Monday 3 February 1667/68

Up, and to the office, where with my clerks all the morning very busy about several things there wherein I was behindhand. At noon home to dinner, and thence after dinner to the Duke of York’s house, to the play, “The Tempest,” which we have often seen, but yet I was pleased again, and shall be again to see it, it is so full of variety, and particularly this day I took pleasure to learn the tune of the seaman’s dance, which I have much desired to be perfect in, and have made myself so. So home with my wife and Deb., and there at the office met to my trouble with a warrant from the Commissioners of Accounts for my attending them and Cocke two days hence, which I apprehend by Captain Cocke’s being to go also, to be about the prizes. But, however, there is nothing of crime can be laid to my charge, and the worst that can be is to refund my 500l. profit, and who can help it. So I resolve not to be troubled at it, though I fear I cannot bear it so, my spirit being very poor and mean as to the bearing with trouble that I do find of myself. So home, and there to my chamber and did some business, — and thence to supper and to bed.

26 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I dunno Sam, the potential loss of 500Ls in 1668 currency would probably dampen anyone's spirits.

Eric Walla  •  Link

For most mortal men, it would be a catastrophe. At least we know our Sam didn't rush out and spend it.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

It's also an indication of his growing wealth -- several years ago a loss like this could have wiped him out, and the threat of it would have caused much gnashing of Diary teeth.

cum salis grano  •  Link

500 pounds a loss maybe enough to keep 10 layabouts not a running, or keep his Pop in a living for 10 years
numbers mean nutin' , half the amount that could have purchase a nice title Sir

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Interesting that Sam is not being handled with kid gloves by the CofA. You would think that someone so well placed with the Duke would merely have to note his position to have them nervously fleeing but in truth quite a few of the reasonably high-ups in the Stuart adminstration seem to meet their comeupance in the Diary. The Navy Office team constantly trembles in their boots at the thought of Parliament scanning their books and having them kicked out of office...It's not consistent and never fair but there is a healthy degree of accountability. Seems a little strange that Coventry, a wise and practical reformer in many respects, seems blind to this advantage over the absolutism/technocratic benevolent despotism he has long seemed to desire for England. On the other hand, for all his conversion to King's man, Sam still occasionally can't help expressing a bit of approval for the checks and balances of Parliament over the Court.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

"it is so full of variety, and particularly this day I took pleasure to learn the tune of the seaman’s dance"
"Tempest - The Musical!"
Next winter maybe, On Ice!

Phoenix  •  Link

Interesting chart. Conclusion? Samuel Pepys war profiteer.

Australian Susan  •  Link

The Tempest

Probably not the pure Shakespeare we are now used to. Even up into the 19th century (think Bowlder), and certainly at this time, theatrical impresarios happily tampered with Shakespeare to achieve popular success according to the mores of the time (or zeitgeist maybe)And possibly just about as appealing to those who truly appreciate the play as the Tempest On Ice version suggested by Tony, which might have happened in our lifetimes if we had less respect for the Bard. Shudder. Shudder.
Genre shifting *can* work, for example with Oliver! - but that started out life with a lot of sentimental twaddle anyway.

nix  •  Link

Tampering with the Bard --

Don't shudder, Susan. Hum some tuns from "West Side Story."

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the worst that can be is to refund my 500l. profit"

Pepys had sold his share of the prize-goods to Cocke for this amount. (L&M)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"after dinner to the Duke of York’s house, to the play, “The Tempest,” which we have often seen,"

L&M note Pepys had already seen the play four times.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"and thence after dinner to the Duke of York’s house, to the play, “The Tempest,” which we have often seen, but yet I was pleased again,"

Doesn't seem to mind making another contribution to the Poor Box for breaking those vows. It was a good trick while it lasted, but when you have lots of money, a fine doesn't mean much to you, but a lot to the poor.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I've been searching for the Diary entries where Pepys discusses pacing himself so he didn't burn out, and also did not turn into a bitter old man who never had any fun. Can't find it.

Now the war is over and there are other people in the office (for a while he was the only Commissioner in London and needed to be available), he seems to have adopted the schedule again. Work in the morning with his colleagues ... leave work for the clerks to do in the afternoon ... come back at night when it's quiet to do his thinking work. Repeat endlessly.

And then there are the drop-ins who ruin his schedule, and being called before Committees to be questioned about an unspecified anything, but so be it. He does his best.

Nicolas  •  Link

Sarah, this is one...
“ The truth is, I do indulge myself a little the more in pleasure, knowing that this is the proper age of my life to do it; and out of my observation that most men that do thrive in the world, do forget to take pleasure during the time that they are getting their estate, but reserve that till they have got one, and then it is too late for them to enjoy it with any pleasure.”…

Harry R  •  Link

Sarah & Nicholas - this too, from 06/01/67:

"and so away to bed, weary and mightily pleased, and have the happiness to reflect upon it as I do sometimes on other things, as going to a play or the like, to be the greatest real comfort that I am to expect in the world, and that it is that that we do really labour in the hopes of; and so I do really enjoy myself, and understand that if I do not do it now I shall not hereafter, it may be, be able to pay for it, or have health to take pleasure in it, and so fill myself with vain expectation of pleasure and go without it."

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

You both nailed it. Thank you. Pepys would never have successfully survived so many years and two wars without figuring out how to pace himself.

James Morgan  •  Link

Looing at Phil's chart of Pepy's estate above, there is a huge jump, almost a doubling from August 1665-December 1665 then it levels off to a steady increases again.
One of the other notes for today mentions war years profiteering as an explantion. Is there a more detailed explanation somewhere of how he picked up almost 2,000 pounds?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

News Pepys will be glad to see:

Feb. 4. 1668
Sir Wm. Coventry to Sam. Pepys.

Asks how much money may be had out of the prize ships for a good use.

Is told the Commissioners of Accounts are falling hard upon Mr. Carkass;
if he be not re-admitted, it were good to suspend doing anything yet in it.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 234, No. 48.]…

Mr. Carkasse was employed at the Ticket Office.

John Munkholm  •  Link

James M: "Is there a more detailed explanation somewhere of how he picked up almost 2,000 pounds?"
The table below the graph is very helpful for finding out.
The dates in the table are links to the diary entries, e.g. the date 30 December 1665 is a link to… where Sam says that he is now worth "above 4000 pounds".
We do not get to see every single gain or loss, but close enough,,,

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

James Morgan, did you see that "worth above 4000l." is in blue in the text?

Click on it and it'll take you to a page called "Pepys’ wealth" where there is a graph giving you an idea of his incredible good fortune. And he's basically a mid-level clerk who was attached to a very important department. No wonder he's talking to Warren and Cocke to get their stories straight, and thinking it'll be OK if he is fired.

Please explore the Encyclopedia ... it's half the fun of the site.

Bryan  •  Link

"he's basically a mid-level clerk"
That's a bit misleading. Just to clarify:
Pepys as the Clerk of the Acts was a Principal Officer of the Navy Board.
From British History Online: "Until 1796 the Board was usually composed of officials of theoretically equal standing, some of whom supervised the conduct of specific areas of business, and some of whom, known as Extra Commissioners or Commissioners at Large, performed general duties. In 1660 the Board was composed of a Controller, a Surveyor, a Clerk of the Acts and two Extra Commissioners."…

On 3 March Pepys states his view of his role in the Navy Board: "I believe I shall get more honour by it when the Parliament, against my will, shall see how the whole business of the Office was done by me."…

Pepys wasn't a member of the aristocracy like many of the people he mixed with but by this stage he was a high-level technocrat, and recognised as such.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I agree Bryan; that is what Pepys had made of the CoA position by 1668, thanks to a lot of hard work, Tangier (over which he realized no one in government had really taken responsibility so he could get away with a lot), and a war which has bankrupted rich and poor alike throughout England.

Think back to 1660 through 1662, when he didn't have the math skills to understand the invoices, when he didn't have the language to communicate authentically with the Sea Dogs, and the other Commissioners were quite happy leaving him in the dark to do grunt work. He was agonizing over whether or not to order the expensive candles.

But fortunately for England he was the right clerk in the right position at the right time, and William Coventry and James, Duke of York saw he had ambition which they could cultivate.

His background with Downing meant he had enough knowledge to recognize the Navy Office needed to upgrade their bookkeeping system ... and he had the contacts to find out how other departments kept their books. I bet the other Commissioners smirked at the dust and confusion as all the paper stacks got moved around and no one could find anything for a month.

But the Commissioners are not smirking now: How disastrous it would have been if the Navy Board was using the Povy accounting system, and had to prepare these endless reports for the Committee hearings.

Remember, last year Pepys discovered a responsibility he didn't know the Commissioners had, just because Carkasse needed someone to sign off on his tickets early one morning? In seven years Batten hadn't mentioned overseeing the Ticket Office.

I'm paying Pepys a backhanded compliment here.
I think he earned his comfortable forced retirement (if it comes to that), but whether or not his retirement should be worth 23,000,000/. (estimated 2016 economic value) while the ships the Navy Board are responsible for can't be caulked for want of money, supplies and craftsmen -- ????…

Thank goodness Pepys woke up in 1663, up-graded his wardrobe, put on a hat and perwigg, and sought and assumed responsibility.
He could just as easily have stayed the office manager/bookkeeper/filing clerk with an official position, comfortable little house and barely adequate salary.

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