Thursday 5 October 1665

Lay long in bed talking among other things of my sister Pall, and my wife of herself is very willing that I should give her 400l. to her portion, and would have her married soon as we could; but this great sicknesse time do make it unfit to send for her up. I abroad to the office and thence to the Duke of Albemarle, all my way reading a book of Mr. Evelyn’s translating and sending me as a present, about directions for gathering a Library; but the book is above my reach, but his epistle to my Lord Chancellor is a very fine piece. When I come to the Duke it was about the victuallers’ business, to put it into other hands, or more hands, which I do advise in, but I hope to do myself a jobb of work in it. So I walked through Westminster to my old house the Swan, and there did pass some time with Sarah, and so down by water to Deptford and there to my Valentine.1 Round about and next door on every side is the plague, but I did not value it, but there did what I would ‘con elle’, and so away to Mr. Evelyn’s to discourse of our confounded business of prisoners, and sick and wounded seamen, wherein he and we are so much put out of order.2 And here he showed me his gardens, which are for variety of evergreens, and hedge of holly, the finest things I ever saw in my life. Thence in his coach to Greenwich, and there to my office, all the way having fine discourse of trees and the nature of vegetables. And so to write letters, I very late to Sir W. Coventry of great concernment, and so to my last night’s lodging, but my wife is gone home to Woolwich. The Bill, blessed be God! is less this week by 740 of what it was the last week. Being come to my lodging I got something to eat, having eat little all the day, and so to bed, having this night renewed my promises of observing my vowes as I used to do; for I find that, since I left them off, my mind is run a’wool-gathering and my business neglected.

16 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to my Valentine’s; round about and next door on every side is the plague, but I did not value it but there did what I would con ella [with her];"

A "quickie"!

Michael L  •  Link

"renewed my promises of observing my vowes"... apparently this does not include vowes of marriage.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... his epistle to my Lord Chancellor is a very fine piece."

L&M note that the dedicatory letter hardly mentions books and is mainly concerned with the Royal Society "which here first received that title."

Louise H  •  Link

"[A]ll the way having fine discourse of trees and the nature of vegetables." This is charming. I'd love to know what they concluded the nature of vegetables to be!

Margaret  •  Link

"Lay long in bed talking...."

I think a marriage is coming apart when husband and wife no longer lie in bed talking. It's warm and cosy, and a lot can get decided as well!

Was it Louis XIV who had trouble with some duke until the two of them went to bed together and sorted things out? There was nothing sexual about this encounter (as far as I know)--it was common enough for men to share beds, though probably not common for kings to do it.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... the nature of vegetables."

Evelyn discovered the fashion for vegetables in France
(spoiler, later he published the first 'vegetarian cookbook', the 'Aceteria: A Discourse of Sallets' 1699, )

In context " ... but there did what I would ‘con elle’, and so away ..." SP might be contemplating Andrew Marvell's “To His Coy Mistress:”
“Had we but world enough, and time . . .
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow.”
(Writen c. 1651/2 and circulating in Mss., published 1681)

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... talking among other things of my sister Pall, and my wife of herself is very willing that I should give her 400l. to her portion, ..."

How affluence makes changes, markedly different in tone from:

"Thence to the Temple, where my cozen Roger Pepys did show me a letter my Father wrote to him last Terme to shew me, proposing such things about Sturtlow and a portion for Pall, and I know not what, that vexes me to see him plotting how to put me to trouble and charge, and not thinking to pay our debts and legacys, but I will write him a letter will persuade him to be wiser."

Ralph Berry  •  Link

Micheal, I think Sam might more likely be contemplating the last of Andrew Marvell's "To his Coy Mistress":-

"Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport while we may;
and now, like am'rous birds of prey'
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus. though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run."

That sound more like Sam to me, don't mess about, get into it!!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...but the book is above my reach..." I wonder that a book of instructions on gathering a library should mentally challenge Sam. Still I suppose if it deals with philsophers and history Sam's never heard of as well as natural philosophy topics he's unfamiliar with...

All this coy "my Valentine" business...I wonder if Mrs. B has convinced herself she's in a romance with Sam? Or he's just play acting the wooer to make things a bit less sordid?

What a pity Bess wasn't there...I get the feeling he was anxious to compare with Sarah and Mrs. B.

Mary  •  Link

"the book is above my reach"

Sam means, I think, that the size and scope of library detailed in the book are beyond his means. Books are expensive things, especially when, like Sam, you like to have all your volumes bound in fine, matching bindings.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I dunno...He said Evelyn sent it as a present. Still, maybe it was only a loan.

Jesse  •  Link

“the book is above my reach”

I'm guessing that by "the book" Pepys is refering to the "directions for gathering a Library" being above his reach. But are these "directions" simply a list of (expensive to accumulate) books or something else/more, e.g. where to obtain books, type of facility, shelving methods &c?

CGS  •  Link

" mind is run a’wool-gathering and my business neglected..."

Evelyn's World be truly magnificent,Monies well spent, gave Samuell Ideas, so different from the Palace of Wesminster which be full of "..."
J.E. be a man of taste and truly a rare bird.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... but the book is above my reach, ..."

Naudé's text concerns libraries that, though private, are really institutional research libraries in character and size with universal subject coverage; for example one piece of advice was the importance of buying entire specialist collections for efficiency and economy, the Bibliothèque Mazarine started with 5,000 volumes, acquired its own building and had increased to 40,000 by 1648. Pepys was a buyer of single volumes he found of interest.


The copy, presumably that now PL 789, was a gift. Per L&M inscribed ‘Be pleased to accept this trifle from yr most humble ser[van]t J.E.’ and containing a few corrections in Evelyn’s hand.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sorry, Mary...I was reading at 4:45 am. I see now you meant the libraries intended not the single book.

A Hamilton  •  Link

Although being late, as usual, to the annotators' conversation, I would add that the Marvel analogy to Sam's quickie and then horticultural discussion with Evelyn is better found in The Garden: "When we have run our passion's heat...:

When we have run our passion's heat,
Love hither makes his best retreat :
The gods who mortal beauty chase,
Still in a tree did end their race.
Apollo hunted Daphne so,
Only that she might laurel grow,
And Pan did after Syrinx speed,
Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

( And, of course Dorothy Parker's riff on the same theme: "You can lead a horticulture, but you cannot maker her think."

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