Friday 14 November 1662

She begun to talk in the morning and to be friends, believing all this while that I had read her letter, which I perceive by her discourse was full of good counsel, and relating the reason of her desiring a woman, and how little charge she did intend it to be to me, so I begun and argued it as full and plain to her, and she to reason it highly to me, to put her away, and take one of the Bowyers if I did dislike her, that I did resolve when the house is ready she shall try her for a while; the truth is, I having a mind to have her come for her musique and dancing. So up and about my papers all the morning, and her brother coming I did tell him my mind plain, who did assure me that they were both of the sisters very humble and very poor, and that she that we are to have would carry herself so. So I was well contented and spent part of the morning at my office, and so home and to dinner, and after dinner, finding Sarah to be discontented at the news of this woman, I did begin in my wife’s chamber to talk to her and tell her that it was not out of unkindness to her, but my wife came up, and I perceive she is not too reconciled to her whatever the matter is, that I perceive I shall not be able to keep her, though she is as good a servant (only a little pettish) that ever I desire to have, and a creditable servant. So she desired leave to go out to look [for] a service, and did, for which I am troubled, and fell out highly afterwards with my wife about it. So to my office, where we met this afternoon about answering a great letter of my Lord Treasurer’s, and that done to my office drawing up a letter to him, and so home to supper.

24 Annotations

Terry F  •  Link

"one of the Bowyers", i.e. daughters of Will Bowyer

Pauline on Thu 13 Mar 2003, 10:22 am | Link
Will Bowyer was among the friends and colleagues that Sam hangs out with at this time. Claire Tomalin, in “Samuel Pepys: the Unequaled Self,” lists out the names of these young men who appear in the early pages of the diary. [p67] “Will Bowyer was only a doorkeeper, but his father Robert was an usher at the Exchequer, and he prided himself on keeping a paternal eye on the clerks and often invited them home to his houseful of daughters in Westminster, and sometimes to his country place in Buckinghamshire. He and his wife made friends with Elizabeth, and Sam sometimes called him “father Bowyer.”

David A. Smith  •  Link

"believing all this while that. I had read her letter"
Transcription error, lose the period and the sentence will make sense.

Bradford  •  Link

It makes one so grateful for modern appliances, that do the work of twenty servants: when they go awry you fix them or throw them out, rejoicing that they are not encumbered with human hearts like one's own. ---And if that sounds 21stC vs. 17thC, why is Sam uneasy at heart?

Glyn  •  Link

Yesterday they had the argument and Pepys said No, absolutely and definitely not. Instead of accepting the decision Elizabeth goes on and on nagging him until finally (and just to get some peace) he gives in. Now Sarah the Cook is annoyed at getting another woman to be bossed around by, and swears that she’ll quit rather than let that happen. She then asks for and gets immediate leave of absence to go and find another job, leaving Sam and Elizabeth with the problem of how to replace her at short notice. Except that Elizabeth isn’t really much bothered because she’s wanted to get rid of Sarah for a while.
Am I the only one who feels sympathy for him?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"and fell out highly afterwards with my wife about it."
Well, you can't please them all!

Jeannine  •  Link

"Am I the only one who feels sympathy for him?"--Glyn, we have to keep in mind that we are only hearing one side of the story here. Also, you seem to be reading "nagging" into it while Sam seems (at least to me) to be implying that the way Elizabeth is talking that she's considered his points and "her discourse was full of good counsel" and addressed his concerns about cost. She could have been respectful in her bringing up the issue, we don't know and we don't hear her side. The other thing to remember is Elizabeth is NOT a wimp --she is strong minded --an attribute of personality and not necessarily of the time period, and perhaps in some ways a little like her husband. Also, without reading the letter we'll never know if she expressed any feeling or subjects outside of the companion issue (ie. her unending love for her husband, perhaps?). So, maybe the jury is still out so to speak.

Terry F  •  Link

Elizabeth's brother & confidante, Balty, makes her case.

Again we turn to Pauline on Fri 4 Apr 2003, 9:57 pm | Link
Balty enters the diary on February 8:
“At home my wife's brother brought her a pretty black dog which I liked very well, and went away again.”

Claire Tomalin notes in her biography of Pepys that this going away again without asking Sam for something was unusual.

JWB  •  Link

Sam & Fifth Malarkey Putch
Yesterday: "...but I purpose not, but to burn it before her face, that I may put a stop to more of this nature."

JWB  •  Link

That's Putsch, of course. Always come up a consonant or two short.

in aqua scripto  •  Link

Although Sam, on the whole, be good guy, Beth have no black eyes to prove other wise, Sam be of the normal alpha groove, "I'm doing everything to give the wench a good life." The normal consensus be bare foot and breeding , like Charles that doth show how. Not a normal concept wife to lead a separate life but equal life [quakerism], remember all her worldly goods [and implied brains, like the concept when thou works for an organisation all Ideas that thee create belong to the organisation unless ye be smart enough to get the right contract, or quit before puting said idea to be documented] be his.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

the truth is, I having a mind to have her come for her musique and dancing

Aha! Sam goes along with Elizabeth because he anticipates a diversion for himself in the companion for his wife. Only to find Sarah won't stand for it,which sets him to quarreling anew with Elizabeth. Sam's being pulled this way and that in this little domestic drama.

Xjy  •  Link

Sam the toff
In this entry the money and status are talking very loud:
"very humble and very poor...So I was well contented..."
"...she is as good a servant (only a little pettish) that ever I desire to have, and a creditable servant."
"So to my office, where we met this afternoon about answering a great letter of my Lord Treasurer’s..."

andy  •  Link

I did resolve when the house is ready she shall try her for a while; the truth is, I having a mind to have her come for her musique and dancing.

So it's a deal, the least-worst outcome for Sam, one he can live with.

Then Sarah, who has been Deputy Senior Woman until now, is slighted...

I bet Sam wishes he could run his own home like he runs the Navy.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I think Beth's demands have been reasonable and she's paid Sam a high compliment in trying to organize her arguments in his efficient style. He's admitted he sees her point and she's gone to the trouble of allowing for his nervousness about expenses. His main peeve has been that she initiated this without milord Sam's permission, interviewing two ladies before mentioning it to him (or so he implies, I'd still bet she has told him several times but he's dismissed and forgotten it). She's done everything possible, by his own statements, to be reasonable and fair about things and his arrogance in not reading her letter (though it's interesting that our hero decided to wuss on tearing the letter up in her face) is mean-spirited and petty.

Glenn Ford  •  Link

I don't have sympathy for him!

Matthew Knight  •  Link

"relating the reason of her desiring a woman, and how little charge she did intend it to be to me...and her brother... who did assure me that they were both of the sisters very humble and very poor" It seems the money did play a part in this little set-to, if I'm reading him right. Now that he realizes the servant (s) in question doesn't/don't isn't so highfalutin, he's ready to relent. Maybe.

With regard to what I said yesterday about the power structure between married couples in the 17th century. I'm sure the "pants-wearer" in any given marriage was as varied then as it is today. It's the societial and peer conventions that might have entered into Sam's decision making process - resulting in him (initially, at least) being more dismissive of his wife's wishes - then (hopefully) a husband might be today. But a woman scorned is nothing to take lightly - especially if she is your wife. Nothing in the 400 odd years has changed in that respect!

What a fascinating look into the lives of these people!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Curious about Sarah...Is she angry that Bess doesn't find her a suitable companion? Or merely unhappy that another is coming and her position in the household will now be low dog, under our Jane and the new one. It does seem that she and Bess have had a serious falling-out, perhaps, given her upset, it may be that she's been taking Sam's part as Bess poured her woes?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Say, what an unusual opening for Sam...I'd completely overlooked it. "She begun to talk in the morning..." While it does sound like he simply continued two entries in one sitting and broke them apart, it's something new and suggests what a powerful effect her confrontation and eloquence had on him. What a pity he didn't show her in person the respect and sympathetic understanding he's showed her on paper. But, to be fair, we're all of us understanding and compassionate in retrospect.

Pauline  •  Link

'What a pity he didn’t show her in person the respect and sympathetic understanding he’s showed her on paper'
Robert, I'm not sure why you think he hasn't done this. Yes, his first reaction was to be firm, but he did then read her letter and discuss it all with her.

She appears to be VERY astute in reading her man. Brings up the Bowyer girls as an option to bring the argument within the realm of what he finds respectable. I wonder if she sensed his draw to the musical possiblities. I even wonder if these possibilites are real, at this point, or just a way to reel him in.

Australian Susan  •  Link

He hasn't read the letter. See first two lines of entry.

dirk  •  Link

Just a side note: I don't think it's a good idea for husband and wife to communicate with letters -- I talk out of my own (long past) experience here.

Better to let things cool down a little, and then talk about it...

Patricia  •  Link

When Mrs. P came back from the country, she told Sam she wasn't pleased with Sarah anymore, she wanted a maid who could dress hair. Sarah has been her personal maid, Jane is the housemaid/cook. Now Sarah's usefulness is waning, since Mrs. P is coming up in the world, and wants her hair done like the other ladies'.

aqua  •  Link

Good point Patricia. Evolutional biofeedback, and Susan has not the wit to improve her abilities.

aqua  •  Link

Equality, fraternity , Democracy, freedom, words misused chasing a man's ego. Rare be the scale be balanced, Elizabeth understands [I doth think in her core] some of the ways that she can obtain her share of the balance, by not using direct attack as that begets direct reaction, but by offering some titbits for Sams ego. The Art of negotiation, very complex, especially as the later ideas of the Phd's not be in play yet.
This be a rare case of sapience belyng facade.

Log in to post an annotation.

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