Wednesday 3 October 1666

Waked betimes, mightily troubled in mind, and in the most true trouble that I ever was in my life, saving in the business last year of the East India prizes. So up, and with Mr. Hater and W. Hewer and Griffin to consider of our business, and books and papers necessary for this examination; and by and by, by eight o’clock, comes Birch, the first, with the lists and books of accounts delivered in. He calls me to work, and there he and I begun, when, by and by, comes Garraway, the first time I ever saw him, and Sir W. Thompson and Mr. Boscawen. They to it, and I did make shift to answer them better than I expected. Sir W. Batten, Lord Bruncker, [Sir] W. Pen, come in, but presently went out; and [Sir] J. Minnes come in, and said two or three words from the purpose, but to do hurt; and so away he went also, and left me all the morning with them alone to stand or fall. At noon Sir W. Batten comes to them to invite them (though fast day) to dinner, which they did, and good company they were, but especially Garraway. Here I have news brought me of my father’s coming to town, and I presently to him, glad to see him, poor man, he being come to town unexpectedly to see us and the city. I could not stay with him, but after dinner to work again, only the Committee and I, till dark night, and by that time they cast up all the lists, and found out what the medium of men was borne all the war, of all sorts, and ended with good peace, and much seeming satisfaction; but I find them wise and reserved, and instructed to hit all our blots, as among others, that we reckon the ships full manned from the beginning. They gone, and my heart eased of a great deale of fear and pain, and reckoning myself to come off with victory, because not overcome in anything or much foiled, I away to Sir W. Coventry’s chamber, but he not within, then to White Hall, and there among the ladies, and saw my Lady Castlemaine never looked so ill, nor Mrs. Stewart neither, as in this plain, natural dress. I was not pleased with either of them. Away, not finding [Sir] W. Coventry, and so home, and there find my father and my brother come to towne — my father without my expectation; but glad I am to see him. And so to supper with him, and to work again at the office; then home, to set up all my folio books, which are come home gilt on the backs, very handsome to the eye, and then at midnight to bed. This night [Sir] W. Pen told me [Sir] W. Batten swears he will have nothing to do with the Privateer if his son do not go Lieutenant, which angers me and him; but we will be even with him, one way or other.

23 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Yeah, yeah I know he's not...But wouldn't it be sweet?

"...comes Birch, the first, with the lists and books of accounts delivered in."

"So...Mr. Pepys. At last we meet."

"Colonel? Is there something...?"

"We have mutual acquaintances, Mr. Pepys. I believe you employ my grandniece. And you know knew my grandnephew...Wayneman?"


"Please be sure to give him my regards when you reached Barbados...After the trial, I mean."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Sir W. Batten, Lord Bruncker, [Sir] W. Pen, come in, but presently went out;"

So much for the Three Stooges... "Ah, Garraway, Birch...Good to see you, must go...Pressing war business. Pepys got all in hand? Right."

"...and [Sir] J. Minnes come in, and said two or three words from the purpose, but to do hurt..."

And Sir John as the Nigel Bruce comic relief...

"Here to turn us all out, eh, gentlemen? Buh, buh, buh...Pepys? You haven't shown the commissioners that last victualing statement, I hope? Rather embarassing, you know, what? Minor office matter, gentlemen, buh, buh, buh..."

"You must be going, Sir John. Your pressing war business..." Sam, firmly.

"Must I? Oh, yes...I suppose I must have some war business being the Comptroller, eh what? Well, don't judge too harshly, gentlemen...Human fraility, eh what? Yes..."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Should Sam ever get the great film or better yet excellent miniseries he deserves, I would think this scene in the office merits Schubert's wonderfully grim piano trio #2 in E flat major, better known perhaps as the "Theme from Barry Lyndon".…

Sam at desk, tormentedly aware of his fate riding on the books the commissioners are slowly perusing...From time to time sidelong glances over from him and his devoted clerks with perpetual and offacious risings to and fro to provide the commissioners with both assistance and distraction...Perhaps a cut to a desperately anxious Bess trying to make polite conversation to a father-in-law who insists on grimly bewailing his son's fate before it's known and a brother who seems to be rather enjoying the prospect.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Great look at how capable our man really is ... here he sits, all day long, able to talk to the entirety of the Navy's finances to a knowledgeable group of men sent to examine the books. How good he must feel at the end of the day (it's fantastic when the switch clicks in your head about a job, and you realize that you really know the business).

How interesting to see the partnership forming between that "false rogue" Penn and Pepys! Wonder how long it'll last.

Mary  •  Link

"till dark night"

Lovely phrase.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

So...If young Batten is unacceptable and it’s beneath the dignity of Admiral Sir Will P...

“Bess? Remember how I said you could come with me on my next sea voyage?”

Enter (legal) pirate captain Pepys...

Deck of the Flying Greyhound...( I for one love that name)

“Avast you there! Shiver those timbers, sir! Take no prisoners! And remind the men they are to properly enter all receipts for equipment used and prizes taken in the accounts books. And, Hewer, everyone is to provide Mrs. Pepys with full receipts for food and drink.”

“Aye, aye sir.”

“Bess?! I’ve told you before I would tolerate no patches.”

“Sam’l...Tis only an eyepatch. To make me look more menacing when we assault ships. Arrh...”

Waves cutlass... “This is grand. You know I bet I could do a better job now on your stone cut than your doctor.”

“Mrs. P.? The crew wanted to know if we would be having dancing tonight on the main deck?”

“Oh, yes...” “Oh, no, we won’t!”

“Sam’l...It’s for the men’s morale...Which considering this ship and its officers, could use a lift.”

“Bess...You’re the only woman on board....” Hewer rolling eyes at the thought of Mrs. Bagwell safely secured in the hold... “...We must take certain...Precautions.”

“With this crew of clerks and elderly sailors recalled to duty? ‘Sides, French Bess, the doxy of bloody Sam Pepys has her trusty cutlass handy.”



“Sorry...I am having a grand time, love. And you never looked so... Black really suits you, Sam’l.”




“Hewer...I’d like you to look to our supercargo... “ takes aside... “...and inform our passenger that I will be somewhat busy with ship matters to visit with her tonight.”

“Aye, sir.”.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Swab down that deck! Look alive you mutinuous dogs!! Or the capt'n'll have your throats cut by me!!! You, there! You want a good flogging?!! Have at that deck, you bloody hounds!"

"Bess...No need to be so harsh on the men..." Sam'l, hissing...

"Sorry...Just supporting your authority, darling. And I am in charge of the housekeeping. Will? A word..." Takes Hewer aside...

"Tell the 'supercargo' if she wants to see another dawn to take the boat and make for land...Immediately."

"Aye, aye, ma'am."

JWB  •  Link

“till dark night”

Harvest moon last night. What the moon's phase was on this night 1666, don't know; but, Sam would not have seen according to this:
"Every month from November 1665 to September 1666 was dry. By August, 1666, the River Thames at Oxford was reduced to a 'trickle'. This drought was a large contributory factor in the 'Great Fire of London' #q.v.#, bearing in mind that many houses in London had a high proportion of timber in them - and presumably old timbers too. [ A rainy spell started just after the Fire ... 9th by the old calendar, and there was prolonged / heavy rain for 10 days early in October 1666. ] The dryness extended to Scotland, at least from May to mid-July.
Perhaps confirming an 'anticyclonic' bias to the broadscale type, The River Thames was frozen over in London by mid-December 1665"…

Phoenix  •  Link

"... saw my Lady Castlemaine never looked so ill, nor Mrs. Stewart neither, as in this plain, natural dress. I was not pleased with either of them."

Why can't I get Elizabeth Bennet out of my head?

Jesse  •  Link

"the most true trouble that I ever was in my life"

It's not exactly clear to me why. Nerves going into an audit? I don't recall anything specific (in the diary) that would cause such concern.

I'm somewhat surprised how thorough the audit, conducted by the "wise and reserved, and instructed to hit all our blots," was. I suppose it's to Pepys credit that they were able to be satisfied with everything that was documented. Why not a little more confidence?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the accounts books."

Would they have been "the accompt books" and so pronounced (uttered)??

language hat  •  Link

Not directly relevant to today's entry, but hopefully of interest to Pepys readers, is this passage from Sean Foley's "Muslims and Social Change in the Atlantic Basin" (Journal of World History, September 2009):

The Islamic element of English national consciousness evidenced in Henry V grew still stronger in the seventeenth century, as Muslim maritime attacks challenged the cornerstone of the island nation’s national mythology: the ocean was the source of English economic, military, and political vitality. As Linda Colley observes in Captives, the Stuart kings’ failure to stop Muslim attacks and enslavement of Englishmen was an important factor that robbed them of legitimacy and helped “to provoke the civil wars that tore England and its adjacent countries apart after 1642.” Subsequent governments sought to avoid the Stuarts’ fate by strengthening the English navy, paying Muslim mariners not to attack English ships, and publicly emphasizing the government’s full commitment to preventing the enslavement of Englishmen on the high seas. By the eighteenth century, this national mission and the government’s commitment to it had become institutionalized, as evidenced in the words of James Thomson’s poem “Rule, Britannia”: “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves; Britons never will be slaves.”

Found here (an excellent blog that provides excerpts of the author's reading):…

A. Hamilton  •  Link

“the most true trouble that I ever was in my life”

I believe that it is nerves caused by uncertainty whether the Parliamentary audit will accept the Navy accounts. For the last few days Pepys and Coventry have struggled to find an explanation for the large difference between the Navy expenditure accounts and the much higher Parliamentary appropriation. Pepys suggests they've come up with one, but it clearly rests on refining some expenditure assumptions -- what Sam appears to call blots (full crews for all ships being one) that can be challenged and for which there is apparently no clear audit trail.

CGS  •  Link

Was this our SP?

Fire of London.

Ordered, That Sir Maurice Berkley, Mr. Pepis, Sir Thom. Allen, Mr. Morice, Sir Richard Everard, Mr. Crouch, Mr. Marvell, Sir Wm. Hickman, Sir Adam Browne, Serjeant Mainard, be added to the Committee appointed to inquire into the Causes of the late Fire.…

Paul Chapin  •  Link

CGS, I think that was probably Roger Pepys, Sam's cousin, who was M.P. for Cambridge at the time. The order is from the H of C Journal, and appears to refer entirely to Members of the House.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"I don't recall anything specific (in the diary) that would cause such concern."

The Controller, Sir John Mennes, has been sick for the last 4-plus years, and away from the office completely for months recently. Who knows who has been doing his work. Evidently someone was, but Mennes was in no position to speak to it. And nor was Pepys.

I've long suspected Pepys is keeping double books. There are the official ones, and his private version with his promised commissions clearly stated.

The auditors are looking at the official books from 1664-1665-1666 ... that includes his drunken plague months in Greenwich where he didn't stay on top of the bookkeeping for months.

I think his fear was about his ability to stay on message, not volunteer too much information by accident, and account for the unaccountable without implicating his colleagues.

Martin  •  Link

'hit all our blots' -- reference to backgammon, or 'tables' as Sam would have called it.

Scube  •  Link

Good point Martin. Was backgammon played in England at that time? Interesting to see that Sam has formed an alliance with Penn on the privateer. Seems that aligns their interest against Batten.

Matt Newton  •  Link

Did the interrogation take place in Sam's office?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Sounds to me like it took place in the Navy Board offices ... since all the files are there, that makes sense. Also Batten lives in the complex, so his house makes for an easy lunch break location. I think Pepys would have said if it was elsewhere.

john  •  Link

SDS, personal commissions were accepted (and expected) practise back then but why would he bring them? I suspect that they covered minutiae that the board would know little of and thus could easily criticise.

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