Wednesday 27 February 1660/61

At the office all the morning, that done I walked in the garden with little Captain Murford, where he and I had some discourse concerning the Light-House again, and I think I shall appear in the business, he promising me that if I can bring it about, it will be worth 100l. per annum.

Then came into the garden to me young Mr. Powell and Mr. Hooke that I once knew at Cambridge, and I took them in and gave them a bottle of wine, and so parted. Then I called for a dish of fish, which we had for dinner, this being the first day of Lent; and I do intend to try whether I can keep it or no. My father dined with me and did show me a letter from my brother John, wherein he tells us that he is chosen Schollar of the house, which do please me much, because I do perceive now it must chiefly come from his merit and not the power of his Tutor, Dr. Widdrington, who is now quite out of interest there and hath put over his pupils to Mr. Pepper, a young Fellow of the College.

With my father to Mr. Rawlinson’s, where we met my uncle Wight, and after a pint or two away. I walked with my father (who gave me an account of the great falling out between my uncle Fenner and his son Will) as far as Paul’s Churchyard, and so left him, and I home.

This day the Commissioners of Parliament begin to pay off the Fleet, beginning with the Hampshire, and do it at Guildhall, for fear of going out of town into the power of the seamen, who are highly incensed against them.

25 Annotations

First Reading

Eeyore  •  Link

Angry sailors!

Susan  •  Link

Sam is so realistic about himself and his failings. He is going to "try" to keep the Lenten Fast. Let's see if he does! No mention of going to Church today. When did the practice of keeping Ash Wednesday come in to the C of E?? Only with the Oxford Movement in the 19thC?

dirk  •  Link

"Ash Wednesday"

The Roman-Catholic practice of keeping Ash Wednesday, and the cross on the forehead, had been common in Europe (and Britain) for some 500 years when the Reformation struck. The new churches abolished the practice, and it would only be reinstated (by some of them) centuries later. I haven't been able to find when exactly this happened in UK.

vincent  •  Link

Governments love to impress but when it comes to paying the bill, that is another matter. The RN did in 1932 have a short mutiny because it wanted to deflate the wages. The Invergordon mutiny.…
"...begin to pay off the Fleet, beginning with the Hampshire, and do it at Guildhall, for fear of going out of town into the power of the seamen, who are highly incensed against them..."
pay out in IOU's and and a few coins of cromwells.

Nix  •  Link

The incensed sailors --

As I recall, a couple of months ago Samuel was quite pleased with his role in developing a plan to pay the sailors off, half in cash and half in promissory notes. Is that what they are angry about? The foreseeable consequence, as discussed at the time, is that cash-starved sailors will wind up selling their scrip at a deep discount, and the speculators who buy up the paper will get rich.

If that's what is going on, it is not surprising that the commissioners are afraid for their lives. (Would this also explain the reluctance of Samuel and his colleagues to lend them their clerks a few weeks back?)

alex  •  Link

I don't think observance Ash Wednesday was ever discontinued in the English Church. It was just the use of ashes that was suspended. Remember that C of E service is based on the Book of Common Prayer, and this was frequently condemned by Puritans as an imitation of the Catholic Missal.

Lawrence  •  Link

"This day the comissioners of Parliament
begin to pay off the Fleet" beginning with the Hampshire-and do it a Guildhall for fear of going out of town into the power of the seamen, who are highly incensed against them. The commissioners finished paying off the army on 26 January. The standing army of the revolution was thus peacefully disbanded. L&M.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

I am a "little" confused.

A week ago it was "little Luellin", now it's "little Captain Murford". It seems to me that Mary's February 20th. annotation had it right - "We have a very good little odd-job man". I can only assume the usage would have not been considered patronizing in Sam's time. Does anybody have an OED citation?

Emilio  •  Link


Sam's tendency to talk about 'little' Luellin or Murford seems like it must be at least a touch condescending. How do we think the captain would respond to being called "little Captain Murford" to his face, after all? Sam no doubt means it affectionately in both cases, but he's still putting on airs that he could not have dreamed of a year ago.

I'd say he's trying on his rise in stature a bit in his private journal, to see how it fits. For me at least the fit isn't quite natural yet.

Pauline  •  Link

"...little Captain Murford..."
I can't agree that "little" is being used in condescendence. Captain Murford is a timber merchant, and he is offering Sam an investment opportunity that Sam is interested in.

Murford is either noticeably small or this is a sort of nickname thing (like junior) because of a father of the same name or an older brother also known to Murford's circle of acquaintances.

Lawrence  •  Link

"Arr we ave a lovely little chap that comes in and cuts the grass for us"
Now when I use it like that, I'm not suggesting that he's short in stature, merely that he's very agreable to us here in this corner of Oxfordshire, and he has a lovely little wife too.

Harry  •  Link

"little Captain Murford"

Not necessarily condescending. When I lived in South America the diminutive “ito” (Carlito, little Carlos) or “ita” (negrita, little dark haired beauty) was commonly used as a term of endearment, especially towards women and those younger than onself. My wife’s older relatives called me “Harricito”, but not her cousins or nephews. When addressing one’s grandmother or grandfather the normal form is “Abuelita or “abuelito”,abuela/abuelo would tend to be too formal.

vincent  •  Link

"...little captain..." one is remember'd for the job ye did, many like to be called by their ex military rank, to give stature to their lives I presume.The sgt.majes and col: blimps, capt. blanks [people cannot make up their mind that the PBI mob capt has less statue than the senior service version] and even leutenants [if still the jr. clerke ] Titles are so important to many. So the additional emphasis by adding a moniker like Little is deemed to be an added plus. My take that part of human nature has not really changed. In some cultures the position in the pecking order is part of ones nom de plume {Engeniero Calle} etc.}. As for Little, many times it is applied to those that exceed 2 metre limit {vertical}

Susan  •  Link

I accept that to use the word "little" in England in a certain strata of society today is condescending, but was this so in Sam's day? Words are slippery things. Meanings change. For instance, the word "naughty" in the 16th century carried far stronger connations than it does today and Shakespeare's "..shines like a good deed in a naughty world..." did not then carry the ambience of the nursery classroom as it does now. Anyone out there with knowledge of the history of English know when the English middle classes started to use "little" in a patronising way? As in "we've got a frightfully clever little man who fixes things"

vincent  •  Link

little John: 1586: the tale of RC under ground network & priests and their ways under Q E I

"...Now Nicholas Owen was to serve another remarkable Jesuit, becoming known to the authorities simply as 'Garnet's man'. The Catholics he served preferred the more affectionate nickname 'Little John'. The network of safe houses that Fr Garnet and 'Little John' established was to make a major contribution to the survival and character of English Catholicism. ..."…

Emilio  •  Link

Me again

Although I didn't mention it above, my response was partly based on consulting the OED. I couldn't find a simply neutral meaning of 'little'--when applied to another adult--once you get away from the literal meaning of shortness. Others no doubt disagree, so here are the options I find:

1a. Of persons: short in stature (1st example - about 1300)
2a. Used spec. of young children or animals. little one (often pl.): child, offspring, young one. (1st ex. - c. 893)
2c. In collocations little brother, sister: younger (cf. 2a). Also fig. (1st ex. - 1611)
3. Used to convey an implication of endearment or depreciation, or of tender feelings on the part of the speaker. (1st ex. - 1567)
8b. Of persons: Not distinguished, inferior in rank or condition. Now rare. (1st ex. - c. 1220)
9. Paltry, mean, contemptible; little-minded. (1st ex. - 1483)

For me, none of these seem entirely appropriate for Sam to use of Murford, who Sam has known a relatively short time and in a business capacity. I know I wouldn't take it well if a business acquaintance started referring to me as 'little Emilio', even if he was talking about stature; I'd think he didn't take me entirely seriously.

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

Incensed Sailors
Nix, my recollection is that S.P. was pleased with the original plan he came up for the Navy Board for paying off the fleet, but that Parlaiment balked at the cost, and devised a plan that would fob off the sailors with promissory notes. As I recall, S.P. and colleagues did all they could to avoid having anything to do with this plan, which they were sure would be highly unpopular.

stewart cavalier  •  Link

In France even to-day, we talk about le petit Dupont or la petite Dufour when we mean the son/daughter of the family, irrespective of her/his height. Alphonse Daudet even wrote a book called Le Petit Chose (young thingimy).

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

"a letter from my brother John, wherein he tells us that he is chosen Schollar of the house"

Christ's College, Cambridge
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

"who gave me an account of the great falling out between my uncle Fenner and his son Will"

His son-in-law William Joyce.
---Wheatley (1896)

joe fulm  •  Link

Pepys finished yesterday's entry with semen and today's with seamen. I wonder did he ever make the connect and smirk- maybe years later- in the privacy of his own heart.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

‘Little’ here is a mix of sense 3:

‘Used to convey an implication of endearment or depreciation, or of tender feeling on the part of the speaker . .
. . 1694 A. Wood Life 23 June, I returned from London in the company of a little poore thing, Sir Lacy Osbaldeston . . ‘


‘8.b. Of persons: Not distinguished, inferior in rank or condition . .
. . 1611 Bible (A.V.) 1 Sam. xv. 17 When thou wast litle in thine owne sight.
. . 1751 Johnson Rambler No. 152. ⁋5 To learn how to become little without being mean.
1772 H. Mackenzie Man of World (1823) i. viii. 428 There is no Tax so heavy on a little man, as an acquaintance with a great one.’


SP is enjoying the still novel sensation of being in a position to patronise Captain Murford, a timber merchant, and Luellin, the underkeeper of the Privy Lodgings at Windsor. Both have no doubt started to treat him with some deference now that he has acquired influence.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Lighthouse of Alexandria, sometimes called the Pharos of Alexandria, was a lighthouse built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 280 and 247 BC which was between 120 and 137 m (394 and 449 ft) tall. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, for many centuries it was one of the tallest man-made structures in the world.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"I have summoned you to tell you that it has pleased me hitherto to permit my affairs to be governed by the late cardinal; I shall in future be my own prime minister. I direct that no decree be sealed except by my orders, and I order the secretaries of State and the superintendent of the finances to sign nothing without my command."

After the death of Cardinal Mazarin on February 27/March 9, 1660-61, Louis XIV of France assembled his ministers and used these words to assume personal rule of government, which he maintained for the next 50 years. He currently holds the record for reigning longer than any other monarch. Queen Elizabeth II could break the record on May 24, 2024 when she is 98 years old.

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