Sunday 12 January 1661/62

(Lord’s day). To church, where a stranger made a very good sermon. At noon Sir W. Pen and my good friend Dean Fuller, by appointment, and my wife’s brother by chance, dined with me very merry and handsomely. After dinner the Dean, my wife and I by Sir W. Pen’s coach left us, he to Whitehall, and my wife and I to visit Mrs. Pierce and thence Mrs. Turner, who continues very ill still, and The. is also fallen sick, which do trouble me for the poor mother. So home and to read, I being troubled to hear my wife rate though not without cause at her mayd Nell, who is a lazy slut.

So to prayers and to bed.

26 Annotations

First Reading

Glyn  •  Link

David A. Smith gave Sam some firm but fair advice a while ago concerning Elizabeth Pierce…

and one would almost think that he took it.

dirk  •  Link

"Nell, who is a lazy slut"

The next maid to go? Obviously Sam & Elisabeth have problems finding good house staff. Are the just too demanding?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"To church, where a stranger made a very good sermon...(and was thereafter hauled back off to Bedlam by cart with two stout attendants making him sure.)

Sorry, Sam'l. Couldn't resist...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Wonder if Sam had shown Nell any 'attentions'? That might be a contributing factor in the 'lazy slut' syndrome.

As 'rating' continues, Sam sticks his head out of his den. A raging Beth glares briefly at him, Nell desperately eyeing him for help...

"What is it?!!" A hard 'don't you dare interfere in my domain' stare from our Beth...

Uh...Nothing, dear...Nothing. Our hero retreats back to his den and the loftier realm of naval salutation...

vicenzo  •  Link

rate:vb: to rebuke angrily or violently 2 [obs] to drive away by scolding ME raten;
"...I being troubled to hear my wife rate though not without cause at her mayd..."
alt: of word that do not fit from my old dict: which may be obs?;
an alt: meaning, value as in highly rated,deserving.. if it were a noun now, it could have meant estimation. ME rata:
All because of what? not emptying the slops while young Will goes and listens to the Commissioners of Parliament. "It aint rite ye no?"
It is so taxing, being a mayd.

dirk  •  Link

The Rev. Josselin's diary entry for today:

"God good to us in outward mercies. this day dry and cold, a frost in the night, the weather good to set back rye, that in many places, spindles, and ears, which is a sad providence. this day I baptised a child in public not done in 12 months before. the lord good to me in the word, the lord awaken our hearts thereby to love and fear his name."

vicenzo  •  Link

Sam gets to use the Boss's [Sir Wm: Pen] coach, it being Sunday and all, and not use the one down at the May-pole, it be be charging extra .

Mary  •  Link

"Sir W. Pen's coach left us.."

L&M reading gives: 'Sir W. Pen's coach lent us....'.

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

I rather think Sam would have mentioned Nell to be at least a bit attractive, so Robert, is your imagination running away with you here?
What a pretty way to say by the way to dine with someone by appointment and with another by chance.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"and my wife's brother by chance"
The unwelcome guest was not included in the outing in the splendid borrowed coach after dinner!

It seems to me that Sam is just concerned at the noise made by his wife, which is disturbing his reading. Or maybe he thinks it is unbecoming to screech at the servants? I take "troubled" here to mean annoyed by the racket rather than disturbed in mind by what Beth is doing.

Mary  •  Link

" troubled to hear my wife rate...."

I suspect that Sam, like many another, does not like to hear the sounds of domestic discord iimpinging upon his own peace and quiet. He avers that Nell is a lazy slut and has complained of her faults before (the spoiled dinner) but doesn't care to have any of the fuss that nearly always goes with berating an unsatisfactory servant. He probably feels that Elizabeth should be able to settle the matter one way or the other without inconveniencing him in any way.

Scott  •  Link

I took this to mean that Sam was troubled that Beth was angry enough to rate. No one wants the head female of the house upset because, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." I'm sure this held as true then as it does now.

Bardi  •  Link

While all of you are 'rating' I'd like to know how all these meetings are arranged. Whether for business or pleasure, Sam's day always seems to take in numerous people, places, dinners and wine. All done without benefit of phone, fax or email.

Glyn  •  Link

He has his boy Wayneman to run private errands for him, and the Navy Office have their own people to run messages, and no doubt the kids in the street will take and bring back messages for a small price. London has several thousand inhabitants but most of them live within an hour's walk of each other so everyone is contactable.

So it's a bit of a surprise that Pepys' ne'er do well b-in-law just happened to drop by, unless Elizabeth knew he was coming but didn't tell Sam. Didn't Balty recently want a job from Sam?

But I am as impressed as Bardi at how many people Pepys knows. Just click on the "People" link in the list at the top of the page and see how many people have appeared in the Diary so far!

vicenzo  •  Link

'All done without benefit of phone, fax or email.' 'tis why you have servant/s in ones employ, to go trudging hither and thither, to do one's master's business.
Meetings: pre bell and morse. Servant or a boy or even an urchin did the job of yer phoning or passing of messages. Habits were understood and duly noted. The Alpha's had their routines. People used their noodles to think ahead, and plan, none of this last minute stuff, and as most of hoofing was done via shanks pony, there was very little in the way of excuses for being late. Only in this period of time did the Gentry get bussed around, as there were only about 500 cabbies to take care of 50,000 'betters' [ most were waiting out side the Lauds for big tips?] to do a trip, else it be by skulling.[there be only two areas of concern [London city and Westminister] Most of the meetings were more enjoyable [at starbucks of the day] than the present large conference room, no need for lawyers to seal a deal, a Hand shake was your bond[except for king, he needed a seal [Sam's job], there were enough outsiders to witness and if one renegged, then you were fodder for for the London wall or bridge.
Progress has meant get rid of 'umans and replace them with technology, from empting the chamber pot to batman to waiters at starbucks.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: how all these meetings are arranged

While Sam no doubt had help from various servants and messengers, we should remember that he easily could have set up the "appointment" for Sunday dinner during earlier meetings with Penn and Teller, oops, I mean Fuller. ("Why not come by my house next Sunday after church for a nice chine of beef?")

dirk  •  Link


This isn't the first time Sam calls Nell a slut. Cf the diary entry for Sunday 15 December 1661:
"a difference between my wife and her maid Nell, who is a simple slut, and I am afeard we shall find her a cross-grained wench."

I wonder whether the word "slut" had the same meaning then as now?

Australian Susan  •  Link

Slut then meant slovenly, a dirty housekeeper, lazy at work around the house and similar meanings, not of loose morals.

Mary  •  Link


In an earlier discussion, we noted that at this time 'slut' could also be used as a general term for a maid of all work; presumably because she did the dirty work. thus the word could have a more neutral import than we generally anticipate.

vicenzo  •  Link

slut:ye be a slyp sloppe slubben sloven slothhe slutern that sloshes the slop, and to boot you are a slothful mayd

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Todd Bernhardt "re: how all these meetings are arranged"

"While Sam no doubt had help from various servants and messengers, we should remember that he easily could have set up the "appointment" for Sunday dinner during earlier meetings with Penn and Teller, oops, I mean Fuller. ("Why not come by my house next Sunday after church for a nice chine of beef?")"

Just yesterday Pepys "invited all the Honiwood’s to dinner on Monday next."…

Louise Hudson  •  Link

"So home and to read, I being troubled to hear my wife rate though not without cause at her mayd Nell, who is a lazy slut."

I wonder why he didn't beat her. He's done that to troublesome servants before.

Al Doman  •  Link

@Louise Hudson: probably because her real or perceived failings aren't affecting him (or to a lesser extent, his wife) in the eyes of others.

Pepys' entire household depends on him. He has zero job security and is almost completely dependent on the patronage of others such as Sandwich. His reputation is absolutely crucial to retaining the various positions he holds and the associated income(s). If for any reason he falls from favour his whole dependent household would suffer, not just him. His wife and staff understand that, in their bones. They're all part of Team Pepys.

A maid being lazy sounds like an internal matter. A sharp word may or may not suffice; a reminder that she's in a decent household with improving prospects and that she can be dismissed with a poor (or no) reference. If she's a good maid but has broken the best serving dish through carelessness, what punishment might the team decide?

External matters: far more serious. Suppose a maid were to sass a distinguished visitor? Looks bad on Sam. If she steals a loaf of bread? Hopefully Sam can square it with the merchant and spare her the potentially harsh justice of the day:… . But you can be sure she'd still face some private punishment at home.

Sam wisely keeps a very close eye on his wife and her interactions with other women of their acquaintance. Also on Will Hewer, who to some extent is acting as his agent in some matters - that's why Sam sometimes has strong reactions to seemingly trivial "infractions".

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Why did Pepys not beat the maid? Firstly he was "troubled" and not "angry". Secondly, he was troubled at the disturbance as much as the cause. He has felt in the past, though not in this case, that Elizabeth was not entirely reasonable with her staff. Thirdly, I don't believe he's beaten any of the maids, only his boy servants - perhaps because the maids come under Elizabeth.

Fourthly and finally, on the very few occasions when Sam has beaten a boy, he has shown no sign of enjoying it: au contraire. There is nothing to suggest that Sam is inclined to violence, except as a very last resort. And then it troubles his conscience.

Bill  •  Link

"I being troubled to hear my wife rate though not without cause at her mayd Nell"

To RATE, to reprove or chide.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

The word "berate" is not listed in this dictionary.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘rate, v.1 Origin unknown . .
1. trans. To scold, berate, or rebuke vehemently or angrily . .
a. With a person as object . .
. . 1605 W. Camden Remaines i. 229 The Bishop being angrie, rated the fellow roughly.
. . 1720 D. Defoe Mem. Cavalier 94 The King was in some Passion at his Men, and rated them for running away . . ‘

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