Wednesday 20 August 1662

Up early, and to my office, and thence to my Lord Sandwich, whom I found in bed, and he sent for me in. Among other talk, he do tell me that he hath put me into commission with a great many great persons in the business of Tangier, which is a very great honour to me, and may be of good concernment to me. By and by comes in Mr. Coventry to us, whom my Lord tells that he is also put into the commission, and that I am there, of which he said he was glad; and did tell my Lord that I was indeed the life of this office, and much more to my commendation beyond measure. And that, whereas before he did bear me respect for his sake, he do do it now much more for my own; which is a great blessing to me. Sir G. Carteret having told me what he did yesterday concerning his speaking to my Lord Chancellor about me. So that on all hands, by God’s blessing, I find myself a very rising man. By and by comes my Lord Peterborough in, with whom we talked a good while, and he is going tomorrow towards Tangier again. I perceive there is yet good hopes of peace with Guyland,1 which is of great concernment to Tangier. And many other things I heard which yet I understand not, and so cannot remember.

My Lord and Lord Peterborough going out to the Solicitor General about the drawing up of this Commission, I went to Westminster Hall with Mr. Moore, and there meeting Mr. Townsend, he would needs take me to Fleet Street, to one Mr. Barwell, squire sadler to the King, and there we and several other Wardrobe-men dined. We had a venison pasty, and other good plain and handsome dishes; the mistress of the house a pretty, well-carriaged woman, and a fine hand she hath; and her maid a pretty brown lass. But I do find my nature ready to run back to my old course of drinking wine and staying from my business, and yet, thank God, I was not fully contented with it, but did stay at little ease, and after dinner hastened home by water, and so to my office till late at night. In the evening Mr. Hayward came to me to advise with me about the business of the Chest, which I have now a mind to put in practice, though I know it will vex Sir W. Batten, which is one of the ends (God forgive me) that I have in it.

So home, and eat a bit, and to bed.

33 Annotations

First Reading

T, Foreman  •  Link

The dangers of dining ensemble vs. the virtue of eating alone

"But I do find my nature ready to run back to my old course of drinking wine and staying from my business, and yet, thank God, I was not fully contented with it, but did stay at little ease, and after dinner hastened home by water, and so to my office till late at night."

Is this perhaps the explanation of Sam's much-remarked-on recent habit of "dining alone"? Boy, did he do penance instanter!

Bradford  •  Link

And yet there are no more than 24 hours given in a day to any man; and if Pepys gets much more work thrown his way, will there be time to carry it out with his wonted degree of precision?

I for one have always disliked that adage "Beware when all men speak well of you"---when the Hell is that ever likely to happen?---but so it seems here.

T, Foreman  •  Link

"things I heard which yet I understand not, and so cannot remember."

Methinks a keen observation on the way memory works: hard to retrieve what has no hook to hang it on (context in which it "fits").

Was this a truism? I note the "so" = "therefore," as though this was well-known, at least to him: he tells his Diary there was much more told about Tangier, but he has an excuse for not writing it down.
(Interesting transaction with himself.)

A. Hamilton  •  Link

By and by comes in Mr. Coventry

The very man who not too long ago was angling to get rid of Lord Sandwich as sea commander?

dirk  •  Link

John Evelyn's diary entry for today:

"To Lond: I was this day admitted, & then Sworne one of the present Council of the Royal Society, being nominated in his Majesties Original Graunt, to be of this first Council, for the regulation of [the] Society, & making of such Laws & statutes as were conducible to its establishment & progresse: for which we now set a part every Wednesday morning, "till they were all finished: My Lord Vicount Brounchar (that excellent Mathematitian &c) being also, by his Majestie, our Founders, nomination, our first [President]: The King being likewise pleas'd to give us the armes of England, to beare in a Canton, in our Armes, & send us a Mace of Silver guilt of the same fashion & bignesse with those carried before his Majestie to be borne before our President on Meeting-daies &c: which was brought us by Sir Gilbert Talbot, Master of his Majesties Jewelhouse.”

Australian Susan  •  Link

"by God's blessing, I find myself a very rising man"
Well, he's giving the credit to God here, but it is his hard work which has done it.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I would guess it fits with Coventry's general principles and his attachment to the Stuart regime that he would like to see Sandwich, one of the last generally respected ex-Cromwellians reduced or removed at some point. By his own statements to Sam he must bear a fair amount of distrust to one who transferred allegiance however useful the Earl may be right now.

I think it's no small part of his growing interest in Sam that he's seen suggestions that whatever his attachment to Sandwich, Pepys seeks to be his own man...

A. Hamilton  •  Link

I would guess it fits with Coventry's general principles

A shrewd reading, I think. Thanks Robert. By the way, way off topic, is anyone else reading Sam’s entry about his hostess of the day being “a pretty, well-carriaged woman” reminded of the sequence in Pogo (the tale of a possum) that begins with Porky (a porkupine) saying of Miz Mamselle Hepsibah (a skunk), “Her carriage is a thing of beauty”? Pure slapstick.

Jerry Atkinson  •  Link

I was indeed the life of this office

I first thought Sam is being recognized here as the driving force in the office. But there is evidence that he is often the life of the party. How was the phrase used in the period?

Stolzi  •  Link

A. Hamilton -

I wasn't, but I remember the passage in POGO with great affection. (and when will those wonderful books be re-issued?)

"The pony DIED!"

language hat  •  Link

the life of this office:

It's basically the same use as "life of the party," but differing in the same way that an office differs from a party; in other words, it takes very different attributes to keep an office going than to keep a party going. It's the OED's definition 5.a.: "The cause or source of living; the vivifying or animating principle; he who or that which makes or keeps a thing alive (in various senses); 'soul'; 'essence'.”

Some citations:

a1618 RALEIGH Disc. Invent. Ships Wks. 1829 VIII. 323 The length of the cable is the life of the ship in all extremities. 1683 TRYON Way to Health iv. (1697) 79 Water and Air are the true Life and Power of every Being. 1720 DEFOE Capt. Singleton 73 These indeed were the Life and Soul of all the rest, and it was to their Courage that all the rest ow’d the Resolution they shewd. 1797 R. M. ROCHE Children of Abbey I. xvii. 309 They had assembled a number of their neighbours, among whom were a little fat priest, called Father O’Gallaghan, considered the life of every party, and a blind piper. 1809 MALKIN Gil Blas VII. xiii. 14 Ballets incidental to the piece are the very life and soul of the play.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Porky Pine proposes to court Mam'zelle Hepzibah, explaining to the assembled doubters: "How gracefully she steps . . . how dainty her tread . . . yes, her carriage is a thing of beauty,."

Albert(Alligator): "Hot dog! If yo' lady friend got a carriage, let's all go for a ride!"

Porky: "I only said, 'Her carriage is a thing of beauty.' I mean she walks well."

Churchy (La Femme, a turtle): "Why she walk if she got a carriage ?"

Beauregard (Hound): "Gadzooks! Maybe the pony died."

(It goes on and on in Marx Brothers fashion.)

T, Foreman  •  Link

"by God's blessing,…thank God,…(God forgive me)”

How do these differ, or do they?
Australian Susan: “Well, he's giving the credit to God here, but it is his hard work which has done it,” a POV he shares as soon as he finds himself with a glass of wine at his lips — but just sips? (“thank God” — mild imprecation), and rushes back to the office; then his usual prayer for forgiveness when he contemplates or does what he oughn’t.

Are these all throwaways? Or the first like a punctilious “signing himself,” and the last his conscience at work, as in the transparent “coded passages” — a very interesting transaction with himself as a Diarist, an internal dialogue, perhaps not entirely unrelated to the one I suggested above — that he was excusing himself now for not recalling something later.

I wouldn’t bring this up were such formulae not so frequent, or, as A.S. suggests [to me], somewhat dissonant.

T, Foreman  •  Link

(A. Hamilton & Stolzi, I GO POGO also; I'm not aware of a plan to republish those treasures; my sons will fight over my trove when I die.)

Linda F  •  Link

What hath Batten (or was it Penn) wrought? To the extent that Pepys's personal and professional reform stems from criticisms by Batten (or Penn?) about Pepys's behavior, now he is truly dangerous: learning what engages him and carries him forward in his work, reforming himself and dealings in the office, and better able to "vex" his opponents. Who can thank themselves. (This is not to deny the religious/ spritual bases of his reform(s), as the Sunday reading of oaths confirms, but wasn't there criticism of his theatre-going and drinking and general inattentiveness to duty a while back that led him to dive in and give the office his all?)

Don McCahill  •  Link

Thank God

No Foreman, I don't think these were "throwaway" phrases. The majority of people at this time thought that the will of God was instrumental in what happens in day to day life. Things like the plague and the fire (I hope this is not considered hinting) were considered by many to be punishments by God for the sins of the people, or their monarch.

T, Foreman  •  Link

Thank God

No dispute, Don McCahill, about what you say about the general mind. But I sense gradations in Sam's uses, and he writes on the cusp of changes, cultural and personal.
(1) The entries in John Evelyn's diary provided by Dirk are evidence of an emerging Baconian naturalism, which abjured mixing knowledge and faith in explanation (rejected per se by Newton and Boyle), signal a major cognitive/cultural change;
(2) Pepys himself will participate in his way in a change of mores before very long (hence the recent discussion of the “coded passages”).

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Pogo Redux (partly)
I don't know how long Phil will let us stretch this Pogo thread, but I'll mention that Fantagraphics Books set out a few years ago to republish all of the Pogo strips. They got up to Volume 11, 1954, and then apparently stopped, I'm not sure why, or whether they plan to resume the project in the future. Most of the volumes can be purchased on Amazon. You can find more details at…

Australian Susan  •  Link

God as revenger
In the 17th century the vast majority believed in God intervening in human activities to punish: they were still seeing illness or natural disasters as being visited upon humans for sins. Not just in the citywide disasters of the plague and the fire of 1665 and 1666, but smaller things such as babies born with disabilities. And this continued - even the not so credulous believed in the 19th century that the so-called Elephant Man's condition resulted from divine intervention and in the 20th century, many held that York Minster was struck by lightening and subsequently heavily damaged by fire as a result of the "blasphemous" [sic] remarks made by the Bishop of Durham.

Pauline  •  Link

"...I do find my nature ready to run back to my old course of drinking wine and staying from my business..."
Seems a consious look at who he is and where he is going in life and the stumbling blocks he needs to avoid. He (reflexively I think) thanks God when things go well and when he has made a wise decision, but he also tells us how he has worked hard and figured out the politics and applied himself to the additional knowledge he needs to do well and pats himself on the back when the wise decisions pay off.

Then he asks God's forgiveness for vexing Batten. I think he does this with relish; without regret. No different from saying "what a devil I am".

language hat  •  Link

"I think he does this with relish; without regret"

I disagree. He may not have been the most pious Christian in England, but he certainly believed in God and the possibility of hell, and felt he needed God's forgiveness. You're reading today's attitudes into a very different age.

Pauline  •  Link

"You're reading today's attitudes into a very different age.”
I considered this closely before posting above. It seems to me there is the counter risk here of forcing Sam to exemplify his age and what we know about the church and religion in 17th C. England. I have not said he does not believe in God and the possibility of hell; just that he is not going through each day in a god-fearing manner, though he uses the standard evocations. And that he rationally thinks through his behavior and where it will get him. He often curbs temptation because he has thought out the consequences here on earth—the aching head, the inattention to business, Elizabeth will find out, etc.

We need to be careful of thinking of Christianity as something that has grown and developed from then (and before) till now and that we can pinpoint a full picture of where it was then. I think at all times there have been great individual differences in the depth of belief and in religion’s importance as the backdrop of daily life.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sam as portrait of individual belief...

It's very interesting to see how Sam shows signs of acting very much as a "good Christian" of today would act...Quick nods to God, dutiful (and I believe sincere) respect and proper form, but one can see as Pauline notes that his main concern is with this world. One shouldn't overdo the idea that spiritual concerns were overriding for all in any age, though. Barbara Tuchman notes mocking of and general lack of much regard for religion by sections of society in the 14th century and even in that bastion of state Christianity, The Byzantine Empire, men had quickly found it possible to separate the more sordid needs of this world from the strivings for the next...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Ah, Tangier and its opportunities...If nothing else source of one of Sam's most fun brief comments (especially when mouthed by Mr. Brannaugh).

And the introduction of one of the diary's nicest characters...If perhaps not the best with figures. (and yes, I'll hold there)

But meanwhile, even as our Sam rejoices in the approbation and accolades coming his way...In Brampton...

Pauline  •  Link

Thank you, Robert G.
Citing Barbara Tuchman restores my confidence. Whenever the annotations veer into Sam and religion, my reading gets wobbly in face of a strong sense that more religious-knowledgeable annotators will (and do) disagree with me--something that would be wise to be strong against in the current century.

language hat  •  Link

"forcing Sam to exemplify his age":

I try to base my image of Sam on what we read in the Diary, but it would be foolish to ignore what we know of his world. And while there were of course people who scoffed at religion, as there have been in pretty much every society, I see no signs that Sam is such a person. He strikes me rather as an extremely common type in all societies, someone who believes the tenets of his religion because that's how he was taught and it makes life in a religious society much easier, but who basically runs his life in a secular fashion, doing things because he feels like it or because he thinks they'll advance his career, not because they're pleasing in God's sight (except of course for going to church -- but that too is helpful, probably necessary, for his career).

The point here, and what makes it important to keep in mind the different world he lived in, is that it was much harder in 17th-century England than in the 21st-century version to distance oneself mentally from the worldview that surrounded you. Sam couldn't subscribe to atheist journals or visit atheist websites to discuss the folly of religion; it was dangerous even to say such things in private. How would he have acquired the kind of cynical attitude many of us take for granted? It seems clear to me that he maintained a spiritual tension that is human, all too human, doing things he wanted to do but then worrying that they might get him in trouble with God and asking forgiveness, then going out and doing similar things again... This is neither strange nor despicable, it's the human condition. Even those of us who don't believe in god generally have principles that we regularly violate and feel bad about. Diets, even. To err is human.

Oh, and I seem to recall medievalists weren't thrilled with Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, so I wouldn't take her view as gospel.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

L.H. well putted: The other element of going to church, 'umans loved to be entertained, so resting for the mind and female fashions be so pleasing to the Eye, as they stand entranced while the male of the species checks out Holy parts. I doth think? that 'umans take the easy path, unless it treads on their toes. The 20/80 rule be in vogue, Twenty per cent doth take religion extremely seriously as seen by pastors that roam the streets of London town, example be Pastor Thomas Vincent who be recorded 'is thoughts in "Terrible Voice in the City" 1667, But for the most part people, just want to be, " 'umans be seeking pleasure", of course that must not be said, too crass, so we come up with a cover story.
"forcing Sam to exemplify his age": With all that be written in 17C, it still does not represent a fraction that went on. Like NY Times does not represent the way NY be, just the filtered words by a filtered group.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I perceive there is yet good hopes of peace with Guyland,1 which is of great concernment to Tangier. "

Intelligence and espionage in dealings with Ghailān and Spain over Tangier.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

When Pepys visits Montagu, I'm guessing he visits him at the Wardrobe. Or is the Wardrobe an "office" address, and the family sleep and entertain privately at Montagu House?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"When Pepys visits Montagu, I'm guessing he visits him at the Wardrobe. Or is the Wardrobe an 'office' address....?"

Good question and shrewd guess about Sandwich at this point, San Diego Sarah: the L&M Index says 'P's numerous visits' to Sandwich's 'pretty pleasant' and 'roomy but ugly' (P's view) lodgings at the Wardrobe -- are not indexed', which I take to mean are not said to be there explicitly in the Diary.

Sandwich also had lodgings in Whitehall Palace 'from ca. 1654 and throughout the diary period', but if Pepys visits him there, he'll usually say so.

Al Doman  •  Link

"...drinking wine and staying from my business":

Should perhaps read "straying"?

jimmigee  •  Link

"Staying from my business" makes sense to me.
Citing Walt Kelly's Pogo in this discussion--unexpected and delightful.

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