Friday 24 August 1666

Up, and dispatched several businesses at home in the morning, and then comes Sympson to set up my other new presses1 for my books, and so he and I fell in to the furnishing of my new closett, and taking out the things out of my old, and I kept him with me all day, and he dined with me, and so all the afternoon till it was quite darke hanging things, that is my maps and pictures and draughts, and setting up my books, and as much as we could do, to my most extraordinary satisfaction; so that I think it will be as noble a closett as any man hath, and light enough — though, indeed, it would be better to have had a little more light.

He gone, my wife and I to talk, and sup, and then to setting right my Tangier accounts and enter my Journall, and then to bed with great content in my day’s worke.

This afternoon comes Mrs. Barbary Sheldon, now Mrs. Wood, to see my wife. I was so busy I would not see her. But she came, it seems, mighty rich in rings and fine clothes, and like a lady, and says she is matched mighty well, at which I am very glad, but wonder at her good fortune and the folly of her husband, and vexed at myself for not paying her the respect of seeing her, but I will come out of her debt another time.


19 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Up, and dispatched several businesses at home in the morning, and then comes Sympson to set up my other new presses for my books, and so he and I fell in to the furnishing of my new closett, and taking out the things out of my old, and I kept him with me all day, and he dined with me, and so all the afternoon till it was quite darke hanging things, that is my maps and pictures and draughts, and setting up my books, and as much as we could do, to my most extraordinary satisfaction; so that I think it will be as noble a closett as any man hath, and light enough ­ though, indeed, it would be better to have had a little more light."

http://mercuriuspoliticus.wordpress.com/2008/11/2…
A discussion of the project and this entry begins about 1/3 down the page, which also includes this remark and link:

"You can make out the portraits and a map in this engraving of Pepys’s later house at Buckingham Street in 1693.
https://www.british-history.ac.uk/image.aspx?comp… "

***
Dining with a tradesman at his table again, so pleased is Pepys with Sympson's performance.

cgs  •  Link

nasus impecunias: hob nobbing only becomes a problem when the laudly [gentry] one is scared that the Artisan [tradesmen] might be better informed.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"D'oh!"

"Might have known Pepys would deduct dinner from my bill." Sympson at home frowns at bill.

Oh...Tomee...Marge Sympson shakes head in sympathy.

"Ah...Excellent." Sam rubs hands, proudly observing completed closet. "Oh, wretch?"

"Ah, yes sir...Er, Sam'l." Bess scurries.

"You may observe my glorious new study."

"Glorious, Sam'l."

"Yes, you'll be in it frequently...To clean. Ah, at last to have a closet worthy of me."

"It is, sir...Er, Sam'l."

"That will be all, wretch."

"Yes, Sam'l."

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"though, indeed, it would be better to have had a little more light"

Better find some, Sam -- working in one's closett with too little light can strain the eyes...

Ruben  •  Link

"working in one’s closett with too little light can strain the eyes…"
...specially if you neglect your multifocals...

cgs  •  Link

starlight be good for some activities.

Timo  •  Link

Who doesn’t love to WFH on a Friday?

Timo  •  Link

I am already beginning to imagine Sam’s consternation when fire breaks out. When push comes to shove will we get to see how much importance he attaches to these particular possessions?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I would have thought a Master-Joiner would have more pressing things to do than build bookcases at this moment. The timing for Pepys' improvements seems ill-considered on so many levels.

Peach  •  Link

I don't know, it might be his only real paying gig. Lord knows contracting for the government isn't a this point. Gotta do something to keep the pasties on the table. The promise of cold, hard cash in a time when people are going without payment for months on end for services rendered to a broke state might make Mr. Sympson more than willing to help an officious little bureaucrat putter around in his office. And he got a free meal out of it, to boot.

john  •  Link

Peach, I think "officious little bureaucrat" is unwarranted. It is not an exaggeration to say that, were it not for Pepys, the British Navy would not have attained the power it did.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I think Peach is right about Pepys being Simpson's opportunity to earn cash ... Evelyn tells us that the plague was gripping Deptford, and that was one of the two dockyards where Simpson worked. I bet the Deptford yards were closed. But Greenwich? I haven't heard about what was happening there. Locally there probably wasn't much shipbuilding happening right now.

HOWEVER -- Englishmen did not want the Dutch to invade. These craftsmen were part of a dedicated, trained, employed, industrial war machine. I bet most of them worked, paid or not. If the money went anywhere beyond Castlemaine, it went to the shipbuilders. Simpson could have packed up his tools and taken his family to plague-free Chatham, Sheerness, Harwich or Portsmouth and be welcomed by the brotherhood.

And I agree with John -- Pepys doesn't strike me as "officious". Professional, organized, demanding, yes. But not "assertive of authority in an annoyingly domineering way, especially with regard to petty or trivial matters".

Recently I criticized Pepys for spending his holiday writing a report on his victualing activities. And the next day he persisted with Coventry until he told him that he was doing a good job, and the victualing this year was better than Povy's efforts. Pepys was prepared for the attack from the Generals-at-Sea. Having his ducks in a row and his accounts current isn't being "officious." That's the job. His continued employment -- and potentially his head -- depended on it.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

I can’t help but wonder what the dimensions were of Pepys’ closett.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

if that’s feet it’s one heck of a closett. Bigger than my living room or master bedroom.

Mary K  •  Link

Closets then and now

Nowadays we think of a closet as a small, enclosed space used for storing goods of some description, whether clothes, cleaning materials or whatever.

In the 17th century a closet was distinguished primarily by its function as a room kept solely for the use of one person; his private "office" so to speak. It would normally be a room of smaller dimensions than the rooms of the house that afforded common access but in a large house or building could be of fairly generous size, and the Seething Lane property was a substantial building. Pepys has refurbished this new closet so that it will be large enough to hold the numerous presses that have been commissioned for shelving his books. We know that these presses take up a good amount of space (as is seen in the Pepys Library in Cambridge) so this room must have been a good deal more spacious than his old closet. I don't know the dimensions of the Pepys Library offhand, but if memory serves me right it could easily be at least 20 feet long, though its width is less.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

My impression is that this closett is his old bedroom ... I'm wondering where he's sleeping now; in a room opened up by the new extension? Also, although we know the dimensions of his bookshelves when he died, but I see no evidence that the ones he's just built are the same ones given to Cambridge. Also he's not told us if he had 2 or 6 or 10 presses built. He's going to collect books for 30 more years ... I doubt he built extra bookshelves to accommodate 30 years of acquisitions. There are just too many unknowns to answer the question of how big his closett is now; it's a converted Elizabethan mansion, so some of the rooms could have been quite generous.

Bryan  •  Link

SP's Book Presses
According to the L&M Companion, Sympson delivered two book presses in 1666. By the time of his death, SP had twelve book presses to house his collection.
From the Pepys Library webpage:
"The library survives at Magdalene - to which it was bequeathed under stipulations that ensure that its contents remain intact and unaltered. It is still housed in the glazed bookcases that Pepys had had made for it by dockyard joiners over the years, and still arranged in the order in which he and his heir had left it." https://www.magd.cam.ac.uk/pepys/samuel-pepys

Wikipedia has a page on Sympson the Joiner that has some details about the presses:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sympson_the_Joiner

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Thanks, Bryan ... real information is always helpful.

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