Up, and put on a new summer black bombazin suit, and so to the office; and being come now to an agreement with my barber, to keep my perriwig in good order at 20s. a-year, I am like to go very spruce, more than I used to do. All the morning at the office and at noon home to dinner, and so to the King’s playhouse, and there saw “Philaster;” where it is pretty to see how I could remember almost all along, ever since I was a boy, Arethusa, the part which I was to have acted at Sir Robert Cooke’s; and it was very pleasant to me, but more to think what a ridiculous thing it would have been for me to have acted a beautiful woman. Thence to Mr. Pierces, and there saw Knepp also, and were merry; and here saw my little Lady Katherine Montagu come to town, about her eyes, which are sore, and they think the King’s evil, poor, pretty lady. Here I was freed from a fear that Knepp was angry or might take advantage to declare the essay that je did the other day, quand je was con her … Thence to the New Exchange, and there met Harris and Rolt, and one Richards, a tailor and great company-keeper, and with these over to Fox Hall, and there fell into the company of Harry Killigrew, a rogue newly come back out of France, but still in disgrace at our Court, and young Newport and others, as very rogues as any in the town, who were ready to take hold of every woman that come by them. And so to supper in an arbour: but, Lord! their mad bawdy talk did make my heart ake! And here I first understood by their talk the meaning of the company that lately were called Ballets; Harris telling how it was by a meeting of some young blades, where he was among them, and my Lady Bennet1 and her ladies; and their there dancing naked, and all the roguish things in the world. But, Lord! what loose cursed company was this, that I was in to-night, though full of wit; and worth a man’s being in for once, to know the nature of it, and their manner of talk, and lives. Thence set Rolt and some of [them] at the New Exchange, and so I home, and my business being done at the office, I to bed.
- Evidently adopted as a cant expression. The woman here alluded to was a procuress well known in her day, and described in the “Tatler” (No. 84) as “the celebrated Madam Bennet.” We further learn, from the “Spectator” (No. 266), that she was the Lady B. to whom Wycherley addressed his ironical dedication of “The Plain Dealer,” which is considered as a masterpiece of raillery. It is worthy of remark that the fair sex may justly complain of almost every word in the English language designating a woman having, at some time or another, been used as a term of reproach; for we find Mother, Madam, Mistress, and Miss, all denoting women of bad character; and here Pepys adds the title of my Lady to the number, and completes the ungracious catalogue. — B. ↩