Thursday 25 September 1662

Up betimes and to my workmen, and then to the office, where we sat all the morning. So home to dinner alone and then to my workmen till night, and so to my office till bedtime, and so after supper to my lodgings and to bed.

This evening I sat awhile at Sir W. Batten’s with Sir J. Minnes, &c., where he told us among many other things how in Portugal they scorn to make a seat for a house of office, but they do … [Discussion of toilet facilities which are again too much for Mr. Wheatley. D.W.] [shit – L&M] all in pots and so empty them in the river.

I did also hear how the woman, formerly nurse to Mrs. Lemon (Sir W. Batten’s daughter), her child was torn to pieces by two doggs at Walthamstow this week, and is dead, which is very strange.

39 Annotations

First Reading

Rex Gordon  •  Link

"they scorn to make a seat ..."

(L&M): "I sat a while at Sir W. Batten's with Sir J. Mennes &c., where he told us, among many other things, how in portugall they scorn to make a seat for a house of office. But they do shit all in pots and so empty them in the river." (I am reminded of a visit to a former territory of the Roman empire in the early 1970s, where one could still encounter, in the more rustic sort of eatery, a "toilet" which consisted of two painted outlines of human feet on either side of a hole in the floor, the rushing water of a stream audible beneath.)

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"Up betimes..."

-- "and to my workmen" (25 Sept)
-- "and among my workmen" (24 Sept)
-- "and with my workmen" (23 Sept)
-- "among my workmen" (22 Sept)

Something tells me Sam is anxious to get this work done...

Wonder how old the child of Mrs. Lemon's nurse was? Very strange indeed.

Terry F  •  Link

"the...child was torn to pieces by two doggs..., and is dead, which is very strange."

What was "very strange" about this news? Were there not mastiffs and bull- and bear-baiting dogs, the ancestor of the pit bull?…
Or was it strange that it had happened at Walthamstow?

Terry F  •  Link

Perhaps not mastiffs, but (sorry, Brits) bulldogs

"Bulldogs were originally used for bullbaiting, a wagering sport popular in the 17th century in which trained bulldogs leapt at a bull lashed to a post, latched onto its snout and attempted to suffocate it."Bulldogs were originally used for bullbaiting, a wagering sport popular in the 17th century in which trained bulldogs leapt at a bull lashed to a post, latched onto its snout and attempted to suffocate it."…

Australian Susan  •  Link

There is a difference between bulldogs and bull terriers: the former were trained to go for a bull's throat and hang on and were bred with large jaws and a pushed-in snout (nowadays the breed usually has respiratory problems); the latter with a long snout were trained to get hold of a bull's nose and attempt to snap it off, which would cause immense bleeding and pain. Bull terriers are the ones with the agressive nature and were used to develop the pit bull or fighting dog. Bull Mastiffs are a different breed from the English Mastiff: Bull Mastiffs are aggressive, English Mastiffs are not. Unfortunately, here in Australia, there are many dog attacks on children (often because the child has irritated a dog or it perceives the child as a territory threat)and the dog usually has bull terrier or Rottweiler in its breeding. Dogs, however, usually do not tear a child in pieces - but attack the face or limbs: maybe it was the tearing in pieces which Sam found "strange". In those days, dog attacks would have been more common, I would have thought, with dog restraint laws not in place, and death from such attacks more common because of the lack of good wound management procedures.

Terry F  •  Link

But Australian Susan, didn't the Bull Terrier succeed the Bulldog in time and descent? "Bull Terriers arose from the old-fashioned Bulldog, crossed with the now extinct Old English Terrier, during the 19th century."…
"Now an affectionate companion, the Bull Terrier arose from the Bull and Terrier crosses, originally bred for dog-fighting. When bullbaiting was outlawed in England in 1835 the 'sport' of dog-fighting became popular and a smaller dog breed was needed, that could be more easily hidden under one's coat at the arrival of the police."…

(Whatever the case, someone might accuse us of being too interested in bull****)

Xjy  •  Link

Poor Sam
Idle workers, evil foreign toilets, children ripped limb from limb by lovable furry friends ... he's writing his own gutter tabloid. All that's missing is a Page 3 hotty...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I could see where one might prefer one's own pot to a commonly used seat in the house of office (I am waiting for the Parliament/government joke). A little surprised that Sam finds it so remarkable...He's used chamber pots at home before.

At Sam and Bess' a picture of Bess now hung, under it the sign "Work! Work!! ___Days till Arrival!

GrahamT  •  Link

...two doggs at Walthamstow ...
Walthamstow is now the site of a large Greyhound race track, usually known as Walthamstow dogs.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Synchronicity, or going to the dogs

Events separated by more than 300 years can hardly be said to be in synch. But it is an interesting coincidence, perhaps a case of acausal asynchronicity? Woof.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"they scorn to make a seat"
Indeed,squatting is more hygienic and physiological;good when you are young,later on use a seat.
"dogs" didn't have to worry about rabies.

Jeannine  •  Link

Mr. Wheatley's deleted word... Rex provided the deleted word from Wheatley's translation, the "S" word. Sam doesn't use alot of real "swears" like this in his diary, but he who has no qualms about expressing his own issues with "bathroom" topics (constipation, laxatives, etc.) in a "dignified manner" yet he chooses to express the bathroom habits of another culture with a "swear" word.
This word was not the norm in a gentleman's society but rather associated with a put down, or used among "the men" as in Sandwich's derogatory, albeit funny statement when James (Duke of York) married a pregnant Anne Hyde. Sandwich summed up the marriage to Pepys {"he had to get a wench with child and marry her afterwards is as if a man should "S" in his hat and then clap it on his head").
It's a small word choice on Sam's behalf, but his choice of wording may be an area to watch to see how he chooses certain words to comment on other cultures (religions, etc.) that a different from his own. Perhaps a pattern will come forth (??) in his view of the Queen's different culture, other religions, nationalities, etc. perhaps not. The word choices may be worth noting and any connotations of those choices.
The attached article gives some background on swearing in the English language…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I think Sam applied the s word at least once to his own functions but I'd have to search it out.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

In fact he does but not for some time yet...

However there is this unusual usage in song from 4/17/61

"Then comes Mr. Allen of Chatham, and I took him to the Mitre and there did drink with him, and did get of him the song that pleased me so well there the other day,

Michael Robinson  •  Link

"was torn to pieces ... which is very strange."

Aren't these exactly the same emotions played upon by the supermarket tabloids or the News of The World?

Sjoerd  •  Link

"is dead"
OK, you definitely need someone to ask the stupid questions.. so here we go:

WHO "is dead" ? The child: most probably, but I take the sentence to mean that is is strange that the woman is dead... as well ?

laura k  •  Link

"Bull terriers are the ones with the agressive nature..."

This is a myth. Bull terriers are highly intelligent, loyal and tenacious - all qualities which can make them easily trained to be aggressive, if humans want to use them for their own ends. The breed itself is not naturally aggressive. They are actually extremely sweet and loving dogs when raised properly - as are most dogs.

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding bull terriers, Staffordshire terriers and other "pit bull" breeds. I don't usually post off-topic, but to counter some of these, I'll break my own rule.

laura k  •  Link

"I think Sam applied the s word at least once to his own functions but I'd have to search it out."

He has, more than once. I remember it because Wheatley substituted with elipses, and I was amused when an annotator with L&M supplied the missing word. I can't find it either, but I'm sure we've seen it - not as a "swear word," but as an ordinary verb.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Ah, nothing like the pursuit of vital historical info... 5/30/61 indeed you're right Terry and we are there. has later dates in the undiscovered country where Sam's casual reference to his functions suggests he has no problem with the s word.

In Heaven or wherever...

Sam and assorted guests at home observe our doings...

"My God, what a perverse bunch...They'll want details on our sexual relations next, mark my word Bess." Elisabeth frowning...That damned Diary...I love it and forgave him 'cause of the tender parts but damn it...Did he have to get so personal?

Of course, he did make me the heroine/partner of this incredible story...

"You don't know the half of it, Mr. Pepys. They still won't leave Franklin and me alone...Prying into every detail of our personal lives." Eleanor Roosevelt shakes her head. "Though of course he loves the attention, don't you?."

"Natural human curiosity, Babs." Franklin waves a cigarette-holder-holding hand. "Pepys, hows about another glass of that Madiera?"

Bradford  •  Link

Sjoerd, in this loose-jointed sentence about the nurse and her child, the sense Pepys intended overrides the syntax: unlike we less fortunate moderns, perhaps Sam had never heard of a child being mauled to death this way. If the mother had then died of grief, he probably would have specified it.

Terry  •  Link

That 'S' word.
Perhaps languagehat can help, but I believe that some of the words for bodily functions (and parts) which we now consider "dirty" were more acceptable in Pepys' time.

Pauline  •  Link

Good, good, good, Robert Gertz.
Bradford, he may have thought he had specified it. This sentence [I did also hear how the woman, formerly nurse to Mrs. Lemon (Sir W. Batten's daughter), her child was torn to pieces by two doggs at Walthamstow this week, and is dead, which is very strange.] is a tough call. All those parenthetics, but then the fatal “and”. Sensational gossip is fueled by just this kind of muddleness. And Sam loves gossip!

dirk  •  Link

the gratuitous use of the word "shit"

(Sorry to be so explicit, but I don't think this is the place to be hypocritical. We're trying to understand Sam's use of the word.)

I've take the liberty to search the diary so far, and I've come up with the following occasions on which Sam used the word in his diary entries. Rereading the entries, it does look to me that no rude language is intented, and Sam is using the word in a very matter of fact way. But you can judge that for yourselves...……………………

On one occasion Sam uses "bepiss" in a similar way:…

Jeannine  •  Link

Ode to a Translator

There once was a man named Wheatley
Who preferred his translations done sweetly
So if words were found
With an indelicate sound
He deleted those words completely....

Robert Gertz  •  Link

What will be interesting will be the words...And the user...Sam does take offense at.

laura k  •  Link

Thanks for the searches.

I'm grateful that many annotators have more time and patience than me.

language hat  •  Link

words for bodily functions:

I'm no expert on the history of English obscenity, but I'm pretty sure "shit" was about as dirty then as now; i.e., guys would use it freely over a pint, but it would not be heard in polite conversation.

Grahamt  •  Link

words for bodily functions:
I would think these terms would be common currency, and not thought of as "rude" in today's sense. Certainly in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (14th century) the word's fart, ers (arse) and piss are used by the parson, nun and prioress without causing any comment. "Ruder" (our "four-letter") words are not used at all.
Although the Restoration period follows the Puritans, it is evident from Restoration comedy that the censorship of that period has been swept away. After all what else would people say? I don't think defecation, flatulance and urination would be in most 17th century citizen's vocabulary.
We might find it difficult to understand with the puritanism of the Victorian age (and the puritan colonists in America) isolating us from earlier earthiness (e.g. Wheatley's censorship) but "the past is a foreign country, they do (say)things differenly there."

Grahamt  •  Link

I must be tired. Misplaced apostophes and spelling mistakes galore. Sorry.

Australian Susan  •  Link

One anecdote about bodily functions: At the Court of Queen Elizabeth, a knight, when bending over the Royal hand to kiss it was noisily and explosively flatuent. He was so embarrassed by this, he did not appear in Court for a year. When next he approached the Royal presence in a public group of Courtiers, the Queen singled him him out and, smiling, said, loudly and clearly - "Ah! Sir James! We have forgot the fart!"

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Words for bodily functions

If Chaucer is anything to go by, the English were far less mealy-mouthed in the past than they are today. In fact, being in America has taught me that even now they are less mealy-mouthed than contemporary Americans, who still use a lot of euphemisms for words that are common currency in England.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

"euphemisms" are used to raise the animal nature of the homo sapiens to a refined spiritual level. One must not be so common, Jakes, pissoire for Lavatory, so well brained washed are we, but unfortunately many have misplaced word connections. In my travels, it is those with limited language requirements and those with excess requirements that have no problem with the simpler mono syllable words.
I remember being amazed that a hi-ranking female member of a Religious organisation using the base word for bowel movement, showing that there was no physical damage to a body that had been in a severe accident. Shame be in the thinking not in the word [ oh !SHITE]. As stated somewhere, it not words used, it is in the hearers mind that take the flavour of the day.

Patricia  •  Link

Rex Gordon: I know where you were! And the situation was the same some 20 years later. Hole in the floor, pay for t.p. Many people prefer to go in the bushes, it's cleaner.

Bryan M  •  Link

Sam and offensive words (spoiler)
A late addition to the discussion above on "rude" words in the seventeenth century. On 21 May 1663 Sam gave an indication of what he considers to be offensive language, and also perhaps the ongoing influence of the puritan era, when he reprimanded Elizabeth:
"But being at supper my wife did say something that caused me to oppose her in, she used the word devil, which vexed me, and among other things I said I would not have her to use that word, upon which she took me up most scornfully".

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Rude" words ... maybe this article can explain what Pepys and his peers thought about and considered "swearing":…

The basic points made are:
"The frisson of a profane oath in early modern England depended upon the parallel reverence for the solemn oath. As the two drifted apart, and as reverence for oaths dwindled, society’s tolerance of swearing grew, and the nature of swearing changed.

"What now counts as swearing is very different from what outraged people 400 years ago. Modern public opinion surveys report that religious expletives and terms, such as ‘damn’, ‘God’ or ‘Christ’, are generally considered to be acceptable. Racial and sexual terms are now seen as most offensive, whereas sexual language was hardly at issue in Tudor or Stuart England."

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Ha .. I was reading a ODNB entry today about Francis Anthony, an alchemist 1550-1623. Unfortunately the free version goes away in a week, so although I've included the link, unless you are a subscriber you won't find this after 7 days.

"His [Tippar's] behaviour was so disordered, his voice so lowde, harsh and untemperat, his speeches so contemptuous and intollerable … to the whole assemblie saieng, that he cared not a fart for them, etc., that the whole company was amazed at him. -- Annals, 2.159b"

So "fart" was a word of contempt in 1602.…

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