Monday 26 March 1660

This day it is two years since it pleased God that I was cut of the stone at Mrs. Turner’s in Salisbury Court. And did resolve while I live to keep it a festival, as I did the last year at my house, and for ever to have Mrs. Turner and her company with me. But now it pleases God that I am where I am and so prevented to do it openly; only within my soul I can and do rejoice, and bless God, being at this time blessed be his holy name, in as good health as ever I was in my life.

This morning I rose early, and went about making of an establishment of the whole Fleet, and a list of all the ships, with the number of men and guns: About an hour after that, we had a meeting of the principal commanders and seamen, to proportion out the number of these things. After that to dinner, there being very many commanders on board. All the afternoon very many orders were made, till I was very weary.

At night Mr. Sheply and W. Howe came and brought some bottles of wine and some things to eat in my cabin, where we were very merry, remembering the day of being cut for the stone. Captain Cuttance came afterwards and sat drinking a bottle of wine till eleven, a kindness he do not usually do the greatest officer in the ship. After that to bed.

51 Annotations

First Reading

Emilio  •  Link

"keep it a festival, . . . and for ever to have Mrs. Turner and her company with me"
What a lovely thought, particularly to have your surgeon in on the festivities.
Certainly many of us are grateful for moments when our life was saved, but how many hold such a solemn (and public) celebration years later?

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Sam's diary & a striver's gloatings...

are getting a tad tiresome:

"... Captain Cuttance came afterwards and sat drinking a bottle of wine till eleven, a kindness he do not usually do the greatest officer in the ship...."

Eric Walla  •  Link

Hhomeboy, you've a point there ...

... it seems a bit much that Sam makes constant mention of his rise in fortunes, even though it has been only a short time. I would suggest that most men adapt rather quickly to a new station with just random "Whoa, where am I?" realizations every so often.

Could it be due to the fact that he is not truly at liberty, but cooped up on a ship with his employer and patron? The diary is not hidden away in the relative safety of his own home, but might easily be found by those around him. Should M'Lord find out about it and "request" that Sam decipher its contents, he would have a hard time refusing.

But then again, depending on how cryptic the writing is, he could just wing it.

language hat  •  Link

"making of an establishment of the whole Fleet"
I'm not sure which of these (OED) meanings of "establishment" is involved here:

7 c The 'estimates' for public expenditure. Obs.
1672 Earl Essex in Essex Papers 31 Aug., Upon the closing of the Establishment for this Kingdome [Ireland], five hundred Pounds a year were reserved with intention that if I should find cause to move the King in behalf of this City of Dublyn, it should be restored to them agen.. I desire that I may have an order to insert them [the £500] into the Establishment.

9 a An organized body of men, maintained at the expense of the sovereign or of the state for a specific purpose; orig. said of the military service, but applied also to the naval and civil. b The quota of officers and men in a regiment, ship, etc., complement. Also in peace, war establishment; cf. 3 b.

1689 Luttrell Brief Rel. (1857) I. 518 What forces shall be sent to the Low Countries.. shall be continued in English pay, and on the English establishment. 1800 Dundas in Owen Wellesley's Disp. 558 The establishment does not seem to have exceeded eighty thousand men. 1828 J. M. Spearman Brit. Gunner (ed. 2) 69 The usual establishment of officers for ships of the same class.

mw  •  Link

Hhomeboy and Eric Walla, I suspect a misunderstanding. Four thoughts
firstly SP is humbled to be cut of the stone on this day, secondly may the greatest not refer to Montague?, thirdly granted SP's position he could hardly accept that title and fourthly does the greatest mean the same to us as it does in SP's time? The answer lies somewhere in there and not in conceit.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Muhammed Ali...'I am the....' etc.

This constant harping on how much deference is shown him is hardly new; what's tiresome is that it's become a sort of journalistic litany...Sam is one of those people who revel in the outward trappings of respectability...(sigh)

PHE  •  Link

Sam's joy of life
His 'gloatings' are an example of his excitement and almost childish joy about many aspects of his life. If he didn't have this characteristic, then we would not have such an enjoyable and entertaining diary.

brommers  •  Link

PHE, A good point well made

Also true of Benvenuto Cellini's 'Life' a century earlier. BC uses it like a sledge hammer, whilst Sam is quite endeering.

Pawpaw  •  Link

It is very clear that Samuel is thanking God for his survival.
The mortality rate in London was so high, at that time, the city could not sustain itself.

As for the snide remarks about Sam's good fortune...I believe that I detect sour grapes.

Phil  •  Link

Can we keep the personal comments out of these annotations please Pawpaw. Thanks.

PHE  •  Link

Following my comments above.. For me, a fascinating aspect of Pepys is that he writes for himself and not self-consciously for an audience. We all have smug and egotistical views of ourselves and our acheivements which we chose not to broadcast so as not to appear self-praising. With Pepys, the shear honesty of his views come through, representing the nearest we can come to reading somebody's mind.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

PHE's last comment...

I agree that the integrity of Sam's candid comments is the key to the enduring fascination with the diaries...

As we have already remarked re: rec. sex and venality, Sam is very much a creature of his fact, I would argue he is one of the first of a long line of self-created (and self-absorbed) 'celebrity' journalists.

As for the childishness, that is part and parcel of the 'artistic' temperament but is also behind Sam's voracious need for self-gratification through the demonstrated approval of his social betters, episodes of which he then faithfully records.

P.S. Have any of the great literary psychiatrists such as Ms. Klein written any compelling pschoanalytic essays re: Sam's personaility traits as revealed in the diaries?

PHE  •  Link

I don't see Pepys as a "creature of his age". On the contary, his writings demonstrate how unchanging many aspects of human nature are with a clarity that history books and novels fail to achieve. If you remove the historical context, Pepys could very much be an ambitious civil servant working in London today (as others have noted). Also, I do not agree he was a 'celebrity journalist' as he was never known and never intended to be known as a journal writer during his lifetime. (Sorry, not disagreeing for the sake of it).

Emilio  •  Link

Sam seems to be using the word as a synonym for "census," an accounting of all the men and munitions in the fleet prior to them going to sea. Definition 9b above seems closest to this meaning, though that definition doesn't quite capture it.
This action could relate back to the fictitious servants that someone proposed to Sam a few days ago. There are the men on the books, and then there are the crew actually present who would be available in time of danger. It would be very important for Montagu to know what his actual resources are before setting out.

Laura K  •  Link

"keep it a festival, . . . and for ever to have Mrs. Turner and her company with me"

I related very personally to this. I also keep the anniversary of a date my life nearly ended. I've met a few other people over the years who have told me they do something similar - a private anniversary of sorts.

"But now it pleases God that I am where I am and so prevented to do it openly; only within my soul I can and do rejoice..."

I find this very touching - the idea of a private rejoicing and giving thanks at one's good fortune.

Nix  •  Link

Samuel's self-regard --

-- is well-earned. He has come from something below the petty gentry (though the family had some local prominence out in the sticks, his father as a younger son had gone to town and become a tailor) and is now, at age 26, the top civilian aide to the commander of the fleet. He is beginning to receive recognition in a highly stratified society in which the conventions of recognition are of critical importance. I don't begrudge him a bit of "gloating".

language hat  •  Link

Emilio, I suspect you're right about "establishment."

Re Sam's pleasure in his success: There is no "childishness" here, it's just human nature. (And as PHE says, in no sense can Pepys be considered a "celebrity journalist.")

David Bell  •  Link

Pepys and Captain Cuttance...

It's hard to tell from the annotations on the Captain, but it would seem reasonable to reckon him one of the competent Captains in the Fleet. Are we seeing in this entry the first signs of what will make Pepys what he will become? He's associating with the Naval officers of the Commonwealth, and perhaps finding he has something in common with them.

Incidentally, Captain Cuttance is Montague's Flag Captain, which puts him a little apart from the other Captains, and it wouldn't surprise me if Pepys, as Secretary and a civilian, is one of the few people he can freely associate with.

I think Pepys hasn't entirely realised how things work here.

Jackie  •  Link

Sam is behaving like anybody would who has suddenly risen rapidly through society and is struggling to learn the rules while revelling in his new status.

A few days ago, he was worried about his job, working for one man who was up to all sorts in the Low Countries (and asking worrying questions about his job) and another who was more or less in exile. Now he is a major participant in events, he is being approached by people as an important man of influence and he was acquired the trappings of a significant rise in society - a sword, the title "Esq." and a bevy of servants aboard ship, as well as his own cabin.

The nice thing about these diaries are his honesty in recording his emotions about this - many diarists would write something like "of course, it was heady stuff, but I made sure that it did not go to my head...", while Sam lets us know how much he enjoys it.

In modern terms, he's probably had the equivalent of a modern OBE i.e. recognition from on high, proof of arrival and a set of sparking letters to display after a name. I can think of many who reacted to such a thing in this way - and several who did not!


David Quidnunc  •  Link

Honesty, egotism, crudity

What would some contemporary have thought of Esquire Pepys's wallowing in his jump in status? Probably our modern ideas of equality are what make those statements look unattractive. Back then, only a few radicals had those modern notions. Remember, Sam's patrons (Mountagu, Downing) and their allies were in favor of crowning Cromwell and now support Charles -- social hierarchy is regarded as a positive good for them, something that promotes peaceful order.

In Sam's day, the republicans and other puritans probably would have condemned Sam's thoughts as a little ungodly (prideful, dangerously attached to things of this world). A cavalier probably would have read those words the way we recall Sally Fields' comments accepting an Oscar years ago ("You love me, you really, really love me!") -- as somewhat awkward and amusing, but not odious.

Jackie hits the nail on the head when she points out that Sam is being honest -- and if he'd only said "but I made sure it did not go to my head," we'd all be more comfortable with it. For us, equality is a foundation of social peace and progress, just as many viewed hierarchy during the Restoration. To me, it's a sign of progress (not just cultural difference) that we feel this way.

E Rose  •  Link

Sam's self regard-----it is amusing to see the various reactions to Sam's elevation in the world.

We bring so much of our own standards to this kind of thing. I am an American and so I am a great fan of self regard, whereas I suspect our British bretheren are more attuned to a modest acceptance of good fortune and not talking 'high' about oneself. I remember a discussion about the meaning of this term 'high' when used by our man about others around him.

I prefer to regard Sam as full of the events which are changing his life as well as those all around him and his astonishing frankness about his personal feelings is quite endearing to me.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"the greatest officer in the ship"
I think Sam's meaning here has been misinterpreted by some annotators. He is not referring to himself or to Montague as the "greatest"; what he is saying, rather, is that Captain Cuttance did him a courtesy he rarely does for anyone, no matter how high ranking.

I have nothing to add to the interesting colloquy about Sam's self-regard except to note that once many years ago I underwent a similar abrupt transition in my own status, and the emotions about it that Sam expresses are very familiar to me.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Glad to have provoked the above remarks...

Part of my intended role is to get the best out of all of you as to what you perceive re: Sam in the diary entries.

Whether Sam was celebrated for his journalism matters little--he was a great celebrity in London and much loved by hoi polloi, naval line officers and generals, literary folk and scientists, MP's and many members of the other place, as well as the Stuarts themselves...

Minor quibbles:

Sam did write about the admiralty in his lifetime and confessed to various and sundry about his diary. I'm unsure whether Evelyn knew or whether they discussed diaries together; perhaps someone who has read most or all of their mutual correspondence and/or a couple of the books which compare and contrast Evelyn vs. Pepys might comment on this aspect of their relations.

I certainly don't begrudge Sam his nepotism-aided rise, nor do I doubt his gregariousness and industry, but the insecurity Sam exhibits and his habitually self-puffery are tedious--a bit too much like the butler's shallow, clueless pride of place cum senior ranking servant's much caricatured snobbery as portrayed in Remains of the Day, Upstairs Downstairs or Gosford Park.

As for the Cuttance remark at the close of the entry, Sam's is proud that Cuttance, the flag Captain, holds Sam and the pleasures of his company in such high's just that his appreciative descriptions are rather pompously evoked.

Do not forget that Sam is already displaying his considerable talents as a order to run and then reform the admiralty, one would have to have earned the respect , affection and full support of the meritoriously appointed captains and commanders, upon whose shoulders GB's eventual commercial and political hegemony rested.

PHE  •  Link

Pomposity and an exagerated view of one's influence is amusing to observe.

Peter O'D  •  Link

Establishment - in military and Civil Service terms this means the staff on the payroll. When I was serving in the army back in the seventies I spent some time at an electronics training school. It was decided to check whether we had the right number of civilian technical staff and so we received a visit from the 'Inspector of Establishments' to do the job. You never saw so much tail-covering and obfuscation in your life!

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"but the insecurity Sam exhibits and his habitually [sic] self-puffery are tedious"

Pot, meet Kettle. Kettle, this is Pot. And now, I'll leave you to discuss your common color while I attend to my homework assignment (a review of, and report on, the available literature that compare and contrast Evelyn vs. Pepys' use of diaries as a means of self-promotion).

Alicia  •  Link

A few thoughts & corrections. First, SP, at the time this entry was written, was not a celebrity. London is small and some there know him as affable, and probably guess he is energetic and capable, but absolutely no one sees him as anyone to be celebrated. The writer of this entry is getting his first taste of respect from those always considered his betters - no wonder he finds it heady.
Second, Sam is only 27 when he is writing this, far younger than most of the annotators, I suspect. Even though 27 was a much larger proportion of the expected life span, it still was young in the sense that Sam is experiencing many things for the first time. He savors and wonders at them more than an older man would. In my work, I regularly come in contact with talented interns about Sam's age, and see a similar tendency in them to be startled and pleased when "august" elders take notice of them.
It is tempting to interpret the 27 year old Sam in the light of who he became, but it is good to remember that the Sam of this year's diary is much younger, not well-established, and very unclear of what his station will be and how his life will develop. Hindsight can easily project things that are not present yet, and can corrupt our understanding of what he actually is saying and who he is at this point in his life.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Granted Alicia...

I never said he was celebrated while the diary was in its nascent stages--celebrity writers all start out as ingenues and/or unknowns...Btw, if you read Sam's correspondence in the years and decades after he dropped his private journal entries, you will see how the earlier traits remarked upon here evolved.

michael f vincent  •  Link

"came afterwards and sat drinking a bottle .....officer in the ship.
We have come along way just in the last 30 years, let alone 350. This is the revolution .meritocracy starting
The Engish law has only been written in english in 165x Everybody had to listen to the local preacher (only one in three had an real education) This is the era of favorites versus trade. It mattered not if you made L10,000. A title was the thing. Why the different political/religeous Ideas--- Popish ideas "Edicts from on high" to Puritan Idea --that man was created equal (DNa not with standing) SP was living with idea that the King( and entourage) is right and Puritan ethic hard work will get you places.( which way was faster?)

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

It's very interesting how different people interpret the diaries; perhaps we all read them via the distorting mirror of our own experience.

To me, this entry doesn't seem particularly boastful, but more extremely grateful, firstly for being alive, and secondly for kindness, fellowship and good fortune. I noted that Sheply came to his celebration, presumably with the permission of his master Mountagu. The English Revolution enabled the culture of the 'career open to talent' - if you were in a position to be noticed. I imagine that, rather like a Roman patron with his "clientes", Mountagu would made sure he was informed about the lives/station of his poorer relations. Pepys parents status was middling, but they did make sure that clever Sam was educated to the fullness of his abilities, including, with various financial help, at Cambridge. His less gifted brother Tom had to follow his father into the tailoring trade. But Sam WAS noticed, and entered Mountagu's household soon after taking his degree. It was Mountagu who then recommended him to Downing, whilst still retaining first call upon Sam's loyalties.

His braveness in undergoing the dangerous operation, and good fortune in surviving, may well have earned him more goodwill, which he then made the best advantage of, slowly but surely proving his worth. Good for him!

jeannine  •  Link

Journal of the Earl of Sandwich; Navy Records Society, edited by R.C. Anderson
“26th. Monday. We fell down over against Northfleete.”

Bill  •  Link

I'm surprised more isn't made of Pepys being "cut of the stone". Any surgery before anaesthesia was surely amazingly painful and I can't image bladder surgery then. The Neal Stephenson novel "Quicksilver" has already been mentioned in this blog, Here is a conversation in the book, later in Pepys life, between Pepys and a man in pain from a "stone".

"Did you bring it?"
"I always have it with me," Pepys said, producing an irregular nodule about the size of a tennis ball, "as you have all your parts."
"To remind you of your mortality?"
"Once a man's been cut for the stone, 'tis hardly necessary."
"Why, then?"
"It's my conversation starter of last-resort. It gets anyone talking: Germans, Puritans, Red Indians . . ." He handed the object to Daniel. It was heavy. Heavy as a stone.
"I cannot believe this came out of your bladder," Daniel said.
"You see? Never fails!" Pepys answered.

Rob  •  Link


I absolutely agree with you in this, our boy is celebrating to be alive in his little cabin and enjoying the wow-factor of being recognised as a man of (growing) importance. Also, show me the man who will not, albeit in his innermost thoughts, be a little flattered by attention of our superiors....

meech  •  Link

Hear, hear, Sasha!

And Bill, regarding the surgery. I too wondered that more wasn't made of it and wondered how and what happened. I found more information than I needed on the "Bladder and kidney stones" page of the Encyclopedia here on this site. I can't imagine going through that. As far as I'm concerned Sam has earned the right to 'gloat' as much as he wants, though, like Sasha, I don't consider it gloating.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"This day it is two years since it pleased God that I was cut of the stone at Mrs. Turner’s in Salisbury Court. And did resolve while I live to keep it a festival, as I did the last year at my house, and for ever to have Mrs. Turner and her company with me. "

L&M: The operation was a common one, but dangerous and brutally paingul. It was usual for operations to be performed in private houses and inns: only the rich went to hospital. Jane Turner, a relative, wife of John Turner, barrister, had provided accommodation. The surgeon was Thomas Holier (Holliard), of St Thomas Hospital, who continued to attend Pepys for this trouble. Pepys's annual 'festival' was regularly held during the diary period.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"making of an establishment of the whole Fleet"

The L&M Large Glossary has

ESTABLISHMENT (Fr. établissement):
memorandum setting out the organization and strength of a fleet, etc.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"About an hour after that, we had a meeting of the principal commanders and seamen, to proportion out the number of these things."

L&M: Mountagu's report of this meeting (sent to Blackborne, 27 March) iis summarised in CSPF 1659-60, p. 538.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Captain Cuttance came afterwards and sat drinking a bottle of wine till eleven, a kindness he do not usually do the greatest officer in the ship."

Don't kid yourself, Pepys. The gang are taking your measure at lunch and with these little chats. They knew how to play Creed, but you are an unknown quantity. Did you bring your viola?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"I would argue he is one of the first of a long line of self-created (and self-absorbed) 'celebrity' journalists."

Pepys was never a journalist -- that was not a gentleman's occupation, but he was an author and a pamphleteer after the Diary:

He wrote and published a couple of scholarly books on the history of the navy, and in the 1680's he used pamphleteer's tactics to great effect when he wanted to expose mismanagement of the mathematical school he had financed in 1673. He designed and printed (anonymously) tiny runs of pamphlets which read as if thousands had been run, but in fact he only printed enough for distribution to the members of parliament and the City of London aldermen. That did the trick.

For the full story, all after the Diary, see…

LKvM  •  Link

From Sandwich's (My Lord's) journal:
“26th. Monday. We fell down over against Northfleete.”
(Thank you, Jeannine.)
They had been anchored in Creekmouth by Barking. On this day Montagu apparently took advantage of wind blowing southeast to "fall down" (to sail easily downwind, as opposed to "beating" upwind) on Northfleet, positioning himself nearer to Gravesend and the channel.
On Google Maps there is a large indentation at Northfleet (which is actually on the south side of the Thames). Its predecessor in Sam's day have been a quasi-bay where Sam's ship is safely anchored now.
I just wonder why Sam didn't mention that the ship had been moved. I guess he was too much wrapped up in his anniversary of having survived "being cut for the stone."

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

'Journal of the Earl of Sandwich; Navy Records Society, edited by R.C. Anderson: “26th. Monday. We fell down over against Northfleete.”'

"Northfleet's name is derived from being situated on the northern reach of what was once called the River Fleet (today known as the Ebbsfleet River). There is a village at the other end of the river named Southfleet. It has been the site of a settlement on the shore of the River Thames adjacent to Gravesend since Roman times.
It was known as Fleote by the Saxons c. 600 AD, Flyote c. 900 AD, and Flete c. 1000 AD.
It was recorded as Norfluet in the Domesday Book, and Northflet in 1201.
By 1610 the name of Northfleet had become established.
A battle took place during the Civil War at the Stonebridge over the Ebbsfleet river." --…

Chrissie  •  Link

Thoroughly enjoying this, my first reading of the diary. Haven’t posted before as once I’ve read all the annotations from previous years, there doesn’t seem much more to say. Plus, as an enthusiastic amateur, I’m a bit in awe of the erudition on display. Today though I wantto comment on how much I like Sam’s obvious delight with his good fortune and his good health. He at least seems to have earned his post. It’s not as if he’s taking it for granted either - given that he has already completed an inventory of ships, guns and men. This work indicating that the labourer is going to be well worthy of his hire

Alter Kacker  •  Link

Reading through the First Reading annotations, I was mentally struggling to compose a response — and then discovered the one I had written 20 years ago (under my previous nom de web, Nix) that said PRECISELY what I was trying to articulate today.

Many thanks to Phil, to all commenters, but above all on this 365th Stone Cutting Day to Dr. Hollier.

Croakers Apprentice  •  Link

Happy Stone Cutting Day indeed, Alter Kacker et al! Here in the UK we don’t have so many Bank Holidays, so why not make 26 March one - Samuel Pepys’ Day!

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Great idea, Croaker -- contact your MP.

Another idea would be to get Mr. Pepys an honorary knighthood -- something that technically cannot be done:
"The only honours which can be awarded after someone's death are gallantry awards. Whether someone gets an honour - and the honour they get - is decided by an honours committee. The committee's recommendations go to the Prime Minister and then to the King, who awards the honour."
King Charles III might enjoy correcting an oversight made by King Charles II?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Plus, as an enthusiastic amateur, I’m a bit in awe of the erudition on display."

Stick with it, Chrissie. Long before 9-1/2 years are up, you will be erudite as well. Some people, like Alter Kacker/Nix have been at it for 20-plus years, and this is Terry Foreman's third or fourth time through. Just jump in.

Croakers Apprentice  •  Link

Thanks Sarah - and yes, Sir Samuel would be a worthy addition to any kingdom’s chivalry.
After all, the pen is mightier than the sword, and S.P’s diary has become not only a justly celebrated piece of literature - but the world’s first blog, which merely had to wait three hundred years for the manufacture of its method of transmission!

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Montagu's fleet is beginning to show up in the State Papers, which make clear that its mission isn't just to kick its collective heels 'till it's time to fetch the King, but also to restore some order at sea where Dutch pyrates have been prompt to take advantage of England's anarchy.

In particular, on March 19 a petition "of several masters of ships" in Newcastle was sent by "Robt. Ellison" to Monk, to ask for frigates to convoy them past "several Ostend men-of-war" on their way to business in "the Eastern Seas". The Ostenders, more or less freewheeling Dutch privateers, being always ready to plague the North Sea - indeed as far as "the Naze of Norway, to lie in wait for the English" - at the command of England's French/Dutch/Spanish enemy of the day, or just being pyrates.

On March 26 a Major Burton also writes to Montagu, "I will observe your order" to send frigates to convoy fishing vessels, which are also in fear of the dreaded Ostenders. Burton had written to the Admiralty on March 23 to update a previous request for that convoy, and the matter has since trickled down to Montagu, and probably to Sam's floating office where "your order" must have been one of the papers cluttering his tiny desk.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Elsewhere Stephane found the report written by the Venetian Ambassador in London to the Doge today, He gives the following explanation for Montagu aboard the SWIFTSURE to still be in the Thames:

"The squadron of ships under General Montagu charged with the defense of the Channel remains motionless and still at anchor. There are many reasons for this, notably the lack of money and of sailors. To make this good an act was passed yesterday to press them, but as the people here do not love violence it may lead to some disturbance in the present crisis."

found at…

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