Tuesday 8 March 1663/64

Up with some little discontent with my wife upon her saying that she had got and used some puppy-dog water, being put upon it by a desire of my aunt Wight to get some for her, who hath a mind, unknown to her husband, to get some for her ugly face. I to the office, where we sat all the morning, doing not much business through the multitude of counsellors, one hindering another. It was Mr. Coventry’s own saying to me in his coach going to the ’Change, but I wonder that he did give me no thanks for my letter last night, but I believe he did only forget it. Thence home, whither Luellin came and dined with me, but we made no long stay at dinner; for “Heraclius” being acted, which my wife and I have a mighty mind to see, we do resolve, though not exactly agreeing with the letter of my vowe, yet altogether with the sense, to see another this month, by going hither instead of that at Court, there having been none conveniently since I made my vowe for us to see there, nor like to be this Lent, and besides we did walk home on purpose to make this going as cheap as that would have been, to have seen one at Court, and my conscience knows that it is only the saving of money and the time also that I intend by my oaths, and this has cost no more of either, so that my conscience before God do after good consultation and resolution of paying my forfeit, did my conscience accuse me of breaking my vowe, I do not find myself in the least apprehensive that I have done any violence to my oaths. The play hath one very good passage well managed in it, about two persons pretending, and yet denying themselves, to be son to the tyrant Phocas, and yet heire of Mauritius to the crowne. The garments like Romans very well. The little girle is come to act very prettily, and spoke the epilogue most admirably. But at the beginning, at the drawing up of the curtaine, there was the finest scene of the Emperor and his people about him, standing in their fixed and different pastures in their Roman habitts, above all that ever I yet saw at any of the theatres. Walked home, calling to see my brother Tom, who is in bed, and I doubt very ill of a consumption. To the office awhile, and so home to supper and to bed.

47 Annotations

First Reading

Terry F  •  Link

"'Heraclius' being acted...."

A hilarious sentence!! Such practiced Puritan casuistry, over 100 words worth, with distictions well worthy of a Jesuit confessor? -- perhaps prima facie proof of Pepys's popery?!

Glyn  •  Link

Someone else will remember the conditions, sub-conditions and sub-sub-conditions of his oath better than I do, but I think that it was: he's going to limit his playgoing but would be able to go to see plays at Court (good for networking). If he and Elizabeth don't go to a play at Court, then they are 'entitled' to go to a play somewhere else, as 'technically' they're merely exchanging one for another and aren't increasing their play-going. Or have I misrembered this?

Funny to see how serious this is to him, I imagine most of our own New Year resolutions have been broken a long time ago without all of this painful soul-searching.

Glyn  •  Link

And he's congratulating himself on them walking home rather than taking a cab. That wouldn't really have cost very much.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Does "puppy-dog water" mean urine? Do L&M have any comment on this striking sentence?

Terry F  •  Link

"puppy-dog water"

Apparently roast pig or puppy-dog were mixed wth wine for this concoction (L&M Larger Glossary).

Humane Society, where are you?

JWB  •  Link

Puppy-dog water:
"In the seventeenth century, one of the chief ingredients for anti-wrinkle creams was dogs' urine, and the so called 'night water' was said to be exceptionally beneficial to the complexion. A pampphlet entitled 'Here's Jack in the Box' (1656) advised the reader 'every morning when you rise you must wash your face in Puppy dog water, and then lay on the painting (i.e. the makeup)' (p11)

Samuel Pepys records in his diary buying puppy's night urine for his wife. Another recipe to soften the skin was to wash in your own urine, or with rosewater mixed with wine, else make a decoction of the rinds of lemon.'


cape henry  •  Link

Concerning "puppy dog water," it appears that the urine of a dog was actually applied to the skin, especially of the face, prior to the application of of makeup. What benefit this may have imparted is unclear, but perhaps it acted as an astringent of some kind [?].

Michael Robinson  •  Link

The little girle is come to act very prettily,

Wheatley notes she is the same girl, in the Duke's Company, that Pepys saw in "The Slighted Mayde":-

"... being most pleased to see the little girl dance in boy's apparel, she having very fine legs, only bends in the hams, as I perceive all women do."


Michael Robinson  •  Link

whither Luellin came and dined with me

Lluellin fishing for information about the office contracts or Pepys fishing for a further cash "honorarium" from Mr Deering, or just a chance lunch?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Heraclius, one of the more tragic Roman/Byzantine emperors...Great hero saving the empire from the Persians after years of agonizing war only to see most of it crumble to the new power of Islam. Must have made quite a spectacle play.


I can just see a play-hungry, eager Bess urging him on like the little devil on the left shoulder...

"It does agree with the sense of my vow, right? I mean if we go hither rather than at Court...And that other play doesn't really count, stinker that it was."

"Oh, absolutely, darling. And we can save money by walking. Cheap as if all we did was coach it to see my papa."

Poor Tom...If Sam agrees with the consumption diagnosis, it must be bad. But I suppose there being little treatment available in such a case, so long he lives close by and Mrs. Turner is near at hand as well, all he can really do is hope for the best and look in on him as much as possible.

Though he didn't exactly seem to be providing a great deal of comfort to the sufferer...

Hopefully (spoiler) the stories of Tom and his maid are true...Nice to think he had someone close. Still, Jane Turner's sure to be a rock.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Don't think I'd want to sleep with someone splashing puppy-dog urine on her face either.

Though it would allow a whole other use for those 101 Dalmatian puppies.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I suppose if you bottled it under a fancy trade name, slapped a $1,300 price per ounce on it, and got Angelina Jolie to splash a bit...

Hmmn...At that it's probably safer than some of the stuff we use nowadays.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"On the face? Why, we drink it." Bess explains to our time-traveling delegation who have expressed concern over her choice of cosmetic aid.

cumsalisgrano  •  Link

Cab fare each way, at least at a minimum of a bob each way and the pits be a bob each.
Urine, I was advised a millennium ago to soak a hanky in my urine when there be a gas attack.

DrCari  •  Link

Puppydog water....one optimistically hopes this is merely the urine of puppies. I seem to recall reading in Liza Picard's RESTORATION LONDON a reference to the cosmetic use of "puppydog water" as a concoction allegedly distilled from actual puppies. Ugh!

Patricia  •  Link

Urine: A delightful old Ukrainian woman once told me that women of her heritage used to wipe their faces with a baby's wet diaper (warm off its little bottom) so as to have young-looking skin.
Also, I read that Arab women used to wash their hair in camel's urine. Now, I realize that water might have been scarce on those caravan journeys, but I'm sure they had cosmetic reasons for doing this, as well.
Human urine was one of the ingredients traditionally used in tanning hides.

cumsalisgrano  •  Link

Urine, a controversial subject:
OED: There be a urine-monger , like fish-monger, a trader in urine, a possible reason, was it for the makers of gun powder? or the sellers of homeopathic medicines, which there are some practicing to-day :

then 1625 HART Anat. Ur. I. iv. 38 Who told these *vrine~mongers that the wombe daunced attendance on the bladder?

"....The Medical Proof
For almost the entire course of the 20th century, unknown to the public, doctors and medical researchers have been proving in both laboratory and clinical testing that our own urine is an enormous source of vital nutrients, vitamins, hormones, enzymes and critical antibodies that cannot be duplicated or derived from any other source......"
Along with other cultures.

JWB  •  Link


In 1670 the German chemist Hennig Brand, looking for the philosopher's stone, reduced some 50 buckets of urine, loaded the residue into a retort & fired in in his furnace to produce a substance that glowed in the dark-phosphorus, P. It was thought to be the spark of life, the "flamula vitalis". He is credited w/ the element's discovery, but it is thought that German alchemist had long known of this urine extraction and it can be surmised that the topical application of urine to the face was thought to restore one's lost flame.

Mary  •  Link

puppy-dog water.

Perhaps worth noting that urea (which can be distilled from urine) is a frequent ingredient of today's emollient creams.

chris  •  Link

"I suppose if you bottled it under a fancy trade name, slapped a $1,300 price per ounce on it, and got Angelina Jolie to splash a bit..."

I'd wash my whole body twice a day in Angelina Jolies water... :)

JonM  •  Link

The Mauritius mentioned in the description of the play is the Byzantine/Roman Emperor normally called Maurice in English.

Nothing to do with the Island in the Indian Ocean (which the Dutch East India company have another attempt at colonising later in 1664).

alanB  •  Link

you don't suppose that ugly aunt Wight is being a little clever here: worried as she is by William's attention to Bess, she suggests a recipe to Bess knowing she will use it and then tells Billy what Bess does? It would put me off the scent.

Alternatively, perhaps someone else suggested to ugly Aunt the procedure as a joke 'to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear' in her case and Aunt Wight took it literally.

Pedro  •  Link

More puppy dog tales.

Terry's reference "roast pig or puppy-dog were mixed with wine" from L&M Larger Glossary and the humane question...

James Cook, when first visiting Tahiti in 1769, recorded in his journal that "few were there of us but what allowe'd that a South Sea Dog was next to an English Lamb, one thing in their favour is that they live intirely upon Vegetables".


A. De Araujo  •  Link

"puppy dog water"
Dogs have a trmendous olphatory sense; so it makes sense that adult dogs' urine not be used otherwise one would have stray dogs following you in the street.

Bradford  •  Link

"standing in their fixed and different pastures"---no doubt the Restoration version of being out standing in their fields.

What, is no one going to comment on the handsome phrase "to get some for her ugly face"? And the remedy worse than a thumb in the plate.

Araucaria  •  Link

Why puppy's urine rather than adult dog's urine?

Because puppies are drinking milk only, and not eating meat. The uric concentration rises considerably (not to mention the odor) when the dog starts eating solid food.

I seem to remember, either from Liza Picard's book or Peter Ackroyd's "London, a biography" that there was a thriving trade in London to recycle dog and human urine for brickmaking, among other things. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

George R  •  Link

Just a little off topic but even in Sam's London they were taking the p***. It was collected in barrels and transported right up the East coast to be used in the production of Alum.


cumsalisgrano  •  Link

For those that must know [59] Mary Evelyn, Mundus Muliebris ed. John Evelyn 1690;
"Puppydog water made of wine and roast puppy was said to be good too. [59] P 125 Restoration London. Liza Picard

Chapter 7 on Cosmetics: incl. Ceruse poisoning
Beauty Business be a best s[c]ellar then and now.

Pedro  •  Link

John Evelyn and gunpowder.

The family wealth had come from the monopoly that they held on gunpowder...Saltpetre was the main ingredient in gunpowder, made from an incendiary recipe combining black earth, animal excrement, lime and ash. Dovecotes were the best source of nitre (although in the 1630's citizens were requested to store their own urine for a year, in case of shortage)...

(Summary from John Evelyn by Gillian Darley)

Australian Susan  •  Link

Urine was also used in laundry - people had pots to p*** in and pots to s*** in, so a store of just urine could be built up for that busy day: washing day. It was a softener and a bleach. The solid stuff was used as fertiliser. London tanners used to pee on the leathers themselves if urine was in short supply.
Yuck, yes - but don't forget that until recently, sperm whales were used in lipsticks. Yuck indeed and disgraceful.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

In the HBO series "Rome" a clothmaker complains to up-and-coming magistrate Vorenius that unruly street gangs have been smashing his urine collecting piss-pots and how's he to clean cloth properly without urine.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

To help deter deer and other pests I pour dilute urine from a watering can on the soil in my flower beds; however I suspect, as with the cosmetic use, this is just a faith based activity.

Patricia  •  Link

Perhaps not, Michael: in the book "Never Cry Wolf", author Farley Mowat recounts drinking huge quantities of tea and then "leaving his mark" around his campsite, just as wolves (and dogs) leave their marks around their territory. From that time on, the wolves made a detour around his camp.

Singe  •  Link

Urine was used to kill lice so treating a garden with it sounds logical.

Tom Woods  •  Link

If the reference to puppy dog water is not for certain known please consider that it might be the amniotic fluid of the puppy's birth and therefor a bit more rare than the urine only and if rare then more effective and more dear.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"But at the beginning, at the drawing up of the curtaine, there was the finest scene of the Emperor and his people about him, standing in their fixed and different pastures in their Roman habitts, above all that ever I yet saw at any of the theatres. "

Tableau effects of this kind were frequently introduced in Restoration productions. The 'Roman habits' were probably tunics or cuirasses, buskins, cloaks, gauntlets, perukes and plumed helmets. Loose mantles were sometimes worn by Roman characters, but the toga was not used until much later in the history of the English theatre. (L&M footnote)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Puppy Water and Other Early Modern Canine Recipes

At first I thought it was a joke when I read a recipe for “The Puppy Water” in a recipe collection compiled by one Mary Doggett in 1682. “Take one Young fatt puppy and put him into a flatt Still Quartered Gutts and all ye Skin upon him”, then distill it along with buttermilk, white wine, pared lemons, herbs, camphire, venus turpentine, red rosewater, fasting spittle, and eighteen pippins.

Although Mary Doggett’s recipe does not specify purpose, puppy water was a facial treatment – as immortalized by Jonathan Swift in his poem, “The Lady’s Dressing Room” (1732):

There Night-gloves made of Tripsy’s Hide,
Bequeath’d by Tripsy when she dy’d,
With Puppy Water, Beauty’s Help
Distill’d from Tripsy‘s darling Whelp.

Swift also, however, refers to another canine usage: gloves made from dog’s hide. As noted in Nicholas Culpeper’s Pharmacopoeia Londinensis (1718), “little puppy dogs” (and various other animals, such as hedge-hogs, snails, foxes, moles, frogs, or earthworms) “may be made beneficial to your sick bodies”. Robert James’s entry for “Canis” in his Medicinal Dictionary (1743-5) explained that Europeans “generally abstain from Dogs Flesh, till Necessity… obliges them to use it.” But use it they did: the flesh, fat, skin and excrement could all be incorporated into medicines recommended even by renowned medical practitioners. http://www.wondersandmarvels.com/…

Were there "puppy-mills" at that time?

arby  •  Link

Not only does it not deter deer and other pests, (specifically bunnies) human urine attracts them, I suppose for the salts. Cottontail rabbits will go straight for it quickly, as in overnight. Indeed, I could have my whole lawn mown if I drank more coffee and beer.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Robert Gertz wrote:

"I suppose if you bottled it under a fancy trade name, slapped a $1,300 price per ounce on it, and got Angelina Jolie to splash a bit..."

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Al Doman  •  Link

"standing in their fixed and different pastures" -- perhaps should be "postures"?

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

"... I doubt very ill of a consumption."

A crucial example of the usage of 'doubt' at the time, to mean 'fear'.

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Urea in urine has a low ph and breaks down with ammonia as one of the products so was used for cleaning. It was used to remove hair from hides and the Romans used it to whiten teeth. I read something some time ago that suggested that indigenous women of Greenland or Iceland (can't remember which) used it to wash their hair.
My physician advised me to use a lotion for my skin, gave me a brand name and told me that the important thing was the urea in the lotion as it 'dissolves' dead skin. It does help but I don't think I'll try to save money by collecting my urine and using instead.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

But I wouldn't want to lounge on your grass arby if that was the case. Try cayenne paste - works for squirrels on tomatoes. They remember too! Unfortunately they are not great on passing the word along.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ‘ . . she had got and used some puppy-dog water . . ‘

‘puppy-water  n. Obs. the urine of a puppy, formerly used as a cosmetic.
1687   C. Sedley Bellamira i. i. 4   You spend it him in Coach-hire, Puppy-water and Paint, every day of your Life.
1732   Swift Lady's Dressing Room 5   With Puppy Water, Beauty's Help, Distill'd from Tripsy's darling Whelp.’


jimmigee  •  Link

"I do not find myself in the least apprehensive that I have done any violence to my oaths"
Sam, just continue saying that to yourself and you'll be OK.

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