Saturday 28 March 1663

Up betimes and to my office, where all the morning. Dined at home and Creed with me, and though a very cold day and high wind, yet I took him by land to Deptford, my common walk, where I did some little businesses, and so home again walking both forwards and backwards, as much along the street as we could to save going by water.

So home, and after being a little while hearing Ashwell play on the tryangle, to my office, and there late, writing a chiding letter — to my poor father about his being so unwilling to come to an account with me, which I desire he might do, that I may know what he spends, and how to order the estate so as to pay debts and legacys as far as may be. So late home to supper and to bed.

31 Annotations

First Reading

TerryF  •  Link

Today's episode in the Pepys family financial affairs...

In which our boy is not insensible to how difficult it can be for a father to give an accounting/justification of his family management skills to a son, no matter how capable the latter has proved himself to be...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Think I'd be unable to remind my well-meaning son that Brampton was left to me during my lifetime. Of course John may have been given no control over the estate outside the right to live at the house and Sam does seem to be settling the debts of the estate at his own expense.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"and so home again walking both forwards and backwards"

Great image -- Sam and Creed walking backwards to protect themselves from the "high wind." Certainly they followed the street to avoid the even colder and windier conditions on the water, rather than to avoid the cost of the transport...?

Gary J. Bivin  •  Link

I took "forwards and backwards" to mean "going and returning".

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

I see your point, Gary, but he already says that he took Creed "by land" to Deptford (his "common walk"), so that covers the going part. (I assume the wind was at their backs on the way there.) It's only on the way back that he talks about walking "forwards and backwards." Plus, I don't remember him ever using those words as substitutes for going and returning, so that's why I took the phrase literally.

Stolzi  •  Link

I know we learned what the "tryangle" really is, but I have a mental picture now of Ashwell holding a modern triangle up in one hand and striking it with the little stick in the other, smirking all the while:

"Tling! Cling! Clang!"

which one could indeed only stand for "a little while."

Paul Dyson  •  Link

Hooke papers on birth of modern science saved for UK
(See some earlier annotations)
James Randerson, science correspondent
Wednesday March 29, 2006
The Guardian

A 17th-century manuscript documenting the birth of modern science has been saved for the nation. With minutes to spare at Bonhams auctioneers in central London, the Royal Society agreed an 11th-hour deal to buy the papers for "about £1m".
The manuscript, penned by the formidable scientist Robert Hooke, is described by Bonhams as "encapsulating the revolution in scientific understanding that marks the beginning of the modern world. Few memorials of the scientific revolution can have greater resonance." The guide price ranged from £1m to £1.5m.

Lord Rees of Ludlow, the president of the Royal Society, said: "This is great news for science and great news for Britain. Robert Hooke was a colossal figure in the founding of modern science, and these documents represent an irreplaceable record of his contribution. They provide an insight into one of the great minds of early modern science."

With tension in the saleroom building, proceedings were interrupted with just 45 lots to go by the Bonhams chairman, Robert Brooks. "Ladies and gentlemen, some news is breaking that I wanted to pass on to you straight away," he said.

"A private treaty sale has been concluded with the Royal Society for the Hooke manuscript and so Lot 189 has been withdrawn from the sale." There was a ripple of applause, but also a few disgruntled faces.

The details of the deal between the society and the owners who found the papers in a cupboard in their Hampshire home are murky, but the Guardian understands there had been feverish negotiations. One source said the society had been in talks with a private benefactor.

Lisa Jardine, professor of renaissance studies at Queen Mary College, London, and Hooke's biographer, said: "I'm going to break open the champagne."

Douglas Robertson  •  Link

"walking both forwards and backwards"

I like the image too, Todd (and saw it myself on first reading the phrase), but I second Gary's reading. As Sam typically makes the trip to or from Deptford at least partly by boat, he might very well find it worthwile to emphasize that on this occasion the whole round-trip was made on foot; and the part of the tale concerned with the return trip seems a natural place in which to do so. Admittedly, from a present-day grammarian's point of view, Sam seems to be saying that the alternation between "forwards" and "backwards" took place during the walk back, but this wouldn't be the first time we've had to cut Sam some grammatical slack. As for the quirky use of "forwards" and "backwards" as synonyms for "thither" and "thence"--OED, anyone?

jeannine  •  Link

"writing a chiding letter — to my poor father about his being so unwilling to come to an account with me, which I desire he might do, that I may know what he spends, and how to order the estate so as to pay debts and legacys as far as may be'
There is something in this that seems sad to me. Changing from being the child to the caretaker is a tough transition for both parties. I can understand Sam's frustration, yet perhaps there is a sense on his father's part that he isn't ready to have his son ordering his life, at least not perhaps, on Sam's time table and/or to this extent. In many cases, it's hard as a person ages to make the "shift" to let their child(ren) pick up for them and this type of seeming resistance is common. I just wish Sam came across here as a little more 'understanding' and a little less 'chiding'. Perhaps, it would make it easier for both of them.

Peg  •  Link

I'll stick with Todd's original reading. Might Sam have felt Creed enough of a "guest" that it would have been better form to treat him to a boat ride, even though Sam usually walked? Much as in NY we might treat a pal to a taxi rather than our usual subway? Here's how I read it in my 2006 head: "Even though Creed was with me, it was so cold and windy we walked both ways, inland on the streets, as far away from the (spitting, spraying, wavy, splashy, yech, cold) water as we could. Coming home it was so cold and windy that we walked backwards part of the time." The wind must have been at their backs on the way to Deptford, and on the way home they were walking into it.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"backwards and forwards"

Might this also mean that they had to keep doubling back along other streets? In order to avoid getting too much in the wind and spray?

Keith  •  Link

If the wind was so great maybe they were "tacking" back home avoiding, as much as possible, heading directly into the wind and choosing side-streets. Also dust and other wind-born stuff could make this a good tactic.

Bradford  •  Link

Now if I we only had a painting to match the many of A Lady at the Harpsichord (by whatever name) that showed Stolzi's Version.
It's a bit anachronistic, and I can't pretend it's on-message, but scroll down to the 7th photograph and revel in the sight if not the sound of Ashwell's musical soul-mate, as "Nazaré suona il triangolo":

Bradford  •  Link

Sorry, sixth photo. I was too dazzled to count straight.

Douglas Robertson  •  Link

"backwards and forwards"

Retraction of my earlier reading and tentative suggestion of a new one compatible with Australian Susan's: Deptford lies at the right end of a pronounced horseshoe bend in the Thames. If Pepys and Creed in their City-ward stroll broadly followed the course of the river, they must have been obliged roughly two miles north of Deptford to backtrack at least a full mile SSW before finding themselves oriented more or less due westward at Wapping (or its south-bank counterpart). It all depends, of course, on how closely the Deptford-to-London road or roads hugged the Thames in 1663.

GrahamT  •  Link

Backwards and forwards is used in the sense of to-and-fro(m) in modern English, as in "I've been going backwards-and-forwards all day between my desk and the photocopier." Personally, I rarely walk backwards to the photocopier. So, I read it that Sam and Creed walked both ways rather than take the boat in one direction.

Tamira Cole  •  Link


I think that it is interesting that a father will devulge the details of a crippling financial situation. Several parents fail to brief their children, let alone encourage them to be financially responsible, in today's society. This is a very interesting diary.

Ramona Higer  •  Link

I think Mr. Pepys adored his father. He is always so caring of him. And my
picture of his father is of a dignified, almost elegant man in his son's eyes. A fine taylor, yes, but lacking the mental acuity of his son.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

According to Tomalin, John Pepys was used by Sandwich on at least one or more occasions as a confidential agent abroad, probably to carry messages. He almost certainly provided the basis for Sam's love of music by having it in the house. Very likely, for his profession and sphere John's an exceptional man who encouraged and tried to give his son every possible chance. No wonder Sam has such respect and affection for him, even if he doesn't quite trust him to run his own affairs.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

".... home again walking both forwards and backwards, as much along the street as we could to save going by water...."

For the modern Person, thee be protected from the Driving elements by the modern shells of transportation..
I dothe think it be simple, the wind be gusting up so much, that thee turn thy back to the wind and carry on walking till the wind lets up a bit. When I be a wee chappie, I used to do that all the time, when walking to the old brainwashing organisation to do my 3 R's.
Besides when thee be walking and bragging, there be a need for the words to be expelled into the ear of thy hearer not forced back down thy throat.
Then too, Sam was saving his expense monies for, may I say it, a giffte for the new percussionist.

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Trusting Papa Pepys to run his own affairs:

The trouble is, they aren't entirely his own affairs any longer. He and Sam were joint executors of Uncle Robert's estate, but Sam is the active executor doing the work. In particular, Sam is paying the bills: even though they do not know fully what the estate is worth.

An added complication is that people of John's station often bought their daily goods on credit, which makes keeping tabs on expenditure more difficult. Sam clearly doesn't want to upset his "poor" dad, but if he's settling the bills, he needs to know what the outgoings are.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

"I did some little businesses, and so home again walking both forwards and backwards, as much along the street as we could to save going by water."

I took it to mean they walked both ways, and as he said, they did it to "save going by water." He doesn't say why he didn't want to go by water, possibly to save the fare, or perhaps to avoid the cold and "high wind," which would have been more unpleasant on a boat than on land.

JayW  •  Link

Anyone who watched this year's University Boat Race on Easter Sunday will be able to picture small boats on the Thames in high winds. Not somewhere I would have wanted to be any more than Sam.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

So much backwards and forwarding on this topic that I feel like I am going in circles! Unless somebody GPS' Sam's to and fro let's all agree to disagree, turn our back on the subject and walk away.

John York  •  Link

JayW makes comment about the University Boat Race. The section of the Thames between Seething Lane and Deptford is further downstream and much more subject to the effects of the open sea, the waves would be much bigger here. One further thought is that if they did not take a boat they would need to cross The Thames and that would mean going up as far as London Bridge, which would then necessitate coming back down stream to Seething Lane, backwards and forwards.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘backward, v. < backward adj. Compare to forward. Obs. exc. dial. Also dial.
. . backwarding and forwarding, ‘to-ing and fro-ing’.
. . 1892 R. L. Stevenson & L. Osbourne Wrecker x. 167 And now, after all this backwarding and forwarding, and that hotel clerk, and that bug Bellairs, it'll be a see the schooner.’

‘backwards, adv. and adj. < backward v. with adverbial genitive -s
. . 1715 London Gaz. No. 5323/1 To ply forwards and backwards..on the Coasts of Calabria . . ‘

Third Reading

London Miss  •  Link

The Hooke papers as mentioned by TerryF in the 2006 annotation above were saved by the Wellcome Trust who gifted the Royal Society the funds needed to buy them. They have all been digitised by the Society and are available to be viewed here online.


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Wonderful link, London Miss -- I love the disclaimer at the top of the page warning us that the science may not be up-to-date and that some of the language may offend today's audience. Robert Hooke lived a scandalous life by our standards, but I doubt it's recorded in the attached pages.
The Wellcome Trust does good works.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.