Thursday 21 May 1663

Up, but cannot get up so early as I was wont, nor my mind to business as it should be and used to be before this dancing. However, to my office, where most of the morning talking of Captain Cox of Chatham about his and the whole yard’s difference against Mr. Barrow the storekeeper, wherein I told him my mind clearly, that he would be upheld against the design of any to ruin him, he being we all believed, but Sir W. Batten his mortal enemy, as good a servant as any the King has in the yard. After much good advice and other talk I home and danced with Pembleton, and then the barber trimmed me, and so to dinner, my wife and I having high words about her dancing to that degree that I did enter and make a vow to myself not to oppose her or say anything to dispraise or correct her therein as long as her month lasts, in pain of 2s. 6d. for every time, which, if God pleases, I will observe, for this roguish business has brought us more disquiett than anything [that] has happened a great while. After dinner to my office, where late, and then home; and Pembleton being there again, we fell to dance a country dance or two, and so to supper and bed. But being at supper my wife did say something that caused me to oppose her in, she used the word devil, which vexed me, and among other things I said I would not have her to use that word, upon which she took me up most scornfully, which, before Ashwell and the rest of the world, I know not now-a-days how to check, as I would heretofore, for less than that would have made me strike her. So that I fear without great discretion I shall go near to lose too my command over her, and nothing do it more than giving her this occasion of dancing and other pleasures, whereby her mind is taken up from her business and finds other sweets besides pleasing of me, and so makes her that she begins not at all to take pleasure in me or study to please me as heretofore. But if this month of her dancing were but out (as my first was this night, and I paid off Pembleton for myself) I shall hope with a little pains to bring her to her old wont. This day Susan that lived with me lately being out of service, and I doubt a simple wench, my wife do take her for a little time to try her at least till she goes into the country, which I am yet doubtful whether it will be best for me to send her or no, for fear of her running off in her liberty before I have brought her to her right temper again.

26 Annotations

Australian Susan   Link to this

This is quite an extraordinary piece of writing! Is there anything comparable in 17thc extant writings? We get such an insight into the intimate workings of Sam's mind and marriage. This reads like several emails or phone conversations I have had over the years along the lines of "what do I do when he's like this?" (I get the female point of view of course). Poor old Sam! Who would have thought that a few dancing lessons could so discombobulate him. Wish we had Pembleton's diary.....

Bradford   Link to this

"her mind is taken up from her business and finds other sweets besides pleasing of me"---or making you think, Sam, that she does so.
As James Thurber once sweetly summed up this state of affairs between the sexes, "Isn't that just like a man? Well, you know how women are!"

TerryF   Link to this

Self-control exercised again by a vow with monetary penalties.

"I did enter [my closet?] and make a vow to myself &c" - interesting means, but it seems to have worked generally in re wine and plays [in general]..."which, if God pleases, I will observe".

My paternal Grandfather had a "cuss-box" in which he was to deposit coin whenever certain words (pretty much those Wheatley excises) escaped his lips.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

"So that I fear without great discretion I shall go near to lose too my command over her, and nothing do it more than giving her this occasion of dancing and other pleasures, whereby her mind is taken up from her business and finds other sweets besides pleasing of me, and so makes her that she begins not at all to take pleasure in me or study to please me as heretofore."

Ah, at last we see the marital arrangement and expectations -- at least from Sam's point of view -- spelled out. I need to speak to my wife about this... ;-)

And how about this:
"This day Susan that lived with me lately being out of service, and I doubt a simple wench, my wife do take her for a little time to try her at least till she goes into the country, which I am yet doubtful whether it will be best for me to send her or no, for fear of her running off in her liberty before I have brought her to her right temper again."

He's talking about Elizabeth here, correct? He's afraid to send her into the country, and give her her freedom, unless he's had proper opportunity to teach her "her place" first...

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

Half a crown for an hour on the trot, I did not pay that, to goto the Flickers in the 1930's. How much? would it cost to have a master of the dance show one the slow slow quick quick slow , in ones own parlour de dance today.

pauline   Link to this

the dance master
This ain't anything like signing up for some Arthur Murrey classes or going every Thursday evening to your community center or experimental college for two hours of learning some dance steps.

Pembleton is there day after day, often stays for dinner, pops back in in the evening--or hangs around all afternoon?

Almost the male version of taking in a (female) companion. I must wonder how much this position was beginning to have a "gigolo" expectation at this time? (Goodness, I consult my Merriam-Webster to see if gigolo has three g's and find this: a professional dancing partner....) Do we have Pembleton knowing the ropes, Sam unaware and yet reading the vibes, Elizabeth starting to realize and taking advantage to make Sam jealous, Ashwell perhaps in the same spot as Sam, perhaps fanning the flames?

Miss Ann   Link to this

Well, there you go - if only I'd known what husbands expect I wouldn't be going to the expense of getting divorced next week. I'll know better next time!

andy   Link to this

Note to Sam:

don't go and see Othello by that Shakespeare gent again.

Another indignity is having to pay for Pembleton, but he can't refuse to do it either. O what torment!

Tony Eldridge   Link to this

"I did enter and make a vow to myself not to oppose her or say anything to dispraise or correct her therein as long as her month lasts, in pain of 2s. 6d. for every time, which, if God pleases, I will observe"
Does anyone else recall the Ogden Nash poem to a new husband which ends:
Whenever you're wrong, admit it,
and whenever you're right, shut up.

Yonmei   Link to this

I assume that "her month" is a reference to Elisabeth's period, and Sam is promising himself not to get into a fight with her during her period?

TerryF   Link to this

Sam promised to retain Pembleton for one month more, or two total.

Cf. "But if this month of her dancing were but out (as my first [month] was this night, and I paid off Pembleton for myself) I shall hope with a little pains to bring her to her old wont."

Keen observation, Yonmei , but if "month" were a refereence to Elizabeth's period, Wheatley would have inserted a series of dots, as he usually does.

TerryF   Link to this

Why 2s. 6d. for failing to keep his vow (NOT 'oath')?

Let's see: 12d.=1s. and 20s.=1£ (from Grahamt's handy summary provided by Todd Bernhardt in the Encyclopedia)

2s. 5d. = 1/8£ (20/2.5 = 8), which hurts!

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"This day Susan that lived with me lately being out of service, and I doubt a simple wench, my wife do take her for a little time to try her at least till she goes into the country, which I am yet doubtful whether it will be best for me to send her or no, for fear of her running off in her liberty before I have brought her to her right temper again."

Interesting, eh? Talking about Susan but clearly thinking about Bess.

***

Striking...

Hmmn, I know my inclination and others is to let Sam off as a product of his time and surely he gets wife-beating advice from every side as the way to handle a troublesome spouse. I imagine John and cousin Ed and good ole Lord Crew, among others, are all quick to offer such advice at least when the boys are alone. And women, including his beloved Lady Jem counsel acceptance. However, there were better husbands and fathers then who did not find it the way of choice (just as they delighted in educating intelligent and capable wives and daughters)and it was at least embarassing to be caught openly slapping one's mate about.

And in fairness to Sam our present age is of course not at all removed from such things, even in the so-called developed world and even in our media. Joseph Alsop in 1982, newsman, product of wealth, Groton, and Harvard could not resist suggesting in "FDR: A Centenary Rememberance" that the solution to young Franklin's marital problems with a depressed and unhappy Eleanor was a good slap across the face. (FDR to his credit was never noted as a wife-beater) And Ralph Kramden and his "...right to the moon, Alice..." remains a fond comic character (yeah, I love Ralph too).

Well, maybe in another thousand years...

language hat   Link to this

"month" as period:
That sense usually takes the plural; the OED cites this from the Diary:
1664 S. PEPYS Diary 27 Sept. V. 281 My wife having.. her months upon her, is gone to bed.

Xjy   Link to this

"before Ashwell and the rest of the world, I know not now-a-days how to check, as I would heretofore, for less than that would have made me strike her. So that I fear without great discretion I shall go near to lose too my command over her"
Oz Sue is right, this is extraordinary writing. It does seem as if he's fighting the "spare the rod and spoil the wife" ethos all around him and inside him too. Since much of the problem seems to be the way others perceive him, we really ought to be asking ourselves HOW Sam wants to appear to others.
Not like the King, for sure.
Sandwich? Too free and easy with his money, and too much at home in court intrigue.
I think Sam is wrestling with the "good bourgeois" prototype, a good few decades before the bourgeois novel starts digging into this as a collective cultural endeavour.
No wonder he's flummoxed.
My bet is that the "good bourgeois" was unleashed by the English Revolution, and then given its head by the social licence of the Restoration, to be domesticated like a penned-in overfed pitbull by the Suoirolg Revolution of 88. After Robinson Crusoe, Squire Allworthy and Mr Darcy nothing but satire and Vanity Fair.
Anyway, it's nice to see such a creature reflecting on the contradictions between passion and propriety. The private inward conscience of the Reformation and the Puritan revolution bobbing around on the choppy waters of old-style High Church Monarchy.
Sandwich and Pepys - the Commonwealth serving the Cavaliers! Maybe unwittingly just providing them with the hemp they needed to hang themselves... ;-)

Ira   Link to this

Robert Gertz' mention of the sitcom character Ralph Kramden recalls to mind an episode with some parallels to Sam and Elizabeth's situation. When a smooth, foreign-accented "dancing-master" moves into the building, Ralph initially is accepting. But when he comes home from work to find the dancing-master teaching his wife (and other ladies of the building) the mambo, he becomes enraged with jealousy and tosses the teacher from his apartment. What will Sam do?

TerryF   Link to this

SP's ego, super-ego, and id on display!

In this entry we have, as Aus. Susan said, "an insight into the intimate workings of Sam’s mind". - how I wish Sigmund Freud had read the Diary.

His ego is bare, as usual. The vow and its penalty are the regulations of the super-ego (the internal parent). The id presents in his fits of jealousy and self-defense.

But the remarkable thing is that he has recorded it all!

For Freud http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego%2C_superego%2C... and http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ich

Joe   Link to this

Xjy--

How about Sir G. Carteret? Well above the "bourgeois" status which doesn't quite exist yet, of course, but he's a man Pepys clearly admires for his ethical stance, among other things.

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

Xjy: it even inspired Clements to write 1602.

language hat   Link to this

"After Robinson Crusoe, Squire Allworthy and Mr Darcy nothing but satire and Vanity Fair."

Could you expand on this a little? Surely Fielding, for example, is satirizing ferociously.

Xjy   Link to this

Allworthy and Darcy...
Actually, LH, my tongue was well into my cheek when I used Fielding and Austen as purveyors of positive bourgeois heroes. But besides being ferocious satirizers, the two of them were also capable of a fairly straightforward presentation of a good bourgeois, which hardly ever happens later.
The Watery One has me flummoxed with Clements and 1602... anyone care to elucidate?

dirk   Link to this

1602

I take it the Waterwritten One is referring to Mark Twain / Samuel Clemens' "1601" (I know of no "1602")

etext online at:
http://www.fullbooks.com/1601.html

in Aqua Scripto   Link to this

1601/ 1602 depends on the which be new year??? yep it be Mark Twain, that read Pepys and issued this little book, see [ http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/search ] too for Mark Twain.
I left it to thee literary ones to expand and clarify, my waters be mudded..

A. Hamilton   Link to this

Pauline hits the target in my judgment.

Patricia   Link to this

Poor Sam! ...*giving myself such an occasion more than my wife desired of giving her another month’s dancing..." (May 15th) He volunteered an extra month's dancing lessons for her, and now he can't wait for the month to be out so he can sack the dancing master!
It must be nice for Mrs. P to have so much attention paid to her, even if by a paid instructor.

slangist   Link to this

"upon which she took me up most scornfully, which, before Ashwell and the rest of the world, I know not now-a-days how to check, as I would heretofore, for less than that would have made me strike her."

joe alsop suggesting that fdr slap eleanor must have been founded on how joe's male lovers treated joe. in any case, a horrorific suggestion that sam, to his credit, dismisses... he doesn't know how to check the scorn any more but nevertheless is not made to strike her.

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