Monday 9 July 1666

Up betimes, and with Sir W. Pen in his coach to Westminster to Sir G. Downing’s, but missed of him, and so we parted, I by water home, where busy all the morning, at noon dined at home, and after dinner to my office, where busy till come to by Lovett and his wife, who have brought me some sheets of paper varnished on one side, which lies very white and smooth and, I think, will do our business most exactly, and will come up to the use that I intended them for, and I am apt to believe will be an invention that will take in the world. I have made up a little book of it to give Sir W. Coventry to-morrow, and am very well pleased with it.

Home with them, and there find my aunt Wight with my wife come to take her leave of her, being going for the summer into the country; and there was also Mrs. Mary Batelier and her sister, newly come out of France, a black, very black woman, but mighty good-natured people both, as ever I saw. Here I made the black one sing a French song, which she did mighty innocently; and then Mrs. Lovett play on the lute, which she do very well; and then Mercer and I sang; and so, with great pleasure, I left them, having shewed them my chamber, and 1000l. in gold, which they wondered at, and given them sweetmeats, and shewn my aunt Wight my father’s picture, which she admires.

So I left them and to the office, where Mr. Moore come to me and talking of my Lord’s family business tells me that Mr. Sheply is ignorantly, we all believe, mistaken in his accounts above 700l. more than he can discharge himself of, which is a mighty misfortune, poor man, and may undo him, and yet every body believes that he do it most honestly. I am troubled for him very much.

He gone, I hard at the office till night, then home to supper and to bed.

30 Annotations

First Reading

Michael L  •  Link

"I left them, having shewed them my chamber, and 1000l. in gold, which they wondered at"

This definitively marks Sam as a nouveau riche -- I doubt that any member of an established wealthy family would do something quite so tacky.

Not to mention that advertising one's wealth in cash on hand is not necessarily the smartest move when trying to avoid attracting burglars.

Mr. Gunning  •  Link

"a black, very black woman"

A very unusual description for a European person who simply has dark hair and is not an African. I mean, how black can hair get?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"A 1000Ls in gold?!" Wight blinks at his wife.

Well, that explains that...


"Yes, a thousand pounds in gold." Mary Batelier notes to William.

Hmmn...Will thinks. Now Pepys makes 350Ls per year since '60, a 100Ls part of which went, as he always used to moan and groan to that Barlow fellow for most of that time...And he's only had the other two jobs with Tangier and victualing a short while.

Wonder how much reward the King'd pay on a thousand pounds...


"A thousand, eh? Yer sure?"

"Ay, the girl was going on and on about it...I just followed and kept mum."

"At the Naval Office in Seething?"

"That's the one. She said he keeps it in a chest. Fellow by name of Pepys."

"Oh, that one... Yeah, he'd have a thousand locked away. Well, he presses men, we press gold. Who's to say which one of us is the worse thief, eh?"

c.j.darby  •  Link

"sheets of paper varnished on one side, will do our business exactly" Is Sam thinking of patenting some advance in printing technology? What is the idea, it seems that varnishing one one side would make it quite unsuitable or is he thinking of launching a paperback edition?

cape henry  •  Link

The issue of the cash-on-premises is one that tends to fog the modern mind, I think. I agree with ML above that displaying the gold seems tacky indeed, but who knows how it appeared to Mary Batelier and her sister at the time other than to cause "wonder?" What is really difficult to grasp are the security considerations attendant to having this much cash in the unfortified home. These two women would be just tip of the iceberg of people with knowledge of its possession and whereabouts. There would be coachmen, servants, probably neighbors and who knows how many more? "Gold" is the kind of word that travels fast. It is certainly an intriguing aspect of this bit of the story.

MIke  •  Link

“a black, very black woman” I find this description very unusual and funny. But I agree with Mr.Gunning.

Maurie Beck  •  Link

“Gold” is the kind of word that travels fast.

I agree with Cape Henry about the security, especially how Pepys previously seemed almost paranoid. I guess his vanity got the best of him.

cgs  •  Link

The description given and parsing of the grammatical Peeps leads me to another conclusion that she be a mayde, a third member besides the two sisters , the betters always had people around, never to be spoken of, unless they made a noise worthy of being noticed like picking ones nose.
Samuell and ilke never mention those that do all the work and do it without fuss, they only get a mention when they make a booboo.

tg  •  Link

Concerning the varnished paper. I wonder if he meant the varnish to be a preservative for the paper or to make the paper stronger for its intended use of important public documents like bills or writs or orders for pressing or whatever else Sam had a mind to implement.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

The varnished paper

SP first sought out Lovett "in order to my having of some papers fitted with his lines for my use for tables and the like." (… ) which I think he intended for use as templates for ruling accounting paper and similar.

I differ from the L&M footnote to today's text, to me this appears to be a different project that started at the end of last month: "Thence to Lovett’s, who has now done something towards the varnishing of single paper for the making of books, which will do, I think, very well."…

I wonder if SP is having the paper varnished so that it can be used as an easily erasable surface for pencil / graphite note taking in small pocket memorandum books, in these days paper is still a significant expense. I have seen such small pocket note books from the mid / late eighteenth century, sometimes the erasable leaves are formed from thin sheets of ivory.

andy  •  Link

easily erasable surface for pencil / graphite note taking

sounds plausible, would it be erasable by washing off with water?: and if not, would it therefore be suitable for use on board ships?

{I have a mental image of the english-speaking world this weekend bent over a varnish pot and brush, drying the paper in the sun, waiting to carry out this experiment...}

GrahamT  •  Link

When I read about this varnished paper I thought it was to be varnished after printing to protect the print - like modern laminating - but it seems this is blank or lined paper.
In which case it must be for pencil (or charcoal), as water or oil based ink wouldn't bind to the surface and would smear. Modern glossy printing papers have a layer of gelatine, gypsum, or other absorbant material to hold the ink.
Perhaps the idea is to write on the unvarnished side then fold it so that the varnished side protects the contents when sealed along its edges.
I like Andy's idea of all us Pepys readers experimenting by varnishing sheets of paper over the weekend.

Garry A  •  Link

I thought the varnished paper would be used with pencil or wax pencil, at sea perhaps. Both American and Russian astronauts used wax pencils, I think.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... then Mrs. Lovett play on the lute, which she do very well; ..."

Methinks the Pepys preoccupation with paper and varnish has more to do with the wife, and not just her skill with the lute ... methinks SP wishes his lute strummed and varnished ...

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"having shewed them my chambers and 1000 L in gold"
methinks he showed them the gold as a commodity, otherwise it would have been an awkward pass to a menage a trois.

JWB  •  Link

varnished paper:
"Up, and set my people, Mercer, W. Hewer, Tom and the girle at work at ruling and stitching my ruled book for the Muster-Masters,..."…

Bradford  •  Link

Garry A's idea of paper that would be durable for shipboard use, amid high humidity, makes sense with Pepys's ever-endeavouring to do the King's (and his own) service. Certainly, as GrahamT says, by the 1780s and 1790s pocket notebooks which would take pencil writing, as well as erasure, were in common use---Coleridge wrote in a profusion of such notebooks at the time.

Peter  •  Link

I wonder if he meant the varnish to be a preservative for the paper or to make the paper stronger for its intended use of important public documents like bills or writs or orders for pressing or whatever else Sam had a mind to implement.

cgs  •  Link

The unvarnished truth:
"...who have brought me some sheets of paper varnished on one side, which lies very white and smooth and,..."

my thoughts:
Varnish was any kind of covering after or preparation before the application of materials for work be done by other materials, today we say undercoating or coating and reserve the word varnish for the final varnished truthful finish so no more work can be done,as in a portrait.
In this age of 17C of trial and error it would be a preparation of materials for paper to be glossy on one side so that the ink will not saturate, bleed and smear, not unlike to-day's white papers, not like the art paper that the fibers allow for bleeding, then paper be easily saturated by the ink so a writer had to watch the amount ink put on his nib.

cgs  •  Link

Japon lacquer and other finishings;
varnish, v.
[ad. OF. verniss(i)er, vernic(i)er (F. vernisser), or verniss-, vernir, f. vernis VARNISH n. Cf. med.L. and It. verniciare, Pg. envernizar, Sp. barnizar.]

1. a. trans. To paint over, to coat, with varnish; to overlay with a thin coating composed of varnish.
604 E. G[RIMSTONE] D'Acosta's Hist. Indies IV. xxix. 288 They bringe likewise from this Province oyle of Aspicke, which..Painters vse vernish the pictures.

b. transf. To invest with a bright or glossy appearance; to smear or stain with some substance similar to varnish.
1664 POWER Exp. Philos. I. 11 Her eyes are..of a pure golden colour, most admirable to behold, especially when varnish'd with a full light.

2. To embellish or adorn; to improve, trick out, furbish up.
1639 G. DANIEL Vervic 720 My Name, which stood The Boast of Fame, I varnish't with my Blood. 1699 BENTLEY Phal. 162 To dress up and to varnish the Story of Pausanias.

3. To cover or overlay with a specious or deceptive appearance; to gloss over, disguise.
1649 DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN Skiamachia Wks. (1711) 198 Wicked Counsels may be varnished with the shining Oil of sly Pretences.

[ad. OF. vernis (varnis), verniz (12th c.), = Prov. vernis, -nitz, Pg. verniz, It. vernice, Cat. barnis, Sp. barniz, of unknown origin. Cf. med.L. vernicium and vernix (bernix), med. Gr. {beta}{epsilon}{rho}{nu}{giacu}{kappa}{eta}, mod.Gr. {beta}{epsilon}{rho}{nu}{giacu}{kappa}{iota}. French is also the source of MHG. firnîs, G. firnis(s, Du. vernis, Da. fernis, Sw. fernissa.]
Varnish n1
1. a. Resinous matter dissolved in some liquid and used for spreading over a surface in order to give this a hard, shining, transparent coat, by which it is made more durable or ornamental.
In early use, dry resinous matter for making a solution of this kind.

1638 JUNIUS Paint. Ancients 285 Apelles..did by an inimitable invention anoint his finished workes with..a thinne kinde of inke or vernish. 1658 tr. Porta's Nat. Magic XVI. 341 Powder Iuniper-gum, which Scriveners call Vernish, and add it to the rest.

c. A solution of this kind spread on a surface; the coating or surface so formed.
1643 Plain English 13 Posts whose varnish is..worne off. 1662 EVELYN Chalcogr. 9 Not much unlike to our Etching with points and Needles on the Vernish.

Jesse  •  Link

"paper varnished on one side"

The google book seems to have varnished paper under the more general heading of medicated(?) papers.

I thought maybe here's an early version of glossy paper… which offers a certain attractiveness (aside from erasability) for it's smooth service - assuming the varnished paper came out smooth.

FJA  •  Link

Varnished paper.
Reading through the above notations I gather that whatever Sam's intended purpose for these pages, the experiment did not stand the test of time or else, proud as he is today, there would be some example of the stuff in his library and we would all know what he is talking about.

cgs  •  Link

paper making in England still in its infancy in 17C:
some leads here for those wish to know:

first maker john tate of Hertford…
Britain's first commercially successful paper-mill was established on the River Darent in Dartford as early as 1588. This paper-mill was set up by John Spilman ( Spielman), a German entrepreneur who became 'Goldsmyth of our Jewelles' to Elizabeth I and James I. He manipulated the favor and patronage of successive monarchs to ensure that he had a virtual monopoly of the paper industry.…

Some 37 paper mills existed in England between 1588 and 1650, most were involved with the production of inferior quality brown paper. The trend towards the production of white paper came later after Spilman's monopoly was broken.…

lifted from…

cgs  •  Link

in 1663 it is claimed that England imported 100,000l worth from Holland and Holland got is supply from France, then the leading rag paper[some was English rag too ]user.

same source said P47; paper taxed 1696 at 25 % on all imported paper , to stimulate home made.
English paper was brown [still today, used by government departments] and the coarsest of white from 100 mills...…

further reading on linen paper.…

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"my aunt Wight with my wife come to take her leave of her, being going for the summer into the country"

L&M: The Wights had a house at Artington, near Guildford, near Surrey.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I am troubled for him very much. "

L&M: Edward Shipley (steward at Hinchingbrooke) was in 1669 dismissed from Sandwich's service for incompetence.

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