Sunday 8 September 1661

(Lord’s day).

To church, it being a very wet night last night and to-day, dined at home, and so to church again with my wife in the afternoon, and coming home again found our new maid Doll asleep, that she could not hear to let us in, so that we were fain to send the boy in at a window to open the door to us.

So up to my chamber all alone, and troubled in mind to think how much of late I have addicted myself to expense and pleasure, that now I can hardly reclaim myself to look after my great business of settling Gravely business, until now almost too late. I pray God give me grace to begin now to look after my business, but it always was, and I fear will ever be, my foible that after I am once got behind-hand with business, I am hard to set to it again to recover it.

In the evening I begun to look over my accounts and upon the whole I do find myself, by what I can yet see, worth near 600l., for which God be blessed, which put me into great comfort. So to supper and to bed.

18 Annotations

Andrew hamilton  •  Link

I had begun to worry about Sam's devotion to duty and now see the question also preys on his mind: “…it always was, and I fear will ever be, my foible that after I am once got behind-hand with business, I am hard to set to it again to recover it.”

Sam Johnson, on that “most pertinaceous” human flaw, procrastination, comes to mind.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

An intriguing entry in many ways.. "..So up to my chamber all alone..." Sounds as if Sam is feeling a bit overwhelmed and wishing he and Bethie could share a bit more. But in spite of self-recrimination, our boy is progressing...

"So to supper and to bed..." One gets the impression the sulky mood is lifting regards Beth's rendezvous...And a faint view of what a role Beth plays in lifting his spirits...

A lucky man, if sometimes a blind fool...

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"our new maid Doll asleep"
raining all day on a Sunday,no TV,no radio,no books,no internet,no boyfriend
whatelse is a young girl to do.

dirk  •  Link

"I do find myself, by what I can yet see, worth near 600£.”

On 24 May Sam found himself “to be clearly worth 500£ in money, besides all my goods in my house, &c.” So, plus 100£ in three months! Not bad…

vicente  •  Link

Strange: has no ready cash, worth 600 big ones: for on july 31th Batten slipped him half a hundred quid.
31 st july "...This night I was forced to borrow L40 of Sir W. Batten...."

dirk  •  Link

Rev. Josselin's diary for today:

"God good in many mercies, the price of corn rises much, much sickness in many places, the quakers busy about us, good lord awake for thy own things, and let not man prevail. etc."

vicente  •  Link

promises : any body can be rich in them:
"...So up to my chamber all alone, and troubled in mind to think how much of late I have addicted myself to expense and pleasure..."
"...Back to the office all the afternoon, and that done home for all night. Having the beginning of this week made a vow to myself to drink no wine this week (finding it to unfit me to look after business), and this day breaking of it against my will, I am much troubled for it, but I hope God will forgive me..."
26 july:
Promittas facito: pollicitis dives quilibet esse potest.
Ovid, Ars Amatoria, I, 443.

It took 200 years to come up with
"'appy is the lad that spends a quid and earns guinea, un'appy is the poor Lad that spends a Guinea and earns only a Quid." mis-use of C. Dickens.
S/B on every credito tableto.

Bullus Hutton  •  Link

So to supper and to bed...
Finally tonight he gets to bed for a good nights sleep (notice the last couple of days his entries have ended with him getting up the next day with a troubled mind) but tonight he goes through a kind of obsessive reckoning of his net worth (along with the usual tanks lordy lord that some savant already noted) allowing him a certain peace of mind, which may or may not point to some sort of OCD in our boy!

Bullus Hutton  •  Link

And so to bed..
Holy Kalola!..
I just went back a few months and all of Sam's entries end with that time honoured phrase (or variants thereof) how come Sept 6 and 7 talked to us as of the next morning, is there something significant we should be awake to here?
The public has a right to know..

David A. Smith  •  Link

"how much of late I have addicted myself to expense and pleasure"
The melancholy that sweeps over a man with a suddenly empty, dark house.
I concur with Robert, Elizabeth's absence reveals to Sam just how much he relies on her as an empotional anchor and quite possibly a moral compass.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"worth near 600l. ... which put me into great comfort"
Notwithstanding our temptation to think in terms of earnings, Sam is not so much a hired employee as he is an unwilling merchant banker (one who buys commodities for his own account with the intention of reselling them at a profit). Sandwich and the Navy task him from time to time, advance or pledge funds, and demand results.
Merchant bankers can *lose* money as quickly as they make it -- and most of the causes are far beyond their control. This is a high-risk proposition -- and Sam is forced into it by his status.
In the whirligig of his days, Sam sees vast sums come, go, coalesce and dissolve. His counting is a kind of stock-taking, reassuring himself that despite his life feeling out of control (think "Bright Lights, Big City," circa 1662), he is in fact making progress.

Glyn  •  Link

Doing the math

Re Dirk's message above. If he was worth over 500 pounds in May, and now is worth almost 600 pounds, that does not mean that he has gained 100 pounds in three months; instead that might be an increase of only 10 or 20 pounds (e.g. from 540 in May to 560 now). But at least it's steadily going in the right direction.

And of course David makes a good point about the high risk nature of his income, some weeks ago didn't he invest in some ship going to Indonesia?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

In fairness to Sam and his obsession with counting up his gains, this is the son of a tailor whose life we've learned has added up financially to zero. Before the Diary he and Beth lived in a garret in Lord Sandwich's place with Sam at Milord cousin's beck and call until he got the first clerk's job with Downing. He's been the one hope of the family at least till Uncle Rob kicked off and left Papa John the Brampton place, he's married for love to a young woman without a penny. The security of his wife, his parents, his brother's hopes to go to college and emulate his brother's success, even poor Pall's hopes of ever seeing a dowry all rest on what he can make of this job. Yet he's also determined to do well by the Navy and even try to be of service to a King who increasingly seems unworthy of the effort...

Bradford  •  Link

Anyone who's ever been too short of cash too long will take a lively interest in exactly how much dough they have on hand at any given moment. Plenty of Sam's readers today probably track where every penny goes, how much is coming in, and how much they are in debt.
If you're well enough off not to have to worry about Mr. Micawber's joy vs. misery (i.e., owning a shilling more than you owe, vs. a shilling less), then you can echo "God be blessed" indeed.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Interesting and nice that, despite the rain, there's no mention of anger, from either Sam or his Elizabeth, that Doll was asleep.

Tim  •  Link

Sunday an unofficial halfday off for servants? - they would get very little other breaks - and they would grab a chance to sleep when they could -

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Not unofficial but God-given: Sunday was the day of rest for servants as for their masters. So catching up on sleep would naturally have been the priority for both, once church had been dutifully attended.

Log in to post an annotation.

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