Thursday 5 September 1661

To the Privy Seal this morning about business, in my way taking leave of my mother, who goes to Brampton to-day. But doing my business at the Privy Seal pretty soon, I took boat and went to my uncle Fenner’s, and there I found my mother and my wife and Pall (of whom I had this morning at my own house taken leave, and given her 20s. and good counsel how to carry herself to my father and mother), and so I took them, it being late, to Beard’s, where they were staid for, and so I put them into the waggon, and saw them going presently, Pall crying exceedingly. Then in with my wife, my aunt Bell and Charles Pepys, whom we met there, and drank, and so to my uncle Fenner’s to dinner (in the way meeting a French footman with feathers, who was in quest of my wife, and spoke with her privately, but I could not tell what it was, only my wife promised to go to some place to-morrow morning, which do trouble my mind how to know whither it was), where both his sons and daughters were, and there we were merry and dined.

After dinner news was brought that my aunt Kite, the butcher’s widow in London, is sick ready to die and sends for my uncle and me to come to take charge of things, and to be entrusted with the care of her daughter. But I through want of time to undertake such a business, I was taken up by Antony Joyce, which came at last to very high words, which made me very angry, and I did not think that he would ever have been such a fool to meddle with other people’s business, but I saw he spoke worse to his father than to me and therefore I bore it the better, but all the company was offended with him, so we parted angry he and I, and so my wife and I to the fair, and I showed her the Italians dancing the ropes, and the women that do strange tumbling tricks and so by foot home vexed in my mind about Antony Joyce.

22 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"which do trouble my mind"
All this sound very funny, but isn't Elizabeth being very forward for the times or not?

Lawrence  •  Link

Perhaps its a message from somerset's son, Elizabeth is a pretty lass and the pretty man spoke with her the other day coming out of the theatre, why does he mention feathers, is the messenger wearing them in his hat? wasn't that fashionable then?

JBailey  •  Link

My guess is that Elizabeth is meeting the man with the feathers to buy some for her household--perhaps to attach to a hat or some other article of clothing. Or perhaps she is buying feathers for a bed.

Stolzi  •  Link


He doesn't have time to look after his dying aunt or his motherless cousin, but he has time to watch the Italian rope-dancers and the strange tumbling tricks and to play tricks of his own on Sir Wm Pen.

Perhaps what is "vexing his mind" is really his conscience!

Bradford  •  Link

"in the way meeting a French footman with feathers, who was in quest of my wife, and spoke with her privately, but I could not tell what it was, only my wife promised to go to some place to-morrow morning, which do trouble my mind how to know whither it was"

In the words of a wiser woman than I, "Anyone who's ever read a novel knows what's going to happen next."

Lawrence  •  Link

I suppose its possible that a French footman could be selling feathers, hense why Sam mention's them, though he could be fancily dressed and on an errand for Somerset?

vicente  •  Link

Oh! wot a bloomin' day: mumsy, sis,wifey, dodging the cart and maybe spending 20 bob on nick nacks? and tears did not work."...there I found my mother and my wife and Pall ..." then the Dandy from "gay pari" enough to put any guilty husband into conniptions [Oh! La La]. Then the Aunt want Sam to undertake the Honors of being the experienced man with deathly procedures. And then not to bed just home.

helena murphy  •  Link

Ostrich feathers I presume? Much sought after in London at the time. The bed of William of Orange , which can be seen at Hampton Court, still has its ostrich feathers ,which are needless to add a lot less unsettling than the vast array of his guns pinned up on the high walls.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"a French footman with feathers"
Permit me, for just a moment, to wallow in this phrase of lush yet crisp dismissal. Tell us how you *really* feel, Sam!

Don  •  Link

"...which do trouble my mind..."
We would, of course, write this today as "...which does worry me..". In the 17th century, I believe, "to worry" only meant to tear apart, usually with teeth.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Yes Vicente, a turbulent day

The determined rustication of mother and sister despite sister's tears; the unease caused by the "French footman with feathers" (fie!), dodging the aunt's dying request and being upbraided for it by the detested Antony Joyce. City charms (rope dancers etc.) no physic; too upset to sleep?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"French footman with feathers"
F: mais Madame votre mari est trés horrible.
E:je sais,mais je ne peut pas rien faire et puis il ne me donne pas un enfant.
F: a votre service Madame.

john lauer  •  Link

[tongue slightly in cheek:]
F: but Madam your husband is trés horrible.
E: je know, but I can nothing make and then it does not give me a child.
F: your service Madam has.
[I shan’t identify the translator.]

Pauline  •  Link

[slightly cheeky, but tongues do wag]
Sam has made no effort to stop this meeting, at least that he cares to record in the diary. What is going on? Any chance that outside all the intimate things Sam tells us that there is an ongoing dialogue between him and Elizabeth that posits infertility on his part following his surgery and a mutal or semi-mutual acknowlegement that they would love to have a child and Elizabeth could well bear one?

Like Leopold, Sam may be miserable but accepting to some degree that there is 'reason' in the situation.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sam and children
We have seen many instances of Sam enjoying the company of children. And yet another friend has just had a baby. I think they must both be feeling sad about their own continued childlessness.

vicente  •  Link

ode to Children:
sad if not got,
by mom and pop
that could not.
glad if got,
by mom and pop
that could,
and did got

dirk  •  Link

Vicente for Poet Laureate !

Great fun.

Glyn  •  Link

So goodbye to Pall, aged 21 and going back to live with her parents. A big city girl sent to the depths of the country. What's she going to do for entertainment where there are no plays and hardly any public executions?

Here's her brother's description of her when she was aged 25 (31 May, 1666): "and sister, who is a pretty good-bodied woman, and not over thicke, as I thought she would have been, but full of freckles, and not handsome in face." - sounds like both my sisters.

Second Reading

arby  •  Link

I find it interesting that Elizabeth didn't feel obliged to 'splain herself to Sam, nor did he feel he could press her on it, despite his intense curiosity.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

I'm happy to see Elizabeth displaying her independence. If she vexes her husband, more power to her. She deserves her feathers.

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