Thursday 13 February 1661/62

After musique comes my cozen Tom Pepys the executor, and he did stay with me above two hours discoursing about the difference between my uncle Thomas and me, and what way there may be to make it up, and I have hopes we may do good of it for all this. Then to dinner, and then came Mr. Kennard, and he and I and Sir W. Pen went up and down his house to view what may be the contrivance and alterations there to the best advantage.

So home, where Mr. Blackburne (whom I have not seen a long time) was come to speak with me, and among other discourse he do tell me plain of the corruption of all our Treasurer’s officers, and that they hardly pay any money under ten per cent.; and that the other day, for a mere assignation of 200l. to some counties, they took 15l. which is very strange. So to the office till night, and then home and to write by the post about many businesses, and so to bed. Last night died the Queen of Bohemia.

46 Annotations

First Reading

Australian Susan  •  Link

"Last night died the Queen of Bohemia"
That this news was abroad so quickly shows, I think, the esteem this lady was held in. She was the mother of the Princes Rupert & Maurice of the Rhine (Cavalier heroes)and aunt to the present monarch.
Sam has obviously got a local reputation for being the man to ask about when "contriving alteracions" in your house! He really does seem to enjoy planning and overseeing renovations.

vicenzo  •  Link

So! It be not a big deal to have a few paltry fish as gifte.
Contrivance? simply to have a interesting plan. Or could it be an apparatus to lift food from kitchen to Salon??

john lauer  •  Link

Sam consistently says "he do [verb]", and never says "he does". (About once a month for the last two years.) Since we don't say this now (at least in the US), I wonder when the grammar police (educators, i.e.) made this change, and how it evolved.

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

The Queen of Bohemia died at Leicester House, on the northside of the present Leicester Square, to which she had removed only five days previously from Drury House in Drury Lane, the residence of Lord Craven, to whom it has been asserted that she was married. (Warrington)

Stolzi  •  Link

When the Stuarts are gone...

King George I was the grandson of this lady, through her daughter Sophia, electress of Hanover:

Sophia, 1630-1714, electress of Hanover, consort of Elector Ernest Augustus. She was the daughter of Frederick the Winter King and Elizabeth of Bohemia, who was the daughter of James I of England. In 1701, Parliament settled on her and her issue the succession to the English throne, and in 1714 her son, George I, became king of England. Sophia was noted for her wide intellectual interests.

Bardi  •  Link

"He do" rather than "does" is often heard in rural areas of the U.K. "He do work hard, don't he?"

daniel  •  Link

"he do sing"

I believe that this would be a case of the subjunctive in English. Not much used anymore but still recognizable, "be he red or be he blue, he is still a ...."

the implication is one of causuality, "he do sing" in other words: if he sings, or if he would sing.

It seems perfectly correct to me but clearly a style we no longer have much contact with.

Xjy  •  Link

"he do sing"
Could just be acknowledging that do is functioning as an auxiliary, like need vs needs or dare vs dares.

Need to check this and see if he uses does as a main verb and do when it’s an auxiliary to a different main verb.

Mary  •  Link

"he do tell me plain"

Not a subjunctive at all. 'Do' is simply an auxiliary verb that, in modern, standard English has had its uses reduced in number. We still retain this sort of construction in the tag "they do say" and also, as Bardi notes, in some dialectal speech.

Ross  •  Link

"Eat supper without washing?"

"I do not!

"Do so!"

"Do not!"

"Do so!"

Bradford  •  Link

Somewhere in the mists of time and annotations, the "do" question was discussed at length before. What brave site-explorer will delve into the dark and backward abysm to find it for us?
{Not I, said the little red hen.}

Glyn  •  Link

Bradford: did you mean 22 August 1660? That wasn't a very extensive discussion however. In any case congratulations on your powers of recall.

Glyn  •  Link

If you remember contributing to that debate then go to the Search box at the top right; click on/check the Help button; click on/check the "Annotations" button and enter the Keyword Bradford; and all your comments will be listed.

This works for all contributors.

Pauline  •  Link

"...the corruption of all our Treasurer's officers…”
Isn’t anyone going to explain this?

“they hardly pay any money under ten per cent”
The Treasury only pays 10% of its bills, or holds bonds that pay 10% interest? Or WHAT?

“….and that the other day, for a mere assignation of 200l. to some counties, they took 15l. which is very strange.”

Meaning that for some counties they only take 7.5%instead of 10%?

Counties? Are we talking taxes? Expenses?


dirk  •  Link

"they hardly pay any money under ten per cent"

I read this as the percentage of the transaction the Treasurer's Officer charges as his fee (justified or not?). Any other views on the matter?

Pauline  •  Link

the percentage of the transaction
Does "some counties" at 7.5% mean some landed families with power in the parliament get a better rate?

Ruben  •  Link

the percentage of the transaction :
I think that the officer will keep as a fee or "comission" for himself a percent of whatever has to be paid by the State.
This is common practice in most countries today and one of the reason of the fast enrichment of so many "ministers" or members of "presidents family" or "brother of the King" in South America, Middle East, etc.

vicenzo  •  Link

fee fie foe fum
tis the blud of an english mum
fie foe fum fee
to pay the fee
do not thee defy
fum fee foe fie
else newgate, ye goe
fum fee fie foe

The world turns on a little palm oil.
a rip off of Jacques feve

Fa, Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum!
I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he live or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make me bread

Mary  •  Link

The Treasury takes its cut.

(per L&M). These payments arise from tallies struck on the land-tax returns from various counties. The Lord Treasurer has disbursed specific sums (minus a 'handling-fee') to the Navy Treasurer.

Bern  •  Link

He do tell.... certainly not subjunctive, the conditions are not right (no doubt implied). I think it is a mistake and should be "did" it is a couple of lines above ("do" and "did" were commonly enough used with affirmative verbs at the time). He just got confused because the next part is in the present tense, being a statement of a perpetual truth reported in indirect form.

language hat  •  Link

I think it is a mistake and should be "did"
No, it's not a "mistake." English usage has changed considerably in the last three and a half centuries; it's best to simply accept the way Pepys uses words and tenses and gradually get a sense of how they work, rather than to assume anything that sounds funny to you should be emended.

Mary  •  Link

do/did..... doth.

Oh dear, we should have checked with L&M before embarking on this wrangle. Their edition reads, "he DOTH tell me plain..."

However, I agree absolutely with Language Hat that in many cases of apparent misuse of English, one does best to trust Pepys himself and accept that he is using the language of his own day with as much facility as any of us uses current English.

Carolina  •  Link

Language Hat and Mary :

I agree with your statements that we should read it as written. I occasionally wonder what is meant, but usually someone offers an explanation and if not, I ask.
I have heard people in West Oxfordshire say "he do". These "be" country people, "mind"

john lauer  •  Link

"Doth" is just fine -- even Webster's collegiate has that as "archaic pres 3rd sing of do" (which is what we have here)!

As I said, in 26 months Sam has said "he do" 25 times, but never "he does"! I could try a search on "he doth", but if the eds. are being this "easy" I won't bother. Thanks all for the fine discussion.

(To do such a search, put a space on each end of the phrase to get a "whole word" option. I can't show that here without getting " he doth " with the mixed-up 66- and 99-quotes.)

B Keeling  •  Link

----he do----
Sorry I still think it is a mistake - there was a lot of it about at the time. I don't think that the present tense has ever been used instead of the past, except occasionally as "present historic", which admittedly this might be. But that's the only way it could be considered sympathetically.
He "do" is indeed used in East Anglia, Oxfordshire and so on, but in the present tense I do believe.
I think the word "do" used in the third person is/was possibly one of the results of the weakening of the "th" in doth. The other result is of course the "s" as in "does". Since the rest of the verb is declined equally, it is a reasonable enough corruption and to be honest one wonders why "does" survives at all, since it is anomalous.

Mary  •  Link

B. Keeling/use of present tense.

Even today it is possible to hear someone say, "So-and-so was here last night, and he tells me that the price of oil is bound to rise."

The construction may not be grammatically 'correct' in point of tense-sequence but it is in use in colloquial English.

B Keeling  •  Link

I agree that we use present tenses in indirect discourse, rightly or wrongly, when we are talking about something which was said but which is still true, i.e. could be repeated now, or even may have been said a number of times.
In this case it is wrong, but what the hell. Sometimes the erratic use of tenses in early modern English makes comprehension difficult - one assumes they did not find it so confusing.

language hat  •  Link

"the erratic use of tenses in early modern English"

I must insist that early modern tenses were no more "erratic" than our own; the system was different, that's all, and since it doesn't match up with ours, it seems odd to us. I'm sure Pepys would find our usage just as "erratic."

Grahamt  •  Link

"one wonders why "does" survives at all, since it is anomalous.”
No it is not. In regular verbs, the third person present singular puts an “s” (run, talk, live, etc.) or “es” (pass, go, do, etc.) on the infinitive, so “to do” becomes “he/she/it does” in the 3rd person.

language hat  •  Link

so "to do" becomes "he/she/it does":

Yes, but the regularity is only graphic. If it were truly regular it would be pronounced “dooze.” “Doo”/”duz” is indeed anomalous. (Compare woo/woos, sue/sues, &c.)

Mary  •  Link

doo/duz; woo/woos.

Sorry, Language Hat, but the comparison is not really justified, as doth/does (also hath/has) are monosyllabic forms with SHORT, not long, vowels in the 3rd person singular. Thus "duth" becomes "duz" with the adoption of the originally Northern inflexion -s for the Southern -th.

(See Dobson's "English Pronunciation 1500-1700", Vol.2 sections 313,314 & 368. OUP)

language hat  •  Link

"the comparison is not really justified"

Mary: With all due (ahem) respect, I have no idea what you're talking about. Of course "doth/does (also hath/has) are monosyllabic forms with SHORT, not long, vowels in the 3rd person singular"; that's the anomaly. "Woo" and "sue" are also monosyllabic verbs; they keep their vowels in the third singular. Grahamt said:

In regular verbs, the third person present singular puts an "s" (run, talk, live, etc.) or "es" (pass, go, do, etc.) on the infinitive, so "to do" becomes "he/she/it does" in the 3rd person.

I think if you read my response to him again, in light of what I’ve said here, it will make sense. If not, you’ll have to explain more clearly why you object to it.

vicenzo  •  Link

Question: Doth [duz] this Guttenburg version be [?] , a translation, transliteration, rendition, interpretation, adaption or mixture of all the above, 'Tis written in 1660's lost to the publick eye, hidden in code [parts faded] until Braybrooke had it translated [?][by a penniless student] from code into 18th century English, elegantly leaving out prurient parts and other titbits, to be read as an educated piece of the times. Is there an exact conversion of the diary ? without the editorial [required by most writers, of course some require a complete rehash] clean up to make it palatable [and tasty too] to all.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: "an exact conversion of the diary"

Vicenzo -- may I call you Vincent? -- isn't that what the L&M version is? I thought it was the authoritative and complete version of the diary.

Or are you simply trying to distract us from the Grammar Wars? ;-)

vicenzo  •  Link

We all have built in filters based on the version of Brainwashing that we have received, and how much we are allowed to slide with out being held accountable. In Latin and the other sleeping language, we have to engage our brain to ensure that our words have an exact taste. Today our Language can be like our shirt, in or out, tie or no tie, all the chest hairs a showing just like our leaders show us. So it is rather luverly that there doth be a few that like to see all the ducks be in a row. So few read the fine print and when they duz do it, they be flummuxed.

Mary  •  Link

more on do/duz.

(More phonology; skip it if it bores you).

The short vowel of 'does' is not anomalous. In late ME this verb developed parallel forms in the second and third persons singular. A long vowel was retained in the stressed forms of the verb, but in unstressed positions a short vowel developed. (Shortening in unstressed positions is a common feature of phonological development). The two forms were used in parallel for some considerable time but it was the short-vowel form which eventually prevailed in all positions, both stressed and unstressed.

Thus one cannot really say that 'dooz' OUGHT to be the way that we pronounce the 3rd person singular of this verb and that 'duz' is anomalous. Had the stressed form prevailed, then things would have been different, but it didn't, so they aren't.

language hat  •  Link

more on do/duz.

We seem to be talking past each other. You're saying the short vowel is historically explicable; I know that. That doesn't contradict the fact that it's anomalous in terms of synchronic rules that say the third person present singular adds an -s. If you learn the rule and try to generate the form for "do," it will not work; that's what "anomalous" means.

GrahamT  •  Link

Doing does to death:
The example language hat gives of woo and sue, would have been wooeth and sueth with the accent on the second syllable, whereas doth is a single syllable. When evolving from Anglo-Saxon "thorn" to the Norman "z" sounding "s" form of third-person, the double syllable forms kept the sound of the first syllable and the second syllable softened and eventually disappeared. This doesn't apply to single syllable forms like doth and hath.
To my (northern) ear doth has the same vowel sound as does, so doesn't sound anomalous to me.
My Derbyshire Great-Grandfather's 19th century pronunciation of does was "doz". (and do was "doe" to rhyme with go) In the south of England it is "d[schwa]z" or daz; in the north it is duz. So which one is anomolous?
Graphically "does" is regular. The "rule" about adding "s" to the third person is only partially true; there are several corollaries, e.g "es" after vowels other than "e", and after "s", "y" without a preceding vowel becomes "ies" (try/tries, pry/pries, but say/says), etc.
Do is of course quite irregular (not anomalous) in the perfect tense.

Glyn  •  Link

May I recommend a great linguistic site to discuss all of this, which can be found at

(Not that it's not uninteresting.)

Mary  •  Link

Glyn: now that really is praising with faint damns.

pat stewart cavalier  •  Link

These “be” country people, “mind”

Why, do country people not speak as correct English (or any language) as town people ? I beg to differ.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Then to dinner, and then came Mr. Kennard, and he and I and Sir W. Pen went up and down his house to view what may be the contrivance and alterations there to the best advantage."

Thomas Kinward, the Master-Joiner in the office of the King's Works, is planning to build an office in Penn's house. For progress on the plan see 3 June 1662 (L&M notes):…

Simon  •  Link

It seems a little vacuous to argue over the finer points of what spelling and grammar Pepys would have used, when - since the diary was written in his own cryptic shorthand - he would have used none of the above.

Doug Quixote  •  Link

At the risk of adding to a discussion 17 years in the past, the "do" issue argued out here would have appealed to Jonathan Swift, whose Big-Enders fought a war with the Little-Enders over which end of an egg should be cut . . . (Gullivers Travels)

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