Saturday 31 January 1662/63

Up and to my office, and there we sat till noon. I home to dinner, and there found my plate of the Soverayne with the table to it come from Mr. Christopher Pett, of which I am very glad. So to dinner late, and not very good, only a rabbit not half roasted, which made me angry with my wife. So to the office, and there till late, busy all the while. In the evening examining my wife’s letter intended to my Lady, and another to Mademoiselle; they were so false spelt that I was ashamed of them, and took occasion to fall out about them with my wife, and so she wrote none, at which, however, I was, sorry, because it was in answer to a letter of Madam about business. Late home to supper and to bed.

40 Annotations

Terry F   Link to this

"my plate of the Soverayne"

L&M say the 1637 copper plate engraving by John Payne (1608-1648) was the print of the ‘Sovereign of the Seas’ acquired by Pepys 31 January 1663, and hung by him in his Green Chamber 15 February. http://www.ingenious.org.uk/See/Transport/Water...

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

"they were so false spelt that I was ashamed of them, and took occasion to fall out about them with my wife, and so she wrote none"

The classic relationship power struggle. If you'd just helped her, Sam, she wouldn't have gotten all huffy and refused to do it at all! As you acknowledge ("however, I was sorry"), your loss, pal.

First time he's referred to Lady Jem as "Madam," isn't it? Is it possible that she's not writing to the Montagu ladies, but instead to her prospective companion and her mother? (But the PC's mother wouldn't rate a "my Lady," would she?)

Bradford   Link to this

"Plate" here meaning "print from a copper plate"; but what is "the table to it"?

"The Shorter Pepys" shows him spelling the verb as "entended," which today would be false-spelt (they insert a hyphen too).
Quite so, Todd: Samuel could have just as easily shown his superior knowledge by gently offering to help Elizabeth correct her errors as by deriding them. As I once heard a wise man put the proposition, "If you're so smart, why aren't you kind?"

Terry F   Link to this

“Plate” here meaning “print from a copper plate”; but what is “the table to it”?

Bradford, L&M agree that's a good question! They suppose it to be a document; I suppose it to be a "table" describing the ship's rigging, masts, etc., in detail, and that this is another tool for learning (like the model Mr Anthony Deane furnished him after their lessons).

dirk   Link to this

"the table to it"

According to L&M, the table was the "key" to the drawing - the explanatory legend.

And BTW, Sam original spelling of the word "plate" in today's entry was "plat" -- according to the L&M edition. So, "correct spelling" is relative -- to say the least...

dirk   Link to this

Sorry for the double entry on "table",Terry. We must have posted at the same time...

Terry F   Link to this

No offense, Dirk; our entries seem complementary.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

And the two of you are complimentary! :-)

(Always glad to see politeness on the 'net ... it's an all-too-rare occurrence, unfortunately.)

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

I wonder if 'table' be a kind of protecting device, a frame for carrying the document, that can be set on the side-board.
Marriage is game of tennis, scoring points, to win if not by truth then by finding fault, anything to un nerve the opposition specially when Eliza has a way of putting to pen, thoughts that Sam does not want to hear or see.
Samuell thinking "Damn it you cannot say that", as Eliza has written a juicy titbit, saying "Petycote ain't spelt like that it has has to teas and a why, and a hay, dusent ye no nutin'"

Mary House   Link to this

I seem to recall that letters of Jemima to her husband show that she also had difficulty spelling. She probably would not have noticed that they were "false spelt."

Pauline   Link to this

"... in answer to a letter of Madam about business..."
Perhaps Elizabeth is acting as a go-between translator here? Between Lady Sandwich and the French governess for her daughters, Mademoiselle Le Blanc? And Elizabeth's spelling is false both in English and in French?

A contract?

Or do we have the wrong lady and mademoiselle? I too assumed discussion for a new companion for Elizabeth.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

"plate of the Soverayne with the table to it ..."

Plate would be perfectly normal usage in certain circles even today to describe a single mechanicaly reproduced image. The list of illustrations in a book is often labeled "Plates" or "List of Plates."

Tables or Keys to complex engravings are not uncommon in England the C17 - 19. They could either be produced by the original print publisher and sold as a set with the engraving,in which case one might find small identifying letters or numbers placed in the image, or be published separately. It is not uncommon to find them framed identically with the engraving and hung beneath.

andy   Link to this

false spelt

strange how Bess was able to express herself in English to Sam with such lucidity and clarity as to be a security risk, leading him to destroy her letter to him. Methinks he is still brooding on the infamous letter and out to denigrate her in another way.

no letter is sent: so now he cuts her off from the outside world again.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Just speculation but I wonder if "Madam" might have actually meant Mademoiselle LeBlanc's mother in France. If Lady Jem had through her children's governess gotten involved in some small business venture trading in France via the woman's mother, Bess would have been very useful as translator and Sam might have been hoping for a small cut. Just speculation...

Xjy   Link to this

Sam as a pedantic arsehole...
Yes, he shows himself in a terrible light today.
I'm 61, and yesterday, for the first time ever, I reflected on something similar to this. My Dad was a carpenter and joiner before he became a surveyor. One of his favourite pastimes was deriding me in such terms as "is that what they teach you in school??" - ie "you useless airy-fairy grammar school would-be toff". I've often been angry with him for not teaching me what he knew, and when I was at school I wanted a polytechnical education double maths and joinery, for instance... but yesterday it struck me that he could easily have given me the practical skills he possessed and made me practical too. If he'd wanted to.

But he didn't. Like Sam, he was more interested in rubbing in his own imagined superiority.

Bastards.

Pedro   Link to this

(Mary)…I seem to recall that letters of Jemima to her husband show that she also had difficulty spelling.

Looking in Ollard’s Biography of Montagu I find a couple of examples of Jemima’s letters. (If her spelling was bad she knows where to put a semicolon, which is more than I do! But maybe that would be Carte, from where the info is taken.)
I cannot see Sam telling Jem off in the same manner!

The birth of their daughter had taken place during his absence, and they had planned to call her Sarah, but Jem decided to christen her Katherine…

“you having the honour to bring our so much desired queen I thought we might a
alsoe have the honour to have her name”

(Perhaps a spoiler?) She wrote to him while he was in Madrid…

“I have sent little Kat to London to Mr Pers the Serg that belongs to the Duke ( my entry…our friend Pearse the gossip!) ther they say the famostes Docr. In Iingland for sore eies; he did a mirackeulus cure on the Dutches daughter, the Lady Ann, and now cam up to the Dutches of Richmon who by the smale pox had one of her eies much hurt.”

pjk   Link to this

The way to our Man's heart:
Surely Sam's ill-humoured response to the spelling is a peevish after-shock of the argument that followed his meagre lunch of an undercooked rabbit. It sounds a very sulky, needling kind of day but they seem well matched at it.

J A Gioia   Link to this

...so false spelt that I was ashamed of them,...

agreed, distemper simmers throughout this entry; from the ill-prepared hare to the above complaint.

in kollege it was generaly bruted to us lit majors that a close attendance to the niceties of spelling came in the wake of dictionaries, johnson's being the most admired if not exactly the first, which appeared in the mid 18th cent.

sam seems ahead of the curve then and, under the circumstances, something of a git. correct spelling must have begun as a policy of the technocratic elete as a measure and signifier of ... wot?

language hat   Link to this

"so false spelt that I was ashamed of them"

This is extremely interesting to me. Spelling was not fixed in Sam's day, and there was no one right way to spell many words, but clearly there were limits within which you had to stay or be thought an ignoramus. Perhaps excessive doubling of consonants ("itt was verry hott") and ear-spellings of classically derived words (serkumstans for circumstance) were giveaways. I'd dearly love to see her rough draft!

jeannine   Link to this

"I’d dearly love to see her rough draft!"
It was really in code and it said,
"My huband gut uup ooot of the wrung side off the bed tis mornging. He's bin in a sheeeetty mood eber since."

R. O. Curtis   Link to this

"...false spelt..."
So in the pre-Johnson era, what was the standard for "true" spelling? Maybe the King James bible?

JWB   Link to this

Spelling
Just now reading about Mark Twain's early life as an itinerant type- setter. Forerunners must have had marked homogenizing effect on spelling, like today's code writers' lines getting repeated again & again in different software.

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

Thanks Michael Robinson “plate of the Soverayne with the table to it …” Of course you are on target.

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

re: passing on information to others.
Those that are secure in their knowledge, do so without guilt , Others do not, it be a form of false security Blanket.
The Parable of the One Talent, Two Talents and Five Talents,
says it all. [Matt 25:14-30 ]
a version
http://www.bcbsr.com/survey/pbl21.html

Robert Gertz   Link to this

17th century College man there...

Though Samuel? About your spelling...

Australian Susan   Link to this

Re JWB's comment

Very neat! You're probably right. The early 18th century edition of the Book of Common Prayer which I own has what we would call "normal" spelling as far as I have read, except for a few "-xions" where we would expect to "-tions". So the spelling must have normalised sometime soon after this time. I think Dr Johnson's Dictionary (1755)must have helped standarise matters. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/stoke/features/2005/04/dic... for interesting information about this (including some surprising definitions). Spelling and grammar nowadays are either evolving or going downhill depending on your take on the world. I had to restrain myself from telling our local florist that her sign about ordering early for Feb 14th should be corrected so dissappointment [sic] was spelled right.

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

Ignoramus L., = ‘we do not know’, (in legal use) ‘we take no notice of [it]’.]
1. The endorsement formerly made by a Grand Jury upon a bill or indictment presented to them, when they considered the evidence for the prosecution insufficient to warrant the case going to a petty jury. Hence quasi-n. or ellipt., esp. in the phrases to find, return, bring in (an) ignoramus; more rarely in passive, to be found, returned ignoramus. Also transf. an answer which admits ignorance of the point in question; fig. a state of ignorance.

1626 BERNARD Isle of Man (1627) 102 On the backe of this Inditement..they [the grand jury] write either Ignoramus, or Billa vera
Thank you OED:

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

Plate: 20 major ways of using this Interesting word as a noun, so I must eat ' me 'at' off it.
Be careful when using it as Verb, as it has been used by the under world .

I. A flat sheet of metal, etc.
5. a. A smooth or polished plate of metal, etc. (as in sense 1) for writing or engraving on.

"...1576 FLEMING Panopl. Epist. 85 Which also you haue imprinted in the tables of your remembrance, and ingrauen in the plates of your deep understanding..."

GrahamT   Link to this

Spelling:
There is a theory that English spelling started to standardise with the introduction, and monopolisation, of the printing press by Caxton in the 15th century. What he printed was the only (Middle) English spelling some readers saw, as most manuscripts were in Latin; though, even he wasn't consistent with his spelling. When other presses started printing, they poached Caxton's workers, so spreading the word - literally in this case - as they carried Caxton's spelling with them.
The fact that the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible were printed rather than hand-written, helped to crystalise standard spellings and present them to a wider audience. We know though, from our own readings, that there was still quite some flexibility in spelling in the 17th century.
Finally, good old Dr. Johnson published his definitive - for the time - list of spellings; until Noah Webster and the compilers of the OED came along, that is.
Centuries of moves toward standardisation seem to be dissolving away with the internet and phone texting. It now seems "you are" is abbreviated to "your" instead of "you're", and University graduates don't know the difference between sour and soar, or lever and leaver. (Seen this week.)

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"false spelt"
There is always time to learn.Sam should know;He is learning his multiplication tables!!!

Australian Susan   Link to this

More grammar gripes

People also cannot distinguish between flaunt and flout and less and fewer, including my daughter's Grade I teacher who sent home a worksheet for her to indicate "which box has the less items in it" It is all very well for there to be variances in spelling and I think Sam's main point in this diatribe against Elizabeth's letter-writing is he wants them both to look good in the eyes of the world: he is not a pernickety little pedant over spelling. Bad grammar can, however, change the whole meaning of a phrase or sentence and that is much more serious.

Mary   Link to this

Cobbett defined it beautifully.

"Grammar, properly understood, enables us not only to express our meaning fully and clearly, but so to express it as to enable us to defy the ingenuity of man to give our words any other meaning than that which we ourselves intend them to express."

Australian Susan   Link to this

Yes! Beautifully put! Cobbett writes wonderfully mellifluous prose.

language hat   Link to this

less and fewer:

The "rule" that says less cannot be used for countables is wrong; it has been so used since the time of Alfred the Great (the ninth century). The alleged rule derives from an offhand remark on the word "less" by Robert Baker in 1770:

"This Word is most commonly used in speaking of a Number; where I should think Fewer would do better. No Fewer than a Hundred appears to me not only more elegant than No less than a Hundred, but more strictly proper."

Somehow over the next couple of hundred years this expression of personal preference got turned into an alleged rule of the English language, which hasn't affected most people's usage but has enabled others to make them feel bad about it. As the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage (which I highly recommend to anyone interested in these matters) says, "If you are a native speaker, your use of less and fewer can reliably be guided by your ear."

Quote from James Thurber:
"I was never in Europe for less than fourteen months at a time."

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

re: less and fewer

Yep, like so many things in English, this isn't a hard and fast rule -- rather, it's a matter of which style you agree on and decide to follow. I like the Associated Press Style Book, which deals with such issues in a newsy, commonsense way. They say:
__________________________

"In general, use 'fewer' for individual items, 'less' for bulk or quantity.

Wrong: 'The trend is toward more machines and less people.' (People in this sense refers to individuals.)

Wrong: 'She was fewer than 60 years old.' (Years in this sense refers to a period of time, not individual years.) [So they disagree with Baker, whom LH quotes above.]

Right: 'Fewer than 10 applicants called.' (Individuals)

Right: 'I had less than $50 in my pocket.' (An amount.) But: 'I had fewer than 50 $1 bills in my pocket.' (Individual items.)"
__________________________

Re: the Thurber quote above, he's clearly using 14 months as a discrete block of time, so I'd say that usage is correct.

As in all things style-based, the important thing is consistency. If you're going to be "wrong," be wrong all the time! (Must ... not ... make joke about the current administration...)

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

Rules are to known fully, then taken apart at will. Less be better, fewer mistakes to pick on.
[from he, that writes with water in water]

Australian Susan   Link to this

"guided by ear"

Yes, response to language is aural, even when you are reading it. Good prose is always good, even if it's incorrect factually. This is why so many Anglicans yearn for the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer and why they have lasted so long: they were created in a time when (to my mind, or maybe just my mind's ears) written English reached wonderful heights of expression. And this Diary often shows this too.

But I still think using the definite article with less (see my example above)is poor grammar and aurally offensive.

Mrs. Malaprop   Link to this

Thank you all for your lessons on grammer and all of your word choice accomodations. I totally apprehend exactly what you are saying and will use these lessons to become a suburb writer. But for "fewer" and "lesser" your affluence over my understatement is small and I'm still confused. In regards to my word choices there I'll have to pick between the guesser of two evils.

Pedro   Link to this

Less and fewer.

Thank you Mr. Hat, your explanation fills in a few gaps in a discusssion I had with my lovely Brazilian professora. To some extent, while slowly studying Portuguese, I have had to relearn English grammar at times (too many fags behind the bike sheds). She advised me that the book that is used by Cambridge for foreign students learning English, is Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.

Interestingly it says “less” is used “especially” before uncountable nouns, and “fewer” used before plural nouns.

“Less” is quite common before plural nouns, as well as uncountables, especially in an informal style. Some people consider this incorrect.

(For Australian Susan, being guided by ear?) One of the examples used is…

“Some people in our village still go to church, but less/fewer than 20 years ago.”

Both sound OK to me. But one thing I cannot agree with my teacher is the use of which and that. Susan may agree that the following is aurally offensive…

“The book which I bought yesterday is interesting.”

Patricia   Link to this

Sam is a grouch. He's mad about the half-baked dinner, which he has already chewed her out for, and now he takes it out of her about her spelling. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Miserable twit.

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