Tuesday 29 April 1662

At the pay all the morning, and so to dinner; and then to it again in the afternoon, and after our work was done, Sir G. Carteret, Sir W. Pen and I walked forth, and I spied Mrs. Pierce and another lady passing by. So I left them and went to the ladies, and walked with them up and down, and took them to Mrs. Stephens, and there gave them wine and sweetmeats, and were very merry; and then comes the Doctor, and we carried them by coach to their lodging, which was very poor, but the best they could get, and such as made much mirth among us. So I appointed one to watch when the gates of the town were ready to be shut, and to give us notice; and so the Doctor and I staid with them playing and laughing, and at last were forced to bid good night for fear of being locked into the town all night. So we walked to the yard, designing how to prevent our going to London tomorrow, that we might be merry with these ladies, which I did. So to supper and merrily to bed.

31 Annotations

First Reading

language hat  •  Link

Anybody want to try putting an innocent construction on this?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"the gates of the town were ready to be shut"
city gates being shut in 1662?!

Bob T  •  Link

So I appointed one to watch when the gates of the town were ready to be shut.

Didn't they ring a warning bell before the gate was shut? In 1963, I got locked in the Old City of Jerusalem because I didn't know what the bell meant.

Nix  •  Link

Innocent construction --

Well, they did leave before curfew shut them in. Most of us married guys have flirted merrily but stopped well short of serious michief.

Australian Susan  •  Link

What on earth are Mrs Pierce and her friend Mrs Eastwood doing so far from London on their own??? We still have no inkling if Sam knew the lovely lady would be there, but we now have an explanation for his remarks a few days back about "her" lodgings with no reference to Mr P - he was not with her! Sam and the Doctor quickly abandon philosphy and anatomies, don't they, when confronted with a flash of petticoat and a smile - did the Doctor come by chance or was he sent for?

dirk  •  Link


The following is about the city gates of London, but the basics are likely to apply to other towns in 17th c Britain.

"The gates were also used as checkpoints, to check people entering the City, and to collect any tolls [...] After the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 all of the City gates were unhinged and had their portcullises wedged open, making them useless for defence. They were retained despite their uselessness for their original purpose because they were a visible sign of the prestige of the City."


At some point in the late 17th/early 18th c turnpikes were introduced at city gate buildings (and bridges etc) throughout the UK, to replace the cumbersome doors that had stood there up to then, so that the tolls could still be collected as before but without having to open and close the heavy doors each time.

About turnpike riots in Bristol:

As to the opening and closing hours of city gates, they must have varied according to local custom and requirements, but for London they seem to have been:
closing at nine pm, or dusk, (whichever came earlier)
reopening at sunrise, or six am, (whichever came later)

Jesse  •  Link

"that we might be merry with these ladies"

Could be of the sort that now takes place in the office - obviously not an option back then and also occasionally leading to something less 'innocent'.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

So much telling today, the Telling took it's toll of him, he needed a respite, in 'is Kalendarium he doth tell, that her smile told Sam that his company, be telling, and was able to tell the Sirs that the ladies need to be told of rules of the portecullis, but he did not want the Sirs to tell on him. Of course, we want to be told all the facts of 'wot' went on that room, but we did not get told , so glad, they were not on a Tel[l]. "...
At the pay all the morning, and so to dinner; and then to it again in the afternoon, and after our work was done,..."

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

RE: " the pay ". Three whole days of trading Tickets for little brown envelopes with coin of the realm to be handed over to many a tar that be itching to lie to/with a local lass. I doth guess they have been long at sea [no telling how long] guarding convoys and ports along with the chasing of pyrates and continentals.
'Tis 8 days since the bells did tinkel up in London for the landing of Katerina Braganza { the home of some of the best hams [meat that is]). Those Portuguese april showers must have delayed Her Highness.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

The absence of surgeon Pierce is remarkable.

Could he have gone to Portugal to attend the queen on he trip to England? That would explain the presence of LBP and friend in Portsmouth w/o male escort. Also remarkable is the fact that Mrs. P (LBP) is there (a) without children in tow and (b) apparently not pregnant or not enough so to matter. (From her page in the notes: "In 1678 she had her 19th child and was said still to look only 20." So in 1662 she must already have had several.)

Pauline  •  Link

Mrs. Pearse and Mrs. Eastwood, far from London
It is possible that one (the other for company) or both of them have traveled down to meet a husband scheduled home from sea. Dr. Pearse could be commissioned to the party fetching the queen, for example.

Also, it sounds like others are here and alert to be frontline when the queen lands; perhaps Mistresses P and E are helping launch a 319-year frenzy for royal weddings and arriving princesses that will peak in 1981 and lie spent in 2005.

Pauline  •  Link

"not pregnant or not enough so to matter"
Sorry to have stepped on your toes, A. Hamilton. I went off site to google up the 1981 wedding date and didn't check for new posts when I came back. You're right, she must have several young children by now. If she were hugely pregnant she would perhaps not have traveled to Portsmouth, but possibly still be very attractive to Sam for this flirtation.

A.Hamilton  •  Link

to meet a husband scheduled home from sea.

Evidence that great minds do often think alike.

Ruben  •  Link

Madame Pierce
If Dr. Pierce is at sea with Sandwich, he was in Alicante last September. The 4 of September, Sam wrote to us:
"calling at Mrs. Pierce's, who we found brought to bed of a girl last night". That makes Mrs. Pierce free of pregnancy at Southampton, for whatever play and laugh. Not that she would abuse circumstances for anything different than sending his friends home at a proper hour.
A few days before her last delivery (1 september) Sam wrote: "I to Mrs. Pierce's, meeting her and Madam Clifford in the street, and there staid talking and laughing with them a good while,..."
So, she can be very very pregnant or not pregnant at all and still have a good laugh. Quite a woman!

David A. Smith  •  Link

"and walked with them up and down ... and were very merry"
Hello, Language Hat and Nix!
Actually I think this *is* innocent, by the standards of the times. Obviously, Sam finds Mrs. Pierce a delightful eyeful, and there is doubtless hearty flirting (of the kind that would be *severely* inhibited by a wifely presence), and the pleasant tingle of if-I-were-free sex appeal on both sides -- but its very transparency renders it, if not wholly innocent, at least not culpable.
For the moment.
I fear for our boy if the circumstances place him with pulchritude near to hand and a door he can shut on the world.

Mary  •  Link

City walls and gates.

Because of the naval importance of Southampton, the walls and gates continued to be regarded as essential defences. L&M quote a document of 1682 showing that visitors entering the town were still being closely examined.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

"designing how to prevent our going to London tomorrow, that we might be merry with these ladies, which I did."

My divining rods detect an underground stream running through the diary for the past two weeks or so. Sam is obviously conscious of it, but apparently reluctant to see it above ground.

April 13: Sam talks two hours with gossippy Mr. Pickering about who is going to Portsmouth to meet the queen.

April 14: Sam lies abed with Beth, trying to persuade her to go to Brasmpton and take Sarah, their ailing maid. Then later that day, "whether she suspected anything or no I know not, but she is quite off of her going to Brampton, which something troubles me, and yet all my design was that I might the freer go to Portsmouth when the rest go to pay off the yards there, which will be very shortly. But I will get off if I can."

April 21, Sam again tries to get Beth to go to Brampton, then discloses his intent to go to Postsmouth without her.

April 23, a hurried note to Sir William Batten not to come, written Sam says to preserve his "no wives on this trip" promise to Beth.

April 27, first glimpse of Mrs Pierce, but no news about her lodgings, "which vexes me."

April 29, Mrs. Pierce well met, and Sam takes steps to extend his stay.

The underground stream, I think, is Sam's intention to seek out Mrs. Pierce when both are spouse-free. Sam gives little hints that this is the case, but isn't frank with his diary -- and perhaps not even with himself, though he is quick to act when opportunity presents itself. I wonder if his French nickname for Mrs. Pierce, "La Belle," is perhaps an early example of his preference for expressing troubling erotic thoughts in a foreign language. The only "innocence" I see in this is the deceptive one of self-protective censorship. On Sept. 1, Sam hears talkes of court intrigue, and remarks,
"But, good God! what an age is this, and what a world is this! that a man cannot live without playing the knave and dissimulation." Then he goes off to see Mrs. Pierce.

PHE  •  Link

City Gates
In the Sultanate of Oman, the city gates were shut at dusk up until 1970. You were locked either in or out. Is there any city today - in some location relatively untouched by modern progress - where gates are still shut at night?

Pauline  •  Link

A. Hamilton, nicely done!

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

Hamilton it be April, warm evenings and spring showers with all the gamboling that spring doth bring forth. Man, I doth believe is the only animal that can decide whether to take a gamble with his future and take control of spring fever and prevent the upper brain slipping down the spinal column. Sam be not concious of his fever yet, only when and if Beth spots the tell tale signs, will he aware of the situation, and he receives an aked 'ead without imbibing some strong waters..
Wilmot* can tell you wot 'appens when spring fever doth strike, for those that wish to be flabberghasted.
* The Poet Lord Rochester.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

"whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind"

The question of course is what does Sam think he is about -- an innocent flirtation of someting more? Vincent gets what is going on just right,it seems to me, Sam not being conscious yet of his fever -- but something in him seems determined to find out if Mrs. Pierce is one of the chaste ladies who "Non dat, non tamen illa negat" (do not consent, but also do not say "no"). And if she isn't, what then of innocence?

Ruben  •  Link

thank you all for your exceptionally clarifing annotations.
Now I understand that Pepys was playing his sex card at the limits possible during his lifetime, considering that La Belle Pierce was a Lady of distinction, at list of his rank if not better than himself and not a girl working for a coin in a watering place. Here the play is more intellectual and the dangers are evident. It is my believe he never dreamt touching physically La Belle. He felt he was intelectually challenged by her beauty and intelligence, and what we have here is sublimated sex. In a way, he may go to bed with his legal wife but then he dreams with a more challenging woman.
His wife may pardon an ocassional slip in a tavern after some alcohol, but not the "playing and laughing" of today.

language hat  •  Link

"to prevent our going to London tomorrow, that we might be merry with these ladies"

I agree with A. Hamilton about what's going on here.

And Ruben, I don't want to spoil anything for you, but it's well known that Pepys did plenty more than dream; it's just a question of when it starts showing up in the diary.

john lauer  •  Link

re: Gates
turnpike => turnstile, at least for us in the West.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

Locked gates to keep citizens in and thieves out: ingres/egress be controlled and thru time change the nowns to give the lie to progress. Nomens come by strange names for this constriction. There be the moat, drawbridge and portculliss. Then trade became more im-portant and held up commerce, so door keepers had to replace the men with pikes, which will replaced by a stile and now we be back with cameras aimed at license plates and here in the dangerous west, we have gated communities to rival Sparta. The othe reason for such constriction would be to legalised removing the coin from the outsiders.

Pedro  •  Link

Preparations for the Queen.

From Davidson's Biography of Catarina...
On this day Charles issued a mandate to his chief engraver, Thomas Simon, "Our will and pleasure is that you forthwith make and prepare a seal of silver for our Royal Consort, the Queen, according to these draughts. Given at our Court at Whitehall"

The impression of this seal can be seen in the MS. room of the British Museum.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"RE: " the pay ". Three whole days of trading Tickets for little brown envelopes with coin of the realm to be handed over to many a tar that be itching to lie to/with a local lass. I doth guess they have been long at sea..."

The principal work, as L&M note, was to pay the 16 ships (including two hulks and a hoy) kept on the ordinary establishment in the dock. http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1…

Not as seafaring as one might think; but surely a great cash infusion for the Portsmouth economy['s local lasses].

Tonyel  •  Link

Way off the 17th century, but this reminds me irresistibly of the music hall comedian Max Miller in the "innocent" days before sex was invented in the 1960's:

I love the girls that do,
I love the girls that don't.
I hate the girls who say they will and then who say they won't.
But the ones I love the best,
and I think you'll say I'm right,
are the ones who say they never would - but look as though they mi...'ere!

john  •  Link

A century later, Jane Austen would write to the effect that one attended parties to flirt with the opposite sex. (I cannot remember the exact quote -- too many decades.)

Christopher  •  Link

It would appear the surgeon is even more rare than the sturgeon!

I apologize, and can't believe it took 11 years for such a terrible pun to be posted.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.