Thursday 18 April 1661

Up with my workmen and then about 9 o’clock took horse with both the Sir Williams for Walthamstow, and there we found my Lady and her daughters all.

And a pleasant day it was, and all things else, but that my Lady was in a bad mood, which we were troubled at, and had she been noble she would not have been so with her servants, when we came thither, and this Sir W. Pen took notice of, as well as I. After dinner we all went to the Church stile, and there eat and drank, and I was as merry as I could counterfeit myself to be. Then, it raining hard, we left Sir W. Batten, and we two returned and called at Mr. —— and drank some brave wine there, and then homewards again and in our way met with two country fellows upon one horse, which I did, without much ado, give the way to, but Sir W. Pen would not, but struck them and they him, and so passed away, but they giving him some high words, he went back again and struck them off their horse, in a simple fury, and without much honour, in my mind, and so came away.

Home, and I sat with him a good while talking, and then home and to bed.

38 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"but Sir W.Pen would not,but struck them and they him,......he went back again and struck them off their horse,..." No brotherly love here and I thought he was a Quaker!

Susan  •  Link

The Quakers only became pacifists later on and I think it was Sir W's son who was the Quaker not this one. Interesting that Sam is, as usual, troubled about matters of rank, privelege, honourable behaviour and so on. He seems to be still feeling his way in this new world of the restored monarchy and the changes in society which are happenning.

Emilio  •  Link

"Mr. ----" (on the 18th)

Not one of Wheatley's omissions, for anyone wondering. L&M has empty space where the name should be, as we've seen a time or two before; Sam couldn't quite remember the name.

Pauline  •  Link

"...with both the Sir Williams for Walthamstow, and there we found my Lady and her daughters all..."
I'm wondering if "my lady" is Lady Batten in this case. Partly because it doesn't sound like Lady Sandwich, partly because she doesn't live in Walthamstow, and partly because Sam travels there with Batten and Batten remains there when Sam and Wm. Pen leave.

Pauline  •  Link

Sir W. Batten's country house:
L&M: "The Rectory Manor House, Church Hill, Walthamstow, Essex.”
(from our Background on Batten)
And he had daughters as well.

Susan  •  Link

I had assumed that in this instance "my Lady" was Sir W. Batten's Lady. I don't think Sam would ever have made the comments he makes about her behaviour had this been Lady Sandwich and not the Lady he is used to as a close neighbour (rapping on their connecting door when it suits her!). Interesting that both the Batten and Penn families display what Sam regards as ill-breeding on this day and comments on as such. Sam seems to be realising that "Sir Williams both" are perhaps not the best role models.

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

April 18th: - Church-stile -: according to Warrington: "thus the original reading in long-hand; but it has been suggested that this should be 'Church Ale'".

Mary  •  Link

Church stile/church ale

L&M begs the question by saying that this presumably refers to a church ale (cf the modern church-tea) held to raise funds, stalls being erected at the church stile entrance to the graveyard.

Mary  •  Link

April 18th; 17th century road-rage

This incident, as well as revealing Pen's touchiness and amour-propre, offers a tacit comment on the state and narrowness of the road; too narrow, at least in wet weather, to allow two horses to pass one another with ease.

Emilio  •  Link

Rare/brave (18th)

Small note: between the "pretty house, rarely furnished" on the 10th and the "brave wine" today, both of which agree with L&M, the transcriber seems to have sorted out the rare/brave confusion I noted a while ago.

Rich Merne  •  Link

"Without much ado, give way", & "in a simple fury",
Seems ill-tempered and loutish if you ask me anything. Without much modern equivalents to go on, it seems that ordinary courtesy (an overladen and slightly less maneuverable mount, and likely from the nuance to be saddleless) would have been to act as our favourite son acted and give road. Certainly, Sam was somewhat embarrassed at the incident. Could this be the earliest recorded *road rage* ?

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Foul weather, bad manners and good breeding

Pepys raises an issue of good breeding against Lady Batten, with Sir W. Penn's concurrence -- "had she been noble she would not have been so with her servants, when we came thither, and this Sir W. Pen took notice of, as well as I" -- then notes Penn flying into a rage on the narrow road at the impudence of two country fellows on one horse failing to yield to him, then notes how he himself is vexed with Will. What a gust of ill humors! Pepys is feeling his way on matters of social behavior. As a servant not long ago, he wants superiors to observe good manners toward their staff in public, but also has the counter-example of Penn's acting out his anger against strangers to contemplate. My guess is that he takes pains to keep a rein on his own temper and to keep his vexation with Will a private matter between themselves.

JWB  •  Link

Pauline and Susan
I beg your pardon. I'm in error. Always looking out for Jemima, she's my Lady.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link


You're right about Wm. Penn's son being the Quaker, but as far as I know Quakers were always pacifist.

Young William was troubled about the wearing of his sword, as necessary to a nobleman as a tie to a modern businessman; he asked Quaker founder George Fox about wearing it, and George's reply was "Wear it as long as thou canst."

Vicente  •  Link

RE: Good manners and treating people who are serving thee. Too Many people dismiss the people [in the most contemptible ways] that serve them [or cross their paths][just because they have the funds etc., to do so], this behaviour exists, all the way from the simple Cafe to 6 star Restaurant.
The Betters [some not all] then held the the lesser [and even now, still do] hold that the poorer persons as unworthy of respect but the Lesser must give it always [that is respect and obeisance]. Of course it is returned [doffing that is] in more subtle ways.{dumb insolence}.
This period of time was one, that Lesser mortals did try to express their contempt of their Betters. Unfortunately it failed as it still continues to fail.
Sam is seeing these social interplays and is trying to figure out how to play the game of surviving and how follow the teachings of the Bible and the practical teachings from his most successful compatriots at the work place and at the Palace {Charles! is such a wonderful example, especially with Ladies}.

Pedro.  •  Link

RE: Good manners and treating people who are serving thee.

The talk about manners and place in society reminded me of the sketch;
from The Frost Report, the television show that brought together many of the people who would become the mainstay of English comedy through the 1960s, '70s and '80s. It's the one in which the long, medium and short of English comedy - John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett - stood in a line and reflected on class and height.
Ronnie Barker, in pork-pie hat, explained: "I look up to him [Cleese, in bowler hat] because he is upper-class; but I look down on him [Corbett, in cloth cap] because he is lower-class. I am middle-class."
Corbett, being firmly gazed down on, explained: "I know my place. I look up to them both. But I don't look up to him [Barker] as much as I look up to him [Cleese], because he has got innate breeding."
Cleese confirms that he does indeed have innate breeding, though no money, so he's sometimes forced to look up to Barker.
Barker doesn't look up to Cleese any less because of this. "Although I have money, I am vulgar. But I am not as vulgar as him [Corbett], so I still look down on him."
Although poor, Corbett reflects that he is honest, industrious and trustworthy. "Had I the inclination, I could look down on them. But I don't."
Celebrating Englishness.…

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Re 18th. "and had she been noble"

I read this as (in modern English): had she been 'to the manner born' she would not have had this servant trouble. Sam has recently had servant problems of his own: do I detect a bit of "projection" here?

Rich Merne  •  Link

Sorry, didn't notice till this moment that you titled your annote. "road rage", touche!
By the way, L&M gloss "simple", as foolish. Hope I haven't been pipped here too.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

for Walthamstowe; and there we find my Lady and her daughters all
L&M footnote this passage as "Lady Batten's two daughters and her daughter-in-law." It seem that the clue to the identity comes from the location, "Walthamstowe", Sir W. Batten's country home. The April 13th entry… has "(Sir W. Batten being this day gone with his Lady to Walthamstowe to keep Easter)".

chip  •  Link

Does Pepys mean that Penn just shot them (stroke in the L&M) off their mounts? Does seem a bit brutal. Any thoughts?

Susan  •  Link

If the country pair on the one horse were riding bareback (as was surmised by an earlier annotator), it would be fairly easy to unbalance them and send then ignominously onto the ground with one good push. Speaking as a rider, I know how precarious one's seat can be, even with a properly fitted saddle, adjusted stirrups, level ground and a well-trained horse - none of which we seem to have here!

Rich Merne  •  Link

Then as now it would have been customary if not essential to carry some type of crop or switch when riding. My guess is that he struck them off with his crop or switch as opposed to his mits. If he set about flailing out indiscriminately with his crop about the men and their mount's head and neck, it would have been easy to unseat them; horse starting, and men evading blows etc. I had a look at some tack sites from 16th and 17th cent. and the common bits such as pelham and snaffle have changed remarkably little since then. Chances are that the country fellows not only had no saddle, but probably rode with a simple rope noseband or the like. Thus they had little control. Anybody with tighter information?

Rich Merne  •  Link

For "stroke", read struck. Struck them till they fell off; he didn't take the ultimate sanction.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

I think it might be useful to have the L&M text, punctuated and in context.
"And in our way met with two country fellows upon one horse -- which I did, without much ado give the way to; but Sir W. Penn would not -- but stroke them and they him -- and so passed away; but they giving him some high words, he went back again and stroke them off their horse in a simple fury, and without much honour in my mind. And so came away."

Paul Brewster  •  Link


From the OED, it looks like the former is an uncommon past tense of the verb "to strike".
"1509 Hawes Past. Pleas. xxxv. (Percy Soc.) 182 He stroke at me with many strokes rude."
The shorthand would in all likelihood be the same with the exception of the placement of the final "k" sound (either at 150 degrees ("o") or 180 degrees ("u") relative to the "str" character).

Glyn  •  Link

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all Englishmen have the right to biff other Englishmen on the hooter, and Call Them Nasty Names, no matter how high-born they may be: And that if you are in your 40s and get into a fracas with two young local yokels, you damn well expect your younger travelling companion to back you up, no matter how in the wrong you may be.

I wonder how much Pepys held back from distaste at Penn's actions, and how much from physical timidity (with which I completely sympathise). Whether Penn was in the right or wrong is irrelevant, he deserved some help. I wonder if that point was made afterwards when they spent "a good while talking"?

Anyway, this episode makes me proud to be British! If these two sturdy lads had tried to do this against Penn's equivalent in Russia they would have been whipped to death; and I wonder what would have happened to them in France?

Vicente  •  Link

The right to pass on the right or left was always in question. Just like it was Common LAW to to bear arms {no longer the case} see :
The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms: The Common Law ...
Letter Book of Thomas Belasyse, Viscount Fauconberg Lord Lieutenant
of the North Riding of Yorkshire, 1665-84…

Rich Merne  •  Link

Horsey business:
I think it should be borne in mind that Penn was the agressor and the innitiator of the mess and so proved boorish and deserving of a dusting if it came around to that. It's a classic situation. Sam sets the scene (ironically giving a lesson to Penn), and Penn out of some kind of convoluted chagrin, desides that 'he will show them'. The fellows are irate (but may even have let it go) at Penn's not emulating Sam. Then Penn emphasises it by striking out. The rest is history as they say, but I dare say Sam would have got into it if there had been any real danger to Penn. *Penn goes directly to jail, no passing 'go', no 200 quid*

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

"After dinner we all went to the Church stile"

In an old book of accounts belonging to Warrington Parish, the following minute occurs:—"Nov. 5, 1688. Payd for drink at the Church-Steele, 13s.;" and in 1732, "it is ordered that hereafter no money be spent on ye 5th of November, or any other state day, on the parish account, either at the Church-Stile, or at any other place."—Gent. Mag., Nov. 1852, p. 442; Thus the original reading is confirmed; for it had been suggested in the Gent. Mag. that this should be Church ale.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

"in our way met with two country fellows upon one horse"

A variant on a recent joke I heard: When happens when you meet with two Canadians upon one horse and ask them to get out of your way? They do.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re 'some brave wine':

'   . . 3. loosely, as a general epithet of admiration or praise: Worthy, excellent, good, ‘capital’, ‘fine’, ‘famous’, etc.; ‘an indeterminate word, used to express the superabundance of any valuable quality in men or things’ (Johnson). arch. (Cf. braw adj.)
. . b. of things.
. . a1616   Shakespeare King Lear (1623) iii. ii. 79   This is a braue night to coole a Curtizan.
1653   I. Walton Compl. Angler 104   We wil make a brave Breakfast with a piece of powdered Bief . . ' [OED]

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

Still "up with my workmen" this morning. How long does it take to build a new "pair of stairs?" Is he adding little side projects to the main job as they go along?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... in our way met with two country fellows upon one horse, which I did, without much ado, give the way to, but Sir W. Pen would not, but struck them and they him, and so passed away, but they giving him some high words, he went back again and struck them off their horse, in a simple fury, and without much honour, in my mind, and so came away."

One way the Upper Classes kept control was by never turning a blind eye to any breach of privilege. Pepys hasn't adjusted to that yet, and doesn't find it alarming to share the road. But Adm. Penn knows these country bumpkins need a lesson in civility -- and he probably thinks Pepys needs to smarten up and learn how it's done -- so he acts as an Admiral of the Realm would.

When thinking about slavery in the 17th century, remember how they were accustomed to treating their British servants -- it wasn't pretty.

LKvM  •  Link

"had [Lady Batten] been noble she would not have been so with her servants . . . "
This brings to mind something I read about the late great Queen Elizabeth II's admonishing Meghan Markle after said Duchess of Sussex had lost her temper to a subordinate: "We don't speak to people that way."

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Brits have a problem with American plain speaking. Saying YES when you really mean NO doesn't work on a continent where people speak over 50 languages at home. Keeping it simple and clear in unequivical English is essential.

Meghan probably hadn't "lost her temper" -- she didn't know how to phrase her instructions to a lady-in-waiting in such a way that they didn't sound like instructions, couched with please, maybe, whenever, if, possibly, please.
I can testify that we do speak different dialects, and what's 'normal' and polite is frequently different. Being an immigrant on top of joining the RF would be a lot for the strongest ego to endure. It took over 5 years for me to feel any level of comfort -- and I didn't have any of Meghan's learning curve requirements.
The Queen would have been more effective by taking Meghan aside and telling her quietly how to phrase whatever, rather than telling her not to do something.
And then leaking unkind apocryphal stories like this finally broke the poor woman, and the result was Britain lost their Harry.

Sorry, Phil, I know you hate it when we go off on tangents like this. Feel free to delete.

Julie Y  •  Link

Would any of the learned annotators care to please weigh in about this fascinating passage: "After dinner, we all went to the Church stile...and I was as merry as I could counterfeit myself to be."
Does Pepys mean that he is merely feigning merriment under the dark cloud of the Lady's conduct, " imitation of that which is genuine," as per the OED? That is how I read the passage.
If my reading is correct, in addition to being an arresting phrase, "[c]ounterfeit myself to be" conveys a heartwarming thought--that the usually healthy Pepysian appetites for food, drink, and jolly society could be so affected by the Lady's ignoble actions. (On the other hand, perhaps I am reading too much into this, and Pepys was reacting to the tedium of the purported church-ale/tea that annotators referenced in 2004...?)
How I love this community endeavor. Continuing thanks to Phil and all.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Today's scuffle in the mud is not a surprise; not after the merry "eat and drank" at the Church stile, followed by the brave wine at Mr. ——, and not from Admiral Sir W.P., who, we predict, will treat us to many a showing of his boorish character in the next eight years or so, to Sam's increasingly loud sighing. At least he didn't draw a sword. No wonder his son will go Quaker and become anything but a navy man like dad.

Precedence fights in narrow streets are also a common staple all over Europe, tho' they gain our notice when they're between the equipages of noble coaches. But of the nobility the Admiral is not, by the way; he's "only" a M.P. and an officer. Otherwise he's surely never abase himself to walk (urgh) the same streets as country fellows (argh). A narrow one indeed this must have been, otherwise its high edges would have been the place to be in any case, and the flooded middle not possibly the Object of any Fight.

Anyway. Everybody getting ready for the Coronacion, we trust? Plumed hats, diamonds, rose-petals?

john  •  Link

"[...] but they giving him some high words, he went back again [...]". One wonders whether the admiral would have responded differently had no high words been given.

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