Wednesday 23 April 1662

Up early, and to Petersfield, and there dined well; and thence got a countryman to guide us by Havant, to avoid going through the Forest; but he carried us much out of the way, and upon our coming we sent away an express to Sir W. Batten to stop his coming, which I did project to make good my oath, that my wife should come if any of our wives came, which my Lady Batten did intend to do with her husband. The Doctor and I lay together at Wiard’s, the chyrurgeon’s, in Portsmouth, his wife a very pretty woman. We lay very well and merrily; in the morning, concluding him to be of the eldest blood and house of the Clerkes, because that all the fleas came to him and not to me.

26 Annotations

First Reading

dirk  •  Link

"that my wife should come if any of our wives came"

Finally we know why Elizabeth couldn't come. May this put an end to speculations about Sam's "evil" intentions... ;-)

dirk  •  Link

"all the fleas came to him and not to me"

Travelling must have been a real pleasure in those days...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"my wife should come if any of our wives..."

Clever dodge, Samuel! Good luck though keeping the redoubtable Lady Batten away...She'd probably come without Sir Will.

"My Sir Will,

No need for you to make this hard and thankless journey, we've got all details well in hand. (Especially no need to drag your good lady along over these terrible roads)


The gang.

Er, PS...Please inform Mrs. Pepys that you and your dear lady will definitely not be coming."

daniel  •  Link

"...and house of the Clerkes, because that all the fleas came to him and not to me."

inside joke? Could someone explain this one?

The Mollusc  •  Link

Jokes die when dissected, but those fleas should be more attracted to the finer blood of the head of a clan, rather than the humble family-member beside him. Thus being flea-bitten can be given the cheery connotation that Dr Clarke has or aspires to that elevated status.

Vincent Bell  •  Link

"...because that all the fleas came to him and not to me.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

fleas like rich nutrients and that is were they will decamp too.

Mary  •  Link

Now we understand the cause of Elizabeth's discontent.

She had undoubtedly heard (servants' gossip?) that Lady Batten fully intended joining the expedition to Portsmouth. She will have found it difficult to believe Sam's protestations that the lady was not going to be included in the party. Sam's last-minute stratagem for putting the Battens off seems to have worked, but it strikes me as slightly risky ..... messages can miscarry.

Mary  •  Link

the forest.

L&M notes that this was the Forest of Bere, which lay to the north and north-west of Havant. Perhaps the roads through the forest were poor, or maybe it had a bad reputation for footpads. The detour was clearly no short cut.

JWB  •  Link

Forrest of Bere
"The old A3 London Road that today passes Waterlooville was the only route through the forest from the coast to the South Downs. It was a rough muddy track notorious for highwaymen, so much so that coaches were provided with heavily armed guards. Documentary records suggest it was the worst managed Royal Forest in England"…

JWB  •  Link

Flea attractants
Lactic acid, a product of metabolism, along with CO2 attracts fleas. So the larger, more active person or the one with the higher metabolism rate will attract the more fleas. Lactic acid used today as the attractant to bug traps.

JWB  •  Link

Thinking of Kreb's Cycle and feedback loops(metabolism above), the number of Bere Forrest highwaymen must have been in direct proportion to the discount accepted on Portsmouth sailor's tickets. The longer Admiralty waited to payoff the ships, the harder it would have been to get to Portsmouth to pay off the ships.

Glyn  •  Link

A long while ago, someone speculated that perhaps Pepys's blood group was Type A, not Type O, so was less attractive to fleas (all this is very speculative). And that may explain why Pepys will survive the Great Plague in 4 years' time (and perhaps the Doctor will not).

As to the joke, they decided that the Doctor must be the senior Clerk, because all the fleas preferred him, i.e. the Doctor is a "Clerk" by name, and Pepys is a "Clerk" in his job.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"my oath, that my wife should come if any of our wives came"
Robert, I don't believe the sentence construction implies that Sam is the one trying to prevent Batten from bringing his wife.
Rather, I think the group discussed it, and established a rule (possibly overruling Sam's views), whereupon he said, "All right, I've told my wife she can't come because no wives come, and if any do, then mine must."
If so, his phrase "which I did project to make good my oath" should be read as meaning "which I did understand and anticipate when I made my oath," meaning that they did as he had in fact pledged they would.

dirk  •  Link

"that my wife should come ..."

David, personally I share your reading of the text here. To me it makes the most sense. And it's also the simplest reading - and you're aware of Occam's razor...

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: "that my wife should come..."

I dunno, David and Dirk, I must say I side with Robert on the reading here. To paraphrase Sam in modern English, it says (IMO): "When we got there, we sent a messenger to Sir W. Batten, to keep him from coming. I suggested this with the ulterior motive of keeping me from having to live up to the oath I had made to Elizabeth -- that she would be able to come if any of the wives came. I had heard that Lady Batten intended to come with her husband."

Now, this is not a direct "translation" -- I'm filling in some things to make my point clearer -- but this is how I read the sentence. FWIW.

This way, not only does Sam get to have a boy's (boys'?) week out, but he doesn't have to deal with the Battens!

A. Hamilton  •  Link

"which I did project to make good my oath"

Todd's gloss seem right. Sam "projected"
(proposed) sending a message to Sir W. Batten to stay away, and tells his diary he did so to keep faith with his "oath that my wife should come if any of our wives came." But that doesn't rule out David Smith's suggestion that Sam's "project" was accepted by the others because there was an understanding that
NO wives were to come, or the associated implication that the Navy Office party thought Batten incapable of keeping his wife from accompanying him. A further inference: Pepys endeavors to show that, unlike Batten, he can manage his wife and prevent her from becoming a distraction from Navy business, but demands the same resolution from his fellow commissioners because he wants his wife and himself to be treated fairly and with respect.

language hat  •  Link

I agree with David and Dirk.
The other theory seems strained to me.

Clement  •  Link

Voting with Todd B. and A.Hamilton here.
I think Occam is cutting just as sharply from the other side of the razor, and read the "which" in "which I did project" to refer to the subject of the immediately preceding clause: "an express" (message) which was sent to Batten telling him to stay home.
Why did Sam project that message? To make good his oath. It would have been inconvenient to send for Elizabeth if Lady Batten came, and it would have been guilt-producing to violate his oath. There, clear as mud.

David Quidnunc  •  Link


"CHARLES THE SECOND, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, defender of the Faith, &c. "

"wee have byn informed by the humble Peticon of our Trusty and welbeloved John Winthrop [son of John Winthrop, the founder of Massachusetts; also cousin of Pepys" former employer, George Downing; later a member of the Royal Society] " [and some other people] being Persons Principally interested in our Colony or Plantacon of Connecticut in New England "

"WEE HAVE thought fitt, and att the humble Peticon of the Persons aforesaid, and are graciously pleased to Create and Make them a Body Pollitique and Corporate, with the powers and Priviliges herein after menconed "

"Wee, of our more abundant grace, certaine knowledge and meere mocon HAVE given, Graunted and Confirmed, And by theis presents for vs, our heires and Successors, DOE give, Graunt and Confirme vnto the said Governor and Company and their Successors, AULM that parte of our Dominions in Newe England in America ["] from the Said Norrogancett [Naragansett] Bay on the East to the South Sea on the West parte "

"IN WITNES whereof, we have caused these our Letters to be made Patent; WITNES our Selfe, att Westminister, the three and Twentieth day of Aprill, in the Fowerteenth yeare of our Reigne.

"By writt of Privy Seale"…

Under the terms of this, the Connecticut Charter, granted on this date, the Connecticut colony thus stretched from Naragansett Bay to the Pacific Ocean in a strip of land that includes Mount Shasta, Chicago and the Great Salt Lake. The land was later ceded to the U.S. government. A governor appointed by James II later tried to seize the charter in 1687, and it was hidden in the legendary “Charter Oak,” but that’s another story (see link below for one version). The charter is now prominently displayed in the state museum in Hartford.

Winthrop visited his elderly aunt, George Downings’ mother, on this trip, although Downing himself was then a diplomat in the Netherlands.

There"s a legend about Barbara Palmer, (Dutchess of Castlemaine and the King"s mistress) helping Winthrop get the charter in return for an interesting-looking Indian treaty that Winthrop had brought with him, but it sounds like myth. Details in David E. Philips" "Legendary Connecticut," excerpted here:…

Second Reading

Robert Watson  •  Link

What is a "chyrurgeon"? A surgeon? Why such an odd spelling, if so?

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘chirurgeon, n. < Old French cirurgien < cirurgía . . In later Old French serurgien . . now corruptly surgeon . . ’


‘project, v. < classical Latin . . prōicere to throw forth . .
. . 1. To plan, contrive, scheme.
. . †b. trans. (with infinitive). To plan or scheme to do something. Obs.
. . a1661 T. Fuller Worthies (1662) Yorks. 191 King Richard..presently projecting to repair himself by a new Marriage.
1713 C. Johnson Successful Pyrate i. i. 4 He wisely projected to transport himself, with a Cargo of Essence, Snuff and Powder, to the West Indies . .

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

April 23 is the birthday of Charles II, it is also an important feast day in the English calendar. Since Pepys doesn't mention it this year, perhaps it was discontinued during the Commonwealth, after all St. George was Catholic, and the idea of celebration has not spread past London yet?

St. George's Day is celebrated by the several nations, kingdoms, countries, and cities of which St. George is the patron saint.
St George's Day is also England's National Day.
Most countries that observe St. George's Day celebrate it on 23 April, the traditionally accepted date of St. George's death in 303 AD.

St. George's Day was a major feast and national holiday in England on a par with Christmas from the early 15th century. George did not rise to the position of "patron saint" of England until the 14th century, and he was still obscured by Edward the Confessor, the traditional patron saint of England, until in 1552, during the reign of Edward VI, all Catholic saints' banners other than George's were abolished as part of the English Reformation.…'s_Day

New appointments to the Order of the Garter are always announced on St. George's Day, 23 April, as St. George is the patron saint of England.…

Charles II carefully timed his return to London in 1660, and his coronation in 1661, to be celebrated on his birthday, St. George's Day. It was already a holiday, and no one could ever argue with having a big party.

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