Monday 12 October 1663

Up (though slept well) and made some water in the morning [as] I used to do, and a little pain returned to me, and some fears, but being forced to go to the Duke at St. James’s, I took coach and in my way called upon Mr. Hollyard and had his advice to take a glyster.

At St. James’s we attended the Duke all of us. And there, after my discourse, Mr. Coventry of his own accord begun to tell the Duke how he found that discourse abroad did run to his prejudice about the fees that he took, and how he sold places and other things; wherein he desired to appeal to his Highness, whether he did any thing more than what his predecessors did, and appealed to us all. So Sir G. Carteret did answer that some fees were heretofore taken, but what he knows not; only that selling of places never was nor ought to be countenanced. So Mr. Coventry very hotly answered to Sir G. Carteret, and appealed to himself whether he was not one of the first that put him upon looking after this taking of fees, and that he told him that Mr. Smith should say that he made 5000l. the first year, and he believed he made 7000l.. This Sir G. Carteret denied, and said, that if he did say so he told a lie, for he could not, nor did know, that ever he did make that profit of his place; but that he believes he might say 2500l. the first year. Mr. Coventry instanced in another thing, particularly wherein Sir G. Carteret did advise with him about the selling of the Auditor’s place of the stores, when in the beginning there was an intention of creating such an office. This he confessed, but with some lessening of the tale Mr. Coventry told, it being only for a respect to my Lord Fitz-Harding.

In fine, Mr. Coventry did put into the Duke’s hand a list of above 250 places that he did give without receiving one farthing, so much as his ordinary fees for them, upon his life and oath; and that since the Duke’s establishment of fees he had never received one token more of any man; and that in his whole life he never conditioned or discoursed of any consideration from any commanders since he came to the Navy.

And afterwards, my Lord Barkeley merrily discoursing that he wished his profit greater than it was, and that he did believe that he had got 50,000l. since he came in, Mr. Coventry did openly declare that his Lordship, or any of us, should have not only all he had got, but all that he had in the world (and yet he did not come a beggar into the Navy, nor would yet be thought to speak in any contempt of his Royall Highness’s bounty), and should have a year to consider of it too, for 25,000l..

The Duke’s answer was, that he wished we all had made more profit than he had of our places, and that we had all of us got as much as one man below stayres in the Court, which he presently named, and it was Sir George Lane! This being ended, and the list left in the Duke’s hand, we parted, and I with Sir G. Carteret, Sir J. Minnes, and Sir W. Batten by coach to the Exchange, and there a while, and so home, and whether it be the jogging, or by having my mind more employed (which I believe is a great matter) I know not, but … [I do now piss with much less pain and – L&M] I begin to be suddenly well, at least better than I was. So home and to dinner, and thence by coach to the Old Exchange, and there cheapened some laces for my wife, and then to Mr.—— the great laceman in Cheapside, and bought one cost me 4l. more by 20s. than I intended, but when I came to see them I was resolved to buy one worth wearing with credit, and so to the New Exchange, and there put it to making, and so to my Lord’s lodgings and left my wife, and so I to the Committee of Tangier, and then late home with my wife again by coach, beginning to be very well, and yet when I came home … [and went to try to shit, – L&M] the little straining which I thought was no strain at all at the present did by and by bring me some pain for a good while.

Anon, about 8 o’clock, my wife did give me a clyster which Mr. Hollyard directed, viz., a pint of strong ale, 4 oz. of sugar, and 2 oz. of butter. It lay while I lay upon the bed above an hour, if not two, and then thinking it quite lost I rose, and by and by it began with my walking to work, and gave me three or four most excellent stools and carried away wind, put me in excellent ease, and taking my usual walnut quantity of electuary at my going into bed I had about two stools in the night … [and pissed well. Voided some wind. – L&M]

39 Annotations

First Reading

TerryF  •  Link

More ellipses, but with satisfying outcomes

"but I do now piss with much less pain and begin to be suddenly well; at least, better than I was."

"the great laceman in Cheapside" is a blank in L&M.

"yet when I came home and tried to shit, the very little straining..."

"I had about two stools in the night and pissed well. Voided some wind."


Ahhhh, the pause that refreshes! Reminds me - when I was in Germany in 1962, a brand of institutional toilet | loo paper was "Endlich Allein" a whiff of the German sense of humor | humour....

Patricia  •  Link

Pepys counts his stools—I certainly hope this is the last time Sam has a great fit of Collique, because I am heartily sick of reading about his stools, his wind and his piss!

Nix  •  Link

For me, at least, this week's entries put to rest the question of whether Samuel had any thought that his diary might be read by future generations.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I think Sam honestly believed he was setting down useful information this week-which in fact he was. We got a glimpse into what was obviously one of the big medical concerns of his day, made more serious for him by his past operation. He took it seriously, Bess did, and so did Mr. Hollier and Sam's associates. (Ok, Batten and Penn are howling at Penn's right now.) At this time, such things were thought to be indicators of the body's condition and linked to both disease and health. Future generations may well find our obsession with cancer and its devastating side effects when other diseases easily prevented kill far more to be just as curious. Certainly our treatments-poisoning in hopes the body will survive while the cancer dies-will look pretty odd, even barbaric.

jeannine  •  Link

"Anon, about 8 o’clock, my wife did give me a clyster"
Going forward we shall all have to refer to her as St. Elizabeth....

Saraswati  •  Link

Does anyone know what is meant by "cheapened some laces for my wife"?

Bryan M  •  Link

Saraswati, the first of the following meanings given by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary seems to be the one:

One entry found for cheapen.
Main Entry: cheap·en
Pronunciation: 'chE-p&n
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): cheap·ened; cheap·en·ing /'chEp-ni[ng], 'chE-p&-/
transitive verb
1 [obsolete English cheap to price, bid for] archaic a : to ask the price of b : to bid or bargain for
2 a : to make cheap in price or value b : to lower in general esteem c : to make tawdry, vulgar, or inferior
intransitive verb : to become cheap

Ruben  •  Link

Today we take for granted that a human will live around 80 years. This was not the case 300 years ago. People died from reasons they did not comprehend and were always fearfull of any homeostatic change in their body. Any infection could take you away in a few days or weeks. Apendicitis, pneumonia or smallpox were dreaded. An abcess could kill you. Not those abcess we see today. The abcess in those days could be one full of caseum and supuration that had no solution in Pepys days. We do not see this kind of tuberculous or staph abcess any more and I hope they never come back. Difteria was rampant and almost always fatal. Dehidration was not understood and people died just of fever or diarrhea. No wonder that Sam was anxious to see his body function normally.

Ruben  •  Link

I almost forgot this Damocles thing of the Plague, coming back from time to time to clean the cities of their inhabitants!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Of course it would be nice to see Sam document an illness of Bess' so fully and carefully, though to be fair he has mentioned and occasionally provided details of her problems with her menses and sores.

Slight spoiler...

It's probably to his credit that he could not bring himself to reopen the Diary and clinically describe her last illness there. Much as the loss is to historians I think those of us who've grown to love Bess prefer it so in any case.

Ruben  •  Link

Robert, I agree with every one of your words (from a sentimental point of view).
But I am used to post mortem reports and I wrote a few myself. I red Sam's autopsy findings. I must confess that I was curious to know what was found. In those days this was the only way to know for sure and to learn something about disease. In Pepys days an autopsy was "modern medicine". I feel that Pepys would agree to have this autopsy done and would have liked to read the report himself!
Maybe, somewhere, someday someone will find Bess' autopsy report...

Bradford  •  Link

Cheapened: he haggled down the price. And, according to the system of correspondances, no doubt that success in the Macrocosm of the World contributed to the righting of the digestive system in the Microcosm of his Body.

TerryF  •  Link

"In Pepys days an autopsy was 'modern medicine'."

An autopsy is still the "gold standard" (as neurologists are wont to say) for some diseases, e.g., Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis.

Bob T  •  Link

a pint of strong ale, 4 oz. of sugar, and 2 oz. of butter
I was a little surprised to see to recipe for Sam's enema. Readers of will know that Claudius I was poisoned by an enema on this date in the year 54, so they had been around for a long time even in Sam's day. Someone must have come up with something that was not as esoteric as this concoction. This mixture sounds like something that Dickens would have made up for his guests.

sbeckett  •  Link

A pint of ale and ?butter is unaccounted for after two hours and "by and by it began with my walking to work, and gave me three or four most excellent stools". THAT required a second reading. Don't think I'd get the mail, much less go to work.

As to the controversy- who is Barkeley and how can he brag about making a fortune in the king's service while Coventry has to defend himself. Carteret says "fees OK: selling out of bounds". I'm at sea.

Clement  •  Link

"a glimpse into what was obviously one of the big medical concerns of his day"

These measures of health are still closely observed today, as anyone who has spent a little time in hospital will attest.

Re: Bob T. I assumed he drank that mixture and let gravity and peristalsis bring the results, rather than taking it from the opposite end. I can imagine Hollier consulting ferverishly with his fellow surgeons about Sam's stubborn condition, before his granny sitting in the corner pipes up with the mildly intoxicating laxative that always worked fo her generation. Exchanged glances, a few shrugs, and a note is sent off to Mr. Pepys with the latest news in medical science from the Royal Surgeon. Perhaps Dr. Ruben can provide a second opinion, but it seems to me the 2 oz. of butter is the salient ingredient, and the rest is "to help the medicine go down."

TerryF  •  Link

Was it the butter?

Pepys's diagnosis favors the morning's distraction -- what can be made from holding and filling offices -- which we ourselves have been too distracted by bowel movements to comment on.

"whether it be the jogging, or by having my mind more employed (which I believe is a great matter) I know not, but … I begin to be suddenly well, at least better than I was."

Ruben  •  Link

Dear TerryF: today you can have an imaging of the body or parts of it in a moment and send the result by internet around this planet and his neighbors. Help for a proper diagnose is a Lab workup, a CTScan or MRI or a functional scan or in the cases you cite an electrophysiological examination. Sometimes you need a biopsy. The pathologist has much less work with deceased patients than it was in old times. Parkinson and Multiple Sclerosis are diagnosed and treated years before the patient goes through Post Mortem.

another interesting point:
In the Oxford Journal: Social History of Medicine (1994 7(1):1-28) you can read an article about:

Political Post-mortems and Morbid Anatomy in Seventeenth-century England by DAVID HARLEY from 17 Arlington Drive, Old Marston, Oxford OX3 0SH.
and he concludes:
..."The use of autopsy findings to confirm the cause of death and to provide information for systematic pathology...(when) introduced into England, in the seventeenth century, the practice was already well established in Europe...Several highly controversial autopsies, conducted on royalty and politicians, publicized the procedure and helped to make it socially acceptable. English anatomists were then able to draw on the results of autopsies conducted on their patients to correlate normal anatomy with the post-mortem signs. Most patients did not feel threatened by this procedure because it was undertaken privately and with consent, as a final act of clinical care." see:…
As we know that Pepys, a fellow of the Royal Society and previous President of this august institution, had an autopsy done on his body, the conclusion must be that he approved it or even asked for it before he passed away. (That's my man!).
Sorry for this long annotation.

Ruben  •  Link

a pint of strong ale, 4 oz. of sugar, and 2 oz. of butter
Clement: I have no experience with this Recipe.
I even do not know how strong an ale was in those days and what kind of butter was used. We need a volunteer to try the concoction till he informs us it worked...
I presume that our Sam had, as A. de Araujo wrote yesterday something related to the urinary tract.

TerryF  •  Link

Dear Ruben, there are *NO* "bright line" tests for PD or MS, but only a pattern of clinical symptoms and correllative evidenct from MRI's, LP's, etc. I say this as one who was "diagnosed" with MS 40 years ago -- and have since then lived with the increasing symptoms consistent with it. My late father's PD aside, the website of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society states: "At this time, no single test is available to identify or rule out MS."… What is treated are the clinical symptoms.

Pedro  •  Link

“As to the controversy”

It does seem confusing so perhaps a couple of insights from Gentlemen and Tarpaulins by Davies may help…

“Covert purchase of office, or bribery of officials to secure an appointment, was probably more common, but it was difficult to establish the extent of such corruptions…the payment of fees to the secretaries of state and the Admiralty, and to their clerks was an accepted part of the method of obtaining a commission or warrant, though it came under attack many times as part of wider political assaults on the naval administration.”

“The most important influence on the system of appointment was the working of patronage (placement??).”

“…the promotion of Sir William Berkley from lieutenant to vice-admiral in four years, because of the influence of his brother Charles at Court, was the most spectacular instance of the importance of family ties.”

My take is that the whole system of fees and placements is open to corruption. Coventry was worried about the talk on the street about how he did his business, and took the opportunity to bring it up with the Duke.

Carteret does not like Coventry and takes his chance to get one over him in the company of the Duke, but Coventry says that Carteret is a great one to talk.

I think Berkley and the Duke find this quite amusing as their comments show.

Ruben  •  Link

Dear TerryF
I am sorry to hear about your condition.
Concerning your citation from the MS Society site for the general public it continues like this:"At this time, no single test is available to identify or rule out MS. Several tests and procedures are needed." Today every disease, not only MS is diagnosed by ancillary and imaging procedures. I do not think that postmortem is required anymore in most cases.
A good work concerning diagnosis for MS is…

jeannine  •  Link

Thanks Pedro, I think you've summed it up perfectly. I'm sure we'll open up the Diary in another 5 years and find the same cast of characters arguing about the same things!
"But then again, we all know how men can be"......she slips into the annotation hoping it will stir up a little fun discourse as we head into the weekend......

TerryF  •  Link

Dear Ruben, That's a good summary, but neither that nor the NMSS site refute the claims that MS is diagnosed by triangulation (probabilities and inference); and therefore autopsy is still the "gold standard of diagnosis" (to quote my neurologist).

Good find re Pepys's autopsy, surely for the benefit of medical science.
I'm not as curious as he - no autopsy of me would yield much. My manual tremor and spasticity are being treated and still tolerable; and I've taken a modifying agent for 9 years.

Mary  •  Link

"my wife did give me a clyster ..."

Clyster = enema.

It may sound unlikely, but that's what the man says.

Clement  •  Link

Clyster = enema.

Somehow I've been mentally blocking that equation. Hoping for a better evening for Elizabeth I guess.
Days later Hollier to Sam: "You did what with it?!!"

Maurie Beck  •  Link

One reason I (and many others) enjoy reading the diary are the similarities between Pepy's (and his fellow 17th century travelers) life and our own, especially his emotions and motivations. However, one difference that Robert and Rueben alluded to involves our relationship with disease and death. In modern western culture, the idea of taking sick and dying suddenly is not part of our emotional life. Of course, everyone still dies, but it is generally removed from our day to day experience. In the 17th century, pestilence and death were everyday occurrences, and everyone was probably preoccupied with their health.

Pedro  •  Link

Late on the evening of this day...

Captain Robert Atkinson led a party near the Westmorland and Durham border where they hoped to link up with larger forces. They found themselves alone on the moors and as they neared Kaber-Rigg there numbers began to dwindle and they dispersed. The authorities were already aware of this rebellion and took action to arrest the would-be rulers of England...thus putting an end to the Kaber-Rigg Plot

(Intelligence and Espionage in the Reign of Charles II by Alan Marshall.)

More info on the plot...…

"Dissenters laid a Plot the very next year (viz. 1663.) in the Bishoprick of Durham, to this purpose.

First, To reconcile all their Brethren of different persuasions. Secondly, Upon an Oath of Secrecy, to send Agitatours all over England with propositions most comprehensive of all Interests, who met at one Ouldred's house (the Devil of Dewshury, as they call'd him) and afterwards at Stank-house in that County, from whence Maisden and Palmer are sent Agitatours to London to the Secret Committee there, whence they bring a resolution to rise October the 12th, with assurance that the Insurrection should be general. Thirdly, To attempt White-hall, upon some Shewnight, to secure New-Castle for a passage to Scotland, and Boston in Lincoln-shire for Correspondence with Foreign Parts, for Succours and Ammunition. Fourthly, To lay hold upon the Gentry. Fifthly, To oppose Subsidies and Chimny-money, to restore the Long Parliament, to establish a Gospel-Magistracy and Ministry, and to check the Clergy, Gentry and Lawyers. Sixthly, They preached over all the Nation in order to a general rising, calling it, following the Lamb, and inferring from that expression the lawfulness of the design, so it were carried on for the love of the Cause, and for no By-ends. Seventhly, They were to Garrison Glocester, Nottingham, &c. and to this purpose had several meetings at Leeds and the Spaw. Eighthly, They had a Secret Committee for two years before in London about the Plot, who had Listed Eighteen Thousands. Ninthly, They drew a Declaration to unite the Sectaries against the Government. Tenthly, They were to begin in Ireland. Eleventhly, To seize the Lord Falconbridge and the Lord Fairfax's Horses and Arms, with the rest of the Gentries and Clergies. This Plot was discover'd by some concern'd in it, and Thirty Executed for it.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Sir G. Carteret did advise with him about the selling of the Auditor’s place of the stores, when in the beginning there was an intention of creating such an office."

This proposal was made at the time Sir Robert Slingsby was Comptroller (1660-1): see J Hollond Discourses (ed. Tanner), pp. 339-40.…
A third commissioner was appointed in 1661 to do the work.
(Per L&M footnote)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"In fine, Mr. Coventry did put into the Duke’s hand a list of above 250 places that he did give without receiving one farthing, so much as his ordinary fees for them, upon his life and oath."

21 June Pepys reported Coventry showed him a similar list:…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"since the Duke’s establishment of fees"

See this post 2 June…
"so soon as [Coventry] found himself to be in an errour, he did desire to have his fees set, which was done; and since that he hath not taken a token more."

In April 1661 a list of authorized fees was issued by the Duke of York. An L&M footnote lists three places where copies of this order are archived.

In September 1664 this arrangement was exchanged for a fixed income (of
fees) of £500 p.a. (Per L&M footnote)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

To carry forward the discussion of the progress of medical diagnoses: perhaps Samuel and Elizabeth Pepys's causes of death could be discovered were their bodies disinterred and suitable imaging used (cp. the case of Ötzi the Iceman… ).

For a few years now multiple sclerosis has been diagnosed and its lesions imaged clearly via Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI or DW-MRI).…

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

"some fears" : given the every-day ubiquity of mortality, rather litotic I suspect!

I am impressed that Pepys was able to function at all: having been an ulcerative colitis sufferer for almost 30 years, I have experienced (the non-renal) half of Sam's symptoms from time to time. When that end refuses to function, it's as though one's consciousness is removed from one's brain to the back passage: very little else matters.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

The obsession with bowel function and dysfunction did not dissipate until the late 20th Century. My own parents were also obsessed by it and thought that all ailments--even headaches--could be traced to the bowels. There is some indication of that attitude even today.

As the Encyclopedia entry here on the "clyster" warns, bowel irrigation could be dangerous and could rupture an appendix or damage the intestinal lining and introduce infections, something Pepys and his cohorts couldn't have known.

JayW  •  Link

TerryF - I hope the MS is still under control as much as possible?

Joe P  •  Link

Enemas may indeed rarely be dangerous. Milk and molasses enemas are routinely still given in ER's here in the States. If one is allergic to milk, severe allergic symptoms may ensue. In addition, alcohol is absorbed per rectum. Sam may have had some ease from this as well.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ‘ . . there cheapened some laces for my wife . . ‘

'cheapen, v. < Germanic . .
1. a. trans. To bargain for, ask the price of, bid for, offer a price for; = cheap v. 3. Also fig. arch. or dial.
. . 1710 Swift in Swift & R. Steele Tatler No. 238 To Shops in Crowds the daggled Females fly, Pretend to cheapen Goods, but nothing buy . . ‘

Liz  •  Link

Ruben:‘Damocles thing of the Plague‘. Currently reeking havoc across the world at this moment (Covid 19)

Liz  •  Link

Oops: wreak

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