Tuesday 24 June 1662

(Midsummer day). Up early and to my office, putting things in order against we sit. There came to me my cozen Harry Alcocke, whom I much respect, to desire (by a letter from my father to me, where he had been some days) my help for him to some place. I proposed the sea to him, and I think he will take it, and I hope do well.

Sat all the morning, and I bless God I find that by my diligence of late and still, I do get ground in the office every day.

At noon to the Change, where I begin to be known also, and so home to dinner, and then to the office all the afternoon dispatching business.

At night news is brought me that Field the rogue hath this day cast me at Guildhall in 30l. for his imprisonment, to which I signed his commitment with the rest of the officers; but they having been parliament-men, that he hath begun the law with me; and threatens more, but I hope the Duke of York will bear me out. At night home, and Mr. Spong came to me, and so he and I sat singing upon the leads till almost ten at night and so he went away (a pretty, harmless, and ingenious man), and I to bed, in a very great content of mind, which I hope by my care still in my business will continue to me.

12 Annotations

Bradford  •  Link

Why does excessive self-satisfaction suggest, to the modern reader, comeuppance sure to come? Too much novel-reading, no doubt.

daniel  •  Link

Pretty, harmless and ingenious

I don't really know how to read this one.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

my version[ (a pretty, harmless, and ingenious ]pretty: not ugly, harmless : not a threat to life or work [not a tattle tale], ingeniuos: gifted musician.

Leslie Katz  •  Link

"... they having been parliament-men, that he hath begun the law with me...."

I'm not near any books now to check to get this right, but at the time of which we're speaking, I seem to remember that members of Parliament had some sort of immunity in connection with legal proceedings, at least while Parliament was in session. Was it from suit altogether or just from compelled attendance as a witness?

If this hasn't been dealt with before and anyone is interested in my pursuing it for them, say so, and I'll look into it on Monday and report back.

Firenze  •  Link

Pretty, harmless and ingenious

Not as diminishing a description as it sounds to our ears. 'Pretty' had then much more a sense of commendable, neat, clever; 'harmless' a more positive sense of good, innocent, and 'ingenious' was also quite high praise. The modern equivalent would be more like 'Admirable, upright and skilled'

A. Hamilton  •  Link

I bless God I find that by my diligence of late and still

For the time being, no more bon vivant Sam of morning draughts, afternoon plays, dalliance and late merriment, but a man who drinks small beer and tends to business. Sir W. Penn smelt out some waywardness in Sam during the visit to Portsmouth and challenged his authority at the office as a way to test his mettle. Now Sam is showing his stuff. He hasn't worked this hard since he went to sea with Sandwich in '60, he knows it, and he is proud of the results.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

parliament-men's immunity from suits, unlike Sam

Fair assumption. See the links provided by Todd Bernhardt as a start.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

One might wonder if Field has some secret backer in his suit...

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Midsummer day"

This was Midsummer Day by legal, not astronomical reckoning, (L&M note)
Midsummer Day was an English Quarter-day. In British and Irish tradition, the quarter days were the four dates in each year on which servants were hired, school terms started, and rents were due. They fell on four religious festivals roughly three months apart and close to the two solstices and two equinoxes.

The significance of quarter days is now limited, although leasehold payments and rents for land and premises in England are often still due on the old English quarter days.

The quarter days have been observed at least since the Middle Ages, and they ensured that debts and unresolved lawsuits were not allowed to linger on. Accounts had to be settled, a reckoning had to be made and publicly recorded on the quarter days.

The English quarter days (also observed in Wales and the Channel Islands) are:

Lady Day (25 March)
Midsummer Day (24 June)
Michaelmas (29 September)
Christmas (25 December)

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

‘pretty, harmless, and ingenious’ 
‘pretty . . 3. Used as a general term of admiration or appreciation.
. . 1660   S. Pepys Diary 11 May (1970) I. 134   Dr. Clarke, who I find to be a very pretty man and very knowing . .

C. int.  Used as an exclamation of surprise. Obs.
1666   S. Pepys Diary 1 Oct. (1972) VII. 303   But pretty, how I took another pretty woman for her, taking her a clap on the breech, thinking verily it had been her.’
‘harmless . . 4. Doing or causing no harm; not injurious or hurtful; inoffensive, innocuous.
. . a1616   Shakespeare Henry VI, Pt. 2 (1623) iii. i. 71   The sucking Lambe, or harmelesse Doue.
1653   I. Walton Compl. Angler i. 16   The most honest, ingenious, harmless Art of Angling . . ‘
‘ingenious . . 2. a. Intelligent, discerning, sensible. Obs.
. . a1661 T. Fuller Worthies (1662) Surrey 77 Especially if some ingenious Gentlemen would encourage the Industrious Gardiners by letting Ground on reasonable rates unto them.
1667 R. Boyle Origine Formes & Qualities (ed. 2) Prelim. Disc. sig. b4v, Some Readers even among the ingenioser sort of them will take it up much better . . ‘


Terry Foreman  •  Link

The L&M (editorial choice of) punctuation has the description of Mr. Spong printed as "(a pretty harmlesse and ingenious man)". If "pretty" may stand alone, modify "harmlesse" or modify "harmlesse and ingenious", it may be undecidable what Pepys's use of "pretty" means here.

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