Friday 26 February 1668/69

Was forced to send my excuse to the Duke of York for my not attending him with my fellows this day because of my cold, and was the less troubled because I was thereby out of the way to offer my proposals about Pursers till the Surveyor hath delivered his notions, which he is to do to-day about something he has to offer relating to the Navy in general, which I would be glad to see and peruse before I offer what I have to say.

So lay long in bed, and then up and to my office, and so to dinner, and then, though I could not speak, yet I went with my wife and girls to the King’s playhouse, to shew them that, and there saw “The Faithfull Shepherdesse.” But, Lord! what an empty house, there not being, as I could tell the people, so many as to make up above 10l. in the whole house! The being of a new play at the other house, I suppose, being the cause, though it be so silly a play that I wonder how there should be enough people to go thither two days together, and not leave more to fill this house. The emptiness of the house took away our pleasure a great deal, though I liked it the better; for that I plainly discern the musick is the better, by how much the house the emptier.

Thence home, and again to W. Hewer’s, and had a pretty little treat, and spent an hour or two, my voice being wholly taken away with my cold, and so home and to bed.

10 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link


"Sir?..." wearily...

"I want some ale!"

"Right, sir..."

"And my chamber pot..."

"Sounds logical, sir. There you go, sir."

"Just two more hours till the playhouse opens, Jane, hang on. I'm sure I can get him to leave then." Bess pats her.

"Bess!!..." call...

"Watch this, Jane...Here's where I make the Deb Willet thing really pay off."


Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Was forced to send my excuse to the Duke of York for my not attending him with my fellows this day because of my cold"

L&M cite the Calendar of State Papers Domestic that note the hour of the meeting with the Duke had been advanced to 8:30 a.m., it being sermon-day at court.,

Mary  •  Link

"there not being, as I could tell the people ...."

tell = count.

cf. modern 'bank teller'

Robert Watson  •  Link

>"...there not being, as I could tell the people ….”
>tell = count.
>cf. modern ‘bank teller’

Also still in use, 'tally' is a related word.

Second Reading

Liz  •  Link

On shaky ground: calling in sick then going to the theatre!

Sam Ursu  •  Link

Skipping work and going to the theater, followed by a "treat"? Sounds like Sam took himself a "mental health day," as they say these days.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Pepys' responsibility is to make sure the work gets done, not do it himself.

You guys want to turn him into a clerk, but he's now one of the few millionaire class industrial employers of his day. The Navy was England's first organized industry ... he is presiding over about 50,000 employees, country-wide.

He could lose it all at any minute, of course, because everyone serves at the King's pleasure. And Charles appears to be pleased, for now.

James Morgan  •  Link

So more like the Defense Secretary or the US Secretary of Defense? Except that he's not a member of the cabinet, which doesn't exist, or the CABAL. He has his own colleagues, but seems to be the primus inter pares.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

James Morgan: How about Acting Assistant Assistant Secretary of Defense? James is the Secretary ... Rupert probably the Assistant Secretary, and so long as Charles II is in charge, they are both reasonably safe.

By default -- partly manipulated by himself -- Pepys finds himself running the show day-to-day, while he and the clerks train the incoming crew of MPs and noble bureaucrats. With the Finance Committee breathing heavily down his neck and insufficient funds, his options are limited and prioritized.

A confirmation hearing for Pepys has not even been discussed, never mind scheduled.
His problem is surviving scrutiny by the Tangier Committee ... both James and Charles are doing their best to lead their attention elsewhere, but if financial malfeasance can be proved, its bye-bye and probably a quick trip to the Tower, or an unscheduled visit to France followed by a quiet future as a country gentleman.

Seems to me the quest for scapegoats for the loss of the last war has abated ... it's the amount of money the Navy will get going forward that is being contested.
Fear the French will do something this coming summer fighting season will hopefully give Pepys opportunities to show his managerial chops while others risk their lives at sea. I bet he is rescued by future events more than his innocence.
Rather like Britain's current PM: no one is calling for his recall for parties during COVID now he is "leading the European Ukraine response" (his claim, not mine). Rescued by events -- again -- and hoping people will suffer from amnesia when that crisis is over.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Maybe the Navy Board is more analogous to the Pentagon today? In which case he's Acting Director. Normally the Pentagon is run by a Flag Officer of some sort, and I think that was also the case with the Navy Board whenever possible.

Charles II had appointed Admirals at the Restitution, but the man who made the Navy work during the Second Anglo-Dutch War was the bookkeeper who stayed at his post because wasn't an MP (i.e. off in Oxford) or at sea -- or old and infirm.

Charles learned the wrong lesson from this: the next Navy Board is full of bureaucrats who know nothing about the pecularities of Naval warfare. It took Pepys 4 years to learn the lingo and quirks, with 4 Admirals and ship builders to coach him.

SPOILER BUT NO SURPRISE: This new group will be also found wanting in the Third Anglo-Dutch War.

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