Wednesday 15 May 1661

With my workmen all day till the afternoon, and then to the office, where Mr. Creed’s accounts were passed.

Home and found all my joyner’s work now done, but only a small job or two, which please me very well.

This afternoon there came two men with an order from a Committee of Lords to demand some books of me out of the office, in order to the examining of Mr. Hutchinson’s accounts, but I give them a surly answer, and they went away to complain, which put me into some trouble with myself, but I resolve to go to-morrow myself to these Lords and answer them.

To bed, being in great fear because of the shavings which lay all up and down the house and cellar, for fear of fire.

19 Annotations

First Reading

Pauline  •  Link

"...but I give them a surly answer, and they went away to complain...."
Nicely said. And also has put me in mind of David A. Smith's annotation at 10:35pm on May 12 regarding Sam's growing self-confidence and maturity.

vicente  •  Link

Somebody is sniffing for waste?" order to the examining of Mr. Hutchinson

vicente  •  Link

The vipers are out, Sam should have attended the Society today ; Evelyn did report that "...sevverall experiments on Vipers, & their biting of Dogs & Catts, to make tryall of stone presented us from the E.Indias a pretended cure: [ J Evelyn 15 may 61
DeBeer version]

Rick Ansell  •  Link

There may be good reasons to conceal the accounts that are not connected with fiddles on Huchinsons part. A later treasurer, Melville, when later First Lord, was ejected for being unable to account for significant amounts of monies. There is good reason to believe that this was the 'Black' budget, spent on intelligence. In the days before the Official Secrets acts and other measures to allow parliament to investigate these matters in secret inquires would be 'open', with no sanctions in place to deal with committee members who chose to make things public.

Mary  •  Link

'.... but only a small job or two..'

Let's hope that Sam has greater success in getting these little jobs finished off than tends to be the case nowadays. As for the fire-risk in the form of shavings, if the workmen haven't cleared up after themselves, why didn't he get either Pall or the girl to sweep up before bedtime? Perhaps they, too, have been away from Seething Lane for the duration of the works.

Statistically, however, Sam runs less risk of a fire tonight than he would on a Friday night; according to Peter Ackroyd, 10 p.m. on Friday nights was the peak time for fires to break out in London.

Mary  •  Link

Self-confidence and maturity?

I'm not so sure about that. Sam clearly worries during the night about the way in which he dismissed the two messengers (an order brought by two emissaries looks more important than one brought by one alone) and decides that he's better appear in person tomorrow, presumably to smoothe things over and persuade their Lordships that he intended no slight to them.

He might take the line that, although he is prepared to bring the books for examination himself, he could not give up such documents to any unknown bod who arrived at the door demanding them on the spot and without due notice. That would surely be a good civil servant's argument.

Xjy  •  Link

Self-confidence and maturity
Pauline said *growing* self-confidence, Mary! I take that to mean that he is now capable of saying no to people even if they come from high places. This still isn't second nature to him, however, so he does it, perhaps surprising himself (he makes it almost sound that way), and then worries a bit if he went too far. But then, he's a worry-guts by nature and immediately goes on to worry about the shavings and the risk of fire.
On other matters, thanks to Vicente for the flashback.

MartinK  •  Link

According to Admiralty specifications for building Coastguard houses in 1898 the shavings (and sawdust) were to be left until after all work (especially plastering) was finished, so as to prevent staining to floorboards.

JWB  •  Link

Shavings addendum
Also, shavings and sawdust used to burnish wood, esp'ly turnings-staricase spindles- before final oil or varnish.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"which put me into some trouble with myself"
To me, this phrase is the key to Sam's state of mind right now.

Refused -- and quite properly, for Mary's reasons (among others)
Reflexively and tartly -- I agree with Xjy

His self-confidence is *only* nascent -- I agree, Pauline
He is a worrywart -- Xjy
*And* he's political

He'll go see their Lordships tomorrow.
He'll worry his liver about it tonight.

I predict vindication, a spring in his step, and perhaps a celebratory present for Elizabeth.

helena murphy  •  Link

If Pepys were self confident then why would he be troubled? He is correct not to give the books to the men as he should peruse everything first and go to the Committee of Lords well armed with information. However ,Sam who never was a courtier, lacks social grace in dealing with subordinates here. The correct approach should be one of hauteur matched with graciousness, the latter being the key word, then nothing amiss could be reported and what is more,the committee would learn that Sam is a man to be reckoned with!

Judith  •  Link

"two men with an order from a Committee of Lords to demand some books of me out of the office"
Aha, something I (retired CPA) get here - Sam is protecting his workpapers, I think. If he lets flunkies get hold of Hutchinson's accounts, then he can no longer control how the information is used - he knows very well that the aristocrats aren't going to actually read the accounts themselves. Since this problem hasn't come up before for him he was going on instinct with the "surly answer"; then he comes up with tomorrow's game plan.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"...all my joyner’s work now done, but only a small job or two,...": L&M remind us the making of the new staircase was begun on 25 March.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"two men with an order from a Committee of Lords to demand some books of me out of the office"
L&M note John Price had petitioned for compensation due him and that Richard Hutchinson (Treasurer of the Navy, 1651-60) be examined and his books scrutinized. The power of the Lord's Committee for Petitions to call witnesses was confirmed by order of the House on the 18th.…

Phil Gyford  •  Link

One very slight difference I noticed in the L&M version. Where Pepys here says, "This afternoon there came...", L&M have it, "This evening there came..."

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

"Home and found all my joyner’s work now done,"

Sam the optimist. All my joyner's work is done! Except for one small job! Actually, except for two small jobs! And except for sweeping up all the shavings! And then some work left for the painters or stainers! But the project is basically done!

LKvM  •  Link

I think that what Sam really regrets is his "surly answer."
We have been following his life for a while now, and it is his charm and likeablity that have caused just about every man and woman in his life, from all his drinking buddies to "my lady" and Penn and Batten and Sandwich, to want his company.
A cordial but firm answer to these nosy men from the Lords would have been more his style, but alas, like Hamlet, he "forgot himself."

RLB  •  Link

I suspect that another reason Sam doesn't want to give away his books is that he knows lent books have a tendency to go astray. And it doesn't even have to be intentional - people are simply less careful with other people's property. They may be shoved onto a side shelf with a note "To be returned to Pepys" and then forgotten about.

If he brings them along himself and lets the Lords make the required copies, he can make sure he takes them back to the office in safety and keep his own records complete. If he lets any two random footmen carry them away, he has no such guarantee. I commend the good care he takes of his administration.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... like Hamlet, he forgot himself."

My reaction was that Pepys had, on some level, internalized Adm. Penn's recent lessons about not allowing yourself to be pushed around by the lower orders. Protocol had not been followed by the House of Lords.

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