Friday 19 December 1662

Up and by appointment with Mr. Lee, Wade, Evett, and workmen to the Tower, and with the Lieutenant’s leave set them to work in the garden, in the corner against the mayne-guard, a most unlikely place. It being cold, Mr. Lee and I did sit all the day till three o’clock by the fire in the Governor’s house; I reading a play of Fletcher’s, being “A Wife for a Month,” wherein no great wit or language. Having done we went to them at work, and having wrought below the bottom of the foundation of the wall, I bid them give over, and so all our hopes ended; and so went home, taking Mr. Leigh with me, and after drunk a cup of wine he went away, and I to my office, there reading in Sir W. Petty’s book, and so home and to bed, a little displeased with my wife, who, poor wretch, is troubled with her lonely life, which I know not how without great charge to help as yet, but I will study how to do it.

28 Annotations

First Reading

dirk  •  Link

"a little displeased with my wife"

I read this as "a little displeased about my wife('s situation)" -- that way the whole sentence makes sense. I guess this is an obsolete usage of "with".

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Up and by appointment with Mr Lee, Wade,Evett,and workmen to the Tower"
The Ravens must be getting very upset already.

dirk  •  Link

The Ravens must be getting very upset already.

And the ghosts...

language hat  •  Link

“a little displeased with my wife”

No, I think it means just what it seems to: that he was irritated with her. Anyone who's been married can tell you that's not at all incompatible with an appreciation for one's spouse's difficult situation.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...I will study how to do it."

You might begin by not going off to the office to read Sir W. Petty on coming home. Or by inviting Bess along to spend the evening...Though watching you read or record notes in your books would hardly satisfy.

Still, it's like our practical Sam to plan to ascertain what he's up against and work out a sound method to solve the problem.

Take her to France on vacation, she'd love that. Right, you're too cheap...And nervous about the office.

Well. Assuming hiring another companion is temporary off the chart...

How's about a lover? Will Hewer might do...Discreet lad, loyal to you as well.

Adopt a child...London must be full of abandoned children, including several royal bastards.

Art or writing classes. Works to the present day... (Right, honey? Yes, I'm finishing right now.)

Or perhaps, hire a dancing master..?

Bet Balty could find you one with finesse, heh, heh.

Miss Ann  •  Link

" ... but I will study how to do it" - how about being home a little more, and here's a bright idea - communicate with the lady, she's had to organise the house (beautifully renovated though it is), deal with the staff and never actually knows when you'll be home, whether you'll be eating with her or not, who you'll bring home should you so deign to come home ... give the poor girl some time, yes, your time, it'll do wonders! (The writer's personal experiences have influenced this rant.)

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

"Adopt a child" Did any one do that ? there be charity organizations, who would feed them. I dothe think man would only allow a child not of his legal parentage to become a member of the household only when He Knows the genetic connections.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Only Queens and those that have real control of purse strings, could control the wanderings of the Master. It will take few more generations of man to be curbed.
As Cato [wise beyond ****} sayeth, quoted by Livy
"simul ac (mulieres) pares esse coeperint, superiores erunt."
When women equal men , they will run the show, 234-149 BCE.

Australian Susan  •  Link

I loved picturing the scene at The Tower! This could have been written by PG Wodehouse! Would have loved to know what the workmen thought of all this? Wonder how much they got paid. Lovely entry. Especially with Sam's honesty about his household and relations with his wife. Where else in extant 17th century writings do we learn so much about the real workings of a marriage. Wonderful stuff. (Brain deteriorated by 40 degree heat and stress of Christmas.)

Australian Susan  •  Link

Adoption: I agree with I.A.S. If Sam had had sisters or brothers with numerous off spring, I think he might have adopted one of those, but not a foundling. Like what happened to Jane Austen's brother Edward - adopted by rich, childless relatives.

H. Ayers  •  Link

So 'give over' is an old expression: remember the girl in 'Come Outside' 1960's song growling 'Give over!' to the singer's approaches.

alanB  •  Link

I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks that the answer for Bess's loneliness is to decipher the writings of hubby (while he is digging his holes)- and like the rest of us, while away a decade absorbed in another world. Her annotations would be most interesting(and consume even more of our time!)

celtcahill  •  Link

" Displeased with..." Displeased 'about'. His sympathetic use of 'wretch' gives either reading. I think we need to cut Sam a little slack here & there, especially as to use of language at which he is a master of then-current usage, clearly, and this is one case where I am willing to do it.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"my wife,who,poor wretch,is troubled with her lonely life"
methinks Elizabeth has seasonal depression! This time of the year with its short days,without nuch light can play havoc with one's mood; no wonder many religions have festiva of lights at this time of the year!Lighting of Christmas trees,Menorahs,Diwali etc.

Gerry  •  Link

I was also surprised to see the expression "give over". To me it is always associated with a Ken Dodd type accent and as far as I know still used up North.

Glyn  •  Link

As this is the season for reflection, I wonder if Pepys ever takes down last year's diary to read. It was 12 months ago today that Elizabeth was having her portrait painted, and being called a "whore" by her husband (for which he was sorry) because of her provocative clothing:…

howard davis  •  Link

What's a "mayne-guard," why is it "an unlikely place," and why are "all our hopes ended?" Why are they digging under the wall's foundations? (Apologies if this has been explained previously - I've been out of the loop again)

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

What’s a “mayne-guard,” I dothe think it be the main [front] Gate [guard entrance to the Tower] . No loot found, 'buried treasure' dothe bring out the romance in one, it be for end of hopes of quick wealth.
When Sam has disappointment , I dothe think it is "take it out of the Mistress time" no pooch or wench to criticize.

Australian Susan  •  Link

I think "wretch" had different connatations then compared with now. maybe language hat can elucidate. Similarly, "silly" and "naughty" were not quite the same then as now. I think Sam's expression is gentler than we are reading it, but I could be wrong.

dirk  •  Link

"poor wretch"

Susan, cfr Paul Brewster's annotation for 14 April 1661:

L&M footnotes “poor wretch”:
“A term of endearment which Pepys often applies to his wife: modern equivalents would be ‘poor thing’, ‘poor dear’.”…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"What...?" Sam stares at the sheath of paper thrust into his hands by a nervously smiling Bess.

"My first effort, Sam'l. You did say I should find a creative outlet. And since my new room is rather nice for writing...Thank you, love." a beam. "I thought,well since I like to read..."

Hmmn. Sam eyes the pages.

Not another...Letter, I hope.

" 'Sir Henry Vane was dead, to begin with. You must believe Sir Henry was dead or there can be nothing wonderful in the story I am about to relate.' "

"Bess?! Sir Henry Vane?" Sam looks anxiously round...

Phew, no one snooping about.

"Darling. My poor, sweet wretch...Sir Henry is not a man to be discussed, especially in print."

"But Sam'l. It's only his connection to your office I make use of in my tale."


"Oh, Sam'l. It's a tale of redemption and love at Christmastide. About a once loving and passionate man who's allowed his ambition and fear of the world to swallow up his nobler sentiments and make him mean-spirited and neglectful of those he loves. But, with the help of four spirits, including Sir Henry..."

Kevin Peter  •  Link

Notice how Sam and Mr. Lee get to sit inside by the nice, warm fire while the others get to do hard work digging in the cold.

How nice it is to be privileged! Of course, I'm sure that if treasure was found, the hard-working diggers would have received little for it.

Second Reading

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘displease, v. < Old French desplais- . .
. . c. to be displeased: to be dissatisfied, or moved to disapprobation or dislike; to be vexed; to be full of displeasure or indignation. (Expressing state rather than action: cf. displeased adj.) Const. with, at, †of, †against; also with inf., or clause.
. . a1616 Shakespeare Henry VI, Pt. 2 (1623) i. i. 153 There's reason he should be displeas'd at it.
1638 T. Herbert Some Yeares Trav. (rev. ed.) 133 Cynthia also lookt pale, as displeasd with so much knavery . . ‘

‘give over . . 2. absol. or intr. To cease; desist, leave off . .
. . 1611 M. Smith in Bible (King James) Transl. Pref. 7 He offended the Prophet for giuing over then . . ‘
(still current, as Gerry said, in North Country Standard English but not in London English).

‘main guard, n. < Formed within English, by compounding.
. . 2. Fortification. The keep of a castle; (also) the building within a fortress in which the main guard (sense 1) is lodged. Also fig.
. . 1662 S. Pepys Diary 19 Dec. (1970) III. 286 With the Lieutenant's leave, set them to work in the garden in the corner against the Mayne-guard . . ‘

‘wretch, n. and adj. < Old English wrecca, . . Old High German reccheo . . exile, adventurer, knight errant . .
. . 2. e. A person or little creature. (Used as a term of playful depreciation, or to denote slight commiseration or pity.)
. . a1616 Shakespeare Othello (1622) iii. iii. 91 Excellent wretch, perdition catch my soule, But I doe loue thee.
1663 S. Pepys Diary 25 May (1971) IV. 155 She being a good-natured and painful wretch.
1749 H. Fielding Tom Jones I. i. vii. 34 Had you exposed the little Wretch in the Manner of some inhuman Mothers . . ‘

JayW  •  Link

'Give over!' meaning 'stop it!' was in common useage in my post-war London childhood.

John York  •  Link

in Aqua Scripto says:
"Only Queens and those that have real control of purse strings, could control the wanderings of the Master. "

Certainly Queen Catherine had no control over the wanderings of her Master, King Charles, but that may just reflect that she had no control over the purse strings.

Liz  •  Link

I think ‘give over’ nowadays is an exclamation as in the song Come Outside quoted by H Ayers above. The meaning is ‘stop mucking/larking/messing about’. You wouldn’t use it to tell a workman to stop the job he was doing. At least not where I’m living (south east England). But I’m happy to be corrected!

Mary K  •  Link

"give over" can also be used to stop someone trying to tell you something that's plainly untrue, unlikely or misleading.

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