Monday 16 November 1668

Up, and by water to White Hall, and there at the robe chamber at a Committee for Tangier, where some of us — my Lord Sandwich, Sir W. Coventry, and myself, with another or two — met to debate the business of the Mole, and there drew up reasons for the King’s taking of it into his own hands, and managing of it upon accounts with Sir H. Cholmley. This being done I away to Holborne, about Whetstone’s Park, where I never was in my life before, where I understand by my wife’s discourse that Deb. is gone, which do trouble me mightily that the poor girle should be in a desperate condition forced to go thereabouts, and there not hearing of any such man as Allbon, with whom my wife said she now was, I to the Strand, and there by sending Drumbleby’s boy, my flageolet maker, to Eagle Court, where my wife also by discourse lately let fall that he did lately live, I find that this Dr. Allbon is a kind of poor broken fellow that dare not shew his head nor be known where he is gone, but to Lincoln’s Inn Fields I went to Mr. Povy’s, but missed him, and so hearing only that this Allbon is gone to Fleet Street, I did only call at Martin’s, my bookseller’s, and there bought “Cassandra,” and some other French books for my wife’s closet, and so home, having eat nothing but two pennyworths of oysters, opened for me by a woman in the Strand, while the boy went to and again to inform me about this man, and therefore home and to dinner, and so all the afternoon at the office, and there late busy, and so home to supper, and pretty pleasant with my wife to bed, rested pretty well.

14 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I away to...where I understand by my wife’s discourse that Deb. is gone,"

The plot sickens.

chris  •  Link

How many oysters might one expect for twopence?

sue nicholson  •  Link

According to Liza Picard ("Restoration London", Phoenix Press 1997) you could get a pint of oysters for a shilling (12pence).

Mary  •  Link

So the answer to Chris's question is, "Not very many at all." A small snack to stay the pangs rather than a quick meal.

languagehat  •  Link

Man, he's got it bad. Hard to know whether to laugh or cry, but we've all been there!

Tony Eldridge  •  Link


languagehat  •  Link

I didn't mean "sneaking around on one's wife and trying to find a recently dismissed servant to take advantage of," obviously -- at least I hope it was obvious -- but simply "so much in love/lust that one loses touch with common sense and the requirements of daily life." I suppose there are those who haven't done that either, but it's certainly a common phenomenon.

Australian Susan  •  Link

I love the fleeting image of Sam standing around swallowing newly shucked oysters whilst waiting.These little vignettes of London life add texture and are one element of why this Diary is so compelling all these years on. And there is no other diary like it.

Second Reading

Dorothy  •  Link

He does sound like a lovesick teenager. It never occurs to him that this information his wife "let fall" is certain to be false. I'd bet Deb is on the other side of London from Holborn and Dr. Allbon. I assume "Cassandra" and the other books are to show his wife how much he thinks of her -- after he wastes almost an entire day hanging around hoping for a sight of Deb. Men!

Kelvin Hard  •  Link

"Certain to be false".

Have you read the rest of the diary?

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Whetstone's Park! The very name makes the skin crawl under the rich brocade of our waistcoat. Illegally developed over 30 years ago by a Mr Whetstone but never torn down despite orders, it now festers and hobbles in the twilight zone as "a centre of vice and gambling", as… puts it - referencing a text at… dated from 1878, by which time it had degenerated to "an almost untenanted row (...) now chiefly turned into stables". In the 1720s London geographer John Strypes (quoted at…) will remember it as "once famous for its infamous and vicious inhabitants." As of 1668 it courses between Holborn, lately noted for its badwy houses when they were torn down in the eponymous riots of March 1667, and St. Giles, a slightly better neighborhood but still home to a hospital for the poor (need we say more). Just to the south are Lincoln's Inn Fields, "head-quarters of beggars by day and of robbers at night ", on which our 1878 history heaps more fetid-slum descriptions.

So, a fit address for a low-lying "poor broken fellow" (a.k.a. a "wretch"), a proper circle of Hell in which to send your rival, and, while he's no stranger to the better parts of Holborn, hardly the place where an upright Pepys should walk about - unless blinded by Love, with his wig discreetly tucked away.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The volume of Domestic State Papers covering correspondence from Oct. 1668 to Dec. 1669 is at…

Nov. 16 1668.
J. Evelyn to Williamson.

I ask the Historiographer's place, which is void by the death of James Howell (if there be a subsistence appended to it), for Chr. Wase, formerly of King's College, Cambridge, who lost his fellowship for refusing the engagement.

He is now schoolmaster of the Free School at Tunbridge, where his incomparable parts are obscured and depressed, and the miserable creature ploughs for 40/. a year, which does not afford him bread.

To render a specimen of his universal abilities, you ought to see his version of Hugh Gratius's Catechism into Greek verse, in which tongue he is competitor, if not superior to any of the age; and out of Greek into English, his admirable translation of Sophocles's Electra, for which loyal poem he suffered great persecution; out of Latin, old Gratius's Cynegeticon, or poem of Hunting; with his critical and historical notes upon all these three authors.

His talent in the Latin tongue, and knowledge of universal history, will be found in a large preface to Dictionarium minus, which contains more good matter than many enormous volumes.

With all these excellent parts, he is of a most innocent, sincere, humble, and sedulous mind; his style is nervous and material, but quick; and he is furnished to adorn it with all the advantages of the most refined learning.

In him you will have one ready to drudge for you in the most Herculean labours of the pen, upon any other occasions of putting things into Latin, and all without ever owning his merits.

I will stand or fall in your good opinion if Wase does not make good to the utmost what I promise so largely in his behalf, and without his knowledge or seeking.

He has travelled France and the Low Countries, is skilled in all the Oriental tongues, and was once compiling the History of Languages.

I know not what he wants to qualify him equal to the ablest writer of this age, but his Majesty's favour, to give him bread and encouragement, that he may entirely vacate to his service, and begin to take off the reproaches we lie under from the Dutch and French scribblers, who yet poison all Europe with their pernicious pamphlets.
[S.P. Dom., Čar. II. 249, No. 95.]

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

1668, Nov. 16.
John Lamplugh to Williamson.

The Earl of Northumberland being dead, I suppose the young Earl will keep up the employment of such officers of repute as his ancestors have formerly had.

It was their practice, until the death of Sir Pat. Curwen, to have a gentleman of quality as Lieutenant of the Honour of Cockermouth, with equal power with the other auditors;
my ancestors have had the office, as also that of Bow bearer of Wastalhead Forest.

Pray speak to the young Earl in my behalf, as my situation is near the forest, and the Earl will have more occasion than ordinary, on the fining of the tenants, for a lieutenant who knows their abilities;

I will serve him as faithfully as any of my ancestors have done his ancestors.
[S.P. Dom., Čar. II. 249, No. 96. ]
During the period of Restoration politics, Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland's closest ally at court was Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester, while Chancellor Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon remained a constant enemy, a rivalry which climaxed with Northumberland voting in favor of Clarendon's impeachment in 1667.

Northumberland died at Petworth on 13 October 1668 and was buried there in September 1668. He was succeeded by Joceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland.…
Lamplugh and Wastal Head Forest are in Cumberland, now Cumbria, and the Lamplugh family were an influential family. Google has not linked the Percy family to them so far for me.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... having eat nothing but two pennyworths of oysters, opened for me by a woman in the Strand, ..."

This is the only mention I have found in the Diary where Pepys admits he ate from food prepared by a street vendor (or costermonger). Yet this was the main source of food for the great masses of people flocking to London in hope of finding employment, rebuilding the city.

Between the 16th and early 20th centuries, hawkers of food carried baskets, pushed wheelbarrows, and set up stalls right across the metropolis. All sorts of Londoners relished their mackerel, mussels, oranges, cherries, turnips, muffins, puddings, and pies. But street sellers were particularly important for those in neighborhoods at the edge of the medieval city, such as the East End. But as Pepys lived in the City of London, his cook was able to select his food at a choice of 15 official food markets.

In the mid-17th century, the western suburbs had 4 food markets, but the east had none. The tens of thousands of residents of Hackney and Stepney had to walk miles to do their shopping. Although more markets were built after the Fire of 1666, this part of town remained badly provisioned. Street vendors made up much of the deficit.

So why did Pepys select oysters from the many foods available? From the late Elizabethan era, the "cries" of the street vendors had a print genre, encompassing visual prints, courtly music, and ballads, captured the sights and sounds of the streets. Artists and composers conjured a cast of stereotypes, like the vulgar, hard-drinking fishwife, the naïve, rustic milkmaid, and the seductive oyster girl whose basket of shellfish concealed her true occupation, selling sex. Uh-Huh.

Pepys hasn't changed his spots!…

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