Friday 27 May 1664

Up, not without some pain by cold, which makes me mighty melancholy, to think of the ill state of my health. To the office, where busy till my brains ready to drop with variety of business, and vexed for all that to see the service like to suffer by other people’s neglect. Vexed also at a letter from my father with two troublesome ones enclosed from Cave and Noble, so that I know not what to do therein. At home to dinner at noon. But to comfort my heart, Captain Taylor this day brought me 20l. he promised me for my assistance to him about his masts. After dinner to the office again, and thence with Mr. Wayth to St. Catherine’s to see some variety of canvas’s, which indeed was worth my seeing, but only I was in some pain, and so took not the delight I should otherwise have done. So home to the office, and there busy till late at night, and so home to supper and to bed. This morning my taylor brought me a very tall mayde to be my cook-mayde; she asked 5l., but my wife offered her but 3l. 10s. — whether she will take it or no I know not till to-morrow, but I am afeard she will be over high for us, she having last been a chamber mayde, and holds up her head, as my little girle Su observed.

17 Annotations

Australian Susan   Link to this

"very tall mayde" "too high for us"

Is Sam making a joke? Or does he not see this? Interesting that he takes cognisance of what his "little girle Su" remarks - Sam is ever one to have peace and harmony in the household and envisions scenes of raised voices, slammed doors and Bess intruding into his "closett" , bosom heaving with righteous indignation to relate tales of domestic forwardness, cheek and other woes from the "very tall mayde". Or maybe little Su is just prejudiced. Speaking as a very small Susan myself, I tend to unreasonably judge those who give me neckache to converse with.

Cumsalisgrano   Link to this

Samuell dothe play a bit, in my 'umble opining. I was always under the apprehension that the labour market be steady, not churning, once the hired help found a reasonable situation, then they would hang on, but there appears that the hired hands kept a weather eye out for an improved situation. The demand for reliable boilers of 3 minute eggs be high, for someone to command 25 % increase in the going rate.

Cumsalisgrano   Link to this

Samuell dothe play a bit, in my 'umble opining. I was always under the apprehension that the labour market be steady, not churning, once the hired help found a reasonable situation, then they would hang on, but there appears that the hired hands kept a weather eye out for an improved situation. The demand for reliable boilers of 3 minute eggs be high, for someone to command 25 % increase in the going rate.

MissAnn   Link to this

I wonder what constitutes "very tall". When I was a little younger, a man was thought tall when he was 6 foot, nowadays he would have to be over 6 foot 6 inches to be considered "very tall".
I have a son who is 6 foot, 6 1/2 inches and a daughter who is 5 foot 11 inches and they are considered to be very tall by Australian standards.
I imagine in the 17th century it might be somewhere around 5 foot 8 inches to be very tall. I'm sure another Annotator will know this, I'm just going on hunches.

I loved the bit about "where busy till my brains ready to drop with variety of business" - who hasn't felt this way, especially when an audit or somesuch other thing is dropped on you. (We've recently had the trust account inspector spend a day with us and I felt my brains about to explode by the end of it, and we had to be nice to him too - that just exacerbated things.)

Sam seems to have made himself an expert not only in masts but now canvas too -- he really does work hard, and all for the King's benefit. A pity today's public servants didn't take a similar interest in their work for us.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"Captain Taylor this day brought me 20l. he promised me for my assistance to him about his masts..."

I wonder what Sir William Warren would have to say...

Not to mention the Petts, considering Taylor is shipbuilding competition. Whatever moneys Sam allows himself to receive (without looking) he does seem willing to entertain competitive bids.

language hat   Link to this

"Is Sam making a joke?"

I don't think so -- it reads to me like an accidental use of two words that looked at together (as Sam presumably did not, composing on the fly) produce a chuckle because of their semantic resonance. But remember that to Sam "high" primarily meant "Of great amount, degree, force, or value; great, intense, extreme; strong, forcible, violent" or "Showing pride, self-exaltation, resentment, or the like; haughty, pretentious, arrogant, overbearing; wrathful, angry," neither of which senses is prominent in our minds.

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

high

I find the OED gives "tall" as a literal meaning and "costly" as a figurative meaning, both well established by Sam's day.(The full set of definitions is too lengthy to quote.) While Sam may not have thought "Aha! A pun!" as he penned it, the word clearly has a double entendre that fits this passage.

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

high

On further examination of the lengthy OED definitions, I see that Sam has used "high" to mean pretentious or arrogant, but find no evidence that he has used it to mean costly. That figurative meaning comes later in the OED chronology. But the three meanings (tall, pretentious, costly) lie close together in this passage, with its examples of the tall maid's height and her excessive wage demand, and I think it would not be unreasonable to infer that by "high" Sam meant "costly" in addition to "cheeky." It may be possible that Sam saw the double meaning of "high" in reference to the maid's estimate of her worth, and overlooked the connection to "tall." But I like to think he was aware at some level of that connection too, and was making a triple entrendre joke.

JWB   Link to this

MissAnn

"Average height declined slightly during the 12th through 16th centuries, and hit an all-time low during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Northern European men had lost an average 2.5 inches of height by the 1700s, a loss that was not fully recovered until the first half of the 20th century."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/04...

Cumsalisgrano   Link to this

Carlos I be known for his lack of Statue while Carlos II be known to be tall in height as well as in manner, his height be blamed on the Roman connection the Mediciis.

Cumsalisgrano   Link to this

'high' by Samuel Johnson: [from a sample of Dictionary]
'high-viced' enormously wicked
'high-flier' one that carries his opinions to extravagance.

an aside: "hip" adj, a corruption if hypochondriack.

"cook-mayde" this one didnae come from Wales and be called a hoiden [an ill bred country girl]

Bradford   Link to this

Miss Ann, most Americans---unless they're that height themselves---would also find your son and daughter tall even by today's exalted standards, though I'd be glad to have been thought tall by 17thC ones. Poor little Mr. Keats was scarcely five foot.

"to comfort my heart, Captain Taylor this day brought me 20l. he promised me": for greatest efficacy, apply the coinage directly to the flesh above that organ.

Nate   Link to this

I took a room in a rooming house in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, some years - well decades - ago. It had narrow low headroom stairs and low doors. I think it was built in the late 1700s and reflected the lower average height of the populous.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Charles I was 4' 10" and our Sam was not much taller. Maybe he did not want the double whammy of a maid with attitude who was taller than he was to boot.

Cumsalisgrano   Link to this

After monies and Title, height controlled the pecking order unless thee be a jack russel. Appearances were a major factor in being successful in climbing the ladder of ambition. There be many exceptions, mostly due to a more devious or agile mind. 'Twas a factor in being a copper or guardsman, the busby and peeling helmet was helpful in topping off the height factor.
Having enough funds to eat well and have a good comfy bed and protection from the elements allowed the better sort on the most part to have the eyeline higher than the crowd, along with having the abiility of making thy victim getting a crick in the neck and backbone.
I be thinking C R II be 6 foot ?

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...whammy of a maid with attitude who was taller than he was to boot."

Lovely images spring to mind...

"Now see heare, girle. I should have you jump a bit more quickly to your...Uh..." Sam cranes neck.

"You want me to what...Mr. Pepys?" Cool stare from on high. One should note that the lady is as large-muscled as she is tall...

Er...Rapid blink from our CoA...

"Well. Glad you understand all. Carry on, then."

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...whammy of a maid with attitude who was taller than he was to boot."

Lovely images spring to mind...

"Now see heare, girle. I should have you jump a bit more quickly to your...Uh..." Sam cranes neck.

"You want me to what...Mr. Pepys?" Cool stare from on high. One should note that the lady is as large-muscled as she is tall...

Er...Long blink from our CoA...

"Well. Glad you understand all. Carry on ,then."

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