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De motu cordis

14-31 August1


1 September, in the year of our Lord 2020

Up betimes, it sunny and bright, I with my mother and father at their house, where my father fell ill these two weeks — rather: being ill, he fell, on a certain night, which was in the middle of August, I think, suffering a faint before he was in bed, which damaged his hand with some small cuts in the falling, and in the morning the maid who calls to ablute my mother sent him to the Hospitalle for there was a great feablenesse in him, I hying there the while in my coach.
  He hath received a pulse maker, for the natural beat of the circulation at his wrist was so slow as not to push enough blood to his head, so he had a giddiness; and this pulse maker is such a thing as I never saw in my entire life, being in the nature of a square of some materiel placed on the front of his chest, below his collar bone, in the form of a net as is used by fishermen, or of some simple lacework, and over it a film that clings to it, to stick it in its place on his skin; and Lord knows how such a flimsy thing can change his pulse and keep him from another faint, for I never read of it in Mr. Harvey’s book unless I skipped that bit, which I am wont. He is better, but not as certain on his feet, or as strong, as when in Lock Up he climbed on to the roof of the out building wherein he stores his Tools, to fix a leak that had happened, all this at ninety years, which vexed me lest he fell off it and broke a bone in the middle of the plague.
  I to my house for a few days only, then back, where again these six days, my father complaining once more of a poorlyness, which was Thursday; and though he feels well again I will stay to make sure that the maids call more often when I leave, and that they will cook, and wash, and shop for victuals, which my father in his pride has refused heretofore, which we will meet tomorrow to discuss so that I will have confidence that it will be done, and I hope it will lighten my mind a little, which all the while is troubled by a further little thing — viz., that in the Hospitalle they used an optic Contrivance to look at my father, which they say shines into his chest a light that cannot be seen, through a huge prism in the shape of a tube, which he was moved through, lying on his back, and from the light that comes out of the other side they can conjure a print of what is inside him, which is black and white like an engraving, and on it they found some small things they think should not be there; all this being very well, and good, I hope, and to his great benefit, but it is a worry that they have not bled him nor applied Leeches.
  In the afternoon, I think to check my own Circulation using a contraption my father has in his closet for measuring the tension of the Arteries, which is a huge column of water in a tube, mounted on a stout wooden frame that reaches from the floor to the ceiling, working together with a great waistecoat that is inflated by bellowes using the feet, like an organ, which my father bought from a man who had such a tension in his Vessles that the machine flooded his loft though he had it in his scullery, and he died of apoplexy before it all dried, so his widow sold it to pay a plasterer. But the tension of my vessells at the full pumping of the heart, which Harvey calls sistole, is only five foot and 7 inches of water, over three foot 1 inch at hearts rest, which is good for a man of my age, and to my great content.
  After supper, walked alone around their little garden, where the colours are of late summer, with some big purpley flowers on a shrub like the heads of mops, and others tiny and the colour of carmine, hanging from the slender stems of bushes like a thousand little drops of blood. It is the garden where I played as a child, my mother watching over me, and there is a strange, sad contentment in me that I can walk in it still, below the branches of the apple trees and behind the house where I grew up, with its door upstairs where the little plaque says ‘Samuel’s Room’; only now it is I who makes our supper, and who sees my parents to bed and locks up, and wonders about the movements of the heart, and how long the summer will last. And so to bed.

1. Pepys made no entries between 13th August and 1st September. This was almost certainly because he was at his parents’ home for most of that time, his father having been taken ill on either 15th or 16th August. We presume this because a number of receipts from the local Tesco were found between the blank leaves of his journal for this period, mainly for a ‘Saint Mont’ white wine and a Chilean carmenère, both of which, records tell us, were on special offer.

By andywmacfarlane

I am a retired medic who likes messing around with a bit of writing, and friends seemed to like my social media postings of "Samuel Pepys: The Covid Diaries". So I'm having a go at blogging them.

5 replies on “De motu cordis”

I trust your father will recover soonest and be able to compleet the mending of the out house roof. It must cause him much vexation of spirit to delaye.

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