Friday 13 February 1662/63

Lay very long with my wife in bed talking with great pleasure, and then rose. This morning Mr. Cole, our timber merchant, sent me five couple of ducks. Our maid Susan is very ill, and so the whole trouble of the house lies upon our maid Mary, who do it very contentedly and mighty well, but I am sorry she is forced to it.

Dined upon one couple of ducks to-day, and after dinner my wife and I by coach to Tom’s, and I to the Temple to discourse with my cozen Roger Pepys about my law business, and so back again, it being a monstrous thaw after the long great frost, so that there is no passing but by coach in the streets, and hardly that.

Took my wife home, and I to my office. Find myself pretty well but fearful of cold, and so to my office, where late upon business; Mr. Bland sitting with me, talking of my Lord Windsor’s being come home from Jamaica, unlooked-for; which makes us think that these young Lords are not fit to do any service abroad, though it is said that he could not have his health there, but hath razed a fort of the King of Spain upon Cuba, which is considerable, or said to be so, for his honour. So home to supper and to bed. This day I bought the second part of Dr. Bates’s Elenchus, which reaches to the fall of Richard, and no further, for which I am sorry. This evening my wife had a great mind to choose Valentines against to-morrow, I Mrs. Clerke, or Pierce, she Mr. Hunt or Captain Ferrers, but I would not because of getting charge both to me for mine and to them for her, which did not please her.

35 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro  •  Link

“hath razed a fort of the King of Spain upon Cuba, which is Considerable,”

The actual raid on Santiago de Cuba, led by Myngs, took place on the 6th October. For description see background under Jamaica……

Pedro  •  Link

“which makes us think that these young Lords are not fit to do any service abroad,”

Dudley Pope in his Biography of Sir Henry Morgan says (relating to Sam’s comment)...

"It was an unfair comment because few colonial governors, before and since, ever displayed a half of Windsor's energy, achieved a quarter as much or so inspired the people he ruled"

[He would not be the first to be continually sick in the Indies!]

Terry F  •  Link

"Mr. Cole...sent me five couple of ducks."

L&M say Cole had lately shorted a lumber contract.

As he rises in prominence, Sam becomes the target of such payoffs. Is this to be the price of position until, like Mr. Coventry, he's too financially secure to be bought?

Bradford  •  Link

"Find myself pretty well but fearful of cold, and so to my office":

Is the chill making me forgetful, or have we ever heard of who's responsible for building and maintaining the fires in the office suite? Would this be the maids' duty too?

As for skinflinting on Valentines, my momma used to say, "There's such a thing as being TOO saving."

Pauline  •  Link

Elizabeth often goes to Tom's for a visit without Sam.
I wonder if she oversees his household to an extent.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Mud, mud, mud, nut'in' quite like it for cooling the blud. Or be it water water,everywhere, ne'er a drop to drink.
" being a monstrous thaw after the long great frost, so that there is no passing but by coach in the streets, and hardly that...."

Terry F  •  Link

Bradford, does San say that finds he's cold, or merely that he finds he's "fearful of cold", as he often has in the past??

Terry F  •  Link

That's Sam, not San......

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Capt. Ferrers...

Bess jerking Sam's chain or what?

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Ahchew!, Sniffle, sniffle "...Find myself pretty well but fearful of cold..."

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

In my day at ministry, it be the Doorman who bring the daily bucket, one ration of coles.
"Is the chill making me forgetful, or have we ever heard of who’s responsible for building and maintaining the fires in the office suite? Would this be the maids’ duty too?"
Please note: The lesser sort are not to be seen or heard of in any way except when they spill or break the best goblet, or in this case drop a lump of flamming coals on the ledger.
By 1695 it be recorded officially, there be "Necessary Women", prior to this, the P*B* messenger or bell ringer be told to get a scupper and be quick about it. [that be 'me cinical" worldly view]
From: 'Lists of appointments', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 2: Officials of the Secretaries of State 1660-1782 (1973), pp. 22-58. URL:…. Date accessed: 14 February 2006.
"necessary women " be the title of the official office cleaner
P*B [Poor Bluddy]

Mary  •  Link

Elizabeth visits Tom.

Pauline, I like the idea that Elizabeth might be keeping a bit of an eye on Tom's household. She is also visiting a neighbourhood where she used to live just a few years ago, so it's possible that she calls on old friends, re-visits favourite vendors etc. as well. We know that she misses the opportunity for purely social conversation and company when she's at home.

Australian Susan  •  Link

The Valentines

I wonder if Beth chose Capt F *after* Sam had plumped for La Belle Pierce? He really does seem to get all sweaty-palmed over her, so maybe it is not surprising that Elizabeth goes for the mad, bad and dangerous to know Captain. And then Sam spoils it all by playing the old we can't afford it line. Cue for a big French moue from E.


In English country schools around 1900, children were expected to bring a lump of coal to school in many villages to light the schoolroom fire.

Fever in the Indies

Jane Austen's sister Cassandra lost her fiance to fever in the West Indies in the 1790s and my great aunt suffered in the same way in the 1890s. Dangerous place before modern medicine helped.

celtcahill  •  Link

Australian Susan

Heee Heee Hee

You're absolutely right I have no doubt.

Kickle Kickle kickle

jeannine  •  Link

Our Valentine's Hero

Sam eyed that beauty Mrs. Pierce
With a lust that was fiery and fierce
Bess coyly mentioned she may like Ferrers
Filling Sam with matrimonial terrors

Sam slid gingerly off his high studly horse
Turning words of love to fiscal discourse
Claiming now that he didn’t have the money
For them both to pursue a new honey

To cover he thought he’d be rightly smart
He claimed his wife held his devoted heart
Bess sweetly smiled playing along with it
Knowing well Sam was so full of Sh--!

Now for those of you who tend to keep score
No matter if Sam or Bess you adore
Clerke, Pierce, Hunt and Ferrers get zero
While Bess trumps over our Valentine’s hero.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

BRAVA Jeannine!!!!

matthew newton  •  Link

so that's 10 ducks in total?
Would they have been alive and flappin'?
Or dead ducks?

dirk  •  Link


Dead, I imagine.

dirk  •  Link

Ducks again

Possibly Sam's phrasing "five couple of ducks" refers to five times two (dead) ducks tied together by their feet -- so that they could be carried more easily.

I take it these are wild ducks (not tame ones) -- they should have been easy to catch, given the icy cold weather and probably frozen ponds.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

"pairs" it be the way to carry many items on thy shoulder with a pole, which be a branch of a tree with the sub branches not fully trimmed to provide a nitch to stop the lost of thy game. Pole be not a polished modern broom stick. Thereby thy dothe not ruin thy merchandise.

dirk  •  Link


(An attempt at something like Old English alliteration verse.)

Words of wisdom willingly flow
from her fiery feathered quill.
True to the theme of Pepys' plight
she performs the ponderous task
of shrewdly showing Sam and our good selves alike
what must have mattered and what might.

Juggling and jousting jollily
with wildly wonderous worlds of words,
she makes us feel we're almost there
our very selves to see and hear
Sam's fortitude, as his doubt and fear,
and make us think of things that were.

Terry F  •  Link

"the second part of Dr. Bates’s Elenchus [newly published]...reaches to the fall of Richard" Cromwell in Spring, 1659. (L&M footnote)

Terry F  •  Link

Dirk, sorry if my slow-post detracts from your wonderful tribute to Jeannine's own tribute to the Valentines fracas at the Pepys's.

Bradford  •  Link

"one couple of ducks": a pair of fowls thus yoked is also known as a "brace," as in a brace of quail. Just watch what you aim at. (I didn't say that, I'd never say that, it's not a joking matter!)
Terry, since Pepys says "Find myself pretty well but fearful of cold, and so to my office," doesn't that make it sound like it's warmer in there? I was just wondering whose job it was to tend the fires there---a task requiring attention and skill.

jeannine  •  Link

Dirk, Thanks so much for YOUR kind words and great poem! Sam is such a delight. I can just imagine him all excited over the propects of Mrs. Pierce and then Bess drops the bomb. I could just feel him squirming to back out of the whole thing. Can't you just see his eyes deflating as she says, "Oh maybe I'll pick Mr. Hunt, or perhaps Captain Ferrers....."
What gives Sam's writing such life is that in between words of history, intelligence, greatness, Naval wonders, etc. is a level of emotion that is just so raw, vulnerable, sometimes humourous and just plain human. You never know what he will deliver one day to the next, but he's a fun adventure to be with for the ride.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Bradford - brace refers to a male and female - so a brace of pheasants is a cock pheasant and a hen pheasant. If both of same sex, then it's a couple. NB Do Not Confuse With Peasant.
Sam seems to be eating them up quickly so they were probably well hung before he got them. Good job it's not hot weather.
Wonderful poems Jeannine and Dirk!

dirk  •  Link

"Sam seems to be eating them up quickly so they were probably well hung before he got them."

I wouldn't be so sure, Susan. In the 17th c most if not all game was eaten within days after the kill -- as was the case with all meat. Hanging game to "improve" the taste was not yet a custom.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Pair versus Brace: In Sams time after he hath red his Seamans Bible he would reserve the word "brace" for nautical uses [not including spice the main Brace]
"brace" OED
An arm; esp. an ‘arm’ of the sea or other large body of water. Brace of St. George = med.L. brachium Sancti Georgii (Du Cange): the Bosporus or the
I. Uses of the general sense ‘pair of arms’.
b. ? A coat of armour. Obs.
III. 15. Two things taken together; a pair, a couple.
In this sense the plural is also brace, as in two or three brace, several brace.
a. orig. of dogs. (Perhaps the band or cord with which dogs were coupled in coursing was called a brace; cf. sense 13 and LEASH.)
b. of other animals, esp. certain kinds of game.
1570 LEVINS Manip. 6 A Brace of Deere, duo damae.
1651 FULLER Abel Rediv. Erasmus (1867) I. 83 Hammond and Urswick sent him a brace of geldings
1655 FULLER Ch. Hist. II. ii. §84 I. 213 A brace of Brethren, both Bishops
A rope attached to the yard of a vessel for the purpose of ‘trimming’ the sail.
1626 CAPT. SMITH Accid. Yng. Seamen 28 Ease your mayne brases.
later 1762 FALCONER Shipwr. II. note, The lee-brace
To bluster, domineer; to assume a defiant attitude; chiefly in phrase to face and brace.
The word has expanded to mean many things, in all approx 20 versions/ shades of meaning
also the to boost or brace

celtcahill  •  Link

I believe that's splice the main brace.

Grog likely to degrade accuracy of taget acquisition, especially the smaller sort of game....

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Exactly: splice before grog, after grog it be spice;

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sorry - gender distinctions of birds is a late Victorian/Edwardian shooting custom slang/cant whatever - not Sam's time. So I think Bradford can award me Pedant of The Week.
Hunting parlance for hounds: foxhounds are coupled for training purposes (old experienced hound with the new one). If a hunt has enough hounds, it hunts alternately with a bitch pack and then a dog pack. In the sport [sic] of coursing, when dogs of the lurcher persuasion are set off after hares in pairs, the dogs to be so used are coupled until released (by a third party, not either of the owners)to ensure they have an equal chance of getting the hare. When Sam goes of a Monday to attend the Duke and finds him gone ahunting, this is after stags.(maybe at Windsor, Richmond or Epping) Other types of hunting with dogs (harriers for hares, foxhounds for foxes, beagles and bassets for rabbits and hares and otter hounds for otters)all came later.

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

George Bate, who wrote 'Elenchus' now has a brief Wikipedia entry. As a physician to Charles I, the Cromwell family AND Charles II, he was well placed to observe the shifting political currents of his time.…

Antonia Fraser uses Bate's memoirs as a primary source in her biography of Cromwell. He is referenced 13 times in the index and described by Fraser as a "Royalist Doctor". Of course, in dangerous times it paid to be flexible in one's allegiances. Unsurprisingly, Bate was, at least, Royalist when he wrote his memoirs after the Restoration!

john  •  Link

"it being a monstrous thaw [..], so that there is no passing but by coach in the streets, and hardly that."

Indeed, that I can well understand lving on unpaved roads. One keeps snow tires on until after the thaw as snow tires make good mud tires.

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