Sunday 1 March 1667/68

(Lord’s day). Up very betimes, and by coach to Sir W. Coventry’s; and there, largely carrying with me all my notes and papers, did run over our whole defence in the business of tickets, in order to the answering the House on Thursday next; and I do think, unless they be set without reason to ruin us, we shall make a good defence. I find him in great anxiety, though he will not discover it, in the business of the proceedings of Parliament; and would as little as is possible have his name mentioned in our discourse to them; and particularly the business of selling places is now upon his hand to defend himself in; wherein I did help him in his defence about the flag-maker’s place, which is named in the House. We did here do the like about the complaint of want of victuals in the fleete in the year 1666, which will lie upon me to defend also. So that my head is full of care and weariness in my employment. Thence home, and there my mind being a little lightened by my morning’s work in the arguments I have now laid together in better method for our defence to the Parliament, I to talk with my wife; and in lieu of a coach this year, I have got my wife to be contented with her closet being made up this summer, and going into the country this summer for a month or two, to my father’s, and there Mercer and Deb. and Jane shall go with her, which I the rather do for the entertaining my wife, and preventing of fallings out between her and my father or Deb., which uses to be the fate of her going into the country. After dinner by coach to Westminster, and there to St. Margaret’s church, thinking to have seen Betty Michell, but she was not there, but met her father and mother and with them to her father’s house, where I never was before, but was mighty much made of, with some good strong waters, which they have from their son Michell, and mighty good people they are. Thence to Mrs. Martin’s, where I have not been also a good while, and with great difficulty, company being there, did get an opportunity to hazer what I would con her, and here I was mightily taken with a starling which she hath, that was the King’s, which he kept in his bedchamber; and do whistle and talk the most and best that ever I heard anything in my life. Thence to visit Sir H. Cholmly, who continues still sick of his cold, and thence calling, but in vain, to speak with Sir G. Carteret at his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where I spoke with nobody, but home, where spent the evening talking with W. Hewer about business of the House, and declaring my expectation of all our being turned out. Hither comes Carcasse to me about business, and there did confess to me of his own accord his having heretofore discovered as a complaint against Sir W. Batten, Sir W. Pen and me that we did prefer the paying of some men to man “The Flying Greyhound” to others, by order under our hands. The thing upon recollection I believe is true, and do hope no great matter can be made of it, but yet I would be glad to have my name out of it, which I shall labour to do; in the mean time it weighs as a new trouble on my mind, and did trouble me all night. So without supper to bed, my eyes being also a little overwrought of late that I could not stay up to read.

11 Annotations

First Reading

Eric Walla  •  Link

I realize the country was much smaller in population in those days, and there were more opportunities for fellows to rub elbows with the important men of distinction, but I still have to wonder how Mrs. Martin would have come to possess the King's starling!

Or is this a case of, "Yes, Madam, I have a lovely bird right here, used to belong to the King, you know. I can let you have him for a mere pittance ..."

Australian Susan  •  Link

So, we have Sam laying out for a fancy and expensive dressing case some days ago and now he announces the decisions to not have a coach this year and that Bess will go to the country for the summer. Again, there is a sweetening of the decision - Bess is to get her closest refurbished and she is allowed 3 companions in the country. (where she can show off the dressing case to Pall, no doubt).Sam's learning how to get his way without simply being a bully about it. And then we have an inkling of what Sam will be getting up to once not only Bess is away in Huntingdonshire, but the "domestic spies" as well. Very clever really. Do have to admit that it was common for London dwellers to spend the hot months out of the city - it could all get very smelly and also plague tended to occur. So Bess, whatever her private thoughts, could not very well rant - Sam would just say it was for considerations of her health, whereas he, poor hardworking civil servant, had to stay and work for the good of the country in smelly disease-ridden London. Fascinating, this entry.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Starlings are great mimics. Frequently, they will copy the bird song of other birds. They also almost constantly make noise as the video PC has posted for us shows. One wonders if Mrs M will get tired of this! (wonder if the king did?). When British Telecom introduced their new Trimphone (70s), it came with a birdlike warble ring tone. For some reason, this proved really attractive to wild starlings who learnt how to sing it all over the country - causing many people to answer a non-ringing phone so accurate was the mimicing. I got fooled - I can remember leaving the washing I was hanging out to dash inside to answer the phone! As the noise was high-pitched, it was harder to pinpoint the location of the sound.

Jesse  •  Link

Re: How Mrs. Martin would have come to possess the King’s starling?

I suppose it's also possible that others "[got] an opportunity to hazer what [they] would con her" and she got it as a 'gift'.

"which used to be the fate of her going into the country"

Things have been rather quiet on the domestic help front. It'll be interesting to see how things hold together on the trip to Green Acres.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the business of selling places is now upon his hand to defend himself in; wherein I did help him in his defence about the flag-maker’s place, which is named in the House."

L&M wonder whether this was the charge Sir Robert Brooke had in mind 24 February in the Committee on Supply and recorded in Grey's Debates:…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...we did prefer the paying of some men to man “The Flying Greyhound” to others, by order under our hands."

Parliamentary investigating committee...

"Mr. Pepys...Turning our attention to the matter of your privateer, the Flying Greyhound and its crew..."


"As to your paylist for the crew, Mr. Pepys. We find it a bit interesting...Might you tell us a bit more about the first mate of the vessel, a..." scans sheet close... "French Bess?"

"A nickname, sir. For a very experienced seaperson...And I should like to note here for the record and Posterity, that the Royal Navy was proud to be able to offer a woman such employment, in an informal manner of course."

"Indeed..." sour look. "Then the said 'French Bess' was indeed a woman?"

"Sir! May I say I was never consulted as to the choice of first mate. The said choice was left entirely at Mr. Pepys' discretion."

"Duly noted, Admiral Sir William..."

Knavish rogue...Sam fumes...It's only that Bess took geography and astronomy lessons from me and so was the best non-professional choice.

And she looked so good in that leather outfit...Lady Penn couldn't even fit.

"Mr. Pepys? Now as to the other members of your crew...Captain Josphat Pepys?...A relative?"

"A very stout seafaring man, sir...A cousin."

"There seem to be a lot of cousins aboard this vessel, sir...Redbeard Hewer, common seaman, sir?"

"A fine ordinary salt, sir..."

"Hewer is the name of your chief clerk is it not?"

"A cousin, sir."

"Sir, if I may note for the record, I am adamantly opposed to nepotism on sailing vessels of the Royal Navy but in this case of an informal privateer..."

"I should note, sir, I oppose all nepotism in the fleet formal and informal, sir." Penn cries.

Right, and who would "Mesuggah and John Wilkes Penn" be? Sam fumes.

Margaret  •  Link

"Or is this a case of, “Yes, Madam, I have a lovely bird right here, used to belong to the King, you know. I can let you have him for a mere pittance …”"

Thanks for that image, Eric. Now I'll always wonder if Mrs. Martin was taken in!

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