Friday 25 September 1668

Up, and Sir D. Gawden with me betimes to confer again about this business, and he gone I all the morning finishing our answer, which I did by noon, and so to dinner, and W. Batelier with me, who is lately come from Impington, beyond which I perceive he went not, whatever his pretence at first was; and so he tells me how well and merry all are there, and how nobly used by my cozen. He gone, after dinner I to work again, and Gibson having wrote our answer fair and got Brouncker and the rest to sign it, I by coach to White Hall to the Committee of the Council, which met late, and Brouncker and J. Minnes with me, and there the Duke of York present (but not W. Coventry, who I perceive do wholly avoid to have to do publickly in this business, being shy of appearing in any Navy business, which I telling him the other day that I thought the King might suffer by it, he told me that the occasion is now so small that it cannot be fatal to the service, and for the present it is better for him not to appear, saying that it may fare the worse for his appearing in it as things are now governed), where our answer was read and debated, and some hot words between the Duke of York and Sir T. Clifford, the first for and the latter against Gawden, but the whole put off to to-morrow’s Council, for till the King goes out of town the next week the Council sits every day. So with the Duke of York and some others to his closet, and Alderman Backewell about a Committee of Tangier, and there did agree upon a price for pieces of eight at 4s. 6d. Present the Duke of York, Arlington, Berkeley, Sir J. Minnes, and myself. They gone, the Duke of York did tell me how hot Clifford is for Child, and for removing of old Officers, he saying plainly to-night, that though D. Gawden was a man that had done the best service that he believed any man, or any ten men, could have done, yet that it was for the King’s interest not to let it lie too long in one hand, lest nobody should be able to serve him but one. But the Duke of York did openly tell him that he was not for removing of old servants that have done well, neither in this place, nor in any other place, which is very nobly said. It being 7 or 8 at night, I home with Backewell by coach, and so walked to D. Gawden’s, but he not at home, and so back to my chamber, the boy to read to me, and so to supper and to bed.

22 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"I to work again, and Gibson having wrote our answer fair and got Brouncker and the rest to sign it"

L&M note the Navy Board's answer to the committee of the Privy Council's queries [ http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1668/09/24/#c35... ] was that, of the four tenders submitted, Gauden's was the cheapest and best.

They also recommended management of victualing by contract rather than by direct control ("by commission"); the "direct management" introduced in the Civil War was reverted to in December 1683.

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What would you who have worked in government or for a contractor recommend on how victualing should be managed?

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Chris Squire   Link to this

‘closet, n. Etymology: < Old French closet
. . 2. a. The private apartment of a monarch or potentate; the private council-chamber; a room in a palace used by the sovereign for private or household devotions. Obs. . . ‘ [OED]

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

But the Duke of York did openly tell him that he was not for removing of old servants that have done well, neither in this place, nor in any other place, which is very nobly said.

More evidence that the Duke displays strong loyalty downward, as Robert Gertz has said (see Sept. 19 annotations). I agree it is a trait that will do him little good when he becomes king.

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

Sorry, Robert's comment is under 18 September, although posted on the 19th.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Robert Gertz's sage observation.
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1668/09/18/#c35...

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Terry, the answer to your question reveals one's political preferences, at least in the American situation. In rough general terms, and with lots of exceptions, when a choice is to be made, Republicans will favor contracting out, while Democrats will favor direct management. I'd be interested to hear if there is a similar conservative/liberal divide in other countries.

Rick Ansell   Link to this

From memory the reason for the reversion was that none of the contractors were up to the job in terms of quality. No matter who had the contract ships were opening supposedly preserved food and finding it inedible. In some circumstances that’s a trigger for penalties etc. but men were dieing and naval operations failing, keeping experimenting until the right contractor was found was not an option, particularly as many had influential political backing.

The Victualling Board that resulted was very successful and one of the worlds largest Industrial Concerns for two centuries. Today the RN is fed by what you could characterise as a mixed approach, items are commercially produced and supplied but the design is to a specification produced and monitored by the Defence Foods Service - the world has changed since the 1680s and so has the best solution to various problems.

Rick Ansell   Link to this

Just to add that one of the reasons contractors failed was that no organisation was large enough to do the job. Plus it could take months or years for the news of bad produce to return to the UK, there was no immediacy of consequence for the contractors.

During the period contracting was the politically preferred solution - especially as the contractors could themselves be politicians. Bringing Victualling within the government was not done without good cause. Remember this is before left/right divides etc. Right up to the end of the Napoleonic Wars the ships Purser was in effect an independent contractor, buying stores from the Victualling Board and other sources and being recompensed for stores consumed at a rate that included a margin for profit.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Thanks, Rick, for 2 useful annotations about this vexed subject!

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"there did agree upon a price for pieces of eight at 4s. 6d. "

L&M note: this was to be the price at Tangier (ref. summary of Pepys's statement to the Treasury Commissioners 4 May 1668).

Tony Eldridge   Link to this

A perennial factor in the government/business relationship is that business folk, especially self-made men, tend to be much brighter than civil servants. There are too many examples in recent years in the UK to list but billions have been wasted.
By contrast, Sam had a sharp, enquiring mind and took the trouble to learn about the goods and services that he signed for. Admittedly, he was not above taking the odd "commission" but he seems to have made much more honest deals than his contemporaries.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Interesting that Jamie is confiding more and more to Sam and in private. Suggesting that with Coventry gone, perhaps not really with Jamie's approval, he doesn't place full confidence in Wren? Or that he feels he's desperately in need of friends at the Navy Office? Again it's a bit tragic that a man with some excellent personal qualities, despite the environment he lives in, and a desire to actually do some good in his job should be forced by fate to take on a role he's simply not suited for by temperament. Had Charles had a son, as King's uncle and continuing head of the Navy, Jamie probably would have ended up well respected or at least kindly used in history a sort of stiff-necked Russian Grand Duke uncle and prop of the throne.

Marfy Goodspeed   Link to this

Re Robert Gertz's comment on James, if he hadn't become king-- I don't think so, at least not stateside. James' Dominion of New England was extremely unpopular here, and if he had been allowed to continue it, he might have brought on our Revolution quite a few years earlier.

languagehat   Link to this

"A perennial factor in the government/business relationship is that business folk, especially self-made men, tend to be much brighter than civil servants. There are too many examples in recent years in the UK to list but billions have been wasted."

I don't like political sidetracks, but I can't let this absurd assertion pass without comment. Intelligence is more or less equally distributed throughout the professions; it is structural problems (often inherent) that produce (usually predictable) bad results in both business and government. And do I really need to point out, at this point in history, that bright business folk are perfectly capable of destroying billions, trillions even, and wrecking entire economies? Let's discuss 17th-century problems in 17th-century terms, and not use them as an occasion to smuggle in our own political/economic views.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

L&M note Gauden's career as a navy victualler stretched from 1660 to 1677,

Tony Eldridge   Link to this

I think you have missed my point Language Hat.
17th century problems and practices still occur today with depressing regularity, eg contracts drawn up by dozy or devious civil servants which "cannot be cancelled" because of cleverly inserted terms.
My current political / economic views are irrelevant. It's how people behave, and always have behaved, that interests me.

languagehat   Link to this

"My current political / economic views are irrelevant. It’s how people behave, and always have behaved, that interests me."

But your view of "how people behave, and always have behaved" is clearly based on your political/economic views. The ridiculous idea that "business folk ... tend to be much brighter than civil servants" is a perfect example. Any time I see the view expressed that Group X as a whole is not very bright, I can be sure prejudice is at work. Which is fine, we all have our prejudices, but it would be nice if we could keep them out of these discussions. Because when one person makes what to them is an obvious comparison with "the way things are today and always have been," it's going to conflict with somebody else's views, and they're going to speak up. You clearly think business folk are the cat's pajamas, but many other people have much darker views of them, and this is not a good place to fight the class struggle.

Tony Eldridge   Link to this

Could we have a little less pomposity LH?
I hold no particular brief for business people but my observations (and, of course, generalisations) are based on many years experience of both sides. And why shouldn't people disagree in this forum?
My original point was that Sam was a notable exception to the 'jobsworth' mentality of many public servants.

languagehat   Link to this

"Could we have a little less pomposity LH?"

I take it you don't consider "A perennial factor in the government/business relationship" or "I hold no particular brief" to be pompous forms of expression? It all depends on whose ox is being pompously gored, I guess.

"I hold no particular brief for business people but my observations (and, of course, generalisations) are based on many years experience of both sides."

As are mine.

"And why shouldn’t people disagree in this forum?"

Disagreement is inevitable and frequently enlightening (the dialectic at work, comrade!); however, it seems pointless to argue about whether businesspeople (I note without comment your phrase "self-made men") or civil servants are more intelligent on average. I'm guessing our back-and-forth is boring and irritating other commenters.

"My original point was that Sam was a notable exception to the ‘jobsworth’ mentality of many public servants."

A point which doubtless seems unexceptionable if you have a deeply rooted bias against public servants.

Mary   Link to this

Pax?

laura k   Link to this

Thank you very much, LH. I appreciate your comments tremendously.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

"I’m guessing our back-and-forth is boring and irritating other commenters."

As someone who's fallen woefully behind in my Diary reading and is now taking the opportunity to catch up while I wait at an airport for my flight, I must say I found the back-and-forth tremendously amusing! :-)

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