Saturday 17 January 1662/63

Waked early with my mind troubled about our law matters, but it came into my mind that [sayings] of Epictetus, which did put me to a great deal of ease, it being a saying of great reason.1

Up to the office, and there sat Mr. Coventry, Mr. Pett, new come to town, and I. I was sorry for signing a bill and guiding Mr. Coventry to sign a bill to Mr. Creed for his pay as Deputy Treasurer to this day, though the service ended 5 or 6 months ago, which he perceiving did blot out his name afterwards, but I will clear myself to him from design in it. Sat till two o’clock and then home to dinner, and Creed with me, and after dinner, to put off my mind’s trouble, I took Creed by coach and to the Duke’s playhouse, where we did see “The Five Hours” entertainment again, which indeed is a very fine play, though, through my being out of order, it did not seem so good as at first; but I could discern it was not any fault in the play. Thence with him to the China alehouse, and there drank a bottle or two, and so home, where I found my wife and her brother discoursing about Mr. Ashwell’s daughter, whom we are like to have for my wife’s woman, and I hope it may do very well, seeing there is a necessity of having one. So to the office to write letters, and then home to supper and to bed.

37 Annotations

First Reading

Terry F  •  Link

"that [sayings] of Epictetus"

[sayings] stands here instead of a smattering of the Greek from the Encheiridion we have seen before: 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’).…

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

So, is Sam "sorry for signing a bill and guiding Mr. Coventry to sign a bill to Mr. Creed for his pay as Deputy Treasurer" because he did it by mistake, or because he got caught?

Bradford  •  Link

And by a man whom he regards as upright, and wishes to be regarded by likewise. Rather puts the lie to Epictetus' comforting truism: this choice, to sign or no, was in Pepys's power, and he chose wrong. What WAS he thinking?

(As for its "reason"ability: imagine arguing that "All things are in one's power"---delusion of grandeur---or "Nothing is in one's power"---total moral abdication. Am reminded of another undeniable axiom: "Some mushrooms are poisonous, and others are not.")

dirk  •  Link

"I was sorry for signing a bill and guiding Mr. Coventry to sign a bill to Mr. Creed for his pay as Deputy Treasurer to this day, though the service ended 5 or 6 months ago, which he perceiving did blot out his name afterwards, but I will clear myself to him from design in it."

If I read this correctly, Sam signed a note to confirm payment to Mr Creed (and got Coventry to countersign it) for Creed's work as Deputy Treasurer up to the present moment -- whereas Creed's function as Deputy Treasurer ended 5 or 6 months ago. After which Creed forged the document, erasing his name (or making it unreadable) so that the note couldn't be officially linked to him any more. (Keep in mind that this document was probably unique -- and there wouldn't be any copy available to check its contents.)

Not surprising that Sam's not feeling too good about this. On a personal level it means that he has been cheated, and it could potentially spoil his relationship with Coventry too -- although Sam thinks he will be able to clear himself "from design in it."

This looks like the aftermath of:

"Mr. Creed sat with me till late talking very good discourse, as he is full of it, though a cunning knave in his heart, at least not to be too much trusted, till Sir J. Minnes came in, which at last he did, and so beyond my expectation he was willing to sign his accounts..." -- Saturday 10 January 1662/63.

"Mr. Coventry and he and I into the Duke’s closett and Sir J. Lawson discoursing upon business of the Navy, and particularly got his consent to the ending some difficulties in Mr. Creed’s accounts. [...] Thence to my Lord’s lodging, and Creed to his, for his papers against the Committee." -- Monday 12 January 1662/63.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

I read this differently, Dirk. I agree with your reading up to getting Coventry to countersign the document, but then it seems to me that *Coventry* discovers his own error in signing the document ("he perceiving") and blots out his name. So, Sam's been caught by someone, as Bradford rightfully points out, whom he has a high regard for (and whose regard he covets).

This is the part that I don't understand, though: "but I will clear myself to him from design in it"

Is Sam saying that he's going to 'fess up to an honest mistake, or that he -- because of an agreement with Creed -- meant to cheat the King out of a half-year's wages for Creed, and will come up with a convincing lie to Coventry to "clear" himself? The fact that he goes out "clubbing" with Creed after this makes me think it may be the latter...

Terry F  •  Link

The history of "Creed's accounts" is longer and more vexing and the two appear to have been conspiring - v. esp. 11 December

"So home and late with Sir John Minnes at the office looking over Mr. Creed’s accounts"- 9 December 1662

"So we and Sir W. Batten to the office, and there did discourse of Mr. Creed’s accounts, and I fear it will be a good while before we shall go through them, and many things we meet with, all of difficulty." -10 December 1662

"we sat all the morning upon Mr. Creed’s accounts, wherein I did him some service and some disservice. At noon he dined with me, and we sat all the afternoon together, discoursing of ways to get money, which I am now giving myself wholly up to" - 11 December 1662

"Creed and I to St. Paul’s Church-yard, to my bookseller’s, and looked over several books with good discourse, and then into St. Paul’s Church, and there finding Elborough, my old schoolfellow at Paul’s, now a parson, whom I know to be a silly fellow, I took him out and walked with him, making Creed and myself sport with talking with him, and so sent him away" - 6 January 1662/63

"Mr. Creed sat with me till late talking very good discourse, as he is full of it, though a cunning knave in his heart, at least not to be too much trusted, till Sir J. Minnes came in, which at last he did, and so beyond my expectation he was willing to sign his accounts, notwithstanding all his objections, which really were very material, and yet how like a doting coxcomb he signs the accounts without the least satisfaction, for which we both sufficiently laughed at him and Sir W. Batten after they had signed them and were gone" - more of 10 January 1662-63

jeannine  •  Link

"I found my wife and her brother discoursing about Mr. Ashwell’s daughter, whom we are like to have for my wife’s woman,"....on the wings of the Gosnell disaster (who was hired with false expectations a la Balty), wouldn't you think that Sam would have someone OTHER than Balty involved in these negotiations?? Poor Mr. Ashwell's daughter is probably expecting her own suite, front row theater tickets, a dress for every day of the month, couple dozen maids of her own, a private glass carriage (all the rage now), and her own personal shopper........

Robert Gertz  •  Link

But Jeannine...Who but the Bess-beloved Balthazar to choose a pretty new companion for his sister?

"Rather attractive this Miss Ashwell, eh Sam'l?" Bess notes.


Hmmn? "Ah, just waving goodbye to the dear girl as she heads home. Trying to make her feel welcome when she returns tonight. (Tonight, tonight...Hmmn catchy)

"You're drooling on the windowglass, Mr. Pepys." Jane pats him.

"Sam'l?" Narrow look from Bess... "Are we going to have trouble? Again?"

"Ummn...Why, Bess. Ummn...Your brother chose her."


Later that night...

"Sam'l? What are you doing?"

A nervous Sam turns back from the bedroom door.

"Were you trying to catch a look at that woman? In her nightclothes?!"

"Well...Ummn...Ah...Your brother chose her."

Ever so sorry...To have gotten caught.

The deal on Creed's pay looks pretty fishy. Methinks we been set up by our Sam and he's trying to escape or excuse his part even in his own Diary.

I'd watch out Samuel, William Coventry is no fool. (Much as for the sake of representative government and democracy do I want his attempt to make benevolent autocracy work in England fail.)

I'd be "out of order" for the afternoon too, especially with Creed dogging my heels, hot to hear if his little scheme worked. Would be a great day to have Coventry or the Duke catch you at the play in midafternoon by the way.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...there drank a bottle or two..."

Hmmn. Right...

"Pon my soul, Lord bless this bottle." Creed sighs, hoisting it to his lips.

"Tis good in you, sir." Sam formally notes. "Dat...That ye should continue in some measure of your past godly ways."

"Bless the bottle. Oh, Lord."

"Aye." Sam solemnly takes said bottle to his lips.

"Now lookee here, Sam'l." Creed gets confidential, looking round the tavern. Hmmn, ok. "Twas no matter this thing with ole Coventry. Now look ye. Pepys?"

"Bless this second bottle." Sam intones.

"Amen, Lord. Now Pepys, ye mustn't be frighted by this mishap."

"God, John Creed. Coventry caught me in the act itself. He struck his name off the paybill. I barely managed to clear myself in the business. No more sir." Sam rises...Formally, stiffly. "No more."

Very stiffly.

"Ye said the other day you were looking to increase, Mr. Pepys. And you'll be coming well out of our little game with Sir John, I promise you. Now we just have to find another way round Coventry."

"Keep quiet for God's sake Creed. I've said 'Enough' and I mean it. No more. By the Mass, I won't risk my position for a few pounds."

"Pepys. Calm yeself, no one suspects you of wrongdoing, an innocent sheep as you are. But, clearly we must look to the Almighty to offer another way. Bless the bottles."


Australian Susan  •  Link

"Clear myself..."
I read this as Sam intending to explain to Coventry (not sure how) that although he has signed this, he, Sam, did not plan it or inititate it.

China alehouse

Anyone know why an alehouse is called this?

Clement  •  Link

Explaining to Coventry.
I agree with Australian Susan, and can't imagine how he can possibly explain whatever support he gave Creed's petition without sounding disingenuous at best, and blatantly crooked at worst. (And after all the rogueish charges he's levelled at Creed, Batten, Penn et al!)

Considering how long political memories are that would land one in the tower it's not likely that he will admit any larcenous intent--though he must have had some, else how can we explain galavanting with Creed today rather than defaming him as a knave and blackguard for dragging Sam into his attempted theft? Was there a plan to share spoils? With Terry F's collection it seems so.

It's probably better that he keep quiet and let whatever questions Coventry has about Sam's conduct remain unanswered.

Clement  •  Link

"...but I will clear myself to him from design in it."
This sounds increasingly like impossibly wishful thinking, as if Sam can't quite believe that he has gotten himself into this highly compromised position.

(but re: Ashwell, I'm still chuckling over her own personal shopper)

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

This situation calls for Spinoza, who dothe age with our Samuell and Spinoza has acted on going with his conscience vs going along with the powers, that control his three essentials, Food, shiffs and paliasse.
I be a bit confused with the exact error he hath made, Fudging of books and padding have been mentioned before and it appears that justification of expenses and overpayments be the norm. Once, when Sam became the Admirals PA and was told to have a few extra ghosts, helping with the piping the goodies aboard.
What be the Crime then, that he can be indited on , exactly. Now we try to put in cross checks so that a check does not end up in the incorrect pocket [ Sometimes they work, too many incidences lately to make a person wonder about the wandering cash]

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Either you all are cynics, or I'm a naif.
I'm inclined to give Sam the benefit of the doubt here, and allow the possibility of an honest clerical error. I doubt that Sam engrossed this document himself, that was probably some GS-2 [US Government-speak for a low-level clerical employee] doing a stack of such work and dating all with the present date. Then Sam signed it without reading it carefully, which is what he's sorry about, and which allows him honestly to tell Coventry he had no "design in it."

Paul Chapin  •  Link

and I meant to add ...
I think if he had done this deliberately, he would have reported the incident very differently in his diary.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Yes, I think Paul's explanation of this works. Maybe many of us are getting far too cynical..... Me, I blame Robert's hilarious dialogues!

Pedro  •  Link

China alehouse

Presumably so called as it sells China Ale. Isaac Newton once had 8 pence worth!

And for the price of other things he bought see...…

andy  •  Link

...signing a bill and guiding Mr. Coventry to sign a bill ...though the service ended 5 or 6 months ago...home to dinner, and Creed with me...

Confessing to the diary doesn't remove the whiff of corruption here, Sam!

1 The Claim is false and Sam knows it's false.
2. Sam got it signed and countersigned it (or vice versa)
3. Sam is chummy with the chap who immediately benefits (and see all the other telling entries from Terry F.)

Sam shredded Bess' embarrassing and accurate letter - would he prefer to shred this document too?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Be interesting if Sam pulls it off, Coventry being the man who starts by assuming all men to be knaves. Rather sad if Sam has earned that much trust from him, though not unusual-the heart has been doing in clever and cynical men who thought they were above it since long before Caesar and Brutus.

"Pett, did you happen to catch what young Pepys tried to pull this morning?" Coventry smiles at Pett who rolls eyes.

"Lord, I was going to say something Coventry but you squashed him so quick I felt it best left to you. That Creed put him up to it no doubt. Six months' extra pay?"

"Yes. Well, all men are knaves though I still have hopes for Pepys. Creed being Sandwich's man he does have to be careful. But I think it may be time to put a bit of a little of the fear of God in our Misters Pepys and Creed."

Or, maybe it was just...

Imperial theme from Star Wars...The Duke of York's closet...

"Speak, Coventry."

"My Lord, young Pepys' transition to the Dark Side is almost complete." Coventry waves the infamous paybill.

"Good....Good...Soon I will have a new and youthful apprentice to help run my future autocratic government."

Hmmn...Coventry blinks.

"But you'll always be my special guy, Will." the Duke assures him...


Xjy  •  Link

"... Misters Pepys and Creed ..."
Pedantic Brit note: not misters but messrs (pronounced messers)...

language hat  •  Link

I disagree with Paul.
Much as I'd like to give Sam the benefit of the doubt, the excerpts Terry F helpfully provides are damning. We have to remember that, as Master Scripto saith, fudging was commonly accepted back then (as it is still to a surprising extent), but I think paying someone for six months' work when he was no longer on the payroll would have been beyond the bounds even then. I expect Sam will be able to talk his way out of it; hopefully he will learn a lesson about how far to go in helping out a friend.

language hat  •  Link

"that [sayings] of Epictetus"

I'm not sure why the bracketed word needs to be supplied -- the sentence is clear enough without it -- but it should be "saying," not "sayings."

jeannine  •  Link

Slightly off topic but pertinent perhaps... as I read more and more about people, events, etc. an interesting (to me at least) theme that pops up has to do with "payments" being made to people, etc. which may/may not be corrupt. Over and over I keep thinking that tracking these payments from different countries, entities, Parliament and personal accounts would be a fantastic study, but realistically far too broad for anyone to actually track. As far as history goes (and even today as the world hasn't changed much) the role of a forensic accountant/ auditor would be daunting but fascinating in what it would/could reveal. Then to take those payments and link them to events, outcomes, corruptions, etc. would be amazing!

Leslie Katz  •  Link

China-ale, ale flavoured with China-root:

1659 Newton in Brewster Life, "Otiose et frustra expensa, sherbet and reaskes, China ale, Beere."

Found in the Wikipedia entry for sherbert.

Next question: what's China-root?

jeannine  •  Link


China-root = the rootstock of a species of Smilax (Smilax China, from the East Indies; - formerly much esteemed for the purposes that sarsaparilla is now used for. Also the galanga root (from Alpinia Gallanga and Alpinia officinarum…

and for medicinal purposes (which can always give one a good reason for an extra glass or two!…

slangist  •  Link


Remembering my British History of thirty-five years ago, I think it was Sir Lewis Namier who began sorting Members of Parliament by the economic interests they represented, such as West India sugar fortunes, Turkey merchant fortunes, or traditional landed gentry. Growing out of his work there is now a History of Parliament project to list all members known back through time, their constituencies and the segments of society they served. See

Australian Susan  •  Link

Did Government accounts in those days ever get audited? Does Sam have this to fear?

Forensic accounting (jeannine) and corruption being accepted today (language hat) are very present today (one local example is the Australian Wheat Board and Iraq)Sam would probably have been bemused by this - I imagine a great deal of money is flowing about over the Tangiers contracts and payments to the locals over there, such as paying grossly inflated freight charges (as in the AWB) for the stones etc to build the Mole. There is a hazy line between following local custom and bribery.
Sam is genuinely uneasy about blatant wrong payments and cheating, but at this time, it seems he does not feel quite powerful enough to follow his consicence completely *and* keep his career going.

Tracking payments - I remember seeing a TV prgramme about accounting in the Roman Empire, flow of money and trade in those days, so maybe it would be possible for payments in the 17th century to be tracked - unless someone did the 17th century equivalent of the 21st century practice of destroying the hard drives.

Australian Susan  •  Link

China ale

Following on from what has been said above about what this was, does this mean China Ale was a 17th century alchopop? ;)

A. Hamilton  •  Link

A vote for Paul Chapin's reading.

I do not read Terry F.'s citations of the Creed accounts affair as suggesting in any way that Samuel Pepys has been conspiring with him to defraud the government. Quite the contrary, Pepys notes various difficulties with the acounts, makes some decisions favorable to Creed, others against him, etc. The bill to pay Creed and the accounts may be related, but they are different documents. "I was sorry," he says, to lead Coventry to sign the incorrect bill and embarrassed when Coventry (not Pepys) discovers the error. Once Coventry takes his name off, I seriously doubt the bill is going to be paid unless it is corrected. Sam then goes out with Creed, to be sure, but there are explanations for his behavior other than a conspiracy.(Old companions, rivals in the service of Sandwich, etc.) Pepys thinks Creed cunning, but could lack proof that Creed is responsible for the billing error.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

"...and there drank a bottle or two,..." The drink be well known amongst those that need to be cured of Great Pox. I dothe think, he tells not all, as Creed be such a Puritan yet he dothe need dyet drink, a herbal cure. What is Samuell not telling us. [see china ale… ]

Glyn  •  Link

Could Dirk or someone put an explanation about China ale in the "Food and Drink" section before we lose it again?

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

OED's "1659 Newton in Brewster Life, “Otiose et frustra expensa, sherbet and reaskes, China ale, Beere.”
my version?:fearlessly & frustrated [for nothing] payment,[for] a turky watered cold limpid drink [of lemonade],then sarsaparilla in my beere,[to cure what ales me] then I dip my fire browned lump of bread [reaskes,rusks] into a beere for a better taste.
[just be thought]

Pedro  •  Link

O Agua Escrito, não compreendo...

This sounds very much like sacrilege, turning real ale unto a shandy!

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Re Creed: he, like Sam is a "client" (informally similar to the Roman sense) of Sandwich. He was treasurer of the fleet which went with Sandwich to fetch Catherine of Bragança. Although Sam does not think much (at least) of Creed's record keeping, clearing his accounts is part of his duty to Sandwich, to whom he owes his own place. Failure do do to would undermine his patron (again in the Roman sense.)…

The other officers aren't particularly happy with with the situation, but nor do they want to take action which might be deemed to be a political attack upon Sandwich, who is still in the King's confidence, even if his star is no longer ascending. It may well be no big deal by contemporary standards, except that Coventry and Sam are trying to clean up the Navy's administration: hence Sam's embarrassment.

In fact, although Sam is loyal to Sandwich, there are hints that, given the fluctuating political tides, he feels the need to have other protectors too: hence his cultivation of Coventry and the Duke of York.

In the end, political loyalty defined Sam's career: he stood by Sandwich, stood by Coventry, and although no Papist, stood by James, in all cases at some risk to himself. When James fell, Sam's career came to an end and, after a nervous couple of years, he enjoyed a long and honourable retirement.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Finally a clue as to why Sam was so anxious NOT to be seen by Coventry over Christmas. He has been worried about this showdown for a month.

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