Wednesday 6 May 1663

Up betimes and to my office a good while at my new rulers, then to business, and towards noon to the Exchange with Creed, where we met with Sir J. Minnes coming in his coach from Westminster, who tells us, in great heat, that, by God, the Parliament will make mad work; that they will render all men incapable of any military or civil employment that have borne arms in the late troubles against the King, excepting some persons; which, if it be so, as I hope it is not, will give great cause of discontent, and I doubt will have but bad effects.

I left them at the Exchange and walked to Paul’s Churchyard to look upon a book or two, and so back, and thence to the Trinity House, and there dined, where, among other discourse worth hearing among the old seamen, they tell us that they have catched often in Greenland in fishing whales with the iron grapnells that had formerly been struck into their bodies covered over with fat; that they have had eleven hogsheads of oyle out of the tongue of a whale.

Thence after dinner home to my office, and there busy till the evening. Then home and to supper, and while at supper comes Mr. Pembleton, and after supper we up to our dancing room and there danced three or four country dances, and after that a practice of my coranto I began with him the other day, and I begin to think that I shall be able to do something at it in time. Late and merry at it, and so weary to bed.

24 Annotations

First Reading

TerryF  •  Link

"they have had eleven hogsheads of oyle out of the tongue of a whale."

Lost in Translation: The original source, who shipped on a whaler, surely said eleven hogsheads of oyle were taken out of the *tun* of a whale. (Not a scanning error, L&M leave this as it is, with no note.) Cf. Moby Dick, Ch. 77, The Great Heidelburgh Tun…

Australian Susan  •  Link


Typical of Sam to get straight down to work to master this new implement and make it useful to him in his business.
The whale with the overgrown harpoon reminds me of the descriptions of Moby Dick covered in harpoon lines and old scars.

TerryF  •  Link


"Sir J. Minnes coming...from Westminster...tells us, in great heat, that, by God, the Parliament...will render all men incapable of any military or civil employment that have borne arms in the late troubles against the King...; which, if it be so, as I hope it is not, will give great cause of discontent, and I doubt will have but bad effects."

There is no record of that occurring today in the HC, but yesterday was set in motion a Bill concerning


"Ordered, That a Bill be brought in for disposing all Offices, military and civil, into the Hands of such Persons as have been loyal Subjects, and conformable to the Church of England: And that it be referred to the Lord Bruce, Mr. Solicitor General, Serjeant Charlton, Sir Allen Apsley, Lord Newburgh, Sir Tho. Tomkins, Lord Fanshaw, Mr. Milward, Sir Robert Atkyns, Serjeant Keeling, Mr. Coventry, Mr. Vaughan, Mr. Thurland, Sir Courtney Poole, to prepare and bring in the Bill."

From: 'House of Commons Journal Volume 8: 5 May 1663', Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8: 1660-1667 (1802), pp. 475-76. URL:…. Date accessed: 06 May 2006.

daniel  •  Link

" after that a practice of my coranto I began . . . Late and merry at it, and so weary to bed."

I suppose in today's age, a similar person would do the treadmill before retiring.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

A Practice that be still in vogue, all important positions of Government be vetted for Loyalty or is it that if thee agree with me and pay the fee {via a PAC} you can be on my board?

ellen  •  Link

Sam gets books every now and then but he never tells when he reads them. Is that what he does late at night in the office?

Mary  •  Link

eleven hogsheads of oil....

"Tongue" does not have to be a mistranscription of either "tun" or "ton." Fishermen were ever prone to exaggerate, sometimes wildly, and not least when impressing a credulous landlubber with their deeds. Eleven hogsheads is a lot of oil (about 577 Imperial gallons or 693 US gallons)to come from one tongue, even if it was very large. Any whalers out there?

J A Gioia  •  Link

I left them at the Exchange and walked to Paul’s Churchyard to look upon a book or two

lovely to see how he disengages here from the noise of the world to follow the life of the mind. whenever i am tempted to scorn our hero for his vanity and ill temper, the thoughtful, observant, fun-loving and, above all, curious pepys appears, as today, in full bloom.

JWB  •  Link

An adult Blue Whale's tongue weighs about as much as an elephant.

Sjoerd  •  Link

Tales of Whales

The subject of whales and the stories connected to them were very newsworthy in the 16th/17th century;
the Royal Library of the Netherlands has an online exhibition of the "Visboek" of Adriaen Coenensz of Scheveningen.

He was an auctioneer in the fishing town in 1577 and collected all his "fish stories" - out of his own experience or from others and compiled a "fish book". The book was intended for showing to paying customers.
The "Koninklijke Bibliotheek" has put the whole book online, including several "tours", one of them about whales.
It might be worthwhile to have a look, even if you don't read Dutch.…

Sjoerd  •  Link

A lot of tongue

What i do know about whales' tongues: the so called "baleen whales" (like the big Blue Whale) get their food by using the "baleens" (also known for their use in ladies corsets) as a sieve. Then they use their tongue to gather all the food ("krill") from these baleens.
The other type of whales like sperm whales and dolphins are meat eaters and have smaller tongues.

Bob T  •  Link

An adult Blue Whale’s tongue weighs about as much as an elephant.

How much oil is there in an elephant? Probably not much.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

The old fisherman had pulled young Sam aside...Rolling eyes at the tall tales of the others...

"Let those fools be, lad and I'll be telling ya a tale of whaling that'll set ye heart on edge. A tale of a whale that sent a crew and ship to the briny depths of the deep."


"What whale, sir?"

"One reared by the devil himself, a monstrous fiend of Hell...The white whale, sir!"

Hmmn... "I see...I do believe I've..."

"Call me Ishmael, sir. Very pleased I am. As I was sayin', sir. Twas during the late war against the King...Me captain, Sir John Minnes. Eh, do you know him, sir?"

"Oh, yeah...And I believe I have heard this one, from him... Giant white whale, intellect like a man's, seeking vengeance, led you off, various bibilical allusions continually muttered by the crew, weak-willed first mate went along with Sir John's crazed hunt, whale turned and rammed you with evil leer, barely escaped, etc, etc, etc?"

Uh... "Aye, sir."

"Yes...As Sir John told it, he was the only survivor."

"Ah, well sir. We probably lost track of each other floatin' mong the dead."


"Well, p'haps you'd care to hear how we nearly won the fleet for the late King from the fiendlike Warwick, sir?"

"Stopped only by the attack of thirty rogues? Yes, I've heard it."

"Forty, sir. There we were, Sir John and I..."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...after that a practice of my coranto I began with him the other day, and I begin to think that I shall be able to do something at it in time."

"Sam'l? Where...?" Bess' look quickly moves from concern to annoyance...

"Business at Whitehall, my dearest." Quick peck, Sam dashing...

"But it's after ten..."

"Back soon as I can manage..." fading cry.


"Pepys?" Coventry stares at a beaming Sam, bearing viol.

"I didn't know you went in for court dances, lad."

"Gotta play, gotta dance, sir." Sam notes, tapping nimble legs as the grand doors open to reveal King and company ready to start upon the night's revels...

"Well, in that case..." Coventry leads him in...Bowing to the King, arms outstretched to the crowd of noblemen and elegant ladies in their finery...

"Gotta play, gotta dance..." Coventry indicates Pepys.

"Gotta play...Gotta dance..." the crowd returns, beaming at Pepys.

"Gotta play...Gotttttaaaa dance..." Sam returns, waving viol, waved to the front by Charles.

"The kid is good, no?" James hisses to Coventry. "If he's good as he is in the office, absolutely..."

Sam, moving elegantly across the floor in tap style, in front of the group:

"Whitehall rhythm's got me...Everybody dance!"

The crowd joining in:

"Whitehall rhythm's got us...Everybody dance!"

"Out on that Whitehall way, where we are all so gay, passing the days away...Whitehall rhythm's got us.

Everybody dance, dance, dance!"


"Oh, that Whitehall rhythm...Oh, that Whitehall rhythm.

When I hear those happy feet..." he freezes as Lady Castlemaine emerges from the crowd, eyeing him coolly...Putting her arms out for a coranto as Sam stares, frozen...

Charles restraining Sir Charles Barkeley and several others...

Let her have her fun...

Castlemaine quickly swirling Sam around the room...

Bit fast for a coranto, Coventry worriedly noting...

A sudden pause, a coolly appraising up-and-down leer from Barbara...Sam trembling...

Oh, boy...Coventry sighs. Noting Charles looking a mite...Piqued.

Though Queen Catherine seems very content...

"Sam'l! What the devil!!" a raging Bess breaking through the crowd shoves Castlemaine on her backside...

See, no problem...Charles notes to the gang...

"Had to play, had to dance..." Sam tries feebly...


Rob  •  Link

As for whaling, only in the 20th century the whalers'ships were fast enough to catch the great blue and grey whales. In the 17th century the hunted species would probably be Greenland- and Humpback whales. Occasionally a sperm whale would be hunted. However, they are faster and therefore more dangerous. Out of the huge head of a sperm whale you could get a considerable amount of the clearest and finest oil. The function of this is possibly to make it possibl;e for these whales do dive very fast to great depths (2km).

dirk  •  Link


"Early 17th Century Whaling Methods at Spitsbergen" (in cartoon form)

How much oil is there in a whale?

"The whale now taken proves to be a cow whale, forty-five feet long and twenty-five round, and it will yield between seventy and eighty barrels of right whale oil. This is about the ordinary size of the New Zealand whale, a mere dwarf in comparison with that of the northwest, which sometimes yields, it is said, three hundred barrels, ordinarily one hundred and fifty, or one hundred and eighty."
From: "Aboard a Whaling Ship", 1850…

dirk  •  Link

How much oil...

Hogshead Barrel =
Approx. capacity 56-gallons (250 litres). Approx. 37" (92 cm) high, approx. diameter at middle 27" (68cm).

Today's diary entry states that "they have had eleven hogsheads of oyle out of the tongue of a whale." Based on the previous annotations this doesn't seem exaggerated to me...

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

That be a whale of a tongue in cheek. so sorry!!

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Spoiler -- Thames Whales

Strange news from Gravesend and Greenwich. being an exact and more full relation of two miraculous and monstrous fishes, first discovered in Rainham Creek, and afterwards pursued by fishermen up the river of Thames, who with harping irons and fish-spears kill’d the biggest of them at Gravesend, which after thousands of people had view’d it, they hew’d in pieces and boyl’d in cauldrons for the oyl. The other was taken and kill’d at Greenwich, which being measured, was found to be one and twenty foot in length, and sixteen foot over. And likewise a less than either of these which was in company with them, which made his escape from the fishermen, and got away to sea again. This relation being attested by many thousands of eye-witnesses, which have seen them both.
[London] : Printed for J. Clarke at the Bible and Harp in Smithfield, [1680?]
[4], 5, [1] p. : ill. (woodcut) ; 4⁰. Wing (CD-ROM, 1996) S5890A, gives range of dates: 1669-1686.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

To which country did Greenland "belong" in Charles II's day? Fishing rights were contested even in those days.… :

"Following the disappearance of the Norse population, expeditions from England and Norway came to Greenland throughout the 16th and 17th centuries ... it was primarily the European whalers who came into contact with the Inuits.

"This resulted in extensive trade, and the Inuits were particularly taken with the Europeans' small glass beads, which today are used in the national costume."

and… :

"Christian IV's expeditions were sent by King Christian IV of Denmark to Greenland and Arctic waterways during the years 1605-1607. The expeditions were commissioned in order to locate the lost Eastern Norse Settlement and reassert Danish sovereignty over Greenland.

"The expeditions were mostly unsuccessful, partly due to its leaders lacking experience with the difficult arctic ice and weather conditions and partly due to its leaders eventually being given instructions to search for the Eastern Settlement on the east coast of Greenland, which was almost inaccessible at the time due to southward-drifting ice.

"The pilot on all three trips was James Hall, who ... trusted "Frobisher's Strait" to be in southern Greenland, whereas it is in fact a bay projecting into southern Baffin Island. The expeditions were respectively commanded by John Cunningham (or "Hans Køning"; 1605), Godske Lindenov (1606), and Carsten Richardson (1607). The Danes had a falling out with the English over the route being taken, far to the south of that recorded in the Bergen and Trondheim archives. They also sometimes searched for the imaginary Island of Buss."

In the same vein, King Christian commissioned an expedition to North America in 1619. The expedition was captained by Dano-Norwegian navigator and explorer, Jens Munk. The ships were searching for the Northwest Passage. The expedition arrived in Hudson Bay landing at the mouth of Churchill River, settling at what is now Churchill, Manitoba. However, it was a disastrous voyage, with cold, famine, and scurvy killing most of the crew."

David G  •  Link

It's easy to understand why Minnes is so upset with Parliament -- many of the leading figures in the army and navy (starting with Albemarle and Sandwich) would have been disqualified from service, unless excepted from the bill (though those two surely would have been).

Matt Newton  •  Link

" and after supper we up to our dancing room"

Surely not a whole room dedicated to the hoky poky?

Any house plans available for Pepys des res?
He certainly has his pad modified once that slippery naval ladder had been climbed.

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