Thursday 26 September 1667

Up, and to my chamber, whither Jonas Moore comes, and, among other things, after our business done, discoursing of matters of the office, I shewed him my varnished things, which he says he can outdo much, and tells me the mighty use of Napier’s bones; so that I will have a pair presently. To the office, where busy all the morning sitting, and at noon home to dinner, and then with my wife abroad to the King’s playhouse, to shew her yesterday’s new play, which I like as I did yesterday, the principal thing extraordinary being the dance, which is very good. So to Charing Cross by coach, about my wife’s business, and then home round by London Wall, it being very dark and dirty, and so to supper, and, for the ease of my eyes, to bed, having first ended all my letters at the office.

15 Annotations

First Reading

Christopher Squire  •  Link

The temperature for today = 26 C; shome mistake??

S's 'varnished things' must be a ready reckoner of some kind but I have no idea what.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

"I shewed him my varnished things, ..."

Possibly related to:
"and thence by his advice to one Lovett’s, a varnisher, to see his manner of new varnish, but found not him at home, but his wife, a very beautiful woman, who shewed me much variety of admirable work, and is in order to my having of some papers fitted with his lines for my use for tables and the like. I know not whether I was more pleased with the thing, or that I was shewed it by her, but resolved I am to have some made."…

Description of some early C17th. English table books acquired by the British Library in 2003 & discussion of other survivals, contemporary references to their use their use etc. -- from p. 5 onward of particular relevance:-

HR Woudhuysen, ‘Writing-Tables and Table-Books’…

Bryan M  •  Link

“I shewed him my varnished things, …”

If a set of Napier's bones was a substitute then Sam might have been using a prepared grid or lattice to do multiplication. The varnished surface would allow the grid to be re-used.
See Lattice Multiplication below:…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Table books -- alas

"I am not sure whether any pairs of writing-tables, sets of tables, or even table-books survive or have been correctly identified as such. A brief search through some of the more famous general writers of the seventeenth century – Ashmole,Aubrey, Evelyn, Pepys,Wood and so on – has failed to come up with much which is of interest relating to writing-tables
of whatever kind. It is possible that these were such familiar and useful items that there was no need to dwell on them." So H. R.Woudhuysen....…

andy  •  Link

Varnished tables

I'm reminded of Sam's varnished tables that were for use at sea. I remember using modern naval varnish and eggwhite as an experiment- reported here but I can't find the reference. From what I recall there were issues with exactly duplicating the varnish and the paper - the eggwhite wasn't as durable as the modern stuff, and the modern stuff made modern paper translucent - but then there was also a formula using eggwhite that I didn't copy exactly.

Possibly both sets of tables were the same, and for navigation. Would the calculation have been with reference to pi?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"and tells me the mighty use of Napier's bones;so that I will have a pair presently"
What a techie geek!

Geoff Hallett  •  Link

I keep wondering how Elizabeth copes at lunch times. As on the 24th he goes home for dinner and another 6 turn up, making 8 in all. This happens regularly. I realise she won't do the work herself, but must be involved in the planning, after all there were no freezers.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Domestic Arrangements

Bess probably ordered a joint to be roasted (or taken to the bakehouse to be baked) every day. This could either then be eaten all up hot (if Sam came home with friends) or used up cold as sliced meat, or in fricassees and the like. Somedays, the servants would eat up the remains of a joint. They usually do seem to dine with company even if it is not a special planned dinner with many dishes, as Sam tends to remark when he is dining a deux.

Robert Gertz  •  Link



"I didn't say a word...Only 'about my wife's business'..."

"Thank God. It was only that one time, for Papa's sake. And it was only for medicinal purposes."

"Eh, Bess, the Delanos traded in opium in the nineteenth century. Franklin says his family fortune was based on it."

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Napier's bones is a manually-operated calculating device created by John Napier of Merchiston for calculation of products and quotients of numbers. The method was based on Arab mathematics and the lattice multiplication used by Matrakci Nasuh in the Umdet-ul Hisab and Fibonacci's work in his Liber Abaci. The technique was also called Rabdology. Napier published his version in 1617 in Rabdology., printed in Edinburgh, Scotland, dedicated to his patron Alexander Seton.…

Batch  •  Link

By varnished "tables" are we to understand something like a tablet?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Batch, click through on "varnished" above, go to References, and poke around in the August 1666's links. Mr. Lovett was the varnisher who Pepys finally decided was a scoundrel. Turns out it seems like a couple of years ago, but it was only one.

john  •  Link

L&M offer the following: "Pepys's 'varnished things' were papers marked out with arithmetic tables"

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.