Thursday 19 December 1661

This morning my wife dressed herself fine to go to the christening of Mrs. Hunt’s child, and so she and I in the way in the morning went to the Paynter’s, and there she sat till noon, and I all the while looking over great variety of good prints which he had, and by and by comes my boy to tell us that Mrs. Hunt has been at our house to tell us that the christening is not till Saturday next. So after the Paynter had done I did like the picture pretty well, and my wife and I went by coach home, but in the way I took occasion to fall out with my wife very highly about her ribbands being ill matched and of two colours, and to very high words, so that, like a passionate fool, I did call her whore, for which I was afterwards sorry. But I set her down at home, and went myself by appointment to the Dolphin, where Sir W. Warren did give us all a good dinner, and that being done, to the office, and there sat late, and so home.

31 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"being ill matched and of two colours"
Sam is getting to be a real control freak; telling a french girl how to dress; the nerve!!!

Diana Bonebrake  •  Link

Gee. At least Sam admitted to calling his wife a whore in his diary...

vicenzo  •  Link

Today we get a better picture of the upward mobile couple of the day.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: "and so home."

To a chilly reception, no doubt! But, as Diana says, at least he admits his mistake to himself, showing he knows he acted the fool ... it's not just contrition for appearance's sake.

Bradford  •  Link

Temper, temper! But apparently the gap between misbehaving and recognizing it as such is not too long. In other situations he holds his tongue; will we see him doing so, eventually, in regards to Elizabeth?

Bullus Hutton  •  Link

"I took occasion to fall out with my wife very highly .. and to very high words, so that, like a passionate fool, I did call her whore, for which I was afterwards sorry"
Hey, this is terrific! It's only in a loveless relationship that there isn't the occasional tempest. Elizabeth must have been a very spunky person to wind the normally decorous Sam up to the point where he insults her so; I can hear her French accent right now regaling him for presuming to criticize her, I bet the cab driver was saying "Strewth! Upper class kids these days are a pain in the *rse, tweren't that in my day!"

Australian Susan  •  Link

"ribbands being ill-matched"
Why on earth did this get Sam so riled? What exactly is meant by a "ribband" in this context? Some kind of lacing of her bodice? Did ladies of negotiable affection wear gaudy "ribbands"? Is that what has upset Sam? Or is his tailor's son's eye put out by mismatched trimmings? Or does he think his wife should be more tidily dressed as befits his station?

Glyn  •  Link

"to the office, and there sat late, and so home."

Working late at the office is preferable to going home to face Elizabeth. If I'm any judge of character, he'll be up early for work tomorrow just to get out of the house!

J A Gioia  •  Link

like a passionate fool, I did call her whore

i think we see here the conflict of the former puritan college boy now making his rise in an increasingly licentious society. sam is mostly okay with the outer aspects: theater-going, lavish drinking and eating, gift-giving, adorning himself (all part of the job). he looks wonderingly at liturigcal changes, lets his observances of sunday and daily prayers slip a bit, but is clearly uneasy about the effect this is all having on his home. (remember his dream about liz getting thrown from the horse.) he wants his wife to look good, he *needs* his wife to look good (cf: lady sandwich's admonition about liz's outfitting a couple weeks back), but somewhere - not so deep down - is a voice calling 'SHAME!'.

Ruben  •  Link

was born in Devon. Her father was French but the mother not. I feel sure that her first language was English lernt from mother. She spoke English with the children in the street and at home with her brother. Her father spoke a broken English, probably a Frenglish dialect.
But Elizabeth? Why would she speak English with an accent? To me it looks like she spoke French with an accent!

Grahamt  •  Link

I agree with Ruben:
Elizabeth was born to an Anglo-Irish mother in Devon, so if we were to speculate on her accent, then an Oirish/west-country burr mix might be likely, but it certainly wouldn't be French. I speak from experience; my daughter, like Elizabeth, was born in England of one French, one English parent and speaks English without the slightest trace of a French accent, and French with just a slight English accent.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"like a passionate fool, I did call her whore"
I think the explanation for his choice of words is simpler -- he was very angry and threw a hurtful word, the way we might use the C or MF or CS words, intended as lashes and not as literal descriptions.

Glyn  •  Link

Yes, but WHY was he angry? Elizabeth "dresses herself fine" for two important occasions where she had to look her best - a christening with old friends, and to meet the painter - why is this so irritating to him?

Mary  •  Link

There's something wrong with them thar ribbons...

At least, in Sam's eyes. He makes two points about them: they are 'ill matched' and 'of two colours'. 'Ill matched' alone might simply indicate carelessness or lack of taste, but the emphasis on the two colours seems to imply that there is something tarty and offensive about them. Too gaudy? Too frivolous? (I'm reminded of Shakespeare's "parti-coloured fool"). Australian Susan's query about the dress of 'light ladies' leads in a tempting direction but I've been unable to chase down any corroborating reference to the dress of 17th century prostitutes.

BradW  •  Link

There's something wrong with them thar ribbons...

Let’s keep in mind that Eliz. was dressed this day to sit for her portait.

A detail of clothing which might have passed inspection for church, might send the wrong signal if recorded forever in oils. Every detail of portraits of that era were supposed to be significant, symbolizing family history, accomplishments, political alignments, etc.

Perhaps she was trying to show the interweaving of her French and British lineages? And he thought that the wrong signal to be seen in a portrait of the wife of a King’s Official?

Pedro.  •  Link

Elizabeth: "Oirish/west-country burr mix might be likely."

This begs the question of how different her accent would be to that of Sam, he been educated in London and Cambridge. The beginnings of "Received Pronunciation" some say can be traced back before Sam's time.

Puttenham, in The Arte of English Poesy (1589), believes the best English to be “the usual speech of the Court, and that of London and the shires lying about London within sixty miles and not much above”.

“I have not been guided by our vulgar pronunciation, but by that of London and our Universities, where the language is purely spoken.” (Vocal Organ, 1665)…

Glyn  •  Link

Possibly connected to the arrests reported by Pepys on 1 December

vicenzo  •  Link

re: house of L: did comtemplate to expel the army rifaff, in spite of the fact that it was soldiers that helped to restore the crown to ALL ITS GLORY.
Humans??? ref above

Bradford  •  Link

Back at…
we have seen one Mr. Lucy and a Mrs. Carrick calling each other groom and bride and pulling at one another's ribbons in a deal of byplay both Sam and Elizabeth found silly; so perhaps ribbons signify more than we realize. If anyone digs up such information, there's no section about them in the Fashion background yet, where it might prove useful.

dirk  •  Link


Both men's and women's costume were commonly fit with decorative ribbons - a practice that would grow to preposterous proportions in the years to come. Possibly using ribbons of more than one colour on the same dress was judged ridiculous or vulgar?

One pic of an unknown English lady at court:…
(Note the ribbons!)

More contemporary pics of two of Charles II's mistresses:…
(Duchess of Portsmouth)…
(Barbara Villiers)

Glyn  •  Link

Concerning Dirk's entry above, this is a good example of Pepys's news-gathering abilities, which is part of his job. His contacts informed him of the arrests almost 3 weeks before the government announcement, and presumably he has by now informed Mongagu.

language hat  •  Link

"Why on earth did this get Sam so riled?"

We have no way of figuring this out, and wouldn't even if we were living in 1661 and Sam told us the anecdote over ale at the Dolphin. Married couples can quarrel over anything or nothing if there's tension in the air. I speak from experience.

"You know, dear, those ribbons aren't quite matched."
"Yes they are! And who are you to talk about my ribbons anyway? Just look at your hat!"
"My hat is fine, and I don't like your tone of voice..."
And away we go!

vicenzo  •  Link

Ribbons be for men on their chest to tell the world how great they be.
Ribbons be for girls to be have around the thigh for the explorer to find.
Ribbons be for the maypole for the girls to hang on to for the ride.
Ribbons be for the winning horse.
Ribbons be for the bonnet to show ones support.
Ribbons be for adorning the package for ones present.
Ribbons are also to be torn to shreds if they be the wrong ones.

Glyn  •  Link

I stand with Bullus on this one regarding her accent. She may have been born in Devon, England but how long did she stay there? We know that she was taught at a convent school in Paris and I'm sure none of the nuns would have a backward and primitive language such as English.

And I'm going to use GrahamT's argument against him: he says that his own bilingual daughter speaks with the slight accent of her father's (i.e. Graham's) language. If that was also true of Elizabeth then her accent would have been French (however slight).

Philip  •  Link

being ill matched and of two colours

Just over a decade earlier the Levellers used coloured ribbons to indicate political allegiance. It is said that they wore sea-green one to indicate their allegiance. According to John Lingard in his "History of England", at the funeral of Robert Lockyer (usually spelt Lockier) a New Model Army soldier hanged for mutiny in 1649, "some thousands of men and women followed with black and green ribbons on their heads and breasts". So it is possible that different colour combinations of ribbons could have indicated different things. It is also possible that Sam a man about town knew something about the significance of that combination before the argument started which Beth did not. But from what he writes, he had told her by the end of it!

Patricia  •  Link

I gasped aloud when I read this entry: that's how real and immediate these people have become to me, and I thought, "this is private, I shouldn't be reading this."

Aqua  •  Link

Taught in Convent School, Papa could not abide the Convent, she stayed only a few weeks, schooling appears to be at the court.

pat Stewart Cavalier  •  Link

The accent you have depends on the country you live in not on the mother or the father. My daughters are half French and lived in France ; they speak English and French with a French accent. My grandsons are half French and half German and live in Germany ; they speak French and German with a German accent. Same thing for all my friends with half and half children.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

" fall out with my wife very highly about her ribbands"

RIBBAND, or Ribbon, a narrow sort of silk, chiefly used for head ornaments, badges of chivalry, &c.
---The Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, 1766

john  •  Link

Methinks this is a tempest that erupted from being made to wait Tuesday at the Privy Seal's pleasure. That "vexed" him then and probably stayed with him, resulting in displaced aggession.

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