Friday 18 January 1660/61

The Captains went with me to the post-house about 9 o’clock, and after a morning draft I took horse and guide for London; and through some rain, and a great wind in my face, I got to London at eleven o’clock. At home found all well, but the monkey loose, which did anger me, and so I did strike her till she was almost dead, that they might make her fast again, which did still trouble me more. In the afternoon we met at the office and sat till night, and then I to see my father who I found well, and took him to Standing’s to drink a cup of ale. He told me my aunt at Brampton is yet alive and my mother well there. In comes Will Joyce to us drunk, and in a talking vapouring humour of his state, and I know not what, which did vex me cruelly. After him Mr. Hollier had learned at my father’s that I was here (where I had appointed to meet him) and so he did give me some things to take for prevention. Will Joyce not letting us talk as I would I left my father and him and took Mr. Hollier to the Greyhound, where he did advise me above all things, both as to the stone and the decay of my memory (of which I now complain to him), to avoid drinking often, which I am resolved, if I can, to leave off.

Hence home, and took home with me from the bookseller’s Ogilby’s Aesop, which he had bound for me, and indeed I am very much pleased with the book.

Home and to bed.

36 Annotations

First Reading

Emilio  •  Link

Will Joyce to us drunk

Latham and Matthews punctuate this sentence in a way that makes it a bit easier to process:

"In comes Will. Joyce to us, drunk and in a talking vapouring humour, of his state and I know not what - which did vex me cruelly."

Still no love lost for the Joyces, we see.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

When did Sam & Co. get a monkey?!?

(Other than Will. Joyce, I mean...)

Emilio  •  Link

Hear hear

This seems like an animal rather than Jane or another unruly servant - and hopefully Sam wouldn't be quite so brutal with an actual human being, either. L&M don't footnote the passage, and a search of the site reveals no other references to a monkey thus far. Is something going on here too big for me to have noticed?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"to avoid drinking often which I am resolved,if I can,to leave off" So,is he an alcoholic or not? the jury is still out...

Ed LeZotte  •  Link

As a recovering alcoholic (we don't brag, so let's just say I've put a fair number of sober 24 hours together), I really don't think SP is one. His drinking hasn't had a any real effect on his work or his home life, it doesn't create financial problems for him or his family and, in so far as we know, he has never passed out. From what I've read (admittedly not every thing) this was a "drinking time", that is, no water, soda pop, juice, or much milk -- the wine was usually watered and the beer/ale not all that strong. Of course, there are experts hereabouts who will set me straight if I've made some mistatements. But if it indeed takes one to know one, up to now I'll give Sam a pass.

vincent  •  Link

Re: pets etc:SP appears not put all his thoughts and actions to paper,[read between the lines] only set down those that stir up his juices, that either he finds have some on going importance to his day to day life or those that provoke his curiosity. {'tis why one likes to change locations} so that the mundane for one becomes interesting to another [like spaghetti to an Italian is not unusual, but to one who has never seen a spaghetti tree, it is an item to make a reference to]

Mary  •  Link

Reading between the lines.

It looks like Elizabeth is the pet-lover; hers the dog(s) and now we meet a monkey. Sam is not sentimental about the animals; they merit mention in the diary only when they are causing trouble or concern.

Roger Arbor  •  Link

Mr Hollier... prevention. Nice for Samuel to have his own private surgeon to advise him on how not to develop a stone again. Ironic that Sam immediately entertains him at the local alehouse!

Lawrence  •  Link

Sam's Monkey? Perhaps it was a status symbol to have an exotic animal? I mean it must have created some curios talk among any visitors that the Pepys' had.
"But where does one get such a beast from" I mean were there traders in this sort of thing then?

Glyn  •  Link

A monkey?

1 husband; 1 wife; 1 sister (Pall); 1 teenage boy servant (Will Hewer); 1 teenage girl servant (Jane); her younger brother (also a Will); at least 1 dog; 1 cat (to catch the mice); lots of mice; and now a monkey? Anything else that I've missed in this household, such as caged birds perhaps?

Is this a child substitute for Samuel and Elizabeth?

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

Yes, it was quite fashionable to have exotic animals in your well-off home.
Rembrandt made scetches of a.o. lions that had been 'imported' by ships trading on the coasts of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. I'd rather not think about the conditions these animals were caged inside the small sailing vessels. They needed months for their voyages; and even the sailors themselves had a hammock-place of 15" for themselves.

Barbara  •  Link

Animals: on 27th August 1660 Elizabeth was given a pair of doves. She obviously loved and collected animals but was careless in their upkeep!

Drinking: Of course Sam Pepys wasn't an alcoholic. He seems in no way dependent on alcohol but obviously conformed to the drinking habits of the times because he usually drank with others. My husband recently retired from the City and it wasn't unusual for him and colleagues to drink beer and then a bottle of wine at lunch, drinks after work and more drinks (especially when entertaining clients) in the evening. However, I would have been worried if he had alcohol for breakfast!

J A Gioia  •  Link

At home found all well, but the monkey loose...

laughed out loud. one wonders about the size of the primate. sam flies off the handle (did he find it on his book shelves?), beats it and then feels terrible for knocking it out so it could be chained up again.

there's a portrait of the notorious poet and rakehell john wilmot, 2nd earl rochester…

with his small pet monkey, a likeness used on the cover - and title - of graham greene's biography of the man.

David A. Smtih  •  Link

"and I know not what, which did vex me cruelly"
Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed....
A pet monkey running around (immensely vexing and ingenious creatures, as anyone who has camped in (say) South Africa knows); Will Joyce who is dull company at the best of times, and now loud, drunk, and intrusive, horning in on Sam's attempted (serious, personal, private) conversation with Hollier; uppity kidney stones and a failing memory (wait for it, Sam ...). His patience reservoir was drained early and never refilled. Thank goodness for a quiet Aesop and a quiet bed.

Dana Haviland  •  Link

Let me see...on Jan 15, Elizabeth is detained at Mrs. Hunt's (where the afore-mentioned kissing Frenchman is lodging); Sam leaves the next day for Whitehall, then leaves London for Rochester by coach. Now home, no mention of Elizabeth (is she still at Mrs Hunt's?), and her menagerie is running wild through the bookshelves. Perhaps Sam is venting his ire on the poor monkey, rather than it's mistress?

daniel  •  Link

Yes, indeed. Sam at his best can make what for him might have been a forgetably mundane day fascinating by his style and where-with-all of describing it.

helena murphy  •  Link

Exotic pets,such as monkeys were becoming fashionable amongst the aristocracy and rich merchant classes but an even greater symbol of social status and sophistication was to have an African servant,usually a young boy or girl, as portraiture of the period shows.There is a portrait of Louise de Keroualle,Charles II's mistress, with a young black girl as gorgeously dressed and bejewelled as herself.There is also a portrait of Prince Rupert in a fatherly pose with a young African boy, a child whom he rescued in West Africa.The prince was one of those responsible for the setting up of the Royal African Society as a result of his voyages to that continent during the interregnum.He also returned with other older African servants who served him as his coachmen.

Maurie (Mo) Beck  •  Link

Concerning John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester - He crosses Pepys' path in his diary entry of 28 May 1665, arrested for abducting his future wife Elizabeth Malet. Thanks for the link, he sounds like the quintessential debauch and contrarian. My kind of fellow.

vincent  •  Link

"pets" ye forgot the coop or 'dovecote' where the pigeons do reside waiting [a neckring]for a pot to be made ready, or are they just pets? I would not be suprised that there were also a couple of pullets in the back yard,feeding off scraps, supplying an egg or two?

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Sam's horsemanship, con't.

Dartford to London is 15 miles (see annotations for Jan 16), which Sam and his guide accomplish in less than 2 hours riding into a headwind and in rain.

Alan  •  Link

Re: Horses. How long can a horse run, gallop, canter, etc., before one has to change them?

dirk  •  Link


"and so I did strike her till she was almost dead, that they might make her fast again, which did still trouble me more" - It's not clear what troubles same more, that he almost killed the monkey, or that they tie it up again and - regrettably still alive - it's likely to give trouble again later (it's probably angry at Sam, hissing, squeaking and making threatening gestures...)

In those days animals were in general treated rather cruelly. They had no soul, and existed solely for man's pleasure (cfr. the Bible). Some animals were useful, others could entertain, but the animal's feelings were of no importance.

A useful animal was the pigeon - occasionally as homing pigeon (where applicable), but also as a contemporary remedy against dandruff (!): a major inconvenience in the 17th century. Apparently some chemicals that are naturally present between the feathers have a soothing effect on various forms of skin irritation. This natural remedy (strange as it may seem to us now) was in general use in the 16th, 17th and 18th c. Cages with a few pigeons were often kept in rooms where the people of the household (and more particularly the women) spent most of their time.

dirk  •  Link


Contemporary mail courier services (like the continental Thurn & Taxis) used to change horses every two hours - at a later stage this time was shortened to one and a half hour. These mail riders used to gallop most of the time.

dirk  •  Link

Sam's horsemanship

Also keep in mind that Sam is suffering from the aftermath of his stones! His riding is even more impressive if we take that into account.

dirk  •  Link

Sam's drinking

We shouldn't forget that water (and non-alcoholic drinks based on water) were not really a safe alternative. Clean water was almost unavailable in crowded cities like London. Drinking water or watered drinks was equivalent to playing with your life!

Generally people (except the poorest of the poor!) drunk low alcohol stuff, like "small" beer, and "small" wine - specially made for that purpose, and cheap - where we would now drink a coke...

The abscence of a non-alcoholic alternative may make Sam's behaviour easier to understand.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

'...Ogilby's Aesop, which he had bound for me...'

I think Sam has mentioned having books bound for him before. I infer that booksellers had a stock of books that had been sewn but not bound, or did they have some 'trade' or 'library' bindings for those less discriminating, and poorer, than Sam?

Arthur  •  Link

This is a good example of the weakness of these earlier entries. This monkey appears out of nowhere, and its not really clear what he's doing to it. It is not even clear if this is in fact an animal and not some member of his household.

This also should answer the question of whether he expects anyone else to be reading this - if that were true, he would take the trouble to explain why he has a monkey.

dirk  •  Link

"Ogilby's Aesop, which he had bound for me…’

Other theoretical possibilities are that Sam is referring to a special custom made binding, replacing the (possibly damaged) original binding - or (less likely I think) that he’s merely picking up a book he brought in at some earlier date to have the binding renewed. In the latter case he either forgot to mention this in his diary, or this took place more than a year ago.

Captain Caveman  •  Link

He did mention having this book bound - on January 5.

Printers sold books unbound (title pages were also covers), and binding was someone else's trade. Thus it was possible to buy a book without covers and take it to a binder yourself.

Allan Russell  •  Link

where he did advise me above all things, both as to the stone and the decay of my memory (of which I now complain to him)
I am surprised nobody picked up on this, it is just like one of Terry Wogans senior moments, Sam forgets things. Perhaps also he becomes a little drunk and forgets what he has done last night.

Frantzouche  •  Link

About the loose monkey: I like to read these cryptic lines as if they were referring to Elizabeth... Wouldn't it be in the line of macho Pepys?

Second Reading

joe fulm  •  Link

With a monkey added to the mix I'd have given anything to see the cat coming across it. Ears up, back arched and then a hiss, then sidling away to a quiet place to lick its inner back leg- territory claimed, job done.

Tonyel  •  Link

"the decay of my memory"
Sam's various responsibilities mean he has to keep a lot of balls in the air at the same time. It sounds as though he has a nagging fear of forgetting something, or someone, important which many of us can identify with.

Edith Lank  •  Link

Bookbinding -- I'm no expert on the 17th century but not a lot more than 100 years later, Jane Austen's books were issued "in boards" -- heavy cardboard covers -- with the understanding that the purchaser would then have them bound in leather -- maybe half or quarter leather -- in the owner's choice of colors and gilt lettering and decorations.

john  •  Link

How much effort was a 2h ride in 1660? Saddles then were somewhat different than today. They seemed to have very high pommels and cantles; I have no idea what it would have been like cantering in one -- even posting would have been difficult. (I have spent hours in forward saddles, military saddles, and western-style saddles. My comfort differed depending on circumstances and horse.)

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