Thursday 27 September 1660

To my Lord at Mr. Crew’s, and there took order about some business of his, and from thence home to my workmen all the afternoon. In the evening to my Lord’s, and there did read over with him and Dr. Walker my lord’s new commission for sea, and advised thereupon how to have it drawn. So home and to bed.

11 Annotations

First Reading

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

And how well we all know that workmen have to be 'looked over' if you want the job done properly. Plus ca change...

Second Reading

Gerald Berg  •  Link

Pepys does nothing but gripe about his workers and then somebody here ALWAYS has to concur by saying it was ever thus. I've let it pass without concern but as this is the single comment made today let me try a different formulation for once.

Pepys probably pays his workers as little as possible and expects maximal results from them. Along with these maximal results he expects materials of the highest quality to be used for the cheapest price attainable. I am sure he feels he deserves it.

So to reformulate: Everybody is the workers friend until it is time to pay for one yourself. At that point they are to be suspected of being shifty, lazy and out to cheat you. It was ever thus.

Dave Bonta  •  Link

Thanks, Gerald. I'd been thinking the same thing.

Al Doman  •  Link

An elegant definition of progress is "doing more with less". That principle is a major reason why a middle-class Westerner today lives a life that is in many ways better than that of Charles II's at the time of the diary.

Bryan  •  Link

"Pepys does nothing but gripe about his workers" Let's see:

Sep 28: All the afternoon among my workmen till 10 or 11 at night, and did give them drink and very merry with them ...
Sep 27: ...thence home to my workmen all the afternoon.
Sep 26: At home with the workmen all the afternoon, ...
Sep 25:...and by coach home, where the plasterers being at work in all the rooms in my house,
Sep 18: At home all the morning looking over my workmen in my house ...
Sep 12: At home all the afternoon looking after my workmen, whose laziness do much trouble me

One negative comment out of six. Hardly "nothing but gripe".

I think you will find if you search through the annotations that the workers who renovated SP's house weren't paid by SP. The workers (and material) came from the dockyards at Deptford or similar. They were Navy employees working on Navy property. SP was just making sure, as always, that the King got value for money. ;-)

Edith Lank  •  Link

The more I read Pepys the stronger my suspicion that "merry" is another word for "drunk."

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Thank you, Bryan.

It never fails to amaze me that many annotators seems to enjoy ascribing the worst behavior and motives to Pepys -- without checking their facts first.
He's far from a perfect person, but he expends enormous amounts of energy doing his best to make the most of every day. May we all succeed as well!

William Crosby  •  Link

Pepys frequently notes throughout the diary his great satisfaction (even awe) with the outcomes of workmen and artisans of all sorts. This being my third time through--I was struck, this time with this complaint about Pepys and how inconsistent it is with my reading of the diary. Now, the Pepysian complaints about servants--that's another story.

Peter Johnson  •  Link

And if they were Navy Board employees, I suspect he'd welcome the opportunity to learn more about what made them tick (in both senses), for a better insight into what he'd have to deal with in his job.

john  •  Link

I concur with all of today's comments. At that time, for such alterations, experienced workers and their assistants/apprentices would show up, Pepys would point and say that he wanted this-and-that, and they would do their work. We also know how curious Pepys was and may have enjoyed seeing how the work was done. (Having carried out many an alteration to houses and out-buildings, I wish he had recorded more of the actual mechanics.)

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