Friday 23 August 1661

This morning I went to my father’s, and there found him and my mother in a discontent, which troubles me much, and indeed she is become very simple and unquiet. Hence he and I to Dr. Williams, and found him within, and there we sat and talked a good while, and from him to Tom Trice’s to an alehouse near, and there sat and talked, and finding him fair we examined my uncle’s will before him and Dr. Williams, and had them sign the copy and so did give T. Trice the original to prove, so he took my father and me to one of the judges of the Court, and there we were sworn, and so back again to the alehouse and drank and parted.

Dr. Williams and I to a cook’s where we eat a bit of mutton, and away, I to W. Joyce’s, where by appointment my wife was, and I took her to the Opera, and shewed her “The Witts,” which I had seen already twice, and was most highly pleased with it.

So with my wife to the Wardrobe to see my Lady, and then home.

38 Annotations

First Reading

Louis  •  Link

Just to refresh: "indeed she is become very simple and unquiet"---"simple" meaning "foolish" (L&M Companion, Large Glossary).

Mr. Pepys Takes Mrs. Pepys to the Play. At last.

Bob T  •  Link

she is become very simple and unquiet

Some time ago we discussed what might be wrong with her, and I opted for a senile dementia. Looks like that's what she's got.
How old is she at this time?

daniel  •  Link

does anyone know the provenance of "the wits"?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: simple and unquiet

Actually, I thought we'd agreed -- after *much* discussion -- that there was little evidence for a diagnosis (from the distance of 340+ years) of senile dementia ... better not to open this discussion again, methinks?

That said, this entry made me wonder if it's simply Sam's perception of his mother that is changing, rather than her behavior, given his rising place in the world and his changing attitudes about obedience and propriety...

Australian Susan  •  Link

"The Witts"

Mrs Pepys is perhaps fed up that they don't seem to be rolling in the hay with gold as expected from Uncle R's legacy!
Still, they now have sent the will to probate with agreement of the Trice faction, so no wonder Sam is cheery and taking the wife to the Opera and then avisiting of the new babe. Onward and upward, Sam!

David Ross McIrvine  •  Link

D'avenant's *The Witts*

Remember that, since the Restoration,
D'Avenant (Whom Charles I had, inter alia,
both made Poet Laureate and convicted of High Treason) has yet to produce anything for the stage. He *will* bring out *The Siege of Rhodes, Part II* in 1663.

In poetry, his public productions since the Restoration have so far consisted
"only" of the Panegyrick "Poem upon his sacred Majesties most happy return to his dominions."

D'Avenant, by the way, suffered from syphilis, and this is mentioned nastily by Suckling in his own *poem* (not to be confused with D'Avenant's eponymous play), "The Witts" (section 6):

"Will. Davenant ashamed of a foolishe mischance
That he had got latly travelling in France
Modestlie hop't the hansomnes of's muse
Might any deformitie aboute him excuse;
Surely the Companie would have beene content
If they could but have found any president,
But in all theire records either verse or prose
There was not one Laureate with out a nose."

Suckling, "The Witts," 46-54

David Ross McIrvine  •  Link

Sorry, D'Avenant's next *production* will be his adaptation of both *Measure for Measure* and *Much Ado about Nothing* -- which he titled *The Law Against Lovers*.
This will be in 1662.

The second part of *Siege of Rhodes* got performed *before* the Restoration (it just wasn't *Published* 'til after).

vicente  •  Link

RE:re: "simple and unquiet", one item not mention'd about the 'appy wife and her lot and the attitudes of the male of the species. It is only very recently that the menopausal symptom has had sympathy from the profession that maintain's the problem was ' It's all in the Mind'[like being sea sick] and that was reversed only when the Rx mob could give out pills by the ton load and reap the prophets.
The other major problem is the proverbial put down, that always takes place by the superior attitude over the less agile mind, backed up by the Law that the 'ead of 'ousehold always be 'rit in matters corncerning wife or daughter. I am amazed that so many Male of the species lived to enjoy the goldern years.

vicente  •  Link

Two major problems that face those who want to reduce their gold holdings, One Dimentia affects both sexes, and the other is hormone balance that is female mostly.; simply put:
One is who are you? the other is get out of my way.…
Cognition is the act or process of thinking, perceiving, and learning. Cognitive functions that may be affected by dementia include the following:
Decision making, judgment ,Memory ,Spatial orientation, Thinking, reasoning , and Verbal communication. All those that have been diagnosed that I know as Dementia, usually start out as where is this or that? just forgetful, the other shows up as being ratty.
Dementia also may result in behavioral and personality changes, depending on the area(s) of the brain affected.
Question aire for the second problem: [second Posibility], Mood swings, stress or nervousness, bad temper, feeling blue, unstable emotions ,excessive sleeping , Insomnia or the result of modern additives .…

Australian Susan  •  Link

Truly appalling!!
Sorry, but that is my response to the last website posted by Vincent!!
This is just another example ( has others) of male persons inventing problems to "cure" women of. For many women, the problem is/has been men! And their perfectably reasonable reactions of anger/depression/violence towards the perpetrators have been medicalised as diseases. Think of all those women from the past labelled as "hysterical" - most were just suffocatingly bored and frustrated. Mrs P was possibly not the brightest button in the box and almost certainly did not have much education, but she may have been bright enough to know she was right over certain things, but lacked the intellectual strategms to express this properly, so it came out as inarticulate shoutings. Her son and husband patronise and dismiss her.

andy  •  Link

my mother in a discontent,

I hate to carry on with this debate but Sam is no patron of the feminist cause nor would you expect it at his time.

It's only in my lifetime (ie since the 1950s)that we males have had some glimmering of insight about women (but then, they are still frankly a bl**dy mystery to me sometimes).

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Thank you Susan - my sentiments exactly. Yes, one can't expect anything different of Sam, given the context of his lifetime, but it behoves us not to necessarily take his descriptions as painting an accurate portrait of something medically wrong with his mother.

Sjoerd  •  Link

a "Simple" & old fashioned puritan
Maybe Sam's mother is someone who retains the - now unfashionable - puritan opinions concerning drinking, theatre-going, and the other pastimes of the "nouveau riches"... declaring her to be a bit "simple" would be a convenient way for worldly Sam to respond to this ?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"The "Witts",which I had seen already
seems like it was the blockbuster of the time;I understand it is not an Opera like Monteverdi's or Purcell's but a Comedy;has it been staged in recent memory?

JWB  •  Link

Shaking Quaker:
"'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down
where we ought to be,
and when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained
to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
to turn, turn, will be our delight
till by turning, turning we come round right."

Unquiet, now that's another matter.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"Simple gifts"
This is a lovely hymn, but much later than this period. Shakerism does have an English background, however. The founder of the Shakers, Ann Lee was born in Manchester on Feb. 29 1736. Her ideas developed out of the tradition of self discovery, questioning of authority and outspoken dissent of the 1640s and 1650s, so the seeds were sown in our period. Although this was to develop into narrow-minded puritanism, Ann Lee delivered emotional enlightenment to her followers. I'm afraid I think Sam would have found it all not to his taste! Women getting too powerful!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Become very simple and unquiet..." does suggest some kind of decline, even factoring in Sam's 17th century attitudes...He is, after all, a pretty good son as sons go and does keep a close eye on both aged Ps. We'll have to see how Mum fares over time (yeah, I've read ahead too)

Shame we don't hear Beth's opinion at this point.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"... shewed her "The Witts," which I had seen already twice…”

“Sam’l? Pray why do I get the impression you have seen this play before?”

“Read it on the boat to Deptford, darling.”

JWB  •  Link

Of course this hymn of later period. The ideas of grace and of simplicity expressed therein are not.

vicente  •  Link

To stir the pot or brew: a view of those survived to post child bearing years and warn [worn]to the bone:Reginald Scot
Of course there are worse options for survivors of the middle years.
sample from an excert of
"...One sort of such as are said to be witches are women which be commonly old, lame, blear-eyed, pale, foul and full of wrinkles; poor, sullen, superstitious and papists or such as know no religion; in whose drowsy minds the Devil hath gotten a fine fear, so as, what mischief, mischance, calamity or slaughter is brought to pass, they are easily persuaded the same is done by themselves, imprinting in their minds an earnest and constant imagination thereof. They are lean and deformed, showing melancholy in their faces to the horror of all that see them. They are doting scolds, mad, devilish, and not much differing from them that are thought to be possessed by spirits, so firm and steadfast in their opinions as whosoever shall only have respect to the constancy of their words uttered, would easily believe they were true indeed.
These miserable wretches are so odious unto their neighbours and so feared as few dare offend them or deny then anything they ask; whereby they take upon them - yea, and sometimes think - that they can do such things are are beyond the ability of human nature. These go from house to house and from door to door for a pot full of milk, yeast, drink, pottage or some such relief, without the which they could hardly live. Neither obtaining for their service and pains, nor yet by their art, nor yet at the Devil's hands (with whom they are said to make a perfect and visible bargain) either beauty, money, promotion, wealth, worship, pleasure, honour, knowledge, learning, or any other benefit whatsoever...."……
or "...,sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything..."
act II sc vii as you like it: the bard:

Australian Susan  •  Link

Last person in Great Britain to be executed for witchcraft was as late as the 1720s (Scotland). Such ignorant and superstitous beliefs held much sway. Even today people use the disparaging phrase "oh, she's an old witch!" and the sign against the evil eye is still used in some European countries against old women who are suspected of ill-wishing someone.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Simple & Simple
This can mean foolish (and I think that's what Sam means) or plain, straightforward and unworldly.(which I don't think Sam is meaning).

Lynn  •  Link

"and my mother in a discontent"

Well it was her sister who'd died on the 19th wasn't it? Pepys' Aunt Fenner.

Mary  •  Link

& simple.

The word can also mean childish or even half-witted. Sam seems to see his mother's behaviour of late as not just foolish, but irrational.

dirk  •  Link

"Witches - Last person in Great Britain to be executed for witchcraft was as late as the 1720s (Scotland)."

Susan, your reference to Scotland might be a little misleading. Scotland was somewhat of a special case.

"England, which had a strong government, had little witch hunting. The country's one and only craze took place during the English Civil War, when the government's power collapsed."
(excellent text, by the way)

Pedro.  •  Link

Her son and husband patronise and dismiss her.

Antipodean Susan, I'm glad that you said that and not me! I think we have seen enough evidence so far to back this up, even though they both still feel for her.
According to Tomalin his father left for London, and an appreticeship in tailoring, at the age of 14. He was just about literate and could play musical instruments. His mother was just a Laundrymaid with no evidence that she could write.
I believe that it is just Sam's nature.

Laura K  •  Link

sam's mother, dementia and anti-woman propaganda

Thanks Aussie Susan (and Jenny and Pedro). Well said, IMO.

Perhaps next time Sam complains about his foolish mother, we can just reference the several discussions we've now had on the topic. Those who believe her to be addled, demented or suffering from Alzheimer's, and those who believe her to be disgruntled, unhappy and misunderstood, can nod their heads to the tune they're already singing.

vicente  •  Link

Thats the point, women were treated very badly. The use of any excuse to put down and be made slaves of, even now it goes on one upmanship not based on facts but on perceptions. A cannot do Z because A never did that before. One never Knows A's abilitity till they have tried and passed or failed.
Lets not hide the fact that humans are quite brutal with one another beside the use of BRUTE force but with the mind games. This a period of time that people started to rebel about the dominance of one over another.
Round one was lost , more rounds to come , Charles was bringing in the worst of mans inhumantity to man, Read Rochester and see the explotation of humans.

Pat Stewart Cavalier  •  Link

Scotland had the same government as England as of 1707.

languagehat  •  Link

It's not that simple. And I'm not sure why you feel the need to add these dismissive comments to the ends of old threads where they don't enhance an ongoing discussion.

Pedro  •  Link

Ah Language Hat, you are right.

I remember when you told me not to feed the Trolls!

All the best Pedro

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

"Scotland had the same government as England as of 1707"

Scotland did NOT have the same laws or legal system. Even after the Act Of Union (and before devolution), different laws were often passed for England and Wales and for Scotland. It was not just criminal law: for example, Scotland developed its own education system, substantially different from that in the rest of the UK. Also, the famous Gretna Green marriages took place because the age of consent was different in Scotland and England.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Bob T wondered how old Pepys' mother might have been when this was written in 1661. Pepys was only 28. His father was 60 in 1661 and was 32 when Samual was born. His mother could have been quite a bit younger since girls were often married at 15 (Pepys' wife was only 14 when they were married). His mother had 4 births before Sam was born, though they all died, making him the eldest. So Pepys' mother probably would have been in her mid 50s in 1661, too young to be suffering from dementia, at least by 21st Century standards. His father was more likely to be suffering from dementia but nothing was said of that. Unfortunately, whatever psychological problems a woman might have had were usually assumed to be just what one might expect from a mere woman who couldn't have had much sense in the first place. Women were seen as baby-making machines and housekeepers and little else. This was common until well into the 20th century and vestiges of it can be seen to this day, even in Western countries.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

What? No comments about Sam taking the wife to see a play? This is first from my recall.
RE: simple
Sam had not much good to say about his deceased uncle's wife either...

Mary Ellen  •  Link

I don't think this is the first time Sam took his wife to a play, although it was not common for him to do so.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Also, the famous Gretna Green marriages took place because the age of consent was different in Scotland and England."

Gretna Green is a village in the south of Scotland famous for runaway weddings. It is in Dumfries and Galloway, near the mouth of the River Esk and was historically the first village in Scotland, following the old coaching route from London to Edinburgh.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"we examined my uncle’s will before him and Dr. Williams, and had them sign the copy and so did give T. Trice the original to prove, so he took my father and me to one of the judges of the Court"

The Archbishop's Prerogative Court, where the will was proved this day before Dr William Merick. Tom Trice was an advocate of the Court. He had withdrawn his caveat, presumably after the discussion of 21 July. For the dispute, see… and…

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