Sunday 11 November 1666

(Lord’s day). Up, and to church, myself and wife, where the old dunce Meriton, brother to the known Meriton; of St. Martin’s, Westminster, did make a very good sermon, beyond my expectation. Home to dinner, and we carried in Pegg Pen, and there also come to us little Michell and his wife, and dined very pleasantly. Anon to church, my wife and I and Betty Michell, her husband being gone to Westminster. … [Here at church (God forgive me), my mind did courir upon Betty Michell, so that I do hazer con mi cosa in la eglisa même. – L&M] After church home, and I to my chamber, and there did finish the putting time to my song of “It is decreed,” and do please myself at last and think it will be thought a good song. By and by little Michell comes and takes away his wife home, and my wife and brother and I to my uncle Wight’s, where my aunt is grown so ugly and their entertainment so bad that I am in pain to be there; nor will go thither again a good while, if sent for, for we were sent for to-night, we had not gone else. Wooly’s wife, a silly woman, and not very handsome, but no spirit in her at all; and their discourse mean, and the fear of the troubles of the times hath made them not to bring their plate to town, since it was carried out upon the business of the fire, so that they drink in earth and a wooden can, which I do not like. So home, and my people to bed. I late to finish my song, and then to bed also, and the business of the firing of the city, and the fears we have of new troubles and violences, and the fear of fire among ourselves, did keep me awake a good while, considering the sad condition I and my family should be in. So at last to sleep.

19 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

….”…. Anon to church, my wife and I and Betty Michell, her husband being gone to Westminster. Here at church (God forgive me), my mind did courir upon Betty Michell, so that I do hazer con mi cosa in la eglisa meme. [so that I do [play] with my thing even in the church].….”…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I to my chamber, and there did finish the putting time to my song of “It is decreed,” "

Concerning “It is decreed”…

I assume "the putting time" means providing the notes their durations?

cape henry  •  Link

Thanks for that illumination, TF. Now we have some idea how it came to be that the "old dunce Meriton" managed to preach so "beyond expectation." Pepys heard only excerpts... Sheesh.

cape henry  •  Link

"...we had not gone else." Anyone with some dreaded obligatory Christmas visit on the horizon will have understood this passage perfectly. No telling, either, the horror that Elizabeth must have felt given her history with the old man.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

The final step in Sam's perfect seduction plan...

I did then return to the Mitchell home by night, having arranged that little Mitchell should be away...Upon a minor but time-consuming task I did provide for him. Encountered no watch and did make my way through the garden to...


"Nephew?!..." a startled Uncle Wight in the act of creeping in similar manner to the back door. Both men having missed the other by walking backwards to beware of any intrusion and meeting at the central point.

"Constable!!!..." cry of an awakened Betty from within.

Unfortunately for our heroes, not a constable...But a ferocious, fearsome, pony-sized dog..."Constable".

Who is much annoyed to find his mistress troubled...

"What are you doing, Samuel? Writing?" Wight frowns at Sam jotting down quick notes as they stop for breath...

"What the devil are you doing here, Uncle?" Sam calming now they are several blocks away. "Tis shocking behavior, uncle." Recovering aplomb... "Tormenting this innocent young wife as you did mine, uncle? By God, tis fortunate I came along...Stopping on my way..."

"Oh, 'pon me soul, blow it, Samuel..." Wight glares. "We both came chasing after the girl. Rather horrible in your case, she bearing such a resemblance to your own wife."

"Uncle? I am shocked sir, that you could dare to accuse me..."

"Nephew...Your reputation in London more than proceeds you. But at least my quest bears some semblance of the romantic. Having failed closer to home, shall we say, I stick to a similar body type."

"Uncle Wight, sir!!" Hmmn...

"Surely she didn't..."

"I had yet to make my proposal when some fool writing as he walked backwards backed into me..."

"You mean to say you have been coming to see this poor girl...Doing small favors...Offering little gifts of support for a young and innocent couple...Perhaps a job or two for the young husband? Fiendishly worming your way into her family's trust and good opinion?"

"Not a bad strategy, Samuel...But you should know I prefer the direct approach. Indeed, just today I saw your eye on her, recognized a potential substitute for my rejected heart's icon, your wife...And came to stake claim."


"And I at least am willing to honestly pay for service rendered in genuine coin of the realm..." shakes moneybag tied about waist.

"She never would...Betty's a fine girl. You are a fiend to suggest such a thing, uncle."

"Bit too direct for this one, eh? Well, you ought to know, nephew. Still I have tended to find that my approach often saves a deal of bother."

Cries from down the street...

"Though I fear we shall never know which strategy might have won out..." Wight sighs. "I suggest we go about our ways, with sedate haste. I believe we can agree that this little encounter never happened, eh nephew?"


More cries, closer...

"Enjoy your constitutional, Uncle..."

"Indeed, my boy. Give my best to your charming wife."


Margaret  •  Link

"... they drink in earth and a wooden can..."

I assume this means that they're using earthenware. It sounds as if they were drinking from something like coffee cups. Poor Sam, to sink so low!…

Mr. Guning  •  Link

So therefore cans, or cylindrical containers for liquids, were once made of wood rather than metal?

Firenze  •  Link

Barrels still are, of course. But yes, buckets, tubs, pails etc would all have been wood, and constructed in the same way - staves bound with metal strips.

Mary  •  Link

In England straight-sided coffee cups are still, properly, referred to as 'coffee cans' (see any Wedgwood catalogue).

However, I doubt that these earthenware vessels bear much resemblance to the modern coffee can. Pepys clearly regards them as lower-class objects, not suitable for use with guests. True porcelain is not yet being manufactured in England, so the normal choice would be between pewter or plate on the one hand and earthenware cups, mugs or beakers on the other (horny) hand.

As for the wooden can, I'm not sure whether this is another beaker or whether it is a larger vessel from which the beverage was served.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...where my aunt is grown so ugly..."

Hmmn...What, did she grow a giant mole or gain fifty pounds?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Poor Auntie, she does get kicked around a lot between Sam and Uncle Wight.

CGS  •  Link

"..and we carried in Pegg Pen,..." I think Samuell was enamoured?

CGS  •  Link

" that they drink in earth and a wooden can, which I do not like..."
oh! yey drinking the best of champagne from a plastick cup,
yuck how civilized....
no cupboard or chrystal yuk.
there are still mud cups available
can, n.1
[app. Com. Teut.: OE. canne:{em}WGer. kanna weak fem. (whence MDu. kanne, Du. kan, OHG. channa, MHG. and Ger. kanne); also ON. kanna (Sw. kanna, Da. kande):{em}OTeut. type *kannôn-. The word occurs also in med.L. canna, app. from Teutonic. The Germanic origin of the word is questioned; but the form is not derivable from L. cantharus pot, and L. canna ‘reed, pipe’, does not suit the sense. (In OE., only in a glossary, where it might be from L.)]
1. a. A vessel for holding liquids; formerly used of vessels of various materials, shapes, and sizes, including drinking-vessels; now generally restricted to vessels of tin or other metal, mostly larger than a drinking-vessel, and usually cylindrical in form, with a handle over the top.

a1000 ÆLFRIC Voc. in Wr.-Wülcker 122 Crater, uel canna, canne.
1562 J. HEYWOOD Prov. & Epigr. (1867) 49 Mery we were as cup and can could holde.

1598 B. JONSON Ev. Man in Hum. II. v. (1616) 27 Two cannes of beere.

1649 W. BLITHE Eng. Improv. Impr. (1653) 131 The Buckets or Kans to take up thy Water.
rest at a latter date.

4. Comb., as can-carrier, -maker; can-quaffing adj.; can-opener orig. U.S. = tin-opener. See also CAN-BUOY, CANDOCK, CAN-HOOK.
1597 Return fr. Pernass. II. I. ii. 170 Can-quaffing hucksters.

a1611 BEAUM. & FL. Philaster V. iii, My kind can-carriers.

1623 Reg. St. Mary Bredman, Canterb., Thomas Colle Cannemaker.

a. Skill, knowledge. b. Power, ability.

1674 Lond. Gaz. No. 863/4 Stoln..Ten Pottage Plates, Three *Cup Plates, Two Sawcers.
1891 Scribn. Mag. Sept. 353/1 Seven saucers, and ten ‘cup-plates’. By cup-plates I mean the little flat saucers in which our grandmothers placed their tea-cups when they poured their tea into the deeper saucers to cool.

c1645 HOWELL Lett. (1650) II. 40 She desires you to send her a compleat cupboard of the best christall glasses.

A mug: 6 versions?
mug 1 n

[Origin uncertain; apparently related to Dutch mok mug (late 19th cent.), German regional (Low German) muck, German regional (Low German: East Friesland) mukke mug, Norwegian mugge open can or jug, Danish mugge, Swedish mugg mug, and also French regional moque, (Guernsey) mogue jug, cup, but the relationships between these words are unclear, and their further etymology is unknown.
With sense 1 perhaps compare Middle Dutch moken, variant of modekijn (ultimately < classical Latin modius MODIUS n.).]

1. A dry measure (in quot., used for salt). Obs. rare.
1400 in M. T. Löfvenberg Contrib. Middle Eng. Lexicogr. & Etymol. (1946) 60 [About 180] mogges [of salt].

2. Chiefly Sc. and Eng. regional. A (usually large) earthenware vessel or bowl; a pot, a jug, a ewer.

pan-mug: see PAN n.1 Compounds 2.
a1522 G. DOUGLAS in tr. Virgil Æneid (1959) VIII. Prol. 95 Sum gowkis quhill the glas pyg [etc.]..thocht clay muggis crakkis.

[Origin uncertain. Perhaps shortened < MUGGED adj.1 (see note below).]

In full mug sheep. A breed of sheep having the face completely covered with wool; a sheep of this breed. So mug ewe, mug lamb, etc.
mug 3 1. a. A face, esp. an unattractive one.

mug4 {muck}
A mist, a fog; light rain or drizzle; a dull, damp, or gloomy atmosphere.

Erna D'haenen  •  Link

I've just watched the movie "Tous les matins du monde" about Mr de Sainte-Colombe and Marin Marais which plays in these times. And though they had glasses, they also drank wine from earthenware cups which were not even glazed! Could this be what Sam refers to when he says "earth"?

CGS  •  Link

earth, twas a put down, common cheap too simple, earthy, down to earth, plowman [earthman]
[f. EARTHEN a. + WARE; until 19th c. often written as two words.]
1. Vessels or other objects made of baked clay.
1673 RAY Journ. Low C. 29 The Town [Delft] is noted for good earthen Ware, as Stone-jugs, Pots, etc.

earthen a
1. Made or composed of earth.

[app. not recorded in OE.; the normal form would be *er{th}en, WS. *ier{th}en, yr{th}en = OHG. irdîn, Goth. air{th}eins:{em}OTeut. *ir{th}îno-z, f. er{th}â EARTH; see -EN.]
b. Made of baked clay.
1725 DE FOE Voy. round W. (1840) 102 Two hundred large earthen jars.

Australian Susan  •  Link

A coffee can is so called because it is straight-sided (as opposed to the tea cup shape which isn't).
Sam would have been troubled by the danger of infection in drinking from a wooden container - we all know how pernickety he can be about the preparation and presentation of food and the cleanliness thereof. Earthernware likewise might have been cracked and thus dirt harbouring.
It's going to be another 100 years before England makes porcelain, but there were imports. Presumably too expensive for the likes of the Wights. But why not glass? Or was that too expensive too?
Another non-metal option for the Wights would have been leather which was used to make bottles, tankards and jugs.

CGS  •  Link

Porcelain from the OED:
Mentioned by Evelyn 1660
another mention:
1631 B. JONSON Staple of Newes II. iv. 150 in Wks. II, In porc'lane dishes There were some hope.
Marco Polo is said to have introduced it to finest in Italy. At least the word was.
bone china not recorded until 1840.

A. n.

1. a. An impermeable translucent ceramic material made from china clay or kaolin, used originally for making vessels and later also for industrial objects, in dentistry, etc. Sometimes more generally: china, esp. when of fine quality. Also: chinaware made of such material. Cf. bone china n. at BONE n. Compounds 3.
Sometimes with distinguishing word, as hard, natural, soft porcelain, etc.: see the first element.

c1530 in H. Ellis Orig. Lett. Eng. Hist. II. III. 242, iij. potts of Erthe payntid, callyd Porseland [? Porselana].
1555 R. EDEN tr. Peter Martyr of Angleria Decades of Newe Worlde f. 226, He had two vesselles made of the fine earth cauled Porcellana.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Up, and to church, myself and wife, where the old dunce Meriton, brother to the known Meriton; of St. Martin’s, Westminster, did make a very good sermon, beyond my expectation."

L&M guided what Phil did to the Meriton links: Thomas Meriton, rector of St Nicholas, Cole Abbey, London, had graduate from Magdalwne in 1652, two years before Pepys. He appears to have been the uncle, not brother, of John Meriton, a well-known preacher, once lecturer at St Martin's, Now rector of St Michael's, Cornhill and of St Mary Bothaw.

Matt Newton  •  Link

Let's give Uncle a break. Sam says the good stuff has been sent out of town due to the troubles. It's not as of he does not possess top notch plate. He's awaiting their return.

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