Tuesday 11 February 1661/62

Musique, then my brother Tom came, and spoke to him about selling of Sturtlow, he consents to, and I think will be the best for him, considering that he needs money, and has no mind to marry.

Dined at home, and at the office in the afternoon. So home to musique, my mind being full of our alteracons in the garden, and my getting of things in the office settled to the advantage of my clerks, which I found Mr. Turner much troubled at, and myself am not quiet in mind. But I hope by degrees to bring it to it. At night begun to compose songs, and begin with “Gaze not on Swans.” So to bed.

17 Annotations

First Reading

daniel  •  Link


Sam's apllying himself to the art of music making is quite admirable. I will cite this week's entires to my own music students as how devoted practitioners should spend their time.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: Clerks

Why is Mr. Turner "much troubled at" Sam's activities surrounding his clerks? You'd think that Sam's efforts to settle things "to the advantage of [his] clerks" would please Turner, unless Sam's stepping on his toes in some way ... is Turner supposed to manage the clerks?

Bradford  •  Link

"Gaze not on swans" comes from the poem also known as "Beauty Extolled," by British poet Henry Noel, "a prominent courtier and one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorites," who recalled John Dowland from Denmark to England in 1597; but Noel died before he could arrange Dowland to be appointed in Elizabeth's service:

Gaze not on swans, in whose soft breast,
A full-hatched beauty seems to nest
Nor snow, which falling from the sky
Hovers in its virginity.

The rest of the text doesn't seem to be on the Web. The late American poet Anthony Hecht devotes an essay to the poem in his "Melodies Unheard: Essays on the Mysteries of Poetry" (2003).

Whether Pepys finished his setting, or if it survived if he did finish it, is not clear; but it's among the songs in that musical we have cited before, "And So to Bed," book by J. B. Fagan, with music and lyrics by Vivian Ellis, which opened at the New Theatre on 17 October 1951 and transferred to another a decade later.

tld  •  Link


I read this line that Sam has been reassigning or assigning duties and / or small perks of the office to his clerks at some expense of Mr. Turner and / or his 'clique of clerks.'

Mr. Turner and Sam are slight rivals in the office. Mr. Turner was there before the Restoration, seems to have expected the Clerk of the Acts position that Sam was appointed to when King Charles returned. See the 25 June 1660 entry,' Thence to the Admiralty, where I met with Mr. Turner of the Navy-office, who did look after the place of Clerk of the Acts. He was very civil to me, and I to him, and shall be so.'

There is some rivalry remaining still and I'm reading that they are civil, even go about to taverns together at times as noted in other diary entries, but are not working in collusion at the office. Rather they are in some small opposition.

There was the time Mr. Turner's outhouse spilled into Sam's basement at the Navy yard year or so ago which probably wasn't pretty and irritated Sam enough for him to comment of it in this diary yet there was no mention that Mr. Turner knew or realized the this impact on Sam.

With that office relationship Sam then seems to be rolling the issue with the clerks over in his mind as if to be sure he isn't pushing things too far which might create some poor return on himself. Having done that he decides he is within his influence to make these changes with some impunity within the office politics.

Sam is in one office clique and Mr. Turner isn't part of it. Haven't seen mention of who in the office might be in Mr. Turner's clique. On reflection, it is interesting that Sam doesn't mention the names of his clerks. Today I'd expect a mention by name of the 'clerks' or subordinates one was trying to aid in office politics in a diary like this one. I think this is one example where the customs of the day in class and standing are more natural to leave them unnamed, favored as part of one's loyal following, but not personalized with a name. I think Sam is showing us that human behavior in work groups hasn't changed, though there are different or clearer delineations and indications of the pecking order during his time. Pecking orders still exist; one just has to pay attention a little more to see them at times.

Pauline  •  Link

"...I hope by degrees to bring it to it..."
I suppose we all do this????

I hope by degrees to bring "quiet" to "my mind"?

I would say that Sam is trying to work ahead of the clerks and take full responsibility for his job in every detail so that Turner can't bad mouth him with any sucess. His unquiet of mind is less clear; perhaps he is unhappy in having to play office politics against Turner? He may wish that he could allow Turner to do his part without Turner continueing to resent Sam having the better job and job title, but realizes that now he has to act to secure his own position.

Bullus Hutton  •  Link

You're quite right, Daniel. Sam's devotion to his music is quite marked in recent posts. He is still a young man, bemused by the vagueries of his world and often not to happy about the direction of his life.
Had he but stumbled into his own Paul McCartney at this time, he might have said to heck with it all and taken a flagelot band on the road (perhaps to Hamburg) and we may never have had the diary!

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

'Gaze not on Swans' was also set to music by H. Lawes in his 'Ayres and Dialogues', 1653.

Mary  •  Link

"Gaze not on Swans".

(per L&M footnote) This was largely Birchensha's work; presumably showing Sam how to go about the process by example.

Mary  •  Link

"brother Tom ...... has no mind to marry"

So the earlier overtures that were being made on Tom's behalf were presumably all the family's idea, and not prompted by Tom himself.

Ruben  •  Link

I think SP writes most of the time about areas of tension in his life. In the beginning of the diary he was busy with his servants. It was a new experience for him to be in charge of others. It is a long time already that we read nothing interesting about the service people. Same for the link-boy or the coins they charged for this service and he had to pay. Remember first time he had the barber coming to his place? Well, today he has settled in his new position so this has become irrelevant to be remembered in the diary.
Instead of writing about the former, we get lately a lot of information about painting and music, signaling his passage from his original position in society (and money solvency) to his actual position, where money is of course still important, but much bigger amounts of money!

Pauline  •  Link

Ruben, good points
He does stew and worry over life's mid-sized tensions. What we are getting now is the tensions of how to wrestle respect from the Sir Wms and various other soul-searching to be "big" enough for where his expectations have landed him. That his conclusions embrace hard work, keeping distractions at bay, and thinking it all through, endears him to me. He seems to have quite an aesthetic sense and enjoys the decorating and portrait-making that his money can buy. But the music has been with him (and with us) from the diary's beginnings.

Ruben  •  Link

to Pauline: you expressed better than me what I intended to say.
Music was always there, but now he can afford to treat his teorbo to a costly overall, has a composition teacher and pays another teacher to teach him and his wife to sing; and we dont know how much all that costs because this expenses have become small money for him.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Since 2005 more of this lovely poem by Henry Noel has been put online.

Gaze Not on Swans

Gaze not on swans in whose soft breast
A full hatcht beauty seems to rest,
Nor snow which falling from the sky
Hovers in its virginity.

Gaze not on roses though new blown
Grac'd with a fresh complexion,
Nor lilly which no subtle bee
Hath rob'd by kissing chemistry.

Gaze not on that pure milky way
Where night vies splendour with the day,
Nor pearls whose silver walls confine
The riches of an Indian mine:

For if my emperesse appears
Swans moultring dy, snow melts to tears,
Roses do blush and hang their heads
Pale lillyes shrink into their beds;

The milky way rides past to shrowd
Its baffled glory in a clowd,
And pearls do climb unto her eare
To hang themselves for envy there.

So have I seene stars big with light,
Proud lanthorns to the moone-ey'd night,
Which when Sol's rays were once display'd
Sunk in their sockets and decay'd.

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