Friday 5 May 1665

Up betimes, and by water to Westminster, there to speak the first time with Sir Robert Long, to give him my Privy Seal and my Lord Treasurer’s order for Tangier Tallys; he received me kindly enough. Thence home by water, and presently down to Woolwich and back to Blackewall, and there, viewed the Breach, in order to a Mast Docke, and so to Deptford to the Globe, where my Lord Brunkard, Sir J. Minnes, Sir W. Batten, and Commissioner Pett were at dinner, having been at the Breach also, but they find it will be too great charge to make use of it. After dinner to Mr. Evelyn’s; he being abroad, we walked in his garden, and a lovely noble ground he hath indeed. And among other rarities, a hive of bees, so as being hived in glass, you may see the bees making their honey and combs mighty pleasantly. Thence home, and I by and by to Mr. Povy’s to see him, who is yet in his chamber not well, and thence by his advice to one Lovett’s, a varnisher, to see his manner of new varnish, but found not him at home, but his wife, a very beautiful woman, who shewed me much variety of admirable work, and is in order to my having of some papers fitted with his lines for my use for tables and the like. I know not whether I was more pleased with the thing, or that I was shewed it by her, but resolved I am to have some made. So home to my office late, and then to supper and to bed. My wife tells me that she hears that my poor aunt James hath had her breast cut off here in town, her breast having long been out of order.

This day, after I had suffered my owne hayre to grow long, in order to wearing it, I find the convenience of periwiggs is so great, that I have cut off all short again, and will keep to periwiggs.

47 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"a hive of bees, so as being hived in glass, you may see the bees making their honey and combs "

The Diary of John Evelyn - July 1654
13 "We all din’d, at that most obliging & universaly Curious Dr. Wilkins’s, at Waddum [Wadham College, Oxford, where he was Dean], who was the first who shew’d me the Transparant Apiaries, which he had built like Castles & Palaces & so ordered them one upon another, as to take the Hony without destroying the Bees; These were adorn’d with variety of Dials, little Statues, Vanes &c: very ornamental, & he was so aboundantly civill, as finding me pleasd with them, to present me one of these Hives, which he had empty, & which I had afterwards in my Garden at Says-Court, many Yeares after; & which his Majestie came on purpose to see & contemplate with much satisfaction:...."

In *The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting* Eva Crane, (Routledge, 1999), see Evelyn's drawing of his "glass hive" (page 379); descriptions of his and other transparent apiaries; and a quotation of today's Pepys Diary entry (380). E.g. "In 1657 Robert Wood said that the transparent part of Dr Wilkins's hive was only 'a peece of glass a little bigger than my hand set into the Hive on one side." [Even so, the view was fascinating and of value to science.]…

Pedro  •  Link

Bees and honey, and John Evelyn…

This has appeared before in discussion but may as well be repeated…

A summary from John Evelyn, Living for Ingenuity by Gillian Darley…

John Evelyn was on a tour to show his wife the English countryside, when he was entertained by John Wilkins at Wadham College in Oxford. It was here that he met Wren for the first time. Wilkins showed him the garden where he was mesmerised by the glass fronted beehives designed like “castles and palaces” which revealed the mysterious processes within.

It appears that Evelyn ordered a beehive two years later, and in his Elysium Britannicum he wrote…

“I should fill a volume, not a chapter onely, to deal with the culture of the bees for all of the living creatures…the bee is the wisest…and approaching to the understanding of men. Both architects and builders, they preside over a city, King, Empire, Society, occupied on public business, peaceable, loyal and affected to Monarchy…reading a lecture of obedience to the rebels in every garden.”

Australian Susan  •  Link

Mast Dock

I assume this refers to the long narrow stone-lined trench filled with water in which masts are seasoned before use. You can see one at Chatham Dockyard.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Mastectomy without benefit of anesthesia

The author Fanny Burney (aka Madame d'Arblay) had a breast removed in 1811 with nothing except a drink of wine and a cambric handkerchief to help her. She wrote an account of it. Try and read this without wincing.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"take the Hony without destroying the Bees "

"The Old World method of beekeeping had doubtless the merit of simplicity, but was barbarous in the extreme, consisting, as it did, in allowing the insects to fill their hive, and when this was accomplished in placing it over a pit containing some burning abomination, generally sulphur, the fumes of which made short work of the wretched inhabitants. This system was, or we are sorry to say is -- for like all bad habits, it dies hard....[Evelyn's Diary is quoted to show the antiquity of good practice.] We may add that it is only within the last quarter of a century that, even among the nest "bee-masters," the "castles and palaces" [of Wilkins] have given way to the businesslike frame hives now found in well-regulated apiaries." "Scientific Bee Culture: The Old Method and the New: Some Peculiar Facts About the Queen Bee and Her Important Function in the Hive," New York Times, March 10, 1889.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"even among the best 'bee-masters'" it should have read.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... a hive of bees, so as being hived in glass, you may see the bees making their honey ..."

" drawing by Evelyn, from his ‘Elysium Britannicum’, [manuscript] shows a transparent beehive, presented to him by its inventor, Dr John Wilkins: "adorn’d with variety of Dials, little Statues, Vanes &c: very ornamental, & he was so aboundantly civill, as finding me pleased with them, to present me with one... which I had in my Garden at Says-Court many Yeares after."…

Engraving of "A three-storey beehive to the design of Christopher Wren" constructed in May 1654 for John Wilkins and first used by Wilkins in the new gardens at Wadham enlarged and improved during his Mastership. "Inspired by a transparent hive mentioned in Pliny, this design had a number of glass observation panels through which an observer could watch the movement of honey inside." from Samuel Hartlib (ed.)'The Reformed Common-Wealth of Bees' (1655):-…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to Westminster, there to speak the first time with Sir Robert Long, to give him my Privy Seal and my Lord Treasurer’s order for Tangier Tallys;"

Long was the 'dreaded' Auditor of the Receipt of the Exchequer; hence Pepys's relief -- "he received me kindly enough."…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Poor Aunt James...

No doubt in a few centuries our quaint notion of using poisons to kill the cancer (hopefully) before killing the patient will be regarded as barbarously primitive.

cape henry  •  Link

"And among other rarities, a hive of bees, so as being hived in glass, you may see the bees making their honey and combs mighty pleasantly."

An acquaintance of mine years ago, a landscape architect, had one of these in his study. It was configured much like a window air conditioning unit, but with the bulk of it indoors and the aperture outside. It was, indeed, "mighty pleasant" to see.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... we walked in his garden, and a lovely noble ground he hath indeed ..."

Evelyn's plan of the garden at Sayles Court:…

From the British Library website a general discussion of Evelyn and garden theory and practice based on his papers and the unpublished manuscript of 'Elysium Britannicum':-…

"Evelyn believed that the proper art of gardening involved a return to biblical and ancient practices. In his extensive correspondence with Evelyn, Beale regularly drew attention to the works of classical authors on gardens, and to historical examples drawn from the Bible. He looked forward confidently to the location of the true site of paradise, and the rediscovery of the original language of Eden (which he thought might be Chinese). For his part, Evelyn began his Elysium manuscript with a discussion of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden and of their subsequent rediscovery of gardening and husbandry, arguing that ‘God had destin’d them this employment for a sweete & most agreable punition of their sinns’ (Evelyn Papers Ms.45, facing p.1). Evelyn was confident that human ingenuity and labour could return the earth to its pristine fertility and beauty, and restore paradise in a garden designed according to ancient precepts (Evelyn Papers Ms. 45, p.1):

'Adam instructed his Posteritie how to handle the Spade so dextrously, that, in processe of tyme, men began, with the indulgence of heaven, to recover that by Arte and Industrie, which was before produced to them spontaneously; and to improve the Fruites of the Earth, to gratifie as well their pleasures and contemplations, as their necessities and daily foode.'…

'John Evelyn's "Elysium Britannicum" and European Gardening,' A series of essays discussing various aspect of Evelyn and gardening:…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Bess, Bess...Look..." Puts on periwigg. "Man of probity and substance." Takes off periwigg. "Deranged escapee from Bedlam." Puts on... "Solemn, rising courtier." Takes off... "Shaven criminal degenerate awaiting transport to Barbados."

"Let me." Bess grabs wig. "Pompous ass..." Takes off... "Occasionally lovable billard ball..."

Bradford  •  Link

You can't read Fanny Burney's account without flinching, A. Susan. Or, rather, stay away from anyone who can.

But such is the power of the human train of thought that the cutting of flesh required by surgery leads naturally to the cutting of hair required by a periwig.

Tom Carr  •  Link

"I know not whether I was more pleased with the thing, or that I was shewed it by her, but resolved I am to have some made."

Sam's ability for self-examination never ceases to amaze me. How little marketing has changed in 350 years!

Phil  •  Link

Is it coincidental that Povy recommends a supplier with a pretty wife to Pepys? Sam goes from writing about bees and honey to paying a social call on Povy. Do these two men about town normally talk about varnishes? Would Povy have had a need for a good varnish in the past? Or is it more likely they discussed pretty women, Tangiers, pretty women, Navy business pretty women?

And here's another nieve question, might Aunt James have had breast cancer? I've always thought of cancer as a post industrial ailment.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"some papers fitted with his lines for my use for tables and the like"

Can someone clarify what Pepys has in mind that a varnisher would provide?

JWB  •  Link

Honey bees

They're not native to America and were introduce by the Dutch in 1638. Indians called them the white man's fly.

JWB  •  Link

post industrial disease

Post hoc ergo propter hoc. It's not that industry causes cancer, but that industry lengthened average life span to such an extent that cancers have time to develop.

jeannine  •  Link

"might Aunt James have had breast cancer?"

Phil, I believe that she did. A slight spoiler here, but James DOY's wife Anne Hyde will die of what is believed to have been breast cancer, so there may have been some indication among the doctors of the time, that something along the line of cancer did exist, although perhaps not by that name. For Wikipedia,… the history of breast cancer section says:

“Breast cancer may be one of the oldest known forms of cancer tumors in humans. The oldest description of cancer was discovered in Egypt and dates back to approximately 1600 BC. The Edwin Smith Papyrus describes 8 cases of tumors or ulcers of the breast that were treated by cauterization. The writing says about the disease, "There is no treatment."[112] For centuries, physicians described similar cases in their practises, with the same sad conclusion. It wasn't until doctors achieved greater understanding of the circulatory system in the 17th century that they could establish a link between breast cancer and the lymph nodes in the armpit. The French surgeon Jean Louis Petit (1674-1750) and later the Scottish surgeon Benjamin Bell (1749-1806) were the first to remove the lymph nodes, breast tissue, and underlying chest muscle. Their successful work was carried on by William Stewart Halsted who started performing mastectomies in 1882. He became known for his Halsted radical mastectomy, a surgical procedure that remained popular up to the 1970s.”

My guess is that Aunt James had it, and much like the heart wrenching description in the article that Aussie Susan gave us, she had it removed. Part of me would have thought that Sam would have shed a little more sympathy having been cut of his stone, as he must know first hand how excruciating and frightening it must have been for the poor woman.

Also, Susan thanks for the post. How horrible to read about, but just one more thing to add to my gratitude to be in the here and now. Also, I was struck by Fanny’s description of the surgeon. As horrible as the surgery was for her, it clearly was an incredibly difficult thing for him. May God bless them all –the women who suffered and those with the incredible sense of self to be able to rise to the occasion and try to save them with dignity.

Pedro  •  Link

Meanwhile near Texel the Fleet decides to come home for a pint…

“…About one o’clock the Union flag was put out on the mizzen shrouds for all captains. HRH called all together and made a speech proposing what might be the opinion of all of us for going upon our own coast by reasons of our wants of beer and water and the consideration of the Holland fleet, for which they waited their coming home, were part taken and the greater part supposed to be in the Vlie…Resolved that within 2 days we should return for the Gunfleet Buoy…”

(Journals of Sir Thomas Allin edited by Anderson)

Sandwich gives a more detailed account. It seems unfeasible to go into the Texel, and the expected fleet of 40 sail seen on the back of Ireland had mostly slipped in to safety. Of De Ruyter it is thought that he may be back to Cadiz by the middle of the month.

The Fleet as a whole had about 3 weeks victuals left, and the presence of the Fleet seemed to be a hindrance to the coming out of the Dutch fleet.

CGS  •  Link

Breach: : My take, they had removed soil and muck and made a place to store masts to be aged for the future, by breaching the wall that was holding back the Tems, and thus flooding the area to be ready for delivery of Masts through the hole that was created..

I have suspicion that they rafted the masts as the poles be too long for storage aboard ship?

Thus breach, not be a harbour but a means to create a harbour.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Breast cancer

Chaucer's wife probably had breast cancer. Well, it is described as a "canker" growing within her breast. May have been a benign tumour or a by product of mastitis of course.

The Mollusc  •  Link

I recall reading an oncological assessment of the woman depicted nude in a Rembrandt painting (title of it escapes me). That the bumpy area on the side of her breast could indicate cancer...

Australian Susan  •  Link

Yes,probably same model, but it was a woman bathing used in the ad campaign - I recall this too. the only problem was that the model was Saskia, who lived to a ripe old age (for those times). And the shading could just have been dappled shadows.

dirk  •  Link

“some papers fitted with his lines for my use for tables and the like”

Terry, I take these to be sheets of (heavy) paper, possibly with simple designs stencilled on them, to be glued on top of a table or the like, and then varnished to make them durable.

Maybe something similar to this picture (17th c English wallpaper).…

But this is only a guess - Sam may be refering to something completely different...

Bergie  •  Link

"Tables" also means charts. Maybe the varnisher supplied Sam with lined paper, graph paper, or something of the sort.

Australian Susan  •  Link

I assumed this meant something like graph paper - the neatness would appeal to Sam - or just lined paper, to speed up the process of all that tedious copying work done by the clerks.

Elgar's wife, when they were poor, used a device of a five nibbed pen to rule music staves for her husband, when they couldn't afford printed blank music paper. maybe something similar was used to rule up paper for writing reports and so on. has anyone seen any of the originals of Sam's official papers? Are they ruled up? Or just freehand?

Mary  •  Link


Sam mentioned the problem of sourcing good varnish a couple of years ago:-

"Thence back by water to Greatorex's, and there he showed me his Varnish which he hath invented, which appears every whit as good, upon a stick which he hath done, as the Indian, though it did not do very well upon my paper rules with Musique lines, for it sunk in and did not shine."…

An L&M note on this mentions The Royal Society having gathered information on 'China varnish' (for varnishing and/or japanning) in October and November 1661.

Is Sam looking to finish a durable template for the ruling/spacing of lines (whether for music or accountancy) to act as a guide for ruling other papers? This would chime with Dirk's suggestion.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

“Tables” also means charts. Maybe the varnisher supplied Sam with lined paper, graph paper, or something of the sort.

I have seen examples of varnished paper ruled with lines in various configurations, vertical bounding lines and horizontal text lines, for use as a template underneath the thin blank unruled sheets of ledger volumes; the earliest examples I recall are accidental survivals from the middle to last third of the C 18th. This is what I assumed SP was alluding to, but off the top of my head I know of no evidence for their existence at this earlier date. Having volumes individually 'ruled' in the C 17th., and later, was certainly expensive and thought luxurious when done with a text volume such as a Bible or Prayer Book which suggests there might well have been inexpensive templates developed for more utilitarian purposes.

Templates for ruling or pricking existed in the west from Carolingian times onward -- ruling frames are what is said to have been used in C15 & C 16 Italy amongst the Humanists, where the paper was slightly damped and placed against a wire template which would produce slight ridges which would in turn serve as guides.


SP did have sufficient interest in japanning and varnishing to acquire later a copy of the earliest text known in English, but this very probably had more to do with his interest in interior decoration:

John Stalker, 'A treatise of japaning and varnishing, being a compleat discovery of those arts. With the best way of making all sorts of varnish for Japan, wood, prints, or pictures. The method of guilding, burnishing,and lackering, with the art of guilding, separating, and refining metals: and of painting mezzo-tinto-prints. Also rules for counterfeiting tortoise-shell, and marble, and for staining or dying wood, ivory, and horn. Together with above an hundred distinct patterns for japan-work, in imitation of the Indians, for tables, stands, frames, cabinets, boxes, &c. Curiously engraven on 24 large copper-plates. By George Parker, and John Stalker.' Oxford: [1688]

J A Gioia  •  Link

“And among other rarities, a hive of bees, so as being hived in glass, you may see the bees making their honey and combs mighty pleasantly.”

When I was a boy nearly a half-century ago, the museum in Rochester, New York had just such a living display on a second-floor stairwell. I can attest its fascination as well as a very soothing humming sound which came from it. Had no idea they were foreign to America.

Ruben  •  Link

More about tables and varnish:
"The Evelyn tables are a set of four anatomical preparations on wooden boards that are thought to be the oldest anatomical preparations in Europe. They were acquired by John Evelyn in Padua in 1646 and later donated by Evelyn to the Royal Society. They are currently owned by the Royal College of Surgeons, and displayed at the Hunterian Museum in London.
Each table displays a different part of the human body - arteries, nerves, veins - dissected out from a human specimen and glued to a wooden board made from pine planks,..., with the whole covered with several coats of varnish. Each table is approximately 1.9 m high, 77 cm wide, and 10 cm thick...
Evelyn donated the tables to the nascent Royal Society in October 1667, which displayed them in the "repository" (museum) in the west gallery of Gresham College on Bishopsgate from 1674..."…

Pedro  •  Link

Evelyn and varnish.

Of Japanese varnish in particular Evelyn wrote: “This I first communicated to the workmen, coach makers, cabinet makers, and others (in) 1653 since which it has been generally, and successfully used…but omitting to get a patent in due time, when his Majesty was restored, and indeed not thinking it worthwhile, others prevented me, to their great enriching: Much good may it do them.”

(Consuming Slendour by Linda Levy Peck)

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... some papers fitted with his lines for my use for tables and the like. "

Description of some early C17th. English table books acquired by the British Library in 2003 & discussion of other survivals, their use etc.

HR Woudhuysen, 'Writing-Tables and Table-Books'…

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... Sir Robert Long, to give him my Privy Seal and my Lord Treasurer’s order for Tangier Tallys; ..."…

The Auditor of the Receipt of the Exchequer was an office in the English Exchequer. The office originated in early times as the clerk of the Lord High Treasurer at the Receipt of the Exchequer. He was responsible for filing and entering the Teller's Bills from the Tellers of the Exchequer, certifying monies received to the Lord Treasurer, and auditing the books of the Tellers.
The title of Auditor was officially attached to the post, combined with that of Tally Writer, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

For such an unpopular person, Sir Robert Long, 1st Bart. of Draycot, seems to have been trusted with a great deal of power over the money.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Pepys must be disappointed. He’s been working on finding a place to lay masts in water for ages:

13 January 1664 -- Dr. Whistler explained to Pepys why keeping masts dry was inadvisable:…...

Sunday 21 February 1664 -- “I spent all the morning there drawing up a letter to Mr. Coventry about preserving of masts,”

23 February 1664: Further Corr., pp. 15-19. Pepys argued, largely on the advice of Warren, that the best method would be to submerge the masts in the water of creeks. He opposed the building of a mast-house at Deptford, and the suggestion of keeping them in the proposed new dock at Chatham. (Per L&M footnote)

Tuesday 12 July 1664 – “After dinner down with Sir G. Carteret, Sir J. Minnes, and Sir W. Batten to view, and did like a place by Deptford yard to lay masts in.”

SPOILER: In 1689, after Pepys had retired, a wet-dock for masts was built at Deptford.

There are probably more mentions, but I have not corralled them.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Breast cancer was a problem:

“Dr. William Harvey’s practice was not very great towards his later end; he declined it, unless to a special friend, — e.g. my Lady Howland, who had a cancer in her breast, which he did cut-off and seared, but at last she died of it.”…

Dr. Harvey, of circulation fame, died in 1657. I have yet to discover who Lady Howland was.

Cazbot  •  Link

Interested in that Evelyn's friends turn up at his house and go for a walk around his garden when Evelyn wasn't there. Different social rules to nowadays.

Cazbot  •  Link

Sheffield's Mappin Art Gallery used to have a working beehive with glass section part in and part out of the building. It was an extremely popular exhibition.

Tonyel  •  Link

Also in the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, London when I lived nearby many years ago. I hope their descendants are buzzing still.

Eric Rowe  •  Link

A small part of Evelyn's garden still exists in London. A few weeks ago BBC's Gardener's Question Time discussed it and that quite a lot more of it is going to be restored. In the future this might become a place to visit during a 'Pepys London' reunion.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"The author Fanny Burney (aka Madame d'Arblay) had a breast removed in 1811 with nothing except a drink of wine and a cambric handkerchief to help her."

The problem seems to have been the inability of doctors and "scientists" to share information, and/or information getting lost. For instance, opium was brought back by the Crusaders ... but they forgot about it (possibly the addiction outweighed the benefits, making it too dangerous?).

In Pepys' time some doctors must have known about laudanum, because in 1676, physician Thomas Sydenham made a hugh impact on society by publishing his recipe for laudanum, sharing his discovery worldwide.

But he wasn't the "inventor." Paracelsus (1493-1541) was a Swiss physician who reintroduced opium for medical use in Western Europe. He was so enthusiastic about the drug that would always carry it with him calling it the "immortality stone." He thought "Among medicines offered by Almighty God to relieve human suffering none is so universal and effective as opium."

The term laudanum is used in the medical literature of the 17th century to define a drug of proven efficacy, and so many laudanum recipes were named after famous physicians. There are questions as to whether or not Paracelsus' laudanum contained opium.

Sydenham's laudanum, on the other hand, was the major opium-containing formulation used in England in the 17th century, and in the Americas until the early 20th century. It contained opium, wine, beer, saffron, clove and cinnamon.

In the 18th century other preparations appeared. One famous one invented between 1702 and 1718 was Dover's Powder consisted of a blend of opium, salt, tartar, licorice and feveroot, and Paregoric (from Le Mort, professor at the University of Leyden).

A modified formulation, called Paregoric Elixir with opium, honey, camphor, anis and wine was published in the London Pharmacopoeia in 1721.

About the same time, another preparation known as Rousseau's laudanum was fashionable in Continental Europe.

However, opium's adverse effects were recognized, worrying Sydenham himself, who was a notorious enthusiast of the drug.

In 1700, Londoner physician John Jones published "The Mysteries of Opium Reveal'd" which called attention to the risks of excessive use of this drug, admitting that adverse effects could be a consequence of residues not eliminated during preparation.

Two other books were written later in the 18th century about opium: George Young's "Treatise on Opium" in 1750, and Samuel Crumpe's "Inquiry into the Nature and Properties of Opium" in 1793. Both mentioned addiction and, more superficially, withdrawal symptoms. None of them suggested any restriction on opium either as drug or as a source of pleasure.

For more information, see…

So now that the information was widely known, why did operations continue to be done without pain killers?

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