Friday 9 February 1665/66

Up, and betimes to Sir Philip Warwicke, who was glad to see me, and very kind. Thence to Colonell Norwood’s lodgings, and there set about Houblons’ business about their ships. Thence to Westminster, to the Exchequer, about my Tangier business to get orders for tallys, and so to the Hall, where the first day of the Terme, and the Hall very full of people, and much more than was expected, considering the plague that hath been. Thence to the ‘Change, and to the Sun behind it to dinner with the Lieutenant of the Tower, Colonell Norwood and others, where strange pleasure they seem to take in their wine and meate, and discourse of it with the curiosity and joy that methinks was below men of worthe. Thence home, and there very much angry with my people till I had put all things in good forwardnesse about my supper for the Houblons, but that being done I was in good humour again, and all things in good order. Anon the five brothers Houblons come and Mr. Hill, and a very good supper we had, and good company and discourse, with great pleasure. My new plate sets off my cupboard very nobly. Here they were till about eleven at night with great pleasure, and a fine sight it is to see these five brothers thus loving one to another, and all industrious merchants. Our subject was principally Mr. Hill’s going for them to Portugall, which was the occasion of this entertainment. They gone, we to bed.

18 Annotations

Glyn   Link to this

A very profitable night for Pepys’ servants. There was a social custom at the time which lasted well into the 19th century that visitors coming to dine would give a small gratuity to each of the servants when they left at the end of the evening. And the servants would line up at the door to say goodbye and be given their financial presents; this being England, the amounts of money would be graded by the status of the servants but everyone would get something. I wish I could remember the name for this practice. There used to be jokes about people being so poor that they couldn’t afford to dine at their friends’ homes.

So the five Houblons (who are probably significantly richer than most of Pepys’ callers) would have been very welcome visitors.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

"where strange pleasure they seem to take in their wine and meate, and discourse of it with the curiosity and joy that methinks was below men of worthe"

Too much enthusiasm? Not enough "cool"? Or is he saying the food didn't merit the enthusiasm?

Thanks for the info, Glyn -- reminds me of my years as a waiter (during my rock-n-roll daze), when we would always provide extra good service to those we knew were likely to tip well...

cape henry   Link to this

"...where strange pleasure they seem to take in their wine and meate, and discourse of it with the curiosity and joy that methinks was below men of worthe." A curious and enigmatic remark given that Pepys himself often records his reaction to meals,including details of the food served and the wine. Is he suggesting that these gentlemen were being silly in some way - perhaps trying to outdo one another with their knowledge? Do we think men of "worthe" were expected to show more indifference to mundane things like food and wine? A quirky detail, anyway. (I see above that TB is posting with essentially the same questions.)

Martin   Link to this

The five brothers Houblon seem to travel in a pack...

Eric Walla   Link to this

I guess "men of worthe" are instead supposed to bust their buttons over their new plate and how nobly it does set off their cupboard.

Mary   Link to this

curiosity and joy.

It sounds as if Norwood, Robinson and co. are showing themselves to be thorough epicureans. The use of 'curious' would seem to indicate that it is the quality, rather than the quantity, of food that excites their interest. Sam's disapproval implies that this discussion was more wide-ranging than simple comment on the food before them. Is this one of his occasional hang-overs from more Puritan days or are we seeing an early example of the later rule that it was very bad form to voice any comment on food that was served at someone else's table?

jean-paul   Link to this

My take on Pepys' comment about the curiosity and joy expressed by "Colonell Norwood and others" is that by showing so much delight at partaking of fine wine and meat, they give away how unaccustomed they are to such treats—a revealing faux-pas no "men of worthe" would be so uneducated as to commit (i could be wrong though!).

JWB   Link to this

Glyn: "I wish I could remember the name for this practice"

Vails.

C.J.Darby   Link to this

I am imagining Norwood and company discussing the wine like connoisseurs, comparing the vintage ,locality and "nose" reminding me of the Monty Python sketch.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

JWB, you are correct!

vail
2   Archaic.
–verb (used without object), verb (used with object)
1. to be of use or profit; avail.
–noun
2. a tip; gratuity.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Vail

Glyn   Link to this

Thanks JWB and Terry. It's been bugging me.

JKM   Link to this

I don't think a personage like the Lieut. of the Tower would be unfamiliar with good food. I agree with capehenry, Mary, and C.J.-- Pepys is at table with a bunch of epicureans and probably is finding them either pretentious or silly. As we know, he likes discourse to be either instructive or entertaining: travelers' tales, scientific advances, politics, gossip, music, or (when squiffed) impromptu versification. Clearly, for him, talking about the food does not fill the bill.

cgs   Link to this

Vail,vale: much thanks :I doth doff 'me' cap in thanks.

cgs   Link to this

Samuell Peeps doth use words that be no longer be used or meanings lost or radically changed.
Sounds like an interestin' book???

Margaret   Link to this

I understand that in the eighteenth century, the custom of giving vails had gotten completely out of hand in Britain (foreign visitors were appalled). If you didn't give tips, you didn't get any service or you got bad service and likely had to put up with insults. And the footmen would divide up the service--one would bring your hat, another your gloves, and so on, each expecting a tip.

I hope the custom had not become as bad in Pepys' days.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... and discourse of it with the curiosity and joy that methinks was below men of worthe. "

SP was not happy with the conversation at their last dinner, though for different reasons.

"who come in with a great deale of company from hunting, and brought in a hare alive and a great many silly stories they tell of their sport, which pleases them mightily, and me not at all, such is the different sense of pleasure in mankind"
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1665/11/09/

Australian Susan   Link to this

In the 20th century, if one went to a houseparty, you gave money to the butler to divvy up amongst the rest of the servants.

I imagined the wine discussion to have travelled down the road of talking of "blackberry overtones" and "peach aftertaste" and all that over flummery which happens now - but in a 17th century manner.

A far cry from my student days when we were just concerned with how much alcohol one could get for one' pennies. oh dear, oh dear, we now belong to a wine club (but just for the discounts and home delivery!)

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"the first day of the Terme"

sc. the first day of Hilary Term, when the law courts were in session.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilary_term

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