Wednesday 10 August 1664

Up, and, being ready, abroad to do several small businesses, among others to find out one to engrave my tables upon my new sliding rule with silver plates, it being so small that Browne that made it cannot get one to do it. So I find out Cocker, the famous writing-master, and get him to do it, and I set an hour by him to see him design it all; and strange it is to see him with his natural eyes to cut so small at his first designing it, and read it all over, without any missing, when for my life I could not, with my best skill, read one word or letter of it; but it is use. But he says that the best light for his life to do a very small thing by (contrary to Chaucer’s words to the Sun, “that he should lend his light to them that small seals grave”), it should be by an artificial light of a candle, set to advantage, as he could do it. I find the fellow, by his discourse, very ingenuous; and among other things, a great admirer and well read in all our English poets, and undertakes to judge of them all, and that not impertinently. Well pleased with his company and better with his judgement upon my Rule, I left him and home, whither Mr. Deane by agreement came to me and dined with me, and by chance Gunner Batters’s wife. After dinner Deane and I [had] great discourse again about my Lord Chancellor’s timber, out of which I wish I may get well. Thence I to Cocker’s again, and sat by him with good discourse again for an hour or two, and then left him, and by agreement with Captain Silas Taylor (my old acquaintance at the Exchequer) to the Post Officer to hear some instrument musique of Mr. Berchenshaw’s before my Lord Brunkard and Sir Robert Murray. I must confess, whether it be that I hear it but seldom, or that really voice is better, but so it is that I found no pleasure at all in it, and methought two voyces were worth twenty of it. So home to my office a while, and then to supper and to bed.

13 Annotations

Terry F   Link to this

"contrary to Chaucer's words to the Sun, 'that he should lend his light to them that small seals grave'"

"What proferestow thy light here for to selle?
Go selle it hem that smale seles graven,
We wol thee nought, us nedeth no day haven."

Geoffrey Chaucer, *Troilus and Criseyde*: Book III, lines 1461-3

Australian Susan   Link to this

"..strange it is to see him with his natural eyes to cut so small.."

Mr Cocker, I think, must have been very short-sighted which gives you the advantage of being able to do small, close work and still focus - but he probably would have been little good at long distance work. This gives us an insight into Sam's eyes - he seems to have been long-sighted. It is puzzling that Sam goes on to say "..I could not, with my best skill, read one word or letter of it.." If he couldn't see it to read it, why did he have it done? Or am I missing something here?

Lurker   Link to this

His "candle, set to advantage" was probably a "Shoe-makers window" or a candle set in the middle of four glass balls of water or other lense-like concoctions.

Mary   Link to this

candle set to advantage.

Indeed, it could have been a shoe-maker's window. On the other hand, if such were the case I should have expected Sam to comment on the use of such a handy device. Maybe the candle was a short-ish object simply set to one side of the work so that the surface was illuminated obliquely. Illumination of this sort can be a help with very fine, monochrome needlework, so perhaps also with engraving.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

"... to hear some instrument musique of Mr. Berchenshaw's ..."

Todays concert/meeting is described and discussed at length in the article Jenny Doughty posted in background:-

Benjamin Wardhaugh 'Mr Birchensha's Ear'

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Susan, Sam mentions "design"...Perhaps the initial design Cocker made to work from was smaller and the final engraving legible for Sam's eyes? Or perhaps Sam simply didn't mention that he would use a magnifying glass of some sort with the rule? Interesting...

Even more interesting...

"After dinner Deane and I [had] great discourse again about my Lord Chancellor's timber, out of which I wish I may get well."

Now what are the boys up to? Could be but somehow doesn't sound exactly like Sam breathing a sigh of relief to escape Clarendon's wrath. Could it be Clarendon has been politely forced to accede to the King's Navy's needs? Or has a deal been struck?...One the Earl wanted from the start, but did not wish to directly ask for? Meaning that all his earlier howling was simply anger that Deane might grab the timber without the expected generous compensation? In other words that foolish underlings Deane and Pepys lacked the finesse to understand and Carteret, knowing better, had failed to arrange with them, that the Earl was to be paid off without having the embarassment of having to ask for such payment?

If so, very like our modern system...

"So we can't take the timber even in the King's name?" Deane stares.

"Oh, Lord, no..." sigh

"So how much do we offer him?"

"Oh...Gentlemen...You don't ask the Earl what payment he wants. You beg him to accept the King's present for his noble service and keep handing gold to his steward until the Earl gives you leave to thank the King for allowing him to serve him." Carteret explains.

"Oh..." Deane and Pepys nod.


Bradford   Link to this

However Cocker managed the lighting, I am with Aus. Susan at a loss to envision what good it will do Pepys. I've seen metal rules so worn you had to tilt them just right to glimpse the faint marks still left on them; but such is hardly practical for ready use, unless Sam has a pocket magnifier.
Yes, those of us who can read infinitely fine type (like the printers' union seal that appears on some documents Stateside) must have driving glasses before we're let out on the roads.

Xjy   Link to this

"great discourse again about my LC's timber"

Obviously a very big issue and one that needs some walking around and reflection.

One Xmas I was working on the Guardian special xword with a mate or two, and when we'd finally cracked it, B noted that "X doesn't so much solve crosswords, as worry 'em to death". I think this might be Sam´s uptight anal way of doing things, too. If it's a big bone, attack it from different angles and just gnaw it down over time...

Trägen vinner :-)

Terry F   Link to this

"to the post-office"

So read L&M, explaining this is presumably a reference to the "'faire banquetting house covered with lead' in the garden behind the Post Office which then stood opposite the Stocks and at the junction of Threadneedle St and Cornhill. After the Fire Princes St was made across the area" as in the 1746 map

JWB   Link to this

" find out one to engrave my tables..."

One year ago to the day:
"After dinner I took leave and went to Greatorex's, whom I found in his garden, and set him to work upon my ruler, to engrave an almanac and other things upon the brasses of it, which a little before night he did, but the latter part he slubbered over, that I must get him to do it over better, or else I shall not fancy my rule, which is such a folly that I am come to now, that whereas before my delight was in multitude of books, and spending money in that and buying alway of other things, now that I am become a better husband, and have left off buying, now my delight is in the neatness of everything, and so cannot be pleased with anything unless it be very neat, which is a strange folly"

Nix   Link to this

"methought two voyces were worth twenty of it" --

All vocalists and choristers in the group nod their heads in agreement.

Kevin Peter   Link to this

I see that this rule is more of a novelty, something for Sam to show off, than it is for practical use. It's hard to use a rule if you can't read the markings on it!

pepf   Link to this

"... strange it is to see him with his natural eyes to cut so small ..."

Cutting glances from gimlet eyes to gimble the new sliding rule with silver plates.
Certainly not Bette Davis - beware the Jabbercock, my son! (...with eyes of flame)

Log in to post an annotation.

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