Sunday 20 January 1666/67

(Lord’s day). Up betimes and down to the Old Swan, there called on Michell and his wife, which in her night linen appeared as pretty almost as ever to my thinking I saw woman. Here I drank some burnt brandy. They shewed me their house, which, poor people, they have built, and is very pretty. I invited them to dine with me, and so away to White Hall to Sir W. Coventry, with whom I have not been alone a good while, and very kind he is, and tells me how the business is now ordered by order of council for my Lord Bruncker to assist Sir J. Minnes in all matters of accounts relating to the Treasurer, and Sir W. Pen in all matters relating to the victuallers’ and pursers’ accounts, which I am very glad of, and the more for that I think it will not do me any hurt at all. Other discourse, much especially about the heat the House was in yesterday about the ill management of the Navy, which I was sorry to hear; though I think they were well answered, both by Sir G. Carteret and [Sir] W. Coventry, as he informs me the substance of their speeches. Having done with him, home mightily satisfied with my being with him, and coming home I to church, and there, beyond expectation, find our seat, and all the church crammed, by twice as many people as used to be: and to my great joy find Mr. Frampton in the pulpit; so to my great joy I hear him preach, and I think the best sermon, for goodness and oratory, without affectation or study, that ever I heard in my life. The truth is, he preaches the most like an apostle that ever I heard man; and it was much the best time that ever I spent in my life at church. His text, Ecclesiastes xi., verse 8th — the words, “But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.” He done, I home, and there Michell and his wife, and we dined and mighty merry, I mightily taken more and more with her. After dinner I with my brother away by water to White Hall, and there walked in the Parke, and a little to my Lord Chancellor’s, where the King and Cabinet met, and there met Mr. Brisband, with whom good discourse, to White Hall towards night, and there he did lend me “The Third Advice to a Paynter,” a bitter satyre upon the service of the Duke of Albemarle the last year. I took it home with me, and will copy it, having the former, being also mightily pleased with it. So after reading it, I to Sir W. Pen to discourse a little with him about the business of our prizes, and so home to supper and to bed.

21 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"They shewed me their house, which, poor people, they have built, and is very pretty."

L&M note their former house had been destroyed in the Great Fire.

Bryan M  •  Link

All round a mighty fine day, spiritually (an outstanding sermon by Frampton) and tomporally (a delightful glimpse of Annie Mitchell in her nightie, plus Bruncker isn't going to be a problem).

Though you have to wonder how much Sam's opinion of the sermon was influenced by that burnt brandy.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Poor kid by any name, to have dear ole "uncle" Pepys on her tail.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...the words, “But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.”"

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

Interesting...To listen, even to admire that speech and sermon and yet see nothing applicable to his own behavior in it.

Oh, well...American leaders proclaiming they are a Christian nation sanctioning the deaths of tens of thousands of innocents...Nazi Germans listening to sermons in churches on love of neighbors and running out to enslave and murder their neighbors...Preachers speaking of God's love and insisting victims of a horrific natural disaster are rightfully accursed...Revolutionaries proclaiming their love of the downtrodden while enslaving and murdering the downtrodden who wish to have a say in their own lives. Still, Sam...With all your success and luck...With all those women who actually do seem to find you charming and fun...Couldn't you have listened today and spared this one poor kid from your attentions?

Don McCahill  •  Link

I wish we had more information about what the Mitchell house was like. I find it amazing that four months after the fire, they are located in something SP calls very pretty. Would the rest of the city be reestablished so quickly. Didn't SP mention a few days back that there were still smoking ruins?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the Mitchell house"

L&M locate it in St. Margaret Parish, which was rather substantial and not within the core fire area, though they say "the old one [had] been destroyed in the Fire."'s,_Westminster

Mary  •  Link

Pepys is here visitng the younger Michells, (son and daughter-in-law if the Westminster booksellers). The younger Michells live on Old Swan Lane in the City of London (close to Upper Thames Street and the river) and keep a strong-water house there.

They must have done some very successful scavenging to have re-built a house since the time of the Great Fire. Timber is in very short supply in London and new London brick will not be ready for use until about April. No doubt the brickmakers from Kent and the Thames valley (both clay-soil areas) will have charged a tidy sum for any surplus stocks that they held at the end of 1666 and were able to ship into London.

Furthermore, new building regulations had been brought in at the end of 1666 which had to be incorporated into every building contract. No mansion was allowed to exceed uniform height regulations and, for other houses, there were three categories allowed. Those fronting 'by-lanes' could have two storeys only, with cellar and garret; those fronting 'streets and lanes of note' were allowed three storeys, cellar and garret and those fronting 'high and principal streets' could have four storeys. Furthermore 'no jetties, windows or anything of the like sort shall be made to extend beyond the ancient foundation line.'

CGS  •  Link

"...His text, Ecclesiastes xi., verse 8th — the words, “But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.”..."
A modern interpretation
sample:New Living Translation (©2007)

When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days.

Everything still to come is meaningless.

thus I annotate

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Mary, thanks for clarifying more than one confusion about the Mitchells Pepys has dropped in on today.

CGS, IMO your annote is clearer than the "dynamic translation" of the NLT (a revision of the Living Bible): the words Pepys heard were themselves pretty clear.

CGS  •  Link

missing source:

Vanity as Samuel would know it?


[a. OF. vanite (F. vanité, = It. vanità, Sp. vanidad, Pg. vaidade), ad. L. v{amac}nit{amac}t-, v{amac}nit{amac}s, f. v{amac}nus VAIN a.]
1. a. That which is vain, futile, or worthless; that which is of no value or profit.
b. Vain and unprofitable conduct or employment of time.

2. a. The quality of being vain or worthless; the futility or worthlessness of something.
c1325 ....1662 J. DAVIES tr. Olearius' Voy. Ambass. 31 A fabulous story, whereof the vanity is so much the more visible.

b. The quality of being foolish or of holding erroneous opinions. Obs.
c1386 CHAUCER Miller's T. 649 Of his vanytee He hadde yboght hym knedying tubbes thre. {emem} Clerk's T. 194 Wol nat oure lord yet leue his vanytee? Wol he nat wedde?
.....1660 in Extr. St. P. rel. Friends Ser. II. (1911) 123 Your petitioner is in great dread and horrour of an oath (though hee detests the vanity of Quakers and such like giddy people).

3. a. The quality of being personally vain; high opinion of oneself; self-conceit and desire for admiration.

4. a. A vain, idle, or worthless thing; a thing or action of no value.
a1300 ...1673 CAVE Prim. Chr. II. ii. 33 The sights and sports of the Theatre and such like vanities.

b. An idle tale or matter; an idea or statement of a worthless or unfounded nature. Obs.
1340 .....
1652 HEYLYN Cosmogr. I. 211 Turpin hath..interlaced his Storie with a number of ridiculous vanities.

1660 F. BROOKE tr. Le Blanc's Trav. 391 His Poem the Auracana..begins with this vanity, truely poetical and Romantick Spaniard-like.

5. Emptiness, lightness; the state of being void or empty; inanity. Obs. rare.
6-7 more modern vainities....

8. a. Vanity Fair (after quot. 1678 below), a place or scene where all is frivolity and empty show; the world or a section of it as a scene of idle amusement and unsubstantial display.
[1678 BUNYAN Pilgr. (1900) 82 The name of that Town is Vanity; and at the town there is a Fair kept, called Vanity-Fair. It..beareth the name of Vanity-Fair, because the Town where 'tis kept is lighter than Vanity.]

Australian Susan  •  Link

Mary - thanks for your information. Most interesting. Introduction of building regs post-hoc! similar thing happened here with hurricane proof houses being built after cyclone Tracy flattened Darwin in 1974.

Mary  •  Link

1666 Building regs.

I should have added that I am indebted to Liza Picard's Restoration London for the quoted regulations.

ticea  •  Link

Furthermore ‘no jetties, windows or anything of the like sort shall be made to extend beyond the ancient foundation line.’

So, am I assuming that no story could be cantilevered over another?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Nero introduced some excellent building regs after those sneaky Christians burned so much of Rome. Wider streets, enforcement of height regulations from Augustus, stone not timber to be used in all reconstruction...Disaster certainly stimulates good legislation after the fact.

Margaret  •  Link

Building regs:
According to Wikipedia, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (the new one) is the only building in London built with a thatched roof since the Great Fire of 1666.

CGS  •  Link

Regulations in 1666 via chapter 2 Eliza Picard's great book chapter 2,

'Charles II, 1666: An Act for rebuilding the Citty of London.', Statutes of the Realm:
Recital that the City of London had been destroyed by Fire.

Reasons for passing this Act; All future Buildings to be after the Method herein mentioned.; Building Houses otherwise; Nuisance, and Builder to enter into a Recognizance to abate the same; on Default, Imprisonment; or House may be demolished by Order of Court of Aldermen.

XXXIII. Distances of Houses from the River and Fleet Ditch, &c.

Provided alsoe And it is hereby further enacted by the Authoritie aforesaid That noe House Outhouse or other building whatsoever (Cranes and Sheds for present use onely excepted) shall be built or erected within the distance of Forty foote of such part of any Wall Key or Wharfe as bounds the River of Thames, from Tower Wharfe to London Bridge and from London Bridge to the Temple Staires, Nor any House Outhouse or other building (Cranes onely excepted) be built or erected within the distance of threescore and ten foote of the midle of any part of the Coo[m]mon Sewers coo[m]monly called or knowne by the [nams (fn. 15) ] of Bridewell Docke Fleete Ditch and [Turmill (fn. 16) ] Brooke from the River of Thames to Clarkenwell upon either side of them before the fower and twentieth day of March which shall be in the yeare of our Lord One thousand six hundred sixty eight,

Bradford  •  Link

Mary's synthesis from Picard prompts another question: how did they pay for this new home---straight out of the proceeds from their strong-waters house? The word "mortgage" is of great antiquity; but did lenders at the time underwrite home-building?

As for "he preaches the most like an apostle that ever I heard man," surely none of the Twelve would choose his text from Ecclesiastes, the most pagan (for lack of better adjective) book of the Old Testament? But it would make good matter for a sermon even, or especially, today---in advance of "the most depressing day of the year":

I wonder what day it fell upon, adjusting for the calendar, in 1666/67.

Mary  •  Link

Paying for Michell Jr.'s new house.

One can only speculate. Funded by Michell Sr. perhaps? His Westminster Hall business (situated well beyond the reach of the great fire) may have increased considerably as a result of the city booksellers around St. Paul's having lost large amounts of stock. He seems to have been pretty well off in any case, as the L&M Companion notes that he appears to have occupied a large house. (No evidence for this is cited, but presumably the Hearth Tax records show a goodly number of hearths).

Mary  •  Link

no jetties etc.

Exactly so, Ticea. One of the reasons adduced for the speed with which the Great Fire leapt from house to house and street to street was the fact that so many buildings had acquired jetted upper storeys that, at the highest level, there was scarcely any space between buildings on either side of a street. No doubt handy both for increasing floor area and (as a by-product) providing pedestrians with some cover during rainy weather, but hazardous in case of fire.

djc  •  Link

Two good books if you wish to understand English building practice from the Great Fire onward.

Stefan Muthesius, The English Terraced House. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1982

Donald J. Olsen, Town Planning in London: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Second edition, 1982

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"her night linen"

Presumably a "shift [that] would be made of linen and would serve as both nightgown and slip. A woman might only own two or three. She would wear her shift night and day, often for weeks or more at a time especially in winter, without laundering. Underpants did not exist yet so a woman would wear absolutely nothing under her shift!

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