Friday 4 December 1668

Up, and with W. Hewer by water to White Hall, and there did wait as usual upon the Duke of York, where, upon discoursing something touching the Ticket-Office, which by letter the Board did give the Duke of York their advice, to be put upon Lord Brouncker, Sir J. Minnes did foolishly rise up and complain of the Office, and his being made nothing of; and this before Sir Thomas Littleton, who would be glad of this difference among us, which did trouble me mightily; and therefore I did forbear to say what I otherwise would have thought fit for me to say on this occasion, upon so impertinent a speech as this doting fool made — but, I say, I let it alone, and contented myself that it went as I advised, as to the Duke of York’s judgment, in the thing disputed. And so thence away, my coach meeting me there and carrying me to several places to do little jobs, which is a mighty convenience, and so home, where by invitation I find my aunt Wight, who looked over all our house, and is mighty pleased with it, and indeed it is now mighty handsome, and rich in furniture. By and by comes my uncle, and then to dinner, where a venison pasty and very merry, and after dinner I carried my wife and her to Smithfield, where they sit in the coach, while Mr. Pickering, who meets me there, and I, and W. Hewer, and a friend of his, a jockey, did go about to see several pairs of horses, for my coach; but it was late, and we agreed on none, but left it to another time: but here I do see instances of a piece of craft and cunning that I never dreamed of, concerning the buying and choosing of horses. So Mr. Pickering, to whom I am much beholden for his kindness herein, and I parted; and I with my people home, where I left them, and I to the office, to meet about some business of Sir W. Warren’s accounts, where I vexed to see how ill all the Comptroller’s business is likely to go on, so long as ever Sir J. Minnes lives; and so troubled I was, that I thought it a good occasion for me to give my thoughts of it in writing, and therefore wrote a letter at the Board, by the help of a tube, to Lord Brouncker, and did give it him, which I kept a copy of, and it may be of use to me hereafter to shew, in this matter. This being done, I home to my aunt, who supped with us, and my uncle also: and a good-humoured woman she is, so that I think we shall keep her acquaintance; but mighty proud she is of her wedding-ring, being lately set with diamonds; cost her about 12l.: and I did commend it mightily to her, but do not think it very suitable for one of our quality. After supper they home, and we to bed.

15 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"some business of Sir W. Warren’s accounts"

Concerning Sir W. Warren's contract for New England masts (L&M note).

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Sounds like both Sir John and Admiral Sir Will are well aware who wrote the "great letter" and Minnes at least is not so much worried about the moves by Buckingham and co to offer much solidarity in the face of San's criticisms. And poor Aunt Wight finally gets a faint nod of approval...And a new wedding ring. I wonder if Wight goofed with another offer to another pretty girl who was less inclined to discretion than Bess and had to cough up as a consequence...He's never seemed quite the type to buy his own wife an expensive ring without powerful incentive.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

"by the help of a tube"
This gave me pause, then I realized it was for his eye.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

"... do not think it [the diamond ring] very suitable for one of our quality ..."
This remark puzzles me, particularly the word "our." I have the distinct sense that Sam regards himself and Elizabeth as having moved into a higher social realm than Uncle and Aunt Wight, even though not by birth. And surely the ring is no less suitable for people of their station than the new coach, even if SP is equating Aunt Wight's quality with his own.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

As so often happens, two things in today's entry ring true across the centuries. The "doting fool" who makes impolitic remarks in a setting where they can damage your interests (RG thinks Minnes knew what he was doing and didn't care, but that's clearly not how Sam viewed the situation). And then the sharpies who are so eager to meet your transportation needs - used horses then, used cars now - to their own advantage.

Mark S   Link to this

"do not think it very suitable for one of our quality"

Sam seems to feel that diamonds are only suitable for the nobility, and wearing diamonds is 'getting above one's station', and might be regarded as pretentious.

Mary   Link to this

craft and cunning in buying horses.

Pickering may also be pointing out that a horse that looks handsome may not actually be well fitted for carriage-work. Depth of shoulder and chest etc. could be more useful than just a pretty head and trim heels. In modern parlance, Pepys needs to give thought to what's under the bonnet (hood) not just the chrome trim.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

I think it's likely Sam's opinion of Sir John is not quite the whole story. It seems too coincidental that the "great letter" shook up the office a short time ago and now both Penn and Minnes are venting annoyance. Sir John may be a bit dotty with age but he's always had what seems a good sense of self-preservation and I think he's well aware who's passing inside info to the Duke in hammering away at the blots of the office.

laura k   Link to this

James Gleick reading The Diary

Not topical to today's post, but hopefully of interest to a few Pepys readers. If you read the terrific science writer and historian James Gleick, you may be interested to know he is also a Pepys reader. The most recent post to his blog mentions Sam "flinging the note" to Deb.

http://around.com/?p=1406

I'm currently reading Gleick's new book, "The Information", and I recommend it highly.

Dorothy   Link to this

The descendants of those horse traders are selling cars today. Nothing changes.

Maybe Pepys is afraid auntie's ring will give his wife ideas about what can be extorted from a philandering husband.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"Pickering may also be pointing out that a horse that looks handsome may not actually be well fitted for carriage-work. "

Has Pepys been more observant of the horses at Epsom Downs or those pulling carriages? Consider the Shire "horses 'fit for the dray, the plough, or the chariot' [that] were on sale at Smithfield Market in London as early as 1145." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shire_horse

FJA   Link to this

Regarding Aunt Wight's wedding ring: 12 pounds worth of diamond encrustation may have been a dear sum to Uncle Wight, but if that is the best they have to show for themselves, Sam, now embarked on a program of conspicuous consumption, must consider whether spending more time with such "poor" relations would detract from his newly-perceived, exalted position in London society.

AnnieC   Link to this

I fear that Sam's physical fitness will decline, now that he's riding instead of walking.

Jenny   Link to this

There were many cruel practices used to make a horse look good for sale. I'm sure Sam was grateful for Pickering's advice.

It's a bit rich of Sam saying that Aunt Wight had ideas above her station. His "station" has never held him back from progressing.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Making a horse look good

Old horses go grey, so dye could be employed to get rid of that. Horses do literally get "long in the tooth" and judicious filing can help. But the phrase "never look a gift horse in the mouth" is true - it is very hard to disguise the age of the teeth, no matter what else you do. A horse could be "gingered up" to make it appear younger and more lively (insert peeled finger-sized piece of ginger into rectum) and applying heat to a lame leg might ease the discomfort and make the horse limp less. For tales of sharp salesmanship over horses - see Black Beauty (originally written to draw attention to cruelty to working horses which led to the formation of the RSPCA) and the Somerville and Ross stories about the Irish R.M.

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