Sunday 10 September 1665

(Lord’s day). Walked home; being forced thereto by one of my watermen falling sick yesterday, and it was God’s great mercy I did not go by water with them yesterday, for he fell sick on Saturday night, and it is to be feared of the plague. So I sent him away to London with his fellow; but another boat come to me this morning, whom I sent to Blackewall for Mr. Andrews. I walked to Woolwich, and there find Mr. Hill, and he and I all the morning at musique and a song he hath set of three parts, methinks, very good. Anon comes Mr. Andrews, though it be a very ill day, and so after dinner we to musique and sang till about 4 or 5 o’clock, it blowing very hard, and now and then raining, and wind and tide being against us, Andrews and I took leave and walked to Greenwich. My wife before I come out telling me the ill news that she hears that her father is very ill, and then I told her I feared of the plague, for that the house is shut up. And so she much troubled she did desire me to send them something; and I said I would, and will do so. But before I come out there happened newes to come to the by an expresse from Mr. Coventry, telling me the most happy news of my Lord Sandwich’s meeting with part of the Dutch; his taking two of their East India ships, and six or seven others, and very good prizes and that he is in search of the rest of the fleet, which he hopes to find upon the Wellbancke, with the loss only of the Hector, poor Captain Cuttle. This newes do so overjoy me that I know not what to say enough to express it, but the better to do it I did walk to Greenwich, and there sending away Mr. Andrews, I to Captain Cocke’s, where I find my Lord Bruncker and his mistress, and Sir J. Minnes. Where we supped (there was also Sir W. Doyly and Mr. Evelyn); but the receipt of this newes did put us all into such an extacy of joy, that it inspired into Sir J. Minnes and Mr. Evelyn such a spirit of mirth, that in all my life I never met with so merry a two hours as our company this night was. Among other humours, Mr. Evelyn’s repeating of some verses made up of nothing but the various acceptations of may and can, and doing it so aptly upon occasion of something of that nature, and so fast, did make us all die almost with laughing, and did so stop the mouth of Sir J. Minnes in the middle of all his mirth (and in a thing agreeing with his own manner of genius), that I never saw any man so out-done in all my life; and Sir J. Minnes’s mirth too to see himself out-done, was the crown of all our mirth. In this humour we sat till about ten at night, and so my Lord and his mistress home, and we to bed, it being one of the times of my life wherein I was the fullest of true sense of joy.

17 Annotations

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"So I sent him away to London with his fellow..."

Meaning he sent the plague-stricken worker off with his (presumably still healthy) riverboat partner? While I suppose the point could be made that the partner is already exposed and probably should have to be quarantined, seems a bit callous while celebrating God's great mercy to you, Sam.

"My wife before I come out telling me the ill news that she hears that her father is very ill, and then I told her I feared of the plague, for that the house is shut up."

I think it's that caring, light touch and deep sensitivity he brings to such matters that wins him so many hearts.

Still, he did something to ease Bess' worry.

All-in-all a good day in a bad time...And a good-hearted Sir John to take himself so lightly. Everyone at the Naval Office clearly deeply relieved to finally have good news, thanks to good ole heroic Sandwich.


Poor good ole heroic Sandwich...As the jackals gather.


Terry Foreman  •  Link

I wonder what "verses" -- made up of nothing but the various meanings of "May" and "Can" -- repeated by Mr. Evelyn, were, that made them "all die almost with laughing," and outdid in his own style Sir J. Mennes , who, in his youth had been a master of octosyllabic doggerel, and L&M say, by the Restoration had “won a reputation as….a writer of amusing, if usually coarse, verse".

CGS  •  Link

Man still in the jungle, winner takes the spoils, any olive oil, or just olives for the Martini?
spice, just the thing for a good life.
Where there be food [money be better] the Carrion be waiting, at least the hyena and Jackal tell you what they need , there to share in the the bounty, just leave them enough to feed their tums and kids too.

Adam  •  Link

I suppose that narrow escape from death leads extra pleasure to everything else.
On this day his father in law is shut up and he realises he nearly was plagued himself, and so with the good news and the closeness to death comes the hysteria.
Be interesting to know what Evelyn is talking about at this time.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Anyone out there got access to Evelyn's diary to post what he said about today and yesterday??

Pedro  •  Link


The links that I used for his Diary have disappeared but I managed to find the following. Seems there is a gap between 7 and 14, but this is probable because his task as Commissioner for the sick is weighing heavily on him…

5th September. To Chatham, to inspect my charge, with
900/. in my coach.

7th. Came home, there perishing near 10,000 poor
creatures weekly ; however, I went all along the city and
suburbs from Kent Street to St. James's, a dismal pas-
sage, and dangerous to see so many coffins exposed in the
streets, now thin of people ; the shops shut up, and all in
mournful silence, not knowing whose turn might be next.
I went to the Duke of Albemarle for a pest-ship, to wait on
our infected men, who were not a few.

14th. I went to Wotton ; and, on 16th September, to
visit old Secretary Nicholas, being now at his new pur-
chase of West Horsley, once mortgaged to me by Lord
Viscount Montague : a pretty dry seat on the Down.
Returned to Wotton.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

Sam would never skip one day, let alone one week; he would catch up using his photographic memory.

Martin  •  Link

"one of my watermen"
One thing Sam takes for granted is that we the readers understand the mechanics of hiring watermen, coaches, and horses to get around with. So I got to wondering about these watermen, and found this rather extensive history and explanation on Wikipedia:
Therein, this particular waterman's death is referred to as an indication of the "particular vulnerability of Thames watermen to infection during the Great Plague."

dirk  •  Link

John Evelyn's diary today

"Dr. Plume at Greenewich, on 3. Coloss: 5.6. shewing how our sinns had drawne down Gods Judgements: I dined with the Commissioners of the Navy, retreated hither, & with whom I had buisinesse:"


3. Coloss: 5.6. (King James Bible)

5. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6. For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

JWB  •  Link

Sayes Court & Longwood Gardens to gunpowder manufacturers not what "buying the farm" is to their end users.

Plus, wonder if vegitarian leaning Evelyn turned down yesterday's venison pasty?

Michael Robinson  •  Link

vegetarian leaning Evelyn ...

He did write later, advocating vegetarianism and a diet of raw salads, what is said to be the first solely 'vegetarian' cook book:-

Acetaria. A discourse of sallets. By J.E. S.R.S. Author of the Kalendarium.
London : printed for B. Tooke at the Middle-Temple Gate in Fleetstreet, 1699.
[40], 192, [50] p., [1] folded leaf of plates : table ; 8⁰. With errata leaf, appendix, and index at end of text.
Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), E3480; Keynes, G. John Evelyn, 105
( )

and even the apparently exclusively carnivorous SP retained a copy in his Library at Magdalene!

carl in Boston  •  Link

“one of my watermen”...laid low by the plague, but I am spared....
A man of the cloth once explained to me that in the Good Book the Old Testament says smite my enemy, and spare me for I am of your side. Then cometh the New Testament, where things take a turn, and we are all sinners in the sight of God, and are all redeemed, etc, etc. So there lies this poor waterman laid low by the plague, and Sam strides along in perfect health, thanking God for being spared. Alas, for the mores of this world. Nowadays, we kill the rats, and that is that. This was told to me by The Cat of the Hat.

Carl in Boston  •  Link

Merry Andrew just wrote:
Just to let you know I plan to drive up (overnighting in Conn.) to join you on
Saturday. Please remind me of the meeting place and address, and let me know of
any change of plan.

Andrew Hamilton

And I said this about that:

Hi Andrew
I, we, us , you and me, we are not worthy, but here you are on the way.

Sure: Google on wayside inn sudbury mass and you will find
72 Wayside Inn Rd
Sudbury, MA 01776
(978) 443-1776

The phone number and zip code of 1776 for Sudbury is not for nothing. The
wayside inn is famous in history, and is well connected with Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow. The food is good and moderately priced, Henry Ford and Thomas
Edison saw to that.
I think Concord Mass has the zip code 1776 also. Mine in Wakefield nearby is
Have a good day, hope to see you there. My cell phone is 781 521=4272
It will be rainy. I don't give a damn. I will be there, and in a red shirt.
If it's just you and me, that's fine, we'll both get drunk.

Phil Gyford  •  Link

Another nudge Carl -- please keep annotations on diary entries on-topic and use the discussion group for discussion of meet ups. Diary entry annotations are not the right forum for this. Thanks.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"...the most happy news of my Lord Sandwich’s meeting with part of the Dutch; his taking two of their East India ships, and six or seven others, and very good prizes and that he is in search of the rest of the fleet, which he hopes to find upon the Wellbancke.... This newes do so overjoy me that I know not what to say enough to express it..."

Not to be a SPOILER, Samuel Pepys, et al., but rejoice while you can over the "very good prizes"!

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