Tuesday 23 June 1668

Up, and all the morning at the office. At noon home to dinner, and so to the office again all the afternoon, and then to Westminster to Dr. Turberville about my eyes, whom I met with: and he did discourse, I thought, learnedly about them; and takes time before he did prescribe me any thing, to think of it. So I away with my wife and Deb., whom I left at Unthanke’s, and so to Hercules Pillars, and there we three supped on cold powdered beef, and thence home and in the garden walked a good while with Deane, talking well of the Navy miscarriages and faults. So home to bed.

12 Annotations

Chris Squire  •  Link

‘Turberville, Daubeney (1612–1696), physician and oculist, . . at the urging of his mother, took up the special study of diseases of the eye. He gained considerable fame in the treatment of eye disorders; . . [his] medical prowess brought him to the attention of the royal court. When as a child [Princess] Anne suffered a dangerous eye inflammation that the court physicians were unable to cure, Turberville was sent for and was asked to treat her. This he did successfully, much to the shock of the court physicians, who thereafter detested him.

[His] skills also captured the attention of Robert Boyle, who communicated with him frequently until the end of his life about his own persistent eye disorders, and recommended him, in turn, to Samuel Pepys, who wrote about his own consultation with Turberville in his diary entry for 22 June 1668 . .

[He] died at Salisbury . . and was buried in Salisbury Cathedral, where there is an inscription on a mural tablet on the west wall. His epitaph was written by the astronomer Walter Pope, a grateful former patient. [he] divided his estate between a niece of his wife and his sister Mary, who had become very familiar with [his] techniques and recipes, and set up practice in London, where she acquired a good reputation as an oculist in her own right.’ [DNB]

jenny  •  Link

Does anyone have any information on what would have been prescribed for Sam's eyes?

Don McCahill  •  Link

To heck with the eyes ... I want to know what cold powdered beef is! Googling the term only brings up other 18th century literary references.

Claire Lee  •  Link

Don, click on the highlighted word "beef" for an explanation. To "powder" was to sprinkle with salt.

Clive Foden  •  Link

Powdered beef could be what my grandma (a butcher's wife) used to make and called potted beef. Basically it was a cheap cut, usually skirt, boiled mercilessly with onions until it collapsed in submission. The sieved powdered remains were then pressed with grated nutmeg into a small dish, some melted butter was drizzled on the top as a seal so it would keep. It was then eaten cold with buttered toast. (I really ought to make some (if I can stop dribbling!!)

Beginning to mention Deb quite a bit these days isn't he?

JWB  •  Link

"...and takes time before he did prescribe me any thing..."
Turbeerville! thou should'st be living at this hour. Today we have diagnosis by treatment.

Jenny  •  Link

I may have answered my own question. On consulting with Mrs Beeton I found the remedy for "sore eyes" used in 1859 was one part of strong citron ointment with three parts of spermaceti ointment. Used night and morning, placing a piece of the size of a pea in the corner of the eye. I doubt treatments would have changed dramatically between Pepys' time and Mrs Bs.

Jenny  •  Link

Thank you Lisa, that was very interesting indeed.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sorry this is late - playing catch-up.

Eye ointment - Mrs Beeton's recipe includes sperm whale oil. Would there have been enough of that around in the 17th c? I know there were whaling fleets in England at that time (e.g. Whitby) but would the supply be enough to make use of it in eye ointment?

Surely powdered beef is what we (Australia) called corned beef? A joint (usually silverside) which has been preserved in salt (no refridgeration) and boiled and usually served cold with mustard or hot with vegetables - typically chokoes in white sauce.

Wonderful to read that Mary Turberville (very Hardyesque name!) was able to be successful as an oculist in her own right.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Whaling fleets and sperm whale oil:

Of course, the Dutch had a monopoly on the market! In 1619 they had opened a summer camp which finally grew to about 15 buildings and 200 people just outside the arctic circle, and there they rendered the whales so the blubber could be sent back to the Netherlands for distribution.

The whales must have caught on, so by the 1640's they had changed their swimming habits and stayed out to sea.

For a wonderful example of "fake news" and how stories grow, plus the early history of whaling, see

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

For Pepys Diary purposes, it should be noted the Dutch abandoned the place in 1663 ... but for that century, the Dutch ruled the whale trade, supplying most of Europe with oil for lamps and whale bones for corsets and hoop-skirts. The Dutch navy safeguarded sailing routes against English, German, and French interlopers as Dutch whalers asserted exclusive rights to the best hunting grounds in the Arctic. The resulting near-monopoly allowed Dutch companies to keep prices artificially high and further gild their coffers.

The legacy of this Dutch Golden Age is recorded in maritime words like “maelstrom”, “skipper”, “cruise”, “iceberg” and “walrus”.

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