Saturday 9 February 1666/67

To the office, where we sat all the morning busy. At noon home to dinner, and then to my office again, where also busy, very busy late, and then went home and read a piece of a play, “Every Man in his Humour,” —[Ben Jonson’s well-known play.]— wherein is the greatest propriety of speech that ever I read in my life: and so to bed. This noon come my wife’s watchmaker, and received 12l. of me for her watch; but Captain Rolt coming to speak with me about a little business, he did judge of the work to be very good work, and so I am well contented, and he hath made very good, that I knew, to Sir W. Pen and Lady Batten.

22 Annotations

First Reading

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Glad to see Cap. Rolt is able to help Sam overcome any buyer's remorse! £12 was a lot of money then ... (come to think of it, you could get a really accurate watch for less than that now!)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Troubles" in Ireland?

Anglesey to Ormond
Written from: London
Date: 9 February 1667

The writer has done his part in relation to the furnishing the Duke with His Majesty's letter concerning the £50,000. If delayed the delay is on Lord Arlington's part. Preparations for war are being hastened; yet there are hopes of peace.

To the rumours current here of the new rebellion being probable in Ireland, the writer gives no contradiction. He rather tells people that the Cattle Bill must inevitably produce insurrection. He asks the Duke to hasten the particulars of what is to be offered here to countervail, in some measures, its mischiefs.…

cape henry  •  Link

"...he did judge of the work to be very good work..." This caused me to reflect on the fact that many no longer wear watches, except to accessorize. Our cell phones are accurate clocks to the tiny fraction of a second, our various computers show us the time continually and even the digital clock in my car is astonishingly precise. But by the term "work" here, Pepys is of course referring to the clockwork itself, the actual device. The workmanship is commented on by the word "made."

Fern  •  Link

Sam often mentions meals, but not breakfast. Does he eat breakfast?

Ruben  •  Link

"Thursday 2 February 1659/60
Drank at Harper’s with Doling, and so to my office,..."

"Friday 3 February 1659/60
Drank my morning draft at Harper’s..."

Morning draft is not only liquids whitout the dangers of water, but calories too.

Arthur  •  Link

"propriety of speech"

Is Pepys admiring the "propriety" of the speech in the play? In today's usage I am not sure that being described as "proper" is always meant as a compliment...

Mary  •  Link

propriety of speech.

In his foreword to the play, Jonson claimed that his intent had been to present "deeds and language such as men do use."

Herein may lie the propriety that Pepys finds; Jonson's characters use language in ways proper to their stations and natures. They speak as themselves, not simply as mouthpieces for an authorial voice.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I wonder if the "propriety of speech" remark suggests the Shakespeare Sam's been seeing has been a bit overdone and embellished with flowery effects. That might explain why "Hamlet", "Macbeth" and "Othello" win his approval...It's difficult to ruin these plays unless the actors are truly awful...But "Midsummer" could be made tedious and silly with exaggerated, affected performances and extra speeches grafted on.

On the other hand there's always that "alternate" ending to "Macbeth"...

"Hell drags me down...I siiiinnnnkkkk....I ssssiiinnnkkk. Oh, my soul's lost!


Even Ian McKellan couldn't save that one when I saw him five times in "Acting Shakespeare".

jeannine  •  Link

“…he did judge of the work to be very good work…” This caused me to reflect on the fact that many no longer wear watches, except to accessorize..
Cape Henry, I read a funny fashion article that was called something like 'How not to look old and outdated'. One of the main fashion tips was to get rid of your watch! Just as you'd mentioned, these days there are more trendy ways to tell the time.

Ruben  •  Link

"This noon come my wife’s watchmaker, and received 12l. of me for her watch;"

You probably remember that 22 december 65 Sam had seen how a watch works: "I to my Lord Bruncker’s, and there spent the evening by my desire in seeing his Lordship open to pieces and make up again his watch, thereby being taught what I never knew before; and it is a thing very well worth my having seen, and am mightily pleased and satisfied with it."

I presume Sam got there the name of the watchmaker, and now his wife is having one, to show the ascending Pepys position in society.

How did a watch look like?
From Clock-Watch History
1600-1675 - The Age of Decoration:
This period saw little in the way of technical innovation, but watches were becoming more a jewelry piece. The cases were of gilt metal or precious metal, and were engraved, jeweled, pierced and enameled for decoration. Thus the watch was seen as a piece of jewelry that was more or less ostentatious depending on whether it was exposed (pendant) or not (pocket watch).

The shapes of cases went from a tambour cylinder with a lid to being circular, with hinged, domed covers front and back. Decoration included champlevé enamel and relieved cases filled with coloured enamel. To protect the intricate cases the manufacturers supplied a protective outer case that was designed to be worn together with the watch.
Glass crystal was fitted to the cases around 1620, but it was usually as an alternative to a metal opaque cover. The glass was translucent only; therefore the owner was still unable to see the time without removing the cover.

The owners still had to open the covers to wind and regulate the watches...

In England, unornamented watches became popular around 1625, as a result of the Puritan movement. After 1660, exuberant shapes and adornment were usually confined to women’s watches.
While a spiral spring was first used for the mainspring in around 1500, it was not until 1675 that a spiral balance spring was used. This one step took daily timekeeping accuracy from fractions of an hour to fractions of a minute.
Because accuracy had increase so much, a minute hand and a dial subdivided into minutes was added. The face convention was to have the hours marked in Roman numerals and the minutes in Arabic numbers. A fourth wheel was also added so that the watch could be wound once a day instead of every 12 hours.

In 1675, Charles II of England introduced long waistcoats. This became the fashion, and men’s watches were then worn in pockets of the waistcoat instead of pendant style from the neck.

An enamel watch from early 17 century, see:…

Don McCahill  •  Link

> (come to think of it, you could get a really accurate watch for less than that now!)

Yes, but at the time 12L was a quarter of a years wage for a servant. I don't know what the minimum wage is in London now, but in Ontario it is $10.25, making 1/4 year salary something over $5000. We are into Rolex territory with that.

arby  •  Link

Your modern timepieces are better than mine, cape henry. My VCR and car clocks are horrible. My most accurate clock is a very cheap, very old plug-in analog clock, quietly counting to a 60 cycle beat.
What does Sam mean by "...and he hath made very good, that I knew, to..." Pen and Batton?

Susan Scott  •  Link

Here are several more 17th c. pendant watches, including some meant for ladies. A watch this fine around Mrs. Pepys's neck would be almost as impressive as all that silver shining on the table.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Mr. Hooke has been working on a watch with a balance spring

"The modulus of elasticity of materials is dependent on temperature. For most materials, this temperature coefficient is large enough that variations in temperature significantly affect the timekeeping of a balance wheel and balance spring. The earliest makers of watches with balance springs, such as Robert Hooke and Christian Huygens observed this effect without finding a solution to it.

"John Harrison, in the course of his development of the marine chronometer, solved the problem by a "compensation curb" -- essentially a bimetallic thermometer which adjusted the effective length of the balance spring as a function of temperature. While this scheme worked well enough to allow Harrison to meet the standards set by the Longitude Act, it was not widely adopted."…

cum salis grano  •  Link

Thanks Susan, the perfect watch for asking and handling and saying " do you have the time please".

time gentlemen and ladies too:
to the nearest
National standards agencies maintain an accuracy of 10−9 seconds per day (approximately 1 part in 10to14th)…

or keep perfect time on your computer:…

cum salis grano  •  Link

A tradition of long standing, though not susceptible of proof in a court of law, narrates that Jonson had submitted the manuscript of "Every Man in His Humour" to the Chamberlain's men and had received from the company a refusal; that Shakespeare called him back, read the play himself, and at once accepted it. Whether this story is true or not, certain it is that "Every Man in His Humour" was accepted by Shakespeare's company and acted for the first time in 1598, with Shakespeare taking a part. The evidence of this is contained in the list of actors prefixed to the comedy in the folio of Jonson's works, 1616. But it is a mistake to infer, because Shakespeare's name stands first in the list of actors and the elder Kno'well first in the dramatis personae, that Shakespeare took that particular part. The order of a list of Elizabethan players was generally that of their importance or priority as shareholders in the company and seldom if ever corresponded to the list of characters.

Carl in Boston  •  Link

Wonderful annotations today. I peer through the hole and see wonderful things. I wondered what could be parsed from such a short diary entry. My own railroad approved watch is more accurate than I know, and just got updated with a killer gold band for $25. I wanted to spend more and couldn't get anything more expensive. I wonder if Sam's own watch was the size of a turnip.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"went home and read a piece of a play, “Every Man in his Humour,”

L&M note Pepys never saw it acted during the diary period [ or at least never reported having seen it, which he very likely would have, had he seen it ]. though it was occasionally performed by the King's Company between 1663 and 1669.

arby  •  Link

How time(s) change, and quickly too, watches are once again a "trendy" way to tell time. And get notifications, pay for your latte, record your heart attack, etc etc.

James Morgan  •  Link

I wonder if Elizabeth had any practical use for a watch? At a time when few people had them I don't imagine she'd be telling a friend to meet her at 2pm, for example. Perhaps one could us it for timing a recipe, e.g. "bake for 2 hours". Or checking activities "Hmm, 9 p.m. and Sam's not home yet. I wonder what he's up to." But mostly I would imagine it's and expensive piece of jewelry.

Ricadus  •  Link

Keeping up with the Penns and Battens, I suspect.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"I wonder if Elizabeth had any practical use for a watch?"

Yes, but not in the way you are thinking. It is comparitively small and easy to carry if you have to leave town in a hurry. It will hold its value as a status symbol and as jewelry. It enables Elizabeth to hold up her head with Lady Penn and Lady Batten. It shows everyone that Pepys is a successful, forward-looking fellow who supports the local vendors at a difficult time. He's investing his money where his mouth is.

I'm pleasantly surprised at how much money Pepys has been spending since the fire to entertain friends (a wider and more diverse circle than before the fire), the theater, his vendors, and to support the economy. There were no banks, and no taxation system to support social services, and our natural tendency to hoard is holding back the rebuilding of London and the fleet. Perhaps Pepys is just trying to make himself feel better and fight off depression, or perhaps on some level he understands the necessity of spending money.

We might also question why Bill Gates needs to buy a hydrogen yacht. He doesn't "need" it. He does it to support science, innovation, manufacturing and progress. I hope he enjoys his next vacation.…

Gov. Newsom of California reminded me today that when the going gets rough, act and invest locally. The multiplier effect changes the world.…

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