Friday 10 October 1662

Up, and between eight and nine mounted again; but my feet so swelled with yesterday’s pain, that I could not get on my boots, which vexed me to the blood, but was forced to pay 4s. for a pair of old shoes of my landlord’s, and so rid in shoes to Cambridge; but the way so good that but for a little rain I had got very well thither, and set up at the Beare: and there being spied in the street passing through the town my cozen Angier came to me, and I must needs to his house, which I did; and there found Dr. Fairbrother, with a good dinner, a barrel of good oysters, a couple of lobsters, and wine. But, above all, telling me that this day there is a Congregation for the choice of some officers in the University, he after dinner gets me a gown, cap, and hood, and carries me to the Schooles, where Mr. Pepper, my brother’s tutor, and this day chosen Proctor, did appoint a M.A. to lead me into the Regent House, where I sat with them, and did [vote] by subscribing papers thus: “Ego Samuel Pepys eligo Magistrum Bernardum Skelton, (and which was more strange, my old schoolfellow and acquaintance, and who afterwards did take notice of me, and we spoke together), alterum e taxatoribus hujus Academiae in annum sequentem.” The like I did for one Biggs, for the other Taxor, and for other officers, as the Vice-Proctor (Mr. Covell), for Mr. Pepper, and which was the gentleman that did carry me into the Regent House.

This being done, and the Congregation dissolved by the Vice-Chancellor, I did with much content return to my Cozen Angier’s, being much pleased of doing this jobb of work, which I had long wished for and could never have had such a time as now to do it with so much ease.

Thence to Trinity Hall, and there staid a good while with Dr. John Pepys, who tells me that [his] brother Roger has gone out of town to keep a Court; and so I was forced to go to Impington, to take such advice as my old uncle and his son Claxton could give me. Which I did, and there supped and talked with them, but not of my business till by and by after supper comes in, unlooked for, my cozen Roger, with whom by and by I discoursed largely, and in short he gives me good counsel, but tells me plainly that it is my best way to study a composition with my uncle Thomas, for that law will not help us, and that it is but a folly to flatter ourselves, with which, though much to my trouble, yet I was well satisfied, because it told me what I am to trust to, and so to bed.

25 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

O ye with L&M, just what jobb of work has Pepys helped the Congregation do that he has so long desired?

Nix  •  Link

"it is my best way to study a composition" --

In this context, "composition" refers to an out of court settlement of the dispute. The usage survives today in the legal expression "composition with creditors", which refers to a debtor negotiating a compromise with multiple creditors as a substitute for filing bankruptcy (although, in the U.S. at least, it has largely been replaced by reorganization under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code).


"12. The settling of a debt, liability, or claim, by some mutual arrangement; compounding. composition of felony: see COMPOUND v. 9. Cf. 22-25.

"1557 Order Hospitalls Fvijb, All debts owing to the Howse by composition. 1682 Lond. Gaz. No. 1686/4 That the said Debts may be satisfied without Composition or Abatement. 1707 Reflect. upon Ridicule 267 To come to Composition, and lose one half of the Debt to save the rest. a1734 NORTH Life Sir D. North (1826) II. 371 If he could not get in all that was due from the debtor, he got by composition, barter, or other means, as much as he could. 1780 BURKE Sp. Econ. Ref. Wks. III. 300 All sorts of accounts should be closed some time or other{em}by payment; by composition; or by oblivion. 1855 MILMAN Lat. Chr. (1864) V. IX. viii. 397 The composition for a life of wickedness by a gift to a priest. 1856 FROUDE Hist. Eng. II. 248 A happy contrivance for the composition of felonies.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"but my feet so swelled"
Dependent edema, my mother has the same thing.

dirk  •  Link

Diary of Ralph Josselin for today:

"I appeared not." A mute protest against forced conformation... As doubtlessly many others with him.

"Cited this day to the Archdeacons visitation; - our professors had rather I should lay down than conform as J Day told me, but I had it only from him the lord direct me. I appeared not."

Australian Susan  •  Link

Archdeacons are the Bishop's Rottweillers.
Josselin's mute protest will be noted by said Archdeacon, who will report back to the Bishop who can then decide what action to take. This is skating on increasingly thin ice for RJ. Not turning up for the Archdeacon's official visitation was not only rude, but could lead to loss of livelihood.

Araucaria  •  Link

what is this keeping Court in the country thing all about? We heard about it previously when Bess returned from Brampton, and it never fails to displease Sam.

Mary  •  Link

Pepys' satisfaction.

Sam is very pleased to have been invited to take an active part in the election of various University officers; i.e. taking an active part (though brief) in the government of the university itself. The fact that one of the candidates is an old school-fellow makes for icing on the cake.

Martin  •  Link

This is probably the first time that he's been in Cambridge since he was of standing to take part in elections (i.e. since he was an M.A. himself).

Mary  •  Link

"keeping court in the country"

For the answer to this question, look up Robert Pepys in the Background pages, where the origins of this law-suit are outlined. All consequent upon Uncle Robert Pepys' death in July 1661.

celtcahill  •  Link

Peyps's kidneys seem to blink on & off. The edema, and later, his rash....

Red Kelly  •  Link

I don't think it's necessarily his kidneys that are causing the pain in his feet. Yesterday he wore new hard boots which have probably made his feet sore and blistered. In those days men had to suffer for fashion too!

mary house  •  Link

It was recently noted how much easier Sam's life would be if he had owned a telephone. But how much richer is his life when he just sets out through the town on foot (albeit in someone else's shoes,) is spied in the street by an acquaintance, and is lead off to a new adventure.

Araucaria  •  Link

Hi Mary,

I remember the court case quite well. But is that what "keep a Court" means in this context? Having to make a trip to attend a judicial proceeding?

Jim  •  Link

I was interested in the statement "and carries me to the Schooles" because its use here seems to be close to its idiomatic use in the Southern U.S. meaning to bring or escort or accompany.

I can recall working with a group of fellow Yankees in a department with one Southern woman. Her speech was lovely to hear, sweet and melodic, but sometimes puzzling to our ears. (For example, "oil" and "all" sounded the same, as did "spiral" and "sparrow.")

One day she said "My husband carried me to the doctor." and people immediately began to ask about her health and to wonder if she had an illness so severe that she was unable to walk, they should have called for an ambulance. She was puzzled by this reaction because all she meant was that her husband drove their car to take her to her doctor's office for a check-up, just a physical examination. She apparently used the verb "to carry" with much the same meaning as Pepys did.

Many 17th century English idioms live on in areas of the southern United States; this may be one such instance.

Bradford  •  Link

Exactly so, Jim, and the idiom is still heard in the Mid-South, but almost always with folks of Medicare age or older, now.
Araucaria, for "keep a Court," substitute "hold a Court session"--- something like a Circuit Court, I gather, which sits as cases require it---rather than as, in a more populated area, a Court that sits regularly to hear a steady flow of litigation.
In answer to the first question in these annotations, another commentator whose Latin puts mine to shame says that Pepys's participation amounts to:
"I Samuel Pepys elect Master Bernard Skelton to be one of the Taxors of
this academy in the following (next) year."

Mary  •  Link

"carries me to the Schools"

The verb can still be used in ModE in this way. It usually indicates that the person being carried has not expected this outing/journey/whatever. e.g. "I was having a nice, queit evening at home when some friends arrived and carried me off to a party."

Note that Pepys uses the historic present tense, which reinforces the feeling of immediacy.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Carry me, carry me off, carry me back....

Shades of meaning."Would you carry me to the Post Office?" == please convey me.
"They carried me off." -- cf. Mary's def.
"Carry me back" ( to old Virginny)meant "take me back" in a literal sense perhaps to Stephen Foster but now refers as much to invoking memories.

Pray tell, what is a Taxor?

language hat  •  Link

Taxor (OED):

In the ancient universities, An officer (one of two) who fixed the rents of students' lodgings. At Cambridge, where the 'Taxors' also regulated the prices of commodities, kept the standard of weights and measures, and punished those who offended in these matters, the office and title (taxor) continued into the 19th c. Now Hist.
[...] 1563 ABP. SANDYS in Strype Ann. Ref. (1709) I. xxxv. 359, I was scrutitor, I was taxer, I was proctor, and I was vicechancellor. c1618 MORYSON Itin. IV. IV. i. (1903) 315 The vniversityes of Germany, haue no Taxers (or Clarkes of the Markett) for the price of vittles (as our vniversityes haue). [...] 1841 G. PEACOCK Stat. Cambr. 25 The two taxors were regents appointed by the house of regents, who were empowered, in conjunction with two burgesses, to tax or fix the rent of hostels and houses occupied by students, in conformity with the letters patent of Henry III (1231). They also assisted the proctors in making the assize of bread and beer, and in other affairs relating to the regulation of the markets. [...]

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the Regent House"

The Regent House is the name given to the official governing body of the University of Cambridge. It consists of most academic and academic-related staff of the University's colleges and departments, and currently has over 3000 members.

Meetings of the Regent House are known as congregations, and are chaired by the Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor, or the master of one of the colleges. In recent times, very few Congregations have actually been held, with most important business conducted by postal ballot of its members. The main exceptions are those to award degrees, with the largest being held at the end of Easter term when undergraduates receive their degrees in sessions spread over three days known as General Admission.

Such Congregations are held in the University's Senate House.…

Bill  •  Link

"The like I did for one Biggs, for the other Taxor, and for other officers"

TAXERS, two Officers chosen Annually in the University of Cambridge, to look after the true Gage of all Weights and Measures.

(Wikipedia says that the post of taxor hasn't been filled since 1856.)

Bill  •  Link

The citation for the "taxer" definition above is:
---An Universal English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

Martin  •  Link

Terry's wikipedia quote is a bit anachronistic for the 17th century. In Pepys's time there would have been Regent and non-Regent houses consisting of the resident and non-resident MAs respectively. Collectively these were the governing body; the non-resident MAs had a great deal of power, in principle, and that remained the situation until the early 20th century. So when Sam talks about being carried into the Regent House I take it to mean the place where the Regents were meeting for the election; he would have been aware that he was part of the governing body of the University.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"But, above all, telling me that this day there is a Congregation for the choice of some officers in the University, he after dinner gets me a gown, cap, and hood, and carries me to the Schooles, where Mr. Pepper, my brother’s tutor, and this day chosen Proctor, did appoint a M.A. to lead me into the Regent House,"

L&M: The Old Regent House, occupying part of the n. range of the Schools' quadrangle. The modern Senate House to the east of it (completed in 1730) now houses such functions.

Third Reading

Ruslan  •  Link

I had ChatGPT summarize today's entry. Here's what it came up with:

Samuel Pepys describes a day where, despite his swollen feet, he travels to Cambridge and stays at a place called the Beare. He encounters a relative, Angier, and joins him for a good meal. He mentions a university event where officers are being elected. With borrowed academic regalia, he participates in the election, voting for various positions, including someone he recognized from his past. He's content with participating in this university activity, something he longed to do.

Later, he visits another relative, Dr. John Pepys, but couldn't find his brother Roger, who was out for work. He travels to Impington for advice from relatives regarding a family matter. Unexpectedly, Roger arrives, and they discuss the family issue. Roger advises reaching a settlement with another relative, Thomas, as legal routes wouldn’t be favorable. Despite the unsettling advice, Pepys appreciates the clarity on how to proceed, ending his day with that understanding before going to bed.

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