Friday 4 January 1666/67

Up, and seeing things put in order for a dinner at my house to-day, I to the office awhile, and about noon home, and there saw all things in good order. Anon comes our company; my Lord Bruncker, Sir W. Pen, his lady, and Pegg, and her servant, Mr. Lowther, my Lady Batten (Sir W. Batten being forced to dine at Sir R. Ford’s, being invited), Mr. Turner and his wife. Here I had good room for ten, and no more would my table have held well, had Sir J. Minnes, who was fallen lame, and his sister, and niece, and Sir W. Batten come, which was a great content to me to be without them. I did make them all gaze to see themselves served so nobly in plate, and a neat dinner, indeed, though but of seven dishes. Mighty merry I was and made them all, and they mightily pleased. My Lord Bruncker went away after dinner to the ticket-office, the rest staid, only my Lady Batten home, her ague-fit coming on her at table. The rest merry, and to cards, and then to sing and talk, and at night to sup, and then to cards; and, last of all, to have a flaggon of ale and apples, drunk out of a wood cupp,1 as a Christmas draught, made all merry; and they full of admiration at my plate, particularly my flaggons (which, indeed, are noble), and so late home, all with great mirth and satisfaction to them, as I thought, and to myself to see all I have and do so much outdo for neatness and plenty anything done by any of them. They gone, I to bed, much pleased, and do observe Mr. Lowther to be a pretty gentleman, and, I think, too good for Peg; and, by the way, Peg Pen seems mightily to be kind to me, and I believe by her father’s advice, who is also himself so; but I believe not a little troubled to see my plenty, and was much troubled to hear the song I sung, “The New Droll” — it touching him home. So to bed.

30 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Ormond to Arlington
Written from: Dublin
Date: 4 January 1667

Particulars of (1) political intelligence received from France; (2) of the return to England of Mr Digby [probably, John Digby, son of Sir Kenelm
[… ], who in November preceding, in a letter to Williamson, is described as "a strong Papist, living near Stony Stratford, in whose house 300 arms were found ... He is supposed to be gone for Ireland" (State Papers Domestic, Charles II, Vol. 177, no. 56)], "alarmed, as he said, by the Proclamation [in Ireland] against those of his religion"; (3) of certain lands forfeited by one Moore, and leased to Sir Thomas Hume; (4) of proceedings against those of the Roman Catholic Clergy who refuse to subscribe [ to ]"the Loyal Remonstrance"
[… ]; and (5) of some other current affairs of Ireland ...…

CGS  •  Link

" have a flaggon of ale and apples,..."
at least it was a flaggon was not a flagonet.
Just a large container [sealed], ale ok but apples, was it just apple juice or a little more intoxicating like "baby cham" for the girls or scrumppy for the men.,

CGS  •  Link

"...Peg Pen ...but I believe not a little troubled to see my plenty..."
no comment

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Just a large container [sealed], ale ok but apples, was it just apple juice or a little more intoxicating like “baby cham” for the girls or scrumppy for the men.,"

See the Rx at the site linked just above this Q.

CGS  •  Link

price control in time of crisis...
Bill to regulate Prices of Provisions.

ORDERED, That the Committee for preparing a Bill for setting of Prices and Rates upon Victuals and other Commodities do meet To-morrow in the Afternoon, at Three a Clock; and have hereby Power to send for such Persons as they shall think fit to advise withal, and receive Information from.

CGS  •  Link

Thanks Terry for your droll comment on wassail et al.
Samuell got in to the OED:

1665 PEPYS Diary 7 June, Very merry we were, Sir Thomas Harvy being a very drolle.

1. A funny or waggish fellow; a merry-andrew, buffoon, jester, humorist.

2. A comic or farcical composition or representation; a farce; an enacted piece of buffoonery; a puppet-show. Obs.
1649 G. DANIEL Trinarch. To Rdr. 8 The frequent heapes Of Braines, from the weake sun-shine of an Eye Work Maggotts out{em}short Drolls{em}scurrilitie.

1662 TATHAM Aqua Tri. Introd., There are two Drolls, one of Watermen, the other of Seamen.

3. The action of making jest or sport; jesting; burlesque writing or style. Obs.
1670 G. H. Hist. Cardinals I. I. 13 The whole Sermon being but a drol and derision of Kings and their Ministers.

to droll or not droll
[a. obs. F. drôler ‘to play the wag’, etc. (Cotgr.), f. drôle n.]
1. intr. To make sport or fun; to jest, joke; to play the buffoon. Const. with, at, on, upon.
1654 WHITELOCKE Jrnl. Swed. Emb. (1772) I. 130 Whitelocke drolled with them.
1665 EARL OF MARLBOROUGH Fair Warnings 19 There was no greater argument of a foolish and inconsiderate person, than profanely to droll at Religion.
a1678 MARVELL Wks. III. 333 (R.) As Killegrew buffons his master, they droll on their God, but a much duller way.

2. trans. To jest (a thing) away, off; {dag}to jest (a person) out of or into something (obs.); to bring forth after the manner of a jester or buffoon.

1663 R. STAPYLTON Slighted Maid 7 (N.) He would scarce droll away the sum he offer'd.
1679 SHARP Serm. at St. Margarets 11 Apr. 11 To Baffle and Droll out of Countenance those that stand up for the Reputation of Sacred things.
Hence {sm}drolling vbl. n. and ppl. a.; also {sm}drollingly adv.; jestingly, so as to make a jest of it; {dag}{sm}droller, {dag}{sm}drollist, a professed facetious person; a jester, buffoon.
1645 EVELYN Diary 20 Feb., Their drolling lampoons and scurrilous papers.
1670 G. H. Hist. Cardinals I. I. 19 [They] use but drolling and impertinence in their Arguments.
1676 GLANVILL Season. Refl. i. 5 he.. sets the Apes and Drollers upon it.
1681 {emem} Sadducismus II. (1726) 453 These idle Drollists have an utter Antipathy to all the braver and more generous kinds of Knowledge.
1684 J. GOODMAN Winter Even. Confer. P j. (T.), To talk lightly and drollingly of it.

CGS  •  Link

more on Droll, snippets from this period.
drollery,drollic, drollish, drolly
drolly, adv.
In a droll manner; funnily; quaintly, oddly.
1662 PEPYS Diary 5 Nov., Jane..did answer me so humbly and drolly about it.

1. The action of a droll; waggery, jesting.
1653-4 WHITELOCKE Jrnl. Swed. Emb. (1772) I. 279 So they parted in much drollerye.

2. Something humorous or funny:
a. A comic play or entertainment; a puppet-show; a puppet.
1610 SHAKES. Temp. III. iii. 21 What were these? A liuing Drolerie.

b. A comic picture or drawing; a caricature.
1597 SHAKES. 2 Hen. IV, II. i. 156 For thy walles, a pretty slight worth a thousand of these Bed-hangings.

1606 DEKKER Sev. Sinnes Ded., A Drollerie (or Dutch peece of Lantskop) may sometimes breed in the beholders eye, as much delectation, as the best and most curious master-peece excellent in that Art.

1641 EVELYN Diary 13 Aug., We arrived late at Roterdam, where was their annual marte or faire, so furnished with pictures (especially Landskips and Drolleries, as they call those clounish representations) that [etc.].

1614 B. JONSON Barth. Fair Induct., Those that beget tales, tempests, and such like drolleries.

1621 FLETCHER Wild Goose Chase I. ii, Our women the best linguists; they are parrots; O' this side the Alps they're nothing but mere drolleries.

c. A jest; a facetious story or tale.

1654 GAYTON Pleas. Notes IV. i. 170 Let it be if you please a Drawlery upon it.

1660 F. BROOKE tr. Le Blanc's Trav. 121 The King is very much pleased with such Fictions and Drolleries.

3. The quality of being droll; quaint humour.

drollic, a.

Of or pertaining to a droll or puppet-show.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Ah, Miss Penn...Welcome."

"Mr. Pepys. My fiance, Mr. Lowther...Mr. Lowther, my, father's friend...Mr. Pepys."

"The magnificence of Master Pepys' household astounds, you, Admiral Sir William?" Jane asks, offering silver plate.

"Indeed...Two furnished studies for him and her...Silver plate...Gilded books...How does he manage all this on 350Ls a year?"

"Often wondered about that meself, sir."

"My Bess is very good with the housekeeping money..." Sam, hastily.

"Got that right." Bess, frowning a bit.

"Pardon me..." Lady Batten blanching and rising... "Just a minor malarial fit...Forgot my Jesuit bark."

"Is that mahogany?" Admiral Sir Will, staring...

"Fit all right..." Bess hisses to Sam, eyeing the departing Lady Batten... "Fit to be tied..."

"Nice girl, that Peg, Lowther...But between you and I. I have heard that some have fished in those waters." Sam notes.

"Now my sister Pall..."


Michael Robinson  •  Link

[Penn] was much troubled to hear the song I sung, “The New Droll” — it touching him home ..."


Come let's drink, the time invites,
Winter and cold weather;
For to spend away long nights,
And to keep good wits together.
Better far than cards or dice,
Isaac's balls are quaint device,
Made up with fan and feather.

Of strange actions on the seas
Why should we be jealous?
Bring us liquor that will please,
And will make us braver fellows
Than the bold Venetian fleet,
When the Turks and they do meet
Within their Dardanellos.

Valentian, that famous town,
Stood the French man's wonder;
Water they employ'd to drown,
So to cut their troops assunder;
Turein gave a helpless look,
While the lofty Spaniard took
La Ferta and his plunder.

As for water, we disclaim
Mankind's adversary;
Once it caused the world's whole frame
In the deluge to miscarry;
And that enemy of joy
Which sought our freedom to destroy
And murder good Canary.

We that drink have no such thoughts,
Black and void of reason:
We take care to fill our vaults
With good wine of every season;
And with many a chirping cup
We blow one another up,
And that's our only treason.

Hear the squibs and mind the bells,
The fifth of November;
The parson a sad story tells,
And with horror doth remember
How some hot-brain'd traitor wrought
Plots that would have ruin brought
To King and every member.

From the Loyal Garland, 1686
Edited by J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps…

Though the final allusion is to the Gunpowder plot of 1605, Penn, who had risen to prominence and wealth in the service of parliament and Cromwell, must have been touched by the words 'some hot-brain’d traitor.'

Mary  •  Link

The New Droll.
Congratulations, MR, on finding the song that the L&M contributing editor had failed to identify.

One can see the reason for Sam's comment on its aptitude to Penn's case.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Excellent work, Michael R! That fleshes out the context considerably.

Of course, contra A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Vol. 8, "The New Droll" was not published FIRST in 1686.

DiPhi  •  Link

Wassail, wassail, all over the town,
Our toast it is white, and our ale it is brown.
Our bowl it is made from a white maple tree.
With our wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee.

And a fine Wassail Toast to Sam, Bess, Phil, and all the Pepysians who share their knowledge and wit on this site! Wassail!!

Glyn  •  Link

Well done Michael for finding this. Could you also put it as an annotation under its own article so it doesn't get overlooked?

CGS  •  Link

"...Isaac’s balls are quaint device,..." so not the balls of Newton ?
conservation of momentum and energy.

The device is also known as an executive ball clicker, or balance balls.…
In vine there be truth.....
My thanks too, MR

Michael Robinson  •  Link

“The New Droll” was not published FIRST in 1686.

The text seems to have appeared first in 1661, but with the fifth and sixth stanzas reversed, as ‘A Merry Song,’ at p. 93, in:-

Merry drollery, or A Collection of [brace] jovial poems, merry songs, witty drolleries intermix’d with pleasant catches
London : Printed by J.W. for P.H. and are to be sold at the New Exchange …, [1661?]
[4], 175 p. 8⁰. Wing (2nd ed.), M1860

and at p. 97 in the reprint of 1670:

Merry drollery, complete. Or, A collection of jovial poems, merry songs, witty drolleries, intermixed with pleasant catches. The first part. Collected by W.N. C.B. R.S. J.G. lovers of wit.
London : printed for Simon Miller, at the Star, at the west-end of St. Pauls, 1670.

8vo., [2], 350, [10] p. Initial leaf bears vertical half-title on recto. The second part has divisional title page on leaf O1r.
Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), M1861

See the index in J. Woodfall Ebsworth Ed. & Introd. ‘Choyce drollery: songs & sonnets.’ Boston Lincolnshire, 1876 @ p. 412

There is no copy of either work surviving in the Pepys Library.

CGS  •  Link

The Ballads, they are a great read for getting a view of emotion of the times, as speech be not free, one must read between the lines.

tonyt  •  Link

Are 'Isaac's balls' really the same as Newton's cradle? If the expression is in the 1661 version then it almost certainly not a reference to Isaac Newton who would have been little known at the time. Even in 1686 such a link would seem rather subtle.

If not Newton then who is 'Isaac'?

Australian Susan  •  Link

Mr Isaac was a dancing master - at the Court no less. He was mentioned in a book written by one Pemberton about dancing, but the only references to his balls which I can find by Googling are to this song. Frustrating.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

For Mr. Isaac,...

what is known of his career, contemporary citations etc., I repeat the link from nine posts above:…
(move up one page to get the full entry)
Philip H. Highfill, et al., 'A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800. Vol. 8, Hough to Keyse: ..." SIU Press, 1984 @ p. 103-4.

GrahamT  •  Link

Re: Isaac's balls.
As he is a dancing master, could the balls refer punningly to dances, as in Court Balls?
They would certainly help " to spend away long nights,
And to keep good wits together.", with the women dancers "Made up with fan and feather".

language hat  •  Link

"Are ‘Isaac’s balls’ really the same as Newton’s cradle?"

No, of course not, CGS just felt like mentioning the latter. The balls are dances.

Maura  •  Link

"all with great mirth and satisfaction to them, as I thought, and to myself to see all I have and do so much outdo for neatness and plenty anything done by any of them."

It's Come Dine With Me, 17th-century style!

Bradford  •  Link

And the sort of song which can be easily altered or added to as circumstances inspire. Well done, MR. The other Isaac might have had the Calculus, but we have the Search Engine.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"a flaggon of ale and apples, a Christmas draught"


Waes hael (“be hale,” “be healthy”) is the Old English holiday greeting and sentiment behind the name of Wassail, a potent, warm libation. A punch that packs one, wassail owes as much to its evocation of Christmas carolers bearing good tidings (their reward: a drink from the wassail bowl) as it does to its concoction: a heady blend of ale (ideally, a toasty, malty holiday one), fortified wine, roasted apples and winter spice.…

James Morgan  •  Link

Mr Isaac the dancing master seems to have been active from 1675-1715 when he retired according to the text cited above. So if the ballad text is from 1661 it seems it is not the same Mr. Isaac.
I also think that the practice of dancing masters hosting balls developed in the 18th century as they developed schools for teaching dance. In Pepys era they seem to be hired to teach or lead dances in private homes or the court.
So I think "Isaac's balls" refer to something other than dance balls.
English Country dancers today still dance Mr. Isaac's Maggot that is from Playford's 1695 edition of the English Dancing Master. (A "maggot" is slang of those times for a brainwave or a strikingly different idea and employed in a number of dance titles of the era. The idea was that this odd and different and possibly brilliant idea came from having an actual maggot gnawing at the brain.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Well done, Samual and Elizabeth ... two days before Twelfth Night. Sounds like a grand party. Dinner for 10 is a lot of work.

Mary K  •  Link

Much as I like the suggestion that Mr. Isaac's Maggot may explain the reference to Isaac's balls in this version of the song, we really need to see text of the earliest citation of the song's existence (1661) to know whether or not that was in the earliest known version. Clearly the reversal of stanza's five and six in the later version indicates some later editing of the text (and not a very happy edit in terms of the thematic flow of the song). It's therefore possible that the reference to Isaac in the 1668 text may indicate a later change, perhaps a contemporary reference to the dancing master's burgeoning reputation after 1675. There is a fairly common tendency for 'contemporary' allusions to be grafted onto existing popular songs/ditties over the years. Modern comedians/satirists often resort to this trick.

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