Friday 14 August 1663

Awake, and to chide my wife again, and I find that my wife has got too great head to be brought down soon, nor is it possible with any convenience to keep Ashwell longer, my wife is so set and convinced, as she was in Sarah, to make her appear a Lyer in every small thing that we shall have no peace while she stays. So I up and to my office doing several businesses in my study, and so home to dinner. The time having outslipt me and my stomach, it being past, two a-clock, and yet before we could sit down to dinner Mrs. Harper and her cousin Jane came, and we treated and discoursed long about her coming to my wife for a chamber mayd, and I think she will do well. So they went away expecting notice when she shall come, and so we sat down to dinner at four a-clock almost, and then I walked forth to my brother’s, where I found my father very discontented, and has no mind to come to my house, and would have begun some of the differences between my wife and him, but I desired to hear none of them, and am sorry at my folly in forcing it and theirs in not telling me of it at the beginning, and therefore am resolved to make the best of a bad market, and to bring my wife to herself again as soon and as well as I can. So we parted very kindly, and he will dine with me to- morrow or next day. Thence walked home, doing several errands by the way, and at home took my wife to visit Sir W. Pen, who is still lame, and after an hour with him went home and supped, and with great content to bed.

23 Annotations

Patricia   Link to this

" ... my father very discontented ... and would have begun some of the differences between my wife and him, but I desired to hear none of them..."
Well done, Sam! Yes, I know you only declined to listen because you're sick of wrangling, but it was well done of you, all the same.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

How, 'well done', Patricia? Couldn't it be that John has legit grievances that his son should at least have the courtesy to hear in private with him so long as it stops there? He has played host to Bess all summer, after all, and surely deserves to be heard if only to let him vent a little.

Patricia   Link to this

Robert, you and I will never agree on this. I maintain it is disloyal of Sam to allow anybody to dis his wife to him, old Dad can complain to old Mom or to Tom if he needs to vent. Perhaps my feelings on the matter are affected by the fact that my FIL has lived with us for more than 30 years.
And speaking of well done, or NOT, what a nice way for Mrs. P to begin her day, getting chewed out by her husband because she wants to sack her maid!

TerryF   Link to this

"Awake, and to chide my wife again, and I find that my wife...is so set and convinced, as she was in Sarah, to make [ Ashwell] appear a Lyer in every small thing that we shall have no peace while she stays. So I up and to my office doing several businesses in my study, and so home to dinner. The time having outslipt me and my stomach, it being past, two a-clock"

At first light, fight = active-aggression, then defeated, flight, deny, lose track of time, go late to dinner (keeping Elizabeth waiting...on tenterhooks?]...passive-aggression??

jeannine   Link to this

Gee Robert, Maybe Sam whipped out a copy of his letter to his father regarding Brampton and pointed out the line that read "You cannot but thinke that for mee to part with twenty pounds a yeare out of my purse in steade of haveing 30£ a yeare and the rent of Sturtlow as the Will gives mee is an unwellcome burthen".....he's obviously going to make him work for his keep. I think it's called hush money, or perhaps "hush up" money.

http://www.pepysdiary.com/indepth/2006/05/17/be...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

How long has poor Sir Will P been laid up with his gout?

***

Must make for a pleasant day, Bess and Ashwell cooped up together, Sam keeping them all waiting at dinner, and in comes the new potential hire just as they at last sit down.

And yet... "with great content to bed." Perhaps the pleasure of going visiting, maybe Sir Will turned on the charm during their visit, and Sam has been quick to meet Bess' demands regarding the new maids and agreeing to let Mary go.

I imagine for Bess the main thing is...Home at last and free of Brampton...Perhaps she's even missed her boy...

"Unfortunately the next morning I did mention my father's coming to dine..."

(That ought to be a dinner party to look forward to...)

aqua   Link to this

I wonder did her ladyship Lizzy call old P.I.L. "an over the hill, P**** Louse", as she was cooped up with all them thier ods bodkin yokels where there be not a decent ribbon shop to be 'ad.
The Countryside can be so darn booooring.

Miss Ann   Link to this

I'm with you Patricia, a husband must be loyal to his wife at all times, even in the face of his father's ire. What a way for Lizzie to start the day - a chiding by the MOTH (Man of The House), then to be left hanging with that damn Ashwell (she can't wait to be rid of her) waiting for her dinner, not a very successful day at all for Lizzie.
Sounds like "Jane" coming in as a Chamber Maid will ensure she knows her place in the hierarchy and not get a "swelled head". I do wonder how long she will last with Lizzie and whether Sam will want to be "towsing" with her ...

Joe   Link to this

"and therefore am resolved to make the best of a bad market"

Is this a financial metaphor (cutting one's losses), or is it more concrete (working with slightly spoiled vegetables)? Either way, it's perfect.

Pedro   Link to this

“a husband must be loyal to his wife at all times”

Even in the face of Mrs. Lane’s wickedness?

andy   Link to this

a husband must be loyal to his wife at all times”

one of the awful truths of marriage comes when your parent is old and frail and to take him or her in would wreck your marriage: sometimes a man really does have to choose between his wife and his parent.

aqua   Link to this

Exception be? "a husband must be loyal to his wife at all times” except when parent[s] hold the purse strings and title to the future income. It only works when hubby has the doreme to tell them fly a proverbial kite.

Ann   Link to this

I'm curious as to the family dynamic here between Elizabeth and Ashwell. Is Ashwell just hanging out around the house, being ignored by 'Liz & waiting to get fired? Surely she can sense something is amiss? Must be very uncomfortable...

aqua   Link to this

Dynamics : Miss Ashwell be an accomplished young lady of reasonable background, i.e be equivalent to being a lass from a finishing school of today, she was at a Chelsea finishing school where they taught her finer points of living like how to rite 'my dreaded sir' and trill] One of a very few that be brainwashed in the arts of entertaining a rich husband's friends that he brings home to be bamboozled in the Vandykes techniques of applying a light brush to canvas. [less than 25% of the female population, be able to read virgil in the english let alone in the original]Unfortuneately she is a bit impoverished and needs some [dress] pin monies with a good palliass and bread to help.
Papas have to support their daughters, so best to get daughter in to the chains of an old rich dieing earl as soon as possible.
Many impoverished young ladies be available, some become orange sellers, others were saddled with emptying chamber pots.
Like many an impoverished educated ones without real connections be on the wrong side of the money line, have to suffer the ignorant rantings of the better titled ones. [Beggars can not be choosy]
Pecking order be title, money then brains.
[Lifes lesson, have the bread before thy kill the miller and baker]

Clement   Link to this

"am resolved...to bring my wife to herself again as soon and as well as I can."

Seems to me she has already brought herself to herself, and what Sam really means is bring her to his own ill-defined view of what her behaviour should be.
He's never been good at that, and rather seems to subconsiously appreciate and support her independence, regardless of whatever bourgeois MOTH (thanks Miss Ann) control fable he tells in the diary. Their relationship continues to be fascinating.

Bradford   Link to this

Ann asks the question that's been on my mind since the return from the country: is Ashwell still in situ? The one thing against supposing so is that unlike Liza or Dad she hasn't tried to make Sam listen to her side.

As for how to comport oneself amid one's closest family relations, it all depends on the individual personalities of all the players; how often they are thrown together to interact; and whether any good can come of thrashing it out. What's right for Pepys might be wrong for you or me; but in this particular imbroglio he can have, for all it's worth, my benefit of the doubt.

Glyn   Link to this

I imagine Ashwell would be in situ until a male member of her family came to collect her and Pepys handed over responsibility for her.

At one point, didn't Pepys write about how his wife was very lonely and he was trying to make her life less boring?

TerryF   Link to this

Methinks Glyn is right when he says "I imagine Ashwell would be in situ until a male member of her family came to collect her and Pepys handed over responsibility for her."

Not very "independent" is she. Women have yet to acquire custody of themselves in most of the world more than 300 years on, in the 21st century.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"You stink at the contranto! And you can't sing a decent note!" Ashwell yells as Will Hewer tries to restrain her. Sounds of barely coherent yelled cursing in angry English and French, followed by violent slamming and battering at the heavy door, the only thing protecting them, the master of the house having wisely retreated to his office.

"Stop it, Mary! In another moment she'll be through that door!"

The door giving support to Will's pleas by emiting splintering sounds...

"I don't care! I've damned well had enough!! Months of putting up with her airs and her temper and her blows and that trashy French drivel she reads all the time and that awful grunting she calls singing! Hear that, you half-French thing from Hell!!"

Steady, violent pounding suddenly pauses...

"She's gone for something...Heavy. Or maybe she's trying to get round to the back." Will nervously notes.

Why did I have to try to come to the rescue this one time? he sighs inwardly. Still, I never thought things had gone so far...Or she'd gone so over to the Devil's side.

Crash!!! Both Ashwell and Hewer jump as the door shakes from the crash of a what sounds like a very heavy object. "There goes Mr. Pepys' favorite chair, I'd say." Will judges.

"Her fury's never possessed her like this." he glumly shakes his head. "It's powering her with whatever it'll take to get through to us. We're dead this time for sure."

"Just so long as I take some of her hair with me..." a grim Ashwell.

Faint sounds from below...Sudden silence. Sound of feet moving...Away...

"I think it's Mr. Pepys." Will has his ear to the badly battered door.

"Hewer? Are you in there?" Sam calls.

"Don't open it! He's trying to get us to open up to save his life and peace...Plus several precious musical instruments. Don't leave me, Will!" Mary pleads.

"Sir...I..."

"Mrs. Pepys and I are going over to see Admiral Sir Will Penn, Hewer. Would you and Ashwell straighten things up in Mrs. Pepys' closet and mine? Things seem to have gotten quite out of order, somehow."

"Yes, sir."

"Back in a bit, Will."

"Make sure they're gone before you open the door...She's clever that way." Ashwell hisses.

***

Paul Chapin   Link to this

"Ashwell ... hasn’t tried to make Sam listen to her side"
Actually, she did. From the entry for Thursday, 13 August:
... before going to bed Ashwell began to make her complaint, and by her I do perceive that she has received most base usage from my wife, which my wife sillily denies, but it is impossible the wench could invent words and matter so particularly, against which my wife has nothing to say but flatly to deny, which I am sorry to see, and blows to have past, and high words even at Hinchinbrooke House among my Lady’s people, of which I am mightily ashamed. I said nothing to either of them, but let them talk till she was gone and left us abed, and then I told my wife my mind with great sobriety of grief, and so to sleep.

Bryan M   Link to this

"and with great content to bed."

The contentment of someone who is negotiating a familial minefield, even managing to defuse one or two bombs on the way, and has so far remained more or less unscathed.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...my wife is so set and convinced, as she was in Sarah..."

But Sam, you yourself found that Sarah was indeed out and about telling tales of you and Bess the moment she left your employ, remember?

aqua   Link to this

"...Not very “independent” is she...?" if thee have annuity from thy ancestors, then the can sit back and use thy noodle for thy enjoyment. No Person can be independant without manna from 'eaven. Thee need monies for bed board and nightshirt.
So thee need a means of getting thy daily bread, Men have some choices, do, teach, preach,leach or sit on a beach, girls have a lesser choices before the advent of getting the vote, be a Daddies darling, a young mans Slave, or clean up the mess.

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