Saturday 14 March 1667/68

Up very betimes, and with Jane to Levett’s, there to conclude upon our dinner; and thence to the pewterer’s, to buy a pewter sesterne, which I have ever hitherto been without, and so up and down upon several occasions to set matters in order, and that being done I out of doors to Westminster Hall, and there met my Lord Brouncker, who tells me that our business is put off till Monday, and so I was mighty glad that I was eased of my attendance here, and of any occasion that might put me out of humour, as it is likely if we had been called before the Parliament. Therefore, after having spoke with Mr. Godolphin and cozen Roger, I away home, and there do find everything in mighty good order, only my wife not dressed, which troubles me. Anon comes my company, viz., my Lord Hinchingbroke and his lady, Sir Philip Carteret and his lady, Godolphin and my cozen Roger, and Creed: and mighty merry; and by and by to dinner, which was very good and plentifull: (I should have said, and Mr. George Montagu), who come at a very little warning, which was exceeding kind of him. And there, among other things, my Lord had Sir Samuel Morland’s late invention for casting up of sums of L. s. d.;1 which is very pretty, but not very useful. Most of our discourse was of my Lord Sandwich and his family, as being all of us of the family; and with extraordinary pleasure all the afternoon, thus together eating and looking over my closet: and my Lady Hinchingbroke I find a very sweet-natured and well-disposed lady, a lover of books and pictures, and of good understanding. About five o’clock they went; and then my wife and I abroad by coach into Moorefields, only for a little ayre, and so home again, staying no where, and then up to her chamber, there to talk with pleasure of this day’s passages, and so to bed. This day I had the welcome news of our prize being come safe from Holland, so as I shall have hopes, I hope, of getting my money of my Lady Batten, or good part of it.

13 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...thence to the pewterer’s, to buy a pewter sesterne, which I have ever hitherto been without..."

Brampton...Sam happily regaling the family with proud tales of his magnificent dinner party following his magnificent triumph in Parliament. Pretty magnificent all around, he beams...

"So, son...You needed to get a what?" John Sr, staring.

Bess delicately eyeing Sam...Poor ole fellow...

"A pewter sesterne, Father...One cannot do without it at a dinner party. It's for..."

"I know what a sesterne is, boy...But why should you waste good money when your people could just wipe their hands or use a good wooden bowl."

"Oh...Father-in-law..." Bess, chuckling softly. "You are too witty."

"So." New bro-in-law Jackson stares... "It be a thing to wash one's hands in? While eatin?"

"Yes, Mr. Jackson." Sam nods patiently. "And a damned fine one I got, too. So then I had to see to the man folding the place settings..."

"A man folding the place settings...?" John eyes him.

"Yes, a real find, Father...Magnificent talent. Never a better napkin folder in England."

"The man folds napkins, Mr. Pepys? For his livin'?" Jackson stares, eyeing a grinning Pall with small smile.

I can go on playing stupid lout like this all evening if ye like, love...He nods.

"Yes, yes. Quite a common thing in London. Father, you must have seen such things as a quality tailor."

"Aye..." John sighs. Rolling eyes... "And did hope never to see the like again after Oliver came to..."

"Father!" Sam, gasping.

"You were telling them of Lord Hinchingbroke and the rest of the family, Sam'l." Bess cutting in to redirect away from politics as John shows signs of agitation...

And why might I not talk of Oliver in me own...

"Uh yes...It was pleasant to have that side of the family all together..." Sam, smugly.

Pall rolling eyes...Lord...If my Lord Sandwich were here to hear Sam talk of "the family"...Methinks he'd be setting his ex-servant to a more traditional sense of his place in the world.

"Fortunately our chef Mr. Levitt was trained in both the Continental and English manners..." Sam continues...


"I away home, and there do find everything in mighty good order, only my wife not dressed, which troubles me."

Hmmn...I can see where it might.

Bess in Martha mode...Ready to play "humilate the host" and "get the guests"...

Spoiler...The really curious thing is that Lord Hinchingbroke's name will come up much later during a real Sam and Bess do George and Martha scene.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... to buy a pewter sesterne, which I have ever hitherto been without, ..."

Spoiler - Slightly later example in silver, few examples in either pewter or silver survive from the period:

Silver Wine Cistern of Thomas Wentworth, 3rd Baron Raby.
Philip Rollos Senior, London, 1705/06
Measures 51 in. (129.5 cm) over the handles…

Mary  •  Link

"which I have ever hitherto been without"

Does Sam mean that he has never had a pewter cistern before, or that he has never had a cistern at all before? On 7th September 1667 he went to price a copper cistern (told that it would cost him £6 or £7 to buy one) and immediately resolved to have one, but he doesn't appear to have gone through with the purchase.

john  •  Link

"my Lord had Sir Samuel Morland’s late invention for casting up of sums of L. s. d.; which is very pretty, but not very useful."

I often say similar things about today's electronic paraphernalia.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... my Lord had Sir Samuel Morland’s late invention for casting up of sums of L. s. d.;1 which is very pretty, but not very useful. ... "

Spoiler -- Described in:

A new, and most useful instrument for addition and substraction [sic] of pounds, shillings, pence, and farthings; without charging the memory, disturbing the mind, or exposing the operator to any uncertainty; which no method heretofore published, can justly pretend to. Invented and presented to His most Excellent Majesty Charles II. King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, &c. 1666. By S. Morland. And by the importunity of his very good friends, made publick, 1672.
[London : s.n., 1672]

8vo., [2], 78, [16], p., [7] leaves of plates : ill., port. ; title on [A2]; numbered leaves skip leaf 8; pages 17 and 18 misnumbered as 71 and 81. Plates labeled A-G and A-D mounted on versos of initial leaves 1-10.
Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), M2781

PL 293

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Since this is the last mention of Sir Samuel Morland, I'll take this opportunity to speculate that around this time he met a Huguenot Frenchman named Roux de Marcilly - AKA Marsilly - who was born in Nîmes around 1623 and died in Paris on June 22, 1669 in terrible circumstances.

Roux de Marcilly may have had a valet named Martin.
Roux de Marcilly possibly met with Charles II and the Duke of York around this time regarding the overthrow of Louis XIV, also conspiring with the Swiss and Spain.
In May 1668 he was betrayed by Morland to the French Ambassador M. de Ruvigny who asked him to arrange a dinner with de Marcilly. The Ambassador gave Morland some questions to ask, and hid in a closet to hear the answers.

Roux de Marcilly was warned of his danger and fled to Switzerland where he took refuge at the end of February 1669. But in defiance of Swiss sovereignty, Louis XIV had de Marcilly kidnapped.

There are lots of stories and room for speculation, so it's hard to recommend a reliable link. But suffice to say that "valet Martin" was possibly The Man In The Iron Mask, and de Marcilly is well documented to have died a horribly painful death in Paris in May 1669.……

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

'Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.' -- Mark Twain

I haven't come up with any motivation for the Stuart brothers to want to kill Louis XIV. Maybe they intended to tip off Louis to the plot, thereby currying favor, not knowing that the French ambassador was already on the job?

Not for the first time, I wish we had time travel available.

Hope  •  Link

“ A pewter sesterne, Father .... “

I laughed out loud reading your take on dinner with the Brampton Pepys, Robert Gertz. Brillant!

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Gerald Berg and anyone else interested in theories about who the man in the velvet mask was, this one's for you.

Even if you're not into this speculation, this excerpt from the article gives us an idea of the behind-the-scenes communications between Charles II and Henrietta Anne/Minette and others involved in the lead up to the (secret) Treaty of Dover:

"In the summer of 1669, important and secret negotiations were going on between Charles II of England and Louis XIV. These were being conducted through Charles’ sister Henrietta, duchesse d’Orléans, who was married to Louis’ brother, Philippe. Charles and Henrietta used valets to carry messages back and forth across the English Channel, but these valets frequently engaged other servants to carry messages on their behalf.

"Often, Charles and Henrietta did not know who these people were. Indeed, in a letter to his sister, Charles noted that he had received a letter from her through “the Italian whose name and capasity you do not know, and he delivered your letter to me in a passage where it was so darke as I do not know his face againe if I see him”.

"Eustache [THE NAME OF THE PRISONER WEARING THE VELVET MASK], of course, was not this man, since he was not Italian, but French; however, this comment illustrates the atmosphere of secrecy that surrounded communication during this sensitive period. Shortly before Eustache’s arrest, Louvois and Le Tellier, his father and predecessor at the ministry for war, were included in these negotiations.

"It is possible that Eustache had been employed by one or both of these men, or perhaps even by Henrietta herself, and that he had become privy to secret and sensitive information. This would account for Louvois’ anger towards Eustache, with the minister referring to him as a “wretch”. And the fact that Eustache was arrested near Dunkirk, one of the principal ports to England, adds more weight to this theory."…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

USA history teachers are given a different theory:

The most likely candidate was one of Louis XIV’s valets, Eustache Dauger. He was imprisoned in 1669, which corresponds to the 1699-1670 time frame. He might have been involved in a political scandal.

A recent book by historian Paul Sonnino supports the valet theory. He found evidence that Eustache Dauger was the valet of Cardinal Mazarin’s treasurer. He posits that Dauger found out about some financial malfeasance.

Whoever the poor soul was, his 34-year imprisonment ended with his death on November 19, 1703. Dauger fits the story of a man who was condemned to never have contact with anyone besides his guards. And the mask was really a black velvet mask.

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