Tuesday 2 May 1665

Up and to the office all day, where sat late, and then to the office again, and by and by Sir W. Batten and my Lady and my wife and I by appointment yesterday (my Lady Pen failed us, who ought to have been with us) to the Rhenish winehouse at the Steelyard, and there eat a couple of lobsters and some prawns, and pretty merry, especially to see us four together, while my wife and my Lady did never intend ever to be together again after a year’s distance between one another. Hither by and by come Sir Richard Ford and also Mrs. Esther, that lived formerly with my Lady Batten, now well married to a priest, come to see my Lady.

Thence toward evening home, and to my office, where late, and then home to supper and to bed.

24 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I'd be a hair nervous Sam to have Bess friends again with a sharp-eyed Lady Batten who might choose to note a few odd things happening to her dear neighbor.

"So why does that carpenter's wife keep hanging around the office, pestering your husband? Sir William says your husband is such a kind fellow to her...Always taking her off God knows where to discuss her husband's petitions for advancement."

Nix  •  Link

"my wife and my Lady did never intend ever to be together again" --

Unless I'm forgetting some earlier antagonism between Mmes. Pepys and Batten, I take this to mean "did not expect" (a very early usage), rather than "did not desire" --


VI. Senses of uncertain position or origin; mostly due to literalism of translation from L. or F.

21. trans. To expect. Obs. [OF. entendre = F. attendre.]

c1374 CHAUCER Troylus IV. 1621 (1649) ere lyuyth lady non..at be-trayed were or wo-begon As I at al treuthe in ow entende. 1485 CAXTON Paris & V. 69 She neuer entended to here tydynges of hyr loue Parys.

CGS  •  Link

"...eat a couple of lobsters and some prawns, ..."
Todays tab be equal to 200 1 Lb whole wheat loaves .
So Sam has come a long way from a Garret watching his farthings.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Bess and Lady Batten have not gotten on well, particularly since the infamous "Nan" incident. Though that was all Jane Birch's fault (5 November 1662, a day that will live in aristocratic infamy).

And Sam...Relishing every moment even as he 'schooled' her.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"... to the Rhenish winehouse at the Steelyard." Still sounds like a grand place.

"The Rhenish winehouse at the Steelyard...Where the elite of England meet..." Barker cries out at the door, pointing out Sam and his party.

Oh, Lord... "Remind me why I should know never to come back here." Sam hisses to Bess.

"Pepys?" Charles, looking up from his table.

Hello, lovely...Eyes Bess.

A Hamilton  •  Link

Hello, lovely…Eyes Bess.

Back in nineteen ought sixty six my wife and I were attending a party at the White House when I spied my Congressman sitting at a table and stopped to say hello. Suddenly an enormous man rose from a shadowed seat and I heard Mendel River say, "Mr. President, this is Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton." I got a hard-eyed glare, but Lyndon Johnson turned to my wife with a smile and the words, "Hello, sweetie."

Jesse  •  Link

“…eat a couple of lobsters and some prawns, …”

I'm not so sure that this kind of meal indicates that Pepys 'has come a long way 'from ... watching his farthings'. It's not clear that one can compare w/today's prices (see lobster link) nor is any special mention made of cost or quality of the grub.

Now when the King knows you by name and my Lord Duke of Albemarle calls you the "right hand of the Navy", that's another matter. Though I suppose one could still be broke?

Carl in Boston  •  Link

“…eat a couple of lobsters and some prawns, …”
Eating lobsters wasn't that expensive at the time. Over in Salem Massachusetts in this same time period the prisoners complained that they were constantly fed lobsters. They are still plentiful around here, and taste mighty good with real butter, corn on the cob, and Rhenish wine.

Mary  •  Link

Expensive lobsters?

The inclusion of the images of lobsters in 17th Century still-life paintings, associated with various 'high-class' foods, fine silverware etc. would seem to indicate that lobsters were 'special occasion' food. Perhaps not as fearsomely expensive as they currently are in England (the equivalent of US$40-$50 per piece in London recently) but certainly not everyday fare.

Carl in Boston  •  Link

Lobsters are cheap, they live in the waters around Boston.
We can get three live chicken lobsters (1 and 1/4 pound each) cooked and ready to eat over at the grocery store to serve three people for about $ 21. We get them for birthdays, and time it all to serve at home a few minutes after they come out of the store cooker.
The presence of lobsters draped over the table edge in a painting just means the artist thought a lobster looked more interesting than a picture of a turnip. Yes, it is party food for special occasions, but the interest of the image counts for a lot. I have never seen a filet mignon in a painting, expensive as it is, because it just looks like a lump.

CGS  •  Link

As Carl of Boston points out , Lobster of Maine be so numerous in 17 C., it was used as a fertilizer in the Americas.
Man being strange in that he only enjoys what others cannot have, now that it be scarce, along with other cheap foods of the fish variety now becomes a delicacy, thus will cost to boot.
Prices today, here in La La land be the same Mary, along with Cod.
17C. Paintings:
some lobsters.


CGS  •  Link

Name be the most important item a 'uman has, having experienced being singled out by Leaders by name in a public place in front of my actual peers be truly a warm feeling. [ with aftermath of the whisper , " HE [ she too] knows you "]
Remembering Names of all that thee meet, although for many it be hard, it reaps untold dividends.
People are usually ecstatic that they be noticed and remembered by a high placed Alpha, true also for everyone else.
Treat every one as if they be hi placed and learn from all.

Pedro  •  Link

On this day 2/12th May...

De Ruyter reaches St. Christopher, then a French possession, after leaving Martinique where he repaired the damage suffered at Barbados. On the way he heared that war had officially broken out. Before the islands of Montserrat and Nevis several large and richly laden English merchantmen were captured and other ships destroyed.

At St.Christopher five small English ships were left undisturbed, and the booty taken from the other isles shipped on board three of the prizes. On the 14th he sailed for the Dutch island of St. Eustatius capturing and burning several other English merchantmen on the way. On the 7/17th May he sailed past St. Martin Island for Bermuda.

(Info from The Life of Admiral De Ruyter by Blok)

Australian Susan  •  Link

At this time, oysters were a cheap eat too - unlike now.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

More lobster memories
When I was a grad student in Boston in the 60s, live lobsters (typically 2-3 pounds) were 79 cents a pound. We lived on them. When the price abruptly shot up out of reach, it was all right, because we were sated with them, like the prisoners Carl tells about.

Now Carl finds them cheap again, at about $6 a pound, and I guess that's right, after 40+ years of inflation, although I suspect the northeast coast of North America is the only place in the world you can get them at that price.

Al Day  •  Link

An interesting book; “The Secret Life of Lobsters” by Trevor Corson is about the fishery in New England. Conservation efforts were not working. Corson’s thesis is that they are plentiful today because the lobstermen won over the scientists to understand their knowledge of the life cycle of lobsters and propose effective methods to preserve them. Catches in Maine in the 1950's were about 20 million pounds; they decreased to about 17 million pounds in the 1970's and have increased to more than 60 million pounds since 2001.

Mary  •  Link

van Beyeren still life.

Thank you for fixing the link, Terry. The picture exactly illustrates my point: the lobster is shown with expensive artefacts and the kinds of fruit (apricots, peach, melon) that were only available to the well-to-do or the well-connected.

Carl in Boston  •  Link

What this has to do with the price of eggs, and lobsters:
This morning Shaw's Supermarket is selling chicken lobsters for $10.99 a pound, and select lobsters are at $14.99, but the price is going up today. We hover and watch and get chicken lobsters when they go on sale at $8.00 a pound.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"the northeast coast of North America"
They are very cheap at the norteast coast of South America also.

language hat  •  Link


I'm not sure what their price in Boston has to do with their availability in London.

CGS  •  Link

Qu. Did Samuell choose his lobster from the tank?

Lobsters do not travel well, salt does not work and ice is not a good substitute. They must be cooked fresh, 'tis why most Lobsters are allowed to choose their customers from their tank.
Most decapod crustateans be best eaten just after seen winking at you. Some foods are dangerous to the intestines, especially shell and cloven types when allowed to decay [calculated in hours] before cooking..

Although Aussie lobsters do travel iced, I am told?

The price always depend on availability, in glut they be cheap. New England cod traveled [salted of course ] but Lobster failed that test,the price here in LaLa includes the sea water that be needed?

Carl in Boston  •  Link

All right, one last blast on the lobsters
People in Maine pack lobsters in seaweed and a little dry ice in a polystyrene cooler and send them by overnight airplane all over the world, even to London. They arrive alive and winking in about 24 hours. You boil them wrapped in the seaweed with the corn, mussels, clams and all, and serve it up.
As for us, I am cooking filet mignon in a few more minutes. Half pound each for three costs $25, rub with salt, pepper, powdered onion, powdered garlic, broil 15 minutes while drinking Scotch. Then watch every minute, take a nip, watch another minute, listen for the sizzle and the sniff, take them out slightly red and let them coast while they rest and everyone gets finished getting cooked. The potatoes and creamed spinach are done, the wine is opened, got to go. (Yes, I know, it's a long way from Sam. I don't stray off topic too often).

Carl in Boston  •  Link

May 10, 6 days have passed and lobsters are on sale at $9.90 per lb for Mother's Day. Borrowing from David Dickinson on Bargain Hunt, here's a song for you.

Happy Mother's Day to you
Happy Mother's Day to you
Happy Mother's Day, Dear Mousie
Here's a lobster for you.

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