Monday 17 August 1663

Up, and then fell into discourse, my wife and I to Ashwell, and much against my will I am fain to express a willingness to Ashwell that she should go from us, and yet in my mind I am glad of it, to ease me of the charge. So she is to go to her father this day. And leaving my wife and her talking highly, I went away by coach with Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten to St. James’s, and there attended of course the Duke. And so to White Hall, where I met Mr. Moore, and he tells me with great sorrow of my lord’s being debauched he fears by this woman at Chelsey, which I am troubled at, and resolve to speak to him of it if I can seasonably. Thence home, where I dined, and after dinner comes our old mayde Susan to look for a gorgett that she says she has lost by leaving it here, and by many circumstances it being clear to me that Hannah, our present cook- mayde, not only has it, but had it on upon her necke when Susan came in, and shifted it off presently upon her coming in, I did charge her so home with it (having a mind to have her gone from us), that in a huff she told us she would be gone to-night if I would pay her her wages, which I was glad and my wife of, and so fetched her her wages, and though I am doubtful that she may convey some things away with her clothes, my wife searching them, yet we are glad of her being so gone, and so she went away in a quarter of an hour’s time. Being much amused at this to have never a maid but Ashwell, that we do not intend to keep, nor a boy, and my wife and I being left for an hour, till my brother came in, alone in the house, I grew very melancholy, and so my brother being come in I went forth to Mrs. Holden’s, to whom I formerly spoke about a girle to come to me instead of a boy, and the like I did to Mrs. Standing and also to my brother Tom, whom I found at an alehouse in Popinjay ally drinking, and I standing with him at the gate of the ally, Ashwell came by, and so I left Tom and went almost home with her, talking of her going away. I find that she is willing to go, and told her (though behind my back my wife has told her that it was more my desire than hers that she should go, which was not well), that seeing my wife and she could not agree I did choose rather (was she my sister) have her gone, it would be better for us and for her too. To which she willing agreed, and will not tell me anything but that she do believe that my wife would have some body there that might not be so liable to give me information of things as she takes her to be. But, however, I must later to prevent all that. I parted with her near home, agreeing to take no notice of my coming along with her, and so by and by came home after her. Where I find a sad distracted house, which troubles me. However, to supper and prayers and to bed. And while we were getting to bed my wife began to discourse to her, and plainly asked whether she had got a place or no. And the other answered that she could go if we would to one of our own office, to which we agreed if she would. She thereupon said no; she would not go to any but where she might teach children, because of keeping herself in use of what things she had earnt, which she do not here nor will there, but only dressing. By which I perceive the wench is cunning, but one very fit for such a place, and accomplished to be woman to any lady in the land. So quietly to sleep, it being a cold night. But till my house is settled, I do not see that I can mind my business of the office, which grieves me to the heart. But I hope all will over in a little time, and I hope to the best. This day at Mrs. Holden’s I found my new low crowned beaver according to the present fashion made, and will be sent home to-morrow.

35 Annotations

TerryF   Link to this

"in a huff she told us she would be gone to-night if I would pay her her wages"

huff
c.1450, apparently imitative of exhaling. Extended sense of "bluster with indignation" is attested from 1599. Huffy "ready to take offense" is from 1680 [we aren't there yet, but she is]..
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=huff

(When I was in secondary school, it was said, if you were a young lady, never go off in a Huff, which is a little sports car, driven by fast boys, or driven fast by boys.)

Bradford   Link to this

Consider this passage, during Pepys's colloquy with Ashwell in the street:
"To which she willing agreed, and will not tell me anything but that she do believe that my wife would have some body there that might not be so liable to give me information of things as she takes her to be. But, however, I must later to prevent all that."

---Possible translation: Elizabeth would prefer help that might not be so liable to rat on her to Sam as Elizabeth thinks Ashwell is?

Then, regard Ashwell's later profession to both him and Elizabeth that
"she would not go to any but where she might teach children, because of keeping herself in use of what things she had earnt, which she do not here nor will there, but only dressing."

One wants this to mean that if she were teaching kids she wouldn't have to lay out all her wages on dressing as befits a lady's maid; but that doesn't seem quite right, and perhaps someone else can offer a better reading.

TerryF   Link to this

Bradford, might "dressing" refer to the preparation of food (which she knows how to do)? The Select Glossary defines "Dress" as "to cook; prepare food."

In this case she might mean that she wants a position that makes use of what "she has learnt" - teaching children and preparing food.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

I think by "dressing" Ashwell meant that dressing the lady of the house is the only thing she's been doing at the Pepys and would likely do at one of Sam's fellow officers. She'd prefer to get back to teaching.

Just what has Bess been up to? A wild summer with Ferrers or Sandwich or some local, strong-backed yokel? Working as a papist agent for the Vatican to regain England for the True Faith? Working as a agent for Clarendon's secret service to defend Mother England from enemies abroad and domestic? Trying in secret to learn to sing?

My guess remains as before, flitching a little from the household accounts to help Balty and the aged ps. Bess probably imagines it a grave crime and it's no doubt become a guilty little source of thrill and excitement for her. Sam for his part seems to know and wisely turn a blind eye so long as it's small sums.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...brother Tom, whom I found at an alehouse in Popinjay ally drinking, and I standing with him at the gate of the ally, Ashwell came by..."

All the world comes to Popinjay Alley...

Actually, Sam, God help you if Bess finds out about this innocent little rendezvous.

aqua   Link to this

Dressing [ vbl n.,] could be defined as 'finishing off the Wotever' eg the bird, fowl or 'uman, a cloth wool, clothing, woodwork, dress right for the squaddy.
OED has a long list for the enquiring mind, for those that want to dress up their essays.
Our miss from the finishing school did not want to be dressed down or dressing up her employers wife, she was there to discuss the finer points of life and be a companion, not a dogs body.
Earnt could be learnt.
Ashwell would rather be in charge than taking orders, so demeaning, but when thee accept money then thee have very few choices, but I notice that jobs be a plenty for those with the skills to dress the turkey and not fully schooled in the classics.
As me old mater would say, no two women could share the kitchen or the dressing room, certainly not the boudoir.

TerryF   Link to this

popinjay
1270, "a parrot," from O.Fr. papegai (12c.), from Sp. papagayo, from Ar. babagha', from Pers. babgha "parrot," possibly imitative of its cry. Used of people in a complimentary sense (in allusion to beauty and rarity) from c.1310; meaning "vain, talkative person" is first recorded 1528. Obsolete fig. sense of "a target to shoot at" is explained by Cotgrave's 2nd sense definition: "also a woodden parrot (set up on the top of a steeple, high tree, or pole) whereat there is, in many parts of France, a generall shooting once euerie yeare; and an exemption, for all that yeare, from La Taille, obtained by him that strikes downe" all or part of the bird. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=popinjay

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...that seeing my wife and she could not agree I did choose rather (was she my sister) have her gone, it would be better for us and for her too."

Heaven...

Oh, please...Pall grumbles.

***
"Mr. Pepys..." Ashwell sighs as they walk into the Naval Office compound. "Though I'd promised your father to say nothing, for the sake of your family's honor, my own compells me. I must tell you the truth of what has been going on..."

"My dear Ashwell...?"

"...between Mrs. Pepys and that rogue, Captain Pembleton, all summer."

Capt...

"A smooth villain if ever there was one, sir. Roguish dancing master leading ladies into evil one moment...Famed and feared master of the highways about London the next."

"Pembleton? A highwayman?"

"Aye, sir. Surely you had your suspicions...A man could never be that light-hearted, nor that well-dressed on a dancing master's pay. Well, sir, in any case, he began coming to Brampton almost the day we got there."

"To...Brampton...?"

"Aye, sir. And despite your father's commands and my own pleas, sir, nothing could stop her from seeing him each time. Even when we kept careful watch by night."

Brampton two months ago...

"Mr. Pepys! I'm sure He's back again, sir. She's locked herself in her room and I hear their voices!" Ashwell breathlessly tells an immediately infuriated John Sr., who takes up stout wooden cudgel and hatchet.

"Enough! This time I will deal with the rogue and that hussy for my boy's sake once and for all!"

"Sir, you daren't try to take on Captain Pembleton. Mrs. Pepys has told me he's gone and killed twenty men to this day."

Hmmn...A little of the rage leaves John's face...

Twenty men? John blinks. Hatchet lowering...

While courage has its acknowledged place in the Pepys family lexicon of values...

Twenty men, whoa. Pall nods appreciatively...

"Say...What is that caterwauling?"

"Mrs. Pepys is singing with him again, sir."

"Damn my old bones, such goings-on in my home shall not be borne! Still, we must employ a bit of caution, girl. Pall, go and run for the justice and his men. Look sharp, girl! Come, Ashwell, take me to her door. We'll have that rogue and that French hussy to rights within the hour."

Bess' room...A furious, but within reason enough to maintain quiet, John and a nervous Ashwell listening...

A gallant Pembleton in highwayman's outfit and Bess...

Pembleton:

"And I will love you all the day. Every night we shall kiss and play. If with me you'd fondly stray..."

"...Over the hills and far away." Bess screeches, causing her gallant lover to wince a bit.

All my efforts to teach her music as well as dance for nought, it seems...

Sounds of horsemen riding up en masse from the window. Pembleton races over...Bess at his side as they look to see the yard filling with armed men.

Uh-oh...

"Ha, ha!" John bangs at the door. "Surrender, ye rogue or be shot down like a..."

The door opens of its self at his last pounding to reveal a quietly reading Bess in her chair.

"Father-in-law?"

"Where is he, the scoundrel?" John calls. Far too much a Pepys to go bounding into the room without confirmation of safety.

"Who, father-in-law? Oh, Ashwell, I wanted you to fetch my fan from downstairs."

Several men appear from behind Ashwell, led into the house nad up to them by Pall...

"Search the room from top to bottom, lads! Find the rogue and my son the famed naval administrator will reward ye all!" John cries.

"But, father-in-law." Bess looks rounds at the men tearing up her room. "There's no man here. How can you think such a thing, sir? Ashwell? What lies have you been spreading, you wicked girl!"

"No one here, sir." the local magistrate informs John.

"Drat the rogue! Out to the yard, lads! We'll take him before he reaches his horse! And then we'll see what fine answers you have for us, missy!" he glares at Bess. The men hurrying out the door. Bess casting a narrow, chilling stare at Ashwell...

Pembleton smiling softly to himself, listening from up the chimney of the room's fireplace...

Once again my supple body and nibble legs have proved the worth of my legitimate career...

***

Bergie   Link to this

"keeping herself in use of what things she had earnt"
"Learnt" would make more sense than "earnt," unless perhaps Ashwell means she wants a job that uses the skills she earned by working hard to acquire them.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Too bad about Hannah.
I was hoping she would work out. A maid is a maid, but a great cook is hard to find.

TerryF   Link to this

“keeping herself in use of what things she had learned”

So L&M.

Keeping up her skills?

Mary   Link to this

"but where she might teach children"

Ashwell was teaching at a school in Chelsea before she joined the Pepys household and, since taking up employment with them, has shown herself eager that they (or at least Elizabeth) should visit the school on a couple of occasions to observe the children's accomplishments.

It then seems resonable to suppose that her protestation about taking further employment only where she may teach children is in part, if not wholly, sincere.

Australian Susan   Link to this

"She was a good cook, as cooks go, and as cooks go, she went"

Saki (H.H. Munro)

RG: Do explain, what are nibble legs? - I have been having all sorts of wonderful ideas......

Robert Gertz   Link to this

nibble is when you write half asleep after a very long day with the Missus anxious to drag you away from your ridiculous hobbies. However, unknown to gallant Capt P, his nimble legs were about to become the victim of a certain flea-bearing rodent.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"This day at Mrs. Holden’s I found my new low crowned beaver according to the present fashion made, and will be sent home to-morrow."

Tomorrow...

"Sam'l! Oh, thank God you're home! Look under the kitchen table, but be careful. When I came in here a few minutes ago I saw the largest rat I ever did see on the table and I think I managed to kill it, but it went off and underneath. I haven't dared go near it." a now breathless Bess hands him a broom. "Poke it and see if it's really dead."

Sam, blinking, looks under...Hmmn. He drags the mangled beaver out with broom.

"My God, what a horrible, nasty thing. I don't even think it's a rat." Bess shakes head. "Did I really kill it?"

"Yes, my new hat is undoubtedly dead, Mrs. Pepys." Sam nods. Putting the sad remains on his head.

"A hat? It looks like it's trying to eat your brains." she notes.

Gus Spier   Link to this

<b>because of keeping herself in use of what things she had earnt, which she do not here nor will there, but only dressing</b> ...

No, no. She means, she wants (and needs) a position where she has useful and rewarding work ... And not just some yuppie couple's "trophy servant". It makes sense in the context of an unattached gentlewoman of no means or prospects. She must fend for herself and consider very seriously not only her present living, but the one to follow as well. Can you imagine the job interview in her future? Prospective Employer: "Have you experience with children, Mrs. Ashwell?" Mary: "Are you acquainted with Mr. Chumley, sir? Of the Lennox Chumleys? I had a considerable influence over the deportment and behavior young Miss Chumley and sisters."

r,

Gus

andy   Link to this

my new low crowned beaver according to the present fashion made,

Nice Titfer, Sam!

TerryF   Link to this

Is Pepys's "low-crowned beaver" anti-Puritan?

"Twould be no surpise if 'twere -- "according to the present [political] fashion."

"Two main types of hats predominated among gentlemen in the 17th and 18th centuries. One was a low-crowned hat with a broad brim that was turned up, or cocked, on three sides (the tricorne) or two sides (the bicorne). This type was favoured by aristocrats, cavaliers, and gallants. The other type was a stiff, high-crowned, round hat that was worn by Dutch burghers and by English and American Puritans, among others." http://wwwa.concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-...

Tom Burns   Link to this

...to have never a maid but Ashwell, that we do not intend to keep, nor a boy...I grew very melancholy...

Gee, Sam, what does this tell you about the conditions of servitude in the Pepys' household?

jeannine   Link to this

"nor a boy…" Good catch Tom, but we can't blame Elizabeth for the departure of Wayneman. Perhaps both Sam and Elizabeth were on the demanding side????

Bradford   Link to this

"learnt" makes all the difference in construing the passage, thanks to Terry, and Mary's interpretation---and reminder of Ashwell's professional past---seems the most satisfactory all round, enhanced by Robert's remarks about "dressing." Merci mille fois.

Once you fire all the servants, "home" is bound to seem lonely.

Rex Gordon   Link to this

"I must later to prevent all that ..."

This makes much more sense if "later" is changed to "labour."

Patricia   Link to this

"he tells me with great sorrow of my lord’s being debauched he fears by this woman at Chelsey"
Is this "great sorrow" a reflection of the recent Puritan times? Men in power, particularly the upper classes, have had mistresses for generations by now (and will continue to do so for generations to come), so why do Moore and Pepys act as if this is a big deal?

TerryF   Link to this

“I must labour to prevent all that …”

Rex, nice read; and so read L&M.

aqua   Link to this

Why the big deal about mans lower brain, Sam has so far failed to land his own side dish of regular gratification, and his past puritanical connections be constraining his search for daily pleasure.
Men in power have most brownie points to indulge, and the female of the species usually only pick the choicest dishes available, if they have to pay a price for transgression, so it puts a crimp on the rest of the masculine population, especially if they lack status in the world, by not having the title, money, looks or personality.
St Augustine says "make me chase and pure but not yet".
Syrus says "Those that can sin in secret, do so so more quickly."
Of course there be some that be loyal to their partner.

aqua   Link to this

Thanks to TerryF, from Seething to the house of parrots be just under two miles as the crow flies, or 30 minute brisk walk.
"...my brother Tom, whom I found at an alehouse in Popinjay ally drinking, and I standing with him at the gate of the ally, Ashwell came by,..."
Nice piece of interrogation walking back to seething, Sams does not lets in on the content that be said in 30 minutes he would get a lot of information. Where had she been? I wander.

andy   Link to this

Cuckold's horns hidden by new hat?

aqua   Link to this

This bothers me, Does Eliza wish to keep ways in secret from Samuell, believing that Ashwell be tattle tailing on her.
"...To which she willing agreed her [go on way], and will not tell me anything but that she do believe that my wife would have some body there that might not be so liable to give me information of things as she takes her to be. But, however, I must later to prevent all that. I parted with her near home, agreeing to take no notice of my coming along with her, and so by and by came home after her. ..."
eh! parted company before being seen by the office or household.
" Sam !! seen Ashwell ?" Sayeth Eliza Answer?

Patricia   Link to this

If it was me, I wouldn't keep a maid I thought was carrying tales to my husband, even if I didn't have anything to hide. It's demeaning. Makes Mrs. P feel like "she" is one of the servants, or a child, when Ashwell & Sam talk about her behind her back.

Roy Feldman   Link to this

"And while we were getting to bed my wife began to discourse to her, and plainly asked whether she had got a place or no. And the other answered that she could go if we would to one of our own office, to which we agreed if she would. She thereupon said no; she would not go to any but where she might teach children..."

This struck me as an odd exchange. Is the following what we're supposed to picture?

MRS. PEPYS: So, do you have a new job lined up?

MISS ASHWELL: Well, if it's okay by you, I could take a job with one of Mr. Pepys's co-workers...

MR. & MRS. PEPYS: Fine by us.

MISS ASHWELL: Ha! As if! I am first and foremost a TEACHER! I'll show you, I'll show you all!

mordax   Link to this

Nice reading Roy.
She [ Ashwell ]was to be companion, never a mayde but appears to be treated like one.
Ancient Problem , Familarity breeds comtempt.
Samuell is happy, now that he can put the money to his own future.

A. Hamilton   Link to this

Ashwell would rather be in charge than taking orders

The flare-ups with Elizabeth are a sign she does not like her position, and she's clearly not unhappy to leave it. Shrewd observation, Aqua. (I almost said Water Boy, but thought better of it.)

aqua   Link to this

aqua, just wet, a rose by any other name still be a stinking daisy. Aquae, medicinal water. Always take every thing with a pinch of salt.

tld   Link to this

... she would not go to any but where she might teach children... By which I perceive the wench is cunning, but one very fit for such a place, and accomplished to be woman to any lady in the land.

By being cunning, I read this as an implication that Ashwell was taking a swipe at Elizabeth's lack of children but well under the protection of her abilities and experience as a teacher.

A true multiple whammy: I'm leaving but because you aren't worthy of me staying. I'm happy when I have meaningful work. I'm good around children and have proven it. Unlike you, Elizabeth. And thank God for you not having any or even a prospect of such.

Yes, I think a very compact and satisfying swipe at Elizabeth and maybe an indication that there was some discussion and concern in the household over not having children?

And Sam is fairly impressed with Ashwell's ability to land this blow with poise and sugary sweetness - well fit for the world of the high born.

wisteria53   Link to this

Popinjay Ally is now Poppin's Court, with no alehouses either these days.

Complete reference added to Background Info section, but former names were: “Poppings Court” (Horwood, 1799-Elmes, 1831). “Poppings Alley” (Rocque, 1746-Strype, ed. 1755). “Poppinge Alley” (O. and M. 1677). “Popinjoy Alley,” “Poppinger Alley” (Strype). ” Popingey Alley” (Strype, ed. 1720 I. iii. 277) “Papinger Ally” (Leake, 1666). “Popyngey Alley,” 1568 (Lond. I. p.m. II. 105).

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