Tuesday 9 September 1662

At my office betimes, and by and by we sat, and at noon Mr. Coventry, Sir J. Minnes, Mr. Pett, and myself by water to Deptford, where we met Sir G. C., Sir W. B., and Sir W. P. at the pay of a ship, and we dined together on a haunch of good venison boiled, and after dinner returned again to the office, and there met several tradesmen by our appointment to know of them their lowest rates that they will take for their several provisions that they sell to us, for I do resolve to know that, and to buy no dearer, that so when we know the lowest rate, it shall be the Treasurer’s fault, and not ours, that we pay dearer.

This afternoon Sir John Minnes, Mr. Coventry, and I went into Sir John’s lodgings, where he showed us how I have blinded all his lights, and stopped up his garden door, and other things he takes notice of that he resolves to abridge me of, which do vex me so much that for all this evening and all night in my bed, so great a fool I am, and little master of my passion, that I could not sleep for the thoughts of my losing the privilege of the leads, and other things which in themselves are small and not worth half the trouble. The more fool am I, and must labour against it for shame, especially I that used to preach up Epictetus’s rule: τὰ ἐφ ἡμῖν κἰ τἀ οὐχ ἐφ ἡμῖν.1

Late at my office, troubled in mind, and then to bed, but could hardly sleep at night.

34 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

Had it been his lights that were blinded, and his door stopped up, Pepys would be displeased too; so why the double standard? To treat others as you would not be treated is to buy trouble and be, as he says, a "fool." So what is this bright man thinking?

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

Neighbour trouble.
It appears that Sam did not appease Sir John yesterday who is still bearing a grudge, which might have more to do with an old naval man promoted out of his depth resenting this bright young upstart. However, Sam is sharp enough to realise that he has pushed his luck too far and that has caused his sleepless night.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sam is cross with himself, I think, for not having realised what he was doing: he knows the law and knows he has done wrong and is kicking himself for not having realised earlier - now he will have to undo a lot of his work. I wonder why he didn't realise what trouble his renovation work was causing? We have had many references to him "being with his workmen" - indeed he recently spent a whole day supervising them. You would have thought he would have seen that what they were building blocked off the light going into next door's windows. As well as the Greek Sam refers to, he might also remember the serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those that I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Douglas Robertson  •  Link

It seems pretty likely that the Serenity Prayer, being the work of one of the most prominent theologians of the 20th-century (Niebuhr), was partly inspired by this very rule of Epictetus (or by a prescription to the same effect to be found in the writings of one of the other Stoics).

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

Qu: betimes, meaning ? before time of sitting ?

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

"...and stopped up his garden door,..." Minnes blocked from using his Jacques? [Privey, Outhouse]

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

Has anyone access to the phrase [A phrase in Greek is omitted from the transcript]thanks.

Linda F  •  Link

re: the garden door: are these roof gardens? from the 1700s on in New Orleans (brief and on point; i promise) people lived on their rooftops as well as indoors, and could walk from one house to another along the rooves to visit; some kept small roof gardens. it seems to me that Sam is most upset about losing the privilege of the leads: as i understand it, freedom of access to walk along joined rooves of the houses in the evening for the air: he was quite upset when (was it Lady B?) objected to his door/ access. he prevailed then; to lose that now would be a huge blow: it seems to be one point defining his status (privilege) among them. how can he retain this privilege as some housetops (but not all? not Minnes's?) are raised? (is Minnes next dooe?) as for tossing and turning, Sam had a higher standard (to master his emotions) than those of us who consign ourselves to occasional sleepless nights and reach for a good book.

ellen  •  Link

Betimes means in good time

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

Life of pre auto, goggle box, be of simple pleasures of enjoying nature, and people, in my estimation, affluence has dulled the taste for a good sharing of each others unsophisticated ways, we make fun of the home made cake and darned socks. Sam shows us a life style we could enjoy if we be not wrapped in fear of failure.
The Leads be a wonderful place to watch the traffic of the Tems, Thames street, and entertain one self instead of staring a box with glass window with funny pictures. [a case of light blinding us]

Paul Chapin  •  Link

I think Australian Susan has it exactly right.
Sam's ire is at himself, not at Sir John.

Bergie  •  Link

For "betimes," the OED gives four senses. The third is "At an early hour, early in the morning." One supporting quotation comes from this selfsame diary, 1 Sept. 1663: "Up pretty betimes, and after a little at my violl, to my office."

Australian Susan  •  Link

I am unclear as to exactly what else Sam has blocked by his building upwards apart from the light getting to his neighbour's windows. I am assuming that the Battens are on one side of Sam and Sir JM on the other. How has Sam adding an extra storey blocked the Minnes' door into the (communal) garden in the Navy Office Court? Or is it a roof garden, not the garden in the Court? Also, *why* is there a earth closet on the roof? And exactly whose roof is it on? We know that these houses had "houses of office" in the cellars. Having one on the roof makes no sense - it would be appalling to dispose of the contents (bringing them down through the house). One of the first improvements which Sam made to his house after he moved in was to make a door onto the leads, so presumably he still has that and has the right to go out onto his own roof. Or has the extension changed all this. I cannot get a clear picture in my mind of all this.

udge  •  Link

Speaking as a former architect: given that Sir John complains of his windows being blocked, it is more likely that the workmen have added onto the depth (or width) of the house, than that they built up an extra floor. (An extra floor would cast a shadow onto JM's roof, not his windows.)

My guess is that JM's house was previously deeper (away from the street) than Sam's, and had windows on the side wall facing into Sam's garden. Sam's addition (building out into his garden) blocks or overshadows these windows.

BTW, the issue of windows looking onto the neighbour's property, and their right of light, remains to this day a vexed issue in densely built cities like London and Amsterdam.

Mary  •  Link


We just don't have enough information to explain these disparate elements. As regards Sir John's lights, it is possible that his quarters already enjoyed the provision of a roof-extension and that Pepys' works have spoiled the light/views afforded by this.

As regards access to the garden, we heard long ago that Pepys had caused a new back door to be created in his own quarters, but I do not recall any mention of this work necessitating blocking someone else's access.

As for a house of office at roof-level, this seems inconcievably impractical unless we are concerned with a small, private enclosure (complete with chamber-pot) that could be used from time to time simply in order to avoid the inconvenience of having to descend flights of stairs to the regular house of office when one was taking the air upon the leads. A maid could be expected to take care of cleaning this article as she took are of all other chamber-pots in the house.

Xjy  •  Link

Here's my note from yesterday...

Can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but "betimes" is pure Germanic. One modern Swedish word for early is "bitti" as in "i morgon bitti" - early tomorrow. This is short for the older "bittida" very early, borrowed from Low German "bi tide" in time. "Tid" in Swedish means time, cf yuletide etc.

Red Robbo  •  Link

Ownership of rights.
I have assumed that these residences are provided as one of the perks of the job, and therefore are not owned by the tenants, but by the Crown/Navy, and that any alterations would be funded and approved by the Navy board.
Consequently, Sam's use of Epictectus's rule seems appropriate as TECHNICALLY none of these problems are his responsibility

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

I think Mary has got it right. I have an old bakery building (mid 1800's) which is 18 inches from the building next door. I only realised when I had to climb onto my roof that the next door building had three bedroom(?) windows which would have been deprived of virtually all light when mine was built - I can imagine words being exchanged then!
Regarding the office on the roof - did they have gutters? In which case liquids could be disposed of easily.

Martin King  •  Link

I believe that with a cry of "gardez l'eau", pronounced "gardyloo" (watch out for the water), the contents of the chamber pot were thrown out of the window (or off the leads), to end up in the thoroughfare below

Terry F,  •  Link

"Epictetus's rule: [A phrase in Greek is omitted from the transcript. P.G.]”

L&M note that “Dr. Luckett writes: Pepys is loosely paraphrasing, or inaccurately recalling, Epictetus (*Encheiridion* 1.1): * τών οντων τά μέν έστιν εκ εφ ήμιν, τά δε ουκ εφ ώμιν” (‘Of things, some are in our power, others are not’). He accidentally writes “ουχ” for “ουκ”…: the slip is a natural one given the extensive use of ligatures in the seventeenth century. That it was a consequence of accident rather than of ignorance is demonstrated bu his correct use of “ουκ” at iv.16.)”

Mentioning Reinhold Niehuhr’s “Serenity Prayer” here is on topic: he had indeed read the Encheiridion and wrote the prayer for himself after an encounter after a lecture with auditors who persisted in misundersanding his main point — vexed at himself. like Sam he recalls Epictetus.

In a more extreme circumstance: The historical model for “Colonel Nicholson” the hero of “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957)( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt00502… ), Lieutenant-Colonel Philip Toosey ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil… ), attributed his strategy and the high survival-rate of his troops to the lessons of the Enchiridion, esp. this one, which he had read in school, according to an article by his friend Yvor Winters, published in Stanford Magazine.

Ruben  •  Link

"gardez l'eau"…
sometimes it may be worst than just “water”…
As I red today yesterday’s entry I wrote there a few lines that now I feel belong to todays entry. So I will copy it.

I saw in an old German castle (near Dortmund) an "house of office" built over what looked like a chimney, just instead of taking gases up took matters down. No syphon, no water, no nothing, just a hole ending three floors below. There it continued with a sink like all other "houses". Maybe that was the kind of WC installed in Sam's place.
We had a nice discussion about WC some 2 years ago. There was a nice contribution by Vicente, the annotator that later metamorphoseid into our ineffable salty pinch. Before that we also treated this matter and I remember learning from other annotators about WC working on earth instead of water, something less wasteful to the environment, but more smelly.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I remember in Norwich's "Byzantium" the story of an old woman who petitioned one of the better emperors that a great noble, I think a relative of the emperor, had built up his city house so as to block out all light in her little house. The emperor, Theophilius, I think, had the whole palace torn down.

Watch it, Sam...

Bradford  •  Link

You see why it be a great help if someone could turn up, amid the plethora of Pepysiana in existence, some hypothetical reconstruction of this combination apartment house and government bureau.

Australian Susan  •  Link

In yesterday's annotations, I referred to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Sussex with reference to privies. I have checked out their website to refresh my memory of the place. It is an excellent website, with lots of detail about the buildings. One of these (not the one with the privy!) is called Pendean and was built in 1609. This has now been restored inside with reproduction furniture to the 1630s. It strikes me that this would not be too disimilar to Brampton. Have a look:http://www.wealddown.co.uk/home-page-english.htm and then search for Pendean (the virtual tour is great, but doesn't include Pendean)

Patricia  •  Link

"Gardez l'eau" I read somewhere that the custom of the man walking on the outside, i.e. nearest the street, and the woman walking on the inside, served a dual purpose: to prevent her from being splashed by carriages passing in the street, and to protect her from being splashed by "l'eau" coming from above.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

“things he takes notice of that he resolves to abridge me of”

ABRIDGED OF, Deprived of, debarred from.
3 Restraint, or abridgment of liberty.
---A Dictionary Of The English Language. Samuel Johnson, 1756.

John York  •  Link

For UK members - I have just caught up with some TV I have recently recorded. In the first episode of Antiques Road Trip broadcast on 7 September there is a 5 minute segment where Paul Laidlaw visits the Pepys Library in Cambridge and is shown one of the volumes of the diary. You can clearly see the shorthand together with names written in long hand. It is interesting to ses the incomprehensible symbols interspersed with the occasional very recognisable name.
If you have access to BBC I-player the programme is available for download until 6 October.

Sarah C  •  Link

Thanks for the antiques road trip tip with the section on Pepys. Very good to see the diaries.

Tonyel  •  Link

Thanks JY for an interesting glimpse into our boy's library.
NB fast forward to 15.30 if you don't want to watch the rather over-jolly programme.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Great link John Y - and thanks for the time hint Tonyel! :)

john  •  Link

Castles had their garderobes and London had night-soil men emptying the pits (in the basement), those of his neighbour's occasionally overflowing (viz. entry of 20 Oct 1660).

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... and then to bed, but could hardly sleep at night."

Pepys should take advice from Martin Luther, who wrote, in the 1540s, of his strategies to ward off the devil: “Almost every night when I wake up … I instantly chase him away with a fart.”

You've done your neighbor wrong; now fix it. After all, so far as we can tell, the Navy pays for the work.

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