Friday 11 January 1660/61

Office day. This day comes news, by letters from Portsmouth, that the Princess Henrietta is fallen sick of the meazles on board the London, after the Queen and she was under sail. And so was forced to come back again into Portsmouth harbour; and in their way, by negligence of the pilot, run upon the Horse sand. The Queen and she continue aboard, and do not intend to come on shore till she sees what will become of the young Princess. This news do make people think something indeed, that three of the Royal Family should fall sick of the same disease, one after another. This morning likewise, we had order to see guards set in all the King’s yards; and so we do appoint who and who should go to them. Sir Wm. Batten to Chatham, Colonel Slingsby and I to Deptford and Woolwich. Portsmouth being a garrison, needs none.

Dined at home, discontented that my wife do not go neater now she has two maids. After dinner comes in Kate Sterpin (whom we had not seen a great while) and her husband to see us, with whom I staid a while, and then to the office, and left them with my wife.

At night walked to Paul’s Churchyard, and bespoke some books against next week, and from thence to the Coffeehouse, where I met Captain Morrice, the upholster, who would fain have lent me a horse to-night to have rid with him upon the Cityguards, with the Lord Mayor, there being some new expectations of these rogues; but I refused by reason of my going out of town tomorrow. So home to bed.

70 Annotations

First Reading

David Duff  •  Link

After several months reading these fascinating diaries, I have come to the tentative conclusion that I don't really like Sam Pepys. Of course, I shall continue to read him but still, I don't think I would have cared to have had dinner with him! Am I alone?
David Duff

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"discontented that my wife do not go neater now she has two maids" one of them is sister Pall I supose! Indeed he is not a likable guy; I don't know if he is more honest than the average person in England at the time.

Barbara  •  Link

I entirely disagree. He obviously had enormous charm, was fascinated by any new knowledge, was generous to his friends and seems to me to be acceptably honest for the time. He delighted in singing and playing music, and was a loyal support to Sandwich and his wife and children. He has recently had great pleasure in discourse with his wife, whom he married for love, but is irritated about her housekeeping: probably with good reason. His head is easily turned by women, and he is honest about his feelings.

All in all, he comes across as human and his own man. Political correctness hadn't been invented.

Alan  •  Link

I would pay to have a tour with Sam and hit all the drinking establishments he visits. Great discourse, wonderful people to meet - perhaps a maiden or two, and could you imagine a better tour guide?
I'm with Barbara, I like Sam.

Malcolm Beach  •  Link like or not to like?
One has to remember that Sam, by his daily diary entries, is putting on paper his actions, observations and personal thoughts.
In my opinion the daily entries keep everything in order and offers a form of review and a record for his personal ongoing learning process.
How many of us could be as honest as Sam and allow others to view our weaknesses without loosing some of our projected aura.
Most only show the side of their character that is visible.
Obviously,to all outwards appearances Sam was a sociable, likable fellow with reliable work ethics.
My kind of guy! From his wife's perspective that is another viewpoint!

EdLeZ  •  Link

Don't like Sam? I'd stop reading right now. As for me, there are nights when I'm about to fall off to sleep that I try and get my head in shape to actually be able to dream of Sam, London and the 1660s. Of course, I never do -- but it certainly would be one of my first stops with my Time Machine. (How can anyone not like this guy?)

dirk  •  Link

"more honest than the average person in England at the time?"

Don't forget this is an intimate diary we're reading. It was never meant for other eyes, which is also why it was written in shorthand. So the honesty we're seeing here is honesty towards oneself - and I think that most people will be honest to themselves in their private diary.

As to liking Sam, that's of course a matter of personal appreciation. He was not the "ideal" human being, but he was certainly not a bad person either - and let's be honest: are we basically any different?

Personally I've become rather fond of him...

dirk  •  Link

"that three of the Royal Family should fall sick of the same disease"

Interesting comment! Sam seems genuinely surprised. Had they any notion of contagious diseases at the time?

dirk  •  Link

"contagious diseases"

An article on the subject:

"The Emergence and Development of the Notion of Contagion", by F. Gonzalez-Crussi MD…

vincent  •  Link

"to thine own self be true" nobody is perfect. Or
Non oris causa modo homines aequom fuit sibi habere speculum,
sed qui perspicere possent cor sapientiae. Plautus, Epiducus, 382-383
a trans : man needs a good mirror to examine fully his heart as well as his visage.
Publick face usually hides the core which could be rott'n but here we see the core which has not been exposed by other observers[yet], which is really rather rare occurance:[ ultimate in top secret clearance, mine eyes only] if one has had the priviledge? to be in corporate closed meetings, do know that publick personna 'tis only a facade in many cases.

Emilio  •  Link

Contagious diseases

Nice article above. Even by the late 19th century "bad air" was still the best theory around for how disease was spread - Richard Burton, for one, was obsessed with draining marshes to create healthy cities. By that time London had possibly even worse air than in Sam's day, thanks to ongoing growth and the modern innovation of smog . . .

Roger Arbor  •  Link

Sam is indispensible. An honest man TO HIMSELF under all the 17th century pretence. The old saying has it: "If you really knew me you wouldn't speak to me. But that's OK, if I really knew you I wouldn't speak to you either". Vincent, how does it go? "O si sic Omnes"... something like "Would all the world like you" (or Sam in this case).

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Liking Sam

Do I dislike Sam? I have often felt as David does, but have come to the conclusion that the question is one which philosophers would describe as not only unanswerable, but unaskable.

He was a man of his time. Three months ago (Oct. 13th., and not a unique entry) Sam began his day by watching a man being hanged, drawn and quartered, after which he ate oysters with some friends and then went home where he got angry with his wife for being untidy. And in the afternoon he put up shelves! If I knew somebody who could spend a day like that I think I would probably dislike him.

More than 1,000 of my direct ancestors were living in England in Pepys' time and, using this criterion, I would have disliked them too. But, like David, I will continue to read his diary>

andy  •  Link

Like/Dislike Sam:

I have reservations about his emerging character. I think he has become corrupted by the Restoration and the privilige he has grasped under it. Also I note his physical violence towards women (witness his attack on the maid) and his immaturity in sexual relationships.

I read him with a kind of fascinated horror. I don't think you have to like him to read him (e.g. Alan Clark!).

Matthew  •  Link

"This news do make people think something indeed, that three of the Royal Family should fall sick of the same disease, one after another. This morning likewise, we had order to see guards set in all the King's yards…”

Is there an implication of political enemies using sorcery?

Mary  •  Link

'...discontented that my wife do not go neater..'

The point here seems to be that, given 2 maids to take care of the housekeeping, there is no reason why Elizabeth should not be presentable at all reasonable hours. Sam is an aspiring man, and does not want any of his various visitors to think that he cannot afford to keep his wife well, nor to think that he is married to a slummock. He has criticised her before for untidiness and leaving clothes strewn about the place. He's not being unreasonable, surely?

Xjy  •  Link

Sam's a time-server in uncertain times.
A bit like Cicero, whose letters are also fascinating, even though he too was always on the take and looking after number one. Rousseau is much more to my taste.
Sam has no conception of any better society, just better circumstances for him. A hard-working mid-level officer, up for all the perks he can get. Any entertainment that doesn't affect his social facade is OK, and he likes entertainment! And he even manages to tame a potentially rebellious creative streak by siphoning it off a little every day into the diary.
Which is why this daily dose is the perfect way to read him! In larger chunks the narrow-minded selfishness of the bourgeois climber is just too much to take...

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Rousseau is much more to my taste" didn't Rousseau give his own children to foundling homes,when at the time that was almost certain death?

Barbara  •  Link

I must disagree again! I read the L & M edition right through every couple of years and still find Sam fascinating. As his work progresses he certainly develops a conception of a better society, within his sphere of influence, and he was trusted to do his best by the King and Prince. His organisational and administrative skills were outstanding.

At that time if you didn't have family money or attach yourself to a patron, you were vulnerable so you had to look out for yourself. No welfare state, pension schemes, or other benefits.

He is still only in his 20s, and (if it's not a spoiler) continues throughout his life to support members of his family, including his disastrous brother in law.

Off topic, but I also have a soft spot for Alan Clark!

gordonh  •  Link

Sam's 27; he's lived through civil war, regicide, and the restoration, ie very uncertain, bloody, times. If he, or his boss falls out of favour, he'd be jobless tomorrow, so little wonder he's worried about money. And he is not corrupt, just doing business by the standards of his time (and he did a great job for the Royal Navy - if he had been corrupt, money would have stuck to his fingers and the Navy would have suffered). Same goes for his "attack" on Jane. To argue otherwise would be like accusing doctors of the period of being sadists for operating without anaesthetic. As for "sexual immaturity", well, he is only 27, he enjoys it, seems to be accepted mores. I think an evening, or several, in his company would be great fun - he's intelligent, musical, fond of literature, the theatre, and discussion, and of good food, and good drink ...

PHE  •  Link

I like Sam
Kevin Sheerstone says "he was a man of his time". On the contrary, what I find remarkable about reading Pepys is that you can imagine him living in the London of today. His diaries demonstrate how little human nature changes over the centuries. With regards to being indifferent to public executions, I would draw a strong parallel with the way that today we regularly see graphic violence and hear/read the morbid details of war and murder (both in films and in the news), and then turn back to our everyday lives.

gerry  •  Link

gordonh sums up my own feelings about Sam.I'm sure that many of the male readers see a lot of themselves in Sam's desire to get ahead in life.It's not that long ago, when many wives were "homemakers",that they still played an important part in their husband's career. Before my first overseas posting my wife was vetted as thoroughly as I was.It's simply anachronistic to apply today's standards to the past.

David Duff  •  Link

David Smith e-mailed me to ask my reasons for failing to like Sam Pepys. I have replied to him and I trust he will not object if I re-print it here in the hopes that it will provoke more conversation on the subject:

"I can best explain my ambivalence towards Sam Pepys by an expression we have all used from time to time, "I never really liked old so-and-so, of course, he never actually did me any harm and he was always a respectable sort of a bloke, but, I just didn't like him very much." Oddly enough, virtue or vice rarely comes in to it - we all know out-and-out scoundrels who, nevertheless, we like enormously. I think, as with contemporary acquaintances, it is the small things that jar. His dislike of Shakespeare irritates me but that's because I love it. His constant church-going never seems to teach him the gracious art of charity judging by his coldly, superior approach to his impoverished sister. And his petty, snappy rebuke to his wife concerning her appearance, now that she has two housemaids, really grated. Overall there seems to be a narrowness of vision about the man; he doesn't seem capable of, so to speak, getting outside of himself and viewing the bigger picture - 'pettifogging' is the word I'm looking for! Let me be clear, I don't dislike the man; I just can't warm towards him. I look forward to reading efforts to persuade me I am wrong.”
David Duff

skutch  •  Link

this was back when most wives were real shrews, miltons wives treated him like a garbage

Brad W  •  Link

I sometimes find Sam's accounts of his flashes of temper sobering. He's honest enough to admit to them, but I'm wondering if he shades them in his favor a bit. "Discontented" in his eyes could have come out as anything from "spoke crossly about" to "strapped my bare back" in Elizabeth's diary, had she kept one. I think we're coming to a new understanding of anger and violence in the 21st Century. I know for a fact that what would have been called "normal discipline" in the U.S. 50 years ago could get you charged with assault and battery or child abuse now. I don't really know what the consensus was in 1661 about domestic disputes, domestic violence or appropriate outlets for anger. As someone whose family suffered greatly from what some would have called "a stern upbringing" in 1950, I admit to cringing at the thought of what Sam MIGHT mean, and would enjoy the diaries more if I felt more secure for Elizabeth's safety. And don't quote Sam's pillow talk entry of yesterday, for anyone familiar with wife beaters can tell you about the cycles of kindness and cruelty.

Nix  •  Link

Liking Samuel --

We get a more intimate, immediate view of Samuel through the diary than I get from any friends or acquaintances.

Perhaps the only people who see others as closely as the diary sees Samuel are psychiatrists, psychologists and pastors. Are there any of them in the chorus? How difficult is it to "like" someone who is scrupulously honest and forthcoming with you?

David A. Smith  •  Link

"discontented that my wife do not go neater now she has two maids"
To answer David Duff in open letter, even though Sam occasionally makes me wince, I like him enormously:
He's candid.
He's clever.
He writes with exquisite clarity and immediacy. Every scene comes alive.
He knows himself -- his ambition, his wit, his vainglory, his possessiveness.
He's complex.
He's curious, studious, diligent.
He's loyal to his boss.
He's fully alive and full of energy and enterprise.
He's pious and ever aware that God has rolled the dice in his favor.
He is, for all his dalliances, profoundly in love with his wife Elizabeth -- that shines through even if reflected against his exasperation (as above).
He's human.

This last is all -- he is so utterly, utterly human, in his desires, his lusts, his foibles, his childlike delight in his new circumstances. Diogenes gave his life to find an honest man, and here we have kidney-stone-pained, bottom-pinching, ass-kissing, mead-quaffing, social-climbing, London-scuttling, ear-boxing, velvet-suited Samuel Pepys. "He was a man, take him for all in all."
My favorite mystery novelist, John Dickson Carr, once wrote a marvelous Restoration historical whodunit, The Devil In Velvet, whose conceit is of an English history don transported (by Beelzebub himself!) back to London 1675 to solve a murder. In this tour de force, Carr in effect asks us, "could you have done better, even knowing so much more?" Were I for my sins dropped back into Sam Pepys' corpus, January 1, 1660, could I have done better than he?

Could I have done as well?

Arthur  •  Link

Everyone praises Pepys' writing, but I just don't see it in these early entries. There's not much color and often it's not even clear what he's syaing. It seems like anyone could have written these.

I got out my anthologies of English lit, and in all of them the Pepys selections are taken from a much later period, around the middle of the decade. I don't think he's developed his skill as of January 1661.

Lawrence  •  Link

I have to say that I like the Man, I also think that he intended for us to read his diary, or why else did he leave it in his Library? I do cringe when I see how he and his wife behave towards Pall, but Sam will in her future give her a fair portion, and Elizabeth can play him like an old violin when she has a mind too, I for one will be here, loving every twist and turn of their lives.

Glyn  •  Link

Elizabeth Pepys is an inveterate Slut
and Samuel Pepys has character flaws, but I personally like both of them.

However, one of Pepys' character traits (it seems to me) is being uncomfortable with the threat of violence but here - at the end of the entry - the dashing Captain Morrice invites him to ride through the night and possibly battle with murderous renegades. Of course Sam refuses - and has a perfectly good reason for his refusal - but does anyone else agree with me that he was secretly relieved to be able to turn the invitation down?

Glyn  •  Link

Frenchman: potentially embarrassing meeting with

Last year, Samuel Pepys did his best to persuade Kate Sterpin NOT to marry Henri Petit. However, she subsequently came into an inheritance so that she could support him and married him anyway (good for her). Now she and her husband are paying their first call on Sam and Elizabeth.

I wonder if she told her husband about what Samuel did, and I wonder if Samuel was worried about that. Does anyone else notice an undercurrent to their meeting as recorded in this entry? Kate and her husband aren't invited for dinner (which is at mid-day) and Pepys seems to have left as soon as it was polite to do so, leaving the visitors to Elizabeth. I understand that he probably did have a lot of work to do before tomorrow's journey, but it wouldn't have been out of character for him to spend the whole afternoon with Kate and her husband, and then do the work in the evening. Personally I think he was a little embarrassed by their visit.

Eric Walla  •  Link

Funny, I never considered up until now ...

... if I actually liked Sam. I certainly appreciate him and the vision he provides us of this period. I believe from his accounts that he is a true friend, a conscientious worker, and at times a wayward husband. Were he a literary character I could say I liked him on that level, but as a living man? Were we to be magically introduced I would be predisposed to like him, but only face-to-face time could cement that kind of bond.

One thing I cannot entertain without considerable more evidence is the notion that Sam is a physical abuser, not based on the information that comes down to us so far. He indicates his regret for attacking Jane, he is fully remorseful for getting physical and damaging Elizabeth's basket (OK, he DID want to drop the dog out the window)--I cannot make the leap based on his candid speech in these entries to a position that, when he speaks ill of his wife, he is in fact alluding to wife beating.

Now I think I'll go back to not considering if I like him so I can simply continue to enjoy his diary. One thing I DO know--in another nine years I'm sure I will miss him. And all of you illusory ghosts, for that matter!

Jean Spencer  •  Link

To go out with, Sam is generous, ingratiating and charming; at home, he's penny-pinching and has tantrums and throws his weight around. There are lots of people one might want to meet for drinks and dinner, but would never want in one's family or to work with. And he's one of them.

Lawrence  •  Link

Yes Glyn I agree with you, I think that Sam was very relieved that he had a genuine reason for turning down Captain Morrice, What I would have called a "close un"

smallGreyMouse  •  Link

I like Sam. I would love to be friends with him. My first post; what has drawn me out of the woodwork is the query about psychologsts and wife beating. Not that one can really diagnose from a diary several hundred years and a complete culture separated from my experience and expertise, but here goes. I'm a psychologist and have fairly extensive experience with abuse and domestic violence. One thing that most abusers do is deny responsibility for their actions. "She made me beat her." "She kissed that Frenchman and needed to be taught a lesson." Sam doesn't do this. He seems (as far as we can tell) pretty honest about his own shortcomings. His behavior toward Elizabeth may not be ideal in 21st century terms, but his love shines through.

Mary House  •  Link

I find Sam irresistable. He seizes life with both hands and has a richness of experiences that I envy. After this first year, I find that I carry him with me as I go through my day and think from time to time, "what would Sam think of this or that?" Happy that there are another nine years to look forward to.

dirk  •  Link

"Do I like Sam? The question is not only unanswerable, but unaskable"

Having read the annotations on liking or disliking Sam, I tend to agree with Kevin. With reference to earlier diary entries I've suggested a number of times that we should try to look at Sam (and the others) not as somebody from our own time, subject to our moral criteria, or our likes and dislikes. Sam belongs in his own time - and he seems to belong very well.

When I said earlier that I had become rather fond of him, I meant that I'm thoroughly enjoying the picture his diary offers us of the 17th century, as well as the insight in a pretty normal person's daily attempt - not always perfect but not "evil" - to survive as well as he can and make the (17th century) best of it. The "sense of history" if you want.

When we say that we "like" him - and there's no harm in playing with the idea - chances are that what we "like" is our own projection of Sam into our own time, not 17th century Sam Pepys. In that way he is really beyond our liking or disliking him: it's simply irrelevant!

The only way we could really know whether we "liked" Sam or not, would be for us to meet him in his time as people born and bred in that same period, without the "luggage" of our present way of thinking - and that of course is manifestly impossible.

(I'll probably get some angry reactions to this - I hope not - but that's the way I feel about it...)

vincent  •  Link

Liking, Disliking ? No person is perfect, 'tis like an orange don't eat the skin or seeds and enjoy the rest, or the other way around, 'tis only a preference.

vera  •  Link

Vincent. Well Said!

'Nuff said, dare I say?

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Yes Glyn and Lawrence, I too think Sam was relieved, and I can't say I blame him. It's only two days since his foray into the Fanatic-infested streets, and he was on his own then. I think he was probably feeling that he'd been more than brave enough this week. All things in moderation.

Ruben  •  Link

I never asked myself if I liked SP. I can not judge him, I can not evaluate his behavior. He is to far removed from my time to do him justice.
But I do know I love this almost modern and honest character and also I love all of you, curious as me, looking back at someone identical to us anatomically and still different.
Oh! I love to open my day reading SP's entries and your chat and hope to be around till the last page of his memories.

Mickey  •  Link

Dirk mentioned that he wasn't an "ideal human being," and I thought, "Thank heavens he isn't." How boring this would be if it were someone who wasn't just a little ambitious, curious, naughty, jealous, nosy, catty, greedy, or regretful.

His actions may not be transferable to our times, but his emotions certainly are. I can relate with an awful lot he says and feels, even if I can't agree with it.

Jackie  •  Link

I suspect that "ideal human beings" (if they exist) would not make a good diarist. Pepys is more interesting because of his flaws and the fact that he's so honest about those flaws in his diaries. When he's been petty or jealous, he says so. Last night, I was watching the Alan Clark diaries. Again, about as far from an "ideal human being" as it's possible to get, yet his diaries were all the better for that.

language hat  •  Link

I agree with dirk.
Impossible to know whether one would like him or dislike him without meeting the man in person, and I suspect many of us would be surprised by our reaction. You really can't equate diary entries, no matter how frank, with a person. (As a writer, however, he's irresistible.)

cheska  •  Link

"discontented that my wife do not go neater now she has two maids"…
If I may put in my interpretation on behalf of EP and womenkind — I think EP, Jane, and Pall were getting acquainted and spending time chatting, talking, giggling… hence, not tackling those chores in a timely way. just putting myself in the times which is not doable but fun to surmise.

Mary  •  Link

my wife do not GO neater

The complaint is that Elizabeth is not more presentably attired. This is the meaning of 'go' here.

Daniel Baker  •  Link

"...three of the Royal Family should fall sick of the same disease..."

This is puzzling, because Pepys says that Henrietta has "meazles." Prince Henry and Princess Mary had died of smallpox, not measles. Was the name measles also applied to smallpox in Pepys's day? Which disease did Henrietta actually have?

CGS  •  Link

According to the OED, they, under the two diseases had been found used in the same sentence in the 1500's, as they be both pock like. So the lay-man might be a trifle confused at this period..

see the wiki page, there the princess died in '70 of peritonitis an ulcer burst?????? her mother in '69
Wiki be so good, as it has been scrubbed by many minds.

Mary  •  Link


Perhaps worth noting also that Rhazes (Persian physician of the late 9th, early 10th centuries) was the first to make a clear distinction between smallpox and measles BUT inclined to the view that they were different forms of the same disease; one was more dangerous and severe than the other, but both capable of killing the patient.

cum salis grano  •  Link

Mary thankes for the Rhazes connection

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"... into Portsmouth harbour; and in their way, by negligence of the pilot, run upon the Horse sand."

"The current out of Portsmouth Harbour, after passing Southsea Castle Point, yet retains sufficient velocity to insure the continuance of a deepwater channel, by reason of the latter being contracted by the western shore of the Horse Sand, which forms the left bank of the sea-reach, and the eastern side of the Spit Sand, which forms its right bank, until that current falls into the strong current or tideway of Spithead Roads, or debouches into the contracted channel between the Horse Sand and the north shore of the Isle of Wight."
The Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, Volume 5, Page 564…

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

To "like" or not?
Most people of my age (late 50s) were, at some time or other, physically chastised by their parents. If we were lucky, it mas moderate and not very often. I echo those who say that one must judge people by the standards of their own time. In Sam's day the head of the house was, informally, in a position akin to Roman 'paterfamilias', and behaved accordingly. I get the impression that Sam didn't really enjoy throwing his weight around, and regretted his occasional losses of temper. Nonetheless, he had to keep up appearances and satisfy social expectations.

This little phrase from yesterday says a lot " .... whereof he (Hawley) did in his nobleness give the odd 5s. to my Jane." Firstly, he appreciated Hawley's kindness; secondly, it was "MY" Jane. His fondness for her was demonstrated by his later financial provision for her.…

Edith Lank  •  Link

Malcolm says Sam allows others to see his weaknesses but indeed he doesn't. Not only is the diary in shorthand, but when it gets really interesting he lapses into a Spanish-French-Latin jargon as an extra precaution. Still, he may have had us in mind, given the care he took of the diaries and the provisions he made for them after his death.
As for his wife's viewpoint -- I believe someone has written a novel telling Elizabeth's story (note of course that Sam never mentions her first name.)

joe fulm  •  Link

having read the diary since last October SP does not give much in the way of what he thinks. maybe he doesn't. for example he has no opinion about the fantastiques belief in the coming of Jesus. SP only mentions god when he has had a windfall. yesterday he writes about meeting the petits but does not re iterate how he had advised Elizabeth not to marry henri late last year. or whether he might have been right or wrong about that. the diary is still fascinating in the recordance of everyday events.

joe fulm  •  Link

not Elizabeth, Kate

Pandora  •  Link

I have often asked myself if I like Sam or not. I hold an intrigue about him, and I do think he was generally a good honest person. I believe I do like him as a human, although I could never be married to someone as debaucherous as he was. I still love visiting some of the places he has been (the places left..) and seeing them through his stories....

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"This morning likewise, we had order to see guards set in all the King’s yards; and so we do appoint who and who should go to them. Sir Wm. Batten to Chatham, Colonel Slingsby and I to Deptford and Woolwich"

Cf. Duke of York to Sir W. Compton, 1 January, ordering the delivery of arms for this purpose. PRO. The Duke mentioned Slingsby, but not Pepys, as responsible for Deptford and Woolwich. (L&M)

Michaela  •  Link

“A woman, a spaniel and a walnut tree, the more you beat them the better still they be”
I’m pretty sure that proverb was quoted fairly often in Sam’s time as wisdom - horrific to imagine now. I wonder what Sam would make of our lives today?

Third Reading

Josh Crockett  •  Link

If everyone laid bare their actions and thoughts, you probably wouldn't like anyone.

MartinVT  •  Link

"discontented that my wife do not go neater now she has two maids."

For all the discussion since 2004, prompted by this line, as to whether Sam is likable or not, we don't actually know whether or how he showed his discontent. Did he keep it to himself? Did he have words with Elizabeth about it? If so, were they gentle or harsh? We have no clue. We do know that at other times when Sam has scolded his wife about something, he often feels remorse later, and there is sometimes mention of making up and "being friends" once again. between them. But there is no mention of that, this time. I'm inclined to think he just grumbled a little and kept his feelings mostly to himself. As any of us might do today.

Awanthi Vardaraj  •  Link

I'm a bit staggered at the 2004 discussions that resulted in Elizabeth being called a slut, wives 'shrews', and men being the only ones who want to get ahead in life. I beg to differ; women want to get ahead just as well. Perhaps women's ambitions were different during Elizabeth's time, but women -had- ambitions, as we have always done.

As for Elizabeth's being a slut, not only do I object to the word, but I see no evidence of slutty behaviour from Sam's diaries. She was still young, in her late teens, in fact, and I can speak from personal experience that I was absolutely not ready to be someone's wife or keep house when I was in my late teens. I'd have been absolutely terrible at it. I have to implore that people be treated as individuals, and not as a collective whole. Sweeping generalisations are tiresome, and false.

Finally, Sam is certainly not without fault, but which of us are? I have kept journals since my early teens, and I cringe at the thought of any of them being public consumption as Sam's journals are. We see Sam in his entirety, portraying himself with complete honesty, and I too would not be amiss with spending several evenings in his company, talking with him about art, literature, theatre, music, food, drink, and life! Sam is fascinating, and his utter honesty as he writes to himself in his journal is truly appreciated.

Awanthi Vardaraj  •  Link

Pardon, that should read as 'not averse to (spending several evenings)' above.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

"This news do make people think something indeed, that three of the Royal Family should fall sick of the same disease": The dot connectors, a species that will surely have withered in future, more enlightened aeons such as the 21st century of ye ladies and gentlemen, do not have to stretch very far on this one. Why, only recently was the Princess Royal, Mary of Orange, buried, and, as Mercurius Politicus said (in Thos. Rugge his summary), "pray take notice that this solemenity was a privet thinge don in the darke in regarde the two famous leaders fell soe soone that not above three quarters of one yeare but fell the most renowned and hopefull Prince, Duke of Gloucester, on the same distemper, the small pox, as fell this royall lady". And now this; sir John Finch, himself a physician, notes this day in a letter to Lord Conway (State Papers) that "Princess Henrietta is (...) out of danger; Dr Frazer has let her blood; [Finch] hopes it will be with better success than the rest of the Royal Family have had".

A doctor's plot? A curse? Or, less rationally of course, corrupted blood running deep in the Stuart line? Because, to think of it - Mary queen of Scots, deposed; Charles I, shortened; this pox on their house, and on the way to France, at that. Could there be an element of Dieu Le Veult?

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Dr Finch in his letter to Lord Conway (at…) also had an excellent report to provide, on what the city of London has been dealing with: "On Sunday [6 Jan., the events' kick-off] , 50 Fifth-Monarchy men went to Mr. Johnson , a bookseller near St. Paul's, and demanded the church keys; being refused, they broke open the door, and setting sentries, demanded of passengers [customers, presumably] whom they were for; one answered for King Charles, on which they replied they were for King Jesus, and shot him through the heart" - those Fifth Monarchists are on to something, here. "On Wednesday morning, they returned to the city with mad courage, fell on the guard, and beat the Life Guard and a whole regiment in half-an-hour, refusing all quarter. Venner their captain was taken [with a bullet in his back, as we noted earlier, less sure of the date than we now are]".

Perhaps Sam's excuse of having to travel tomorrow was a bit convenient, amid all these flying bullets and random terror? Anyway, "the Dukes of York and Albemarle marched with 700 horse into the city, but all was over".

Carl  •  Link

My wife often criticises my appearance and she's not wrong. Is she a bad person?

Fougasse  •  Link

Very interesting to read the earlier discussions about Sam's likeability. My feelings about him are on a par with my feelings about Dickens, who also behaved appallingly to his wife, was (so it's said) something of a martinet with his children, if not an outright control-freak, and had all manner of character-flaws.

He still fascinates me despite all that, because through his words he bursts forth as so absolutely alive, connecting through the centuries with every one of us, living and breathing, laughing and arguing and working too hard and nursing a hangover and complaining just as we do. And in exactly the same way, so does Samuel Pepys. My fantasy dinner-party would have both of them as guests of honour. Although whether they’d get on, I’m not at all sure. Possibly both a bit too alpha-male…

RLB  •  Link

@Awanthi Vardaray: you're probably taking the word "slut" to mean "sexually easy woman". But when Pepys uses it, it's in the older meaning of "slovenly person, usually but not always woman".

Cynara  •  Link

I find some things about Pepys difficult to swallow - mostly things in the future, e.g. his behaviour with women, whose words we never hear.

I find him stingy with his wife, probably about averagely violent for the period, and not a paragon of virtue, generally. Yes, much of this is commonplace in his era, but I don’t think that means I’m required to love it. I’m not a professional historian here but a private reader, and I am allowed all my own judgements, reasonable and unreasonable!

For me, all this is balanced by the immediacy and the candidness of the diary. If I don’t love him, I respect him for being honest with himself in its pages, and I’m very grateful for the peek into his life. As a person with my own flaws, I own him as a cousin, if not a brother!

Awanthi Vardaraj  •  Link

@RLB Aha, that makes a lot more sense, thank you.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Pepys was of his time and place. If we were to meet him, we’d be of his time and place, too. We’d have much in common.

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