Monday 28 December 1668

Up, called up by drums and trumpets; these things and boxes [??] having cost me much money this Christmas already, and will do more. My wife down by water to see her mother, and I with W. Hewer all day together in my closet making some advance in the settling of my accounts, which have been so long unevened that it troubles me how to set them right, having not the use of my eyes to help me. My wife at night home, and tells me how much her mother prays for me and is troubled for my eyes; and I am glad to have friendship with them, and believe they are truly glad to see their daughter come to live so well as she do. So spent the night in talking, and so to supper and to bed.

21 Annotations

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Glad to have friendship with the in-laws...At a distance. No suggestion that they might join for dinner there or at the in-laws?...I wonder how Sam manages it, especially now that Bess is firmly in charge of all domestic travel and entertainment. I can only guess Bess herself is very opposed to having him associate with them...Perhaps Alex is much too given to requesting assistance with new inventions and schemes? Or perhaps it's a religious issue? Surely if Bess wanted Sam to see them, she could make him this Xmas.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Ossory to Ormond
Written from: [Dublin]
Date: 28 December 1668

That part of the Duke's letter of 15th inst, which was written in cypher, has given Lord Ossory especial pleasure.

The libel concerning the Duke consists only of certain heads [of accusation] formerly mentioned by the writer, as having been seen in the hands of some members of Parliament, and for which Sir Charles Wheeler and Mr Seymour took pains to obtain credit.

http://www.rsl.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects/ca...

Bill Burns   Link to this

"boxes": Christmas box - a gift, usually monetary, to servants or tradespeople. First cite in the Oxford English Dictionary is:

"1611 Cotgr. Tirelire, a Christmas box; a box having a cleft on the lid, or in the side, for money to enter it; used in France by begging Fryers, and here by Butlers, and Prentices, etc."

Chris Squire   Link to this

ˈChristmas-box, n.
3. A present or gratuity given at Christmas: in Great Britain, usually confined to gratuities given to those who are supposed to have a vague claim upon the donor for services rendered to him as one of the general public by whom they are employed and paid, or as a customer of their legal employer; the undefined theory being that as they have done offices for this person, for which he has not directly paid them, some direct acknowledgement is becoming at Christmas.

These gratuities have traditionally been asked from householders by letter-carriers, policemen, lamp-lighters, scavengers, butchers' and bakers' boys, tradesmen's carmen, etc., and from tradesmen by the servants of households that deal with them, etc. They are thus practically identical with the Christmas-box collected by apprentices from their masters' customers in sense 1, exc. that the name is now given to the individual donation; and hence, vulgarly and in dialect use it is often equivalent to ‘Christmas present.’
From ‘box n. . . [1668 S. Pepys Diary 28 Dec. (1976) IX. 403 Called up by drums and trumpets; these things and boxes having cost me much money this Christmas.
1712 R. Steele Spectator No. 509. ⁋3 The beadles & officers have the impudence at Christmas to ask for their box.] [OED]

Jenny   Link to this

Boxing Day (26 December) is a public holiday in New Zealand (and I believe in the UK). As a child I thought it had something to do with boxing, the sport, and couldn't work it out at all. It is, indeed, the day on which servants, tradespeople, office workers etc received a gift. It was still common when I was young to give a gift to the postman, the milkman and other tradespeople at Christmas.

Office bonuses are often given just before Christmas - a relic I suppose of the old tradition.

mary k mcintyre   Link to this

Boxing day also a gov't holiday in Canada... in most of the Commonwealth countries, I expect. Cdn retailers kick off their big post-Xmas sales on Boxing Day, much as their US counterparts do with "Black Friday" sales on the day after their Thanksgiving.

Jenny   Link to this

Yes, Mary, the Boxing Day sales when you can buy everything you bought for Christmas at half price!

Mary   Link to this

In England we still tend to give a Christmas box (i.e. monetary gift) to the milkman, the postman and, above all, the dustmen (otherwise known as Community Hygiene Operatives). My milkman then responds with a special 'thank-you' card.

Beryl   Link to this

In France a monetary gift is given to the postman and the fireman, [very popular people in France]

Australian Susan   Link to this

The pompiers in parts of France come round their local houses selling calendars and having a drink. Gets quite entertaining towards the end of their round. The calendars are pictures of fire-engines and other rescue vehicles. Not exactly scintillating. Over here in Oz, the firemen sell calendars before Christmas, but they are of semi-naked firemen with hoses etc. Bess would have liked them, i think. Not sure if there ever was a tradition of giving Christmases boxes to tradespersons in Australia, but there hasn't been in the time we have lived here (20 years). It was important (when i was a child in the UK) to give a box to the coalman or you risked having coal bits dropped all over your path when they made their next delivery. Sam gets coal deliveries doesn't he? Wonder if he tips them at Christmas?

ONeville   Link to this

The Christmas Box tradition no doubt provided a significant income for those receiving and was jealously guarded. Dustmen, for example, would not normally come into direct contact with their patrons, who were requested to beware impostors.

http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/librarie...

Carl in Boston   Link to this

Now I know about Boxing Day, something I never understood before.

Betsy   Link to this

This post made me realize that I forgot to give anything to the postman for Christmas. Not to mention the trash man. Good thing there aren't lamplighters anymore, or I'd probably stiff him, too.

Clement   Link to this

Friendship with the in-laws--Is there any indication that Bess shared her recent agony over Sam's philandering with her parents?

AnnieC   Link to this

My local rubbish collector gets lots of "boxes" from householders in Christmas week because he is such a lovely man, always cheerful and obliging.

George Mosley   Link to this

Christmas Box and Trade:

The Christmas box, outside of the gratuity, was a way for the tradesmen themselves to reward apprentices without showing favoritism. It was also a way for each of the gratuities to go into the box, traditionally, during Advent and then have the box (made of clay) broken open by the workers for a share and share alike bonus. This was once a way for the shop owner to reflect prosperity and give thanks to the labor.

It then became an occasion for rather strenuous celebration among the working classes, especially those notorious "idle apprentices" who apparently caused much trouble to ordinary citizens. For those who would not be in a shop position, the gratuity must have developed. It is, of course, a bit of class consciousness for Pepys to resent what was not very far his social inferior's due.

ticea   Link to this

Why would Sam pay to be "called up by drums and trumpets"?

Don McCahill   Link to this

England still has milkmen? That went out of style in the 70s in most of Canada.

I remember as a boy in the early 70s making a killing at Christmas time from my newspaper delivery route. My weekly take was $4 a week, but for Christmas it was around $50 with the tips. (Never referred to as boxes though).

Mary   Link to this

[I don't know whether the whole of England still has milkmen, but ours delivers to the doorstep three times a week and we are very glad to have his services].

As for the drums and trumpets, I suspect that they were operating on the same sort of basis as carol singers did and do: we play, you pay.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"My wife down by water to see her mother"

L&M note Elizabeth's parents now apparently lived with Balty and his wife, who were settled in Deptford. Recall Samuel's contemplating the dismal prospect of "going to live at Deptford at her brother’s, till I can clear my accounts, and rid my hands of the town" http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1668/11/04/

Clive Foden   Link to this

Perhaps it is a case of "You pay or we'll play". (I'm a musician at the Tudor re-enactments at Kentwell Hall and play both instruments mentioned, so no offence is intended!)
Yes, we still have a milkman who does sterling service as a sort of unpaid social eye for our widespread community too.

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