Saturday 24 September 1664

Up and to the office, where all the morning busy, then home to dinner, and so after dinner comes one Phillips, who is concerned in the Lottery, and from him I collected much concerning that business. I carried him in my way to White Hall and set him down at Somersett House. Among other things he told me that Monsieur Du Puy, that is so great a man at the Duke of Yorke’s, and this man’s great opponent, is a knave and by quality but a tailor. To the Tangier Committee, and there I opposed Colonell Legg’s estimate of supplies of provisions to be sent to Tangier till all were ashamed of it, and he fain after all his good husbandry and seeming ignorance and joy to have the King’s money saved, yet afterwards he discovered all his design to be to keep the furnishing of these things to the officers of the Ordnance, but Mr. Coventry seconded me, and between us we shall save the King some money in the year. In one business of deales in 520l., I offer to save 172l., and yet purpose getting money, to myself by it. So home and to my office, and business being done home to supper and so to bed, my head and throat being still out of order mightily. This night Prior of Brampton came and paid me 40l., and I find this poor painful man is the only thriving and purchasing man in the town almost. We were told to-day of a Dutch ship of 3 or 400 tons, where all the men were dead of the plague, and the ship cast ashore at Gottenburgh.

23 Annotations

Australian Susan   Link to this

Oh Mr Phillips! Mr Phillips! You have gone the wrong way about getting Sam on your side - "but a tailor" indeed.

Painful = painstaking

The passing bell of plague warning has begun to toll.....

Terry F   Link to this

"The passing bell of plague warning has begun to toll....."

Such rumors go around, and some are true; this one, L&M say, is likely not.

cape henry   Link to this

"...and yet purpose getting money, to myself by it." This has gone from being an occasional bit of manna from above to being a regular theme as Sam's contacts increase and influence expands. He is increasingly adept not only as a manager and business maker, but also as a political operative and it is from that cloud that the silver and gold rain chiefly falls.

Terry F   Link to this

So, I gather, in the end, having been ridiculed and raked over the coals by Messrs. Pepys and Coventry, Colonel William Legge, Lieutenant of the Ordnance, doesn't really care about how much he and his colleagues make supplying ordnance, but about keeping their jobs doing it, which is, after all, their raison d'être.

Roy Feldman   Link to this

It's funny to me that Pepys is always very earnest to save the King money on the one hand, but also to make some cash off it himself. In this entry, he even mentions the two in the same sentence. One has to wonder if it ever occurs to him to save the King even more money by not skimming off the top, or accepting bribes, etc.

I realize this is how the world worked back then (and still does today?), that Pepys may have seen the occasional (or rather, somewhat frequent) bit of graft as his due for a job well done which would be otherwise unrewarded; but it seems all the same that there's some cognitive dissonance going on here. (Not that I'm immune to that.)

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

Pepys's pocket

It seems to me, reading today's entry, that the rules of the Tangier committee and perhaps also the Navy Board must have allowed members to advocate offers, with the expectation that the winning offeror would pay, in effect, a broker's or finder's fee. The question that remains unclear is how a decision was made among competing offers. One possibility is that the winning offeror offered the highest bribes all around. That seems to be an unstable system, one that may have been tried but would quickly lead to scandal. Another is that individual members of the committee sought to corner the brokerage for a particular line of purchases (victuals, ordnance, masts, hemp etc.).There again, the contracts would presumably go to the offeror who gave the highest commission or found some other way to put the committee member in his debt. And there, again, scandal was bound to lurk.That seems to have been the approach taken by Sir William Batten at the Navy Board, until Pepys came along. Pepys, with his careful study of price and quality in naval stores, seems to have introduced more systematic decision-making criteria that bear some resemblance to modern cost-benefit analyses. The brokerage model remained in place, but the winning offer was judged on its merits for "the King." To give him the benefit of the doubt in this, and soften the accusation that he was ordinarily venal, it seems to me that Pepys worked hard, from time to time,to become the sponsor of what he thought was the offer with the best value for money. Of course he expected the usual commission. Admittedly there are entries where he appears to accept (or demand) a fee for advocating a vendor who is not commended as the best. Here, perhaps, Pepys is greedy: exploiting his reputation for probity in order to make a killing. I am thinking, for example, of the payment he was to receive if he got the victualing contract for Tangier assigned to a particular offeror, and the significant increase in that payment if he persuaded the Tangier committee to give the offeror an additional tuppence per day per head. But, although being greedy fits with what we know of Sam's behavior in sexual matters, we don't have enough facts about the Tangier committee's contracts to be sure that this represents an instance of completely abandoning his value for money approach.

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

On reflection, I agree with Roy Feldman that there is, to say the least, an inconsistency between driving the best bargain for the king and getting a fat payoff for padding the Tangier victuals contract. Sam's greed in this case certainly contradicts his pose of defender of the King's purse. On the other hand, Sam may believe he has saved the King so much money on other purchases that he deserves a bonus.

Bradford   Link to this

Ah, had Pepys only left us a treatise titled "Making Probity Pay"!

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Sam always seems a tad too insistent in his avowals of how he has managed to make a bit for himself while defending King's interests. I doubt he'd ever try to make that argument to Coventry or Parliament or that he completely believes it himself. However, like his occassional manipulation of his vows to fit his wants, it allows him enough space to squeeze in the view of himself as the upright, valiant champion of King and Navy and he deserves appreciation for making the effort to try and live up to that image when many others are content to grab all and give little.

Jesse   Link to this

"save the King some money"

It is rather difficult to glean from the diary how a winning offer was determined. Also difficult is determining whether Pepys receives a commission or a kickback. If a commission, is it something like today's executive salaries where the amount, while legal, and often determined by dubious methods, may or may not be in proportion to services rendered? Who's to judge?

JWB   Link to this

"Manny a dishonest man can lay brick sthraight an' manny a
man that wudden't steal ye'er spoons will break ye'er furniture.... but I'd rather have a competint man who wud steal if I give him a chanst, but I won't, do me plumbin' thin a person that wud scorn to help himsilf but didn't know how to wipe a joint." Finley Peter Dunne, "Observations by Mr. Dooley: Reform Administration"
http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext03/omdoo10.txt

Pedro   Link to this

"save the King some money"

The others may take the view that "the saving of money for the King" does not mean that it will be used for the advantage of the Navy.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Does seem rather pointless to save Charles a thousand pounds to throw to Castlemaine. Sam at least will put his ten percent to (mostly) good use.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Pedro's and Robert's comments suggest to me that we are in danger of falling into a confusion here occasioned by Sam's use of the word "King." As Sam uses the word in this context, I argue (as I have before) that he means it in an abstract sense, in a way that we would use the word "government" today, and not to refer to Charles Stuart personally.

I believe I recall from earlier entries or annotations that the Parliament periodically allocates a substantial sum of money to the Navy to cover its general expenses, effectively a budget. If that is the case, then any money that Sam can save on masts or hemp is in fact available for other Navy uses, and doesn't simply revert to the Royal Exchequer.

On the matter of commissions, I would defend Sam in the context of the common practice of the time. It was generally understood, and was explicitly pointed out to Sam when he took the appointment as Clerk of the Acts, that the official salary for the position was only a fraction of the actual remuneration, which came from the commissions received from those doing business with the Navy. Since every member of the Navy Board received these commissions from the vendors he championed (except for Coventry, who has righteously renounced the practice now that he is wealthy), and they often backed competing vendors, the arguments around the table had to generally turn on the merits of the offer, and here Sam usually tried to figure out which vendor had the best product for the best price, and make that one his candidate for the contract, so he would have an edge in the argument. When he won, as he often did, he expected his due commission, but he could honestly say that he had gotten the best deal for the King/Navy. Of course he could have renounced his commissions also, but he didn't have the kind of money that Coventry did. That would have been like a modern civil servant turning over part of his salary to his agency.

language hat   Link to this

I agree with Paul: it's very hard for us at this late date, in an entirely different world, to judge to what extent Sam's arrangements were unethical. If it was accepted practice, then as Paul says refusing to do it "would have been like a modern civil servant turning over part of his salary to his agency."

Nix   Link to this

I second Language Hat's ocomment. It's also useful to keep in mind that the sharp distinction we make between "public" and "private" affairs was still fairly inchoate in Samuel's times. Echoes of feudalism were still pretty loud -- obligations ran to people far more than to institutions. (Recall that Samuel's first loyalty is to his counsin and patron Sandwich). Governmental functions were viewed more as a matter of proprietorship than of disinterested dedication to an abstract "nation". As I read the entries, at some level Samuel clearly recognizes that there is what we now think of as a "conflict of interest", but institutional remedies were still weak -- the main solution people could see was to throw out the rogues and put in better people. Samuel helped to develop probably the biggest tool for eliminating graft -- the development of standardized specifications for procurement, which permits competitive, price-based selection.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Oh, I don't really mean Charles Stuart would directly receive the money in saying King either. (However he is siphoning off from the Navy and other funds (spoiler) for his personal use as the Diary reveals later.) Just that the money Sam keeps for himself would likely wind up diverted for purposes other than Parliament intended whether Sam took his percentage or no. And again, in a system where some degree of graft is a necessity for survival (particularly in old age) Sam is among the better and less venial. However he's as well aware as we that what he's doing is not above board and would be considered corrupt by Parliament and the public, whatever arguments he tries to excuse himself.

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

what he's doing is not above board

I associate myself on this issue with Paul Chapin's remarks, but note that, as with Restoration sexual morals, there was apparently a large gray area in the taking of commissions or fees. Remember that Coventry became rich by demanding large fees for placing people in potentially lucrative jobs, and that Sam recorded some complaints from others about this practice. The complaints might have been politically damaging to a less well-placed person, but I get no sense of a prosecutor from the public integrity unit of the Crown making any case here. Sam's sense of how to get value for money is completely above board, and took hard work to achieve. The commissions approach appears to have been accepted business practice for the King's procurement officers. Whether Sam also took chances to enrich himself unduly isn't altogether clear, though, as I have noted, there are hints that he was occasionally quite greedy. But there were apparently no bright lines in those days about conflicts of interest, and I don't think the restoration parliament would have considered his actions worth a second thought unless they were on a witch-hunt against particular members of the Navy Board or the Tangier committee. In the political context of the day, Sam's more like a sleek city mouse pouncing on stray morsels than he is a beast of prey.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

apparently no bright lines in those days

The basic manual was the Lord High Admiral's Instructions for the Navy Board - based on Northumberland's Instructions of 1640 revised by Penn - issued by the Duke on January 28th. 1662. "They laid greater stress than before on finding the best prices for commodities, and prohibited the members of the board from themselves acting as or in partnership with suppliers."

C. S. Knighton, 'Pepys and the Navy' [2003] p. 29.

Cum grano salis   Link to this

Morality vs Law vs accepted practice;
Mans nature be simple, never be satisfied, but then
when thee get yours change the rules so that others cannot follow.

Politics be simple:

Get the privileged to be unprivileged and the unprivileged privileged.
'umans can always find ways to justify their position.

Events in this period caused the future events to erupt.
Charles ONE caused the common folk to uprise and winning the right to have a parliament [house of commons for the commoner ] at least once every 3 years.
What we are reading is evolution in progress,
if this did not happen, think how our lives would be similar to that of the 14th century or even pre war I in Russia, under total Monarchy If Charles one got his way and ruled without Parliaments like his cuzens in France and Spain and the rest.
When a revolution takes place the changes become too radical thus a cause a counter revolt , but never an ideal situation. Here we see events returning to events pre-inter Regnum.

Pedro   Link to this

"save the King some money"

I can see why it could be considered that Sam uses the term "King" in an abstract sense, in a way that we would use the word "government" today, and not to refer to Charles Stuart personally, but would not the government be that of Charles Stuart? He has total control of appointing the ministers such as the Secretary of State, Chancellor and even the Navy Board.

At the Restoration Parliament produced a sum of money to pay off the Navy which was in a very bad financial state, and they have provided a sum for purposes of war with the Dutch. I may be completely wrong but I cannot find any evidence that Parliament produced a particular budget for the Navy and assume that it would be allowed for in the annual allocation to the King which would go to the Treasury. If this is the case the finance may be decided by the King himself.

As far as the perks are concerned, Robert says that Sam is well aware that what he's doing is not above board, and he is right as the Duke of York in his instructions to the Navy Board urged "complete disinterest in the purchase of goods." I don't think many would think it amiss that Sam should take his share, but his sometimes vicious condemnation of others seems a little hypocritical. Yes others are taking a bigger cut, but as Sam gains in status will he, with his flair for organisation, devise ways of saving money with even bigger cuts himself?

An interesting point to go back to at the end of the Diary, and I hope we are all here to take part!

Cum grano salis   Link to this

Do not forget the monies His royal 'ighness got from the Sun King so that Charles no two could try and rule without those " 'uggers in the 'ouses " , but 'is love of romance put paid to that along with 'is romany brother who likes to pay back his welcome on the Scheldt with a good helping of trinkets that could be obtained by those friends of Morgan and other misfits.
The advantages of wars seem to be out weighed by a good dose of inflation in spite of those wonderful victorious gains.
King be name heading the documents that have that great seal to mark wots don is dun and no recourse for havin' be dun in.

Australian Susan   Link to this

"..obligations ran to people far more than to institutions..." (from Nix's annotation) and this continued for a very long time. I once worked as a research assistant for an academic doing research into voting patterns in the 19thc Westminster Parliament. Using statistical analysis, she proved that people voted far more often along social networking lines than party lines even in the 1860s.

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