Tuesday 7 August 1666

Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and home to dinner, and then to the office again, being pretty good friends with my wife again, no angry words passed; but she finding fault with Mercer, suspecting that it was she that must have told Mary, that must have told her mistresse of my wife’s saying that she was crooked. But the truth is, she is jealous of my kindnesse to her. After dinner, to the office, and did a great deale of business. In the evening comes Mr. Reeves, with a twelve-foote glasse, so I left the office and home, where I met Mr. Batelier with my wife, in order to our going to-morrow, by agreement, to Bow to see a dancing meeting. But, Lord! to see how soon I could conceive evil fears and thoughts concerning them; so Reeves and I and they up to the top of the house, and there we endeavoured to see the moon, and Saturne and Jupiter; but the heavens proved cloudy, and so we lost our labour, having taken pains to get things together, in order to the managing of our long glasse. So down to supper and then to bed, Reeves lying at my house, but good discourse I had from him: in his own trade, concerning glasses, and so all of us late to bed.

I receive fresh intelligence that Deptford and Greenwich are now afresh exceedingly afflicted with the sickness more than ever.

27 Annotations

Michael L  •  Link

"In the evening comes Mr. Reeves, with a twelve-foote glasse, so I left the office"

Fill it with beer, and this sounds like a great fraternity accessory!

Though I suppose he probably means a telescope...

Australian Susan  •  Link

I thought it would not be long before Bess found fault with Mercer - jealousy of Sam spending so much time with her over the singing. Does the contentious word around which this argument festers - "crooked" mean bent in form or devious?

The image of Reeves with his "twelve foot glass" conjured up a farce like picture of this man scurrying through the crowded streets swinging this thing around over his shoulder, but my rational self tells me that this would have been telescoped - i.e. much shorter to actually carry. Getting it up to the leads, unfolded and set up must have been quite funny to watch though....

Hope everyone got a good look through it, even cross Bess.

Oh, dear! Sam has the "evil fears" again. Shades of Pembleton arise in his fevered mind.

cgs  •  Link

"...she is jealous of my kindnesse to her..."
Samuell 'Peeps' fails to explain that a kiss is just kiss , a hug is just a hug, a peep just a peep, a touch is just a touch.

cgs  •  Link

Mounting a telescope on the leads be good, looking across to Highgate and Hampstead be fun in an evening in the harvest moon or 'bee' it the hunters moon seein' the God cupid playing tricks with the mylkmaids, his excuse be Venus be viewed in the west.

Oh! damn no moon??? try the belfries, these always have those that practice ringing the changes.

"...we endeavoured to see the moon, and Saturne and Jupiter; but the heavens proved cloudy..."

cgs  •  Link

I wander if Reeves bought any Dutch glasses from Spinoza? or was all of Spinoza's output reserved for the captains of the fleets to espy those dreaded Anglos giving the peaceful Hollanders a hard time.

Jesse  •  Link

"twelve-foote glasse"

In those days I believe telescopes were cited by their focal length rather than today's conventional primary diameter. Perhaps long focal length lenses were more practical to make. The larger radius of curvature meant less (precision required) grinding and you could start w/a thinner (less chance of bubbles and other optical imperfections) piece of glass. There were the tradeoffs of course.

Sean Adams  •  Link

"Mr. Reeves, with a twelve-foote glasse"

Sam was a couple of years too early.
The problem with high magnification in refracting telescopes is chromatic aberration - reduced by long focal lengths and so requiring long and wobbly telescopes. In 1668 Isaac Newton exhibited to the Royal Society the first practical reflecting telescope which eliminates the problem by using a spherical or, better, a parabolic mirror.

Don O'Shea  •  Link

Grinding and polishing mirrors to a parabolic figure didn't happen for nearly 200 years. What was needed was a method of testing the polished surface. And that didn't happen until 1858 when Leon Foucault invented the knife-edge test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_telescope_ma…).

Mary  •  Link


The word was used both literally (to mean bent in form) and figuratively from an early date. However, before the 18th century it seems much more commonly to have been used in the literal sense when referring directly to persons, so Elizabeth is presumably accused of having described Mrs. Pierce as being physically deficient in some way.

Earlier citations in OED refer to crooked will, crooked opinion, implying an intended, rather than accidental, deviation from the norm.

Mr. Gunning  •  Link

"I receive fresh intelligence that Deptford and Greenwich are now afresh exceedingly afflicted with the sickness more than ever."

Strange how 1665 is always seen as the year of the plague, but no year was safe it seems. So when was it that the plague stopped its summer visits forever?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"So when was it that the plague stopped its summer visits(epidemias in greek) forever?"
In England I don't know but it has just visited China.

Mary  •  Link


England was never revisited by plague in any major way after 1666, though there were occasional reports of sailors arriving in British ports bearing signs of the plague. These did not lead to significant outbreaks.

Within 100 years plague had pretty well died out in Europe following outbreaks in Vienna (1670s), Marseilles (1720s) and Russia (1770s). The most recent major plague spread from China in the mid 19th century but was largely confined to Asian lands.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a web-site on plague. The home page says:

"In the United States, the last urban plague epidemic occurred in Los Angeles in 1924-25. Since then, human plague in the United States has occurred as mostly scattered cases in rural areas (an average of 10 to 15 persons each year). Globally, the World Health Organization reports 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague every year. In North America, plague is found in certain animals and their fleas from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains, and from southwestern Canada to Mexico. Most human cases in the United States occur in two regions: 1) northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, and southern Colorado; and 2) California, southern Oregon, and far western Nevada. Plague also exists in Africa, Asia, and South America (see map)."

The world map show Europe clear of plague, as Mary said.


Robert Gertz  •  Link

"But the truth is, she is jealous of my kindnesse to her."

With good reason...

I wonder if the Batelier incident was more Sam trying to play the jealous husband...Though he'd have more reason than Bess appears to currently know to worry she might seek to pay him back in kind.

Curious Bess' wrath falls on Betty Pierce more than than poor Betty Knipp who seems far more willing to romp a bit with Sam. Of course she and Sam have known Pierce longer, Betty P has a position via James at Court (which Bess must know makes her more of a prize to Sam), and she seems to have a stronger personality, a more confident way about her than most of the women in the Diary apart from Jane Turner which Sam may have noted. Somewhat amusing that Bess doesn't realize Sam is far safer with Pierce than others given how easily Betty handles him.

Paul Chapin  •  Link


Following up on Terry's extract from the CDC, I live in northern New Mexico (Santa Fe), and we do read in the local paper of a few new cases of plague each year. Nobody in the cities seems to worry about it very much, since the victims are always people in rural areas who live in regular close proximity to animals that roam outdoors. Hantavirus seems to be a bigger concern, actually, since you can catch that from dried feces that you might encounter while out hiking.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

From the Ancient Biomolecules Centre at Oxford...


Has stirred up a bit of controversy here at CDC among the Y.pestis folks. This and other attempts by ABC have failed to confirm, much to the surprise of various plague experts, the presense of yersinia pestis DNA in corpses believed to be plague victims.

Doesn't deny y.p. as a factor but confident assertions that it was "The Cause" of the Black Death, etc now have to be taken with a small grain of salt until harder evidence comes in.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Though of course Drancourt and Raoult are convinced...


But their PCR primers are questioned as possibly too insensitive and unspecific. While D&R question ABC's dental tissue selection. And so the controversy goes on...And will until multiple lab groups get confirmation. I just asked a couple of plague folks who are generally still convinced Y.pestis will win out in the end but again, it's not definitive yet.

cgs  •  Link

yep! we are what we consume, through mouth, nostrils, pores and rest of the sensors.
Thank goodness for the good! bacteria.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Thank goodness for the good! bacteria. -- microbes-r-us
"The typical human is home to a vast array of microbes. If you were to count them, you’d find that microbial cells outnumber your own by a factor of 10. On a cell-by-cell basis, then, you are only 10 percent human. For the rest, you are microbial."

Abstracts and some of the full papers referenced at the base of the article can be found via PubMed: :http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

Robert Gertz  •  Link

And just to drag it out...

From Ken Gage, one of our Y.pestis gurus here.

"Dr. Gertz,
Some would say this is still controversial but there was a German paper reporting similar findings (Wiechman I, Grupe G. Detection of Yersinia pestis DNA in two early medieval skeletal finds from Aschheim (Upper Bavaria, 6th century A.D. Am J Phys Anthropol 2005 Jan;126(1):48-55.). Hope this helps."
Ken Gage
Kenneth L. Gage, PhD
Chief, Flea-Borne Disease Activity
Bacterial Diseases Branch
Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases

Tom Carr  •  Link

Viewing the planets and stars from London today is almost an impossibility due to light pollution.

cgs  •  Link

AH! try Mill Hill or go to a planetarium.
Samuel in nine years time will see a real Observatory not his one on the leads ;.

London observatories
The Royal Observatory
Park Row
London, SE10 9NF, United Kingdom
+44 20 88584422


there is the Mill Hill observatory of London University

[had the pleasure to see the stars in daylight,Nighttime was reserve for serious work]
Herstmonceux Castle housed the Royal Observatory from 1949 to 1989 and today it is used a conference centre.

Time started here:


Elizabeth  •  Link

Noticed this
"where I met Mr. Batelier with my wife, in order to our going to-morrow, by agreement, to Bow to see a dancing meeting. But, Lord! to see how soon I could conceive evil fears and thoughts concerning them;"
So he's concerned about Mr B and Bess? Rather ironic after his shenanigans yesterday.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning,"

1. How to avoid being fired
2. How to repair the fleet with no money
3. Where to send ships now Greenwich and Deptford are under-staffed from the plague
4. Accounting procedures to meet Coventry's promise to James, Duke of York
5. Penn's report from Sheerness -- Peter Pett -- cause of fighting at Chatham
6. How to protect the Navy Office Complex and staff the next time there is a riot

Busy men ... I wish we had the Minutes

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Unspoken part of Pepys' Agenda:

Be nice to Brouncker.

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