Friday 25 September 1668

Up, and Sir D. Gawden with me betimes to confer again about this business, and he gone I all the morning finishing our answer, which I did by noon, and so to dinner, and W. Batelier with me, who is lately come from Impington, beyond which I perceive he went not, whatever his pretence at first was; and so he tells me how well and merry all are there, and how nobly used by my cozen.

He gone, after dinner I to work again, and Gibson having wrote our answer fair and got Brouncker and the rest to sign it, I by coach to White Hall to the Committee of the Council, which met late, and Brouncker and J. Minnes with me, and there the Duke of York present (but not W. Coventry, who I perceive do wholly avoid to have to do publickly in this business, being shy of appearing in any Navy business, which I telling him the other day that I thought the King might suffer by it, he told me that the occasion is now so small that it cannot be fatal to the service, and for the present it is better for him not to appear, saying that it may fare the worse for his appearing in it as things are now governed), where our answer was read and debated, and some hot words between the Duke of York and Sir T. Clifford, the first for and the latter against Gawden, but the whole put off to to-morrow’s Council, for till the King goes out of town the next week the Council sits every day. So with the Duke of York and some others to his closet, and Alderman Backewell about a Committee of Tangier, and there did agree upon a price for pieces of eight at 4s. 6d. Present the Duke of York, Arlington, Berkeley, Sir J. Minnes, and myself. They gone, the Duke of York did tell me how hot Clifford is for Child, and for removing of old Officers, he saying plainly to-night, that though D. Gawden was a man that had done the best service that he believed any man, or any ten men, could have done, yet that it was for the King’s interest not to let it lie too long in one hand, lest nobody should be able to serve him but one. But the Duke of York did openly tell him that he was not for removing of old servants that have done well, neither in this place, nor in any other place, which is very nobly said. It being 7 or 8 at night, I home with Backewell by coach, and so walked to D. Gawden’s, but he not at home, and so back to my chamber, the boy to read to me, and so to supper and to bed.


30 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I to work again, and Gibson having wrote our answer fair and got Brouncker and the rest to sign it"

L&M note the Navy Board's answer to the committee of the Privy Council's queries [ http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1668/09/24/#c3597… ] was that, of the four tenders submitted, Gauden's was the cheapest and best.

They also recommended management of victualing by contract rather than by direct control ("by commission"); the "direct management" introduced in the Civil War was reverted to in December 1683.

***

What would you who have worked in government or for a contractor recommend on how victualing should be managed?

***

Chris Squire  •  Link

‘closet, n. Etymology: < Old French closet
. . 2. a. The private apartment of a monarch or potentate; the private council-chamber; a room in a palace used by the sovereign for private or household devotions. Obs. . . ‘ [OED]

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

But the Duke of York did openly tell him that he was not for removing of old servants that have done well, neither in this place, nor in any other place, which is very nobly said.

More evidence that the Duke displays strong loyalty downward, as Robert Gertz has said (see Sept. 19 annotations). I agree it is a trait that will do him little good when he becomes king.

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Sorry, Robert's comment is under 18 September, although posted on the 19th.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Terry, the answer to your question reveals one's political preferences, at least in the American situation. In rough general terms, and with lots of exceptions, when a choice is to be made, Republicans will favor contracting out, while Democrats will favor direct management. I'd be interested to hear if there is a similar conservative/liberal divide in other countries.

Rick Ansell  •  Link

From memory the reason for the reversion was that none of the contractors were up to the job in terms of quality. No matter who had the contract ships were opening supposedly preserved food and finding it inedible. In some circumstances that’s a trigger for penalties etc. but men were dieing and naval operations failing, keeping experimenting until the right contractor was found was not an option, particularly as many had influential political backing.

The Victualling Board that resulted was very successful and one of the worlds largest Industrial Concerns for two centuries. Today the RN is fed by what you could characterise as a mixed approach, items are commercially produced and supplied but the design is to a specification produced and monitored by the Defence Foods Service - the world has changed since the 1680s and so has the best solution to various problems.

Rick Ansell  •  Link

Just to add that one of the reasons contractors failed was that no organisation was large enough to do the job. Plus it could take months or years for the news of bad produce to return to the UK, there was no immediacy of consequence for the contractors.

During the period contracting was the politically preferred solution - especially as the contractors could themselves be politicians. Bringing Victualling within the government was not done without good cause. Remember this is before left/right divides etc. Right up to the end of the Napoleonic Wars the ships Purser was in effect an independent contractor, buying stores from the Victualling Board and other sources and being recompensed for stores consumed at a rate that included a margin for profit.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Thanks, Rick, for 2 useful annotations about this vexed subject!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"there did agree upon a price for pieces of eight at 4s. 6d. "

L&M note: this was to be the price at Tangier (ref. summary of Pepys's statement to the Treasury Commissioners 4 May 1668).

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

A perennial factor in the government/business relationship is that business folk, especially self-made men, tend to be much brighter than civil servants. There are too many examples in recent years in the UK to list but billions have been wasted.
By contrast, Sam had a sharp, enquiring mind and took the trouble to learn about the goods and services that he signed for. Admittedly, he was not above taking the odd "commission" but he seems to have made much more honest deals than his contemporaries.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Interesting that Jamie is confiding more and more to Sam and in private. Suggesting that with Coventry gone, perhaps not really with Jamie's approval, he doesn't place full confidence in Wren? Or that he feels he's desperately in need of friends at the Navy Office? Again it's a bit tragic that a man with some excellent personal qualities, despite the environment he lives in, and a desire to actually do some good in his job should be forced by fate to take on a role he's simply not suited for by temperament. Had Charles had a son, as King's uncle and continuing head of the Navy, Jamie probably would have ended up well respected or at least kindly used in history a sort of stiff-necked Russian Grand Duke uncle and prop of the throne.

Marfy Goodspeed  •  Link

Re Robert Gertz's comment on James, if he hadn't become king-- I don't think so, at least not stateside. James' Dominion of New England was extremely unpopular here, and if he had been allowed to continue it, he might have brought on our Revolution quite a few years earlier.

languagehat  •  Link

"A perennial factor in the government/business relationship is that business folk, especially self-made men, tend to be much brighter than civil servants. There are too many examples in recent years in the UK to list but billions have been wasted."

I don't like political sidetracks, but I can't let this absurd assertion pass without comment. Intelligence is more or less equally distributed throughout the professions; it is structural problems (often inherent) that produce (usually predictable) bad results in both business and government. And do I really need to point out, at this point in history, that bright business folk are perfectly capable of destroying billions, trillions even, and wrecking entire economies? Let's discuss 17th-century problems in 17th-century terms, and not use them as an occasion to smuggle in our own political/economic views.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

L&M note Gauden's career as a navy victualler stretched from 1660 to 1677,

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

I think you have missed my point Language Hat.
17th century problems and practices still occur today with depressing regularity, eg contracts drawn up by dozy or devious civil servants which "cannot be cancelled" because of cleverly inserted terms.
My current political / economic views are irrelevant. It's how people behave, and always have behaved, that interests me.

languagehat  •  Link

"My current political / economic views are irrelevant. It’s how people behave, and always have behaved, that interests me."

But your view of "how people behave, and always have behaved" is clearly based on your political/economic views. The ridiculous idea that "business folk ... tend to be much brighter than civil servants" is a perfect example. Any time I see the view expressed that Group X as a whole is not very bright, I can be sure prejudice is at work. Which is fine, we all have our prejudices, but it would be nice if we could keep them out of these discussions. Because when one person makes what to them is an obvious comparison with "the way things are today and always have been," it's going to conflict with somebody else's views, and they're going to speak up. You clearly think business folk are the cat's pajamas, but many other people have much darker views of them, and this is not a good place to fight the class struggle.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

Could we have a little less pomposity LH?
I hold no particular brief for business people but my observations (and, of course, generalisations) are based on many years experience of both sides. And why shouldn't people disagree in this forum?
My original point was that Sam was a notable exception to the 'jobsworth' mentality of many public servants.

languagehat  •  Link

"Could we have a little less pomposity LH?"

I take it you don't consider "A perennial factor in the government/business relationship" or "I hold no particular brief" to be pompous forms of expression? It all depends on whose ox is being pompously gored, I guess.

"I hold no particular brief for business people but my observations (and, of course, generalisations) are based on many years experience of both sides."

As are mine.

"And why shouldn’t people disagree in this forum?"

Disagreement is inevitable and frequently enlightening (the dialectic at work, comrade!); however, it seems pointless to argue about whether businesspeople (I note without comment your phrase "self-made men") or civil servants are more intelligent on average. I'm guessing our back-and-forth is boring and irritating other commenters.

"My original point was that Sam was a notable exception to the ‘jobsworth’ mentality of many public servants."

A point which doubtless seems unexceptionable if you have a deeply rooted bias against public servants.

Mary  •  Link

Pax?

laura k  •  Link

Thank you very much, LH. I appreciate your comments tremendously.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"I’m guessing our back-and-forth is boring and irritating other commenters."

As someone who's fallen woefully behind in my Diary reading and is now taking the opportunity to catch up while I wait at an airport for my flight, I must say I found the back-and-forth tremendously amusing! :-)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The volume covering correspondence from Nov. 1667 – Sept. 1668 is at
https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=gCk5AQAAM…

Pages 650 – 651

@@@
Sept. 25. 1668
Warrant
to pay to Baptist May, Keeper of the Privy Purse, 3,700/. yearly for the said purse,
to be paid quarterly, commencing from Michaelmas.
[Docquet, Vol. 23, No. 261.]

@@@
Commission for Capt. Rob. Manley
to be captain of that company of foot whereof Capt. Paul Buckman was late
captain.
Minute. [S.P. Dom., Entry Book 20, p. 194.]

@@@
Sept. 25. 1668
Chatsworth
Mr. P. [Thos. Povey] to Williamson.

I will give you an epitome of my journey;
I have had the honour to look upon the glorious Duchess, though but by candle light, and to receive the welcome of Billing, and take a dewy walk in the early morning, in the Countess's woods I without drinking or eating a morsel of the great cheer there, I escaped, for politic considerations;

I went to dinner to the Earl of Sunderland's, where I saw the best house and the worst seat that my whole travels can show me.

I have since been entertained with much variety and delight by several noble persons and places, in Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, and Derbyshire;
I have seen the wonders of the Peak, wherein I travelled underground;
and beautiful Chatsworth, glorious in its structure, and the strange agreeable wildness of the neighbouring mountains, rocks, rivers, pastures, and arable, which at one view offer themselves.

I am to be conducted by my lord [of Devonshire?] to another seat of his [Hardwick?], not less celebrated, though wholly differing from Chatsworth, and thence to see the Queen of Sheba and her more considerable Prince, the Duke of Newcastle and his palace, stables, riding-houses and horses, the most extraordinary in Europe, in the curiosity and excellence of their menage discipline;

thence we are to make cursory visits to the Earl of Scarsdale at Lord Frescheville's seat, and then to London;

but I will divert myself by the way returning, not considering that the secretaries' and other great offices may be disposed of before I come.

If Lord Arlington had sent his commands, I would have attended Lord Sunderland to Thetford, where Lord and Lady Arlington intend to repose for some time to view Euston.
[1] pages. S.P. Dom., Car. II. 246, No. 145.]

@@@
Sept. 25, 1668.
Hull
Col. Ant. Gilby to Williamson.

Thirteen Scotchmen, in the habit of gentlemen, armed with fusees, have come over Humber at Hessle;
they were landed on the coast of Lincolnshire, and marched on foot towards Scotland, having only one horse to carry their portmanteaus, but had plenty of money.
A person from Rotterdam says that he saw great quantities of arms shipped there for Scotland.
[S.P. Dom. Car. II. 246, No. 146.]

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Thomas Povey may not have been the brightest bulb in Sam's opinion, but he wrote "I have seen the wonders of the Peak, wherein I travelled underground; and beautiful Chatsworth, glorious in its structure" - why, that sounds like Coleridge. Evelyn was right to call him "a nice contriver of all elegancies" (as we see in https://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/5263).

Williamson was clearly expected to chucke at his vignettes of those second-tier earls and dukes Povey toured, for whatever motive; he seems to have been on a mission, unaddressed in his letter. So what could be this mysterious Peak he beheld, with its mine or (if England had any) tunnel? How was the wife of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle and author of Sam's favorite comedy "Sir Martin Mar-all", the "Queen of Sheba"?

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Re-reading this Society's lively debate of 2011 on the merits of private contractors vs. civil servants, we also wonder if we're likely to hear the same in the salons of 1668 (this gives us a good excuse to put on our best wig and go sample the port). Because, as HRH's kind sentiments attest, the King, to whom England by the grace of God personally belongs, doesn't have either contractors or a civil service, he has servants. He can kick them around, and their letters show often enough that he pays them out of compassion, when they end up invoking a feudal obligation that's often been buttressed by actual military service, not clause 3.5A in some contract supposed to bind him. Sam with his competitive tenders (did he have compliance matrices?) and the Navy as one big centralized enterprise were just ahead of their time.

Sam Ursu  •  Link

I think it's worth mentioning here that it would take another 150 years before an army (Napoleon's) figured out how to (partially) provision itself with durable foodstuffs instead of relying on foraging (and theft) during campaigns. Indeed, most ships in Pepys' time were reliant on frequent stopovers to replenish supplies.

Simply put, the long-distance navies and merchant fleets that England and Holland were putting together in the 17th century were extraordinarily complex in terms of logistics, especially in terms of provisioning. The fact that their ships COULD go weeks at sea without all the sailors dying (Spain's perennial Achilles' heel) was the very reason why they dominated the globe.

Scube  •  Link

"So with the Duke of York and some others to his closet, and Alderman Backewell about a Committee of Tangier, and there did agree upon a price for pieces of eight at 4s. 6d. "
Intrigued about how this subcommittee set what appears to be a currency exchange rate between English and Spanish currencies. Wonder how they came up with the rate, what information they relied on and whether the rate was used in places other than Tangier (assuming it was for Tangier). Also got me thinking about how much Spanish currency was out there in the world and how other countries or regions relied on foreign currency. Must be a book or at the very least a dozen Phd dissertations on this issue!

john  •  Link

"and so back to my chamber, the boy to read to me"

It would seem that "the boy" is receiving some sort of education.

Mary K  •  Link

Well, perhaps the boy is also getting some benefit from this, but I imagine the prime object of the exercise is to relieve Pepys's eyes of the strain of reading by candlelight.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Just being with Pepys would be an education. The benefit to Tom surely depends on Tom ... does he appreciate who he's listening to and what he's reading, and taking the opportunity to ask his own questions, or is he thinking about Jane and resentful about being sent to go fetch endlessly in the rain?

The example of the chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy comes to mind.

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