Monday 20 July 1663

Up and to my office, and then walked to Woolwich, reading Bacon’s “Faber fortunae,”1 which the oftener I read the more I admire. There found Captain Cocke, and up and down to many places to look after matters, and so walked back again with him to his house, and there dined very finely. With much ado obtained an excuse from drinking of wine, and did only taste a drop of Sack which he had for his lady, who is, he fears, a little consumptive, and her beauty begins to want its colour. It was Malago Sack, which, he says, is certainly 30 years old, and I tasted a drop of it, and it was excellent wine, like a spirit rather than wine. Thence by water to the office, and taking some papers by water to White Hall and St. James’s, but there being no meeting with the Duke to-day, I returned by water and down to Greenwich, to look after some blocks that I saw a load carried off by a cart from Woolwich, the King’s Yard. But I could not find them, and so returned, and being heartily weary I made haste to bed, and being in bed made Will read and construe three or four Latin verses in the Bible, and chide him for forgetting his grammar. So to sleep, and sleep ill all the night, being so weary, and feverish with it.

  1. Pepys may here refer either to Essay XLI. (of Fortune) or to a chapter’ in the “Advancement of Learning.” The sentence, “Faber quisque fortunae propria,” said to be by Appius Claudian, is quoted more than once in the “De Augmentis Scientiarum,” lib. viii., cap. 2.

27 Annotations

TerryF   Link to this

Bacon's "Faber fortunae"

Essay XXXVIII. [ = Angl. XL] DE FORTUNA is here (scroll down)

L&M reference their Vol. 2 (1661), 102, n.1 Anyone have this volume?

JohnT   Link to this

Malago sack. As has been previously noted, this would be a dry " sec " Spanish wine from Malaga.

Pedro   Link to this

“and it was excellent wine, like a spirit rather than wine.”

Sam draws a distinction between a wine and a spirit, so would the elder spirits mentioned on the 9th July be something stronger than elder wine?

Michael Robinson   Link to this

OF FORTUNE The Essays by Francis Bacon (1601)

It cannot be denied, but outward accidents conduce much to fortune; favor, opportunity, death of others, occasion fitting virtue. But chiefly, the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands. Faber quisque fortunae suae, saith the poet. And the most frequent of external causes is, that the folly of one man, is the fortune of another. For no man prospers so suddenly, as by others' errors. Serpens nisi serpentem comederit non fit draco. Overt and apparent virtues, bring forth praise; but there be secret and hidden virtues, that bring forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man's self, which have no name. The Spanish name, desemboltura, partly expresseth them; when there be not stonds nor restiveness in a man's nature; but that the wheels of his mind, keep way with the wheels of his fortune. For so Livy (after he had described Cato Major in these words, In illo viro tantum robur corporis et animi fuit, ut quocunque loco natus esset, fortunam sibi facturus videretur) falleth upon that, that he had versatile ingenium. Therefore if a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune: for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible. The way of fortune, is like the Milken Way in the sky; which is a meeting or knot of a number of small stars; not seen asunder, but giving light together. So are there a number of little, and scarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties and customs, that make men fortunate. The Italians note some of them, such as a man would little think. When they speak of one that cannot do amiss, they will throw in, into his other conditions, that he hath Poco di matto. And certainly there be not two more fortunate properties, than to have a little of the fool, and not too much of the honest... "


Michael Robinson   Link to this

Bacon’s “Faber fortunae,”

The editions published closest to the date of the entry are as follows:-

The Essays, or Counsels, civil, & moral, of Sir Francis Bacon ... Whereunto is added ... a Table of the Colours of Good and Evil. Enlarged ... and now more exactly published then formerly. To which is prefixed a Preliminary Discourse containing ... Memoirs concerning this noble authour, his works, etc. [With a portrait.]. J. Redmayne for T. Palmer: London, 1663. 12º., pp. 328. 40

Fr. Baconi ... Sermones fideles ... Accedunt Faber fortunae, Colores boni et mali, &c. Ex officina Elzeviriana: Amstelodami, 1662.
12º. . pp. 404. The titlepage is engraved.

The title of the Latin translation (1641) suggests Pepys might be aluding to the volume and not a particular essay. Might he also be reading it in Latin as refresher to keep one jump ahead of Will ?

John M   Link to this

"to look after some blocks that I saw a load carried off by a cart from Woolwich"

What sort of blocks are these and why is Sam so interested in them that he goes back down river to Greenwich? Is his interest to do with the Navy Board or is it a personal interest? Could they be wooden pulley blocks (as in block and tackle)that would have been common on sailing ships?

TerryF   Link to this

"some blocks that I saw a load carried off by a cart from Woolwich”

L&M note that it was said most of the houses in Chatham were built from wood that walked away from the dockyard.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

Bacon, 1661

This would appear to be:-

BACON, Francis, [Two or more Works ] Resuscitatio, or, Bringing into Public Light several pieces of the Works ... of the Right Honourable Francis Bacon ... The second edition, some-what enlarged, etc. London: S. Griffin, for William Lee, London, 1661. 2pt. Fo.

The physical size of the folio volume -- about 11" ht. -- suggests it is unlikely this was the edition Pepys read as he walked to Woolwich. A 12mo. -- 4/5 in. - and made for the pocket would seem to me more plausible

Robert Gertz   Link to this

A drop, eh? I'd like to measure that "drop".

Sam Pepys, King's Private Dick...

"Blocks, sir? I saw no...Blocks."

"They were on the cart, Cooper. I saw them myself."

"Cart, sir? What cart?"

"Cooper...If I find you were in collusion with these thieves..."

"Mayasbe I had me hand over the good un at the time, sir." one-eyed Cooper notes.

TerryF   Link to this

"made Will read and construe [some] Latin verses in the Bible"

Serious pedagogy with great religious import - interpreting the Bible -

dirk   Link to this

"read and construe [some] Latin verses"

This site has made *me* "read and construe" Latin verses again -- an art that I thought had rusted away over the last 20 years or so...

Thanks to Sam & Latin-minded annotators!

Michael Robinson   Link to this

"King’s Private Dick…"

You ladies of merry England
Who have been to kiss the Duchess's hand,
Pray, did you not lately observe in the show
A noble Italian called Signior ...

Continued --

dirk   Link to this

Faber Fortunae

Michael, L&M confirm that Sam was using a duodecimo (12mo) edition, printed in Amsterdam, 1662, of the book.

For those not familiar with book sizes, "duodecimo" refers to the number of times each original printed sheet (containing several pages, but yet uncut) has been folded to produce each "gathering" (signature) of the book during the binding process (before cutting the folded edges).

Duodecimo (twelvemo or 12mo) means that the paper sheet has been folded in half twice and then in thirds, and comprises twelve leaves or twenty-four pages

The actual size of the finished book will obviously depend on the size of the original paper -- and as far as I know these sizes weren't yet standardized in Sam's time. So it's not possible to say precisely what the size of Sam's booklet was -- but it must have been pretty small & pocket size.


TerryF   Link to this

Faber Fortunae per Michael Robinson

Fr. Baconi … Sermones fideles … Accedunt Faber fortunae, Colores boni et mali, &c. Ex officina Elzeviriana: Amstelodami, 1662. 12º.

There's the very thing to read as you walk.

It turns our that Bacon's "Sermones fideles" are indeed an edition of the essays under another title.
Take a look at the table of contents!

TerryF   Link to this

In the background

Sermones Fideles. Ethici. Politici. Oeconomici: Sive Interiora Rerum. Accedunt Faber Fortunae Colores Boni et Mali, &c. Bacon, Francis. Amsterdam: Digital image of the frontispiece, copyright 2003, Dickinson College; Carlisle, PA. All rights reserved.

TerryF   Link to this

Pepys characteristically focuses on "Faber Fortunae" - surely a reference to the beginning of *De Fortuna* (quoted above): "But chiefly, the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands. Faber quisque fortunæ suæ, ['every man is the architect of his own fortune'] saith the poet."

So he steels his courage to the sticking-point, working to shape and control every variable of his own "fortune" that he can.

JWB   Link to this

"...the oftener I read the more I admire."
Last sentence of the essay reads: "..defer not charities till death;for, certainly if a man weigh it rightly, he doth so is rather liberal of another man's, than his own." Bacon died(according to Wikipedia) with assets of 7K and debts of 22K.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

Faber Fortunae

Dirk, thanks for the confirmation.

If the volume was a "typical" Elzevir it would be 5" (128 mm.) in height and bound as issued in limp vellum over pasteboard with yap edges - the fore edge of the top and bottom board turned over about 10 mm. along of the volume to protect the leaves when placed in the pocket.

The Elzevirs were major publishers of the day and their editions of texts are still available in the trade without major dificulty. They were produced in quantiy and there was a collecting craze for them from the mid C 18th. to late C 19th. which ensured multiple survivals.

For a very brief notice of the firm see:-

For a web directory of Elzevir pages see:-

Michael Robinson   Link to this

Elzevir -- corrrected link to Wikipedia

Michael Robinson   Link to this

"Pepys characteristically focuses on “Faber Fortunae” - surely a reference to the beginning of *De Fortuna* "

The incipit for the Latin text of the Essay is "NEGARI non potest quin accidentia ..."

Twould seem to me that Faber Fortunae is a clear reference to the short title of volume and not the paritcular essay -- this usage would be emphasied by the the figure of fortune conspicuous on the engraved title and is consistent with Pepys practice in aluding to other printed texts.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"being in bed made Will read and construe three or four Latin verses in the Bible, and chide him for forgetting his grammar..."

"Sir?" Will looks up and over from his chair to Sam in nightshirt in bed.

"Must you hold my hand as I do this? Sir?"

Snore... "Ohh, Bess." Sam pats hand. Snore.

Lord, it's times like these I really miss Wayneman, Will sighs.

John M   Link to this

Blocks are pulleys....

Before the Napoleonic Wars all blocks were individually hand crafted so a 'cart load' of blocks is a serious loss.

A Napoleonic ship of the line needed up to 1,000 blocks. See description of the Portsmouth Block Mill

TerryF   Link to this

“…the oftener I read the more I admire.”

The end of Bacon's (Essay "On Riches" “..defer not charities till death &c.") not a model for Pepys to follow, let's hope!

Thanks, JWB, for the lesson Bacon left his heirs - that be all of us and ours.

A. Hamilton   Link to this

Thanks, Michael Robinson,

for this learned digression into editions of Sir Francis Bacon, bookbinding, the king's private parts & stand-ins for same.

Aqua   Link to this

Pepys volumes: there is somewhere to be seen an image of the stacks of his collection of well read editions, and it be crowded with 5 inch tomes as well as the larger editions in increasing sizes, as he organised by size.
Fortune be blind ; fortuna caeca est.

TerryF   Link to this

Joining A. Hamilton in thanks, Michael Robinson,

agreeing that *Faber Fortunae* 1) is the short title of what is included (Accedunt) in the volume; 2) refers to the image of the goddess on her wheel, engraved on the frontispiece of the 1662 12º volume; I yet affirm it to be 3) also a reference to what seems to be the main point of the "De Fortuna" (which the incipit leads up to), sc. "Faber quisque fortunæ suæ" (Every man is the architect [maker] of his own fortune), which agrees with and spells out in more practical details Pepys's "chracteristic" bon mot from Epictetus (*Encheiridion* 1.1): * τών οντων τά μέν έστιν εκ εφ ήμιν, τά δε ουκ εφ ώμιν” (‘Of things, some are in our power, others are not’), to focus on the former.

This discussion will prove valuable when Pepys reads this volume again. (Stay tuned.)

Aqua   Link to this

“Faber quisque fortunæ suæ” (Every man is the architect [maker] of his own fortune),

'The Craftsman, each one his own fortune ', I dothe think be the literal. Every man it not be, Education helps in the crafting that mind. Others be brainwashed by the clergy, to rely on the Gods. It be Part of that Protesting Ethic, that change the direction of the Dark ages.

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