1893 text

John Pepys was born in 1641, and his brother Samuel took great interest in his welfare, but he did not do any great credit to his elder.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

7 Annotations

First Reading

David Gurliacci  •  Link

Robert Latham on John Pepys:
"Another son, John, eight years Pepys's junior, made his way to St. Paul's School and Cambridge, then drifted into Holy Orders out of want of ambition, but failing to obtain preferment was found a place by his brother in the public service as Clerk to Trinity House and later Joint-Clerk to the Navy Board. He made no mark in either post and died unmarried at the age of 36, burdened by debts which Pepys had to pay off."

-- "The Shorter Pepys" selected and edited by Robert Latham, 1990, Introduction, pp. xxi-xxii.

Glyn  •  Link

"but he did not do any great credit to his elder"

That's an extremely harsh verdict on someone who seems to have done no-one any harm and who died in his thirties. The fact that he had an average, undistinguished life is hardly a matter for censure.

Roger Arbor  •  Link

But surely, "burdened by debts..." enables us to have that opinion?

celtcahill  •  Link

" The fact that he had an average, undistinguished life is hardly a matter for censure."

I nearly agree with Sam & L&M on this. Especially in John's time & place the opportunities he's getting through his brother are not common ones, and failure to make the best use of them is a reason for censure.

Especially compare the background - economic and class - in which John lives. He is not merely dooming himself to a lower-class existence but his issue too. With Sam using up whatever points he has to use - pulling out all the stops - to get him secured in his person and future fortune - a little more performance was to be expected. Failure to succeed and be seen to succeed was a real failure.

Sam seems at this time to recognizee that the system is unfair and that by participating in it he is contributing to it, but he also recognizes that unfair or not, it is not an opportunity to be wasted when he has it in his gift to pass his brother to the top by his ( Sam's) social graces over those who's competence alone might engender better success.

L&M see that as do I.

John's wasting his luck.

Aqua  •  Link

"John’s wasting his luck." only if he has the wit to know, as Rabi Burns said only if we have the gift to see our selves as others do.
Most of us will never amount to a hill of sugar, as we lead lives of quiet desperation. Those that do utilize their full potential, should thank the correct switchs have been activated in the RNA/DNA. Like Beauty, only a few get to exploit it, and they fail to realise their good luck, on the most part.
John did not connect with a good sponsor who was able to draw forth all that potentially within him. Many fail realise that thy total environment plays a part in being allowed or forced to grow.
Timing in life be all important, for example year of birth can expose one to the odds of geting wiped out in an epidemic of disease or war. Sam was Lucky in that His Cousin needed eyes in town while he rusticated on the Ouse. Great training to be self reliant at an age to take advantage, Sam very easily could have slipped into mediocracy if there was no vacancies in volatile job market of the time. Six years be making a difference in opportunities to shine as things have settled down. Death and destruction are great opportunities for some as others lose their necks.
Desperation of need to eat helps many, Sam be out of work, Academic without prospects, Coffee shops jobs be not available yet , did not want to be cleric, so was able fill a need for a desperate deposed Admiral. John had big brother to sup off, big mistake, many have to pushed into the deep end and then use the choice, guggle or struggle.

celtcahill  •  Link

True words, Aqua.

Third Reading

Scube  •  Link

Aqua, thanks for the insights. Times change with respect to luck and opportunity. Or perhaps not so much.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.