Monday 18 May 1668

Up, and to my office, where most of the morning doing business and seeing my window-frames new painted, and then I out by coach to my Lord Bellasses, at his new house by my late Lord Treasurer’s, and there met him and Mr. Sherwin, Auditor Beale, and Creed, about my Lord’s accounts, and here my Lord shewed me his new house, which, indeed, is mighty noble, and good pictures — indeed, not one bad one in it. Thence to my tailor’s, and there did find Mercer come with Mrs. Horsfield and Gayet according to my desire, and there I took them up, it being almost twelve o’clock, or a little more, and carried them to the King’s playhouse, where the doors were not then open; but presently they did open; and we in, and find many people already come in, by private ways, into the pit, it being the first day of Sir Charles Sidly’s new play, so long expected, “The Mullberry Guarden,” of whom, being so reputed a wit, all the world do expect great matters. I having sat here awhile, and eat nothing to-day, did slip out, getting a boy to keep my place; and to the Rose Tavern, and there got half a breast of mutton, off of the spit, and dined all alone. And so to the play again, where the King and Queen, by and by, come, and all the Court; and the house infinitely full. But the play, when it come, though there was, here and there, a pretty saying, and that not very many neither, yet the whole of the play had nothing extraordinary in it, at all, neither of language nor design; insomuch that the King I did not see laugh, nor pleased the whole play from the beginning to the end, nor the company; insomuch that I have not been less pleased at a new play in my life, I think. And which made it the worse was, that there never was worse musick played — that is, worse things composed, which made me and Captain Rolt, who happened to sit near me, mad. So away thence, very little satisfied with the play, but pleased with my company. I carried them to Kensington, to the Grotto, and there we sang, to my great content, only vexed, in going in, to see a son of Sir Heneage Finch’s beating of a poor little dog to death, letting it lie in so much pain that made me mad to see it, till, by and by, the servants of the house chiding of their young master, one of them come with a thong, and killed the dog outright presently. Thence to Westminster palace, and there took boat and to Fox Hall, where we walked, and eat, and drank, and sang, and very merry. But I find Mrs. Horsfield one of the veriest citizen’s wives in the world, so full of little silly talk, and now and then a little sillily bawdy, that I believe if you had her sola a man might hazer all with her. So back by water to Westminster Palace, and there got a coach which carried us as far as the Minorys, and there some thing of the traces broke, and we forced to ’light, and walked to Mrs. Horsfield’s house, it being a long and bad way, and dark, and having there put her in a doors, her husband being in bed, we left her and so back to our coach, where the coachman had put it in order, but could not find his whip in the dark a great while, which made us stay long. At last getting a neighbour to hold a candle out of their window Mercer found it, and so away we home at almost 12 at night, and setting them both at their homes, I home and to bed.

19 May 2011, 8:19 a.m. - Bryan M

a son of Sir Heneage Finch According to Wikipedia, this would be William aged 14+ (born before 1654), Heneage aged 11 or Thomas aged 10. Charming lads.

19 May 2011, 11:20 a.m. - Robert Gertz

And another remarkably tolerant husband appears on the scene...Mr. Horsfield, in bed. So far the only man to show any jealousy of a wife in the Diary besides Sam seems to have been Chris Knepp and possibly but only recently, young Mitchell. Interesting the relationship between Sam and Mercer...In a quiet way she seems to have tamed him a bit and he seems quite content with moving into a warm friendship with her over music and playgoing, a non-threat stand-in for her other friend, Bess. Of course, for all we know, he's groping her every possible moment and it's simply become too commonplace to merit Diary mention any more but I think he'd note it if it were so.

19 May 2011, noon - Carl in Boston

to the Rose Tavern, and there got half a breast of mutton, off of the spit Lamb that falls from the bone with a smoky flavor. Now there's good eating.

19 May 2011, 1:14 p.m. - Nate

Would he have referred to lamb as mutton? It is spring, though.

19 May 2011, 3:11 p.m. - JKM

Had to laugh at Pepys, who was hoping, as usual, that this would be the best play that he ever saw in his life, and instead had to use his favorite superlative to describe his disappointment: "I have not been less pleased at a new play in my life, I think." There is a good old tune called The Mulberry Garden: despite Pepys' execration of the music, I wonder if it has any connection with this play?

19 May 2011, 4:02 p.m. - Terry Foreman

JKM, is this it? Song from The Mulberry Garden AH, Chloris, that I now could sit As unconcerned as when Your infant beauty could beget No pleasure, nor no pain. When I the dawn used to admire, And praised the coming day, I little thought the growing fire Must take my rest away. Your charms in harmless childhood lay Like metals in the mine: Age from no face took more away Than youth concealed in thine. But as your charms insensibly To your perfection pressed, Fond Love, as unperceived, did fly, And in my bosom rest. My passion with your beauty grew, And Cupid at my heart, Still as his mother favored you, Threw a new flaming dart. Each gloried in their wanton part: To make a lover, he Employed the utmost of his art; To make a beauty, she. Though now I slowly bend to love, Uncertain of my fate, If your fair self my chains approve, I shall my freedom hate. Lovers, like dying men, may well At first disordered be, Since none alive can truly tell What fortune they must see. Sir Charles Sedley

19 May 2011, 5:47 p.m. - Terry Foreman

The Mulberry-Garden in London "The original Mulberry-Garden, to which the title refers, was a four acre orchard, planted by James I in 1609, on the site of the present (north-west corner of) Buckingham Palace. King James had been hoping to kickstart English silkworm production, but unfortunately chose the wrong sort of bush. Clement Walker in ‘Anarchia Anglicana’ (1649) refers to “new-erected sodoms and spintries at the Mulberry Garden at S. James’s”; which suggests it may at that date have been a place of debauchery."

19 May 2011, 8:53 p.m. - Mary

Is mutton lamb? In the days before concentrate feeds and selective breeding were developed for the rapid fattening of lamb, I suspect that mutton was mutton and the preferred commodity. Lamb (the immature and lighter beast) would have been a luxury item.

20 May 2011, 4:30 a.m. - JKM

Terry, those words fit the "Mulberry Garden" tune that I know!

11 Jan 2017, 6:03 p.m. - Terry Foreman

"to my Lord Bellasses, at his new house by my late Lord Treasurer’s" L&M: Probably in Bloomsbury Sq., whose n. side was then occupied by Southampton House, town house of the late Lord Treasurer Southampton. Bloomsbury Square

11 Jan 2017, 6:14 p.m. - Terry Foreman

Instead of [a silkworm] industry, the Mulberry Garden at Buckingham became a fashionable place to go and to be seen; a pleasure garden, particularly in the time of Charles I and Charles II. It is this same plantation that became the Mulberry Garden referred to by period dramatists, and is probably the subject of Playford's title. Sir Charles Sedley, for example, wrote his play The Mulberry Garden in 1668, just prior to Playford's publication of the tune. The site of the garden is on the private grounds of Buckingham Palace, and one lone tree yet exists from James's planting so long ago [1]. John Evelyn described it as "the best place about the towne for persons of the best quality to be exceedingly cheated at;" and diarist Samuel Pepys jotted that it was "a silly place, with a wilderness somewhat pretty." The garden was said to have been a favorite resort of John Dryden, where he used to eat mulberry tarts. The dramatist was said to hie there with his favorite actress, Mrs. Reeve. "I remember," writes a correspondent of the Gentleman's Magazine for 1745, "plain John Dryden, before he paid his court with success to the great, in one uniform clothing of Norwich drugget. I have ate tarts with him and Madame Reeve at the Mulberry Garden, when our author advanced to a sword and a Chadreux wig."

19 Nov 2019, 12:31 a.m. - Terry Foreman

"to my Lord Bellasses, at his new house by my late Lord Treasurer’s, and there met him and Mr. Sherwin, Auditor Beale, and Creed, about my Lord’s accounts, and here my Lord shewed me his new house, which, indeed, is mighty noble, and good pictures — indeed, not one bad one in it." L&M: Nothing appears to be known about Lord Belasyse's collection. He was apparently buying pictures in the Interregnum: three picures to the value of £40 were sold to him from the Earl of Pembroke's collection on 25 August 1652 (Hatfield House, Private and Estate MSS, Accts., 168/2). As a young man he had been painted by Van Dyck; portraits of the Belasyse family are preserved at Newburgh Priory, Yorks.

19 Nov 2019, 12:42 a.m. - Terry Foreman

JKM asks: "There is a good old tune called The Mulberry Garden: despite Pepys' execration of the music, I wonder if it has any connection with this play?" Mulberry Garden (Playford, 1675), English Country Dance ...?

19 Nov 2019, 2:30 a.m. - Terry Foreman

"being almost twelve o’clock, or a little more, and carried them to the King’s playhouse, where the doors were not then open; but presently they did open; and we in, and find many people already come in, by private ways, into the pit, it being the first day of Sir Charles Sidly’s new play, so long expected, “The Mullberry Guarden,”" L&M: A Comedy published in 1668. Playhouses usually opened at noon, though performances did not begin until 3:30 p.m.

19 Nov 2019, 2:34 a.m. - Terry Foreman

" the whole of the play had nothing extraordinary in it, at all, neither of language nor design; insomuch that the King I did not see laugh, nor pleased the whole play from the beginning to the end, nor the company; insomuch that I have not been less pleased at a new play in my life, I think." L&M: Despite Pepr's low opinion, the play proved very popular.

5 May 2021, 2:09 a.m. - San Diego Sarah

May 18. 1668 Deal. Morgan Lodge to [Williamson]. Two Ostend men-of-war, of 30 and 12 guns, fell in with a French man-of-war of 40 guns, and after disputing for 3 or 4 hours, they parted. The Frenchman has come into the Downs, but will only confess to 2 men killed, one being the captain’s son, who was lieutenant of the ship. The captain being a Protestant, has desired leave to bury his son in the churchyard, which being granted, the corpse has been brought ashore. The French ship is very much torn, but is refitting with all speed. The Constant Warwick saw the fight 3 leagues off Dover. [S.P. Dom., Car. II. 240, No. 65.] @@@ May 18. 1668 Deal. Rich. Watts to [Williamson]. Understands by the Warwick that Capt. Carew and Capt. Brewer of Ostend met with a French man-of-war of 40 guns, who seeing the Spanish colours, slung his masts and furled his sails, and although the least of the Ostenders had 34 guns, yet went between them, gave them several broadsides, and made the Ostenders leave them. Others say the Frenchman has above 100 killed and wounded; she has come in with many holes in her sails, and an Englishman belonging to her says they came out with 250 men, and now have not 150 well on board; very few hands were furling the sails when they came to anchor. The French lieutenant and another officer have been brought ashore to be buried. [S.P. Dom., Car. II. 240, No. 66.] @@@ These Ostenders have a lot of nerve. Possibly more trouble than the Barbary pirates. This and many other 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

5 May 2021, 3:01 a.m. - San Diego Sarah

May 18. 1668 Yarmouth. Rich. Bower to Williamson. The Speedwell and French Victory have sailed for Iceland to wait on the fishery. [FINALLY!] A Yarmouth vessel from Amsterdam, coming up with the Dutch fleet riding at the Texel, with his topsails a-trip, the admiral fired at her, upon which she lowered a little; but the pilot, a Dutchman, saying they shot not at her, the master hoisted the sails again, upon which the admiral made another shot which passed between the masts, when he lowered and bore up. The admiral sent his boat for the master, and when informed it was the fault of the pilot, ordered the latter to be sent for, and clapped into the bilboes, but was very courteous to the master on parting. The fleet was 25 men-of-war, and intended for the Downs. Fifty sail of laden colliers have passed to the southward. [S.P. Dom., Car. II. 240, No. 71.] There are several reports during the month regarding other navies testing England's sovereignty over the Channel by not "saluting" with their flags first. Great disrespect had to be met with force. What the exact courtesy required here was, I have no idea.

5 May 2021, 5:16 p.m. - San Diego Sarah

There is a lot of correspondence in the May 1668 file. What strikes me is that at the beginning of the month the begging letters about lack of pay and food are overwhelming. I didn't copy all of them ... but this is the last: May 18. 1668 Whitehall. M. Wren to the Navy Commissioners. Desires an order for victuals for the Edward and Eve ketch, appointed to carry 100 seamen, ordered to be turned over from the Defiance to the Cambridge. [S.P. Dom., Car. II. 240, No. 53.] @@@ I wonder if Mr. Gauden got paid and magically was able to deliver victuals to all the ships? Or were the files culled? Did an unfiled memo go out authorizing the Captains to take/steal food locally? Something happened, because the subject matter of the file changes going forward.

19 May 2021, 4:50 a.m. - San Diego Sarah

"to the King’s playhouse, where the doors were not then open; but presently they did open; and we in, and find many people already come in, by private ways, into the pit, ..." So much for the May 16 Warrant saying no one can go backstage before the show at the King's Playhouse, aka the Theater Royal. These presumably courtiers did not go in through the front door and pay full price today. Pepys doesn't appear to be upset by not having his choice of seat. I guess he accepts nobility using their privilege as being totally normal.

19 May 2021, 7:20 a.m. - Eric the Bish

“ coming up with the Dutch fleet riding at the Texel, with his topsails a-trip, the admiral fired at her, upon which she lowered a little; but the pilot, a Dutchman, saying they shot not at her, the master hoisted the sails again, upon which the admiral made another shot which passed between the masts, when he lowered and bore up” A civilian vessel is bound to salute a military vessel. Nowadays we dip the ship’s ensign; or if in a small boat without one “let all fly”, so that the sails flap. Here the Yarmouth boat should have lowered her topsail yard, making the sail flap. He was ready to do so – everything was “atrip“. But either he had not quite done it yet, and the admiral (well, the duty officer on the flagship) was impatient, or possibly he was hoping to sneak by without having to go through the labour of lowering and raising the sail. Either way, the first gun reminded him of his duty! So he began lowering the sails, but the pilot told him the gun was not a signal to them. So he hoisted the sail again. Now the duty officer is really cross, because the captain appears to have paid mere lip-service to his duty. Hence the second gun, impressively fired between the two masts of the vessel. That would certainly get my attention! Sails down, stop the vessel, collected by boat from flagship, “interview without coffee” with the admiral, grovelling apology and excuse: “It’s all the pilot’s fault“. Pilot collected, put in irons, vessel’s captain gets away with it (admirals are often much more understanding than their juniors). The courtesies of saluting are still observed, and the incident above could happen, amended only by modern technology, today.

19 May 2021, 9:03 a.m. - Stephane Chenard

Today there was this, also: ******************** Warrant to pay to Lord Arlington 3,000l. for secret service without account. [S.P., Docquet, Vol. 23, No. 218.] ******************** Routine, you think? What do we know. Sam is on his way to get a bit at the Rose, since it looks like the play won't start for a while and the orange girl, for some reason, has decided to avoid him. He sees Joseph Williamson angle through the crowd of periwigs to intercept him. "How now, Mr. Pepys? Congratulations on the speech". Sam winces at the tired joke. Williamson adds, "Nice suit". "Why, Sir Joseph, well met. And thank you". "Great expectations for the play?" "Yes indeed, I really do think it will be the best theatricall experience in all my life, ever. Is His Grace with us today?" "Yeah, yeah. HM's here so we all have to come, like it or not. Pepys, what I wanted to talk to you about is kinda sensitive and just between us". They edge to a more private corner. "We have a project for which we'd like you to get us some supplies, the Commission not necessarily being informed". Sam rolls his eyes. "A naval project, Sir Joseph? A really, really fast ship maybe?" Williamson chuckles at that. "Peace. No, not that. It's something rather different. If anything it's even more philosophicall, but recently we experimented it with quite a bit of success and now His Majesty has given us a bit of money to scale it up. It's very out of the box, so I'm telling you as a friend but we'd rather you keep it really, really quiet. Even diary-quiet, see what I mean?" Sam does, and sighs; is there anything that guy doesn't know about? But Williamson seems to be getting really worked up about his mystery topic. "What if I told you it could someday give England a real advantage over the Froggies, and solve your little problem with paying seamen and tickets and all that?" Now Sam is interested. "All of that would be welcome indeed, Sir Joseph. How may I help?" "It's not your usual planks and biscuits. We'd need fifty tuns of mercury for a start. Can you find out the prices and the suppliers?"

20 May 2021, 6:31 a.m. - San Diego Sarah

Thanks, Eric the Bish ... I knew it had something to do with that protocol, but knowing the details make the story much more interesting. @@@ Mercury???? No doubt the details will emerge soon.

20 May 2021, 9:39 a.m. - Stephane Chenard

Why, Sarah that was Sam's exact reaction. He doesn't know, and very, very few people do, either of Williamson's barely suggested history with the shiny liquid, or of the fantastical letter he received not a week ago, and which we dare imagine he acted upon, and which we broached in our annotation of "Mercury????" Sam says in a hush. "Mean you, quicksilver? No doubt the details will emerge soon". "Aye, if we're successful, the World shall know", Williamson says, as they wander back through the foyer. "Until then, utmost discretion, yes?" He rummages through his pocket and adds more brightly, "Here, Pepys, would you like some backstage tickets? Their price is going up, you know? I never understand how a man of your quality still enters the theater through the front door". "Hrmpf. I prefer to visit the dressing rooms after the play. I find the players to be more... relaxed". "Ah, spoken like a true lover of the art. And today we've been here two hours to rehearse them, so I assure you the players are verrry... relaxed". A nod at the Earl of Arlington, who is sprawled in an armchair with a glass of wine in hand and an exhausted but happy look on his face. Sam makes a proper half-bow. But God! Did the Earl actually... wink at him with a knowing smile? And did Williamson put a subtle stress on it when he said, "the Art?"

21 May 2021, 12:51 a.m. - San Diego Sarah

If Pepys had attended more meetings of the Royal Society, he might have understood Williamson's request (if that ever happened). In reality the Royal Society had been playing around with quicksilver from its second meeting in 1660 when they decided to send 22 experiments to Teneriff. Pepys became aware of that on 23 January 1660/61: "... went into the City, and there meeting with Greatorex, we went and drank a pot of ale. He told me that he was upon a design to go to Teneriffe to try experiments there. With him to Gresham Colledge (where I never was before), and saw the manner of the house, and found great company of persons of honour there." For more about these experiments, one or more of which involved quicksilver, see But maybe Williamson was obtaining quicksilver for the treatment of syphilus (he was a bachelor for a long time) ... for more information about that, see My bet is that Robert Boyle had his colleagues at Oxford involved in experiments with mercury on barometers, known as "weather glass" at the time: A Mr. Ball had submitted written observations he had kept since 1659 at his family home in Mamhead (near Exeter), Devon. The document was so exciting that it was ordered to be framed. Ball had recorded the changes of level of the mercury, the position of his weather glass, place, the winds, and the notable weather of the day, and laid them out in a tabular format familiar to accountants and astronomers. This anticipated Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke's discussions of making a “history of the weather” in 1663, and anticipates the format of Hooke's famous “Scheme for a History of the Weather” published in the Philosophical Transactions Num. 24 (April 8, 1667) and in Thomas Sprat's book, The History of the Royal Society (London: 1667). Mr. Ball's idea as formatted visually by Robert Hooke and disseminated in print provided the weather diaries and observational programs of the 17th and 18th centuries with a standard format which displayed multiple variables and observations in one view. Late 17th century diaries, mostly for want of instruments, were not as comprehensive as Ball and Hooke's tables, but by the early 18th century this paradigm began to have influence throughout Europe and her colonies, with Johann Kanold publishing Hooke-style tables from around Europe in his Silesian journal beginning in 1717, and Royal Society's Secretary, James Jurin's 1723 international call for observations, which came complete with a template. see I think this request shows the Oxford scientists were trying to create enough similar equipment for observations to be made more widely in a controlled way.

21 May 2021, 1:53 a.m. - San Diego Sarah

I know ... my theory, while an entirely reasonable explanation for the use of mercury by Oxford dons, doesn't fit with Dr. Sharrock's odd notification to Williamson. You can go with Stephane's explanation if you like. Any other theories? Of course, it may be exactly what the letter says: "If advised, I will try one chemical experiment to mercurify a trunk, in spite of the proverb ex quolibet ligno, &c., but I mean only to put a little mercury into that caput mortuum, our present head, so as to make him not so intolerably heavy in the doing of his duty and the desire of the [Royal?] society." My Latin is rusty, but my best guess for this, including the &c. is 'Haud ex quolibet ligno Hercules fit': 'You can't make a Hercules [a statue of Hercules] out of just any piece of wood'. Caput Mortuum was a type of paint made by Europeans starting in the early 16th century. At that time there was a thriving trade in mummified remains between Egypt and Europe. Some gentlemen bought mummified parts to display in their curio cabinets, and some slathered it onto their skin as an early anti-aging technique. “Mummy powder (mumia), said to have mystical curative potency, was sold in European apothecaries, to be applied to the skin or mixed into food or drinks,” writes R. Leopoldina Torres in "Index", who says some sources date the first use of human remains in painting back to the early 12th century. So the trunk and "our present head" might be a cadaver? And the Royal Society wanted to try something after that, which Dr. Sharrock makes a humorous note as to the cadaver's duty to perform. "The paper enclosed contains the first lines of the proposal, but it will cease if you disapprove" -- Sharrock wants to be sure he is doing the correct experiment. "I beg your advice and assistance, reminding you of our former joint relation to the furnace;" must refer to some previous failed experiment where they caused more damage than reasonable. I know ... the cadaver going to be used as a torpedo or a land mine!!! Poison the troops moving him. Anyone? Anyone?

21 May 2021, 4:03 a.m. - John G

Oh no! Not more would be RGs! By the way, what is a 'Bich'?

21 May 2021, 8:02 p.m. - Stephane Chenard

We have found it good practice, when faced with mysteries such as Dr. Sharrock's letter contains, to hop onto the ol' time machine and go consult the wisdom of far future ages. In this case we went to 1751 and found a long explanation of the "mercurification", which our botanist proposes to undertake, in an article by pharmacist Gabriel François Venel in the great Encyclopédie of Messrs. Diderot and D'Alembert. Long story short: All metals (surely we all know that) are made of pure mercury, alloyed with some other earth that gives them their distinctive Character. Mercurification is the extraction of that pure mercury that resides at the heart of, say, lead. Mix that marvelous substance with the right quantity and quality of sulphur and you get, yea, gold. Mercurification is not, then, the soaking of a (tree) trunk and a capuut mortum into mercury, to infuse them with life for the better service of His Majesty? Doesn't seem to be. Williamson's big project could be a big time-wasting misunderstanding then. Sorry! Or at least, L'Encyclopédie doesn't say. But alchemists are devious fellows and there could be an even deeper mystery, and Venel makes it clear he thinks it's all bunk, so he might now have been told the whole story. And anyway, there are few limits to what you can do with the philosopher's mercury. Infuse it into a capuut mortum, and who knows what happens? (Dr. Sharrock was into improving vegetables; he may have tried it on cucumbers and extrapolated). "Poison the troops moving him", the mercurified cadaver - good idea, but mercury is (in 1668, and still in Venel's even more enlightened times), first and foremost, a life-giving miracle substance, a cure-all medicine. Venel writes pages and pages on how it fixes your skin problems, your lice problems, your bowel problems, etc. Yes, it does make the mercury miners dizzy and fidgety, but give them a bit of fresh air and they're fine, though in Sam's future his friend Newton will write him nasty letters after going nuts on breathing the fumes - he should have opened the windows more often! The scavans of 1751 suspect that such problems are caused by a bit of arsenic being mixed in the mercury, but in 1668 nobody would be so rash as to call it a poison. Venel also wrote a very fine article on mercury itself, and offers that the most remarkable mine in Europe, in Austria, produces up to 300 tons per year, which is sold by Mr. Keyssler for 150 German florins a quintal (100 kg). There, we've done Sam's job for Williamson (a venison pie to anyone who can convert that into pounds). Except the whole take is bought by the Dutch. That's a problem. Our other sources, however, tell us there are even bigger mines in Spain, and in the Viceroyalty of Peru.

21 May 2021, 8:03 p.m. - Stephane Chenard

Now, getting it from the Moon would be easier than getting a Spanish passport for Peru. Except... Do we know anyone in Madrid who's be owed a favor by Queen Mariana? And then Sam could be secretly sent to Peru! L'Encyclopédie is available (in French), among various sites, at'Encyclopédie/1re_édition To anyone with bowel problems (or lice): We don't recommend using mercury. At all.

22 May 2021, 12:07 p.m. - John G

SC, thanks for that interesting information.

29 May 2021, 4:16 p.m. - San Diego Sarah

My favorite Oxford Don, Robert Boyle, had experimented with mercury in the late 1650's. "With all the important work he accomplished in physics – the enunciation of Boyle's law, the discovery of the part taken by air in the propagation of sound, and investigations on the expansive force of freezing water, on specific gravities and refractive powers, on crystals, on electricity, on colour, on hydrostatics, etc. – chemistry was his peculiar and favourite study. "His first book on the subject was The Sceptical Chymist, published in 1661, in which he criticised the 'experiments whereby vulgar Spagyrists are wont to endeavour to evince their Salt, Sulphur and Mercury to be the true Principles of Things.' For him chemistry was the science of the composition of substances, not merely an adjunct to the arts of the alchemist or the physician." So I'd be surprised if he had enlisted Dr, Sharrock in experiments now. Maybe Charles II was experimenting? "Physicians, healers, and patent medicine sellers offered a wide range of cures for scrofula or the King's Evil. Since ancient times, the highly toxic heavy metal mercury, referred to as cinnabar, quicksilver or calomel, was administered as an ointment or pill or inhaled as a vapor to treat skin diseases. Mercury taken internally induced vomiting and sweating, reactions believed to cure the disease." But no, that turns out to have been in the mid-1680's: "Charles developed painful gout in later life which limited the daily walks that he took regularly when younger. His keenness was now channelled to his laboratory where he would devote himself to his experiments, for hours at a time. Charles became particularly obsessed with mercury and often spent whole mornings attempting to distill it. Unfortunately, heating mercury in an open crucible releases mercury vapour, which is toxic and may have contributed to his later ill health."

29 May 2021, 4:17 p.m. - San Diego Sarah

Maybe Dr. Sharrock et al were going into a chicken-raising endevor? "[Cornelis van] Drebbel's most famous written work was Een kort Tractaet van de Natuere der Elementen (A short treatise of the nature of the elements) (Haarlem, 1621). He was also involved in the invention of mercury fulminate. He also discovered that mixtures of “spiritus vini” with mercury and silver in “aqua fortis” could explode. "Drebbel invented a chicken incubator and a mercury thermostat which automatically kept it stable at a constant temperature; one of the first recorded feedback-controlled devices. He also developed and demonstrated a working air conditioning system. The invention of a working thermometer is also credited to Drebbel." Some one should have worked on this one: air conditioning invented in 1660! Or "By 1649, Descartes had become one of Europe's most famous philosophers and scientists. That year, Queen Christina of Sweden invited him to her court to organize a new scientific academy ... Descartes accepted, and moved to Sweden in the middle of winter. "He was a guest at the house of Pierre Chanut, living on Västerlånggatan, less than 500 meters from Tre Kronor in Stockholm. There, Chanut and Descartes made observations with a Torricellian mercury barometer. Challenging Blaise Pascal, Descartes took the first set of barometric readings in Stockholm to see if atmospheric pressure could be used in forecasting the weather." Good stuff, but I doubt any of this needed a trunk and dead head for the experiment.

23 Jul 2021, 12:25 a.m. - San Diego Sarah

"Spend a night with Venus, live the rest of your life with Mercury" - Old English Proverb Another reason the Stuarts loved mercury.