Sunday 1 September 1661

(Lord’s day). Last night being very rainy [the rain] broke into my house, the gutter being stopped, and spoiled all my ceilings almost. At church in the morning, and dined at home with my wife. After dinner to Sir W. Batten’s, where I found Sir W. Pen and Captain Holmes. Here we were very merry with Sir W. Pen about the loss of his tankard, though all be but a cheat, and he do not yet understand it; but the tankard was stole by Sir W. Batten, and the letter, as from the thief, wrote by me, which makes very good sport.

Here I staid all the afternoon, and then Captain Holmes and I by coach to White Hall; in our way, I found him by discourse, to be a great friend of my Lord’s, and he told me there was many did seek to remove him; but they were old seamen, such as Sir J. Minnes (but he would name no more, though I do believe Sir W. Batten is one of them that do envy him), but he says he knows that the King do so love him, and the Duke of York too, that there is no fear of him. He seems to be very well acquainted with the King’s mind, and with all the several factions at Court, and spoke all with so much frankness, that I do take him to be my Lord’s good friend, and one able to do him great service, being a cunning fellow, and one (by his own confession to me) that can put on two several faces, and look his enemies in the face with as much love as his friends. But, good God! what an age is this, and what a world is this! that a man cannot live without playing the knave and dissimulation. At Whitehall we parted, and I to Mrs. Pierce’s, meeting her and Madam Clifford in the street, and there staid talking and laughing with them a good while, and so back to my mother’s, and there supped, and so home and to bed.

16 Annotations

Pedro.   Link to this

"playing the knave"

Knave "A tricky, deceitful fellow (Websters)".one meaning amongst many.

Sam has used the word "knave" before-
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/05/15/
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/01/17/

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

re: "But, good God! what an age is this, and what a world is this! that a man cannot live without playing the knave and dissimulation."

Politics hasn't changed much over the course of time, I see...

What a beautiful, heartfelt sentence from Our Sam.

daniel   Link to this

"the gutter being stopped"

it is also touching that Sam suffers precisely the same irritants that we all do today.

dirk   Link to this

"the tankard"

So, it was all a practical joke. At earlier occasions some of us commented on Sam's "childish" behaviour at times. Apparently not only Sam, but also Sir Batten enjoy this kind of charade. In a way I find this playfulness refreshing, but I'm not sure whether Sir Pen would share this opinion.

A. Hamilton   Link to this

"the gutter being stopped"

Poor Sam — and after all that costly home improvement last spring, and on top of a dearth of income! The little flood seems just the right sympathetic gesture by Nature toward a man feeling downcast, disillusioned and world-weary. “One needed to be versed in country things not to believe the phoebes wept.”

andy   Link to this

playing the knave

wasn't Sam himself "playing the knave" over Sir W. Pen's tankard?

Maybe here he reflects that institutional duplicity at Court is the same coin as day-to-day professional relationships built on boyish pranks.

Reminds me of that present-day stereotype of the antics of Merchant bankers in the City, that we read about in sexual harassment cases nowadays.

Josh   Link to this

"But, good God! what an age is this, and what a world is this! that a man cannot live without playing the knave and dissimulation."

Pot, meet Kettle.

helena murphy   Link to this

"But,good God!What an age is this,and what a world is this!that a man cannot live without playing the knave and dissimulation."

But it is the way of the world Sam, surely you should know this by now. Wake up and be street smart and court smart like Holmes.

upper_left_hand_corner   Link to this

"being a cunning fellow, and one (by his own confession to me) that can put on two several faces, and look his enemies in the face with as much love as his friends."

Sam, if a man tells you that he can be two-faced without detection, what's to say that he isn't being as equally two-faced with you that very instant? You'd best be on your look out with this foxy fellow.

David A. Smith   Link to this

"good God! what an age is this, and what a world is this!"
With all respect to previous commenters, I believe Sam's expostulation shows him to be more moral than you concede. A (young, only 27) man may be good at the game, may even (in the arena's tumble) take delight in his skill especially against those he considers his elders and betters, yet when he writes for himself -- no one watching -- regret that he has to play so because it is "the system."

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

re: "good God! what an age is this, and what a world is this!"

Exactly, David. That’s what I found so touching about this sentence. Contrary to some here, I don’t think Sam originally meant his diary to be seen by others (though I do believe that he, later in life, re-read it and consciously chose to preserve it for future generations), so for me this is a great example of the man’s conscience talking.

Bradford   Link to this

They don't call it The Way of the World for nothin'. And in keeping with Upper Left-Hand Corner, one of today's premier lute-players---sorry, singer-songwriters---phrases it thus: "When I told you I was lying I might have been lying."

Pauline   Link to this

"When I told you I was lying I might have been lying."
Lute-player? But it sounds so twangy and country-western accenty.

Captain Holmes in a nutshell.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

And Holmes is no doubt pumping Lord Sandwich's agent (our boy) for info which he then trades off to Montague's enemies and to the King and Duke of York who doubtless only trust the former hero of the Commonwealth so far. Our boy sadly is being forced to take up the game fast.

Poor ole Penn...There must be days when the old sea dog and warrior must want to take that insolent little Clerk of the Acts and give him a one-way sightseeing trip out to sea in a leaky boat.

Bill   Link to this

"what an age is this, and what a world is this!"

Surely SP had in mind this famous quote from Cicero:

"O tempora o mores" - Oh what times! Oh what customs!

(I'm surprised vicente missed this one!)

Bill   Link to this

" being a cunning fellow, and one (by his own confession to me) that can put on two several faces, and look his enemies in the face with as much love as his friends."

The annotators here are right to "warn" SP about Holmes! Here is part of a blurb for a biography of Holmes: "For 30 years he intrigued, maneuvered, and quarreled with Pepys over naval matters, until the pair finally managed a mutual respect for their combined contributions to English naval superiority."

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