Saturday 21 January 1664/65

At the office all the morning. Thence my Lord Brunker carried me as far as Mr. Povy’s, and there I ‘light and dined, meeting Mr. Sherwin, Creed, &c., there upon his accounts. After dinner they parted and Mr. Povy carried me to Somersett House, and there showed me the Queene- Mother’s chamber and closett, most beautiful places for furniture and pictures; and so down the great stone stairs to the garden, and tried the brave echo upon the stairs; which continues a voice so long as the singing three notes, concords, one after another, they all three shall sound in consort together a good while most pleasantly. Thence to a Tangier Committee at White Hall, where I saw nothing ordered by judgment, but great heat and passion and faction now in behalf of my Lord Bellasses, and to the reproach of my Lord Tiviott, and dislike as it were of former proceedings. So away with Mr. Povy, he carrying me homeward to Mark Lane in his coach, a simple fellow I now find him, to his utter shame in his business of accounts, as none but a sorry foole would have discovered himself; and yet, in little, light, sorry things very cunning; yet, in the principal, the most ignorant man I ever met with in so great trust as he is. To my office till past 12, and then home to supper and to bed, being now mighty well, and truly I cannot but impute it to my fresh hare’s foote. Before I went to bed I sat up till two o’clock in my chamber reading of Mr. Hooke’s Microscopicall Observations, the most ingenious book that ever I read in my life.

25 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"the brave echo upon the stairs; which continues a voice so long as the singing three notes, concords, one after another, they all three shall sound in consort together a good while most pleasantly."

Nice acoustics, whereby Pepys could strike an harmonic chord as others were in discord and speaking ill of the dead.. ..

"great heat and passion and faction now in behalf of my Lord Bellasses, and to the reproach of my Lord Tiviott"

cape henry   Link to this

"...a simple fellow I now find him..." How sweet to see an enemy brought low, eh? I believe this entry to have one of the longer and more vehement diatribes against an individual we have encountered in the diary. [Of course this from a fellow who imputes his improved health to an amputated rabbit limb.]

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Is part of the problem with Povey's accounts HoC interest in them? Today--

Navy Debt.

Ordered, That the Report concerning the Victuallers of the Navy, be heard on Monday Morning next.

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?co...

jeannine   Link to this

"Mr. Povy carried me to Somersett House, and there showed me the Queene- Mother’s chamber and closett, most beautiful places for furniture and pictures"

Not sure if I'll have the chance to track down the details here, but, as I recall, Somerset House had been renovated quite magnificently for the Queen Mother (Henrietta Marie). When she dies, of course, Somerset House will pass to Queen Catherine. After the Diary ends and overlapping the time of the Popish Plots (that will involve Sam), Queen Catherine will be living at Somerset House, in the state of what we’d call today, being ‘separated’ from her husband, Charles II. She will live there, away from Charles for many years, before he ‘calls her back’ to live with him during the political turmoil of the Plots. Somerset House, at that time was supposed to be quite majestic, which was in line with the Queen Mother’s taste and her level of status.

Margaret   Link to this

"Mr. Hooke’s Microscopicall Observations" and "the hare's foote"

Interesting juxtaposition here. Pepys is obviously very interested in the new scientific discoveries, and in 1684 he was even elected president of the Royal Society. Not that he was a scientist himself--he was elected for his administrative abilities and perhaps for his influence--but it shows his interest in science.

(I'm not a scientist either, but I enjoy reading my copies of New Scientist, which arrive in the mail rather irregularly here in Canada.)

Then you compare this with his belief in a rabbit's foot! Does this show how much has changed since the 17th century? Or do we still have the same problem today?

Terry Foreman   Link to this

The greatest scientist of that day -- Sir Isaac Newton -- was an alchemist: indeed, Margaret, this shows -- in part -- how much has changed since the 17th century.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... the Queene-Mother’s chamber and closett, most beautiful places for furniture and pictures”

In L&M Oliver Millar noted:-

"There is no evidence about the furnishings and pictures in Henrietta-Maria's new rooms at Somerset House. Possibly they included some of the pictures which had hung there in the time of Charles I and which may have been recovered at the Restoration. Such pictures were certainly hanging at Colombes when the Queen Mother died there in in 1669, and are specifically described as such in the inventory of her possessions taken there at that time; PRO, SP 78/128, ff. 209-25."

cgs   Link to this

"...he carrying me homeward to Mark Lane in his coach,..." Poor Samuell, he had to walk thru some mud?
I think Samuell was please to get all those rides today as the carriage trade be very busy in this inclement weather, have to stand around waiting for an empty one, they being busy due the mud and ruts. ?sullen skies?

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...as none but a sorry fool would have discovered himself..."

Hmmn...Again this sounds as if Povy's problem is his basic honesty, not his lack of mental agility. Sam is perhaps at least as angry at the risk Povy poses to the sweetheart deals the Tangier Committee members have amongst themselves as he is at Povy's lack of accounting skill.

***

Gee, Sam...I thought the microscope was for both of you.

Of course I suppose Bess might have simply been too pooped to stay up till two reading Hooke with you...

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Robert Gertz, I don't read Pepys's (version of) Povey that way at all. Povey he finds "a simple fellow..., to his utter shame in his business of accounts." His final verdict on Povey is that he is "in the principal [matter, sc., the accounting], the most ignorant man I ever met with in so great trust as he is" -- not that he's dishonest. Povey's ignorance can *be* a shame insofar as he isn't up to his responsibilities without his feeling shame or acting shamefully (dishonestly).

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Povey’s ignorance would indeed be "[to] his shame" we might say nowadays.

cgs   Link to this

"...and truly I cannot but impute it to my fresh hare’s foote. ..."
Everything must have a reason and a reasonable answer too boot, otherwise one gets Knights Mares.
If the bible does not explain it then it must be....

Hares in mythology
In Britain the hare was sacred to the moon goddess Andraste..........

The Celtic warrior Oisin hunted a hare and wounded it in the leg, forcing it to seek refuge in a clump of bushes. When Oisin followed it he found a door leading into the ground and he eventually emerged into a huge hall where he found a beautiful young woman sitting on a throne bleeding from a wound in her leg. The transmigration of the soul is clearly seen in Celtic lore such as this.
......
A hare's foot was said to avert rheumatism and cramps and help actors perform, or was carried as a good luck charm.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2465426

Ruben   Link to this

"The greatest scientist of that day — Sir Isaac Newton — was an alchemist: indeed, Margaret, this shows — in part — how much has changed since the 17th century."
Sorry Terry, this shows that not much has changed. We still have scientists thinking that Vit C is good for them, or that pushing blind needles below the skin will cured them of something or that they may "manipulate" bones and "put them in place". All this is done in this days with a serious face and using medical jargonese. No shame, just a nice bank account.
Note that you can still buy a nice rabbit hind limb original, or plastic imitation with a key holder, made in China, sold in Oxford Station.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Ruben, it is true that there are present-day scientists or MD's who hold unorthodox medical views. Arguably orthomolecular medicine linked to Abram Hoffer, Linus Pauling, Irwin Stone and Albert Szent-Gyorgyi has done a great deal to force orthodox medicine to attend to nutrition, food supplements and preservatives -- for many the Philosopher's Stone and Big Bucks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthomolecular_med...
I do know a couple of Linus Pauling's students who live in Southern California, where Chinese meds of all kinds can be found; they value his insights into protein-folding more than his rap on vitamin C, and they do not favor rabbits' feet, Pepys's attachment to which 'shows — *in part* — how much has changed.'

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... do not favor rabbits’ feet, Pepys’s attachment to which ‘shows — *in part* — how much has changed.’"

"John McCain will tell you he's a bit of a superstitious person, at least when it comes to Election Day omens.

Today, the Republican presidential candidate admitted to carrying the same coin he found -- face up -- on a street in Portsmouth, N.H. on the day of his last campaign stop of 2000 in his left pocket.

He said he was also wearing the same sweater (green).

"Any superstition you can imagine, I indulge in it," he said outside the New Hampshire Union Leader, the state's largest newspaper which endorsed him this year as it did in 2000.

"Whatever I can do that's superstitious, I'll do it," he added."

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/01...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Terry, actually my point...Put poorly I guess...Was that Povy's problem, based on that quote from Sam, is his basic honesty, not lack thereof. I suspect Sam feels Povy's a fool in part because he's refused to blandly cover up "problems" in the Tangier accounts and in fact is now asking questions and forcing the Committee to review things Sam and others would rather leave buried in ignorance instead of playing the game and taking his cut. This may stem simply from Povy's lack of accounting skill but it suggests to me a basic honesty and an unwillingness to simply sign the papers and go along. Sam has questioned Povy's honesty in the past but here I think it's just the opposite. Whether that's because Povy is a fool asking questions or an honest man seeking the truth may depend on one's perspective and on what one may hope to gain.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

To put it more bluntly, I think Sam's irritation with Tom Povy is that the man is trying to state and review the true accounts, not simply "adjust" them to make them come out right. And that could kill the goose laying the golden eggs...

Carl in Boston   Link to this

Poor, poor, pitiful Povy
in little, light, sorry things very cunning; yet, in the principal, the most ignorant man I ever met with in so great trust as he is.
Povy was just a dumb cluck when it came to doing his job. The higher up they are, the more astonishingly dumb they can be when they can't be bothered to pay attention to some details.
At last after seven years of temporary work and unemployment, I now have a permanent job using all my skill. It's been a good seven years just the same, with lots of time off. I'd rather not repeat it. Pepys has been helpful in his exhortations to do one's job and pay attention to the work. That's how I got the job, after eight months of working on approval as a temp.

Bryan M   Link to this

” … do not favor rabbits’ feet, Pepys’s attachment to which ‘shows — *in part* — how much has changed.’”

Nevertheless, some ideas change slowly. In a lecture broadcast recently, Nobel laureate Peter Agre claimed that 20% of Americans believe that the sun rotates around the earth. Apparently the proportion who believe that dinosaurs and “cavemen” coexisted is somewhat larger.

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/20...

Margaret   Link to this

re: rabbit's foot

I do realize that far too many people today believe in superstitions (every newspaper has a horoscope section), but I THINK that these are not the same people who are interested in science.

As Terry points out, Isaac Newton was an alchemist. I think (hope) that few scientifically-oriented people today would be superstitious. However, people can compartamentalize their lives, so I could be wrong here.

cgs   Link to this

Economics be the science: Poor Povey, he had beautiful house but he not be a graduate of the MIT of the day, as would be a while before Mathematics be a popular subject.
Remember Samuell himself has just recently graduated , having the knowledge to multiply 8 x 5 to give ?
Euclid be limited to an eclectic few.

Most may have recognized it be better to spend and leave some for the future, The Parliament is full of cases where the science of cash be not understood.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

Robert, for what it's worth, it sounds to me as if Sam's problem with Povey really has to do with the fact that Povey's just really bad at keeping accounts, which is a huge part of his job. Sam simply has no patience for incompetent people -- witness his opinion of Mennes, an educated and accomplished man who was also out of his depths when it came to bookkeeping. I just haven't seen any evidence so far that it's a matter of scruples, or that Povey's incompetence is inadvertently shining a bright light on any "side deals."

(small spoiler) As Tomalin points out in her biography, Sam will "punish" Povey for this incompetence by later fleecing him of profits they should have earned together on some of these side deals (if I remember correctly) ... one more instance of Sam taking advantage of someone he doesn't consider his equal in a specific area. It's pretty clear that if Sam took a Myers-Briggs test, he'd be a pretty solid "J"...

Linda F   Link to this

Still wonder if it did not serve Povy best to appear "simple" about accounts he comprehended too well -- perhaps he did not want the risk of being responsible for irregularities required by others' schemes. Povy may have preferred to be thought a fool about such matters rather than to openly expose and make enemies of others. He would not be the first or last to choose to be underestimated as a means to an end.

Australian Susan   Link to this

The Scene: Somerset House. The Queen Mother, Henrietta Maria is discovered sitting in her chamber with her Ladies in Waiting.

QM: "Have they stopped yet? "
Lady in Waiting: [loudly] "Yes, Ma'am. You can take the cotton wool out of your ears. The irritating little man has stopped yodelling."

Pedro   Link to this

Sam will “punish” Povey for this incompetence

That which Todd refers to occurs outside the Diary period, and so can it be regarded as much of a spoiler? It certainly shows how jealousy eats away at Sam, and how he can bear a grudge to the point of becoming vindictive. I think as Robert infers, that there is something in Povy’s accounting that gets up the noses of Peterborough and Pepys, and could spoil there nice little earners. Pepys knows that in his hands the accounting for the Committee could be much better fiddled.

In many ways Povey is quite interesting (see background), a rich and a genial host, certainly to Pepys.

After many weeks of the Committee checking these accounts they go to the Lords, where sit many fools…

“to a Committee of Tangier; where God forgive how our Report of my Lord Peterborough’s accounts was read over and agreed to by the Lords, without one of them understanding it!”

http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1664/05/19/#ann...

Later Lord Peterborough’s Sollicitor comes to Sam with a letter from him “to desire present dispatch in his business of freight, and promises me 50l., which is good newes.”

Log in to post an annotation.

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