Sunday 7 April 1667

(Easter day). Up, and when dressed with my wife (in mourning for my mother) to church both, where Mr. Mills, a lazy sermon. Home to dinner, wife and I and W. Hewer, and after dinner I by water to White Hall to Sir G. Carteret’s, there to talk about Balty’s money, and did present Balty to him to kiss his hand, and then to walk in the Parke, and heard the Italian musique at the Queen’s chapel, whose composition is fine, but yet the voices of eunuchs I do not like like our women, nor am more pleased with it at all than with English voices, but that they do jump most excellently with themselves and their instrument, which is wonderful pleasant; but I am convinced more and more, that, as every nation has a particular accent and tone in discourse, so as the tone of one not to agree with or please the other, no more can the fashion of singing to words, for that the better the words are set, the more they take in of the ordinary tone of the country whose language the song speaks, so that a song well composed by an Englishman must be better to an Englishman than it can be to a stranger, or than if set by a stranger in foreign words. Thence back to White Hall, and there saw the King come out of chapel after prayers in the afternoon, which he is never at but after having received the Sacrament: and the Court, I perceive, is quite out of mourning; and some very fine; among others, my Lord Gerard, in a very rich vest and coat. Here I met with my Lord Bellasses: and it is pretty to see what a formal story he tells me of his leaving, his place upon the death of my Lord Cleveland, by which he is become Captain of the Pensioners; and that the King did leave it to him to keep the other or take this; whereas, I know the contrary, that they had a mind to have him away from Tangier. He tells me he is commanded by the King to go down to the Northward to satisfy the Deputy Lieutenants of Yorkshire, who have desired to lay down their commissions upon pretence of having no profit by their places but charge, but indeed is upon the Duke of Buckingham’s being under a cloud (of whom there is yet nothing heard), so that the King is apprehensive of their discontent, and sends him to pacify them, and I think he is as good a dissembler as any man else, and a fine person he is for person, and proper to lead the Pensioners, but a man of no honour nor faith I doubt. So to Sir G. Carteret’s again to talk with him about Balty’s money, and wrote a letter to Portsmouth about part of it, and then in his coach, with his little daughter Porpot (as he used to nickname her), and saw her at home, and her maid, and another little gentlewoman, and so I walked into Moore Fields, and, as is said, did find houses built two stories high, and like to stand; and it must become a place of great trade, till the City be built; and the street is already paved as London streets used to be, which is a strange, and to me an unpleasing sight. So home and to my chamber about sending an express to Portsmouth about Balty’s money, and then comes Mrs. Turner to enquire after her son’s business, which goes but bad, which led me to show her how false Sir W. Pen is to her, whereupon she told me his obligations to her, and promises to her, and how a while since he did show himself dissatisfied in her son’s coming to the table and applying himself to me, which is a good nut, and a nut I will make use of. She gone I to other business in my chamber, and then to supper and to bed. The Swede’s Embassadors and our Commissioners are making all the haste they can over to the treaty for peace, and I find at Court, and particularly Lord Bellasses, says there will be a peace, and it is worth remembering what Sir W. Coventry did tell me (as a secret though) that whereas we are afeard Harman’s fleete to the West Indys will not be got out before the Dutch come and block us up, we shall have a happy pretext to get out our ships under pretence of attending the Embassadors and Commissioners, which is a very good, but yet a poor shift.

30 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

St Alban to Ormond
Written from: Paris
Date: 7 April 1667

Passes are this day sent into England for the King's Ambassadors to proceed, for the pending Treaty, to Breda; concerning the success of which the writer is in good hope. It were strange "if the single point of Polleron
[ Pulo Run, East Indies http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/7584/ ] should be so prevalent either with the Dutch or us, that - all things else being agreed - that should continue the war." ...

http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects...

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"...which is a good nut, and a nut I will make use of."

L&M transcribe "is a good note, and a note I will make use of."

Pepys is making a little list:

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list, I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed, they never would be missed!
There's interior designers, window dressers and that sort
Bank robbers who retire to Spain the minute they get caught
Or those who have their noses pierced or men who die their hair
Or idiots who host chat shows and disc jockeys everywhere
And customs men who fumbling through your underwear insist
They'd none of them be missed, They'd none of them be missed!

CHORUS: He's got them on the list, He's got them on the list
And they'll none of them be missed, They'll none of them be missed.....

http://www.lyricsmania.com/ive_got_a_little_lis...

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"the Court, I perceive, is quite out of mourning"

sc. of the Queen's mother. see 28 March 1666, n1: "Donna Luiza, the Queen Regent of Portugal. She was daughter of the Duke de Medina Sidonia and widow of Juan IV. The Court wore the deepest mourning on this occasion. The ladies were directed to wear their hair plain, and to appear without spots on their faces, the disfiguring fashion of patching having just been introduced. — Strickland’s Queens of England, vol. viii., p. 362." http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1666/03/28/#fnr...

Michael Robinson   Link to this

we shall have a happy pretext to get out our ships under pretence of attending the Embassadors and Commissioners, which is a very good, but yet a poor shift."

SP disapproves of dissembling about conduct!

Mary   Link to this

"his little daughter Porpot"

According to the L&M reading, he called his little daughter "Poopot" which is even less attractive. I had wondered whether this should not read 'Poppet' but apparently not. Poor child.

Bryan M   Link to this

"but yet the voices of eunuchs I do not like like our women,... but that they do jump most excellently with themselves and their instrument, which is wonderful pleasant"

Eunuchs jumping most excellently, not only with themselves but with their instruments as well??

Just a tad surreal for this poor boggled mind. Any suggestions as to what might be going on?

Mary   Link to this

excellent jumping eunuchs.

Perhaps he means that they make very clean vocal 'leaps' from one note to another, rather than taking the easier route of a glissando transition or even 'running' the intervening notes.

[These junping eunuchs make me think of the Peter Cook & Dudley Moore 'Leaping Nuns of Norwich']

language hat   Link to this

Making all allowances for his being a busy man and having many interests, he still seems remarkably unaffected by his mother's death. All he seems to care about in connection with it is wearing mourning (and the expense thereof). I'm sure he felt sad about it, but...

Don McCahill   Link to this

He did make some comments before her death that indicated he would be very sad should she die. I suspect it is just something that he felt didn't need to be written down.

Mary   Link to this

Pepys bereaved.

Let's not be too judgmental here. The news of his mother's extreme condition had prompted vivid and harrowing nightmares about her on March 25th and was "set to a-weeping heartily" when the news of her death reached him on March 27th. But once the expected blow has fallen, there are things to be done (money to be sent to Brampton, mourning clothes to be bought), things to be grateful for (another anniversary of cutting for the stone safely past, news of his father apparently reassuring) and much business besides. We can't really expect him to snivel on for days.

And besides all this, Sam was living at a time when death was a much more familiar attendant than we are accustomed to. No doubt the words "in the midst of life we are in death" had a real and pertinent ring for him and his contemporaries. Moreover Margaret had clearly been a difficult woman, causing her husband (of whom Sam is patently very fond)a deal of trouble and upset, so there was perhaps an admixture of relief in Sam's reaction - a not wholly incomprehensible emotion.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

I was quite surprised at how much he reached out to her in his pretty terrible dream in which, as he embraced her, his dying mother had hair growing across her face (as I recall it). Who would want to go there again?!

Robert Gertz   Link to this

I wouldn't be surprised if Sam felt writing down more details of his feelings regarding Meg's death would be too painful. After all, the Diary was discontinued after Bess' death even though his eyesight had improved. It was a fairly conscious way of reliving past experiences and some of these may simply not have been experiences he wanted to relive.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Turkish spy to Sultan, 1667.

"Excellence whose grace is beyond imagining... I write in sorrow to inform you that I have found that in the benighted land of England your most fiendish enemy, the Pope of Rome has established a secret training center in the English court for his prized eunichs. I regret to inform your Magnificence that in fact these eunichs, supposedly attached to the Queen's chapel for her edification and religious practice are in fact the finest leaping eunichs it has ever been my humble duty to beheld. Indeed, with the most profound sorrow I must inform you, oh, Master of the World, that even that most excellent pet of your Excellency, the eunich Rustam, cannot compare the pitiful leaps of his frame to these astonishing creatures. In short, oh Glory of the Universe...We have exposed the treachery of the Vatican and uncovered a most disturbing leaping eunich gap."

Terry Foreman   Link to this

RG, interesting chap that Sultan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mehmed_IV

Robert Gertz   Link to this

That he was, Terry. But even more his grand vizier, the great Koprulu. Though if I remember right, it's his father, Sultan Ibrahim who had the saddest end of any of the precarious Ottomans, wretchedly running through his palace begging anyone who'd eaten of his bread or tasted of his acknowledged kindness to save him from the cruel men (his own court officials) coming to kill (er, depose) him.

Hmmn. Sam Pepys, secretary to the ambassador to Constantinople's Sublime Porte...

Oh, well, what might have been...

cum salis grano   Link to this

"...with his little daughter Porpot (as he used to nickname her),..."

Just maybe, she be so small when born that she could fit into a poor pan/pot or a chamber pot, thus poor pot?

Australian Susan   Link to this

Although Poopot would be an offensive nickname now, was Poo a common term for excrement then? Sam only uses the term s***, I think. Or was it 'nursery' language then as now? And thus terminology with which Sam would not be familiar. I agree with Mary, Poppet would be much more preferable and was a common term of endearment in the 17thc. Also word for a doll.

cum salis grano   Link to this

poupee doll

cum salis grano   Link to this

Porpot
poppet, n.
accent any one.

d) < Middle French, French (now regional: chiefly Northern, Channel Islands) poupette doll (although this is apparently first attested later: 1583; < poupe + -ette -ETTE suffix).
Several other Romance and Germanic languages also have words denoting variously ‘doll’, ‘baby’, ‘little girl’, some of which are borrowed from the post-classical Latin word, some from the classical Latin word. Compare Italian pupa, {dag}puppa doll, girl, especially little girl (1611 in Florio, although the sense ‘girl’ is apparently rare before the 20th cent.; originally regional (Emilia Romagna)), Romansh (Surselvan, Engadine) poppa doll, (Upper Engadine) pópa small child, Middle Low German poppe, puppe doll, (rare) girl (as a term of endearment), early modern German boppe, pup, puppe doll, in later use also (colloquial, chiefly as a term of endearment) girl (15th cent.; late 14th cent. in the derivative pippel); German Puppe).

1693 DRYDEN in tr. Persius Satires II. 28 (note) Those Baby-Toys were little Babies, or Poppets, as we call them.

Carl in Boston   Link to this

(Eunuchs) do jump most excellently with themselves and their instrument. They are flying and flitting over the notes, in tight agreement and time with the instrument. It comes with long practice and performing the same tune for months. In keyboard playing they call it the dance of the fingers. Sam could have been quite a musician, since he can feel these matters. Then again he could have starved with all the other musicians.

Mary   Link to this

Carteret's 'poopot'

Just a thought: Carteret was born on the island of Jersey and may well have retained from his youth a distinctive Channel Island accent. Perhaps "poopot" is Sam's way of remarking upon Carteret's distinctive pronunciation of the nickname, as the form "poppet" would certainly have been the one normally heard.

language hat   Link to this

"I wouldn’t be surprised if Sam felt writing down more details of his feelings regarding Meg’s death would be too painful."

Right, and it's not that I was expecting weeks of garment-rending prose; it's quite understandable that he wouldn't write much about his feelings. What bothered me was the fact that this sounds exactly like all his other entries: chatty, informative, good-humored. When my own mother died, I was pretty much hors de combat for a while; checking my humble Week-at-a-Glance, I see the usual densely crammed entries vanish for days and slowly start picking up towards the end of the week. Mary has a good point about "a time when death was a much more familiar attendant than we are accustomed to," but it's hard to believe most people were able to come to terms with their mother's death quite so quickly and easily.

I'm not condemning him -- people are who they are, and there would be no point to his putting on a show of grief in his own diary -- and of course it's possible that he was having strong feelings of grief despite the apparent nonchalance of the entries, it just struck me as notable that what for most people is a devastating blow (regardless of how difficult the mother in question might be) leaves so little trace in his writing.

djc   Link to this

Not everybody reacts to death the same way. Just carrying on, dont make a fuss, can be perfectly normal behaviour. To feel more of grief when coming to accept the inevitable rather than when the inevitable has happened it, to my mind, perfectly understandable.

John   Link to this

My curiosity about Sam's reaction to his mother's death is not so much what he is saying (or not saying) about his personal feelings, but that he has not gone to a family gathering or burial. He may be too busy to go out of London to be with his family - especially his father - but you'd think he might have explained this in his diary and expressed some frustration about it.

Mark   Link to this

The "eunuchs" are undoubtedly castrati, reknowned as the superstar singers of their day. Their beauty, power and skill was praised, though Mr P clearly likes his women!

The Italian Music was possibly by the Albrici brothers whom Charles had hired on to do just that. Though this is only a guess.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Information on Albrici (it refers to the Diary too)

http://www.hoasm.org/VIIA/AlbriciV.html

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... as every nation has a particular accent and tone in discourse, so as the tone of one not to agree with or please the other, no more can the fashion of singing to words, for that the better the words are set, the more they take in of the ordinary tone of the country whose language the song speaks, so that a song well composed by an Englishman must be better to an Englishman than it can be to a stranger, or than if set by a stranger in foreign words. ..."

In the preface to his 'Second Book ...,' 1655, Henry Lawes made fun of such a theory 'Young gentleman heard some songs I had set to Italian words (publicly sung by some excellent voices) concluded those songs were begotten in Italy, and said too loud, they would fain hear such songs be made by an Englishman.' He had simply set words from the index to Antonio Cifra's 'Scherzi et Arte,' 1614, to passionate music:

Tavola
In quel gelato core una voce; piagne
Madonna segl'occhi vostri a due voci; O
sempre e quando, tudi salvar mi cirche,
certe è scorno, misera non creda, ohi me
de lumi già, macche squallido dalli pallida
labra; Così mia vita, a tre voci.

Nix   Link to this

"the better the words are set, the more they take in of the ordinary tone of the country whose language the song speaks, so that a song well composed by an Englishman must be better to an Englishman than it can be to a stranger, or than if set by a stranger in foreign words" --

This rings true in my choral singing. Singing translations is always awkward, which is why most choral directors insist on performing in the original language, sacrificing audience understanding of the words to the aesthetic impact of the work.

Because of the rhythmic irregularity of the English language, similar issues crop up in the works of Handel, a non-native speaker setting English texts to music. To use a favorite phrase of conductors, he often puts the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LAB-le.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Nix, I've sung a lot of Handel, and don't remember noticing anything askew about the match between the music and the text. Could you give some examples?

As to Sam, I think you're giving him too much credit here. He's not really talking about translations (which I agree rarely work well, as you say); he's making a more radical claim, that Englishmen are always going to like English music better than music from another country. He said something similar a few months ago, to which I commented that there's a reason why Monteverdi is still preferred to his English contemporaries, even in England.

Nix   Link to this

Paul -- I'm currently singing the Dettingen Te Deum (which Handel wrote for an English translation of the Latin prayer) and stumbling over words like com-FORT-er and mag-NI-fy, and some passages where the stress falls awkwardly ("IN thee HAVE I trusted", "world withOUT end"). I don't think this is just a matter of archaic 18th century pronunciations, since the same phrases appear elsewher in the same passages with the modern accent patterns. I recall running into similar awkwardness in other works of his, though the specifics don't come to mind at the moment. The choral directors have attributed this to limits on Handel's command of English, or to his insistence that his musical rhythms take precedence over the linguistic rhythms.

Re-reading the entry, you're probably right that I missed Samuel's point -- probably because I had the previous night's rehearsal ringing in my mind.

Log in to post an annotation.

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