Thursday 18 December 1662

Up and to the office, Mr. Coventry and I alone sat till two o’clock, and then he inviting himself to my house to dinner, of which I was proud; but my dinner being a legg of mutton and two capons, they were not done enough, which did vex me; but we made shift to please him, I think; but I was, when he was gone, very angry with my wife and people.

This afternoon came my wife’s brother and his wife, and Mrs. Lodum his landlady (my old friend Mr. Ashwell’s sister), Balty’s wife is a most little and yet, I believe, pretty old girl, not handsome, nor has anything in the world pleasing, but, they say, she plays mighty well on the Base Violl.

They dined at her father’s today, but for ought I hear he is a wise man, and will not give any thing to his daughter till he sees what her husband do put himself to, so that I doubt he has made but a bad matter of it, but I am resolved not to meddle with it. They gone I to the office, and to see Sir W. Pen, with my wife, and thence I to Mr. Cade the stationer, to direct him what to do with my two copies of Mr. Holland’s books which he is to bind, and after supplying myself with several things of him, I returned to my office, and so home to supper and to bed.

18 Dec 2005, 11:41 p.m. - Bradford

Did anyone else hear the wedding bells, much less the reading of the banns? It was just in this month of December 1662 that Balty married Esther Watts, daughter of yeoman John Watts of Northamptonshire, who then shorted them out of the dowry promised Balty. Not that you'd pay to have Balty for a husband, as he was---in the percipient adjectives of the L&M Companion, from which you could have guess I filched all this---"improvident, overbearing, and secretive". But can that gal play the Bass Vi-ole! Unfortunately, not the sort of instrument to take a-busking for extra income.

18 Dec 2005, 11:45 p.m. - Bradford

. . . you could have guessED I filched all this . . . That's what happens when you only proofread something five times.

19 Dec 2005, 1:52 a.m. - in Aqua Scripto

It dothe cost must silver to be wedded, and as humans dothe like to show off their gold [or the lack thereof] to announce to world the catch of the day, so Balty should have known if the Father of the bride failed to pay for a wedding lunch he would have to borrow somut old [that old scallop whisk, maybe] and some money for the ring? That may be why the tattle tale of yesterday.

19 Dec 2005, 2:20 a.m. - g01d4

"she plays mighty well on the Base Violl" I would imagine that she's somewhat the artiste and somehow I can see why they made this match. I "didn't hear the wedding bells" (wonder why) and very astute "that may be why the tattle tale of yesterday". Did the connection slip Pepys or did it not matter?

19 Dec 2005, 3:52 a.m. - in Aqua Scripto

Balty mostly known as My wife's brother, or her brother and only once as Balty in the last two months of entries. Has been the centre of a lot of controversy causing Samuell some soul searching [Our Marmotte/Wench/]. What with getting him a job as a Midshipman, pulling few strings, finding out that he be subsidizing his lifestyle and helping with Pop in law with the rent?[not clear {the 50 bob} ] then the warning "..I hear he is a wise man [that is Balty's father in Law]..."

19 Dec 2005, 4:39 a.m. - JWB

Wedding Anniversary I read in the 1911 Britannica that 1 Dec. was Sam & Elizabeth's anniversary. On that event filled day, no note was taken.

19 Dec 2005, 10:30 a.m. - Robert Gertz

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, 1662... "So, Mister St. Michel. Only half-French are ye? That's some modest relief...And what do yoe think of these damned French Hugos, Parson James?" (Nervous glance from dinner guest Parson James) "The women stealin' our men with their whore-of-Babylon wiles, the sly stealin' our girls with their fopperies and manners unbecomin' to a man. Hopin' to live off their dowries instead of workin' for an honest keep." a grim John Watts notes at table as his daughter gives a desperate stare...Father. Balty, charming as ever, quickly noting with smile that he, as half-French, lives off his brother-in-law's kindness in obtaining him a naval position.

19 Dec 2005, 4:47 p.m. - Todd Bernhardt

So, the bro-in-law's wife is "most little," "pretty old," "not handsome, nor has anything in the world pleasing," but plays a rockin' bass ... Balty sure knows how to pick 'em, eh? "I am resolved not to meddle with it." Smart move, Sam.

19 Dec 2005, 6:10 p.m. - JohnT

I wonder whether the juxtaposition of "pretty" and "handsome" is an intentional play on words. Sam does this type of thing so often it is difficult to believe it is not a clever stylistic device.

20 Dec 2005, 1:21 a.m. - language hat

I doubt it. And I don't see Sam doing "this type of thing" very much at all; do you have any examples? His language is vivid and succinct but not usually playful in that way.

20 Dec 2005, 4:43 a.m. - Australian Susan

Anyone else think Sam is being a bit mean in being cross with the household about the dinner? A leg of mutton and two capons seems a pretty good meal to me for a pot luck dinner.

20 Dec 2005, 4:55 a.m. - Paul Chapin

What was wrong with dinner Sam thought the meat was undercooked.

20 Dec 2005, 10:59 a.m. - JohnT

On Sunday 12 October he refers in the same sentence to " my late Lord St John " who is a"plain grave man". He was, of course, still alive. In any poetry of the period this would be an intentional play on words. In a diary perhaps coincidence or happenstance. But this is merely one example I can track down. There are others.

20 Dec 2005, 1:25 p.m. - DrCari

Balty has a bride....this might provide a clue as to why he needed to abscond with the much discussed scallop whisk.

20 Dec 2005, 1:32 p.m. - DrCari

I believe Sam was cross with his wife and people (servants?) because the mutton and capons had not been fully cooked. Putting out a meal for guests that is ill prepared would reflect poorly on Sam's reputation as host.

21 Dec 2005, 12:33 a.m. - Australian Susan

OK, I conceed on the undercooking, but maybe that was because Sam demanded dinner at once because of his honoured guest. Still think Sam was a bit mean, when he gave them no warning.

21 Dec 2005, 3:23 p.m. - Todd Bernhardt

Susan, in Sam's defense, it's quite possible that he sent "his boy" home with word that there would be a VIG (very important guest) at dinner...

19 Dec 2015, 3:27 a.m. - San Diego Sarah

Oh, that's why it took Pepys six months to read Hollond's book ... he was copying it. Now he's taken it to the book-binders for a nice leather cover to match the rest of his library.

19 Dec 2015, 5:41 p.m. - john

An undercooked meal would have greater risks then. Cooks did not understand bacteria (mind, not some do now).

19 Dec 2015, 5:45 p.m. - BG59

"the undercooking" What SP actually said was "they were not done enough" which might well have meant that they were a bit too raw/rare, but might equally well have meant that other aspects (e.g. the presentation at table) were below the standard that SP would have wished to show to his guest. [EP: "Well, if you'd told us that you were bringing important guests . . ." SP: "But I didn't know he was coming - he invited himself!" EP: "And that makes a difference, does it?"]

20 Dec 2015, 2:58 p.m. - Bill

@San Diego Sarah: "Oh, that's why it took Pepys six months to read Hollond's book ... he was copying it" More likely he bought the books unbound and didn't have them bound until he decided to keep them in his library. Unbound ... Until the 19th century, books were sold as unbound leaves that were bound to a buyer's specifications.