Saturday 6 April 1661

Up among my workmen, then to Whitehall, and there at Privy Seal and elsewhere did business, and among other things met with Mr. Townsend, who told of his mistake the other day, to put both his legs through one of his knees of his breeches, and went so all day.

Then with Mr. Creed and Moore to the Leg in the Palace to dinner which I gave them, and after dinner I saw the girl of the house, being very pretty, go into a chamber, and I went in after her and kissed her. Then by water, Creed and I, to Salisbury Court and there saw “Love’s Quarrell” acted the first time, but I do not like the design or words.

So calling at my father’s, where they and my wife well, and so home and to bed.

36 Annotations

First Reading

Josh  •  Link

Mr. Townsend "put both his legs through one of his knees of his breeches, and went so all day."
Describe how to perform this maneuver, and explain why it would be left uncorrected even after appearing thus in public.
"Then with Mr. Creed and Moore to the Leg in the Palace"---so apt it seems a pun.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

to put both his legs through one of his Knees of his breeches, and went so all day
L&M: "This would be quite possible with the petticoat-breeches (sometimes called 'pantaloons') then fashionable: ..."

Paul Brewster  •  Link

"Love's Quarrell"
L&M: “There is no other reference, in the diary or elsewhere, to a play of this title.”

Louise  •  Link

Those breeches! I had to find out more.
Found this "French man in petticoat breeches, 1665" by following the "fashion" background link:…

It almost makes sense now...

daniel  •  Link

"...and i went in after her and kissed her."

and thus the Rake's progress begins!

Bleeding Bowels  •  Link

I wonder if he actually saw 'A Fair Quarrel' and got the title wrong. It's by Middleton and Rowley, who wrote or contributed to several of the plays he's seen. It also has a character Chough who uses words like enucleate, fructifer, justle, bronstrops, panagron, duplar, calicut, sindicus, and otheres.

dirk  •  Link

"... I went in after her and kissed her."

Knowing Sam's reputation, it's rather surprising to find very few references to "frivolous" kisses in the diary so far.

I only found:

Friday 14 September 1660
"I kissed them myself very often with a great deal of mirth."

Friday 8 June 1660
"A good handsome wench I kissed, the first that I have seen a great while."

Monday 27 February 1659/60
"kissed the daughter of the house, she being very pretty."

vincent  •  Link

here is a lead to....A Fair Quarrel, by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley…
the play "...'Tis but a play, and a play is but a butt,..."
then a second version
"...Why, do you make youth stand for an imputation?
That which you now produce for his disgrace
Infers his nobleness, that being young
Should have an anger more inclined to wisdom
And moderation than the colonel:
A virtue as rare as chastity in youth;
And let the cause be good--conscience in him,
Which ever crowns his acts, and is indeed
Valour's prosperity--he dares then as much
As ever made him famous that you plead for. ..."…

Pauline  •  Link

"...put both his legs through one of his knees of his breeches, and went so all day."
And he a clerk of the wardrobe!

Rich Merne  •  Link

So, when next out with company to dinner, should I just follow the pretty waitress and 'kiss her',....maybe not,...maybe if it does occur to me, I should do a double take. Were the times such that one could, on a whim, grab the nearest 'pretty wench' without getting a prompt, 'unhand me Sir', accompanied by 'instant facial massage?

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

- Were times such that on a whim one could grab the nearest wench -.
One wonders about that. The pretty girls working in the big houses were perhaps much more servile in those days and less secure of their jobs, making them to be compliant to gentlemen from a higher class, so they (the gents) would not complain about them to their patrons.

BradW  •  Link

Were the times such
The modern concept of a universal Woman's Right to Refuse is mostly an outgrowth of the egalitarian revolutions of America and France, and/or the Victorian mores of 19th Century England and the western world. I suspect Wim is right that in Sam's day a woman had to count the cost of slapping a cheek, and sometimes found she couldn't afford to refuse.

Is it completely different now? One still reads or hears about the occasional wealthy or powerful person (of either sex) who finds their pleasures where they may.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"go into a chamber, and I went in after her and kissed her"
So what are Sam's Rules of Engagement regarding kissing? Enquiring minds want to know.
Working from Dirk's handy list, and today's slap-and-tickle, we can infer:
* Discreet is better ("go into a chamber").
* It can be social ("daughter of the house").
* He *thinks* it's complimentary ("being very pretty", "good handsome").
* It's all in fun ("great deal of mirth") and the girls are expected to take it in such spirit.
* There's no downside (at least, none mentioned).

Any others to suggest from the evidence so far?

Mary  •  Link

"pretty girls were perhaps .... less secure of their jobs".

(referring to Wim's comment above)
According to the essay on domestic servants in the L&M Companion, the rise in the number of middle-class households in London during the Restoration period seems to have resulted in a shortage of reliable, experienced domestics, with the result that being dismissed or resigning a position was not a matter of great worry to many servants. There would be another post waiting. Experienced tavern staff probably felt similarly easy about their employment as inns, taverns, ordinaries, alehouses etc. had increased hugely in number during the course of the century.

The position in large, country houses, however, could well have been quite different.

JWB  •  Link

Chummy these days. His best friend, best rival? Both? Wonder what Creed, the Puritan, thought of Sam's philandering?

vincent  •  Link

“pretty girls were perhaps …. less secure of their jobs”.(Droits Onéreux)? The seigneur’s droits, ‘twas the perks of being ducal.

Glyn  •  Link

Is it much different today? You would still expect bar staff to smile at you and share small pleasantries even if they didn't know or particularly like you.

Susan  •  Link

It was expected that men followed their 'natural' urges in this connection - indeed some authorities considered it injurious to health if men suppressed themselves. Most women had little choice in the matter and female servants in particular - you smiled and put up with it. This had been going on for centuries and,despite the women's movement of the late 20th century, still is apparent in many societies. In the 17th century, women were chattels. Daughters were beaten by their fathers if they misbehaved until they were married and the husbands had the right to beat them. This continued for a very long time. I am sure our American annotators will all know the origin of the 'rule of thumb'!

john lauer  •  Link

re 'rule of thumb'
apocryphal; hoax; legend. Google it.

dirk  •  Link

The rule of thumb

For those not familiar with the subject (probably only British and American annotators/visitors know what we're talking about here!)...

In England - it is often said - it used to be legal for a husband to beat his wife provided he used a stick no thicker than his thumb.

However, despite the numerous references to this supposed law in books on domestic violence and social history, there's no Act of Parliament or official law report which refers to it.

More on the subject at:…

Susan  •  Link

Yes, I know 'rule of thumb' is not 'real', *but* people believed it - *that's* the point. They wanted domestic violence to be legal!

vincent  •  Link

flagellate was possible for generations and rule of thumb was for work instuctions a handed down by ones master; rules were not published by the betters, all learnt over the threat of ones being put to cane over trainers knees. In carpentry, one use one used ones thumb to draw straight lines without a ruler so you could lop of a piece of unrequired excess.
Mon Pere used his thumb to total the left and right columns in the ledger long before those handy things called calculators, [Pound, shillings, pence and farthings and all].[It was a delight to watch]

Peter  •  Link

I always thought that "rule of thumb" came from the common practice of using the end joint of the thumb as an approximate measure of an inch.....c.f. "pouce" and "pulgada" for the linguists out there.

Grahamt  •  Link

Another rule of thumb:
I thought it came from ships' gunners holding out their arm with thumb upraised. When the enemy ship was the same height as the thumb, the ship was in cannon range. Not accurate, but a good "rule of thumb".
In my half century, I have never heard the beating stick variation. It also is not very close to the modern meaning, i.e. a rule, (noun) not, to rule (verb)
The "pouce" version also sounds good to me.

Rich Merne  •  Link

Rule of thumb; Even in BC Roman times a complete or accomplished person (Sam ??) was described as lit. "made to the nail". The derivation, was that the quality of marble work was tested by drawing the thumbnail accross it. This showed any irregularities or surface flaws. 'Wait I'm getting there'. "Ad unguem factus homo",...Horace,...'rule of thumb' no!, Check it out. Next one a little better. Chaucer, Miller's Tale.
..."He felt it with his thumb and thus he knew,
It's quality and took three times his due,
A thumb of gold, by God, to gauge an oat!"
Ignoring this poor transliteration (in my view), this is an admirable R of T. Some commentators have it incorrectly that the shrewd miller tipped the scales with his thumb to falsify the weight. Not so!, the miller used his gnarled thumb to press or partly crush a 'single' oat which gave him information about it's moisture content and thus it's millability etc. The rude farmer probably didn't have the acumen to understand this, so the millar could argue 'poor goods', knowing full well that they were good. Forgive me if this is a digression, but I couldn't help it.

vincent  •  Link

Thumb is the most useful feature of the hand. It separates us from those having the paw , although man does have the ability to use it[paw that is] as SP has indicated.
The gunners method was also useful for the rifleman to indicate distance. An inch to 5ft high man would yield 120 ft distance, that made a good target.
Never been a fan of Mrs Pankhurst, also never heard of "to rule by thumb" Then there are Hands for measuring ones nag then finally there are feet to see how far you have been.

Pedro  •  Link

On this day 6th April 1661...

Allin on his way home from Constantinople reaches Siphanto where he puts some passengers ashore.

“We watered there, but could no provisions there. Bread none to get for money, the poor people not having eaten for 14 days.”

Daniel Baker  •  Link

I think it is very naive to suggest that a woman, even a servant, in Pepys's age had no right to refuse. On the contrary, it was her DUTY to refuse advances from men (even if her personal preference might have been to accept). A servant who became pregnant could expect to be instantly dismissed. In John Adams' New England a householder is recorded as wishing to dismiss his maid because she was a "slut," but couldn't because there weren't enough replacements. Likewise, the church preached the Bible's rule requiring a woman to cry out when she was raped, and held her equally guilty with her attacker if she didn't. It's true that a woman was regarded essentially as chattel, but she "belonged" first to her father, and then to her husband, and other men had no right intrude on the father's or husband's chattel.

We are seeing some relaxation of this attitude in Sam's London, due in part no doubt to the lecherous example set by King Charles and his brother, but it should not be regarded as typical of all England.

cum salis grano  •  Link

Partially true DC, But economics have a higher control, hunger, morality is a wonderful fantastic ideal, that be why sainthood is in order, but survival usually takes precedent over the after life, as Suicide is a no no.
Still true today, Saying no on moral grounds to ones "betters" usually begets starvation or ostracized.

Second Reading

Erik Gunnarsson  •  Link

Lovers Quarrels (Le Dépit amoureux) by Moliére seems like a good candidate to me. And the fact that SP didn´t like the words could well be that he knew the play by the original language.…

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED offers:

‘rule of thumb, n. Etym: < rule n.1 + of prep. + thumb n., probably so called on account of the thumb being used as a reference for approximate measurements of various kinds . .

A suggestion that the phrase refers to an alleged rule allowing a husband to beat his wife with a stick the thickness of his thumb cannot be substantiated (compare the discussion by H. D. Kelly in Jrnl. for Legal Educ. 44 (1994) 341–65); it also poses semantic problems. The suggestion appears to be of late 20th-cent. origin, probably arising from a misunderstanding of the pun in the following passage (discussing the alleged rule mentioned above):

1976 D. Martin Battered Wives 31 [In 19th-cent. America] the common-law doctrine had been modified to allow the husband ‘the right to whip his wife, provided he used a switch no thicker than his thumb’—a rule of thumb, so to speak.

A. n. 1. As a mass noun. Method or procedure derived from practice or experience, rather than theory or scientific knowledge; a roughly practical method. Chiefly in by rule of thumb.
a1658 J. Durham Heaven upon Earth (1685) ii. 217 Many profest Christians are like to foolish builders, who build by guess, and by rule of thumb . . ‘

Third Reading

LKvM  •  Link

The new "pair of stairs" is certainly taking a long time to build.

Alter Kacker  •  Link

LKvM — In my experience, whatever amount of time the contractor says it will take, double it. And be assured, it will still take longer than that.

Charles Miller  •  Link

Renewed link for petticoat breeches - it’s easy to see how Mr Townsend fell victim to this fashion!…

With regards to his workmen taking their time, don’t forget these are government workers not paid by SP but probably seconded carpenters from the Deptford DY, and like government workers today, don’t have to exert themselves overly, especially when they’ve found a comfortable number indoors, they’ll spin it out for as long as they can - twas ever thus and is one of the great weaknesses of the State, sadly.

RLB  •  Link

Note: the petticoat breeches are the upper part which looks like a skirt, not the hose. You can't get two legs into one hose, but it would be possible with the almost-skirts.

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