Friday 12 September 1662

Up betimes and to my office, and up to my workmen, which goes on slowly and troubles me much. Besides, my mind is troubled till I see how Sir John Minnes will carry himself to me about my lodgings, for all my fear is that he will get my best chamber from me, for as for the leads I care not a farthing for them.

At my office all the morning, Mr. Lewes teaching me to understand the method of making up Purser’s accounts, which is very needful for me and very hard. Dined at home all in dirt, and my mind weary of being thus out of order, but I hope in God it will away, but for the present I am very melancholy, as I have been a great while.

All the afternoon till 9 at night at my office, and then home and eat an egg or two, and so to my lodgings and to bed.

This day, by letters from my father, I hear that Captain Ferrers, who is with my Lord in the country, was at Brampton (with Mr. Creed) to see him; and that a day or two ago, being provoked to strike one of my Lord’s footmen, the footman drew his sword, and hath almost cut the fingers of one of his hands off; which I am sorry for: but this is the vanity of being apt to command and strike.

31 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro  •  Link

"I care not a farthing for them"

An example of inflation. In Sam's day a farthing, in Vincente's day they could not care tuppence. And now they care not a ????

Jeannine  •  Link


Now they care not a well invested and highly diversifed portfolio.....

Australian Susan  •  Link

"dined at home all in dirt"
Anyone who has had lengthy home renovations done will know just how Sam is feeling and, yes, they *always* take far longer than you think (or longer than they told you...) He seems to have changed his mind about access to the leads, hasn't he? This whole entry seems to be from one very fed up young man. No wonder he can't concentrate on learning specialised accountantcy.

Glyn  •  Link

He may say that he doesn't care for the leads, but do we truly believe him? I think he's trying to convince himself of it because he expects to lose access to them. No more summer evenings out there with Elizabeth, watching passers by in the garden below.

Jeannine  •  Link

"but for the present I am very melancholy, as I have been a great while", interesting to note that he perceives himself to have been melancholy for a great while. Over the past few weeks he's had a flurry of activity, good visibility at work, etc. When I read this I got the feeling that perhaps most of all he just wants his home to be his home once again, and somehow got a hint of his missing Elizabeth (or am I reading into it?)

Glyn  •  Link

The rakish Captain Ferrers' diary would definitely be worth reading although he doesn't seem to me to be much of a literary man. Does this entry mean that the footman almost cut off Ferrers' fingers or the other way around?

There's rarely a dull moment when he's around anyway, and perhaps he's a reminder of Pepys' more dissolute past, ogling women and going to the theatres as much as possible - definitely a potentially bad influence to tempt the new, more conscientious Sam.

Anyway, people who haven't yet encountered Captain Ferrers (he's been off stage for a while) should click on his name and quickly skim through the dates at the bottom of his page - esp for May 19 and Dec 7).

Jeannine  •  Link

Well Glyn, if they were Ferrer's fingers that were cut off today, then his diary would probably end rather abruptly on Sept. 12, 1662!
Thanks for the references back in time- too funny -he seems like a character.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

very melancholy, as I have been a great while.
Sam has been driving himself (and his workmen) hard, avoiding wine and theatres, playing politics and living in some discomfort without a caring wife and servants.
Now he has had a setback with Sir John and is feeling sorry for himself, wondering if the game is worth the candle. We've all been there.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"which I am sorry for:but this is the vanity of being apt to command and strike"
Methinks the footman cut Ferrer's fingers or maybe not;
Tomorrow I am voting for his namesake for mayor of New York.

Terry F,  •  Link

Jeannine, if they were Ferrer's fingers that were cut off today, then his diary would probably end rather abruptly on Sept. 11, 1662!

Terry F  •  Link

"my fear is that [Sir John Minnes] will get my best chamber from me"

Can some more-than second-story person explain which chamber is in question here?

tonyt  •  Link

Pepys on TV. The UK digital station BBC4 is showing 'Mr Pepys Diary' tonight at 10.00 p.m. (and again at 1.10 a.m.). A 1 hour documentary described as 'Exploring the world portrayed by the writer, revealing his views of society'. Quite possibly a repeat of an old programme though my listings magazine does not say so.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sir J's claim on the room - all will become clear........No spoiling!

Roger  •  Link

'I care not a Farthing for them'
I remember ny grandfather using a similar expression, but then, alas, there were still farthings about when I were a lad. I remember they had a Robin on the flip-side. These days I think the expression goes, 'I couldn't give a t***'.

Nix  •  Link

"my fear is that he will get my best chamber from me" --

Perhaps the Navy lodgings were all connected internally, so that an end room could be reassigned to the neigboring apartment? I seem to recall something about connecting doors back when Samuel was moving in.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Ferrers left a diary? Interesting...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

And dear Creed was with him on the visit, eh?...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

To see good ole John...A courtesy call, huh? Just performing a minor duty for milord the noble cousin and patron...

How nice.

tc  •  Link

...the method of making up Purser's accounts...

Except for Oz Sue, no one has commented on Sam's (first?) attempts to decipher what will undoubtedly be among the most important skills he acquires- the ability to read purser's accounts, and see where and how all the money/goods/provisions Sam contemplates in bulk are actually used, wastefully, frugally or even criminally, on any ship in the fleet.

Pursers were, of course, responsible for keeping track of a ship's stores; but many were guilty of selling Navy goods over the side for personal gain- or of tapping the grog barrel!

Australian Susan  •  Link

It was a wren, not a robin! I too remember farthings..... (bet vincent does too)And it was only the last farthing, the George VIth one which had this. See… for this farthing and ones Sam would have known.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Nix is onto it!

Roger  •  Link

Yes, of course, a Wren.
Shame Pepys didnt quite live long enough to see the new St.Pauls, designed by Christopher Robin!!
Anyway, I suppose the 5pence piece is the new farthing....

Second Reading

john  •  Link

If the swordstrike were reported accurately, Ferrars would have lost the use of those fingers. Remember, these are the days before antibiotics and micro-surgery.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

"...wondering if the game is worth the candle." This phrase of Tony E's seems straight out of Pepy's time! Never heard it before.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

""...wondering if the game is worth the candle." This phrase of Tony E's seems straight out of Pepy[s]'s time!" -- Indeed, Gerald Berg!

"The more usual form of this expression is not worth the candle. It dates from medieval times, when any night-time activity had to be lit by candles, which were expensive. So some activity that wasn’t worth the candle wasn’t worth the cost of supplying the light to see it by.…

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘candle < Latin candēla . . One of the Latin words introduced at the English Conversion, and long associated chiefly with religious observances . .
. . II. 5. Phrases . . f. the game, play, etc. is not worth the candle: i.e. not worth the mere cost of supplying the necessary light . . ; not worth the labour expended.
(Of French origin: cf. Cotgrave at Chandelle ‘Le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle, it will not quit cost’.)
a1699 W. Temple Ess. Health & Long Life in Miscellanea: 3rd Pt. (1701) 119 Perhaps the Play is not worth the Candle . . ‘

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Applying an index of 500:1 to convert SP’s prices to ours gives us 1/4d = 125d = 11/- = 55p today. So Roger’s suggestion (the 5pence piece is the new farthing) is out by an order of magnitude - the 50p piece is a better fit: known briefly as a ‘wilson’ when it was introduced in 1969 (he was PM) it is now unloved and unnamed, as inconvenient for daily use as the rest of our coinage…

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

I am reading The Great Plague: A People’s History by Evelyn Lord (Yale UP), an account of how the plague came to Cambridge in 1665. She states that the day rate for casual labourers was 18d (£1 = 240d in old money) = 7.5p in current money = £0.075. The UK National Minimum Wage = £6.70/hour = £54/day approx. This implies that the wage multiplier = 720.

The price multiplier for a basic basket of commodities would be much higher, depending on what you decided to put in it, a knotty problem to which there is no correct answer. Taking 1000, for example, implies that 1/4d in 1665 = £1 now in purchasing power and hence importance to a poor person.

The price of non-essentials doesn’t matter to a poor person as they never buy them.

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