Tuesday 17 February 1662/63

Up and to my office, and there we sat all the morning, and at noon my wife being gone to Chelsey with her brother and sister and Mrs. Lodum, to see the wassell at the school, where Mary Ashwell is, I took home Mr. Pett and he dined with me all alone, and much discourse we had upon the business of the office, and so after dinner broke up and with much ado, it raining hard, which it has not done a great while now, but only frost a great while, I got a coach and so to the Temple, where discoursed with Mr. W. Montagu about borrowing some money for my Lord, and so by water (where I have not been a good while through cold) to Westminster to Sir W. Wheeler’s, whom I found busy at his own house with the Commissioners of Sewers, but I spoke to him about my Lord’s business of borrowing money, and so to my Lord of Sandwich, to give him an account of all, whom I found at cards with Pickering; but he made an end soon: and so all alone, he and I, after I had given him an account, he told me he had a great secret to tell me, such as no flesh knew but himself, nor ought; which was this: that yesterday morning Eschar, Mr. Edward Montagu’s man, did come to him from his master with some of the Clerks of the Exchequer, for my Lord to sign to their books for the Embassy money; which my Lord very civilly desired not to do till he had spoke with his master himself. In the afternoon, my Lord and my Lady Wright being at cards in his chamber, in comes Mr. Montagu; and desiring to speak with my Lord at the window in his chamber, he begun to charge my Lord with the greatest ingratitude in the world: that he that had received his earldom, garter, 4000l. per annum, and whatever he is in the world, from him, should now study him all the dishonour that he could; and so fell to tell my Lord, that if he should speak all that he knew of him, he could do so and so. In a word, he did rip up all that could be said that was unworthy, and in the basest terms they could be spoken in. To which my Lord answered with great temper, justifying himself, but endeavouring to lessen his heat, which was a strange temper in him, knowing that he did owe all he hath in the world to my Lord, and that he is now all that he is by his means and favour. But my Lord did forbear to increase the quarrel, knowing that it would be to no good purpose for the world to see a difference in the family; but did allay him so as that he fell to weeping. And after much talk (among other things Mr. Montagu telling him that there was a fellow in the town, naming me, that had done ill offices, and that if he knew it to be so, he would have him cudgelled) my Lord did promise him that, if upon account he saw that there was not many tradesmen unpaid, he would sign the books; but if there was, he could not bear with taking too great a debt upon him. So this day he sent him an account, and a letter assuring him there was not above 200l. unpaid; and so my Lord did sign to the Exchequer books. Upon the whole, I understand fully what a rogue he is, and how my Lord do think and will think of him for the future; telling me that thus he has served his father my Lord Manchester, and his whole family, and now himself: and which is worst, that he hath abused, and in speeches every day do abuse, my Lord Chancellor, whose favour he hath lost; and hath no friend but Sir H. Bennet, and that (I knowing the rise of the friendship) only from the likeness of their pleasures, and acquaintance, and concernments, they have in the same matters of lust and baseness; for which, God forgive them! But he do flatter himself, from promises of Sir H. Bennet, that he shall have a pension of 2000l. per annum, and be made an Earl. My Lord told me he expected a challenge from him, but told me there was no great fear of him, for there was no man lies under such an imputation as he do in the business of Mr. Cholmely, who, though a simple sorry fellow, do brave him and struts before him with the Queen, to the sport and observation of the whole Court.

He did keep my Lord at the window, thus reviling and braving him above an hour, my Lady Wright being by; but my Lord tells me she could not hear every word, but did well know what their discourse was; she could hear enough to know that. So that he commands me to keep it as the greatest secret in the world, and bids me beware of speaking words against Mr. Montagu, for fear I should suffer by his passion thereby.

After he had told me this I took coach and home, where I found my wife come home and in bed with her sister in law in the chamber with her, she not being able to stay to see the wassel, being so ill … [of her termes – L&M], which I was sorry for. Hither we sent for her sister’s viall, upon which she plays pretty well for a girl, but my expectation is much deceived in her, not only for that, but in her spirit, she being I perceive a very subtle witty jade, and one that will give her husband trouble enough as little as she is, whereas I took her heretofore for a very child and a simple fool. I played also, which I have not done this long time before upon any instrument, and at last broke up and I to my office a little while, being fearful of being too much taken with musique, for fear of returning to my old dotage thereon, and so neglect my business as I used to do.

Then home and to bed.

Coming home I brought Mr. Pickering as far as the Temple, who tells me the story is very true of a child being dropped at the ball at Court; and that the King had it in his closett a week after, and did dissect it; and making great sport of it, said that in his opinion it must have been a month and three hours old; and that, whatever others think, he hath the greatest loss (it being a boy, as he says), that hath lost a subject by the business.

He tells me, too, that the other story, of my Lady Castlemaine’s and Stuart’s marriage, is certain, and that it was in order to the King’s coming to Stuart, as is believed generally. He tells me that Sir H. Bennet is a Catholique, and how all the Court almost is changed to the worse since his coming in, they being afeard of him. And that the Queen-Mother’s Court is now the greatest of all; and that our own Queen hath little or no company come to her, which I know also to be very true, and am sorry to see it.

50 Annotations

First Reading

Terry F  •  Link


"at the school, where Mary Ashwell is"

L&M note that she worked as a supervisor of little children

"the Embassy money"

Sandwich's embassy to Portugal, 1661-2 (L&M).

Mr. Montagu

We've seen this fellow before. See 6 August 1662 for a duel in which "the world says Mr. Montagu did carry himself very poorly in the business, and hath lost his honour for ever with all people in it, of which I am very glad, in hopes that it will humble him."

stolzi  •  Link

More sundries

1) Seems a bit late in the year for a Wassail - I thought these were Christmastime celebrations.

Someone will come and fill in the dots, but I rather imagine Elizabeth was sick with her monthlies. Is the sister/sister-in-law (subtle, witty jade!) who visits, the wife of Balty?

2) Pepys just got through an unpleasant jangle in his own family, now here is my Lord of Sandwich having a quarrel with his (my Lord's) cousin.

Notice that although Montagu says very unpleasant things of Pepys, my Lord of Sandwich actually confides the whole quarrel to him and at least claims that he (Pepys) is the only one in on the secret. So Sam must be feeling content to have won this round in the grace-and-favour stakes!

Terry F  •  Link

Yea, stolzi, Bess is "ill of her terms."

She is sick of it, indeed....(more dots).

Terry F  •  Link

Excuse - "ill of her termes - which I was sorry for."

Bradford  •  Link

Let's see, nobody in the world knows but Mr. Montagu, Lady Wright, and whoever they told, and my Lord, and Pepys. If the World holds true to form, within three days someone else will be letting no one but Sam in on "the secret."

Australian Susan  •  Link

"subtle witty jade"
Sam does not have a high opinion of his bro-in-law's wife, does he? But from what we know of Balty, it seems par for the course that he has been entrapped by an adventuress, who probably has an eye to what Balty's rising brother-in-law can provide for them. Sam is now counting the days until Balty appears at the house wanting money or with some complicated scheme he needs letters of introduction for or some other support.........

jeannine  •  Link

"who tells me the story is very true of a child being dropped at the ball at Court; and that the King had it in his closett a week after, and did dissect it; and making great sport of it, said that in his opinion it must have been a month and three hours old; and that, whatever others think, he hath the greatest loss (it being a boy, as he says), that hath lost a subject by the business".
This is an affirmation of the gossip that Ferrers told Sam on Feb 8th. The story of Charles dissecting the baby and his comment about the loss being a boy is hard enough to stomach, but what I believe (my speculation, not recorded anywhere) is that the baby was his own son. It was believed, per Ferrers, that the baby belonged to Winifred Wells, who was a lesser mistress to Charles, and nowhere else "linked" to anyone else.
This incident also comes up in one of the biographies of the Queen (forgive me for not digging for the exact quote here), but it basically gives a listing of all of the antics, factions, gambling, whoring, mistresses, mayhem, etc. going on in the court to which this dissection is the final "cherry on top" example to explain the total depravity to which Catherine has found herself living. So amid all of these episodes and disappointments, how did our Queen cope? According to Gertrude Thomas in "Richer than Spices" nobody "ever expected that Catherine has placed her problem in more capable hands, for she had presented a portrait of her husband to Syon Abbey in Devon, with the request that the nuns there pray for him. To this day Charles still hangs on the wall of their Great Hall smiling his half-satiric smile amidst rows of English saints with solemn faces, as if her were amused by the whole situation".

A. Hamilton  •  Link

there was a fellow in the town, naming me, that had done ill offices

As I read it, Montague tells Pepys he has attracted negative attention from someone highly situated at court, and had better watch himself. Sam's enemies (all those contractors not favored and their friends such as Sir William Batten) may be spreading lies about him or may have observed Sam enriching himself at the crown's expense, if he has done so (I am undecided, but inclined to give Sam the benefit of the doubt).

tommy  •  Link

is this where the saying 'has a skeleton in his closet' comes from?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: “subtle witty jade”

Susan, it sounds to me as if Sam's estimation of her is growing ... does anyone know what "jade" means in this instance?

Speaking of estimation, Charles has fallen rather far in mine ... the dissection sounds like a truly barbaric act, regardless of whether or not it was his own son. Jeannine, has that story (the dissection) been confirmed?

jeannine  •  Link

Todd, I found one of the quotes which references today. It's in Wilson's "All the King's Women" and reads ..."there were several branches of science which intrigued Charles. In July 1662, while he was in the midst of his domestic crisis{Bedchamber incident, I presume??], Charles presented a charter to the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge. Its remit was as wide as its name suggested and Charles took a close interest in its work. He also carried out his own expriments. Pepys had a somewhat gruesome story from one of his court contacts concerning the foetus that was dropped by a lady who miscarried in the middle of the ball.. [quotes Pepys from above]. ... It it not difficult to imagine how the straitlaced Catherine of Braganza and her sombre guardians reacted to a style of court life that was shockingly amoral and quite alien to anything they had ever experienced". (p. 173)
It is known that Charles DID have a very keen interest in science and was a strong supporter of scientific activity throughout his life. This story pops up in alot of books about Charles/Catherine/Court life, etc. but I'm not sure exactly what sources each one uses.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sounds to me like Sandwich is telling our boy that his cousin the rather psychotic Mr. Montague is not only claiming he (Sandwich) owes him his earldom and the goodies that came with it (for perhaps making the initial contacts with the Stuarts?) but that he's heard Sam has been spreading tales and is threatening to beat him up if they're confirmed.

In general the whole Montague clan seems to have let their success in selling out the Revolution go to their collective heads, living beyond their large means and now starting to turn on each other. Cousin Edward seems crazed by his financial troubles which my lord Sandwich is desperately trying to raise loans himself.

And something tells me Charlie and Jamie aren't too unhappy to see their good friend Sandwich slipping toward disaster. We[ve heard a few times of my lord complaining that he's not been paid promised funds.

Terry F  •  Link


Todd Bernhardt, I too found this a puzzling use, since there are

jade (2)
"worn-out horse," c.1386, possibly from O.N. jalda "mare," from Finno-Ugric (cf. Mordvin al'd'a "mare"). As a term of abuse for a woman, it dates from 1560. Jaded "dulled by continual indulgence" is from 1631.
1700, "one that is half Whore, half Bawd" ["Dictionary of the Canting Crew"]; "a decayed strumpet" [Johnson], from Fr. haridelle "a poore tit, or leane ill-favored jade," [Cotgrave, 1611], in Fr. from 16c., of unknown origin.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

"...but in her spirit, she being I perceive a very subtle witty jade, and one that will give her husband trouble enough as little as she is,..."
I dothe think ,that this be she looks to be worn out shell but none the less has spirit inspite of of being a bit over the hill.
OED:=1. A contemptuous name for a horse; a horse of inferior breed, e.g. a cart- or draught-horse as opposed to a riding horse; a roadster, a hack; a sorry, ill-conditioned, wearied, or worn-out horse; a vicious, worthless, ill-tempered horse; rarely applied to a donkey
1605 VERSTEGAN Dec. Intell. vii. (1628) 205 Not fit for Gentlemens horses, but for Carters iades. 1666 CHAS. II in Julia Cartwright Henrietta of Orleans (1894) 237, I shall have much ado to mounte my selfe with so much as jades for this summer's hunting.
2. A term of reprobation applied to a woman. Also used playfully, like hussy or minx.
. 1590 SPENSER F.Q. II. xi. 31 The Squyre..Snatcht first the one, and then the other Iade [the hags Impotence and Impatience].

1668 PEPYS Diary 14 Jan., [Mrs] Pierce says she [Miss Davis] is a most homely jade as ever she saw.
[verb]1. trans. To make a jade of (a horse); to exhaust or wear out by driving or working hard; to fatigue, weary, tire.
1641 Pol. Ballads (Wilkins) I. 8 You grow poor, As any common whore That long hath been without her jading.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

This game of cards be the more serious kind, like gambling rather than gamboling:
"...whom I found at cards with Pickering; but he made an end soon: and so all alone..." Lost?

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"she plays pretty well for a girl"
Right, Sam, I know what you mean. Jacqueline du Pre played the cello pretty well for a girl, too.

Australian Susan  •  Link


I think Sam's meaning for Mrs Balty is the No 2 one quoted by our Water Writer above. "subtle" is likewise a term of mistrust, especially when applied to a woman.

"plays pretty well for a girl"

My 21st century self baulked at this statement, but I then had to recall myself into a 17th century world view. I don't think, however, that Sam is necessarily being sexist here: he may mean "girl" as in someone youthful and not having studied long or he may mean that she has to play this side-saddle, which is much more awkward. My great-aunt had to play the cello side-saddle as it was considered in Victorian and Edwardian times that putting the thing between your legs and letting gentlemen see you had knees (shock, horror) was totally unacceptable. I don't know if such things happened in the 17th century. Any musicologists out there? My great-aunt simply accepted that this was how things were and regarded the piano as her primary instrument.

pedro  •  Link

Jade. (from Brewer's Phrase and Fable)

Jade A worthless horse. An old woman (used in contempt). A young woman (not necessarily contemptuous).

A. Hamilton  •  Link

very subtle witty jade

Subtle and witty can be terms of approbation, but when connected with jade (hussy, minx) subtle can take on the connotation of crafty, cunning, artful, sly etc., and witty can also have a negative connotation, e.g., skillfully devised for an evil purpose (all these OED) -- so it appears Sam thinks Balty has married a spirited, sly, crafty minx who plays the viol pretty well for a girl (Sam respects musicians) and is a more considerable person than he first took her for, one who will give her husband trouble.

jeannine  •  Link

"one who will give her husband trouble".. and perhaps Sam thinks this couldn't happen to a more deserving guy!

A. Hamilton  •  Link

perhaps Sam thinks this couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy!

I agree. Sam's not high on Balty, and he seems to suggest that the new wife is fully capable of cuckolding him -- there is a sexual thread in Sam's description -- or just keeping him under her thumb.

Terry F  •  Link


On the one hand we have in Aqua Scripto's view that, per the OED, "she looks to be worn out shell"; but on the other, Aus.Susan's that she is perhaps "someone youthful" (I think he would have written "like a girl" had he meant "that she has to play this side-saddle", which was indeed not uncommon for women until the mid-20th century).

I do believe Samuel is being a man of his time, or perhaps just a Samuel.

Recall more than a half-century later James Boswell reports: "I told [Samuel Johnson] I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: 'Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.'" http://www.samueljohnson.com/dogw…

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... and that the King had it in his closett a week after, and did dissect it; and making great sport of it ..."

Is there any independent third party confirmation of these facts; ie an account of the dissection published by an eyewitness elsewhere?

To me this sounds exactly like the typical kind of fantasy material that gets projected upon an event and repeated as gossip, which serves only to demonstrate the content of the gossipers beliefs: just as with all numerous accounts by alien abductees, none have yet remembered to bring back an ashtray or a packet of matches from the flying saucer.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Re: dissection, very possible, the newly found papers Royal Society , dothe mention such action as experimenting with aborted babies.
'Tis like Women can only do "womens work", see the war times when shortage of skills be sudddenly allowing "The Weaker Sex" to do "mans work". It may be gossip as there was no true documention to note a scientific method, but I be of the opinion that that there was some mallarky.
In every statement there be an element of truth, where though, never to be known .
NIH syndrome {not invented here {by me}}, Superior brains only go the Sorbonne, Oxford that be for the lessers. This be the age of curiosity and little science [gentlemen with time and money]be in vogue, not scientific, but none the less was done in the fashion of 8 year olds? We have a have a horrible habit of dismissing events when they do not fit in with preconceived ideas and written with poorly educated ways, never to look beyond to see if it could be possible. I.E. The Bard did not write his work, it had to to be someone of superior brainwashing.
So I say the lauds not be nice, I can see them saying "Lets see who be the father" and making definitely UPC comments.[ just read some of the Poets of the times]

Pedro  •  Link

Will the real Mr.Pickering stand up?

Ned Pickering was younger brother of Sir Gilbert Pickering.

John Pickering was nephew of Ned Pickering.

Earlier on that day Sam had been with Ned at the card game? Sam always calls this chap Ned, or in this case just Pickering. He does not like Ned.

He took a coach home to his wife, played a little music and went to the office. He then took a coach home with Mr. Pickering.

This Pickering could not be the scoundrel Ned or Sam would have cussed about him?


Terry F  •  Link

Pedro, surely you are [circumstantially] correct!

Although in the past "Mr.Pickering" has been linked to both John and Edward, today's seems to me to be probably John. Sorry, no help, just my concurrence.

slangist  •  Link

king dickie the twice
quoth the only shakescene in the country, "Down, down I come, like glistering Phaeton/Wanting the manage of unruly jades." here meaning "overspirited horses." sam'l in his context possibly therefore associating the "minx" meaning moreso than the "worn out" one... gets my vote...

Australian Susan  •  Link

I think Sam is concerned about Balty's wife because of:

1. Possible bad effect on Elizabeth

2. Possible involvement of Sam in helping Balty and wife out with money or references or letters of introduction or, worst case scenario, bailing them out!

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

said that in his opinion it must have been a month and three hours old;

I don't understand this. If it was a miscarriage, how could it be a month and three hours old (and how would you tell?) Maybe he means a month early and three hours old, but again I don't know how you would tell that. Also, a baby born a month early would probably survive, even in those days.

jeannine  •  Link

” … and that the King had it in his closett a week after, and did dissect it; and making great sport of it …”

SPOLIERS... Michael, did not find an eye witness to this specific incident but did find the following. Also,we may be looking at this with 21st century eyes, when we may need to step back and look at the times, something which for me personally is hard to do here. When I asked my husband about this today he reminded me that Sam would never have been operated on for the stone unless the doctors understood the inside of the human body and what to look for. As unnerving a topic as it is dissection, in terms of medical advances, etc. was as critical as element in the study of medicine yesterday as it it today. There also were not readily accessible means (organ doantions, etc.) to obtain a human cadaver to experiment upon in the times of Charles II. If you want an eye opening (and easy to read) view on the topic read "Stiff" by Mary Roach. In terms of Charles II, this entry may not be a far-fetched idea, as he was interested in dissection ,science, etc. per the sites quoted below. Not to be trite here, but "dissection" was an "in" thing in 1663. The focus was on scientific curiosity and no doubt the scientists were able to separate the "human being who once was" from the cadaver.
In my house growing up, the focus was on mechanics and there wasn't an appliance in the house, a car engine, machine,etc, which wasn't taken apart by my brother who had a curiosity to explore it, understand it, fix it (even if it wasn't broken to begin with!) and put it back together. Thank goodness for all who have benefited from medicine today that there weren't some scientists with the same drives in understanding the anatomy. Some food for thought (spoilers!)

“In 1654 Queen Elizabeth granted a "special charter of anatomies" to the College of Physicians of London whereby four bodies of executed felons were to be delivered to the College for "anatomizing". In 1663 Charles II increased the yearly quota of bodies to six.”

“At Whitehall, Charles II had his “little elaboratory, under his closet, a pretty place,” and was working there but a day or two before his death, his illness disinclining him for his wonted exercise. The king took a curious interest in anatomy; on 11 May, 1663, Pierce, the surgeon, tells Pepys “that the other day Dr. Clerke and he did dissect two bodies, a man and a woman before the King with which the King was highly pleased.” Pepys also records, 17 February, 1662/3, on the authority of Edward Pickering, another story of a dissection in the royal closet by the king’s own hands.” 29

“The New Science was also diffused by public demonstrations. This was especially the case in public anatomy lessons. Scientist and layman alike were invited to witness the dissection of human cadavers. The body of a criminal would be brought to the lecture hall and the surgeon would dissect the body, announcing and displaying organs as they were removed from the body.
Throughout major European cities there were wealthy men who, with lots of free time on their hands, would dabble in science. These were the virtuosi -- the amateur scientists. These men oftentimes made original contributions to scientific endeavor. They also supplied organizations like the Royal Society with needed funds.”

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Jeanie: Thanks For The assistance

Perhaps my initial observation was too terse. I am well aware, as I assume all annotators would be, that Vesalius was teaching in Padua almost 130 years prior to the diary; that private dissection (though illegal) was not uncommon in England in addition to the public events on the bodies of the condemned and had taken place before Charles (though I could not have dated the event) , that much of the “new science” involved experiments we would find unnecessarily cruel today today, (Boyle’s experiments with dogs at Oxford come immediately to mind), and that Charles had a lively mind and a strong intellectual curiosity making his patronage of the Royal Society more than a mere formality. I have also no doubt at all that Charles had a dry wit, and did often make the kind of observation quoted and was quite capable of making it of a child of his own – in fact the remark about the loss of a subject is the one part of the story that strikes me as plausible and completely consistent with what is known of Charles’ wit on other occasions.

What we are being asked to accept, I think, is the following:-

That a child (or corpse of one) was dropped during a court ball
That the child was Charles’ own
That the Charles kept this corpse for a week in his closet
That Charles proceeded to dissect this corpse personally

The first two statements stretch my sense of the plausible even for Charles Court – the custom of the day and later was I believe to leave them on the steps of London churches; St Margaret’s Westminster and St Martin’s in the Fields would both be no more than 5/7 minutes walk away from Whitehall – however it is certainly possible and plausible for a mistress to wish to make a semi-public point that would not be lost on “insiders.”

The dissection by Charles himself (not even by a surgeon in his presence) after keeping the body for a week is what strikes me as improbable and implausible. I note that this addition is made after the story has been in circulation. My experience with animal corpses would suggest that unless the corpse was gutted within a few of hours of its discovery it would simply have been too high after three days to keep, even in an unheated room in London in February, and opening a five to seven day old abdomen is quite nauseous for a human. (At this stage even my dogs will avoid the soft tissues)

What is being said by Pickering, I think, is that Charles is not just an immoral King, in terms of being sexually dissolute, but one who in addition is prepared to violate the sacred taboos of the day concerning the sanctity of the body, and further jeopardize the possibility of resurrection and immortality for a human soul:-

1. The contemporary belief in the integrity of the body being necessary for resurrection. (It was only the worst crimes against the state, themselves in the contemporary point of view being both a violation of sacred as well as earthly order, that permitted the possibility of the integrity body being violated after death – for treason this was a necessary part of the “horror” of the punishment)

2. The corpse in the story is not allowed any form of religious funeral; or if at any stage is alive a baptism which could in extremis be performed by any baptized person, this too necessary for proper passage to salvation, but instead is made just the subject of Royal dismemberment for amusement.

This interpretation would be consistent with the description of Pickering as “sanctimonious”


My own work of various kinds has made me extremely cautious about the value of gossip as evidence, particularly when facts are repeated by people who were not eye witnesses (even eye witness testimony can be very dodgy indeed; one only has to compare ones own contemporaneous notes with ones memory of an event a week or ten days later to become aware how much emotions can and do skew even an genuine attempt at honest recall and be shocked); I have found often there is a kernel of truth in “gossip” or tales told but much has to do with the psychology of the teller, auditor and further repeater – think of the children’s game of Chinese whispers and how a simple statement can be completely transformed in five or six repetitions.

With apologies for the length of this post, which is an attempt to provide greater context for my prior observation that “absent ashtrays and matches” I believe little that appears to me to be inconsistent with the general physical facts of experience.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

For the sake of clarity ...

I should add that the statements of beliefs about sanctity and souls are my crude summary of those of Pepy's day and have no relation to my own personal opinions and beliefs about such matters.

boydatty  •  Link

Of course the king has reason to know that the aborted fetus is one month and three hours old. He is its father, and knows well when he frolicked with Winifred Wells, his "lesser mistress."

This opens a 17th century window on a great political morality issue of our own day, embroiling Americans under the shibboleth "Roe v. Wade."

We've gone from medieval times when due to wetnurses and high infant mortality parents avoided close bonds with their young children, expecting to lose the majority of them, to the present, where we are back again to counting those angels dancing on the head of that pin.

Pepys, it seems, finds the King's actions and lifestyle scandalous, more of its general licentiousness than of a regard for the sanctity of human life from the time of conception or the absence of solemn religious ceremonies for a naturally aborted fetus. Under other circumstances, he'd probably welcome a report made on the subject to the Royal Society.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Thanks Michael Robinson, great . Publick face vs private [lack of true]morals, Charles like many, care more about how their bread be buttered and not their ethical stance. It be why all powers must must have a counter balance.
Majority of the Homo Sapiens be instant pleasure seekers, despite the fact that they could understand that instant pleasure will give them an aked head [or loss of]in the future.

celtcahill  •  Link

There was an article in Newsweek re: Our American small towns, in which the author wisely repeated the old sage that there may not be much to do in these places, however the rumors one hears make up for it.

I think of this much the same way. I am willing to grant it, given the time constraints noted and the drift of rumor upon repetition.

Australian Susan  •  Link

I don't think the little corpse we are discussing could possibly have been a miscarriage after only a month: it would only have been the size of a bean.
I am still uncertain as to what the expression "a month and three hours old" means. Perhaps it is a reported speech intended to show the extent of Charles's scientific knowledge. Maybe it is garbled (A. Hamilton's "Chinese whispers"theory). It is certainly strange, but for Charles to make a joke (if this is what it is) which alludes to his mistress, Winfired, and when he was dallying with her does seem plausuible even if we do not understand exactly the meaning.
At this time (and long afterwards) a still-birth was not regarded as a proper child. Into the 20th century, women who gave birth to dead babies were not allowed to mourn them properly: it was considered they had not had a baby.

celtcahill  •  Link

If Charles knew when it may have been concieved, he may have had more detailed knowledge. You're right about the size and time though, so maybe it was someone else's ? Sounds like someone may have missed a treason charge.

Pauline  •  Link

'Will the real Mr.Pickering stand up?'

Pedro, The two mentions of Pickering in today's entry refer to the same guy.

Sam goes home for awhile and then crosses the courtyard to his office.

"Then home and to bed. Coming home I brought Mr. Pickering as far as the Temple..."

The coming home he refers to after ending with "home and to bed" is reverting to telling a story that happened earlier in the day when he left Lord Sandwich and took a coach home---taking Pickering as far as the Temple and hearing the story of the dissection.

Tina Anderson  •  Link

I find it hard to believe that someone just "dropped" a child during a ball. Would not there have been some discomfort? As a woman, I don't usually walk around dropping bits and pieces off of myself nor would I sit very still and calm had I just miscarried. One would think someone would have taken notice of a lady in such distress. Perhaps I'm being too literal. My first impression, stupidly, was that someone actually dropped a live child on it's head, though I don't know why they'd be lugging a kid around at court. And perhaps if there was an investigation the next day, would not the court physician have examined the ladies? There is no mention of that by Pepys. And, cold or not, I cannot believe Charles would have had a corpse in his closet for a week! And, believing that the child was his, would he, himself had autopsied it? Ewww. The man must have a stomach made of steel, especially after a week!

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the wassell at the school, where Mary Ashwell is"

For the wassail (entertainment), see the 26 February entry in which Pepys awaits his wife's return from "Chelsey, whither she is gone to see the Play at the Schoole where Ashwell is." http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1…
(L&M note)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the Commissioners of Sewers"

There were eight courts of commissioners in charge of the streams, ditches and surface water drainage in the London area outside the city. (L&M note)

Bill  •  Link

“she being I perceive a very subtle witty jade”

A JADE … also a sorry base Woman, a lewd Wench, a Strumpet.
---An Universal English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

The story of the decline and fall of Ned Montague continues. Using Pepys as a messenger, Sandwich is desperately trying to borrow £1000 to pay off the debts contracted in his name by Ned. This is on top of the £2000 he had from Sandwich which were unaccounted for. Ned is now trying to bully/blackmail/coerce Sandwich into signing off his accounts for the Exchequer. Sandwich eventually agrees to do this, but Ned has "p****d on his chips", as we might say today, and the extended family* will not be doing any more to promote his career.

The unfortunate Ned, a younger son who needs to make his own fortune, seems to over-play his hand regularly in his desperate desire for advancement. His hopes for something via the King's new favourite Bennet are empty, because Ned has nothing to offer in return.

*Incidentally, there's a crucial comma missing here: "thus he has served his father [comma] my Lord Manchester, and his whole family, and now himself" as Manchester is not his father, but his father's cousin who has the influential position of Lord Chamberlain.

Linda  •  Link

Remember that Sam himself was dissected, in a sense, in that his friends(!) autopsied his body after he died.

JayW  •  Link

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph this week, a mother reported that as late as 1971 she was not even allowed to see a baby stillborn at 35 weeks.

Also, the comment from Charles that the child was 'a month and 3 hours old' may just have referred to the last assignation with his mistress. It couldn't have been true of the foetus if the sex was known.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

WR to dissecting a one month old foetus the interest would be all Darwinian with very little to see from a 17th C. perspective. Add in "making a great sport of it" and the word that springs to mind here is calumny. As for the mentioned smell of decay - did they wash it after "dropping" before saving it for a week? It's all completely ridiculous.

Tripleransom  •  Link

A jade is a sorry, worn out nag. cf Hamlet: "let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung" Applied to a woman, it has the same negative connotation - sorry and perhaps sexually well-used. Strumpet might be a more familiar word.

I don't think Sam is actually accusing her of sexual misconduct - it's more just a generally derogatory term.

How on earth did anyone manage to play a viol "sidesaddle" without being able to steady it with your legs? Did you have some kind of stand for it?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"How on earth did anyone manage to play a viol "sidesaddle" without being able to steady it with your legs? " Good question, Tripleransom.

All members of the viol family are played upright between the legs like a modern cello, hence the Italian name viola da gamba (it. "viol for the leg") was sometimes applied to the instruments of this family. This distinguishes the viol from the modern violin family, the viola da braccio (it. "viol for the arm"). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viol

The link to "viall" shows this is a viola da gamba.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"My Lord told me he expected a challenge from him, but told me there was no great fear of him, for there was no man lies under such an imputation as he do in the business of Mr. Cholmely,"

L&M: The duel mentioned at 6 August 1662.

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