Saturday 12 January 1660/61

With Colonel Slingsby and a friend of his, Major Waters (a deaf and most amorous melancholy gentleman, who is under a despayr in love, as the Colonel told me, which makes him bad company, though a most good- natured man), by water to Redriffe, and so on foot to Deptford (our servants by water), where we fell to choosing four captains to command the guards, and choosing the places where to keep them, and other things in order thereunto. We dined at the Globe, having our messenger with us to take care for us. Never till now did I see the great authority of my place, all the captains of the fleet coming cap in hand to us.

Having staid very late there talking with the Colonel, I went home with Mr. Davis, storekeeper (whose wife is ill and so I could not see her), and was there most prince-like lodged, with so much respect and honour that I was at a loss how to behave myself.


25 Annotations

David A. Smith  •  Link

"deaf and most amorous melancholy gentleman, under a despayr in love"
Further to yesterday's discussion about Sam's many traits, can there be any doubt that he can paint a word picture?

Bradford  •  Link

Pepys yearns to be treated with respect and due appreciation; and when it happens, he's abashed. And admits it. His self-knowledge is piercing; must it also be judgmental? Perhaps he assumed his future readers would do him that service. And we have, no?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Exactly, David!

This entry is an excellent demonstration of two things. First, it's a testament to Sam's absolute honesty in the diary, a quality that is a rare wonder unto itself. How many of us are truly honest with ourselves? I'd venture to say that not many of us are, and that if we started a project like this we'd be sorely tempted in it to justify our actions, filter them through a variety of prejudices, etc. In the last several days, Sam has (among other things) written about his own cowardice, about his peevishness, about his schemes to inflate others' opinions of him, and about his own astonishment at his rising fortunes and how others treat him. Nix was entirely correct yesterday in pointing out that we are getting a glimpse into a person's life that few others get -- *plus* we're getting it with the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge of history, and (IMO) with the burden of our own prejudices and perspectives! We should simply observe Sam, and be thankful for this wonderous gift he left us. If we choose to judge anyone, we should judge ourselves in relation to Sam, not Sam himself. He doesn't care anymore, after all.

Secondly, this entry demonstrates Sam's expert ability to concisely and colorfully describe a scene. Arthur claimed yesterday that "anyone could have written these" entries, but IMO it just ain't true. Consider the context -- the vast majority of the writing of Sam's time was not nearly as clear and "modern" as this. Even Sam's own letters, when he was writing "formally," lose the charm and directness of his diary entries. Today's journalists train for many years to be able to combine these skills (clarity and color), and most of them still can't do it. Sam was one of the first, and because his diaries eventually became famous, his power and influence as a writer extend far beyond whether or not a single day's entry is particularly moving; the diaries are unparalleled, and his writing, even on the most mundane of days, never fails to inspire me.

vincent  •  Link

I'm no scholar but each sentence of SP's is at least a paragraph by most and a chapter for the rest. A large portion of Jounalists appear to be paid by the syllable.
Their middle name should be " waffle filler." "tis why I like the WSJ front page. Notate Bene! see how many lines of type that are generated by one of SP's.

Diana Bonebrake  •  Link

Has anyone here read any of James Boswell's diary entries? Compared to Boswell, Sam is positively humble and unassuming!

Nix  •  Link

"the writing of Sam's time was not nearly as clear and ‘modern’ as this" —

For proof, look no further than the excerpts posted by other annotators from the Josselin and Evelyn diaries.

Mary  •  Link

Sam's future readers.

I don't believe that Sam was looking to any other future readers than himself. Hence the shorthand and the plain but pithy style. With the approach and accomplishment of the Restoration his life became extraordinarily more promising and exciting than had been the case hitherto and he recorded his life/career/times, primarily, to have an account that he might look to in later years, reminding himself of what exactly had been going on and when.

PHE  •  Link

Would anyone admit this to anyone toher than themselves or an intimate?

"...and was there most prince-like lodged, with so much respect and honour that I was at a loss how to behave myself."

Statements like this demonstrate the charm of being able to to enter Sam's private thoughts.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: Sam's future readers.

I agree, Mary. Sam's directness of approach comes from the fact that this was an "internal dialogue," which strips away all artifice and lets the man -- warts and all! -- shine through.

Tomalin theorizes that there was a period late in Sam's life when he went back and read the diaries, and implies that this was when he realized their value as historical documents and decided to preserve them. So (and I know others may disagree with this), I believe that during the time he was writing the diary, he was writing purely for himself. And 300+ years later, we're the beneficiaries.

JWB  •  Link

Due respect...
Of course there were those who refused to come to him, et al., with hat in hand. They're filling the prisons at this time.

helena murphy  •  Link

The diary entries to date are invaluable for the insight which they give into the lives of ordinary English people in 1660 and 1661.In today's entry not only do we learn more about Sam himself but also about Major Walters and Mr Davis,who thanks to those tiny snippets of extra information, become flesh and blood for us.We can almost hear the conversation on the way to Mr Davis'little house and feel the warmth of the welcome for Sam who did posterity the superb service of writing down his everyday experiences.In the 17th century memoirs and journals tended to be written by people socially superior to Pepys who were by far better connected and could consequently move in circles of political and social power.But Pepys' diaries are unique in that they introduce us to the common man,to the excitement and viscissitudes of urban life as experienced by the average Londoner at a time when royal absolutism was fast losing its grip and their world was slowly moving in a more egalitarian direction. Pepys captures the importance of the man in the street by making him worthy not just of mention but also by humanising him like the vignette of the poor lovesick major.In his verbal images he is on a par with the great Dutch artists of the same era who put on canvas those marvellous glimpses of the domestic life of men and women ,such as Jacob Duck's "A Woman Ironing" and "A Woman Peeling Parsnips" by Nicolaes Maes.Whether we like or dislike Pepys is irrelevant,we must be grateful for his incomparable contribution to our knowledge.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"I was at a loss how to behave myself"
I concur with Mary and Todd; he wrote entirely for himself. No one who thought of publication could possibly write so bald and abashing a sentence without context or justification. Sam comes through as someone *who makes sense of the universe by writing it down* (there's a basis for this in liguistic/ cognition theory), and his diary is the residue of that pyschological ablution.

Ruben  •  Link

I am sorry if you find me abusive, but I posted a note yesterday that was intended for today, so I will post it again now:
I never asked myself if I liked SP. I cannot judge him, I cannot evaluate his behavior. He is to far removed from my time to do him justice.
But I do know I love this almost modern and honest character and also I love all of you, curious as me, looking back at someone identical to us anatomically and still different.
Oh! I love to open my day reading SP's entries and your chat and hope to be around till the last page of his memories.

JWB  •  Link

"I was at a loss how to behave myself"
How ‘bout ashamed? How would all praising Pepys have dealt with those "upholsters" on hoseback patrolling the streets.

David Duff  •  Link

Well, I feel like one of those chaps in a Bateman cartoon who has said something in all innocence and inadvertantly created 'shock-horror' all round!

Of course, I am second to none, in this 'converstion', in my gratitude to Sam for writing his diaries. As for his honesty, well, it comes in two parts, I think. Firstly, he does appear to 'tell it the way he sees and experiences it' although (so far) he rarely digs deeply below the surface. Secondly, he is prone to the unconscious honesty that comes from putting pen to paper in the first place. For example, I am uneasily aware that much of what I have written tells the reader more about me than Sam Pepys!

At the risk of boring for Britain, I can only repeat that I am grateful to him; that I enjoy reading him immensely; that I recognise his virtues in a more than usually unvirtuous age, but, putting it in modern usage, I'm not sure I'd want to go on holiday with him!
David Duff

Michael  •  Link

This "do we like Sam" line of debate has been fascinating. But we can also turn it around: would Sam like *us* and would he like to spend time with any of us modern and postmodern people? Take his rock solid loyalty to his superior, his acceptance of proper social behavior with regard to those above him and to those below him. He would be shocked, I assume, by plenty if not most of 21st century assumptions and behavior. Then, again, perhaps he would *not* be shocked and perhaps he would adept. That ambiguity is part of his appeal even today.

smallGreyMouse  •  Link

I like Michael's turning the question around, an interesting perspective. But, I must admit that there are plenty of people I like and respect who disagree with my worldview in important ways. There is not just one modern set of mores either. My sense of Sam as a vibrant, joyous, and sometimes testy human being leads me to believe I would like him and would like to spend time with him. (However probably not for vacation.) Liking does not preclude disagreement.

Nix  •  Link

"He would be shocked .... Then, again, perhaps he would *not* be shocked" --

The past year has told me that Samuel is nothing if not adaptable. Consider the drastic social and political changes he has passed through and thrived upon in his 27 years. This is a man who would find his bearings very quickly.

Bradford  •  Link

Some write to remember; some write to forget; but if there is no hope of a vague Posterity to read the private words---or an absolute revulsion against the possibility---one builds a bonfire. (Cf., for just one, Henry James.)

wembley  •  Link

I think he would find us totally lacking in culture - he can read Latin, goes regularly to the theatre, collects rare books, plays several musical instruments...watching TV at home all evening - forget it!
Elizabeth would think all modern men are total wimps - she could do exactly as she liked, and who would crack the whip?
London of course would stink! Petrol fumes - ugh!

language hat  •  Link

on a par with the great Dutch artists of the same era:
Excellent comparison, helena. I agree.

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

AFAIK that in Pepys day when one found one's self in a group of other gentlemen one would need to quickly establish the pecking order of the group especially with those who are strangers. If one doesn't receive a formal introduction then that's a clue, for instance, and someone without a title or formal introduction would not engage someone with a title in conversation; the one with the title would do that.

Introductions in those days were different than today (in social settings at least). The person doing the introduction would essentially vouch for the two people being introduced, that is, who they are, perhaps the family or connections, and the explicit or implied social standing.

Sam has no title but does have power and is Sandwich's creature, so this bleeds into his social position and makes status a bit ambiguous both to others and to him. He must use care in those groups less he make enemies for reaching above his class especially if it's apparent that he is better educated, well read, and knowledgable about many things than his betters.

So it would be bad manners to behave inappropriately for one's class; a class one offense. I know that this was true about 100 years later and expect that it was more or less true in Sam's day as well. Business dealing would probably be a bit more loose.

Bill  •  Link

Nate, I wonder if you read this humorous/serious entry from last month?

"This afternoon there came in a strange lord to Sir William Batten’s by a mistake and enters discourse with him, so that we could not be rid of him till Sir Arn. Breames and Mr. Bens and Sir W. Pen fell a-drinking to him till he was drunk, and so sent him away." http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/12/27/

There was a number of annotations then about this "strange lord" incident. Your post has some relevance, I think.

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Bill, I remembered it but didn't have time to find the link.

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