Friday 9 January 1662/63

Waking in the morning, my wife I found also awake, and begun to speak to me with great trouble and tears, and by degrees from one discourse to another at last it appears that Sarah has told somebody that has told my wife of my meeting her at my brother’s and making her sit down by me while she told me stories of my wife, about her giving her scallop to her brother, and other things, which I am much vexed at, for I am sure I never spoke any thing of it, nor could any body tell her but by Sarah’s own words. I endeavoured to excuse my silence herein hitherto by not believing any thing she told me, only that of the scallop which she herself told me of. At last we pretty good friends, and my wife begun to speak again of the necessity of her keeping somebody to bear her company; for her familiarity with her other servants is it that spoils them all, and other company she hath none, which is too true, and called for Jane to reach her out of her trunk, giving her the keys to that purpose, a bundle of papers, and pulls out a paper, a copy of what, a pretty while since, she had wrote in a discontent to me, which I would not read, but burnt. She now read it, and it was so piquant, and wrote in English, and most of it true, of the retiredness of her life, and how unpleasant it was; that being wrote in English, and so in danger of being met with and read by others, I was vexed at it, and desired her and then commanded her to tear it. When she desired to be excused it, I forced it from her, and tore it, and withal took her other bundle of papers from her, and leapt out of the bed and in my shirt clapped them into the pocket of my breeches, that she might not get them from me, and having got on my stockings and breeches and gown, I pulled them out one by one and tore them all before her face, though it went against my heart to do it, she crying and desiring me not to do it, but such was my passion and trouble to see the letters of my love to her, and my Will wherein I had given her all I have in the world, when I went to sea with my Lord Sandwich, to be joyned with a paper of so much disgrace to me and dishonour, if it should have been found by any body. Having torn them all, saving a bond of my uncle Robert’s, which she hath long had in her hands, and our marriage license, and the first letter that ever I sent her when I was her servant,1 I took up the pieces and carried them into my chamber, and there, after many disputes with myself whether I should burn them or no, and having picked up, the pieces of the paper she read to-day, and of my Will which I tore, I burnt all the rest, and so went out to my office troubled in mind. Hither comes Major Tolhurst, one of my old acquaintance in Cromwell’s time, and sometimes of our clubb, to see me, and I could do no less than carry him to the Mitre, and having sent for Mr. Beane, a merchant, a neighbour of mine, we sat and talked, Tolhurst telling me the manner of their collierys in the north. We broke up, and I home to dinner. And to see my folly, as discontented as I am, when my wife came I could not forbear smiling all dinner till she began to speak bad words again, and then I began to be angry again, and so to my office. Mr. Bland came in the evening to me hither, and sat talking to me about many things of merchandise, and I should be very happy in his discourse, durst I confess my ignorance to him, which is not so fit for me to do. There coming a letter to me from Mr. Pierce, the surgeon, by my desire appointing his and Dr. Clerke’s coming to dine with me next Monday, I went to my wife and agreed upon matters, and at last for my honour am forced to make her presently a new Moyre gown to be seen by Mrs. Clerke, which troubles me to part with so much money, but, however, it sets my wife and I to friends again, though I and she never were so heartily angry in our lives as to-day almost, and I doubt the heartburning will not [be] soon over, and the truth is I am sorry for the tearing of so many poor loving letters of mine from sea and elsewhere to her. So to my office again, and there the Scrivener brought me the end of the manuscript which I am going to get together of things of the Navy, which pleases me much. So home, and mighty friends with my wife again, and so to bed.

  1. The usual word at this time for a lover. We have continued the correlative term “mistress,” but rejected that of “servant.”

45 Annotations

Bradford   Link to this

Here it is, at last.

---Not that the things Elizabeth wrote, which might be read by others, were untrue; but that they were true.
---Not that the information Mr. Bland has is not worth learning, but that Samuel would have to admit to not knowing it in order to learn it.

What price pride.

jeannine   Link to this

The burned letters... a sad day. This article is an edited excerpt from the Tomalin book writing about this incident.
http://books.guardian.co.uk/whitbread2002/story...

Australian Susan   Link to this

This is an amazing entry. The honesty of it and the immediacy of the description brings us right there into the bedroom, with Sam pulling letters from his pocket and tearing them up - Elizabeth crying in front of him. The later on, Sam brilliantly conveys the sense of passion still a rumbling undercurrent which breaks out easily at dinner time, but is eventually mollified away by the end of the day.What other diary has such an entry?

And Elizabeth gets her posh gown too.

Pegg   Link to this

... it was so piquant, and wrote in English, and most of it true, of the retiredness of her life, and how unpleasant it was; that being wrote in English, and so in danger of being met with and read by others, I was vexed at it...

What a combination: fear - what *they* might think should the letter be found; guilt over Bess's "retiredness" (great word!); clear love and empathy for her, and then rage. Sam is like a little child, who having to deal with so many emotions all at once, picks the most accesible, which is anger.
I must say I don't much like Sam here. On the other hand, what about this locked trunk? Why give your not-so-trusted servant the only keys to same?

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

Not even adequate compensation, and history has lost too "...And Elizabeth gets her posh gown too...." What a Mine of insight, up yee olde flue.
Ego, thy name be man.

Pauline   Link to this

Sometime ago we were queried by annotation as to which enty was our favorite. To no response.
I am must say that today's ranks as a favorite for me.

Pegg, what's not to like about a man who spells out, in words privately to himself, what's not to like about him?

andy   Link to this

but such was my passion

I haven't got the Tomalin book in front of me as I write but I recall it gave me the overriding impression of a cold, angry nay violent side of Sam, that could act nastily and record it coldly. But in his words I can see more of how the anger flared and the argument exploded out of their bed; how it was their love that stoked it, and how the security/ vulnerability issue (that Sarah had spilled the beans and so could Jane) was on his reflection insufficient reason to burn family documents, and more evidently a prextext to lash out emotionally and cause her hurt. Yes Pegg, faced with a confusion of emotions, Sam chose the wrong one, as so many of us do.

Benvenuto   Link to this

If only she'd written it in French!
... all this might have been avoided. Or at least postponed...

Ruben   Link to this

What an entry!
there is probably no limit to the pain and sadness that the human creature can inflict to himself and to his (or her)partner.
Good for Pepys that he had the diary to reflect his love and his distress.
Bad for us that he destroyed letters that, who knows, could have reached us...

A. Hamilton   Link to this

It is fascinating

to read this. Sam lets us into the hidden side of the scene from his point of view, sshowing its seams, as it were. But poor Elizabeth, insofar as we can tell, sees only that Sam is enraged by her oft-repeated dissatisfaction and vindictively takes advantage of her private papers being opened to him to destroy things she had cherished, such as Sam's letters from sea. She is deeply hurt, won't succumb to his guilty smiles at dinner, and doesn't relent until he promises her a new dress. She probably also senses that Sam patches things up because he needs her to entertain his friends in four days time. What she doesn't see is Sam's inner turmoil and doubt about his own behavior. Pegg is right about the extraordinary combination of fear, love, empathy and rage in Sam's account. Completeness would be an account of Elizabeth's inner feelings in counterpoint to Sam's. But what we have is extraordinary.

A. De Araujo   Link to this

Love hurts

A. Hamilton   Link to this

Spies

Sam seems to me to betray a galling inner sense of vulnerability or guilt on a number of recent occasions. In the last five days he has twice said he was shy about being seen around court; the subject of Sarah's gossip comes up more than once and triggers today's outburst; his wife is not observing operational security (even though her papers are in a locked trunk, Jane has the key). The guilt seems in part connected to Elizabeth. He doesn't want to be seen with her on Sunday. Her behavior is the subject of Sarah's gossip. He destroys her plaintive letter unread, then destroys the copy and much else of emotional value to her and tells himself it is because the papers might become public. But the cause of the offending letter is his determination to be deaf to Elizabeth's despair. Makes me think of his bleak view of his mother and her discontent. Hmm.

Samwatcher   Link to this

Such fear that others might read about & discover the real Sam leads him to tearing & burning letters; then paradoxically setting down to record it all in a diary with all the "danger of being met with and read by others" hence? Who knows how many have seen the uncovered Sam since? Love it!

A. Hamilton   Link to this

Elizabeth's letter:

"it was so piquant, and wrote in English, and most of it true, of the retiredness of her life, and how unpleasant it was;"

but also

"a paper of so much disgrace to me and dishonour, if it should have been found by any body"

Sam knows he is treating her badly, it seems, but is mortified to think the world would agree.

jeannine   Link to this

Sarah's role-- did anyone catch "making her sit down by me while she told me stories of my wife" -this phrase gives the impression that the version that Elizabeth heard was Sam approached Sarah to pry out details on his wife--this must have added to Elizabeth's turmoil as she would be left with the impression that Sam was spying on her.

Martin   Link to this

"Who knows how many have seen the uncovered Sam since? Love it!"
Sam of course was writing in a shorthand or cypher that no one in the household could have read. But it seems clear to me, given his diligence and attention to details, that at least in the back of his mind he was writing for posterity and not just for himself. Perhaps this has been discussed in the group. This means somewhere in his mind, as he is writing this, is the thought, "One day they will really get a kick out of this part!"

Mary   Link to this

Sam writing for posterity?

This is indeed a topic that has been discussed before, and opinions differ. My own view is that Sam uses his diary as a purely private record, not only of his daily actions and encounters, but also of his somewhat imperfect examination of his own conscience; not an extraordinary undertaking for a young man who grew up during the Puritan era.

language hat   Link to this

A great entry.

"I must say I don’t much like Sam here."

Well, no, it's impossible to like him here; one's reaction to that will depend on whether one is aware of one's own unlikeable behavior. I myself have done things I'd be ashamed to have made public, and even written about some of them in a journal, back when I was keeping one. When I read those entries, I don't like myself either. Human, all too human.

"My own view is that Sam uses his diary as a purely private record"

Mine too. It's an easy mistake in logic to think that because the diary survived and is a good read, *therefore* he must have written it with posterity in mind. I find that a very dubious idea.

Martin   Link to this

Posterity -- Mary, LH:
But, [after nosing around a little I find that] the story goes that ultimately he was careful to include the diary in his library and to bequeath the library to Magdalene College. He included the diary volumes in a library catalogue, and had loose sheets bound. Clearly at the end of his life he wanted it read by others after him. He had a long time to change his mind about this, and didn't. So my feeling is, that the potential of an audience must have been at least an undercurrent while he was writing it.

Martin   Link to this

Also,
There are some little clues. Sam often introduces new people in the diary with some description, such as in this entry, "Mr. Beane, a merchant, a neighbour of mine." He also reminds us who the occasional visitors are, like, above, "Mr. Pierce, the surgeon". If writing purely for his own purposes, this would not be necessary. Like many diarists, some of whom give their diaries a name, Pepys may be personifying the diary, addressing it like a friend, who is, at least subconsciously, a stand-in for the eventual readership.

Ruben   Link to this

Pepys did not write for posterity, but for his own recording of events. Time past, 3 very intensive decades of hard work, Royal Society, London Tower and more. He was by then an old person that did not remember exactly what he wrote about in those diaries, so many years before. May be he wanted to read again his memories and it was easier to have them bound. We know by now that everything, for Pepys, had to be organized and in good order.Reading all the entries in the unbounded original would have been an exhausting exercise for an old man.
He had the moneys to pay someone to make his loose papers tidy. But I think he never red them again. As we know now, some entries could have been compromizing for Pepys character, in case they were red by others.
He would have deleted them, something he did not do in spite that he probably, I presume, would have done it.
Good for us!

Nix   Link to this

Elizabeth's burden is solitude -- Samuel's is exposure.

What I draw from this enthralling episode is Samuel's sense of the precariousness of his position. He is not established, not noble, barely gentle, a shirttail relative who is doing well with his higher-ranking cousin's patronage. Charles and Jamie and their noble pimps can shrug off ridicule. A man in Samuel's position can never, ever afford to look ridiculous.

This is that rare entry that does not require dramatization by our brilliant colleague Gertz. Even the Tomalin description, though wonderfully written, is not necessary to envisioning this startling scene.

stolzi   Link to this

I'm thinking that, had Sam not quarreled with Lady Batten and other neighbors, or at the least tried to hold himself distant from them, Elizabeth might not have been so at a loss for companionship.

Friend of mine got a laptop computer from spouse, for Christmas. Same reason: there had been a fight. Plus ca change...

stolzi   Link to this

Tomalin comments on something I also noticed; that even in the heat of rage, Sam spares the "bond from Uncle Robert" and his marriage license. The bourgeois spirit comes out: business and the law must be respected, however one may feel.

jeannine   Link to this

Following the letter trail. When looking back to the entries when the letter first came up, Sam's initial entry (Nov 13, 1662)said that "I am in a quandary what to do, whether to read it or not, but I purpose not, but to burn it before her face, that I may put a stop to more of this nature." He then comes home and gives her the silent treatment that evening. The next day Elizabeth wakes and starts talking to him under the assumption that he HAS read the letter, and he plays along with this assumption. Perhaps there was a smugness on Sam's behalf thinking that he got away with something??? I can't help but wonder how much of his reaction and anger was becasue of the the actual contents of the letter itself and how much of it could have been getting "caught".
Elizabeth has a lot of painful truths revealed here, Sam talking to Sarah about her (which is presented to her as if Sam is spying on her in this entry) and the realization that he has ignored her feelings for about 2 months. Also, missing, among other things, is how she felt when he had his temper tantrum--was she angry, afraid of him, or what, which we'll never know. In any case a level of mistrust has been introduced into their relationship and she is now seeing something that he has kept hidden from her. Perhaps a dress isn't going to make all of the underlying feelings and realizations disappear. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics of the two play out over time.

http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1662/11/13/#ann...

http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1662/11/14/#ann...

Glyn   Link to this

When he wrote "And to see my folly, as discontented as I am, when my wife came I could not forbear smiling all dinner till she began to speak bad words again," I at first thought he meant that he was smiling at his folly.

However, I think what he means is that "To show how stupid I am, even though I feel so badly I couldn't help smiling all the time." He's smiling out of embarrassment - Elizabeth sees it and asks him what he thinks is so funny, and the argument erupts again.

Without knowing what future entries will bring, I think he's probably right that the argument isn't over. It's like a forest fire - it can look as if it's dead but could flare up at any time unless he gets to the root causes of the problem.

Michael L   Link to this

I took it to mean that he was smiling outwardly as a sign that "everything is fine -- no worries," even though things are not, in fact, patched up. His folly is that this looks to his wife as if he does not care, so the bad words begin again.

Pauline   Link to this

"...a paper of so much disgrace to me and dishonour..."
These are strong words to use over the possible revelation that your wife lives in "retiredness" and "unpleasantness and holds you responsible. What isn't he telling us about Elizabeth's complaints?

Bradford   Link to this

Minor but telling point:
"Sam often introduces new people in the diary with some description. . . . He also reminds us who the occasional visitors are. . . . If writing purely for his own purposes, this would not be necessary."
Or perhaps he knows that memory plays tricks. I recently reread a diary kept at college 30 years ago. In it I operate accoridng to Martin's assumption that I wouldn't need to specify who each person was; and though I was obviously seeing some of these folks daily, I now have no idea of who in tarnation some of them were.
Perhaps it is more productive to regard this tagging as another facet of Pepys's drive to identify, list, inventory, and thus master.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Something else that we are seeing in this diary entry is the changing dynamics of a household: One of Elizabeth's points is that she has to make friends of the servants because she has no-one else to make friends with. In times past, servants were a more integral part of the household - even in this time, 1660s, Sam can use the terms household/family as synonyms. In the 18th century and beyond the gulf widened between servants and mistresses and there would have been no questions whatsoever of Elizabeth gossiping with servants. By the end of the 19th century we have complete polarisation between family-servants in a household. By the turn of Sam's century (1700), this was beginning. One outward appearance of this factor is that some names, such as Abigail and Susan became names *only* for servants: an entrenched servant class was coming into being.
But at this time, there is still flux and Elizabeth is uncertain how to behave: she would have grown up with her mother's attitude towards servants, but now feels this is incorrect for her rising status and the changing social atitudes: but what is she to do? And she is so lonely. I too don't think a posh frock will help much.

Nix   Link to this

Excellent point, AusSus --

Does anyone know when the custom arose of women going out and calling on their peers ("leaving a card", etc.)? It was much in vogue by the 19th century, but apparently not in the 17th, at least not at the Pepys's level of society.

Mary House   Link to this

Does anyone know if any letters or writings of Elizabeth survive among Pepys's papers? He never quotes her; we never hear her voice.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

Pepys and Posterity

FWIW, I agree with Mary, Language Hat, and Ruben that Sam was keeping a *private* journal, not writing for posterity. There's something about the quality of the writing -- and this entry is a fantastic example of that -- that is too *honest* to be written for public consumption. He was, to my mind, using the Diary as a way to order and record his world (and, as a byproduct, his emotions), as well as document his rise in it.

So, why and when did he decide to keep it? Tomalin, at the end of the chapter titled "The Jacobite," theorizes that Pepys -- who had failed in his effort to write a compelling history of the navy -- re-read the Diary in the summer of 1692, which he spent virtually alone in the country:

"There were six volumes, still decently veiled in shorthand, that might one day speak for him to posterity, if he had the courage to allow them to survive. Some time during the last years of his life he thought the matter over, and this mysterious solitary summer stands as a likely moment for him to have done so. The volumes of the Diary were replaced on the shelves and renumbered in the new catalogue he made in 1693."

I believe this is when he decided to preserve the Diary, and let Fate decide whether or not the world would discover -- and almost 400 years later, discuss on a worldwide real-time network -- his masterpiece.

Pauline   Link to this

Pepys and Posterity
Yes, Todd. Thank you for having the time and thinkingness today to put this so well. I too believe that it was much later that he considered the diary as something for the eyes of others.

Vera   Link to this

What good is a posh frock if you have no one to show it off to? I think Sam's done a terrible thing - He has has destroyed everything that would remind her of his love for her, and left her with some bitter memories of how badly he has behaved towards her - Then he goes and tries to bribe her with a dress, as if that would make everything right!

Tom Burns   Link to this

Ridicule

Underlying this entry is the incredible paranoia with which those connected with the government and the royal court must cope. I am sure there are many who desire Sam's position, which he holds at the whim of those more powerful than himself. His fear that the exposure of his human foibles could likely undermine all that he has striven for is poignant.

The French movie "Ridicule" chronicles life in court in a different country and era, but it shows very clearly what can happen to those who lose face among their peers or their betters under such a system.

language hat   Link to this

"If writing purely for his own purposes, this would not be necessary."

Not true. When I write journals (or entries in my Week-at-a-Glance), I often provide identifications I don't need now but may well years from now when I reread them, and in fact have been very grateful when I go back and read journals from a couple of decades back. When I haven't done myself that courtesy, it's quite frustrating (who the devil was "Mary"?).

I think Todd's suggestion is very convincing.

celtcahill   Link to this

I remain at sixes and sevens whether he was writing exclusively for himself, or writing to me too. His relationship with Elizabeth is complex and I note that he didn't remarry after her death, and think that that, too, means something; as certainly does her bust in the Church. Just what I haven't decided. There are some later diary entreies that highlight his conflicting approach to her even more than this.

I will say when one gets to the end of the diary one misses Sam, but one misses Liz as much or more.

Feisty little thing, she was.

I continue to insist that his unwillingness to give her a lot of exposure in public is rooted in a fear that she would decide she could do better. I mean, bat her eyes at James once, and that is likely just what would have happened.

jeannine   Link to this

"His relationship with Elizabeth is complex', off topic no doubt, but... Celtcahill, I have pondered the same issue. Spoliers long after the diary here, but sometimes in death someone speaks volume about things they may not have said in life. I recently came across an odd little website that had the epitaph of Elizabeth Pepys on it. Stylistically I doubt that Sam actually wrote it, but he had to have approved it. It read

Elizabeth Pepys
(1640-1669)
Wife of Samuel Pepys (who serves the Royal Navy).
She was educated first in a convent, and then in a seminary of France.
She was distinguished by the excellence of both at once,
Gifted with beauty, accomplishments, tongues,
She bore no offspring, for she could not have borne her life.
At length when she had bidden this world a gentle farewell,
(After a journey completed through, we may say, the lovelier sights of Europe) --
A returning pilgrim, she took her departure to wander through a gradner world.

Sam never remarried but had a long term relationship with Mary Skinner which as I recall (but could be off here) lasted longer than his marriage. Yet when he died, many years after Elizabeth, he chose to be buried beside her. Perhaps some mysteries aren't meant to be solved just accepted.

jeannine   Link to this

"re-read the Diary in the summer of 1692, which he spent virtually alone in the country" one more thought-perhaps in re-reading the diary somehow it occured to Sam that by destroying it he'd be destroying not only his writings, but in a way, perhaps his wife's memory. He burned his letters expressing his feeling to her to her once already, perhaps that was enough and he couldn't do it again.

Ruben   Link to this

“re-read the Diary in the summer of 1692, which he spent virtually alone in the country”
Heavy staff to take with you to the country. I understand there were many volumes to take if you wanted to read everything.
And then there were those interesting new books, that he just fetched... just published...

Pauline   Link to this

Pepys and Posterity
Or maybe the bindings were attractive and valuable enough to consider keeping the volumes for how they contributed to a library shelf. And they were in shorthand. He may have thought there was only a slight chance that anyone would bother with their insides. And he had no children or grandchildren to scandalize. He may have, in the end, decided not to decide--until it was too late.

Fortunately for us.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Reading this one is always painful yet in a way joyous...So much miscommunication, yet there is a great love and passion between these two. Lets hope something of Sam's empathy reached Bess as our couple tried to work through this.
***

I think Sam hoped someday he'd be able to let others see the Diary and realized that he had achieved something worthwhile even in younger days, a feeling which survived to his old age. But I like to believe it was in part a gesture of amends to a much beloved Bess. Letting it reach us is not only his survival but to some extent, hers.

Though, dammit Sam...Couldn't you have glued the letters back together and hidden them in the bottom of some drawer?

Patricia   Link to this

This is just the worst thing I've ever read; and the worst of worst things is, Mrs. P has no friends of her own to turn to, she can only turn for comfort to the man who has hurt her so badly. Sam did wrong when he allowed Sarah to gossip to him about his wife, encouraging her pretensions. Today's entry is just disgraceful.

Patricia   Link to this

AND if any man ever tore up his love letters to me, I would take it to mean he didn't love me anymore, and not all the gifts in Christendom would change that.

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