Friday 4 July 1662

Up by five o’clock, and after my journall put in order, to my office about my business, which I am resolved to follow, for every day I see what ground I get by it. By and by comes Mr. Cooper, mate of the Royall Charles, of whom I intend to learn mathematiques, and do begin with him to-day, he being a very able man, and no great matter, I suppose, will content him. After an hour’s being with him at arithmetique (my first attempt being to learn the multiplication-table); then we parted till to-morrow. And so to my business at my office again till noon, about which time Sir W. Warren did come to me about business, and did begin to instruct me in the nature of fine timber and deals, telling me the nature of every sort; and from that we fell to discourse of Sir W. Batten’s corruption and the people that he employs, and from one discourse to another of the kind. I was much pleased with his company, and so staid talking with him all alone at my office till 4 in the afternoon, without eating or drinking all day, and then parted, and I home to eat a bit, and so back again to my office; and toward the evening came Mr. Sheply, who is to go out of town to-morrow, and so he and I with much ado settled his accounts with my Lord, which, though they be true and honest, yet so obscure, that it vexes me to see in what manner they are kept. He being gone, and leave taken of him as of a man likely not to come to London again a great while, I eat a bit of bread and butter, and so to bed. This day I sent my brother Tom, at his request, my father’s old Bass Viall which he and I have kept so long, but I fear Tom will do little good at it.

32 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

Mr. Cooper "being a very able man, and no great matter, I suppose, will content him."

Does this mean Pepys expects a small honorarium will be sufficient to pay for his instruction? Yet if he is "very able," might not his expectations be higher than "no great matter"?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"the multiplication table"
that is a surprise!from reading and riting and rytmetique( the 3rs)Sam learned the first 2 extremelly well;but learning multiplication at his age!!

Miss Ann  •  Link

Sam continues with his education - maths followed by woodwork - he's not afraid to acknowledge that he needs to learn more and more and more. Most impressive. No problem with his diet today - very slim pickings indeed!

JudyB  •  Link

How can someone who is so skilled at keeping books and purchasing supplies for the navy not know the multiplication tables? Anyone know more about this?

Does he simply add up columns of figures, the long way of multiplying something? Or does he look the numbers up on printed tables?

Any accountants out there who know something about 17th Century accounting?

Australian Susan  •  Link

I have this vision of Sam muttering " sevens are forty-nine, eight sevens are fifty-six...." Is this right? What *did* he learn at school? I suspect that Mr Warren is being terribly, terribly helpful to eager Sam and teaching him all about timber for ships and whispering about the graft going on, because he has a mind to lucrative naval timber contracts??????

Mary  •  Link

multiplication tables.

L&M adds an appetite-whetting note here. "Multiplication tables were not normally learned in school (at any rate beyond 5x5) though were occasionally taught in the mathematical schools and by the mathematical handbooks. Alternative and often laborious methods of multiplication were often used"

The note refers to the following books:
J. Mellis, Records Arithmetick (1652)
W. Leybourn, Arithmetick (1678)
E. Cocker, Arithmetick (1678)
and a later work: M.H. Nicolson, 'Pepys diary and the new science.' pp. 9-10

andy  •  Link

Would Sam have used an Abacus? if so he would find multiplication tables novel.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"multiplication table"
"nearby"petty" school......picked up the skills of reading,writing and reckoning.............The boys were taught Latin, Greek in the senior classes,and perhaps some Hebrew.No Science was taught,nor mathematics,nor geography,nor any living foreign language"
cf Liza Picard-Restoration London

Tom Burns  •  Link

Multiplication tables

I imagine Sam would have had great use for what we call practical mathematics these days; i.e., the calculation of volumes of materials to fit in a ship's hold or square footage of cloth for sails, and possibly, since he was so concerned with money, simple interest calculations. All of these involve multiplication. Though I would think he'd have had to be competent in these areas to get his job in the first place...

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

I feel there's an element of snobbery here. Gentlemen would learn the classics, leaving mere calculating to clerks. However, if you want to deal with merchants on equal terms, like Sam, you had better learn their languages as well. (Rather like employing a builder today - much easier to spot problems if you know what you are looking for.)

Alan Bedford  •  Link

"I would think he'd have had to be competent in these areas…"

This was an era when a Navy officer was likelier to get his job because of his family, rather than his competence (which will, thanks to Sam, change in the next few decades).

Sam got his job through a combination of family connection and being a competent accountant, which, at the time, did not require "mathematiques" much beyond addition and subtraction. He has determined to learn additional skills to enhance his abilities to deal with vendors as well as with those with whom he shares his office.

It should be pointed out that Isaac Newton, now about age 20 years, has not yet developed either integral or differential calculus. He’ll write down his methods for those in about four years, but won’t share them for a couple of years after that.

gerry  •  Link

Odd bit of synchronicity here Alan B. Today is the anniversary of the publication of Principia, in 1687.
Sam had a copy of the third edition which is in the Pepys Library.

Nix  •  Link

Multiplication tables --

It really does seem odd to us that Samuel would just now be learning them, two years AFTER getting his MA from Cambridge! Of course, with the ubiquity of calculators, I wouldn't be surprised if today's graduates have never learned their multiplication tables either.

But multiplication wouldn't have done him must good in pounds-shillings-pence calculations, would it?

Peter  •  Link

Oh dear... Nix, I am sure there are plenty of others around here who remember multiplying and dividing £/s/d, cwt/lbs/oz, gals/qts/pts….and a whole range of things…..And you tell ‘em that today and they don’t believe you…etc. etc.

Mary  •  Link

Oh happy memories....

of all those mathematical problems that required one to calculate the cost of 4 gross of widgets at two and sevenpence three-farthings the dozen, using pencil, paper and rubber (i.e.eraser)only.

Ruben  •  Link

1) for "mathematiques" see "education" in background info.

2) Principia was published by the Royal Society when Pepys was in charge. Pepys was the editor or publisher. His name is there, below Newton's.

language hat  •  Link

"His name is there, below Newton's."

Fascinating information — thanks for that, Ruben!

I think those of you who are surprised about the multiplication are projecting today’s practical education back to a time when learning primarily involved the classics; if you needed practical things like math, you were expected to pick it up on the job. The concept of the well-rounded education would not be invented for another couple of centuries.

Glyn  •  Link

He's been paying off a lot of ships' crews recently. To take a random example, he might like to know for himself that (say) 3 shillings and 4 pennies for (say) 2,003 sailors comes to 333 pounds, 16 shillings and 8 pennies rather than whatever some cheating pay clerk is telling him it is.

I find this amusing, but it's another example of Pepys wanting to know things for himself and not be beholden on outside experts who might try to cheat him.

Australian Susan  •  Link

It's the timber interest which seems to have prompted the desire to learn multiplication and Sam would certainly need that skill for those sorts of calulations.
I also remember doing direful sums involving imperial weights and measures - sometimes using a dip pen in an inkwell situated in the top right hand corner of my desk: not good for a lefthander (lots of drips and smudges).
What one needs to know and what education is for changed greatly in the 20th century, but I still was taught how to do fine embroidery, but not dressmaking: one had someone to do that.(I taught myself, later)In medieval England, even some Kings didn't read: they had people to do that for them. And think of all those young women in the 18th and 19th centuries who were only taught things which would help them snare a good husband: accomplishments and distractions.

dirk  •  Link

The concept of the well-rounded education would not be invented for another couple of centuries

re - language.hat

"learning primarily involved the classics; if you needed practical things like math, you were expected to pick it up on the job" - -

Today it's very different: learning involves learning the practical things you'll need for your future job (to some extent at least); as to everything else (classics, history, English even...) forget it. And so we've created a generation without a past...

Is ours a "well-rounded" education???

Australian Susan  •  Link

Well-rounded education
No, I think we seem to have veered the other way. I had a conversation with someone not so very long ago who, on being told I had studied English and History at University said "What on earth did you do that for if you weren't going to teach?" As I had always thought this was self-evident, I was speechless (rare). When I applied for the University of Oxford, you could not apply unless you had an O Level Pass in Latin: in all the boxes on the entry form for you to fill in your O Levels and the marks, Latin was *printed* in the first box: you *had* to have it. No longer!
Did this ever apply for the American equivalents such as Harvard and Yale?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Was Latin ever required for admission to the American equivalents of Oxford?

"In 1750, Harvard demanded that applicants be able to extemporaneously "read, construe, and parse Cicero, Virgil, or such like classical authors and to write Latin in prose, and to be skilled in making Latin verse, or at least to know the rules of Prosodia, and to read, construe, and parse ordinary Greek as in the New testament, Isocrates, or such like and decline the paradigms of Greek nouns and verbs." Of note is the fact that John Trumball, the illustrious artist, passed Harvard's exacting entrance exam at only 12 years of age.

"Alexander Hamilton's alma mater, King's College (now Columbia), had similarly stringent prerequisites for prospective students. Applicants were required to "give a rational account of the Greek and Latin grammars, read three orations of Cicero and three books of Virgil's Aeneid, and translate the first 10 chapters of John from Greek into Latin."

"James Madison had it no easier when he applied for entrance to the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) in 1769. Madison and his fellow applicants were obliged to demonstrate "the ability to write Latin prose, translate Virgil, Cicero, and the Greek gospels and a commensurate knowledge of Latin and Greek grammar."…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

If Latin was expected of entrants to colleges in colonial times, Australian Susan, it sure isn't now.
I was fortunate enough to have had 4 years in high school in the late 1950's, in a Southern California HS where 96% of my class went on to some higher ed -- I to Stanford and more Latin; my ex- in Connectcut in a Yale-influenced HS; but it is now more rare (Latin in her HS is gone, in mime it persists; those enrolled are 1st generation Chinese-Americans).

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Sir W. Batten's corruption

A rising theme. Pepys is determined to be scientific and businesslike in spending the King’s coin. He believes he has Coventry’s backing and is ready to challenge the old guard.

Peter  •  Link

Napiers bones had been invented back before 1618 and within a few decades were well known in Europe. Also log tables were around by Pepys's time.

Peter  •  Link

Napiers bones had been invented back before 1618 and within a few decades were well known in Europe. Also log tables were around by Pepys's time. Also for £sd the calculation was performed on the counting table.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"an hour’s being with him at arithmetique (my first attempt being to learn the multiplication-table)"

"The neglect of the quadrivium in his education comes as a shock to modern readers....Pepys' ignorance had been shared in his youth by no less a person than John Wallis,...the most distinguished English mathematician before Newton.... [Wallis] had never heard of arithmetic until, when he was about fifteen, his brother, who was destined for trade, rather than the professions, lent him the textbook he was studying.... [Wallis later wrote:] 'Mathematics (at that time, with us) were scarce looked upon as Academical Studies, but rather Mechanical--as the business of traders, merchants, seamen, carpenters, surveyors of land, and the like.' It is significant that Pepys chose for his tutor a mate in the navy who had practical need of arithmetic....Familiar as [Napier's bones] may have been throughout the century, Pepys apparently first heard of them in 1667...."…

Marjorie Hope Nicolson , Pepys' Diary and the New Science, (1965), pp. 8-10.

Bill  •  Link

"(my first attempt being to learn the multiplication-table)"

A point that should not be overlooked is that multiplication is difficult! Not for us, perhaps, we have a good algorithm (and lots of paper). Multiplying 2 large numbers together was a problem, not just for Pepys, but for many others in his time. In August he will mention an alternative algorithm for multiplying, he called it the "off square," and found out, though easier, it overcharged the king when calculating the volume of a large piece of wood.

Here is my annotation about that method:…

john  •  Link

Pepys, Imprimatur of Principia: I am tickled pink learning this -- I remember looking at Principia as a graduate student long before I knew of the diary.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re ‘viall’: OED has:

‘viol, viall n.1 < Anglo-Norman and Old French viele,
1. a. A musical instrument (in common use from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century) having five, six, or seven strings and played by means of a bow. Now Hist. or arch.
. . 1664 S. Pepys Diary 28 Sept. (1971) V. 282 At home I find Mercer playing on her Vyall, which is a pretty instrument . .

2. a. With distinctive modifiers, denoting esp. the form or tone of the instrument.
. . 1664 S. Pepys Diary 5 Oct. (1971) V. 290 The new instrument was brought, called the Arched Viall..being tuned with Lutestrings and played on with Kees like an Organ . . ‘

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