Friday 22 May 1668

Up, and all the morning at the office busy. At noon home with my people to dinner, where good discourse and merry. After dinner comes Mr. Martin, the purser, and brings me his wife’s starling, which was formerly the King’s bird, that do speak and whistle finely, which I am mighty proud of and shall take pleasure in it. Thence to the Duke of York’s house to a play, and saw Sir Martin Marr-all, where the house is full; and though I have seen it, I think, ten times, yet the pleasure I have is yet as great as ever, and is undoubtedly the best comedy ever was wrote. Thence to my tailor’s and a mercer’s for patterns to carry my wife of cloth and silk for a bed, which I think will please her and me, and so home, and fitted myself for my journey to-morrow, which I fear will not be pleasant, because of the wet weather, it raining very hard all this day; but the less it troubles me because the King and Duke of York and Court are at this day at Newmarket, at a great horse-race, and proposed great pleasure for two or three days, but are in the same wet. So from the office home to supper, and betimes to bed.

23 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Ormond to Sir William Temple
Written from: Whitehall
Date: 22 May 1668

Communicates the reasons of his journey into England ... and also of his hope that remedies may yet be provided to cure the hurts sustained by Ireland, during the late wars, so that she may, in time, "recover to a reasonable degree of happiness". ...…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

One might wonder how Betty Martin got "the King's"
starling "that do speak and whistle". Perhaps too much? Norwich in "Byzantium:The Apogee" tells the story of a parrot in the Imperial Palace who when the young heir, the future Leo VI "the Wise" was locked up by his angry and violent dad, Basil I, used to squawk "Alas, poor Leo" every time the emperor strode past. The pious author of one of the chronicles Norwich consulted suggested it was this that eventually led to Basil's release of the heir but Norwich notes it seems more likely to have resulted in Basil's strangling the bird with his bare hands. Perhaps Charlie suffered a similar reaction to his bird over time and Betty just happened to catch the tossed cage. Of such moments are great events born...

Peter Taylor  •  Link

Sam doesn't seem to work past noon much anymore, goes home for a nosh up with the lads then off into town to watch a play or do his personal business, it's not good enough, I think he needs pulling into line.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"the less it troubles me because the King and Duke of York and Court ... are in the same wet."
Misery loves company, especially royal company.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

And why would she give the starling to Sam when it would presumably be worth good money on the street? Are the Martins preparing to ask some favour in return or does she have real affection for him - or is she just fed up with the blasted bird whistling and talking all day?

Mary  •  Link

I note in the same March 1st entry that the original plan was for Mercer to accompany Elizabeth for her extended break in the country. I wonder whether the young lady decided that the rural life was really not for her, or whether Sam decided that his co-duettist could not be spared from London.…

john  •  Link

Not the starlings I know (sturnus vulgaris). On this side of the pond, they are a noisy aggressive invasive species driving out native songbirds. They also have a racuous cry, not at all pleasing to the ear.

John Aislabie  •  Link

The "starling" sounds more like a mynah bird to me. An understandable description since it is of the starling family, but the mynah is of course well known as an excellent mimic

arby  •  Link

I'm no birder, and haven't looked it up, but I thought I heard that European Starlings had a reputation for being excellent mimics. Long ago. I seem to remember something about splitting their tongues to facilitate speech, dang, now I have to look it up.
You might want to check out "Mozart's starling" which was a European starling. Sang G sharp where Mozart had written G natural. But, maybe Sam's was a mynah.
I agree with John, they are a nasty invasive, and clearly haven't lived up to their potential on this side of the pond.

Mary  •  Link

European starlings are excellent mimics, with some sounds apparently having natural appeal for them. Some years ago there was a brand of telephone in England, the Trimphone, that emitted a distinctive, trilling ring. The starlings in one's garden soon learned to mimic this to perfection and sent us dashing to answer the phone time after time, only to discover that no-one was ringing - it was just another starling that had been trilling away within earshot.

nix  •  Link

Does Samuel really want to bring home a talking bird that has resided successively with Charles Rex and with Betty Martin? Liable to cry out "Pop-eyed pipsqueak" or "Oh, Sammy, do that again"? This might be his most reckless act yet.

pepfie  •  Link

Ever the aspiring climber - shared birds, shared luck, why not even chicks?

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"saw Sir Martin Marr-all...I have seen it, I think, ten times"

L&M say according to the diary Pepys has seen the Dryden comedy (in whole or in part) seven times.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

" the King and Duke of York and Court are at this day at Newmarket, at a great horse-race, and proposed great pleasure for two or three days"

L&M say they went on the 21st and returned on the 23rd: London Gazette, 25 May.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

May 22. 1668
Rich. Bower to Williamson.

Several ships have passed southward, or come into haven.

So many lies fly about concerning the French, and reported by persons looked upon as sober men, that it troubles one to see such void of reason.
It is said that — upon inquiry made in every house in the parishes of St. Giles and St. Martin, what lodgers they had, — a list was returned to the Lord Mayor of 18,000 French lodgers in those 2 parishes;
and that 40 Frenchmen, newly come over, marched to Whitehall, with their pistols cocked and swords drawn.

They would make something of nothing, as they did at London of the great quantity of strange-formed knives brought to Yarmouth, which were only a few knives, some flint-stones, fish-irons, &c., that should have gone for London to be sent to the West Indies, and were put aboard a town vessel by mistake.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 240, No. 109.]

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Pepys doesn't seem to work past noon much anymore"

Pepys adopted this schedule -- as much as he is able -- to avoid burn out. At the start of the war he realized he was working 24/7 and all work and no play was making Pepys a dull boy.

I know I always got a lot of work achieved when my bosses were out of the office. Pepys might have observed the same thing: he has meetings first thing and then gives his dictation and delegates tasks, and gets out of the way while the clerks do their work. At night he tends to do his homework for the next day, either in his home office (for Tangier) or the Navy Offices.

I think he was smart about this ... he has another 20 years to go without taking formal vacations or weekends.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Ormonde to Sir William Temple
Written from: Whitehall

Sir William Temple, 1st Bart., was strongly pro-Dutch, and is recognized as being the principal architect of the Triple Alliance of the Spring, 1668. Consequently, Sir William was appointed the Ambassador to The Hague from 1668 to 1671, and supported the idea of teenage William of Orange marrying the Princess Mary.

Wikipedia tells me, in very small type to the right of the page, that Temple returned to London on 5 May, 1668. Maybe Pepys will tell us when he is appointed to The Hague. So where is he living now?…

For years I’ve wondered if Ormonde and William Temple shared a house named Moor Park, since they both lived elsewhere most of the time. But now they are both in England at the same time. Hmmmm …

James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde lived at Moor Park, Rickmansworth, Herts. during the 1660’s (“This article … includes recently discovered details about the work carried out for James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde, in the 1660s, …, which provide some clues about the old gardens.” --… ).

Sir William Temple and his wife, Lady Dorothy Osborne, purchased the Compton Hall estate near Farnham, Surrey in 1686, and renamed it Moor Park after the house Ormonde had lived in (which had been rebuilt in 1678–1679 by James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, and was inherited by his wife, Anne Scott, 1st Duchess of Buccleuch, after he was beheaded. She sold it to Benjamin Haskins-Stiles, who had made a fortune in the South Sea Company before the notorious bubble burst).……

It’s not enough that they name their children all the same names, now they name their houses the same names as well.

AH-HA: “In May 1663, upon the prorogation of the Irish parliament, he [Temple] removed to England, and settled at Sheen in a house which occupied the site of the old priory, in the neighbourhood of the Earl of Leicester's seat at Richmond (cf. Chancellor, Hist. of Richmond, 1894, p. 73). His widowed sister, Lady Giffard, came to live with the Temples during the summer, their united income amounting to between 500/. and 600/. a year. At Sheen, Temple planted an orangery and cultivated wall-fruit ‘the most exquisite nailed and trained, far better than ever I noted it’ (Evelyn).”

ANOTHER AH-HA: “Ormonde provided him with letters to Clarendon and Arlington, and Temple apprised Arlington of his desire to obtain a diplomatic post, subject to the condition that it should not be in Sweden or Denmark.”…

So they knew each other well, but never shared a house.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

We, too, have been wondering about Sam's apparently relaxed schedule. 'Twas not so earlier in his career, but we truly don't seem to know much about life in the Office. However we've seen allusions to working hours being enforced elsewhere in the administration. Is there a boss above Sam checking when he punches the clock? Apparently not, and if he chose to avoid burn-out then he was free to make that wise decision.

Maybe the Office was such a fluid place that Sam got a lot of leeway, but overall it kept the Navy going, and if it wouldn't have if it had been a happy shamble where one didn't have to work. And look at him, his constant, intimate encounters with the highest aristocracy, how he dresses like them, will (spoiler) soon have a coach like them, entertains them (not routinely, but still), has the occasional chat with the King himself... he's still middle-class enough to eat in ordinaries but he's fast becoming one of Them. And they don't work 9-to-5, do they. Papers prepared by others - the faceless entourage of "my clerks" that Sam now has - are perused and signed off in the morning, then it's off to the real business at the theater or Parliament, where the Kingdom is ruled not from behind a desk, but in little hallway chats with the earls and their own sherpas. (Speaking of which, Williamson: "I knew I'd find you at Martin Mar-all. Did you find me that info on quicksilver?" "I put one of my guys on it. Hey, nice wig.")

It's not the same Sam who gets these eye-wateringly boring "I need some planks" letters from Portsmouth that the State Papers preserve. Those have the feel of stuff that fell off Sam's desk while he dealt with the higher matters which the Diary suggest his days were filled with, or they were kicked over to some staffer who conscienciously filed them where future archivists would find them (some place that wouldn't burn in 1673, too, maybe some annex for the less-important stuff). Surely they're not all that crossed His desk, or even the main, but what do we really know either of the ways by which his letters ended in the State Papers around 1890? Their number ebbs randomly (we checked), and in fact this month, with all its Bess-is-away epicurianism, has more than average (around 30), as if more stuff than usual had fallen off.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The entry where he articulated his change in schedule:

Saturday 10 March 1665/66

"Thence home and to the office, where late writing letters and leaving a great deale to do on Monday, I home to supper and to bed.

"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."…

He then proceeds to work 7 days a week fighting a war for two years ... while spending that "free" time walking the corridors of power, going to the theater with (and sometimes hiding lest he be seen by) the rich and famous, carriage rides to be seen at The Ring in Hyde Park, making himself available at the Exchange and Westminster Hall, and occasionally going to the Royal Society. He doesn't take naps. He's not painting in the living room with Elizabeth. He's not writing poetry. He mostly reads his books on quiet Sundays and in the evenings.

"Is there a boss above Sam checking when he punches the clock?" -- no. But some office documents require two Commissioners' signatures, so one must be there, and have an idea of where to find the others. (Pepys had to find and interrupt Batten at lunch once to sign something.) For much of the Plague he was alone at the office, with Penn, Batten and Carteret in Oxford with Charles II and Parliament.

We know Pepys needs permission to leave town ... it used to be given by Coventry, so I guess it's Wren now, on behalf of the Duke of York. Hopefully Penn can handle the office, albeit from his bed (he's down with gout). They are provided with housing at the worksite for a reason.

I agree with Shephane that Pepys is positioning himself to be familiar with the highest aristocracy ... which needs to happen if he is to defend the Navy before all these Commissions and in the House of Commons. It's Hewer's job to send out the tickets ... it's Pepys job to tell the Members why they should fund those tickets. Both jobs are important.

Harry R  •  Link

There are more than 2000 references to Elizabeth in the diary and she is mentioned most days. But she left for Brampton on 2nd April and Sam doesn’t see her again until 23rd May. During this time there are only a handful of passing references to her, apparently no communications and there’s no explanation as to why she is away for so long. Before she leaves they talk about alterations he will make to the house in her absence but there’s little or no detail about them being carried other than him buying some cloth and silk for the bed on 22nd May. I wonder if Sam kept making up reasons for her stay to be extended or whether it was planned that way from the start.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I agree, Harry R ... Elizabeth's Spring visit is unprecedented. Usually people left London in the summer to avoid contageon.

My thought is that Pall's marriage called for decisions to be made about John Pepys' future. Pepys is still concerned about his future, and that it may include a move to Brampton and becoming a country gent. He therefore couldn't allow John and Pall Jackson to become too comfortable in HIS house.

Elizabeth and the girls are therefore sent to "look after John", giving the Jacksons some time to themselves and to settle elsewhere. As we know, they had found a house and are planning to move.

A family meeting was necessary to discuss what John Sr. would like to do ... and to make sure the financial arrangements were acceptable to all.

All that seems entirely reasonable, but Pepys doesn't say that. It sounded to me that Elizabeth wanted to go to Brampton, and wanted to stay two more weeks. Pepys was only too happy to oblige her, by his telling.

Perhaps Elizabeth had an alternative motive? Further reading may tell ...

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