Saturday 22 August 1668

Up betimes, at it again with great content, and so to the Office, where all the morning, and did fall out with W. Pen about his slight performance of his office, and so home to dinner, fully satisfied that this Office must sink or the whole Service be undone. To the office all the afternoon again, and then home to supper and to bed, my mind being pretty well at ease, my great letter being now finished to my full content; and I thank God I have opportunity of doing it, though I know it will set the Office and me by the ears for ever. This morning Captain Cocke comes, and tells me that he is now assured that it is true, what he told me the other day, that our whole Office will be turned out, only me, which, whether he says true or no, I know not, nor am much concerned, though I should be better contented to have it thus than otherwise. This afternoon, after I was weary in my business of the office, I went forth to the ‘Change, thinking to have spoke with Captain Cocke, but he was not within. So I home, and took London-bridge in my way; walking down Fish Street and Gracious Street, to see how very fine a descent they have now made down the hill, that it is become very easy and pleasant, and going through Leaden-Hall, it being market-day, I did see a woman catched, that had stolen a shoulder of mutton off of a butcher’s stall, and carrying it wrapt up in a cloth, in a basket. The jade was surprised, and did not deny it, and the woman so silly, as to let her go that took it, only taking the meat.

11 Annotations

martinb   Link to this

"at it again"
Who would have thought this phrase possible in 1668?

Terry Foreman   Link to this

“at it again”
And without the negative sense of the activity involved.

Chris Squire   Link to this

‘jade, n.1 Etym: Of unknown origin; often assumed to be a doublet of yaud n. (Icelandic jalda mare), but apparently without reason.
. . 2. a. A term of reprobation applied to a woman. Also used playfully, like hussy or minx.
1560 Nice Wanton in W. C. Hazlitt Dodsley's Sel. Coll. Old Eng. Plays (1874) II. 179 Such a jade she is, and so curst a quean, She would out-scold the devil's dame I ween.
. . 1668 S. Pepys Diary 14 Jan. (1976) IX. 24 [Mrs] Pierce says that she [sc. Miss Davis] is a most homely jade as ever she saw.’ [OED]

Jesse   Link to this

"set the Office and me by the ears for ever"

Set by the ears? Websters http://tinyurl.com/3jrtes5
says that means they're in 'close contest'. Below there's "that our whole Office will be turned out, only me" which supports the close contest definition. Pissed at Penn and everyone else it seems. That letter better be "great".

"let her go that took it"

If I'm not mistaken being convicted for that kind of theft was serious business - I think letting her go was not quite your bleeding heart liberal type of silliness.

Jenny   Link to this

"set by the ears" - one of those lovely expressions still very much in use (in my part of the world anyway).

This whole entry is one of those wonderful entries which covers so much of Sam's world, from office business, recovered London after the fire, to the events in the market. Such a modern entry.

I don't know why the market holder let the woman go after she'd recovered the stolen mutton. Yes, it would have been a very serious offense, probably a hanging offense.

Phoenix   Link to this

"The jade was surprised, and did not deny it, and the woman so silly, as to let her go that took it, only taking the meat."

There are several ways of reading this passage. The most hopeful I think is that the butcher was indeed a bleeding heart liberal - a rare and precious person in that society.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"the woman so silly, as to let her go that took it, only taking the meat.”

Or, given a choice between the jade and the mutton, she chose what was edible.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

So it was a female butcher? Perhaps that explains the warm-hearted gesture. Still while Sam does his bit for law-and-order and has nervously watched during the torment and execution of the innocent Vane and the other Restoration show trials and more recently joined in accusing poor ole Pett...Who did after all have some responsibility at Chatham though it's Sam himself who notes he really doesn't deserve the condemnation and the horrors he's been experiencing, including coming quite close to what likely would have been a most gruesome death sentence...I like to think from various Diary episodes that Sam would step forward for some innocent soul wrongly accused or threatened with an unfair punishment if he could do so in reasonable safety. Given the potential fate of "small men" like himself, I can't blame him for being cautious in the Pett affair and such, but he's not the sort who enjoys seeing suffering. Don't know if he'd be an Oscar Schindler or a George Ryan but certainly a Poldy Bloom.

languagehat   Link to this

"he’s not the sort who enjoys seeing suffering"

Maybe not, but that's a far cry from leaping in to "step forward for some innocent soul wrongly accused or threatened with an unfair punishment"; distaste is a far, far more common reaction than intervention (and for good reason). Do you have any examples of Pepys taking such action in a non-official capacity?

Robert Gertz   Link to this

He's defended Hewer and Hayter, Hayter probably being the more dangerous and less necessary one to defend. He's urged old Cromwellian captains be kept on based on merit when political expediency might have suggested urging their dismissal. He's shown regard for Bess' position and spirit and that of others even in the midst of fighting with her and them. My sense is, and I said it was what I would like to think, from the Diary is that Sam's kindness and tolerance would lead him to defend the innocent in a blatant case if he could do it safely.

LKvM   Link to this

The jade was surprised, and did not deny it.

Surprised = caught in the act
As (allegedly) was Noah Webster when caught by his wife in a compromising situation with a housemaid, at which the wife said, "I am surprised!" and he said, "No, madam, you are astonished. I am surprised."

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