Friday 28 September 1660

(Office day). This morning Sir W. Batten and Col. Slingsby went with Col. Birch and Sir Wm. Doyly to Chatham to pay off a ship there. So only Sir W. Pen and I left here in town.

All the afternoon among my workmen till 10 or 11 at night, and did give them drink and very merry with them, it being my luck to meet with a sort of drolling workmen on all occasions. To bed.

13 Annotations

First Reading

Paul Brewster  •  Link

droll, v (from the OED)
[a. obs. F. drôler 'to play the wag', etc. (Cotgr.), f. drôle n.]
1. intr. To make sport or fun; to jest, joke; to play the buffoon. Const. with, at, on, upon.

2. trans. To jest (a thing) away, off; to jest (a person) out of or into something (obs.); to bring forth after the manner of a jester or buffoon.

Hence drolling vbl. n. and ppl. a.; also drollingly adv.; jestingly, so as to make a jest of it; droller, drollist, a professed facetious person; a jester, buffoon.

1645 Evelyn Diary 20 Feb., Their drolling lampoons and scurrilous papers. 1670 G. H. Hist. Cardinals … [They] use but drolling and impertinence in their Arguments. 1676 Glanvill Season. Refl. … And now he sets the Apes and Drollers upon it. 1681 I Sadducismus ii. … These idle Drollists have an utter Antipathy to all the braver and more generous kinds of Knowledge. 1684 J. Goodman Winter Even. Confer. P j. (T.), To talk lightly and drollingly of it. a1713 T. Ellwood Autobiog. … Something like an Epitaph, in a drolling Stile. 1847 W. Irving 14 Apr. … A quiet drolling vein. 1882 Trollope Alice Dugdale, etc…. There was a sound of drolling in her voice.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

to pay off a ship there
L&M identify the ship as "The Hound".

Alan Bedford  •  Link

...and after all that complaining about he has to keep a close eye on the workers, Sam has discovered that they're a witty crew, which forgives all!

PHE  •  Link

" being my luck to meet with a sort of drolling workmen on all occasions."
Such snippets seem as informative about life in Sam's time (ie. no change then) as the serious historical information.

helena murphy  •  Link

Today,s entry has a lovely egalitarian tone. It is heartening to know that in pursuit of wealth and social rank Pepys has not lost the common touch.

helena murphy  •  Link

A propos of Pepys entertaining the workmen recalls the following lines from Kipling's "If", once hugely popular .

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings-nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds'worth of distance run-
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more -you'll be a Man my son.

How applicable these lines may be is open to debate, but the second one is certainly true of Samuel.

Glyn  •  Link

But perhaps he was being sarcastic and meant that it was his BAD luck to meet with this type of workmen, who kept making jokes and mucking around when they should be doing the job they've been paid for! (Sorry about that, I think I've met their descendants.) Anyway, why are these workmen still there at 10 at night - when it's pitch black - or are they trying to get things finished by the end of the month?

Brian G McMullen  •  Link

I believe SP has had a wonderful time with these workers and may have imbibed a bit too much himself. The work will never get done at this rate (and it hasn't changed in 400 years!)

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

Sam's joie de vivre will not be suppressed. So also with the men working in his house he will jest and banter. I am sure the work to be done is finished quicker and better than if he would have treated them morosely.
Sam probably was someone with always a quick answer and a wonderful zest for life.

vincent  •  Link

Workman, not his tanner[nickel], added after thought 'tis on the house, 'Normal' government work.

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

I agree with Wim. Pepys likes to get on with people. He CHOSE to get the booze out. A good employer treats the staff occasionally.

MarkS  •  Link

It's a very human characteristic. When anyone says of any situation, "It's always my luck" that such-and-such happens - *invariably* it's due to person himself. He himself is the common denominator in the 'always'.

e.g. The passive-aggressive person who says, "People *always* take advantage of me", the miserly person who says, "When I lend money to a friend it *always* spoils the friendship", etc.

Pepys laughs and jokes with the workmen, and they respond. He then offers them beer and sits drinking and chatting with them - "It's strange, how I always meet such drolling workmen".

But someone else using the exactly the same workmen might criticise them and find fault with them, might accuse them of overcharging and get into an argument with them, and then complain, "It's strange how I *always* get such bad and surly workmen."

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

Under the entry for Sept. 26, I speculated why Sam is spending so much time with his workmen — my guesses were that (a) a lot of decisions about specifications and design had to be made on the fly and he didn't want to leave it to them, and (b) that he might have had security concerns leaving them on their own in the house with all his stuff.

But today we learn a third possibility, (c) that he really does enjoy hanging out with them, being "very merry" with them. Clearly he likes being there, and is enjoying their drollery, not complaining about it.

For a fellow moving up in the world like Sam is, it is useful to maintain your ability to work with and relate to the working men and women who make the world go round.

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