Sunday 9 May 1669

(Lord’s day). Up; and, after dressing in my best suit with gold trimming, I to the Office, and there with Gibson and Tom finishing against to-morrow my notes upon Commanders’ Instructions; and, when church-time, to church with my wife, leaving them at work. Dr. Mills preached a dull sermon, and so we home to dinner; and thence by coach to St. Andrew’s, Holborne, thinking to have heard Dr. Stillingfleete preach, but we could not get a place, and so to St. Margaret’s, Westminster, and there heard a sermon, and did get a place, the first we have heard there these many years, and here at a distance I saw Betty Michell, but she is become much a plainer woman than she was a girl. Thence towards the Park, but too soon to go in, so went on to Knightsbridge, and there eat and drank at “The World’s End,” where we had good things, and then back to the Park, and there till night, being fine weather, and much company, and so home, and after supper to bed. This day I first left off both my waistcoats by day, and my waistcoat by night, it being very hot weather, so hot as to make me break out, here and there, in my hands, which vexes me to see, but is good for me.

20 Annotations

First Reading

jeannine  •  Link

St Olaves=Dr Mills= ‘dull’
St Andrews=Dr Stillingfleete=’sold out’
St Margaret’s= long distance sighting of Betty Mitchell =forgot to mention sermon, remembered to mention Betty was losing her youthful looks…
Some things never change……

Robert Gertz  •  Link

The gold cuffs can finally see the light of day...

Poor...Or lucky...Betty...Off Sam's list at last.

Mary  •  Link

"Dr. Mills preached a dull sermon"

Did he ever preach anything else? I don't recall Pepys remarking upon a stimulating sermon from this gentleman at any point in the diary.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Sam's reports of the Park intrigue me ... apparently, there are hours when you can attend (or *should* -- presumably there are not formal hours when the Park is open or closed, though I could be wrong about that), and then I wonder exactly what it is that he and Elizabeth do there among "much company" -- is it the 17th century equivalent of the scenes in "American Graffiti" where people are cruising the main strip and, when appropriate, stopping and talking to each other from their vehicles?

Am finally caught back up with the Diary after months of too many obligations getting in the way of my daily reading -- just in time for it to soon (too soon!) end. Glad I'll be here online for the fare-thee-well, though I won't be able to make any of the physical gatherings, in my coach or on foot, wearing my best suit with gold trimming or t-shirt and jeans, etc....

As always, thanks to Phil for this nearly decade-long labo(u)r of love, and to all of the annotators for the many hours of education and enjoyment.

Bryan M  •  Link

Did he ever preach anything else?

At the start of the diary (1660-1661) Sam thought Mills delivered good sermons and even considered him to be in top form at times. Something seems to have happened around mid-1662 though. After that Mr Mills was no longer grabbing Sam's attention.

30 Jan 1661: Mr. Mills made a most excellent sermon

24 Feb 1661: Mr. Mills made as excellent a sermon in the morning against drunkenness as ever I heard in my life.

25 Aug 1661: a very good and pungent sermon of Mr. Mills,

Then standards start to slip...

8 June 1662: Mr. Mills come home out of the country again, and preached but a lazy sermon.

7 June 1663: Mr. Mills preached, but, I know not how, I slept most of the sermon.

8 Nov 1663: an ordinary lazy sermon of Mr. Mill’s

and so on...

jeannine  •  Link

At the start of the diary (1660-1661) Sam thought Mills delivered good sermons and even considered him to be in top form at times

Bryan, think of it as a growing taste in the finer things of life. In college one may have thought a cheap wine was great, but as they grow and can afford to experience diverse and better tastes, what once was appealing loses its luster. Sam has ‘shopped around’ for sermons over the years and also has a larger base for comparison. He is becoming a connoisseur of fine sermons, an Mr Mills doesn't seem up to top ratings anymore.

Don McCahill  •  Link


I read it as the "cool kids aren't there yet" rather than "the park is closed".

I could be wrong.

languagehat  •  Link

"Bryan, think of it as a growing taste in the finer things of life. In college one may have thought a cheap wine was great, but as they grow and can afford to experience diverse and better tastes, what once was appealing loses its luster."

This is a brilliant analysis and an example of what makes the commentary here so indispensable.

Robert Watson  •  Link

"This is a brilliant analysis and an example of what makes the commentary here so indispensable."

I have been reading Pepys' Diary for several years on this site, and rarely make a comment.

With age, we understand better. The youth-oriented culture of today is entirely wrong. How long will it be before people smarten up and respect the elderly again?

JKM  •  Link

It's also entirely possible that Mr. Mills has gotten into a rut and is putting less energy into his sermons than he used to!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Might the ouster of the Presbyterians have affected the quality of preaching generally?

Jesse  •  Link

"Dr. Mills preached a dull sermon"

My guess would be that Dr. Mills is going downhill. He's become complacent, burned out, bored, what have you. I'd need more evidence that Pepys is 'becoming a connoisseur of fine sermons'.

Bryan M  •  Link

“Bryan, think of it as a growing taste in the finer things of life”

Yes, indeed. One of the delightful rewards of reading Pepys’ diary has been to watch the development of another, very different, human being from the inside, as it were. I was taking that as given even though it seems to have been something of a late surprise for at least one annotator.

Be that as it may, I was responding to Mary’s question as to whether Sam’s opinions of Mills’ sermons were all negative. It turns out they were not and I also wondered whether it was a result of Sam’s increased sophistication. On looking over the relevant entries there appeared to me to be a definite turning point for the change in Sam’s opinion and I tried to illustrate that with a few representative quotes. Perhaps I was too succinct so I’ll try again.

During the first two years of the diary, 1660-61, Sam offered only positive or neutral comments on Mills’ sermons. In at least three cases (see above) they were very positive.

In June 1662 Mills returned from a period in the country and Sam’s comments on Mills changed quite abruptly to being mainly negative or neutral. From June 62 to June 65 there are just three occasions when in Sam’s opinion Mills gave a good sermon; two of them close together in November 62 and January 63. After June 1662 Sam also made a number of other negative comments about Mills behaviour, for example about changing or rearranging his clothes in front of the congregation.

If one takes the time to read the entries (very easy with Phil’s most excellent site) I think the evidence indicates a fairly abrupt change in Mills behaviour rather than a gradual development of Sam’s taste in sermons. Let’s recall too that Sam was no ingenuous bumpkin at the start of the diary. He was intelligent and highly educated. His success was due to his judgement, analytical ability and evidence based decision making. If Sam says that Mills went from giving good to excellent sermons to giving poor and lazy ones and that change took place pretty quickly around June 1662, then I’m inclined to go with that.

As to wine, some prefer to judge the contents of the bottle rather than the label/price tag. In my experience, as long as I’m in good company most wines still taste quite okay. I like to think Sam was the same.

Anonymous  •  Link

“Dr. Mills preached a dull sermon”

Dr. Mills will be giving sermons at St. Olave's for twenty more years.
If he is burnt out in 1668 at the age of 43 (my goodness, he is just a child) then truly, at his passing in 1689, only ashes will be left.

Second Reading

Ivan  •  Link

I wasn't quite sure what Pepys meant when he writes that the weather was "so hot as to make me break out here and there in my hands, which vexes me to see - but is good for me."
Does he mean that he perspires heavily [unusual from hands, tho' it happened to me in the tropics] or that pustules/reddening/blisters appear? Perhaps he sees this as good for him as he is getting rid of toxins. Any thoughts?

psw  •  Link

Ivan: d'aquerdo. My guess as well.

LKvM  •  Link

Regarding what happens in Hyde Park, there is a scene in the 2004 movie "Vanity Fair" (with Reese Witherspoon) which shows the many coaches circling the park, with some of the people in the coaches admiring others while a few, like Becky Sharp, deliberately "cut" (snub, I suppose) those they feel superior to.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Today entry in Cosmo, the future Grand Duke of Turin's journal about his visit to London in the Spring of 1669.

I've standardized the spelling of names I know, corrected scanning errors I could guess, and increased the number of paragraphs. I apologize if they are wrong:

On the morning of 9/19 May, 1669 when his highness had finished his devotions and heard mass, he received my Lord Oliver St.John, Earl of Bolingbroke, Sir William Morton, and my Lord John Paulet, Baron Paulet, who had come on a complimentary visit; and after spending some time in conversation with them,
[Oliver St.John, 2nd Earl of Bolingbroke (c. 1634 – 1688),… ]
[My guess: Lord John Poulett, 2nd Baron Poulett MP (1641-1679}
https://www.historyofparliamenton… ]
[Possibly Sir William Morton, a Fire Court Judge… ]

set off in his carriage along with Colonel Gascoyne and Sir Castiglioni, on a tour through the city, and went to see the New Exchange, which is not far from the place of the Common Garden (Covent Garden) in the great street called the Strand.


and thence returning home,

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


there came to dine with him, besides the gentlemen of his own suite, my Lord St.John, my Lord Paulet, my Lord Philip Howard, and Henry Neville.

[A very Catholic lunch. Charles Paulet, son of the 5th Marquis of Winchester, was called Lord St.John. See…
[John Paulet, 5th Marquis of Winchester was the owner of Basing House near Winchester.…
[Lord Philip Howard… ]

The latter, after dinner, caused to be brought to his highness a telescope, of a size never before seen, whose field takes in almost all the horizon. With this, his highness amused himself for some time,

and, when it began to grow late, went out, to renew his visits to the ladies who had made acquaintance with him at the Mall in Hyde Park,

and in the evening, adjourned to the palace, to continue his respectful attentions towards their majesties


The afternoon visits were often to the wives of noblemen and ambassadors who had already met Cosmo socially. They seem to have kept open houses regularly for this purpose.

According to Cosmo's travelogue, Happy Hour seems to have been a regular Court event at Whitehall and St. James’s for the nobility in 1669 (Pepys was never invited that I have seen).


His highness, Cosmo, must be considered only as a traveler. Under his direction, the narrator of the records was Count Lorenzo Magalotti, afterwards Secretary to the Academy del Cimento, and one of the most learned and eminent characters of the court of Ferdinand II.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.