Saturday 24 March 1659/60

At work hard all the day writing letters to the Council, &c. This day Mr. Creed came on board and dined very boldly with my Lord, but he could not get a bed there.

At night Capt. Isham who had been at Gravesend all last night and to-day came and brought Mr. Lucy (one acquainted with Mrs. Pierce, with whom I had been at her house), I drank with him in the Captain’s cabin, but my business could not stay with him. I despatch many letters to-day abroad and it was late before we could get to bed. Mr. Sheply and Howe supped with me in my cabin. The boy Eliezer flung down a can of beer upon my papers which made me give him a box of the ear, it having all spoiled my papers and cost me a great deal of work. So to bed.

21 Annotations

First Reading

Emilio  •  Link

"flung down a can of beer"
What a shock of wonder reading those words - beer cans in the 17th century!
And what a quick return to reality upon looking in the OED:
can 1. a. A vessel for holding liquids; formerly used of vessels of various materials, shapes, and sizes, including drinking vessels. . . .
[Examples including:] 1562 J. Heywood Prov. & Epigr. (1867) 49 Mery we were as cup and can could holde. 1598 B. Jonson Ev. Man in Hum. II. v. (1616) 27 Two cannes of beere.

David Bell  •  Link

"...a can of beer..."

And this usage of "can" was still current in the middle of the last century. My mother tells of how she delivered milk in a can, from her father's farm to customers in the village. She rode a bicycle.

I understand it was a sort of metal jug, with a lid and a bucket-like carrying-handle, rather taller than it was wide.

From her description, I can see how it might be more appropriate to shipboard use than a jug. Hung from a hook, with the lid closed, it would be less likely to spill its contents as the ship rolled in the waves.

Warren Keith Wright  •  Link

Eliezer, or Ely, Jenkins was Pepys’s footboy, hired at the same time as his shipboard clerk, John Burr, on 14 March 1659/60. A footboy was the most junior servant in a household, and served an indentureship like an apprentice---though this probably did not apply to short-term employment like Pepys’s voyage to Holland. On sea or land, the footboy was expected to do every sort of chore and errand; on May 11, Eliezer will be sent from the ship to fetch Pepys’s linen at Deale, though high winds made his master fear for his safety, before he was brought back by another boat.
Post-trip, 27 August, he reappears on a smack by which sundry admirers have sent Pepys gifts---including, coincidentally, the pair of turtle-doves for Elizabeth from John Burr (see his page). In parting, Pepys gives him half a crown “because I saw that he was ready to cry to see that he could not be entertained by me here.”
Ely came from Westminster, and may possibly have been the son of the Bailiff for 1657-60, Nicholas Jenkins.
(Companion, biographical note and “Household” essay; “Shorter Pepys”)

Bert Winther  •  Link

Warren, it’s a good thing we don’t live in the 17th century. I hate to envision what your punishment would have been for those spoilers.

Pauline  •  Link

"This day Mr. Creed came on: board and dined very boldly with my Lord..."
I'm taking this "very boldly" as Sam having a sharp eye at how Creed comports himself now that Sam is Montagu's secretary [cf: our March 13 discussion]. Seems to have claimed status with "my lord," but in the end did not get a bed there.

"There"? Anyone know what this indicates?

Alan Bedford  •  Link

"...did not get a bed there."
It seems to me that Creed may have been hoping to get quarters aboard Montagu's flagship. There would be considerable status associated with being aboard the same ship as the "General at Sea."

steve h  •  Link

Servant's accident

It's hard to imagine how Shepley, Howe, and Pepys all fit in one cabin, let alone the boy waiting on them. Little wonder that Eliezer spilled the beer (surely he didn't fling it down deliberately!) Also, maybe he doesn't yet have his sea-legs, even in the relatively calm weather.

Judy Bailey  •  Link

A straight-sided ceramic cup meant for drinking coffee that we might call a "mug" today was in the past called a "coffee can." Hence, Pepys' beer "can" might have been ceramic as well as metal.

mary  •  Link

Coffee cans

The size that falls between the modern mug and the thimble-sized cup is still called a coffee can, at least by manufacturers such as Wedgwood.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

"...It’s hard to imagine how Shepley, Howe, and Pepys all fit in one cabin, let alone the boy waiting on them...."

Well, in a day when there were no Queen or King sized beds in most homes, people matter-of-factly doubled up to sleep together on narrow mattresses...

I imagine two people perched on the bed and one on a chair....and the boy squeezed by as best he could while the ship rolled--hence the spilt can of beer and spoiled papers.

Imagine Pepys' reaction if coffee or beer had been spilled all over his laptop, thereby rendering it inoperable--lashes methinks.

David Bell  •  Link

Sleeping space on-board ship

The traditional allocation of space for a hammock in the RN is 14 inches width. The ship's officers did have a little more room, and the boy might have had a hammock on the gundeck with the crew.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

"which *made* me give him a box of the ear"

That word "made" is interesting in this context. When that word means "cause" it seems to mean a very, very direct cause. By writing the sentence with that word, Pepys de-emphasises his actual decision to box the boy's ear. (There are dozens of ways, at least as easy, to write that sentence without de-emphasising his decision-making.) I can't think of an example in which we nowadays would say that we were "made" to do something *without* making a point of our lack of power in the matter. The comedian Flip Wilson often used the line, "The Devil made me do it." And isn't there an old song that goes, "You made me love you . . ."?

Two reasons Pepys may have had for using this word:

(1) He's uncomfortable with his first (or close to his first) time giving the boy corporal punishment. Not uncomfortable the way most of us would be, but uncomfortable either because the act is distasteful or because he wonders if he overreacted. He doesn't indicate that he actually regrets it. (Or perhaps the word "made" IS that indication? If so, it's just a hint.)

(2) He wants to convey that he acted out of anger (whether or not he thinks it was justified anger). It's easy to imagine Pepys, suddenly angry, box the boy's ears without thinking much about it -- and then feeling uncomfortable about it.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Bed vs. hammock...

I was under the impression that Sam's first cabin accomodations on board the Naseby included a bed as opposed to a hammock...but then Sam, who shipped out before to the Baltics under Montagu, albeit in a less exalted capacity, is no doubt used to sleeping in a hammock...

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Oops, jumping ahead...

Sam is on board the Swiftsure...Montagu seems to have a bed in his cabin (see Sunday's diary entry) but Sam may not have--on the Swiftsure...

Keir Finlow-Bates  •  Link

I don't detect any guilt or discomfort in Sam's comment about boxing the boys ear. Given that as recently as 30 years ago there was corporal punishment in schools, I would be surprised if clouting a clumbsy youth about the head for spoiling a day's work would bother Sam for a second. It seems to me that 'made' is just an expression of causation - Sam wouldn't randomly beat up a boy for no reason, but the boy's behaviour caused Sam (quite properly for the time) to punish him.

Nix  •  Link

Bed vs. hammock --

Samuel has a cabin -- a rather spacious one, though that is by very cramped standards. I'm pretty sure it would contain at least one bunk.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

"...made me give him a box of the ear...."

Before everyone gets too carried away (see March 25 annotations re: "boxing" etc.--which properly belong attached to this diary entry!)...

'Boxing' someone behind the ears or boxing someone's ears is really akin to 'cuffing someone about' and may be an even milder form of corporal punishment.

In relation to the sport of boxing aka 'the sweet science' a 'box' is a light punch that can sting--much like a 'jab' in today's ring parlance.

The way Sam puts it, he seems to want to suggest his cabin boy received one swift swipe and no more.

When I was confined to a colonial 'cane 'n train' school run by brutish Scots Presbyterians, a certain Mr. Moody, who terrorized middle school denizens, used to swat boys across the back of the head with a patented move he fondly termed the 'biff.'

If Mr. Moody was not set squarely or a boy's head was already moving away from the full onslaught or heft of this Irishman's fat fist, then the effects of the ensuing blow were relatively harmless--but when one caught the full force of such a swipe, it literally sent you reeling and caused dizzy spells and/or headaches for hours afterwards.

Of course, Sam's tone may be a tad regretful because:

1. It was the sabbath day when he actually wrote about it in his diary;

2. he was probably pretty drunk by the time he uncorked on poor Eli...

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

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mountebank  •  Link

Breaking news: in view of security concerns it's been decided that Charles' journey across the Channel is to be postponed until the situation improves.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... which made me give him a box of the ear, ..."

I suspect this was Pepys' first experience with employing a boy. Therefore he wasn't used to/comfortable with administering "justice" on the spot. But there were other men there, and Pepys would have lost face if he had over or under reacted to the situation. He probably replayed the scene over in his head and worried about it all night.

This is part of the transition into becoming an Esq. instead of a clerk. From time to time Pepys comes up against his imprinting: playing the role will become easier as he gets older and used to the role.

Carol D  •  Link

Mountebank - love it! ;-)

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