Wednesday 9 December 1663

Lay very long in bed for fear of my pain, and then rose and went to stool (after my wife’s way, who by all means would have me sit long and upright) very well, and being ready to the office. From thence I was called by and by to my wife, she not being well. So to her, and found her in great pain … [of those. – L&M] So by and by to my office again, and then abroad to look out a cradle to burn charcoal in at my office, and I found one to my mind in Newgate Market, and so meeting Hoby’s man in the street, I spoke to him to serve it in to the office for the King. So home to dinner, and after talk with my wife, she in bed and pain all day, I to my office most of the evening, and then home to my wife. This day Mrs. Russell did give my wife a very fine St. George, in alabaster, which will set out my wife’s closett mightily.

This evening at the office, after I had wrote my day’s passages, there came to me my cozen Angier of Cambridge, poor man, making his moan, and obtained of me that I would send his son to sea as a Reformado, which I will take care to do. But to see how apt every man is to forget friendship in time of adversity. How glad was I when he was gone, for fear he should ask me to be bond for him, or to borrow money of me.

20 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

"abroad to look out a cradle to burn charcoal in at my office, and I found one to my mind in Newgate Market, and so meeting Hoby's man in the street, I spoke to him to serve it in to the office for the King."

The King, like God, has more and more to answer for these days. The interestingly-named "cradle" is, the Companion Large Glossary informs us, a "fire-basket." Are you are any further ahead?

"a very fine St. George, in alabaster": to identify the figure as such, is he mounted and spearing a mini-dragon? What other attribute might he bear?

Rashers  •  Link

"... in great pain of those." is the seemingly inoffensive, and mysterious, L&M version.

Terry F  •  Link


Perhaps a reference to *her* If so, that's a very, very sensitive matter for Wheatley, whose Monarch is, umn....

cumgranosalis  •  Link

Pure guess "...a cradle to burn charcoal ..." it be of iron rods beaten into shape of a babies craddle without rocker to form of a deep pan/dish on cast iron feet that could have the look of animal paws to rest on, too heavey for a gent to lug over to the Office. The used charcole ash would fall into a tray below. Be beaten into shape in a blacksmith forge with lots of mallet amd elbow grease.
Fed up with Newcastle coles and low level smoke, making one 'cof' and splutter, one of the humerous joys of soft coles.

cumgranosalis  •  Link

Why Charcole? to save Charles money, get the dead brances from the Kings woods, as the Kings men be husbanding the old navy oaks, nowte must go to waste. Also allows unclouded view of the desks.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"(after my wife's way, who by all means would have me sit long and upright)"

Evidence that Bess likewise takes serious concern and interest in Sam's bowel and health problems and Sam respects her opinions on his health to some extent.

Nice to see them caught in mutual concern for each other's troubles.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"abroad to look out a cradle to burn charcoal in at my office..."

Mind the CO, Sam. Keep those windows open.

Pepysian Christmas Carol cont...

[Ahoy, there be spoilers...]

"Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that men and boys ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way. The cold became intense. In the main street, at the corner of the court, some men repairing the water pump had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered: warming their hands and winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture. The water-plug being left in solitude, its overflowing sullenly congealed, and turned to misanthropic ice. The brightness of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of the windows, made pale faces ruddy as they passed. Poulterers' and grocers' trades became a splendid joke: a glorious pageant, with which it was next to impossible to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to do. The Lord Mayor of London was giving orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor's household should; and even the little tailor, whom he had fined five shillings on the previous Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in the streets, stirred up tomorrow's pudding in his garret, while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the beef.

Foggier yet, and colder. Piercing, searching, biting cold. The owner of one scant young nose, gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed by dogs, stooped down at the Naval Office's keyhole to regale all with a Christmas carol: but at the first sound of

'God bless you, merry gentleman.
May nothing you dismay!'

Sam seized his famed slide ruler with such energy of action, that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.

At length the hour of shutting up the Office for the Christmas holiday arrived. With an ill-will Sam dismounted from his stool, peered through the peepholes he long ago cut into his office wall and noting to himself with a sigh that the failing light would after all require the expenditure of lighting candles for any additional time squeezed out, went to the door to the outer office and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerks and Hewer in his cell, who instantly snuffed his candle out, and put on his hat.

Pepys frowning at the poor example as the other clerks likewise raced for the door.


'You'll all want all day tomorrow, I suppose?' said Pepys as the halted clerks eyed each other. 'You, Edwards?' he eyed Tom Edwards, his boy turned apprentice clerk, husband to his once favorite ex-maid, Jane Edwards nee Birch.

Damnit, don't wuss on us...the other clerks including Hewer, eyeing the hapless Tom...

'If quite convenient, sir.'

'It's not convenient,' said Sam, 'And it's not fair to the King. If I was to stop you each half-a-crown for it, you'd think yourself ill-used, I'll be bound?'

Poor Tom observed that it was only once a year...Those clerks who were not under Sam's gaze and close enough to the door, slipping out...

'A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!' said Sam, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. 'But since it is the King's decision, I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning. Hewer, you...Hewer?'

Damn...Was he first out the door?

Tom promised that he would, and Pepys walked out with a growl, ignoring the clerk's attempt to offer his Jane's best wishes. The office was closed in a twinkling, and Tom, with the long ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for he boasted no great-coat), went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honour of its being Christmas Eve, and then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at blindman's buff.

[Spoiler, of sorts]

Sam took his melancholy dinner alone in his usual melancholy tavern; and having beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker's-book and some office letters, went home to bed. He still lived in the chambers which had once belonged to both himself and his deceased wife, Elisabeth. Once both his and her pride and joy, they were now a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, so blocked from the sun now, by a reconstruction of Sir John Minnes' home, completed posthumously, (and Sam thought, with deliberate malice) that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at with other houses, and forgotten the way out again. It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it now but Pepys and only a single cleaning and laundry woman ever came to him. The yard was so dark that even Sam, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed as if Winter sat in mournful meditation on the threshold.

Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It is also a fact, that Pepys had seen it, night and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that Sam Pepys, who'd once dismissed 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' as a 'silly, insipid play' had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the city of London,. Let it also be borne in mind that Sam had not bestowed one thought on Oliver Cromwell, since a dinner party [spoiler] years ago where all and sundry present had admitted and paid tribute to Cromwell's skill and genius in toppling a throne. And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Pepys, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change-not a knocker, but Cromwell's face.

Cromwell's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Sam as he remembered Oliver used to look, sternly with a proud bearing. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression.

As Sam looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had not been entirely a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle.

He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before he shut the door; and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he half expected to be terrified with the sight of Cromwell's body sticking out into the hall. But there was nothing on the back of the door, except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he said 'Pooh, pooh.' and closed it with a bang.

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room above, and every cask in the wine cellars below, appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of its own. Pepys was not a man to be frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, and up the stairs; slowly too: trimming his candle as he went.

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young Act of Parliament; but I mean to say you might have got a hearse up that staircase, and taken it broadwise, with the splinter-bar towards the wall and the door towards the balustrades: and done it easy. There was plenty of width for that, and room to spare; which is perhaps the reason why Sam thought he saw a hearse drawn on before him in the gloom. Half-a-dozen bonfires out of the street wouldn't have lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with his dip.

Up Pepys went, not caring a button for that. Darkness is cheap, and Sam liked it. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection of the face to desire to do that.

Sitting-room, bed-room, lumber-room. All as they should be. Nobody under the table, nobody under the chair, a small fire in the grate, spoon and bowl ready, and his little saucepan of gruel (Sam feared a cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet, nobody in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire-guard, old once fine, now worn, shoes, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on three legs, and a poker.

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked himself in, which was not his custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and his nightcap; and sat down before the fire to take his gruel.

It was a very low fire indeed; nothing on such a bitter night. He was obliged to sit close to it, and brood over it, before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel. The fireplace was an old one, built by some Dutch merchant long ago, and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures. There were hundreds of biblical figures to attract his thoughts; and yet that face of Cromwell, so long dead, came like the ancient Prophet's rod, and swallowed up the whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank at first, with power to shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed fragments of his thoughts, there would have been a copy of old Oliver's head on every one.

'Humbug!' said Sam, and walked across the room.

After several turns, he sat down again. As he threw his head back in the chair, his glance happened to rest upon a bell, a disused bell, that hung in the room, long ago purchased to call his and his wife's maids to their tasks, now neglected and forgotten. It was with great astonishment, and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that as he looked, he saw this bell begin to swing. It swung so softly in the outset that it scarcely made a sound; but soon it rang out loudly, and so did every bell in the house.

This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, but it seemed an hour. The bells ceased as they had begun, together. They were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep down below; as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine cellar. Sam then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described as dragging chains.

The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his door.

'It's humbug still!' said Sam. 'I won't believe it.'

His color changed though, when, without a pause, it came on through the heavy door, and passed into the room before his eyes. Upon its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, 'I know him! Cromwell's Ghost!' and fell again."

Linda  •  Link

I am so glad that either I or my husband can go in the bathroom and shut the door. We are so spoiled now days with privacy and toilets behind closed doors.

Ruben  •  Link

toilets behind closed doors
In India there is a toilet every 11000 inhabitants.

Martin  •  Link

to serve it in to the office for the King
Meaning, I assume, "bring it over and charge it to the office expense account."

cumgranosalis  •  Link

Brought back luvin' memories "...Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that men and boys ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way..."
Back in the '50's on Edgeware road, Sun set well over the hour, the road well iced with black frost, there be 6/7 #16 buses, nose to tail, each driver trying to watch the brake light of the bus before it, seeing nowt else, not even the poor old conductor leaning out of the rear platform waving encouragement [maying trying to keep warm] unless the driver leaned out of 'is cab 'winder' could he see the poor bloke in the swirling blacke lung infesting fog, the whole sherbang being lead by a man carrying a flaming paraffin soaked ragged stick.
'Twas the year of death by lung infections caused by fog soaked in coal dust and white hankies would be be blackend after one sneeze.

Terry F  •  Link

"'Twas the year of death by lung infections caused by fog soaked in coal dust and white hankies would be be blackend after one sneeze."

"Historic air pollution disasters -- Meuse Valley, Belgium in 1930, Donora, Pennsylvania in 1948, and London, England in 1952 -- in which large numbers of people fell ill and died, have been clearly associated with high concentrations of particulate and sulfur dioxide pollution. Such acute air pollution episodes have killed children because of their heightened susceptibility to the damage that can be done by air pollutants."…

WithaGrainOfSalt, it's a wonder you survived - as active as you were - but we are all glad o' that!

Pedro  •  Link

"the whole sherbang being lead by a man carrying a flaming paraffin soaked ragged stick."

This chap's light has gone out...The London Smog Disaster of 1952,
Days of toxic darkness.…

Terry F  •  Link

London's air pollution in 1952's not so off-topic given todays connubial health concerns and 1662's F U M I F U G I U M: or The Inconveniencie of the AER AND SMOAK of LONDON DISSIPATED. TOGETHER With some REMEDIES humbly PROPOSED By J[ohn] E[velyn]. Esq; To His Sacred MAJESTIE, AND To the PARLIAMENT now Assembled.…

Bradford  •  Link

Exactly my first thought, Robert. Safety tip for cold weather: do not burn coal indoors in a wok. (Another possible "cradle"?)

"there came to me my cozen Angier . . . and obtained of me that I would send his son to sea as a Reformado, which I will take care to do. . . . How glad was I when he was gone, for fear he should ask me to be bond for him, or to borrow money of me."

A favor is easier to give than a farthing.

cumgranosalis  •  Link

age old problem : " borrow money of me..."
"optime positum est benefictum ube meminit qui accipit"
"Only give favors to those that can remember the favor or can return it",
or as a macadamian would put it.
"It's best to do favours for people with good memories"
Maxims from Syrus

Second Reading

Alistair J. Sinclair  •  Link

"... in great pain of those."
'those' is probably an error for 'chose' meaning the French word 'chose' for 'thing'. Pepys has previously used this word in a previous entry in referring to her medical problem.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"... in great pain of those."
So read L&M for Pepy's's usual euphemism for Elizabeth's menses.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Re CO: it is only a danger when burning carboniferous fuels (especially damp ones) in an enclosed space with inadequate oxygen and ventilation. In a normal fireplace, dry charcoal burns efficiently and hot, (also with no sulphur fumes), and would therefore create a better updraught than coal or logs, minimising the danger of CO poisoning. With sufficient air, CO itself burns, and was an important, though potentially deadly, constituent of the 'Town Gas'* which which pre-dated modern 'Natural' gas. There is no evidence that Pepys' office did not have a fireplace or chimney. Most rooms in old houses had fireplaces, even in upstairs rooms. The 1714 engraving of the Navy Office building show lots of chimneys.

But fireplaces in those days varied between big and enormous**, and some sort of fire basket would be necessary to burn any kind of fuel efficiently; no doubt different designs of basket were available to burn different fuels. It's worth looking at the Google Image search results for "cradle fire basket":…

*Water gas,or Town Gas was originally a bi-product of the manufacture of coke for iron manufacture: passing steam through coal produces gas according to the following equation:

C (s) + H2O (g) → CO + H2

** In my own cottage, I have a "small" inglenook fireplace dating to the late 1600s, which measures approximately 1.1m x1.2m x 0.5m. Instead of a basket, I have a cast iron multifuel stove with a modern chimney liner. Other, quite modest, old houses in my area have vast inglenooks in which a couple of adults could stand.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ‘ . . I would send his son to sea as a Reformado . . ‘

‘reformado, n. < Spanish . . Now chiefly hist.
1. a. A military officer left without a command . . Also: a volunteer serving in the army or navy without a commission, but with the rank of an officer.
. . 1660 S. Pepys Diary 1 Oct. (1970) I. 256 Mr. Mansell (a poor Reformado of the Charles) who came to see me . . ‘

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