Friday 8 March 1660/61

All the morning at the office. At noon Sir W. Batten, Col. Slingsby and I by coach to the Tower, to Sir John Robinson’s, to dinner.

Where great good cheer. High company; among others the Duchess of Albemarle, who is ever a plain homely dowdy.

After dinner, to drink all the afternoon. Towards night the Duchess and ladies went away. Then we set to it again till it was very late. And at last came in Sir William Wale, almost fuddled; and because I was set between him and another, only to keep them from talking and spoiling the company (as we did to others), he fell out with the Lieutenant of the Tower; but with much ado we made him under stand his error, and then all quiet. And so he carried Sir William Batten and I home again in his coach, and so I almost overcome with drink went to bed.

I was much contented to ride in such state into the Tower, and be received among such high company, while Mr. Mount, my Lady Duchess’s gentleman usher, stood waiting at table, whom I ever thought a man so much above me in all respects.

Also to hear the discourse of so many high Cavaliers of things past. It was a great content and joy to me.

21 Annotations

First Reading

David A. Smith  •  Link

"almost fuddled ... with much ado we made him under stand his error"
Sounds like an evening of full-throated Cavalier hijinks with 'great good cheer; high company' in more sense than one ....

Susan  •  Link

I was surprised to read that it seems the Duchess only went away AFTER they had been drinking all afternoon. Would she have been joining in with this? Or withdrawn into another room with the other ladies? Can't really get a picture of a carousing Duchess raising her glass with the lads! Or did the ladies drink with the gentlemen at this time and the behaviour of the ladies withdrawing and leaving the men to their claret, port and tobacco come in at a later period??

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

TGIF indeed!!

This is the same Sam who was vowing to do his best to keep Lent just a few days ago, right?

dirk  •  Link

"ladies withdrawing and leaving the men to their claret..."

Susan, I think this kind of formalised behaviour came later, and is more typical of the Victorian period. Cfr. i.a. "The Book of Household Management", by Mrs. Isabella Beeton (on Gutenberg Project).

vincent  •  Link

Adding to Dirk's, Our beauty Anne, Duchess of Albemarle "ever a plain homely dowdy," SP did say:…
She received her diploma from the Tower of London.
Remember, Girls were not finished off and polished at that time except for a limited enlightend rich Papa who would provide a fencing master to properly control the the ardour of the cavalier or roundhead. It was much latter that Girls were shown how to seduced the the Gentlemen
by attending such fortresses as Ladies Finishing College, shires. Otherwise they were taught the fine art of darning socks and creating other creature comforts at the local Convent, not the fine art of small talk and leaving the sanctuary of men to the men to be men.

Susan  •  Link

Thank you, Vincent, for tracking down pictures of the Duchess. Alas, poor lady, what a large nose! And the artist was probably flattering her too. SP always has an eye for pretty ladies, but is rather hard on the not so well-endowed ones.
Dirk agrees with me about formal withdrawing coming in later than the Restoration period of which we are speaking, but would this (large-nosed) lady have been a (red-nosed) lady and stayed for the drinking?? I own a 1st ed. Mrs Beeton and can vouch for the dreary, prurient rigidity of high Victorian society displayed therein - hopefully very different here in 1661.

Mary  •  Link

The carousing Duchess

See Background information for her notoriously low birth and alleged vulgarity.

Pedro.  •  Link

TGIF indeed!!
Sore head tomorrow, but clear enough for a good sermon on Sunday!

xjy  •  Link

Sam's snobbery
He notes with glee his rise over the gentleman usher to the Duchess, and gleefully puts her down, exploiting her background opportunistically. And he shyly toys with the once-evil concept of Cavalier. Slowly he’s realizing how well placed he actually is thanks to his Lord Montague and the Restoration (although Monty was highly placed under the Commonwealth, so Sam could well have made it there as well — I wonder what the diary would have looked like under a Cromwellian succession!)

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

I imagine this lot will be relieved when Lent is over and they can start enjoying themselves again.

Pedro.  •  Link

"I was much contented to ride in such state into the Tower, and be received among such high company."
Perhaps if Sam not changed sides he may still have made it to the Tower!

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Pedro: Sam and the Tower

I wonder if, eighteen years hence, Sam will remember this evening. Of course, he might not remember it tomorrow.

Emilio  •  Link

Xjy -

I'm also impressed by Sam's mixed reaction to the Duchess. In general (like many others) he has little good to say about her, but on the other hand he's quite happy to mix with her among other "high company". He might not be impressed with the person, but the title makes up for many of her shortcomings.

StewartMcI  •  Link

She is only a Duchess because of her husband.

Our Sam is impressed to be in society with General Monck's wife, whatever her table manners, as this could be a very useful connection for him.

kim forbes  •  Link

I'm not so sure the plain, homely dowdy is necessarily negative. I don't have an OED available, but I'm pretty sure that plain and homely meant something like "down-to-earth, not stuck-up, etc." I'd have to check an OED to see what the 17th century meaning of "dowdy" was.

Mary  •  Link

The 17th Century dowdy

Appears as both an adjective and a substantive. In both cases the word entails shabbiness, dull or unattracive dress without brightness or smartness. This diary entry is itself quoted in illustration. An earlier (1588) quotation refers to 'a dowdy or a slut'.
Sounds pretty pejorative.

CGS  •  Link


dowdy, n.1 and a.
A. n. A woman or girl shabbily or unattractively dressed, without smartness or brightness.
1581 RICH Farew. Milit. Prof., If plaine or homely, wee saie she is a doudie or a slut. 1592 SHAKES. Rom. & Jul. II. iv. 42 Dido, a dowdie: Cleopatra, a Gipsie. 1660-1 PEPYS Diary 8 Mar., Among others the Duchesse of Albemarle, who is ever a plain homely dowdy

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

"who is ever a plain homely dowdy"

A DOWDY, a swarthy gross Woman.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675

Dick Wilson  •  Link

"Homely" is one of those words that can get you in trouble in a hurry. British English: Warm, friendly, comfortable, familiar, pleasant. American English: Plain, drab, dull, uninteresting, slapped upside the head with a ugly stick. So to say of a woman, that she is homely, can be a high compliment or a low insult. Handle with care.

john  •  Link

Homely as reported in the OED (alluded to by Mary , supra): Def'n 4.b.5. Of persons, etc.: Of commonplace appearance or features; not beautiful, ‘plain’, uncomely. (Said also of the features themselves.) [With quotations from the 16th and 17th centuries.]

The day's events makes me wonder how Sam kept enough wits to accurately record the events. Did he scribble down the events just before bed?

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