted by Wikipedia, the cost per person of travelling by coach was a shilling for every five miles. Today's distance by motorway is about 75 miles, but the coach may well have used a more circuitous route. Anyway, it would not be unreasonable to estimate the cost of the coach as £2 per person for the return trip - 20 day's wages for the hypothetical carpenter!


Lex Lector  •  Link

Ah! Celebrating the birthday - now, 23rd. April - of (perhaps !) Sam's favourite playwright with a tasteful griddling of the third harvesting this Spring from my humble asparagus patch: fine fat phallic fronds - and May still over a sennite away (eructates politely) (the aphorementioned phrond best cut with a sharp steel knife subterraneously, of course: if Sam didn't know, mine Host would've put him right)!

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

April27: early English asparagus appeared in the shops last week, corresponding to April 9 in the old calendar. On the other hand 1662 was still in the Little Ice Age whereas now is in the Early Stage of Global Warming, so it was distinctly cooler then and spring sprang later.

GrannieAnnie  •  Link

Thank you, Sasha Clarkson for posting "Anyway, it would not be unreasonable to estimate the cost of the coach as £2 per person for the return trip - 20 day's wages for the hypothetical carpenter!"
I have often marveled at how little people traveled away from home in 1700s America, once reading that our second President John Adams' wife Abigail had never left her home town until later in life. The demands of the farming life, small children, plus the high coach fare would certainly limit travel for frivolous reasons. Not to mention the discomfort of being tossed around for days. Makes me laugh when people whine & complain "traveling by air is uncomfortable, just isn't fun anymore." Really?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Sir W. Pen and I took coach and so over the bridge to Lambeth, W. Bodham and Tom Hewet going as clerks to Sir W. Pen, and my Will for me."

L&M: Travelling charges forthis trip came to c. £88: PRO, Adm. 20/3, p. 62.

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