Sunday 17 May 1668

(Lord’s day). Up, and put on my new stuff-suit, with a shoulder-belt, according to the new fashion, and the bands of my vest and tunique laced with silk lace, of the colour of my suit: and so, very handsome, to Church, where a dull sermon and of a stranger, and so home; and there I find W. Howe, and a younger brother of his, come to dine with me; and there comes Mercer, and brings with her Mrs. Gayet, which pleased me mightily; and here was also W. Hewer, and mighty merry; and after dinner to sing psalms. But, Lord! to hear what an excellent base this younger brother of W. Howe’s sings, even to my astonishment, and mighty pleasant. By and by Gayet goes away, being a Catholick, to her devotions, and Mercer to church; but we continuing an hour or two singing, and so parted; and I to Sir W. Pen’s, and there sent for a hackney-coach; and he and she [Lady Pen] and I out, to take the ayre. We went to Stepney, and there stopped at the Trinity House, he to talk with the servants there against to-morrow, which is a great day for the choice of a new Master, and thence to Mile End, and there eat and drank, and so home; and I supped with them — that is, eat some butter and radishes, which is my excuse for not eating any other of their victuals, which I hate, because of their sluttery: and so home, and made my boy read to me part of Dr. Wilkins’s new book of the “Real Character;” and so to bed.

22 Annotations

First Reading

nick sweeney  •  Link

John Wilkins was at the heart of the English scientific revolution, encouraging the collaboration at Oxford among natural philosophers during the 1650s that ultimately led to the creation of the Royal Society. While he was more catalyst than innovator, he embraced Modern thinking in its broadest, most ambitious terms, as seen in the 'Real Character'

It is not a short book: 600 pages in large quarto, and while Pepys had been introduced to the concept by Wilkins himself the previous November, it shows his enthusiasm towards Gresham College and the work of the Royal Society, as well as the wider, growing taste for works of that nature.

Wilkins' work would receive a satirical jab of sorts from Swift in Gulliver's Travels, in the academy of Lagado's schemes for reforming language and learning, most notoriously the substitution of words with objects carried around in sacks. And of course, it's the starting point for Borges' essay 'The Analytical Language of John Wilkins'.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Methinks "this younger brother of W. Howe’s" is John (aka Jack) Howe, deputy-clerk in the Patent-Office. (L&M Index)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Wikipedia article on Wilkins' "New Character" (also provided by Phil via the link in the text) is worth reading, as are the footnotes that tell of Wilkins' proposed ideas on weights and measure not unlike those those found in the metric system.

Eric Walla  •  Link

Anyone have a link to an image showing Sam's latest fashion? I'm not sure if my imagination is doing it justice.

Don McCahill  •  Link

I'll bite ... how are victuals "sluttery"?

john  •  Link

"and made my boy read to me part of Dr. Wilkins’s new book"

An interesting education the boy is receiving. He is (was) surely more literate than most his age.

Mary  •  Link

It's not the victuals that are "sluttery"

Sam considers that the Pens live in a state of sluttery and therefore doesn't care to eat food prepared in their kitchen. Presumably he feels that butter and radishes, being fresh, can't have been over-handled. Very nice they are, too, with a pinch of salt.

nix  •  Link

After all this time I still find myself taking each reference to "dining" and "dinner" to mean an evening meal, and am always brought up short that it is followed by afternoon activities. I guess eight years of daily diary reading hasn't yet deconditioned a lifetime of contemporary American usage.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

nix, you're an American city guy. On the farm the midday meal is still the biggie -- dinner -- and, after chores are done, supper (Abendbrodt at home for even many urban Germans, oddly enough).

arby  •  Link

Aw, man, I never get to have dinner, only lunch followed by supper. No wonder I'm hungry.
We seldom hear much about a breakfast of any sort with Sam, do we? Sometimes when he is on the road, if memory serves. Too commonplace to mention, or does he usually do without?

allen Appel  •  Link

We hear about his breakfast every once in awhile when it consists of a strong drink.

nix  •  Link

As I recall, he talked about his "morning draught" quite frequently in 1660/61, but very seldom mentions it any more. I wonder if it was a novelty then, as he set out on his life as a rising star in the big city?

Eric Walla  •  Link

Thanks, Terry and Mary. Charles II seems to wear it better than the mannequins. They struck me as a bit more feminine that Sam may have liked ...

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to-morrow, which is a great day for the choice of a new Master"

I.e. Trinity Monday. Col. Thomas Middleton (Surveyor of the Navy) was chosen new Master. (L&M)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

May 17. 1668
Happy Entrance,
Hab. Wiles to the Navy Commissioners.

Arrived here with 30 men for the Cambridge, but finds her backward, and in no posture of keeping them, so is forced to retain them on board the ketch.

Asks further orders and 5 more men; is only ordered 10, with which he cannot do his business;

when he has sent his boat away with 7, can do nothing, and if he sends fewer, the people beat and abuse his men, that it is a shame to see it; the men are so much discouraged that he fears he shall not get them to go pressing any more, unless their Honours make him stronger.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 240, No. 50.]
Order by Sir Thos. Teddeman to Hab. Wiles,
to sail for Portsmouth, press men at Margate, Deal, and Dover, and deliver them to the Cambridge
— 6 May 1668.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 240, No. 50I]

The impress men being abused as they go about their business ... and Capt. Wiles catches 30, only to find the Cambridge is unfit to receive them, so he has to keep them on board his ketch. I see a mutiny coming.

All this month's letters can be found at:

'Charles II: May 1668', in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1667-8, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1893), pp. 369-418. British History Online…

JB  •  Link

"Anyone have a link to an image showing Sam’s latest fashion?"

New link. Sam's descriptions feature a number of times in “The 1660s, Restoration Costume Comes to Life, Part 3 Gentry and Aristocracy":…

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