Friday 20 November 1668

This morning up, with mighty kind words between my poor wife and I; and so to White Hall by water, W. Hewer with me, who is to go with me every where, until my wife be in condition to go out along with me herself; for she do plainly declare that she dares not trust me out alone, and therefore made it a piece of our league that I should alway take somebody with me, or her herself, which I am mighty willing to, being, by the grace of God, resolved never to do her wrong more. We landed at the Temple, and there I bid him call at my cozen Roger Pepys’s lodgings, and I staid in the street for him, and so took water again at the Strand stairs; and so to White Hall, in my way I telling him plainly and truly my resolutions, if I can get over this evil, never to give new occasion for it. He is, I think, so honest and true a servant to us both, and one that loves us, that I was not much troubled at his being privy to all this, but rejoiced in my heart that I had him to assist in the making us friends, which he did truly and heartily, and with good success, for I did get him to go to Deb. to tell her that I had told my wife all of my being with her the other night, that so if my wife should send she might not make the business worse by denying it. While I was at White Hall with the Duke of York, doing our ordinary business with him, here being also the first time the new Treasurers. W. Hewer did go to her and come back again, and so I took him into St. James’s Park, and there he did tell me he had been with her, and found what I said about my manner of being with her true, and had given her advice as I desired. I did there enter into more talk about my wife and myself, and he did give me great assurance of several particular cases to which my wife had from time to time made him privy of her loyalty and truth to me after many and great temptations, and I believe them truly. I did also discourse the unfitness of my leaving of my employment now in many respects to go into the country, as my wife desires, but that I would labour to fit myself for it, which he thoroughly understands, and do agree with me in it; and so, hoping to get over this trouble, we about our business to Westminster Hall to meet Roger Pepys, which I did, and did there discourse of the business of lending him 500l. to answer some occasions of his, which I believe to be safe enough, and so took leave of him and away by coach home, calling on my coachmaker by the way, where I like my little coach mightily. But when I come home, hoping for a further degree of peace and quiet, I find my wife upon her bed in a horrible rage afresh, calling me all the bitter names, and, rising, did fall to revile me in the bitterest manner in the world, and could not refrain to strike me and pull my hair, which I resolved to bear with, and had good reason to bear it. So I by silence and weeping did prevail with her a little to be quiet, and she would not eat her dinner without me; but yet by and by into a raging fit she fell again, worse than before, that she would slit the girl’s nose, and at last W. Hewer come in and come up, who did allay her fury, I flinging myself, in a sad desperate condition, upon the bed in the blue room, and there lay while they spoke together; and at last it come to this, that if I would call Deb. whore under my hand and write to her that I hated her, and would never see her more, she would believe me and trust in me, which I did agree to, only as to the name of whore I would have excused, and therefore wrote to her sparing that word, which my wife thereupon tore it, and would not be satisfied till, W. Hewer winking upon me, I did write so with the name of a whore as that I did fear she might too probably have been prevailed upon to have been a whore by her carriage to me, and therefore as such I did resolve never to see her more. This pleased my wife, and she gives it W. Hewer to carry to her with a sharp message from her. So from that minute my wife begun to be kind to me, and we to kiss and be friends, and so continued all the evening, and fell to talk of other matters, with great comfort, and after supper to bed. This evening comes Mr. Billup to me, to read over Mr. Wren’s alterations of my draught of a letter for the Duke of York to sign, to the Board; which I like mighty well, they being not considerable, only in mollifying some hard terms, which I had thought fit to put in. From this to other discourse; and do find that the Duke of York and his master, Mr. Wren, do look upon this service of mine as a very seasonable service to the Duke of York, as that which he will have to shew to his enemies in his own justification, of his care of the King’s business; and I am sure I am heartily glad of it, both for the King’s sake and the Duke of York’s, and my own also; for, if I continue, my work, by this means, will be the less, and my share in the blame also. He being gone, I to my wife again, and so spent the evening with very great joy, and the night also with good sleep and rest, my wife only troubled in her rest, but less than usual, for which the God of Heaven be praised. I did this night promise to my wife never to go to bed without calling upon God upon my knees by prayer, and I begun this night, and hope I shall never forget to do the like all my life; for I do find that it is much the best for my soul and body to live pleasing to God and my poor wife, and will ease me of much care as well as much expense.

36 Annotations

Jesse   Link to this

"I flinging myself, in a sad desperate condition, upon the bed"

How pathetic. If it's part act to keep the peace he's rather good but not helping himself. It's Pepys's nose that stands to be slit if Elizabeth in yet another "horrible rage" pulls too hard and yanks the ring out.

Chris Squire   Link to this

'made it a piece of our league that I should alway take somebody with me . . '

‘league, n.2 Etym: French ligue . .
. . 2. gen. A covenant, compact, alliance. Now rare.
1509 S. Hawes Conuercyon Swerers (de Worde) 42 How that ye breke the lege of sothfastnesse.
. . 1667 Milton Paradise Lost iv. 339 Linkt in happie nuptial League.’ [OED]

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

W. Hewer winking upon me, I did write so with the name of a whore as that I did fear she might too probably have been prevailed upon to have been a whore by her carriage to me, and therefore as such I did resolve never to see her more.

Do you think Hewer delivered this message?

Robert Gertz   Link to this

No doubt in my mind that Will did deliver the note but that he agreed with Sam that the "whore" was a bit much and found some way to delete it. Poor Bess...Ready to push for a quiet life in the country, regardless of the loss of their swinging London lifestyle, urging Sam to pray for God's help...Every night... For all her rages...And her innocent flirtations, and in spite of his behavior, she really loves the little idiot, more than the life he's given her, it seems. Fortunately Sam seems aware of it, to some extent. Though one must love that our boy can't help noting that his new chaste lifestyle will have the good effect of reducing costs, the practical side of virtue.

And interesting that Will backs up her list of potential suitors...That seems to be registering a little at last with Sam, that he might face some dangerous competition if he presses her any harder.

Phew...If this is more or less it, Sam has truly dodged several bullets. As has Deb Willet...

Of course, the way things have been going, tomorrow will be the day Mrs. Bagwell shows, heavily pregnant, on the front stoop.

Ralph Berry   Link to this

" I find my wife on her bed in a horrible rage afresh..."

Some people thrive on all this drama and I am beginning to get the impression Mrs P was one of them. No stiff upper lip here, just bring it all out. She has got Sam well and truly by the proverbials and is squeezing the most out of them.

Will Hewer must be going home laughing with a great tale to tell his wife!

It would be interesting to find out if it was normal behavior in England in the 17C to be emotionally more open and flamboyant as we would now expect from a Mediterranean or South American culture compared with the reticent "show no emotion" up bringing we older Brits had.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"Drama Queen" Elizabeth Pepys, née St. Michel, has been feasting these past few years on French-influenced plays and French novels bought her by Mr. P.

Reminds me of Don Quixote, shaped by chivalric Romances, with which SP is faniliar. http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1667/11/29/

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

Shrewd assessment, Terry

jenny   Link to this

"Some people thrive on all this drama and I am beginning to get the impression Mrs P was one of them."

Interesting (and ridiculous) comment. Also, Will Hewer is not married and would not find any of this the slightest bit amusing.

Ralph, have you ever seen anyone in the same circumstances in which the Pepys now find themselves and have you any idea how they behave?

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Is Elizabeth Pepys threatening to be the first of the "Desperate Housewives"?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desperate_Housewives

Mark S   Link to this

@Ralph Berry

The British 'stiff upper lip' was a Victorian invention. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was quite normal for men of all classes to weep in public, even officers and men in the army and navy.

Joe Connell   Link to this

Can't but wonder what caused Elizabeth's outburst today (20 November), having been reasonably composed as Sam set out to work. Either receipt of further information about our Sam's activities (but retained) or a rather calculated negotiating ploy?

NJM   Link to this

I may be wrong but I have in the back of my mind that I read somewhere that the letter to Deb was more than one page and that the offensive pieces Elizabeth wanted included were on the second page, so faithful Will Hewer only delivered the first page. Anyone else have a recollection of that ?

martinb   Link to this

It is strange (to say the least) that Elizabeth Pepys has come in for so much criticism from commentators over the last few days. Perhaps admiration for Pepys the diarist is getting in the way here? To state the obvious, she's not the one who's been duplicitous and worse, she is simply fighting with all the weapons at her disposal to save her marriage, and little by little she seems to be pulling it off.

One of the few things you can say in Samuel Pepys's favour now is that he does not indulge in the provision of hollow excuses such as "She refused to dress the way I like her to", or "She should have paid me more attention" etc. He accepts that he is at fault and does not blame his "poor" wife for anything. In this respect at least, Pepys is behaving like a gentleman and is head and shoulders above somne of his admirers.

Phoenix   Link to this

No, he is trying to preserve the peace and quiet of his house, a well regulated house where he can read his books, play his music, entertain and be merry. Does he regret his behaviour? Yes, in as much as his house is in turmoil, but less I think because he sees his behaviour as intrinsically abhorrent. No marriage is cut and dry, there is always a joint dynamic in place. No one is making excuses for Sam but at the same time the seemingly prevalent view that Bess is faultless should be balanced with a reminder that her past behaviour has troubled and angered Sam - with justification. And by the way what gentleman allows himself to surveilled, to be coerced into praying every night and to acquiesce in calling a friend a whore? Better yet, what person demands that he do so?

Jenny even as our insides are being ripped out we can and do play our roles and not always with sincerity. It's not at all ridiculous. It's human.

languagehat   Link to this

"Interesting (and ridiculous) comment."

Well put.

"It is strange (to say the least) that Elizabeth Pepys has come in for so much criticism from commentators over the last few days."

From a very few commenters. I'm pretty sure most of us are entirely in sympathy with her, however much we enjoy the diary and its author.

Larry   Link to this

Why ridiculous? Drama and histrionics, to which Mrs. Pepys is clearly attracted, detract from one's legitimacy as the injured party. She might have been better served to have addressed her grievances calmly and dispassionately. Otherwise, it becomes all about the drama, which some people clearly relish.

A. De Araujo   Link to this

Sam should buy Bess a diamond ring or an expensive dress or even the carriage he has been contemplating buying for some time and peace will return to the household.

Barry P. Reich   Link to this

"I did this night promise to my wife never to go to bed without calling upon God upon my knees by prayer, and I begun this night, and hope I shall never forget to do the like all my life; for I do find that it is much the best for my soul and body to live pleasing to God and my poor wife, and will ease me of much care as well as much expense."

Getting caught red-handed often leads to religious conversion. Plus ça change.

Dorothy   Link to this

Bess is upset, and she has every right to be. Perhaps she doesn't always behave in the wisest way, but it is hard to be always wise when you are very much hurt and angry. Although I am sure the servants know all about it, she has kept what is going on as private as possible. She has attacked Deb only with words. She did not turn her out into the street, but let Deb stay until a new job could be found for her and she could leave quietly. In general her behavior has had the effect of guarding Sam's reputation and status. I think she has a right to a few bouts of hysterics.

AnnieC   Link to this

"Some people thrive on all this drama and I am beginning to get the impression Mrs P was one of them."

Let's not be too hard on Mrs P. She's been stuck at home all day, presumably she can't go out unaccompanied, and there is no one to unburden herself to. (Oh, for a cellphone!) One can imagine the mental turmoil as all day long her mind goes over and over the details of her husband's infidelity.
Sam, on the other hand, has had a productive day away from the hothouse atmosphere at home, conducting business as usual, having a therapeutic heart-to-heart with Hewer, and returns feeling mentally refreshed and just about back to normal.
An explosion was inevitable.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

I've said she was a drama queen: Samuel has recorded a host of prior occasions on which Mrs P was upset -- at servants, allowance money, clothes, etc. Her quarreling with the help has caused them to leave with some regularity -- save for a few who had the personal stability to weather these passing storms; he has often ended the day lying low; but the next morning they are "friends" again.

She is who she is at 28. In this case Pepys accurately blames himself for her upset, and at 35, shares the drama -- which, in his case veers toward the financial and spiritual -- which are linked by his strong belief in prosperity's flowing from divine providence -- so characteristic of modern Protestantism.

They are young, ever-striving perfectionists and childless.

languagehat   Link to this

"She might have been better served to have addressed her grievances calmly and dispassionately."

Sounds like something Mr. Spock would say. Amazingly, perfectly ordinary people (i.e., not drama queens) frequently react with illogical emotionality to infidelity on the part of people they love and depend on.

Jenny   Link to this

"Jenny even as our insides are being ripped out we can and do play our roles and not always with sincerity. It’s not at all ridiculous. It’s human."

Hmmm, I think it's obvious to all that I have a very personal experience of these circumstances. When I first read the diary I couldn't believe how the truth resonated from all those years ago. It's one of the reasons I love the diary so much.

My use of the word "ridiculous" was regarding the idea that Elizabeth was being a drama queen. Language Hat gets it. In fact it is a tribute to the annotators and their relationships that they haven't been in this situation - you start to think everyone has.

Having been a member of an infidelity forum for ten years, I can assure you that Elizabeth is reacting exactly as anyone does under these circumstances, now or 400 years before.

Mary   Link to this

Histrionics?

Do consider that Deb is one of the few members of domestic staff that Elizabeth has managed to establish an easy and pleasant relationship with. The two women appear to have spent a great deal of companionable time together and Deb has become very much a part of the family. The discovered betrayal must feel doubly overwhelming in these circumstances and I'm not in the least surprised that Elizabeth exhibits the degree of shock and fury that Pepys describes.

languagehat   Link to this

I entirely agree with Jenny and Mary's eloquent comments.

jeannine   Link to this

In all fairness to Elizabeth, we have to keep in mind that all individuals process things differently on many levels (intellectually, emotionally, etc.). Working through ones feelings is part of a process that each person must experience and move through on their own terms and at their own pace. What comes to mind to me would be a grieving process, where every person may experience a loss but process it in a totally different way.

In terms of Elizabeth is a drama queen, just look at other ladies of the time -at one end there is Queen Catherine, who went through her early outburst of emotion over her betraying husband and then lived in a passive and 'accepting' (at least in public) manner as she processed her neglect and ongoing betrayals. Then there is Lady Castlemaine would make Elizabeth look like a docile lamb in comparison to her antics.

Elizabeth has lost a friend and in many ways her husband too. It really is quite soon to expect that she could look at Sam without reliving what must have been a horrible scene seeing her husband physically involved with Deb. She deserves whatever time and understanding she needs to work through it on her own terms.

Phoenix   Link to this

Interesting how the annotations have fallen out on this. Hopefully what we who care to comment as annotators are doing is to use our learning and life experience to interpret what Sam has chosen to reveal. None of us know what their marriage was really like but in the diversity of comments offered surely the diary becomes a richer read - not contested territory. And Jenny you are not alone among the annotators to have walked into that dark valley.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Pepys himself sympathizes with the dramatic nature of Elizabeth's justifiable emotional response -- by which I mean, she acts out her negative feelings, as she typically does (no passive-aggression here: for decades I loved a women like her in this respect), and is demonstrative, doesn't hold her feelings in -- nor, now, this time, does he.

What he's done to her is multiply heinous, and he knows it: he's violated his marriage vows to her; he's cheated on her in her presence, with her confidant; he's lied about what he did; he's sworn it was over, but continued to pursue it in their home; and after Deb left pursued her even elsewhere in London, then perjured himself again in regard to his infidelities with other women.

She's been deeply wounded, perhaps irreparably.

----
I agree with Phoenix' post about the moving and insightful comments here.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"‘league, n.2 Etym: French ligue . .
. . 2. gen. A covenant, compact, alliance. Now rare."

Rare? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League

languagehat   Link to this

You seem to have missed the "gen." This definition comes after "1. A military, political, or commercial covenant or compact made between parties for their mutual protection and assistance against a common enemy, the prosecution or safeguarding of joint interests, and the like"; 1.b. covers various historical entities like the Hanseatic League, and 1.c. associations like the Anti-Corn-Law League and the Football League. The general use, for any random agreement (e.g., "made it a piece of our league that I should alway take somebody with me"), is indeed rare. In general, the OED knows what it's talking about.

(It's also useful to keep in mind that in the unrevised letters of the OED, like L, "now" means "the late nineteenth century.")

serafina   Link to this

And lets not forget poor Deb. Violated by an employer, cast out and called a whore.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"The general use, for any random agreement...is indeed rare."

lh, when we say two or more are "in league" is that phrase something else?

languagehat   Link to this

It's a fixed, and fairly archaic, expression, parallel to "kith and kin" (in that we don't use "kith" anywhere else).

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"made it a piece of our league"

I wonder if this "league" was written as we've been told some of SP's other oaths (and perhaps they all) have been? SP was a "get it in writing" type and from her recent demands, we find EP is also.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Elizabeth had, ultimately, no real power or rights except those allowed by her husband. Sam could have beaten her into submission to his behaviour and she would have had no recourse. Her sense of moral indignation and strength of will have won the day, but she has risked a great deal - because, as RG says she loves the little idiot. She truly is "mad about the boy". It was the betrayal in the home with one of the family - in the 17th c servants were family - that has outraged her. Hewer has been made privy to the details, but the whole household must have heard everything - lath and plaster walls are not soundproof. So, a new day dawns - wonder how long the praying on the knees each night will last?

pepfie   Link to this

"... I did write so with the name of a whore as that I did fear she might too probably have been prevailed upon to have been a whore by her carriage to me, and therefore as such I did resolve never to see her more."

To grasp the full glory of puritanical (or Jesuit?) reasoning this sentence ought to be converted in light of the known facts to direct speech and active voice:
"Since I could compel you to endure my groping and lately even to do a hand job I believe I might probably have succeeded in taking your maidenhead, too, which makes you a whore whom I won't see anymore."

Indeed "a bit much", to say the least.

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