Wednesday 7 June 1665

This morning my wife and mother rose about two o’clock; and with Mercer, Mary, the boy, and W. Hewer, as they had designed, took boat and down to refresh themselves on the water to Gravesend. Lay till 7 o’clock, then up and to the office upon Sir G. Carteret’s accounts again, where very busy; thence abroad and to the ’Change, no news of certainty being yet come from the fleete. Thence to the Dolphin Taverne, where Sir J. Minnes, Lord Brunkard, Sir Thomas Harvy, and myself dined, upon Sir G. Carteret’s charge, and very merry we were, Sir Thomas Harvy being a very drolle. Thence to the office, and meeting Creed away with him to my Lord Treasurer’s, there thinking to have met the goldsmiths, at White Hall, but did not, and so appointed another time for my Lord to speak to them to advance us some money. Thence, it being the hottest day that ever I felt in my life, and it is confessed so by all other people the hottest they ever knew in England in the beginning of June, we to the New Exchange, and there drunk whey, with much entreaty getting it for our money, and [they] would not be entreated to let us have one glasse more. So took water and to Fox-Hall, to the Spring garden, and there walked an houre or two with great pleasure, saving our minds ill at ease concerning the fleete and my Lord Sandwich, that we have no newes of them, and ill reports run up and down of his being killed, but without ground. Here staid pleasantly walking and spending but 6d. till nine at night, and then by water to White Hall, and there I stopped to hear news of the fleete, but none come, which is strange, and so by water home, where, weary with walking and with the mighty heat of the weather, and for my wife’s not coming home, I staying walking in the garden till twelve at night, when it begun to lighten exceedingly, through the greatness of the heat. Then despairing of her coming home, I to bed.

This day, much against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and “Lord have mercy upon us” writ there; which was a sad sight to me, being the first of the kind that, to my remembrance, I ever saw. It put me into an ill conception of myself and my smell, so that I was forced to buy some roll-tobacco to smell to and chaw, which took away the apprehension.

30 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Today at Gresham College — from the Hooke Folio Online

June 7. 1665. Dr. wilkins reports an Expt of trajection) of two holes made in the thorax of a Dog about Breathing. at which expt. I was present) there were cut two holes each of an inch bignesse in the thorax of a dog. wherevpon though the dog did much indeauour to breath yet was he not able to moue his Lungs nor draw breath except the holes were stopt wth. the finger which being taken off the animall grew breathlesse & expired. attested by Sr. W Petty mr Willouby mr Dan Cox mr Hooke -
mr D Cox. catt not killd with oyle of tobac & warm water.) tht scuruy grasse oyle was convulsiue, & like that of tobacco)
mr. Hooke Reported that they had sowen Lettice seed vpon earth in the open air and at the same time vpon earth in a glasse Receiuer. which was afterwards exhausted of air and that the seed exposd to the air was grown vp an inch & half [In margin]Vz high in 8 days but that in the exhausted Receiuer not at all both which were produced & shewd the company. - wherevpon it was orderd the air should be let into the exhausted Receiuer, to see if any seed would come vp between this & the next meeting.
Ordd. also that tomorrow about 5 in the euening the variation of the variation of the needle be obserued in white hall. by the same committee Apointed formerly for it vizt Ld Brounker Sr. R moray S Paul neile Dr wren mr Oldenburg mr Hooke and that mr marr & mr Bonds bring their needles & instruments to tht place.
(Sr Theod meyerns paper about wormes in teeth) Sr. R moray. sparrs of portland stone) about Diuer) Expts on Paules Steeple to be renewed & pursued. & tht the Curator prouide the Apparatus necessary for it against munday 4 p m. the curators of these Expt. being the pt. Sr. R moray Sr W Petty Dr. wilkins dr Goddard mr Olden. mr Hooke.
(Dr. Pope of a fellow walking on the water wth blown breeches & leggs.) mr Hooke moued that it might be thought vpon to contriue a way of making a [In margin]Vz. girdle to be tyed about a man to saue him from sinking he was orderd to think vpon it himself. The same mentiond a certaine wheel to goe in ouer land boggs & water, It was objected that in plaine ground such a contriuance would be of use but in ascents vseless yet mr Hooke should Indeauour to haue a wheel made for a tryall
(about tryalls wth. vipers whether their biting mortall this hott season)
There were made some Expts. of Refraction vizt
1st. with water alone which standing at an angle of Inclination of 30o. had an angle of Refraction of 40o. 44'.
2 wth. Spt. of turpentine alone of 45o. 54'.
3ly with water & spt. of turpen together of 40o. 44' the same wth water.
4ly. wth. common oyle of 45. 20'. 5ly. wth. comon oyle & spt. of turpent together of 45. 20 the same wth como oyle alone…

Glyn  •  Link

Sam got to bed at midnight, and his wife gets up at 2 o'clock. I presume she and the mother-in-law are getting up so early because that is when the tide is flowing towards the sea.

Glyn  •  Link

That's a fascinating set of experiments that Terry has posted: growing seeds in a vacuum to see if air is needed by growing plants, magnetism in Whitehall, a possible lifebelt/life preserver and others just as interesting (wormes in teeth?).

Regarding the experiments on St Paul's Steeple (not Dome, it was taller than the dome currently is but in a ruinous state), perhaps they shouldn't have been so quick to conduct experiments on the old cathedral. One of the several reasons why the cathedral burned down is because the fire reached the roof very quickly by ascending the wooden framework that a surveyor had erected to allow access to all parts of the building for inspection. Once there it melted the lead and the roof caved in. The name of the surveyor? Christopher Wren.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ...very merry we were, Sir Thomas Harvy being a very drolle."

“When God created the human race he made men, women and Hervey’s,” was an eighteenth century commonplace about Sir Thomas’ descendants, attributed variously to Chesterfield, Voltaire and Lady Mary Wortley Montague. For a summary description of some see Brian Master's review 'Bats in the Family Belfry':…

CGS  •  Link

Cost a tanner to walk in the Vauxhall or was that for so some thirst quencher.[Were there any interesting sights to be seen besides the beds of posies]
"...Here staid pleasantly walking and spending but 6d. till nine at night..."

CGS  •  Link

De plague?

"...I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and “Lord have mercy upon us” writ there; which was a sad sight to me, being the first of the kind that, to my remembrance, I ever saw..."

Mary  •  Link

medicinal tobacco

Tobacco early gained a reputation for specific medicinal use (notably as a 'cure' for gonorrhoea) and in 1603 physicians complained to James I that it was being purchased without a prescription.

L&M note that by the middle of the 17th century, tobacco had come to be regarded as a useful prophylactic against the plague and there arose a belief that no tobacconist in London died of the Great Plague.

Sjoerd  •  Link

'I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors'

The Plague had been very violent in Holland in 1663-64, especially in Amsterdam where 24148 people had perished, among them Hendrickje Stoffels, mistress & model for Rembrandt. In "Journal of the Plague Year", Defoe notes that during the winter of 1664-1665 the "Bills of Mortality" gave slowly increasing numbers.

"it was observ'd with great Uneasiness by the People, that the weekly Bills in general encreas'd very much during these Weeks, altho' it was at a Time-of the Year, when usually the Bills are very moderate."

"But those were trifling Things to what followed im­mediately after; for now the Weather set in hot, and from the first Week in June, the Infection spread in a dreadful Manner, and the Bills rise high, the Articles of the Feaver, Spotted-Feaver, and Teeth, began to swell: For all that could conceal their Distempers, did it to pre­vent their Neighbours shunning and refusing to con­verse with them; and also to prevent Authority shutting up their Houses, which though it was not yet practised, yet was threatned, and People were extremely terrify'd at the Thoughts of it."…

JWB  •  Link

Speaking of plagues

Here in southern Ohio it is the seventeenth year of the life cycle of the seventeen-year locust(cicada). They emerged early May and the next brood will not return underground 'til July. When the sun's up there is the constant whirl sound like a car with a failing wheel bearing, though not quite as unpleasant-sort of like living in tropical rain forest.…

Bradford  •  Link

"This day, much against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and “Lord have mercy upon us” writ there; which was a sad sight to me, being the first of the kind that, to my remembrance, I ever saw."

I read these lines in the US Mid-South where, not quite 9AM, it is already---or still---around 29C (84F), and a cold chill ran all over me. "Much against my will"---a feeling one identifies from one's first personal encounter with global warming (which occurred here last year). But

"It put me into an ill conception of myself and my smell, so that I was forced to buy some roll-tobacco to smell to and chaw, which took away the apprehension."

I don't suppose suggesting a bath would help, at this point. Does nicotine really remove fear of the plague?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"catt not killd with oyle of tobac & warm water"

I assume the Royal Society have something medicinal in mind with their ongoing tobacco experiments?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sounds like Sam had heard somewhere plague victims could be distinguished in early stages by changes in body odor-which is I believe, quite true. A sensible man he realizes his fear that he smells differently to himself is just that so a little tobacco to cover it is good therapy. Interesting that he seems to be chewing and smelling not with expectation of protection but more to simply repress his fear of a change of scent, a placebo effect which he fully understands.


The unfocused anxiety when Bess is not at hand to comfort him he describes here is quite sweet. It does seem his not mentioning Bess so much these days is at least in part his absorption of her into himself...He no longer has to mention her, she's part of him. And for all his philandering, when she's away, he's not functioning well.

(In Atlanta it was 95 by 10 am today...And 106 here in my study when the HVAC again quit. Ah, well...Nature has its way of allowing troublesome species to deal with themselves.)

Carl in Boston  •  Link

Here in southern Ohio it is the seventeenth year of the life cycle of the seventeen-year locust (cicada).
Here is a worthy topic, off topic, but plagues are plagues.
The seventeen year locust is fascinating news, especially the magicus of prime numbers in the life cycle to throw off predators.
Then there is the common cicada, with a seven year life cycle. In Northern Michigan (the UP) we had the Seven Year Locust, but these were sharp human predators who came among us every seven years to clean out our savings for projects such as mink farms.
Then there are today's Monsters, who have stolen my credit card info and charged $2,045.70 to my credit card. The Bank of America has given me directions what to do, which I follow to the letter. I have found out who these people are, where they live, everything, which I have passed on to B of A. My money is returned. It is heartwarming and improving to see how people snap to with the right answer when they are asked "will you cooperate with B of A in prosecuting credit card fraud?" Now the monsters are going to get what they deserve, and B of A will get even for me. Here's a modern plague for you, and the monster's door is going to get splashed with a cross and "Lord have mercy", for they had none.

CGS  •  Link

gut feeling, tobacco be a poison but it does not kill the felines, no patience to wait and notice it takes time to kill a human, cough.

dirk  •  Link

Evelyn's diary for 7(?) June

"I went againe to his Grace, thence to the Council, and moved for another Privy-seale for 20000 pounds: That I might have the disposal of the Savoy Hospital for the sick & Wounded: all of which was granted: hence to our R: Society to refresh among the Philosophers:"

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Two am till past midnight...Long day for anyone, let alone an elderly lady. Hopefully the raucous Pepys party stopped somewhere on the way.

"Ladies...Mrs. Pepys. We really must be getting on home."

"Eh..." hic-hic... "No rush, Willie...'Ere, have a little drink wid us." hic-hic.

"But Ma'am...We'll miss the tide. Mr. Pepys will."

"Sam'l? Eh, wha' 'e care. He don' care." Bess, drawn sigh...

"Oh, poor lamb..." Margaret, sighing. "'E was always a busy lad...Eye...Pass me that mug, Mr. H....Always on the grindstone. Nose, I means."

"He don' care. Just work, work, work...And leaves me at 'ome. Don' even teach me his lessons no more." Hic-hic. "Bring back that pitcher o' ale, Thomas."

Hewer reluctantly waves Edwards to return pitcher.

"He's a good heart at base, lamb." Margaret tries. "I'm sure 'e loves ye."

"Aye..." sigh. "Oh, 'E can be so sweet...Bought me a salmon once to make me feel better...When he was goin' off to sea with milord. That rascal. 'Ere, Will...Tell Mum what milord the great gent did that summer in Brampton...Makin' jokes about how Sam'l'd be afraid to do anythin' about it. Shameful, the way he's cheatin' on poor Lady Jem and actin' like the great and noble Lord all the time he's with her, the rascal. Tell Mum about it, Will..."

"Mrs. Pepys...You told me never to say a word about..."

"Eh, Johnny and I knew all about it..." Margaret shrugs. "A lil' more there, Tommy..." waves mug to Tom who reluctantly pours. "That Montagu never could keep 'is 'ands off the girls. Even our poor Pall comes to me and..."

Pall?...Bess looking a bit put out.

"We put a stop to that, believe me..."

"Not that I ever did...You believe me, Mum?"

"O' course, girl." fond pat. "Now as to me idiot son...I knew that progressive school Johnny went and sent him to would be the ruin of him. Puff him out, makin' him think himself one of the fancy side of the family. But he has done us proud. And he does try to do the right thing."

"I know...Lord, 'e always making those vows. And he did lay off the wine and the carousing with his ole mates. And I know he's busy with the war and all..But now it's just...More ale there, Tom."

"Well, lamb...You just let 'im know you're not to be taken for granted. A pretty lass like you. Make 'im sweat a little. That'll keep him hanging round." knowing nod.

"Already did last year." Bess grins, downing another mug.

"Well, keep at it. That idiot Wight might do..." Margaret reflects. "He's surely already made a pass, eh? The stupid jackass..."

"Oh, yeah..." Bess nods. "A pretty bad one...I almost felt sorry for him. No one tole you to take that away, Thomas." she eyes poor Tom attempting a retreat with the ale.


A. De Araujo  •  Link

"roll tobacco to smell and to chaw"
one of the best insecticides can be made by leaving pieces of roll tobacco to macerate in water and then spray the affected plants with the water, so perhaps;
I myself cant stand the smell of tobacco.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

John Evelyn's Diary (in lieu of Dirk)

[June] [7?] I went againe to his Grace, thence to the Council, and moved for another Privy-seale for 20000 pounds: That I might have the disposal of the Savoy Hospital for the sick & Wounded: all of which was granted: hence to our R: Society to refresh among the Philosophers:

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sjoerd reminds us of the Bills of Mortality published in London and that plague featured in these at most times - Sam is not very apprehensive as plague happens every summer - 1665 was just a greatly magnified horror. Last big plague epidemic had been in 1625 (probably remembered by Sam's parents) when one sixth of the population of London died. Before that, the it was 1605.Here in Australia, the last outbreak of plague was in Sydney in 1900. See
Part of this same outbreak, plague reached San Francisco too and the rats passed the infection onto ground squirrels, who are still plague carriers. The rats were unable to infect native wildlife here as the climate was too harsh and they did not survive leaving the ships and dock areas. Another example of us being The Lucky Country!

CGS  •  Link

Nicotine laced the pesticides of 1940/50 to get rid of those pesky insects that marred the luverly nice skins of fruits and Tomatoes * [fruit?], people did not like fruit and veg that be not polished and shiny none of this organic stuff, it be bad for you?

* Tomatoes now be laced with Salmonella.

I wonder how many veggies of 1660 gave people the runs etc., and worse due to organic farming.

CGS  •  Link

Oxford dictionary, NB oily substance
nicotine /'nkti:n/

→ noun
[mass noun] a toxic colourless or yellowish oily liquid which is the chief active constituent of tobacco. It acts as a stimulant in small doses, but in larger amounts blocks the action of autonomic nerve and skeletal muscle cells.

• An alkaloid; chem. formula: C10H14N2.
- ORIGIN early 19th cent.: from French, from nicotiana + -ine4.

Cactus Wren  •  Link

Best wishes, Carl. I've had a couple of run-ins with identity thieves myself, grrr. But BofA does a good job in cracking down on them.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and “Lord have mercy upon us” writ there"

L&M: This proved to be a heavily infested area. The red cross had, by a city regulation, to be one foot high and the houses so marked were shut up (often with the victims inside) for 40 days.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Tobacco as a measure against plague

Per L&M: Thomas Hearne (writing in 1721) tells the story that no tobacconist in London died of the Great Plague. He adds that at Eton one boy was flogged for being discovered not smoking: Remains and collections (1885-1921 ed.)…

Grumio  •  Link

The storys about plague and tobacco reminded me that gardeners use solutions of water and tobacco to spray on plants to kill insects with nicotine. Would not the shops and homes of tobacconists have a lot of tobacco on hand, which would kill all of the plague carrying fleas nearby?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Tobacco was the subject of fierce controversy as the 17th century began:

A defence of tabacco vvith a friendly answer to the late printed booke called Worke for chimny-sweepers, &c.
Marbecke, Roger, 1536-1605.
London: Printed by Richard Field for Thomas Man, 1602
Early English Books Online [full text]…


A counterblaste to tobacco
James I, King of England, 1566-1625.
Imprinted at London: By R. B[arker], Anno 1604
Early English Books Online [full text]…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

A slightly modified for clarity excerpt about mankind's on-going quest for a cure against the pestilence which mentions Pepys:

"At the onset of the plague in 1665, the College of Physicians pronounced that:
“Fires made in the Streets, and often with Stink-Pots, and good Fires kept in and about the Houses of such as are visited … may correct the infectious Air.”

"The college added that the “frequent discharging of Guns” would have the same effect ...

"But in 1665, not everyone could agree on what to burn. Should it be coal or wood? If wood, was it better to burn a more aromatic variety such as cedar or fir? The author of Golgotha (identified only as J.V.), one of a large number of plague books published in 1665, denounced as “a costly mischief” the burning of “sweet-scented Pomanders”. That did not stop J.V. from recommending instead “Wormwood, Hartshorn, Amber, Thime or Origany”.

"But it was already a hot summer in 1665. Wouldn’t all those fires warm up the infected air and cause the plague particles to multiply? Not necessarily.

"There were two kinds of heat, according to the 1666 work Loimographia, by 17th-century apothecary William Boghurst. There was the fierce, dry sort generated by fires in chilly northern climates, and there was the soggy, exhausting sort you found in the tropics. The former was cleansing. The latter opened the pores and made you susceptible to infection ...

"Another treatise printed in Holborn, July 22, 1665 recommends tobacco as “a good Fume against pestilential and infected air”, said to be effective for “All Ages, all Sexes, all Constitutions, Young and Old … either by chewing in the leaf, or smoaking in the Pipe.”
[for this 90 page treatise, see… ]

"On June 7, 1665, the diarist Samuel Pepys was so unnerved by the sight of an infected house that he bought “some roll-tobacco to smell and to chew, which took away my apprehension”.

"It would later be claimed that no tobacconist died during the Great Plague."

The article brings things up-to-date using our current insights:…

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