Tuesday 5 March 1660/61

With Mr. Pierce, purser, to Westminster Hall, and there met with Captain Cuttance, Lieut. Lambert, and Pierce, surgeon, thinking to have met with the Commissioners of Parliament, but they not sitting, we went to the Swan, where I did give them a barrel of oysters; and so I to my Lady’s and there dined, and had very much talk and pleasant discourse with my Lady, my esteem growing every day higher and higher in her and my Lord.

So to my father Bowyer’s where my wife was, and to the Commissioners of Parliament, and there did take some course about having my Lord’s salary paid tomorrow when the Charles is paid off, but I was troubled to see how high they carry themselves, when in good truth nobody cares for them. So home by coach and my wife. I then to the office, where Sir Williams both and I set about making an estimate of all the officers’ salaries in ordinary in the Navy till 10 o’clock at night.

So home, and I with my head full of thoughts how to get a little present money, I eat a bit of bread and cheese, and so to bed.

50 Annotations

First Reading

Emilio  •  Link

"paid tomorrow when; the Charles is paid off"

That semicolon must surely be a scanning error. Oh, for a Paul Brewster to clear this up for us.

Josh  •  Link

"So home, and I with my head full of thoughts how to get a little present money, I eat a bit of bread and cheese, and so to bed."

Food for thought, and thought for money: a neat lesson in Pepysian economy.

Eric Walla  •  Link

"... my esteem growing every day higher and higher in her and my Lord"

All the time we've "known" Sam he has been in the service of My Lord. How much higher does his esteem have to go, or should the question be, how wavering was his esteem before this time?

I get the impression that he served before out of debt and necessity, but that now his duty has become a thing of pleasure and true purpose. Yet is it money and position he follows, or is there something else he sees?

vincent  •  Link

I guess he finds them to big for their britches {thems commissioners, I wander wot thems was before?}
"..., but I was troubled to see how high they carry themselves, when in good truth nobody cares for them..."

vincent  •  Link

Eric: It may be Melaud and Me lady have not change their ways like some do, when they get the trapings, diamonds and power . All this extra bull has not beswollen their cap size.

vincent  •  Link

"the Charles is paid off" How many men to be paid ? 'tis 80 guns. At least 6 men per gun average so the crew size 500 and up ? I do believe there is some gratuity that SP will miss out on too.

Linda  •  Link

I was glad to see that he put in the time he quit work to go home, 10PM. I was wondering how late his nights were.

Xjy  •  Link

Sam's working hours
Well, Sam's not a sinecurist - he performs his duties instead of selling the actual work cheap to some poor bastard and keeping the title and salary for himself. But the working day wasn't regulated back then, except perhaps "dawn to dusk" style by custom and in towns by some guilds.
He does his duties on a "have to complete" basis. Goes in, sees what's there, consults milord and the others, does what has to be done, and then goes networking.
Meeting people is done by dropping in and hoping they're there -- in urgent cases arrangements are made. Bit like meeting mates at the pub before everybody had phones.

Bullus Hutton  •  Link

'tis 80 guns. At least 6 men per gun average so the crew size 500..
not simple so as that Vinny, gun crews would very often swap sides, and sometimes only 4 would run the gun.
On this post I’m more interested in how many oysters our boy seems to be able to eat.. no wonder he gets in trouble later on!

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: Melaud and Me lady

I don't know if it's simply that they keep their modesty while others around them don't (though that may be the case); I think what Sam is talking about in this entry is the fact that, now that he's rising in the world and they're treating him more like an equal, he's getting to know them better and likes them more. Montagu is not just a boss anymore; he's a friend. Same with his lady.

Mary  •  Link

Todd's summary sounds right.

The closer Sam is admitted into the confidence of both Sandwich and his wife, the better he comes to appreciate their good qualities.

JWB  •  Link

...and my Lord.
An after thought,no doubt. It's Jemima he loved, and who wouldn't. Tomalin:"...she always looked on him 'like one of her own family,' entrusted her children to his care,scolded him, joked with him, borrowed money from him, consulted him and confided in him. And he reciprocated with devoted admiration and respect; for him she was always the model of what a woman should be"'.

Laura K  •  Link

general request

I'm not sure where to post such a request, not relevant to a particular diary entry.

Would it be possible for annotators to limit their postings to the English language? Or, if English is not applicable, to provide a translation?

I have no wish to revisit our conversation of who did or did not learn what language, and does or does not regret learning or not learning it. But I do wonder, since the Diary is written in English, and everyone here presumably can read and understand English, why we can't all post in English.

The purpose of annotations is to widen the scope of our knowledge - that is, to enlighten, not to obfuscate.

Don  •  Link

".. when in good truth nobody cares for them". Hope someone with the later copy of the diary is comparing each day's text and is ready to pounce on any and all bowdlerizations found. I notice there hasn't been a correction for awhile. From reading the diary several years ago (library copy), I remember Sam using the phrase "nobody cares a fart" more than once in similar situations. BTW, in a later book, he even drops the "f-bomb" once and very soon (sometime this year) Sam will start adding a few "interesting" comments in Spanish every so often to spice things up.

Ruben  •  Link

Laura K:
This English diary was written obviously in English but SP also used Latin, Spanish and French. SP learnt some Greek too, but Greek letters are different, and may be for this reason he did not write Greek in the diary.
Many English writers used other languages too: Shakespeare, on one end of the list and James Joice or Maugham on the other end. There are idioms, proverbs, etc.(itself a Latin word)that when you translate them, loose freshness and sometimes are impossible to understand. The Italians say: "traduttore, traditore", the meaning being: "the translator becomes, is, a traitor", a pale translation for a colorful expression.
Still, you are right that an immediate translation is imperative.

Carolina  •  Link

Bullus asks how many oysters can Sam eat?

When he says "I did give them a barrel of oysters", what does it actually mean?
Would it be like buying a round of drinks and does he have some himself or would it be just to give away?
Why would he buy people food?

Laura K  •  Link


Yes, of course many English-language authors also used other languages. However, we are not annotating the Pepys Diary as published authors, but as fellow readers sharing knowledge.

Idioms or not, I see no reason for annotating in languages other than English. Of course, this is just my own opinion. I'm sure those who post in other languages have their reasons - though perhaps not ones to which they would readily admit.

Glyn  •  Link


Nick Sweeney and others discussed the size of the barrels here:


"This actually came up a year ago on the C18 discussion list, when talking about the barrels of oysters that Samuel Johnson bought for his cat. In fact, the barrels used to store shellfish were much smaller than the sort of barrel one now associates with real-ale houses - between 7 and 13 inches tall - , so Pepys' "little" barrels were probably the size of a large tin can:


You'll find an entire thread on oyster barrels here:


I like the idea of there somewhere being an 18th-century discussion list where they solemnly discuss Samuel Johnson’s cat.

vincent  •  Link

Barrel of oysters: SP Is not that generous { note "...and I with my head full of thoughts how to get a little present money..."}it's a case of little spreading a little good will and may be thanks for those times when he was impecunious.Any one who was in that position will understand, I had many fellow bar supporters who were shy of the ever ready, so when their ship came in, the tables were full and every one had a good time ,that they should have not forgoten but did The 'ead being a splitten and the belly laden down.
For those that remember
Quem tu adsevare recte, ne aufugiat, voles, esca atque potione vinciri decet.
Plautus , Menaechmi, 87-88.
Indoctus doth say The man you want in your pocket, chain him with food and drink.

carolina  •  Link

Thanks Glyn, I went to the background info on oysters. (The thread on oyster barrels is no longer there) but this still does not tell me what the meaning of "I did give them a barrel of oysters" is and wether he ate them as well.

By the way,does anyone know, were they known for their so called "aphrodisiac properties" then. If so, what a way to win friends and influence people....

Conrad  •  Link

Sam is simply saying he bought the barrel of oysters & I'm sure he would have had some of them himself. It may have been his shout & he may not announce the fact when his drinking mates have their shout.

Oysters have a long history of being thought of as an aphrodisiac.
Oysters are a healthy food that are rich in phosphorus, iodine and zinc, which is known to increase the sexual health of both men and women. Legend holds that Casanova ate 50 raw oysters every morning with the lady du jour. Chardonnay is a good match with oysters.

Hic Retearius  •  Link

L! [50!]

Vincenti, igniculum cole. [Oh, Vincent, tend (with a flavour of treasure, shelter and nurture) the spark.

(Do let us hope that we can eventually all get together one day in London and express our appreciation to our host by entertaining him long, long into the night on Pepys' fare! Those who feel uncomfortable in English, do not be discouraged. Come. Most of us will understand less than perfect English just fine and, in any case, be able at least to limp along in one or more of Latin's daughters or a Teutonic language.)

vincent  •  Link

"enlighten, not to obfuscate". Interesting choice of "common english words"
obfuscate. nice latin word: ob fusc o : fuscate: imperative, darken ob : on the account of /in front of : i.e. that is "hide behind" or put a shield up :
enlighten : to free from ignorance: "en" was from latin in: light derived from lucere, lux; light, shine on, illuminate leading to Instruct: the word did go thru more conniptions:
Latin and Greek will help us understand those ever changing common English words:
from Indoctus
PS thanks Internet.

Louis Anthony Scarsdale  •  Link

It is inevitable that with so many contributors of diverse backgrounds some annotations will include something that somebody or other does not personally care for. Those who rate such footnotes excessive can take comfort from the fact that others find them welcome. It's a safe bet Sam would be glad to see them. Skip and let live; ou, Laissez-moi tranquille!

john lauer  •  Link

Conrad's "shout":

Australian. to treat (another) to a drink, meal, amusement, or the like.

Michael Robinson  •  Link


To "give a lunch " or "give a dinner " meaning to hold a lunch or a diner party for an individual, or group, is still idiomatic English usage, albeit perhaps a little old fashioned.

vincent  •  Link

Since Christmas, SP did on 5 occasions, talk of Barrel[s] of oysters:
before that, he talked of a peck, now a barrel. Pickelled [pink] maybe
Dry Measure ....2 pints = 1 quart .....8 quarts = 1 peck
4 peck = 1 bushel

"...did give them a glass of wine and a peck of oysters for joy of my getting this money[ for 3 of them]..." last nov [ 3 1/2 pints of oysters ea.]

Timothy Takemoto  •  Link

What does the "present" in "thoughts how to get a little *present* money," mean?
1) Money for presents (such as oysters)? (this would be the modern way of reading this phrase, but it seems utterly out of context.)
2) Money now, money at the present time (not used today but quite plausible)?
3) What we would now call (3a) "ready cash" or improved (3b) "cash flow" (another plausible archaism)?
4) Money by way of a present from someone else (this is also a possible modern usage but even more out of context)?!
It seems to follow on from the talk of calculating the salaries of the officers in the Navy (hence 3b) but the "little" suggests a personal use.

Just wondered,

Mary  •  Link

" a little present money"

Sam is looking for some cash that he can lay his hands on now, in the very short term, straight away. Last year, when first promoted to his Navy Office job, he had plenty of opportunities to receive cash considerations for favours done or promised. These opportunities now seem (for the moment, at least) to have dried up and he is reliant on the periodic payment of his various official emoluments. What he needs is some cash in hand, and soon. I doubt that he's looking for a short-term loan; he's trying to think of some lucrative little services that he might be able to offer.

Pepys is not, by his own reckoning, in any way short of money altogether. However, expense incurred because of the forthcoming coronation is extra-ordinary expense and it looks as if he feels that it should not become a drain on his ordinary income.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"a little present money, I eat a bit of bread"
The modern equivalent of 'present' is 'ready money,' as in Oscar Wilde's *Importance of Being Earnest*, when Lane, the lugubrious butler, tells perpetually skint Algie Moncrieff that there are no cucumbers in the market, 'not even for ready money.'

vincent  •  Link

In the venacular I did say "the ever ready"___"...how to get a little present money..." money for the pocket, casual spending , Every man does need cash not a "charta creditoria" in modern Finnish lingua latina. The wife has her pin money.

Lawrence  •  Link

I think that Laura K has a valid point, and if annotators do use a diffrent tongue, perhaps they'd be kind enough to give us the translation, but we should remember that sam often times writes in a foreign language, then their postings will be handy Laura.

language hat  •  Link

In my experience, people generally do give translations.
Frankly, I'm not sure what Laura is so bothered about, and I wish she'd be less confrontational about it. "I'm sure those who post in other languages have their reasons - though perhaps not ones to which they would readily admit.” That’s not very nice, Laura.

Laura K  •  Link

LH: I wasn't all that bothered, and I definitely wasn't trying to be confrontational. I really only meant to make a simple request. There seemed to be a run of annotations in other languages, untranslated. I found the going difficult, and thought others might, too.

Re my sentence quoted above, it was an attempt at humor, but I see it didn't go over well. Ah, well.

john lauer  •  Link

re: Smith's "skint"

Pronunciation: (skint), [key]
--adj. Brit. Slang.
having no money; penniless.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Back to the Lighthouse?

As Mary says, the rewards for favours done do seem to have dried up, and just when Sam is faced with what will be some pretty hefty coronation expenses. Also, I think the investment in the sea-mark is still on his mind. He was offered the one-eighth share on February 23, and although he didn't mention how long the offer would be open there must surely have been a deadline: perhaps it's approaching.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Yes, Emilio, the semicolon appears to be a scanning error. It's not in my copy of Wheatley or L&M.

It's interesting to note that according to an L&M footnote, the shorthand manuscript reads "so I to my Lady's and there dined and have very much talk and pleasant discourse with my Lord — my esteem growing every day higher and higher in her and my Lord.”

Both Wheatley and L&M have “cleaned things up” by identifying the target of the discourse as “my Lady” but I think it could make just as much sense in what L&M describe as the original, “my Lord”.

Emilio  •  Link

"pleasant discourse with my [Lord]"

Looking back, I'm not sure reading 'my Lord' there does make sense. First there's the rest of the sentence, which is clearly focused on 'my Lady'. More critically, Montagu doesn't seem to be in London right now--Sam records him leaving for Hinchingbrooke yesterday to plan construction there, and only finds him "newly come from Hinchingbrooke" on the 9th. If Montagu had been present, I think Sam probably wouldn't have referred to going to "my Lady's".

Pauline  •  Link

"...my esteem growing every day higher and higher in her and my Lord."
I agree with Emilio, that the rest of the sentence has a very strong reference to "her."

Also, I think the depth of the friendships and esteem among Sam and "my lady" and "my lord" predates the diary. Today Sam is voicing his esteem because he has had a delightful time with Jemima--it isn't often they have a chance to really visit these past months: she's been in the country often, the dinner table has often been busy with other diners, my lord has headed the table. She and Sam enjoy each other's company immensely.

Of course, as young Sam has proved his abilities and lived up to Montagu/Sandwich's expectation of him, the mutual esteem grows. I just think its beginnings have been there for much longer than the life of the diary.

vincent  •  Link

My lord. It is an aside, I do think. S.P. thinking of the enjoyable time having a conversation [In Latin "sermo"] with My Lady and naturally includes "Her Man" in the thought of "Wot a nice pair they is"
"... my esteem growing every day higher and higher in her and my Lord"

Second Reading

Tonyel  •  Link

Back to the oysters, we should bear in mind that Sam kept a running record of all expenses on a daily basis, presumably so he could claim some or all back later. Later on, in a period when his daily notes were not transcribed into the journal, we'll see that this included tips given to grooms, bag carriers, etc.

Eric Rowley  •  Link

I could be wrong, but I understand that in that time the buying of food and drink to people thought below one's self socially was a form of patronage that would instill a sense of loyalty. Much the way Vincent has said "when their ship comes in," only longer lasting. Whether he joins in the fare or not probably depends on his opinion of his companions. Note: there are always people eating at my Lord's, etc.

john  •  Link

What did Sam and His Lady talk about -- small talk, affairs of state, learned discussions, gossip?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Raw oysters really are aphrodisiacs say scientists (and now [March] is the time to eat them) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/u…

"For centuries, old wives' tales have said that eating raw molluscs - oysters in particular - would stimulate the libido but there has really been no scientific evidence as to why and if this occurs. We think this could be the first scientific evidence of some substance."

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

"barrel of oysters"

This is the 22nd time Sam has mentioned oysters in the diary, in a period of about 14 months. Most of the time this is in the context of eating them. Most of the time it is a "barrel" but once or twice it's a "peck." We have an oysters background page here: https://www.pepysdiary.com/encycl…

These were pretty small barrels. When they are sent to the Pepys house, as happens occasionally, they must still be in the shell. But at a pub, I imagine that they would order "a barrel of oysters", but be served a (small) barrel's worth of shucked oysters without shells, on a plate or in a bowl. No oystercracking at the table.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"What did Sam and His Lady talk about --"

When Sandwich is out-of-town, he has been leaving Pepys in charge of the household. I expect Pepys to be visiting My Lady frequently until My Lord returns -- with Mr. Shepley et al in tow.

It's good to know neither Mr. Lady nor My Lord held Pepys responsible for not visiting her during the recent riots. From their point-of-view they might have thought he should have stayed at Whitehall and made daily trips to the Navy Office. A little attention/communication would have saved her that expensive trip to a place he was not at.

Et al = and everyone, etcetera.

I agree, we should do our best to communicate clearly with everyone. Pepys is confusing enough to the modern-day native English speaker, so we need to help each other as much as possible.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... to the Commissioners of Parliament, and there did take some course about having my Lord’s salary paid tomorrow when the Charles is paid off, but I was troubled to see how high they carry themselves, when in good truth nobody cares for them."

This may be because Pepys is forced to take his hat off as he is asking the MPs for a consideration -- and as I recall Sandwich wants 4,000l. that can be a considerable consideration. The Commissioners were sitting there with their hats firmly planted on their heads, with all sorts of agendas and considerations which could lead to a resounding 'no -- Sandwich takes his place at the back of the line'.

I think this exchange led to the "I then to the office, where Sir Williams both and I set about making an estimate of all the officers’ salaries in ordinary in the Navy till 10 o’clock at night."

The Parliamentary Committee wanted to know what other surprises could be handed to them. In which case, they had a good point.

The "Commissioners of the Navy" in this case were Members of Parliament assembled for the sole purpose of paying off the Army and Navy.

As I recall this Commission included William Prynne MP
Col. John Birch MP
and the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Richard Browne MP

They all had brief experience in dealing with the sailors and paperwork, but have discovered it's not as simple as it appeared when they were just helping.

William Jessop has been added as their clerk -- probably serving an equal to Mr. Hayter -- a step-down for a former Admiralty official (secretary to Warwick 1642-5 and to the Admiralty Committee 1645-53), after which he served the Council of State (as Assistant Clerk in 1653, and Clerk 1654-9, 1659-60). From this Parliamentary Committee's point-of-view, he's an educated person to employ behind the scenes to get The Navy Pay done, once-and-for-all.

Sandwich's request must mean once-and-for-all has been delayed if they pay it.

LKvM  •  Link

Regarding oysters and their frequent consumption in the diary, I wonder how they ate them, i.e., what, if anything, they ate them with, or on.
Oysters are very popular where I live (New Orleans, USA), and here we are served with them as they lie on the halfshell (by law still slightly attached to prevent the fraud of serving jarred oysters as fresh).
Then we take our little seafood fork and run the oyster through a bit of tomato-based "cocktail sauce" with horseradish in it, and then we plop it onto a saltine cracker, on which it is devoured with delight.
When President Roosevelt visited New Orleans in the previous century he was served oysters by the then-mayor Robert Maestri, who during dinner asked Roosevelt, "How you like dem erstas?"
So the "r" pronunciation of "oy" was prevalent in New Orleans way back then and even into the 1960s, when I arrived, and, as in Brooklyn NY, the word "toilet" was "terlet" and "boil" was "berl" and my friend Joyce was "Jerce."
So, my question is this: without cutlery like seafood forks or transfer material like saltines, how did they eat them?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... how did they eat them?"

Between the 8th and 16th centuries, the oyster became popular with the rich and poor alike. Oysters were often cooked in their liquor (the small pool of clear seawater found in the oysters' cupped shells) with a splash of ale and black pepper.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, oysters were used in many varied dishes. Smaller oysters were often eaten raw, and larger oysters were often used in stews or cooked in pies. Oysters were used with pork or mutton to make sausages. Oysters were stuffed inside fowl, such as turkey or duck, and then roasted; and the oysters' liquor would be poured over the fowl!

Oysters were also pickled for transport to inland towns.

Famous satirist, essayist, poet and author Jonathon Swift (1667 to 1745) once said: "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster."

Swift overcame his fear of oysters to become a convert and enthusiastic advocate of oysters:
In Swift's most famous book 'Gulliver's Travels' (1726); the main character and ship's captain 'Gulliver' became shipwrecked and landed at a place called Lilliput, where he collected and ate raw oysters on the beach in order to conserve his food provisions.
Swift even penned instructions on how to boil oysters: "Take oysters, wash them clean that is wash their shells clean, then put the oysters into an earthen pot, with their hollow sides down, then put this pot into a kettle of water, and so let them boil. Your oysters are boiled in their own liquor, and not mixed with water."

Beyond that, you had to be there, LKvM. Sounds like anything went to me.

FROM https://simplyoysters.com/oyster-…

DiVan  •  Link

I do not want to add to the discussion whether annotations should be English only or not, but I'd like to draw attention to the fact that the diary is not written in English. Most of us read it in English, but it was written in the Shelton shorthand system. That's exactly why it has needed transcribing into English over the centuries. (I'm not aware of transcriptions directly from the shorthand into other languages.) Granted: Shelton's shorthand was English based and one could probably also say that Pepys was 'thinking' in English, whatever that may mean, but the actual writing wasn't done in English. Trivial? Consider the reception side: almost all diary readers, myself included, read the diary based on English that was not Pepys's. Furthermore, we're all familiar with the choices, interpreations that transcriptions bring. There's also an important impact of the diary not being written in English on the production side. Just a few days ago somebody pointed to the research of Guy de La Bédoyère who studied the impact of the limitations "Sheltonese" imposed on the means of expression of Pepys. Most famously we may owe the so-to-bed closure to the other-language shorthand Pepys was writing in. But the influence goes beyond that to the clarity of writing style: short sentences, and-then-and-then style of writing, "(and) so"-initiation of sentences (look at the entry of today). Chances are we wouldn't love reading the diary as much as we do if it would have been writting in normal, unhampered English sentences. Certainly not if you compare the diary with Pepys's public letter writing for instance.

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