Saturday 21 January 1659/60

Up early in finishing my accounts and writing to my Lord and from thence to my Lord’s and took leave of Mr. Sheply and possession of all the keys and the house. Thence to my office for some money to pay Mr. Sheply and sent it him by the old man. I then went to Mr. Downing who chid me because I did not give him notice of some of his guests failed him but I told him that I sent our porter to tell him and he was not within, but he told me that he was within till past twelve o’clock. So the porter or he lied. Thence to my office where nothing to do. Then with Mr. Hawly, he and I went to Mr. Crew’s and dined there. Thence into London, to Mr. Vernon’s and I received my 25l. due by bill for my troopers’ pay. Then back again to Steadman’s at the Mitre, in Fleet- street, in our way calling on Mr. Fage, who told me how the City have some hopes of Monk. Thence to the Mitre, where I drank a pint of wine, the house being in fitting for Banister to come hither from Paget’s. Thence to Mrs. Jem and gave her 5l.. So home and left my money and to Whitehall where Luellin and I drank and talked together an hour at Marsh’s and so up to the clerks’ room, where poor Mr. Cook, a black man, that is like to be put out of his clerk’s place, came and railed at me for endeavouring to put him out and get myself in, when I was already in a good condition. But I satisfied him and after I had wrote a letter there to my Lord, wherein I gave him an account how this day Lenthall took his chair again, and [the House] resolved a declaration to be brought in on Monday next to satisfy the world what they intend to do. So home and to bed.

44 Annotations

Wayne Steele   Link to this

"...poor Mr. Cook, a black man..."
Is this a figure of speech, or is Mr. Cook a Negro?

David Quidnunc   Link to this

William Lenthall, speaker House of Commons

Here's an interesting biographical sketch (along with a nice portrait) of Lenthall (1591-1662) who was in the thick of the politicking between Richard Cromwell's fall and Charles II's restoration:
http://www.berkshirehistory.com/bios/wlenthall....

Known as a weak man generally, Lenthall is famous for a statement he made to Charles I in a dramatic confrontation when Charles, accompanied by only one supporter, barged into the House of Commons. The website of the speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly tells the story with some good background:

"The historic role of the Speaker was to 'speak' to the monarch and the monarch's advisers on behalf of the parliamentarians. . . . If the message was one that angered the king or queen, the monarch would take revenge by beheading them. The first beheading took place in 1410 and in the history of parliament, at least nine speakers died . . .

"[W]hen Britain was on the verge of civil war in 1642, Charles I demanded the surrender of five members [including, by the way, Arthur Haselrig, who's been mentioned in the diary recently] who had opposed his policies. This time, Speaker William Lenthall refused to obey him, saying, '[May it pleasure your majesty,]I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here.' Basically he was saying he was there only to serve parliament and no longer there for the king. By the end of the 17th century, the Speaker would no longer be appointed by the monarch but by parliament."
http://www.ontla.on.ca/Side_bar/about_the_assem...

The part of the quote in brackets is found on page 78 in Antonia Fraser's "Cromwell: Lord Protector" (1973). Fraser writes (p. 424) that Lenthall was later suspected of stealing too much money from his position and later had to give the government 50,000 pounds, although he admitted nothing.

Here's another great quote (from a passage in the 1911 Britannica article on Lenthall -- someone send in a correction if my Latin translation is wrong):

"Lenthall died on the 3rd of September 1662. In his will he desired to be buried without any state and without a monument, 'but at the utmost a plain stone with this superscription only, Vermis sum ['I am a worm'], acknowledging myself to be unworthy of the least outward regard in this world and unworthy of any remembrance that hath been so great a sinner.' He was held in little honour by his contemporaries, and was universally regarded as a timeserver. He was, however, a man of good intentions, strong family affections and considerable ability."
http://www.52.1911encyclopedia.org/L/LE/LENTHAL...

neil_353   Link to this

RE: “…poor Mr. Cook, a black man…”
I suspect this means he was depressed.

P. Benson   Link to this

RE: “…poor Mr. Cook, a black man…”
Pepyspeak for a man with black (dark) hair. Now where did I read this in my flittings about for background? perhaps the Claire Tomalin biography.

PHE   Link to this

Black man?
I also have recently read (somewhere) that Pepys meant a black-haired man. But this seems a bit odd, because surely at least 50% and probably more of men had dark or black hair - so why comment on it? Many people do not realise that there were a fair number of black Africans in England at this time, some working as domestic slaves and others as escaped or free slaves. Some were accepted by and married into white families. However, it is highly unlikely that any would have been working in a 'professional' position. Perhaps Pepys meant someone with an unusually dark complexion - of mixed race or Mediterranean origin.

PHE   Link to this

Black man...
... or alternatively he could mean someone with a generally bad and humourless temper - which would fit the circumstances.

Phil   Link to this

The glossary in Latham & Matthews says that "black" in this context means "brunette, dark in hair or complexion."

andy thomas   Link to this

"Nothing to do" - does he mean he has nothing to do, or that nothing is to do, i.e. nothing is "out of order" or "No probs, mate"??

Djangocat   Link to this

It seems unlikely that Mr Cook was of African origin, but Pepys is probably combining two ideas here - Mr Cook has dark hair and a darkish complection which would popularly imply that he also has a melancholic disposition. (Reminiscent of 'humours' - choleric, phlegmatic etc). Pepys wouldn't really be interested in just pointing out what Cook looks like; the point he is making is that Cook, who is inclined to be miserable anyway, is pissed off with Pepys threatening his position.

Glyn   Link to this

So a few days back, the new job that Downing was offering Pepys was the one that Cook was doing? No wonder he was annoyed, especially if he thought it was Pepys' idea to grab it.

"Black" here would have meant that he was dark-haired or swarthy in complexion. When the future Charles II was on the run during the Civil War the Roundheads put out wanted posters describing him as a "tall, black man". (He was over 6 foot tall.)

But it's certainly true that there were substantial numbers of Africans (especially North Africans) in London at this time, and there doesn't appear to have been any notable amount of racism.

Incidentally, is Downing Street (which isn't built yet) named after any member of Mr Downing's family?

Roger Miller   Link to this

See the annotation here: http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/106/

Downing Street is named after Mr Downing.

Nicky   Link to this

The Mitre in Fleet Street was a favourite haunt of Johnson and Boswell (they planned the Tour to the Hebrides there).

PHE   Link to this

Charles II - The Black Boy
There is a story that Charles II was in fact nicknamed 'The Black Boy'. The are quite a few pubs in England with this name, for which the usual assumption is that they are named for black servant/slave boys, especailly as they tend to have a picture of a young black boy on the sign. However, there is a view that these (or at least some of them) are named for Charles II.

neil_353   Link to this

Ok I did a bit of a read ahead and found a passage that is a bit more telling contextually.

"Among all the tales that passed among us to-day, he told us of one Damford, that, being a black man, did scald his
beard with mince-pie, and it came up again all white in that place, and continued to his dying day"

It appears that this mainly refers to hair colour, however, most of the time Pepys seldom remarks on peoples appearance, I suspect this guy must have been particularly hairy and swarthy for it to stick in his mind.

David Quidnunc   Link to this

"black man" questions

I don't have a Latham & Mathews edition -- do they give any reason for saying "black hair"? If not, they've only shown it's a possibility.

At about the time Latham & Mathews's first volume of the diary came out, historians were beginning to recognize more and more blacks, women and minorities as historical actors (certainly in American history). L&M could be out of date.

It wouldn't be surprising if Cook was black, just rare. Historians (especially in the past 30 years) have certainly shown other examples of tiny numbers of people carving out exceptions to discrimination. It happens even when the discrimination is more organized in law and society than it could have been in Pepys's England. Does anyone reading this have more information about 17th century English attitudes toward blacks?

Does anyone know whether "Negro" or some other word was the common or more popular term for black people in Pepys's time? Certainly, if "black" was the common word for "black-haired" there would be confusion and people might take more care to make the distinction. I don't have an OED, perhaps that would help.

If Cook did have black skin, that probably would have been remarked on in other accounts of the time. Since we haven't heard anything, that may indicate "black" meant something else.

neil_353   Link to this

Re: "black man" questions
I did a search through the complete text and looked at the the use of the terms "black man" and "black woman". He uses the term "black man" twice and "black woman" a few times. he also uses the term "negro" a few times. It seems to me that "negro" is the term he uses for the description of a person of african origen. He seems to be more keen on making descriptive remarks on women.

The Possum   Link to this

>> ... I sent our porter to tell him and he was not
>> within, but he told me that he was within till past
>> twelve o'clock. So the porter or he lied.

Sounds rather familiar to modern times. How many times have *you* been told that you weren't home, when all it really would have taken would have been a simple ring of the doorbell?

Susanna   Link to this

"Black" Man

The OED cites Pepys' diary (although not this entry) as an illustration to the meaning of "black" as "having black hair; dark complexioned". However, it also cites Pepys' diary (again, not this entry) for the meaning of "black" as "having an extremely dark skin; strictly applied to negroes and negritos, and other dark-skinned races; often, loosely, to non-European races, little darker than many Europeans." However the citation to Pepys in the latter meaning is where Pepys is using the phrase "little black boy", for what that is worth. I think Pepys meant Mr. Cook was a brunet, but the other meaning also seems possible.

scaryduck   Link to this

"A pint of wine"

Samuel liked his alcohol then. Wine bars in central London then as now...

maureen   Link to this

Mr Cook, the clerk, might well have been a Black man - as we currently understand that phrase.

There's a good summary of the story of Black people in England at http://www.mckenziehps.com/bv/before.html

Remember that (1) racism as we currently know it comes a hundred years or more after Pepys - partly the result of early C19 pseudo-science, partly a backlash from the slave owning classes who could feel the tide of history moving against them and (2) Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, queen to George III, was of part-African descent - check contemporaneous writings and the portraits of her.

Djangocat   Link to this

I still think 'black' means melancholic, and that in Pepys time a darker complexion implied this, while a fairer complexion implied optimism.

David Quidnunc   Link to this

"So the porter or he lied."

Ah, nothing like a trusting employer/employee relationship!

By the way, I've never (in a posting) thanked people for their fine comments, but I really have learned a lot from them, especially with this "black" question. I think there's something to be said for every side of it. I think it was probably black hair or complexion, but I don't think we can nail down this one.

PHE   Link to this

Black and racism - and Downing
I'm sure most people have moved onto 'tomorrow' by now, but some further comments for today:
Pepys certainly uses the term 'black' to mean black servant/slave later in his diary - ie. referrring to " Mr ____'s black". I don't know where. I think he also has his own 'black' at some point. Thus, black skinned people were not exclusively referred to as 'negro' and 'black' does not exclusively imply black haired.

With regard to the comment that 'racism' as we know did not exist then, I disagree. There was probably more prejudice against other 'white' people. You only need to see Pepys's comments on the Dutch. Also the Irish were regularly looked down upon and discriminated against in the way that non-whites may be today. Racism has always existed in almost all cultures in some form or other, as is the case today. It certainly is not restricted to 'modern' European society - but that's another debate.

By the way, I suspect the reason that Pepys's messenger missed Downing was because he was still in bed at noon!

maureen   Link to this

I agree. There was xenophobia and condescension aplenty but not racism as we have experienced it in the last two cnturies - the idea that Black people are inherently and irretrievably inferior and must, therefore, be "contained" for all time by the superior western Europeans. That is a construct, the product of a particular period in history. As ever, economics comes into it.

As for condescension, well the ruling elite were pretty rude about all their servants. Both Pepys at this stage in his career and Mr Cook, however much money they may have made on the side, would have been seen and treated as servants.

The best illustration I know of C17 attitudes on this one is the Putney Debates of 1647 (Pepys then aged 14) between the New Model Army and the generals. A recurring theme in this has the generals arguing that you need to own significant real estate to have a say in how your country is governed while the army, led by Mr Wildman, argues that merely to be human and to be present is a sufficient qualification - both for expressing an opinion and for taking part in the decision-making process.

Or check Shakespeare and Aphra Benn (b. 1640) both of whom have a Black person as the main character in a key work. Ignorance, yes. A tasteless curiosity, yes. But the racism which brought us both apartheid and the Jim Crow laws - definitely not!!

Why not try all three sources?

Glyn   Link to this

"Mr -'s black". That is part of one of his entries sometime next year (1661) and refers to someone's servant; so, yes, Pepys does sometimes use the word to mean native Africans. But not in this case with Mr Cook.

PHE   Link to this

Pepys can certainly spark off debate
I know this is not the place for a detailed debate on racism, but I can't help answering 'maureen'. She assumes that White European racism against blacks is unique in history. It may be unique in terms of the scale derived from the wealth and power of Europeans, and perhaps in the fact that it was (and is) carried out by a race that prided iteslf on its moral superiority. However, similar racist attitudes have existed and continue to exist in many different cultures. Two present day examples are: (1) the treatment of expatriate workers - mostly from India, Bangladesh and Phillipines - in the Arabian Gulf (2) The Caste system of India.

What Pepys's diaries often show us is that we haven't really changed. Much of what we assume to be 'modern' - eg. outlook on life, sense of humour, prejudices, day-today worries, relationships with friends and family - was very similar.

David Quidnunc   Link to this

Maureen & Peter(PHE) essentially agree:

Yes, there's an ongoing bigotry that expresses itself as race hatred and hatred of other ethnic groups (or religious groups or even other groups), and it seems to appear (among at least some people) in all places and at all times.

And yes, racism has been an "-ism" (something like nationalism or communism or social Darwinism) and that has affected the way bigotry has manifested itself in the West the past two centuries.

One valuable thing about reading Pepys is that we see what hasn't changed in 343 years and what has -- and it will be interesting to see how Pepys's attitudes toward blacks, women and others are what we might expect or might not expect. Pepys hasn't been affected by the ideology that developed around race in the intervening centuries, so we might be able to untangle what part ideology (or just the accretion of custom) added to regular human depravity.

Maybe we don't have to -- maybe hatred between, say, Croats and Serbs or Tutsis and Hutus tells us all we need to know about what's fundamentally human on the subject of ethnic hatred. Or maybe Pepys will reveal something constant or changing in English (and even American) society. We'll see.

j a gioia   Link to this

100 years later

we find Samuel Johnson with a manservant of african descent, Francis Barber, of whom he was very fond. Barber was certainly one of Boswell's sources for the "Life" and is portrayed in it without a trace of that mawkish sentimentality generally reserved for the "negro retainer" of later racist narratives.

Glyn   Link to this

English being taken slaves at this time

Most people don't know it, but at this time, the south-west counties of England were being regularly raided by Moroccan pirates (also known as Barbary Corsairs) who kidnapped the men to slave in the galley-ships and sold the women and children into prostitution. In the 1660s onwards the English tried to set up a naval base to stop this, but that failed, and Samuel Pepys would eventually be involved in ending English occupation there.

One basis of racism is a feeling of superiority (which the "West" feels to Africa nowadays) but that couldn't be sustained in Pepys' day. Morocco was a rich country and in many ways more advanced than England; and the Turkish Empire was the equal of any European country.

PHE   Link to this

Advanced civilisations
I read only last week that the Taj Mahal was completed in 1653 - and thus still spanking new in Pepys's day - indicating that Indian civilisation was at least as advanced as European - architecturally at least.

Perhaps thats my quota for today's discussions.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

"Black" as adjective or noun:

Glyn's post above points, I suspect, to a clue we can use in the future -- when Pepys uses "black" as an adjective (as he does in describing "poor Mr. Cook"), then it seems to refer to someone of European descent with dark complexion/hair color, while when he uses it as a noun, it refers to someone of African descent.

Not to start a new thread or anything, but this use of black as a adjective (and I, like David, appreciate and have learned from the discussions around this) has brought back to mind the Dark Lady of Shakespeare's sonnets, whom many have argued was of African descent ... perhaps they were ignorant of the other connotations of the word in his day?

Finally, it's nice to note the high level of civility in these discussions. One more reason why this site is on my must-visit-daily list.

Roger Miller   Link to this

I know that he lived a long time after Pepys but I'm particularly taken by the story of Cesar Picton from Sengal whose blue plaque on Picton House I see fairly frequently when I go to Kingston upon Thames.

See http://www.basauk.com/c_picton.htm

Picton House is approximately here: http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=...

Possibly I should explain that blue plaques are erected in England to celebrate a notable person's connection with a particular building.

Pepys has two plaques. One at 12 Buckingham Street, WC2 and another at 14 Buckingham Street.

See
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/default.asp?...

David Bell   Link to this

This is so much more exciting than just reading the diary, and I think more so than a classroom would be. There is a variety to the discourse in the annotations which, I think, could not be found if the internet did not exist.

The discussion above, of what "black" meant, is an excellent example.

And, with the mention of the Barbary Pirates of North Africa, still raiding the English coast in the time of Pepys, may I just note that the last great battle of the sailing navy which Pepys helped establish was against these pirates: The Battle of Algiers in 1816 had a British fleet commanded by Edward Pellew (by then, Lord Exmouth) attacking a strongly fortified port, and winning.

An echo of the Dutch on the Medway, perhaps.

megannnn   Link to this

someone above brought up the Irish in talking about the meaning of "black". This reminded me that there is, of course, a common term for dark haired Irish: "the black Irish". I don't know when this term took hold, but it certainly lends another bit of weight to the argument that "black" as an adjective could have been then (and is still) used to refer to complexion and / or hair color.

Kevin Kelly   Link to this

The note about the Taj Mahal being built while Pepys was alive, promted me to consider what else was going on. Here then are headlines from the rest of the world in 1659/60; from the handy book CHRONICLES OF THE WORLD.

Swedes Besige Danes
Helped by a Dutch fleet and led by their King, Federick III, and the people of Copenhage are fighting hard against a Swedish besieging army...

Cromwell, Puritan and Moralist, Dies

English to Be Biggest Slavers Vows Prince
With the projected foundation of the Royal African Company by Prince Rupert and the equipping of an expidition to wrest control of the Gambi from foreigners, England's invisible earnings will be given a sharp boost....

Franco-Spanish Border Fixed At Pyrenees

Quakers Hanged on Boston Common
27 October, 1659
Two members of the Quaker sect were hanged on Boston common today for preaching their non-violent doctrine in defiance of the Puritan government...

Chinese Pirate Makes Base in Taiwan and Evicts Dutch
Koxinga, the son of a Chinese pirate and a Japanese mother, has defeated the Dutch garrison on Taiwan and expelled the Dutch tranders from the island....

Serfs Turn Robbers Under Czar's New Laws
A new danger faces travellers in rural Russia: the rapacious activities of robber bands of renegade serfs who survive by killing and theft...

Traveller's Gloomy Impressions of India
The Indo-Persian city of Agra, the Red Fort at Delhi and the Taj Mahal may all be beautiful, but to a French traveller, Francois Berneir, employed in the Moghul court in the final years of Shahjahan and the early years of Aurangzeb, they epitomise tyranny....

language hat   Link to this

Chronicles:
Great perspective, Kevin! I'll provide a bit more: one of my favorite obscure historical entities is the Duchy of Courland (or Kurland), more or less the southern half of present-day Latvia, which was nominally part of Poland but had effectively been independent for the previous century and was in Pepys' day under the long (1642-82) rule of its greatest duke, Jacob Kettler, who established colonies in Gambia (1651) and Tobago (1652). Alas, Courland was devastated by the Swedish-Polish war of the late 1650s and lost not only its overseas possessions but its prosperity. There's a detailed history here:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/5539/co...

michael f vincent   Link to this

Thanks Kevin for the news of the day.

Mike Thompson   Link to this

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is topping your white ewe.
Othello
Here black certainly means black skin.

PHE   Link to this

Ground Hog Day?
It looks like we could stay in 21st January for some time!

Phil   Link to this

Those headlines make me think... if only there was a site that provided an RSS feed of headlines from This Day in History, for the 17th century... then I could include them with every day's diary entry!

PHE   Link to this

Contemporary news
The London Gazette was the main newspaper of the time. The death of Cromwell in 1658 is reported on thi link:

http://www.adelpha.com/~davidco/History/cromwel...

Unfortunately, this site includes only a very small selction of examples (including the Great Fire), but perhaps it is possible to get a more full record somewhere.

The London Gazette would not tell you much about the rest of the world anyway I suppose.

j a gioia   Link to this

Black ram/white ewe

quoted above certainly means black/white wool. However, Othello has transposed the meaning so that it stands for skin color. (Clever lad that Shakespere) Perhaps this gives a hint as to when the word black began to indicate dark skin.

grahamt   Link to this

Re: Black ram/White ewe..
I don't understand why you think Shakespere was referring to wool? When Iago (who hates Othello) tells Desdemona's father that "...an old black ram (male sheep) is tupping (i.e mating with) your white ewe" (female sheep), it doesn't leave much room for interpretation, considering that Othello was black and he'd eloped with Desdemona who was white.

grahamt   Link to this

What I forgot to say above...
is that "ram" is a derogatory term in modern Brit. English for an oversexed man, like "stud" but worse. I believe Shakespere was using it also in that sense and extending the metaphor by referring to Desdamona as a ewe. Shakespere's audience were probably no more likely to interpret "black ram" in this speech as a dark sheep than we would interpret "black stud" as a dark horse.

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