Sunday 18 January 1662/63

(Lord’s day). Up, and after the barber had done, and I had spoke with Mr. Smith (whom I sent for on purpose to speak of Field’s business, who stands upon 250l. before he will release us, which do trouble me highly), and also Major Allen of the Victualling Office about his ship to be hired for Tangier, I went to church, and thence home to dinner alone with my wife, very pleasant, and after dinner to church again, and heard a dull, drowsy sermon, and so home and to my office, perfecting my vows again for the next year, which I have now done, and sworn to in the presence of Almighty God to observe upon the respective penalties thereto annexed, and then to Sir W. Pen’s (though much against my will, for I cannot bear him, but only to keep him from complaint to others that I do not see him) to see how he do, and find him pretty well, and ready to go abroad again.

30 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link

About time the vows kicked in...

"And no attempts at padding friends' (or tolerated competitors') salaries..." might be a good one to consider.


Very pleasant dinner...

"So Bess? Any more literary efforts for me to have a gander at? You know I won't refrain from criticism as I see it necessary. Haw, haw."

Bess? A stare at the suddenly empty chair across from him...

What the deuce is bother her now? Here I am trying to brighten up her miserably lonely day when I could be out and about...

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

"...and also Major Allen of the Victualling Office about his ship to be hired for Tangier..."
Scene 1: Lets see that be ****L for ship for 1 yr,*/mth for my executive position of Provisioning same,*/mth for my Victualling same, **s per mth for my assistant to see that all be stowed, then there be a fee for bottomry????
and of course, here be firkin of Dutch oysters.
Then it be a firkin now it be x dollars,
Scene 11, 340 years later; puts bet on that put on the 9th hole [ you signed that contract did yee not].

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

I like the way he had a 'last fling' at the Duke's playhouse last night before renewing his vows today. Reminds me of eating up the chocolate cake before starting your diet the next morning.

Terry F  •  Link

"I...spoke with Mr. Smith (whom I sent for on purpose to speak of Field’s business, who stands upon 250l. before he will release us, which do trouble me highly)"

For the history of the Field matter, L&M reference 4 February 1661/62 and note… and 13 December 1662…

Much "troubling" and "vexing" of late, but the vows....

Pauline  •  Link

'The officious language here is a little humorous'
I think so, and much hope so, Clement. "[T]he respective penalties thereto annexed..." Exactly how I would be humorously officious. But I would admit a retroactive reliance on the seriousness of such a statement "back then"--and need to adjust the extra step to consider that the original was also said humorously. Losing any sense of mocking the old ways of speach by riffing now on what was then riffing as well--though we thought it serious.

Martin  •  Link

Sam resolved a week or two ago to complain to Penn about hiring Sarah. This is visit No. 2, since then, without bringing it up.

celtcahill  •  Link

‘The officious language here is a little humorous’

It is too. It is hard to tell sometimes if Sam is parodying himself purposely or if this is an element of his humor. I suspect some of both - people really good at language - this one, at least - take that kind of delight in it and Sam is a master.

language hat  •  Link

Doesn't sound humorous to me.
It's official language because he's talking about an official, and very serious, vow. Just because most people don't take such vows today doesn't mean we have license to assume Sam was being jocular about it.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

sworn to in the presence of Almighty God to observe upon the respective penalties thereto annexed

The pomposity makes me smile, and I am willing to suspect that Sam chose the words with a certain self-aware (hence humorous) smugness. But mostly I'm reminded of the lawyerly language of the Book of Common Prayer of the era. Isn't Sam's choice of words dictated by the high style deemed proper in addressing the Almighty in 1663?

A. Hamilton  •  Link

“…and also Major Allen ..."

Water writer reminds us that we are looking at an early scene in the history of the military-industrial complex and defense contracting. For a primer on how it is done today, I recommend "The congressman and the hedge fund":…

stolzi  •  Link

Sam's choice of words

My own guess was that he was reeling off the kind of language he is now becoming familiar with in his bureaucratic job - rather than Prayer-Book language.

Whether it's humorous or not I can't tell.

Terry F  •  Link

Doesn’t sound humorous to me either.
I agree with language hat: it's the uncommon quasi-legal language with which Sam indicates this is a serious and binding matter.

It may strike us as parodic because we are innured to its genuine binding legal force due to its common and routine uses in OUR time. Consider:
- End-User License Agreements we have agreed to in acquiring software;
- Credit-card terms to which we are all subject;
- In the US, privacy statements all financial institutions are required to issue periodically;
- The tax-law language we all wrestle with periodically; AND
- the 'Confidentiality Statement' appended to some email: "This communication contains information which is confidential. It is for the exclusive use of the intended recipient(s). If you are not the intended recipient(s) please note that any form of distribution, copying, forwarding or use of this communication or the information therein is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this communication in error please return it to the sender and then delete the communication and destroy any copies." (Of course, to have read it is to have made "use" of it.)

Josh  •  Link

Legalese of the "and all of the advantages and perquisites thereunto appertaining" variety, which can become jocular to later generations only after sufficient passage of time.
What could be more serious, for Pepys, than vows which, if he breaks them, will require reducing his net worth? (Here should follow an excursus on serving both God and Mammon, deferred for use in next week's sermon.)

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sam would have had no doubts as to the existence of God, Heaven, Hell, Jesus as Saviour and the concept of damnation. Of course he was being serious in taking these vows. He never scoffs at religion, only at clergy who are inadequate or services he considers undignified. We do need to remember these things. Nothing jocular would have been intended by his language.

Pedro  •  Link

"He never scoffs at religion, only at clergy who are inadequate or services he considers undignified.”

Oh dear! Dare I comment on this without causing tidal waves?

I think that the comments that Sam has made about the clergy, and services he considers undignified, show that Sam does indeed scoff at religion.
The clergy, like our friend Josselin in Essex, do have a flock to attend to. They may, or may not, do other great work as pastors, but for Sam the Sermon is the value that he judges them by. He does not judge them by any other work they may carry out with their parishioners.
Sam, for me, views God as personal, how God relates to Sam. He thanks God for his health and his wealth, and would no doubt be worried about eternal damnation. But very rarely do we hear Sam ask for God to have mercy on anyone else.
The vows have nothing, in my opinion, to do with God, they are made to make sure that Sam stays on top of his job and get richer. If he breaks them, he can put a few bob in the poor box, and all sins are forgiven. He can afford the two bob, and he does not go to the office in sackcloth and ashes.

Pauline  •  Link

'Just because most people don’t take such vows today doesn’t mean we have license to assume Sam was being jocular about it.'
I don't think any of us meant that he took the vows themselves jocularly. Not at all. This is very serious business to him. Just wondering if he was amusing himself in using the official language he meets each day at work and has met fully in the legal work to settle his uncle's estate to its fullest and most robust extent for this private--though extremely--serious vow.

Pauline  •  Link

Obviously I got the dash inserted too quickly. And obviously Pedro is brave.

language hat  •  Link

Pedro is also wrong.
"I think that the comments that Sam has made about the clergy, and services he considers undignified, show that Sam does indeed scoff at religion."
Nobody in Sam's day would "scoff at religion," even privately, aside from a few fringe elements (who Sam *would* scoff at). You're inserting your own ideas where they have no place. Complaining about the quality of the occasional sermon has *nothing* to do with attitude toward one's religion.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Commenting on hot topics, Religion be one, and His High-ness and company, be another, if yee did comment in a critical way on the Clergy, it be the quickest way to the gallows and if thee did escape that, spend some time enjoying a quality of life, being entertained by miserable lives in the Gaols of the times like Newgate, or if thee be gentry, the Tower. There be new laws, just issued about freedom of speech, you had the freedom to praise the bishops and their kin, or keep thy thoughts to thy self. This be why egality of eating cake and dunking of char bags into the Cod laden waters became popular in later years.

Australian Susan  •  Link

It wasn't until the 1690s that a Bill of Rights was first raised in Parliament and even then, with a much more constrained monarchy, got nowhere. As in A. S. points out, people had fewer rights and those that had them called them "liberties" and felt they should be confined to the "betters" of society. But I consider Sam to have genuine beliefs concerning Christinaity - very, very few Britons in those days questioned a funadamental belief in God and if they encountered peoples of other faiths, these were regarded usually as inferior heathens. Or even an inferior species: Some 19th century Englishmen believed Australian Aboriginal peoples to be the "missing link" between apes and humans, so it is not surprising when 17th century men voice similar opinions of, for example, Native North Americans.

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

Atheism and Agnosticism
I'm not sure that Christianity was quite so unquestioned as that.

From 15 May 1660 (…): "In the afternoon my Lord and I walked together in the coach two hours, talking together upon all sorts of discourse: as religion, wherein he is, I perceive, wholly sceptical"

That sounds to me like agnosticism, at the most. Granted Sandwich is only stating this in private; doubtless it would have been dangerous to espouse it publicly. I'm just saying that some people did think this way, and did talk about it with their friends.

My own view is that Pepys was brought up in an age of great piety. He seems to have subscribed, or at least acceded to, the conventional religion of his time. But I don't see any evidence that faith meant much to him personally. His invocations of God seem to me to be reflexive rather than deeply felt. The '60s seem to have been a time of reaction against the religious enthusiasm during the Commonwealth. I got the sense that religion mattered more to Sam at time he began the diary than it does "now."

Australian Susan  •  Link

Expressions of faith are not the same as faith.

I believe in gravity, but I do not go around talking about this all thetime: it is just a given as part of my 21st century world view.

Belief in God and the basics of Christianity as then known: Jesus as incarnate saviour, virgin birth, trinity, damnation, heaven and hell, were part of Sam's 17th century world view in the same way - that's what we have to remember.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

The Exception be poor old Bento, He gets the OtB from the local Synagogue [1656], and be exiled for his agnostic views, he did not like to be called an Atheist, he be just against the local Rabbi's interpretation.
He [Benedictus,Bento, Spinoza,Despinosa,d'Espinoza 1632- 167x] be ages with Our Samuell, He [Spinoza of Ethics] did live up to his last name, thorny spine.
This Period of Time, there be many questioning the part played by religion, Hobbes, Locke[1632-1678]. Then there be arguements/discussions in the newly formed Royal Society, with Newton, Boyle,Hooke,Peter Starle,Richard Lower,Thomas Wellis, Edward Bagshaw etc.,
Those that did not agree with Bishops and their version, but lacked the means to express their ideas, either succumbed, needing their daily bread and wat ales me, or else left for parts unknown like Mohawk valley.
Survival be number one choice of life, will say 3 bags full, if thy eat, in spite of the disagreements, no good disagreeing if thy starve, all one has to do, dip, remove thy offensive hair covering and smile and Say 'My Liege'or ' Your Lordship'. 'tis strange humans trust smiles, don't know why, but they do. They interpret a smile as honest thought.{girls so often pay that price, they be raising the little devil for the next 18 yrs.

Terry F  •  Link

Spinoza's getting "the OtB from the local Synagogue [1656], and be[ing] exiled for his agnostic view"

In what I deem the best understanding of his ostracism, Rebecca Goldstein argues that Spinoza had fashioned a philosophy that was a surmounting of one's concrete historical identity, in his case his Jewishness. He did express his relief that the synagogue pronounced the separation for him. See "BETRAYING SPINOZA: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity," Schocken 2006:…

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

I have no doubt that that Sam took his oath very seriously indeed: that's why it was an oath and not a resolution.

Oaths were part of the social glue which kept society together in feudal days, weakening but not gone in Sam's time, nor even today. Oaths are still embedded in the legal system. Walk on any English high street, and you are likely to see "Commissioner for Oaths" on the sign in the window of the local *solicitor's office.


I recently had to swear two oaths in my capacity as executor of a will: one was at the probate office, that I would carry out my duties in the manner prescribed by law, and the other was a sworn affidavit before a solicitor confirming my identity, as my name had been mis-spelled in the will. In both cases I declined the Bible and chose to affirm instead: a right won in Sam's lifetime, initially by Quakers in 1695, but now universal in the UK. However, I believe that most people just put their hand on the Bible!…

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

"And no attempts at padding friends' (or tolerated competitors') salaries..." might be a good one to consider."

I presume Robert refers to Sam's protection of Creed. This was NOT petty corruption: as I mentioned yesterday, Sam's duty to Creed is part of his social obligation to Sandwich, which everyone at the time would have understood. It occurs to me now that the holes in Creed's accounts might well have been moneys disbursed by him on Sandwich's behalf, or Sandwich helping himself to petty cash out of Creed's Navy chest. Sandwich, if not venial, was certainly a hopeless money manager: in future years he actually had to borrow money from Sam, who by then had vastly improved his own fortunes. So, when mocking Sam's parsimony, or anachronistically criticising it, it is well to reflect that without it, both he and his patron might have been ruined.

Life was precarious, Sam mentioned his worries the other day as to "how things would be with them all if it should please God that I should die". His parents would not be able to cope with the ongoing legal dispute, Bess would be a homeless widow, Tom would have to sink or swim in the business, young John might have to leave university, and Pall's last chance of obtaining a marriage portion would be gone.

Everything and everyone depends upon Sam: so he swears his oaths, tries to save money, is diligent in the office, cautiously invests in the odd business venture, watches his back, and tries to improve his standing with those who can protect him. He's certainly no saint, but he does his best. Fortunately he does not have to read the more fatuous advice given by people living three and a half centuries later! ;)

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Sam sounds like St Augustine when he said, "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet."

john  •  Link

The family's complete dependence on Sam has often come up in this journey. My assumption has always been that Bess was not (fully) aware of either the precarious nature of Sam's position or of their finances. I often wonder what would have been her behaviour had she known.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Australian Susan : ‘The Bill of Rights is an Act of the Parliament of England that . . lays out certain basic civil rights. Passed on 16 December 1689, . . [it] . . sets out certain rights of individuals including the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and reestablished the liberty of Protestants to have arms for their defence within the rule of law:

‘That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;’

. . Along with the Act of Settlement 1701, the Bill of Rights is still in effect in all Commonwealth realms . . ’…

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