Thursday 5 April 1666

Up, and before office time to Lumbard Streete, and there at Viner’s was shewn the silver plates, made for Captain Cocke to present my Lord Bruncker; and I chose a dozen of the same weight to be bespoke for myself, which he told me yesterday he would give me on the same occasion. To the office, where the falsenesse and impertinencies of Sir W. Pen would make a man mad to think of. At noon would have avoided, but could not, dining with my Lord Bruncker and his mistresse with Captain Cocke at the Sun Taverne in Fish Streete, where a good dinner, but the woman do tire me, and indeed how simply my Lord Bruncker, who is otherwise a wise man, do proceed at the table in serving of Cocke, without any means of understanding in his proposal, or defence when proposed, would make a man think him a foole.

After dinner home, where I find my wife hath on a sudden, upon notice of a coach going away to-morrow, taken a resolution of going in it to Brampton, we having lately thought it fit for her to go to satisfy herself and me in the nature of the fellow that is there proposed to my sister. So she to fit herself for her journey and I to the office all the afternoon till late, and so home and late putting notes to “It is decreed, nor shall thy fate, &c.” and then to bed. The plague is, to our great grief, encreased nine this week, though decreased a few in the total. And this encrease runs through many parishes, which makes us much fear the next year.

16 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"late putting notes to "It is decreed, nor shall thy fate, &c." "

Samuel Pepys, By Robert Louis Stevenson, Part II -- "A Liberal Genius":

"Nothing, indeed, is more notable than the heroic quality of the verses that our little sensualist in a periwig chose out to marry with his own mortal strains. Some gust from brave Elizabethan times must have warmed his spirit, as he sat tuning his sublime theorbo. "To be or not to be. Whether `tis nobler" - "Beauty retire, thou dost my pity move" - "It is decreed, nor shall thy fate, O Rome"; - open and dignified in the sound, various and majestic in the sentiment, it was no inapt, as it was certainly no timid, spirit that selected such a range of themes. " http://stevenson.classicauthors.n…

Catiline by Ben Jonson


A: It is decree'd. Nor shall thy Fate, o Rome,
Resist my vow. Though Hils were set on Hils,
And Seas met Seas, to guarde thee; I would through:
Aye, plough up rockes, steepe as the Alpes, in dust;
And laue the Tyrrhene waters, into cloudes;
But I would reach thy head, thy head, proud Citty:
The ills, that I have done, cannot be safe
But by attempting greater; and I feele
A spirit, within me, chides my sluggish handes,
And sayes, they have beene innocent too long.…

Robert Gertz  •  Link


Shocking, Admiral Sir Sam Pepys...How could a lowly fellow like Penn dare challenge a man of your vast naval experience and station?

Of course after xix years of admirable administrative service, one can understand Sam's expecting Penn to show him some consideration...Still...His attitude seems a bit much. ...And...I suspect our cautious Sam tends to be careful about challenging the Admiral to his face, especially in front of superiors like Coventry, and reserves his venom for the Diary. And perhaps a trustworthy friend or wife.

Seriously, after all, what "impertinencies" could the senior officer be committing, Sam? Is he throwing darts at a picture of Jamie or Charlie or what? You're not seriously trying to tell us he's not treating you with the respect you imagine you deserve?

"Well... But...It's my Diary." Sam wails to Bess.

"You're entitled to be a petulant two-year old in your own Diary, dear." she nods. "If I'd had the chance to write you probably can't begin to imagine what I'd have come up with about you."

Louise  •  Link

I'm somewhat confused re the plate yesterday and today. Could it be that Captain Cocke has arranged a deal wherby both Bruckner and Pepys can buy the plate at a preferential rate of 500 l? Cocke has done the haggling and ordering for Bruckner already and today Pepys bespeaks his on the same terms. Otherwise why is Cocke seperately giving a dozen salts to Pepys? And even by Sam's current prosperous standards a present of 500 worth of plate for no discernible favour seems excessive. A good deal arranged for him seems more likely. The word "occasion" would need to mean "terms" for this theory to work however

Terry Foreman  •  Link

I assume "2. A favorable opportunity; a convenient or timely chance; convenience" does as much.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

So she to fit herself for her journey ... and late putting notes to “It is decreed, nor shall thy fate, &c.”

A dose of self pity at perceived abandonment: relieved by thoughts of opportunities with Mrs. Bagwell and others?
"A spirit, within me, chides my sluggish handes,
And sayes, they have beene innocent too long."

Yonmei  •  Link

Robert, you ask what “impertinencies” could the senior officer be committing? Well, from an entry in 1665, Sam and Bess probably *wish* it was just "throwing darts at a picture of Jamie or Charlie": "At night home and up to the leads [roof], were contrary to expectation driven down again with a stinke by Sir W. Pen's shying of a shitten pot in their house of office"

You know: I think when someone you have to work with throws their "shitten pot" to make a stinke that drives you off the roof of your own home, you can fairly complain of their "impertinencies" - and Bess, far from accusing Sam of being "petulant", probably lends a highly sympathetic ear to complaints of that smelly Admiral...

language hat  •  Link

"I’m somewhat confused re the plate yesterday and today."

Me too; I hope it gets explained. That 500 pounds is worth something like $100,000 in today's money, if I understand the conversion aright. At any rate, it's a lot to spend on plate.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I don't know if I believe Admiral Penn threw a chamber pot up to the roof to offend Bess and Sam...It sounded and sounds to me like he threw it into his HofO and the smell unfortunately reached to the roof. Possibly inconsiderate to have a door open...But Sam is inclined to react on any perceived slight. Anyway the Penn war, conducted largely on Sam's side, has been going on since Penn slapped Sam down over the drawing up of a contract with the then Mr. Coventry present. From Penn's pov, Admiral Sir Will has been pleasant and friendly to Lord Sandwich's utterly inexperienced political appointee since day one and as Sam has learned the ropes, has shown considerable respect to the young administrator, even to tolerating some of his actions which might merit severe rebuke in a junior officer under other conditions. Penn has clearly had his moments of frustration with Sam but generally has made little effort to remove him or check his desires. Contrary to Sam's vituperative comments, Admiral Sir Will's well respected by the Duke and what must stick in Sam's craw, by Coventry, and has held commands and seen hard fighting in the current war, which Sam can hardly claim. I try to visualize how long a fellow like Sam might last in the modern US or Royal Navy's civilian administration were he to actually challenge an admiral on personal grounds as he does Penn in words here. In fact, I suspect as I said earlier, that Sam rarely challenges Penn directly in the office and most of his spewing is confined to the Diary to allow a venting of repressed rage. It's hard to imagine Penn and Batton would stand for a great deal from young Pepys if he were accusing them of incompetance or some of his more personal Diary charges to their faces.

Still, a bright, ambitious, self-centered young fellow, however cautious about direct challenge, can do a great deal to make an older, easy-going superior look bumbling and foolish just in such things as quick measurement and naming of timber. In general I take the whole thing largely as Sam's deep desire to prove himself more than "Sandwich's boy in the office"...Though as he has become more able in naval affairs, he is genuinely increasingly troubled by the slackness on the admistrative side of things. Penn for his part seems willing to appreciate Sam's abilities though at times understandably annoyed by his cheek.

Phoenix  •  Link

I agree there has to be more to it than an act that must have been fairly common, unless to toss it at or near a neighbor was an abhorrent breach of etiquette, especially if it was knowingly done - you know - a wave, a smile and a thumps up. Perhaps Penn was one of those people we occasionally meet whom we just can't stomach and everything they do only confirms that prejudice.
How did one 'dispose of' properly back then? Anyone know? Also just how influential in administration were admirals?

Jacqueline Gore  •  Link

I think Robert's right as to Sam's excessive reaction to Penn from what Sam's written over the years. It does seem that Penn was quite kind and friendly to Sam in 1660-2 when Sam was just a fellow appointed to the Navy board by his patron who had no experience or training in nautical matters at all, let alone the Navy itself. I do think Robert, you've answered your own question as to Sam's challenging the admiral. He probably never did to his face, except perhaps when a specific matter he could stand his ground on came up, like an issue of timber measurement as you noted. I doubt there's anyone who doesn't have a superior or co-worker he or she fumes about in private. Maybe "impertinencies" is a word Sam uses to reinforce his wish of being taken as Penn's equal; I agree it's not likely anyone else did, though Coventry may have been encouraging in terms of his view of Sam's ability. Socially and in the office ranking, Sir William Penn would be the superior and so could hardly be considered "impertinent". Wrong and overbearing, maybe.

language hat  •  Link

"Impertinency," like "impertinence," primarily meant "The quality of being irrelevant; irrelevancy" (OED) in the 17th century:

1605 Shakespeare, Lear IV. vi. 178 O matter, and impertinency mixt, Reason in Madnesse.
1607-12 BACON Ess., Marriage 266/1 Some.. whose thoughtes doe end with themselves, and doe accompt future tymes impertinencyes [edd. 1612, 1625 impertinences].
1610 J. GUILLIM Heraldry I. vi. 35 Which I doe passe over.. for impertinency thereof to this place.
1699 BENTLEY Phal. xv. 486 'Twould be end~less.. to shew all the silliness and impertinency in the Matter of the Epistles.

The sense of "presumptuousness" didn't take over until the 18th century.

Teresa  •  Link

Yonmei, the "shitten pot" episode occurs later this month, in the entry for 30th April, 1666.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"how simply my Lord Bruncker, who is otherwise a wise man, do proceed at the table in serving of Cocke, without any means of understanding in his proposal, or defence when proposed, would make a man think him a foole."

For what it's worth, L&M have a footnote: The office-table, not the dining-table.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"The plague is, to our great grief, encreased nine this week, though decreased a few in the total."

L&M: Plague deaths in the week 27 March-3 April were 26 (as against 17 in the previous week); deaths from all causes 211 (as against 224).

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