Saturday 15 September 1666

All the morning at the office, Harman being come to my great satisfaction to put up my beds and hangings, so I am at rest, and followed my business all day. Dined with Sir W. Batten, mighty busy about this account, and while my people were busy, wrote near thirty letters and orders with my owne hand. At it till eleven at night; and it is strange to see how clear my head was, being eased of all the matter of all these letters; whereas one would think that I should have been dazed. I never did observe so much of myself in my life. In the evening there comes to me Captain Cocke, and walked a good while in the garden. He says he hath computed that the rents of houses lost by this fire in the City comes to 600,000l. per annum; that this will make the Parliament, more quiet than otherwise they would have been, and give the King a more ready supply; that the supply must be by excise, as it is in Holland; that the Parliament will see it necessary to carry on the warr; that the late storm hindered our beating the Dutch fleete, who were gone out only to satisfy the people, having no business to do but to avoid us; that the French, as late in the yeare as it is, are coming; that the Dutch are really in bad condition, but that this unhappinesse of ours do give them heart; that there was a late difference between my Lord Arlington and Sir W. Coventry about neglect in the last to send away an express of the other’s in time; that it come before the King, and the Duke of Yorke concerned himself in it; but this fire hath stopped it. The Dutch fleete is not gone home, but rather to the North, and so dangerous to our Gottenburgh fleete. That the Parliament is likely to fall foul upon some persons; and, among others, on the Vice-chamberlaine, though we both believe with little ground. That certainly never so great a loss as this was borne so well by citizens in the world; he believing that not one merchant upon the ‘Change will break upon it. That he do not apprehend there will be any disturbances in State upon it; for that all men are busy in looking after their owne business to save themselves. He gone, I to finish my letters, and home to bed; and find to my infinite joy many rooms clean; and myself and wife lie in our own chamber again. But much terrified in the nights now-a-days with dreams of fire, and falling down of houses.


24 Annotations

ticea  •  Link

I do too, Terry....

CGS  •  Link

If you suffered you kept mum about it, called stiff upper lip. sul or pleased to say differently.

JWB  •  Link

"I never did observe so much of myself in my life."

And yesterday it was: "...and Sir W. Coventry come to me, and found me, as God would have it, in my office..."

And today 343 years later... still looking.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"He says he hath computed that the rents of houses lost by this fire in the City comes to 600,000l. per annum; that this will make the Parliament, more quiet than otherwise they would have been, and give the King a more ready supply..."

Hmmn...Somehow I don't see Cocke's theory working out too well.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"that there was a late difference between my Lord Arlington and Sir W. Coventry about neglect in the last to send away an express of the other’s in time"

L&M say the account of the disagreement is found in the entry of 24 June 1666 http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1666/06/24/

Bradford  •  Link

"But much terrified in the nights now-a-days with dreams of fire, and falling down of houses."

The days---the weeks---right after 9/11, and much more than houses falling down. . . .

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Calendar of State Papers, Domestic. September 15, 1666

Coventry. 128. Ralph Hope to Williamson. It is impossible to persuade the people into any other belief than that the Papists have a design to rise and cut their throats, and they impute the late sad conflagration solely to their continuance and propagation; this has been insinuated by what happened at Warwick. A boy gathering blackberries sees a man doing something in a ditch, who hastily puts something into a bag and goes away; the boy finds at the place a blackish-brown ball, and carries it before the deputy lieutenants then met. There is no appearance of anything combustible in it, but all take it to be an unfinished fire-ball; the boy describes the man and takes his oath; the whole town takes the alarm; hue and cries are sent out every way to apprehend the man, but all in vain; the town is in a tumult all day, every man in arms, besides the militia horse keeping strict guard all night. Next day Sir Henry Pickering comes with his troop, dismisses the horse guard, and commands the townsmen home; they peremptorily refuse to obey, and after some high words, tell him that for aught they knew, he had a design himself to betray the town. Sir Harry grows angry and commands the troops to fire unless they disperse; the townsmen dare them to do it, cocking their loaded muskets, so that had not the prudence of some prevented, much mischief had been done. The tempest calmed at last, and the townsmen by degrees dropped home. Though the Mayor of Warwick says it was a fire-ball, an ingenious gentleman says it was no such thing. The Papists thereabouts are very high, well armed, and have frequent and suspicious meetings. Mr. Dormer, of Grove Park, a noted papist, is bound over to the assizes for some dangerous speeches. There are strange ridiculous reports, one of which is that the General is poisoned. The trade of killing sheep and taking out the tallow only is still followed in several places thereabouts. https://books.google.com/books?pg=PA127&lpg=PA127…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"He says he hath computed that the rents of houses lost by this fire in the City comes to 600,000l. per annum"

L&M note this is far in excess of what may be calculated based on the statistics drawn up after the fire and given in Stow, Survey of London (ed. Strype, 1720), bk. i. 227. 13.200 houses are there stated to have been destroyed, and their average rental vale (at 12 years' purchase') is put at £25 p.a., for a total loss of rent of £340,000.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"and while my people were busy, wrote near thirty letters and orders with my owne hand."

Does anyone know what these letters were about, or to whom Pepys was writing?

My guess is that he's rounding up information for the Parliamentary report Coventry has requested ... ?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... and find to my infinite joy many rooms clean;"

Soot, smelly grimy soot, everywhere. I also hate soot.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"That the Parliament is likely to fall foul upon some persons; and, among others, on the Vice-chamberlaine, though we both believe with little ground."

Any guesses on who the Vice Chamberlain might be.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... That he do not apprehend there will be any disturbances in State upon it; ..."

The Mayors, County Lieutenants and J.P.s were on the case. Many sent letters to Williamson about their challenges and concerns. Terry's example above is a prime example, so follow his link and see what else was going on.

David G  •  Link

In October 1991, my neighborhood in Northern California had a major fire that destroyed more than 4,000 houses and stopped only 17 houses from mine. I was at my house at the worst of the fire and saw flames at the bottom of my street. Like Sam, I dreamed of fires and falling houses for months afterwards and so I have a pretty good idea of how he was feeling when he wrote today’s diary entry. Definitely PTSD.

Jonathan V  •  Link

"The trade of killing sheep and taking out the tallow only is still followed in several places thereabouts ..."

Chupacabra in 17th-c. England?!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Chupacabra in 17th-c. England?!"

The chupacabra or chupacabras, literally "goat-sucker"; from chupar, "to suck", and cabra, "goat") is a legendary creature in the folklore of parts of the Americas, with its first purported sightings reported in Puerto Rico. The name comes from the animal's reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock, including goats. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chupacabra

Don't think that is what is alleged to have been practised in Warwick in 1666.
Sheep tallow is a rendered (processed) form of mutton fat, so is not extracted as such from the animal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallow

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"That the Parliament is likely to fall foul upon some persons; and, among others, on the Vice-chamberlaine, though we both believe with little ground."

Any guesses on who the Vice Chamberlain might be?

How nice to be able to answer my own question:

Sir George Carteret (Treasurer of the Navy 1660-7, Vice-Chamberlain of the Household 1660-70)

And, as Pepys says, it's hard to think of what grounds Sir George could be charged with. He's just old and influential, and the young bucks want to take charge, which cannot be grounds for censure.

Deep Thought  •  Link

Pepys was not suffering from PTSD. The nightmares and recurrent anxieties he was experiencing are normal phenomena in the early days and weeks after witnessing a serious traumatic event. It is only when these phenomena persist for a month or more and significantly interfere with normal everyday functioning that a diagnosis of a psychopathological condition is justified.
As stated in the Mayo clinic article San Diego Sarah links to:
“Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.”

- ‘but Lord’, exclaimed Pepys, ’ these 21st century annotators can’t distinguish normality from temporary distress and seek physic for a fright. No wonder their health insurance premiums are so cripplingly high’

Deep Thought  •  Link

...can’t distinguish MALADY from temporary distress...

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Exactly, Deep Thought ... let's see what his symptoms are next March before we diagnose him. That's the P in PTSD - POST traumatic stress disorder. What we are seeing here is current.

Pepys seems quite good about self-care ... eating regularly, and takes time for his hobbies (singing, girl friends, outings with Elizabeth for supper, reading and star gazing). More fresh veggies and some regular exercise would be good.

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