Saturday 30 May 1668

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.

17 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

What's omitted by the ellipsis above explains Pepys's relief (L&M text):

"Here I was freed from a fear that Knepp was angry or might take advantage; did parlar the esto that yo did the otra day, quand yo was con her in ponendo her mano upon mi cosa -- but I saw no such thing; but as pleased as ever, and I believe she can bear with any such thing. Thence to the New Exchange...."

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"...I am like to go very spruce,..."

SPRUCE : neat, fashionable (L&M Large Glossary)

Chris Squire  •  Link

‘King’s evil n. < tr. medieval Latin regius morbus . . Scrofula, which in England and France was formerly supposed to be curable by the king's (or queen's) touch. (Cf. evil n.1 7c). The practice of touching for the king's evil continued from the time of Edward the Confessor to the death of Queen Anne in 1714. The Office for the ceremony has not been printed in the Prayer-book since 1719.
. . 1615 H. Crooke Μικροκοσμογραϕια 340 The seauenth Sonne is able to cure the Kings Euill.
1660 S. Pepys Diary 23 June (1970) I. 182 Stayed to see the King touch people of the King's evil.
1722 W. Beckett (title) A Free and Impartial Inquiry into the Antiquity and Efficacy of Touching for the King's Evil . . ‘

‘scrofula, n. A constitutional disease characterized mainly by chronic enlargement and degeneration of the lymphatic glands. Also called king's evil n. and struma n.
. . 1671 Philos. Trans. 1670 (Royal Soc.) 5 2080 Most inhabitants of which are troubled with the Scrofulæ or Kings Evil . . ‘

‘rogue n. and adj. Etym: Origin unknown. Perhaps related to roger n.1,
. . 2. a. A dishonest, unprincipled person; a rascal, a scoundrel.
. . 1605 1st Pt. Jeronimo sig. D3, My Lord, he is the most notorious rogue That euer breathd.
1680 H. Prideaux Lett. (1875) 81 Those rogues have designes goeing on, but if the King will but put on a little rigour he may easyly quel them.
1768 A. Tucker Light of Nature Pursued II. i. 138 It is a common saying that you must set a rogue to catch a rogue . .

. . 3. A mischievous person, esp. a child; a person whose behaviour one disapproves of but who is nonetheless likeable or attractive. Freq. as a playful term of reproof or reproach or as a term of endearment.
. . 1602 2nd Pt. Returne fr. Parnassus ii. vi. 1025, I shall be his little rogue, and his white villaine for a whole week after.
1672 Duke of Buckingham Rehearsal i. 6 It's a pretty little rogue; she is my Mistress. I knew her face would set off Armor extreamly.’ [OED]

Robert Gertz  •  Link

How does Sam meet such kind-hearted women like Knepp who bear him so patiently?

Quite a wild circle our boy is moving in in these last days of freedom... I see he's using the same defense as with his brown paper wrapping book...

Terry Foreman  •  Link

L&M transcibe: “And here I first understood by their talk the meaning of the company that lately were called Ballers;….”

Of BALLERS the L&M Large Glossary says: an association of rakish young courtiers, comparable to the next century's Hell-fire club. and related to the shady "Ballock Hall", the presumably mythical base of their activities.

A wild circle indeed, RG -- another nighttime dalliance in the theatre district.

Mary  •  Link

little Katherine Mountagu

The passage reads as if the poor girl's sore eyes are being attributed to the effects of the King's Evil, but nothing that I have read indicates ocular symptoms in that malady. I hope we're not to assume that she has both sore eyes and scrofula.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

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.

Purely research, you understand, no intention of behaving shamefully oneself of course. (At least, not where anyone else can see it......)

Mark S  •  Link

Scrofula can indeed be associated eyesight problems. Dr Samuel Johnson had scrofula as a child, and as a result his eyesight was affected for the rest of his life.

From Smith's Family Physician (1873):

"In more severe cases, the eyes are particularly the seat of disease; they become inflamed, and sometimes the sight is lost altogether."

Mary  •  Link

Mark S.

Thank you for the information. I clearly didn't Google extensively enough.

language hat  •  Link

"and there fell into the company of ... as very rogues as any in the town, who were ready to take hold of every woman that come by them."

The mind boggles. Cognitive dissonance, thy name is Pepys!

martinb  •  Link

There is much wisdom in B's textual note on "Lady" Bennet above, which has a surprisingly modern feel that would be further enhanced by altering its reference to the "fair sex" and replacing the final adjective "ungracious" with, say, "misogynistic" or plain "sexist".

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Amusing to think of Sam as the sober, conservative gent (with roguish streak) among these young blades and rogues, like Poldy Bloom running with the Dublin medicos...Or Donald Draper with the beatniks. One wonders, did he quietly try to urge one or two to a more sober, successful lifestyle?

"Who's the dude writing notes to himself, Harry?"

"'eh? Ah, that's Pepys...Hey, Pepys? My friend here wants to know what yer writin' there? Office notes? Pepys...Lose the chains, man. Hey, Benny..." call to 'Lady' Bennett... "Tell the pop-eyed guy in the bad wig to relax a little. Here's a health for Sam Pepys!" drinks...

"Stop writin' those notes, man...You're freakin' me out. You a spy for the King or somethin'?" speaker rises. Whoa...Moving coach...He is tossed to side.

"Pepys is ok..." hand wave. "Dick's just scared of his dad getting wind of his nite out, Pepys. No sweat...We're all...urrrrpppp...Gents, here, eh?"

"Lets go to Fran Stewarts and tell them we're the King come by for another visit?!"


"Just send Mr. Wig home...I don't like him, Harry." Dick fumes. "All those little notes...My head's spinnin'..."

"Why don't ye try to be nice, Mr. Wig." Bennett cozes to Sam who draws back a bit.

One thing to fondle a sleeping actress or a helpless subordinate's wife...Quite another to have a notorious madam attempting to grope you.

"Smith." Sam corrects... "But, I'm quite fine, thanks...Well settled here, leaving shortly."

"What yer writin' there, love?" Bennett eyes slip in Sam's hand. Eyes narrowing...Grabs...


"Girls...Who can read?"

"Nothin' I can read..." one heavily painted...It would be that one, Sam sighs...Young lady attempts to read. "T'ain't King's English...I bet he's a spy."

"Return that, please...Now!" Sam grabs for slip.

"Was matter, Pepys?" Harry calls.

"Knew the Wig was a spy..." Dick shakes head. Oh...Head...

"Toss 'im out, girls!" Bennett calls. "You, girl, open!" addresses girl by coach door.

"Mr. Pepys?"

"Mrs. Bagwell?"

pepfie  •  Link

King's evil / scrofula / sore eyes

Little Lady Katherine (b. 20 August 1661) passed away at the ripe old age of 96. With the benefit of hindsight, therefore, the King's evil "they" suspected can't have been a tuberculous cervical lymphadenitis (scrofula), common in adults but rare in her age group. Among other causes of pediatric scrofula/cervical lymphadenopathy (cat-scratch disease, toxoplasmosis, sarcoidosis, actinomycosis...), however, infection with non-tuberculous mycobacteria would be entirely possible and anterior eye involvement (via hematogenous spread or smear infection from a sinus tract) is fairly common (about 5.000 Google hits for NTM keratitis/conjunctivitis).

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