Tuesday 13 January 1662/63

So my poor wife rose by five o’clock in the morning, before day, and went to market and bought fowls and many other things for dinner, with which I was highly pleased, and the chine of beef was down also before six o’clock, and my own jack, of which I was doubtfull, do carry it very well. Things being put in order, and the cook come, I went to the office, where we sat till noon and then broke up, and I home, whither by and by comes Dr. Clerke and his lady, his sister, and a she-cozen, and Mr. Pierce and his wife, which was all my guests.

I had for them, after oysters, at first course, a hash of rabbits, a lamb, and a rare chine of beef. Next a great dish of roasted fowl, cost me about 30s., and a tart, and then fruit and cheese. My dinner was noble and enough. I had my house mighty clean and neat; my room below with a good fire in it; my dining-room above, and my chamber being made a withdrawing-chamber; and my wife’s a good fire also. I find my new table very proper, and will hold nine or ten people well, but eight with great room. After dinner the women to cards in my wife’s chamber, and the Dr. and Mr. Pierce in mine, because the dining-room smokes unless I keep a good charcoal fire, which I was not then provided with. At night to supper, had a good sack posset and cold meat, and sent my guests away about ten o’clock at night, both them and myself highly pleased with our management of this day; and indeed their company was very fine, and Mrs. Clerke a very witty, fine lady, though a little conceited and proud. So weary, so to bed. I believe this day’s feast will cost me near 5l..

48 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

"a great dish of roasted fowl, cost me about 30s."

No, I will not be cajoled into remarking that there was no doubt a little price-tag attached to each item.

"I believe this day’s feast will cost me near 5l."

Let's see, how much does that work out to, per head? 12s 6d?

daniel  •  Link

So my poor wife

so Sam is aware of her plight, He simply writes it down by and by.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"So my poor wife"
This reads as though he is carrying on from the previous day's entry - after the appearance of anger - whether or not the household really belived in his wrath, it was had its desired effect.
Sam is very pleased with everything: the house finally is finished, it is clean and tidy, the food is excellent and well-prepared (he even hired in a cook) the company harmonious and the entertainment sufficient. He makes me want to have been there.

Dave  •  Link

and my own jack, of which I was doubtfull . . . .

What, or who, is Sam's "jack"?

Terry F  •  Link

The jack in question seems to be a hanging-jack or spit to hold meat whilst it is turned over a fire.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Luverly description of the house and its lay out.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Dear me! 5 Quid! [be 20 meals at a nice Ordinary in Hampstead near the home of that Odist, Keats, 300 years later]I could have a maid and a boy for a year on that, of course food be extra.

matthew newton  •  Link

..this days feast will cost me nearly £5..
in what way was this said?
Is Mr.P.boasting about how much he can afford or moaning at the cost?

matthew newton  •  Link

..my room below..my drawing-room above..my chamber being made a with-drawing chamber..
does anyone have information on house plans? How whould Pepys house have been designed inside?

Glyn  •  Link

The Jack is a part of the oven that rotates the meat mechanically - perhaps by clockwork or some system of weights (or maybe putting the dog on a treadmill?!), and Sam was worried that the meat would be too heavy to either hold it or rotate it properly. Sam and Elizabeth bought the equivalent of a very high tech oven for their last home and brought it with them when they moved.

Note that neither Elizabeth nor her women are good enough cooks to be trusted with this special meal - a specialist cook has to be called in.

Is this party something that Pepys has arranged to entertain his wife? His six guests don't seem particularly influential from a business viewpoint.

Glyn  •  Link

Oh, I see that Pepys, Clarke and Pierce were shipmates on the expedition to bring the King back in 1660. So they had plenty of things to reminisce about.

Jay  •  Link

Dear Pepysians,

A group of three of us, two here in Vermont (Barre and Peacham) and one across the border at Sutton, Quebec, began the diary a fortnight ago. We are thus exactly three years behind you. We are in email contact, and plan to meet for a meal about once a quarter to add to the fun. I am reading Latham/Matthews (and your annotations), another is reading Wheatley in hard copy, and the third is reading online here exclusively.

But I have so much enjoyed, even just so far, all of your annotations that I wanted to write ahead and thank all of you for all of your diligence and wit, and the smiles and enlightenment I have enjoyed in the process. I suspect too that it will be fun to come across this very note when I get here three years hence.

Many thanks,
Barre, VT

Bradford  •  Link

The stray thought occurred that this might be Pepys's "festival" to commemorate the cutting of his stone in 1558, but that isn't until March 26th. Reserve the date now.

stolzi  •  Link

I believe that he thinks it was expensive, but he thinks it was worth it.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

"poor wife"

because she rose early? And could it be Pepys uses the term not just as an endearment, but to diminish the importance of the unattractive way he berates her? (From last night, "But I appeared very angry that there were no more things got ready against to-morrow’s feast, and in that passion sat up long, and went discontented to bed." )

A. Hamilton  •  Link

A very burgherlijk meal
Or haute bourgeois. Is there an equivalent
in English for this sort of self-gratifying display? The fowl must have been a rarity; equivalent modern cost would be in excess of $130 for the one dish. Perhaps that includes the cook's wages? Total cost of meal $65 per head; no mention made of drink which was probably included. I hope "poor wife" was pleased.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Lucky Bess...

Got to get up at five to buy his Clerkship's fowls and the rest...

Got to deal with all the arrangements including some fussy new cook hired for the occasion...

Had the pleasure of Mrs. Pierce's company, a woman she's rather jealous of...

Not to mention getting to watch Sam leer at his female guests all evening, until he and the boys retired to his room and left her with la Pierce and the Clerke ladies...

Hope the card play was fun...

jeannine  •  Link

Robert, and to add to the role of "Lucky Bess" it appears that Sam didn't even pick up any juicy gossip from that man of total discretions and well kept secrets himself, Mr. Pierce! She won't even get to share in some good dirt while she's cleaning (or perhaps overseeing the cleaning) up the mess! Life was so tough in those times!

Josh  •  Link

Yes, Stolzi, Sam gets two pleasures: to lament the expense and what it deducts from his net worth; and to bask in the knowledge that he can afford it. Call it a Value Added Emotion.

Nix  •  Link

Lucky Bess --

In comparison with her usual lot this is an improvement: company, and a caterer to run the kitchen, and Samuel seems to be keeping his complaints about the cost to himself and his diary.

I'm wondering if this is sort of a housewarming, to celebrate the recent completion of the remodeling? Or is there some other event going on that I have missed?

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

"...So weary, so to bed. I believe this day’s feast will cost me near 5l....." He be chuffed, as this be an anniversary, and the good Fortune to indulge himself, his Wife and some good friends with a good repast, and shoot the breeze, for those that have had the opportunity to do same [after living in a garret], will know the joy. For others it be the norm , no big deal. But Sam dothe like to keep track of those pennies, he be wise, those that don't, usually end up in Newgate or Bridewell. [ so easy to spend wot thee dothe not have]
"O cives, cives, quarenda pecunia primum est;Virtus post nummos."
Oh people,people, whereby money is first; virtue be later

Pegg  •  Link

Poor Bess, indeed. One hopes it's just style and not substance of speech, but I see too much *my* and not enough *we* in here. Did Poor Bess wear her new dress? Yup, I'm still cross with him, even if Bess isn't!

Kilroy  •  Link

Glyn, regarding Jacks to turn meat spits over fireplaces.

I saw these before, dirven by a turbine in the chimney. Didn't realize they had a name. But sure enough a little search found this page http://www.journalofantiques.com/… that provides a good summary of what was needed before the convience of the oven.

At first I'd say that Sam had the fan in the chimney version. But a "clock" version (more like a wind-up contraption) would make more sense in a single family house.

R. O. Curtis  •  Link

So the cook in question is not Susan?
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1… takes the trouble to point out that, though she has apparently been hired as a "cook maid," she is "... a pretty willing wench, but no good cook."

Australian Susan  •  Link

My namesake seems to be OK for ordinary cooking, but not for special occasions.

jeannine  •  Link

"My namesake seems to be OK for ordinary cooking, but not for special occasions." ...According to my extensive research, nowdays the namesake for every aspect of domestic dumping from high end fancy party prep to low end caring for sick pets and all in between seems to be simply "hey mom". How much more efficient we are today when one name has replaced all of those maid names.......

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

"Burgherlijk" and "haute bourgeois"; re A. Hamilton's remark: two words from Dutch resp. French. Isn't it remarkable that there may be no exact English equivalent for this.

GrahamT  •  Link

The closest English equivalent of haute bourgeois is upper-middle class, i.e. those in the professions, (lawyers, academics, etc.) as opposed to trade (middle class)or inherited wealth (upper class)
$65/£40 per head for a meal? Yes that is about right for an upper middle class dinner party, but cheap for a restaurant. I would think Pepys is still firmly middle class, but mixing much more with all strata of society, from peasant to king, than his modern equivalent would.
Of course these fine class distinctions really only came into use in the 19th century. Before that it was "us and them", and Cromwell even tried (unsuccessfully) to get rid of "them".

Australian Susan  •  Link

"Maid names"
Yes, the modern housekeeper (wife and mother) has to do much more than in previous generations. I am the first generation of my family not to have a daily maid, at least. In my childhood (1950s), the greengrocer, grocer, butcher, baker and milkman all delivered (to the back door). Shopping for the house for my mother consisted of paying the monthly bills and ordering. She had a daily maid to clean and a housekeeping allowance from my father, whose income she did not know. This was a world Elizabeth Pepys would not find so different from her own, but I think she would find my world very strange: I shop at a supermarket, do all my own housework, handle all household finances and work too. Household life has changed more in the past 60 years than the previous 300. (OK have to go now and bathe one of the dogs for his dermatitis)

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Australian Susan - this experience very much depends on your social class of origin. I was born in 1950, and I have known nobody who kept a live-in maid, and very few who even had a cleaner on a regular basis. Only the milkman ever delivered to our house. And yet my father was a works manager in a paint factory, so I suppose we were lower-middle rather than working class. I think in Sam's day the keeping of staff began rather lower down the social ladder even than the 1950s.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

The WWII change the country
as reguards, labour intensive working conditions. The more affluent, no longer had the funds to enjoy the services of houshold/outside help. More people, wanted and got independence from working for other humans.
The War created new needs and offered new ways of getting ones food, shirts and palliasses, provided hard earnt skills, made available by the war needs, allowed many to find talents that schools failed to expose in the masses, as we only needed cannon ,and factory fodder. Many found their forte and skipped away to other opportunties around the globe.
AS I write, the new wealth is now using inexpensive illegal workers to do the work of skivvies.
Employment as a chamber pot emptier, boils down, not to class but to the available 'doe rey me' .

Pauline  •  Link

'Employment as a chamber pot emptier'
Now why didn't I think of such a way of putting it? My friend IAS, you are priceless!

Way back somewhere in my heritage there must have been a maid or two somewhere, but lost in the chamber-pot fog of it all.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Having domestic servants a matter of class, cash, and locale
I want to agree with and expand on several comments with a personal reminiscence. In the late 1940s I was a young child in south Texas. My mother was a war widow with a low-level white-collar job, and we lived in what one would call genteel poverty. We owned our own home, but had no financial reserves at all, living from paycheck to paycheck. Nonetheless, we had a live-in Hispanic maid (for housekeeping, not for child care, which my grandmother took care of).

In retrospect I find this quite surprising. I think there were two reasons for it. First, my mother had grown up in a house with servants, and probably felt it was simply what a well-bred person did (class). Second, we happened to live in a place where there was a pool of people available for such work, the impoverished Mexican-American population (locale). After we moved to California in 1950 there were no more servants.

I agree with IAS that WWII spelled the end of the upstairs-downstairs norm that had prevailed for centuries, probably for the reasons that he cites. However, its "benefits" did not extend uniformly to those on society's margins, at least for some while.

GrahamT  •  Link

I would like to agree about WW II being the end of general use of servants. My maternal grandmother and great-grandmother were "in service" (as parlour-maids I think) until they married. This was the norm for working class girls in the early part of last century, often starting work at 10-11 years old. However, my mother left school during the war and worked as a clerk at the local mine - a job that would have been a male preserve before the war. A similar thing happened with my father's sisters. None of my relatives since the war have worked as servants. The use of servants by the middle classes has also disappeared since the war - if you discount au pairs and cleaning ladies!

Patricia  •  Link

"I had for them... oysters,... rabbits, a lamb, and a rare chine of beef... roasted fowl, cost me about 30s., and a tart, and then fruit and cheese. My dinner was noble and enough. I had my house mighty clean and neat; my room ... with a good fire in it; my dining-room above, and my chamber being made a withdrawing-chamber; and my wife’s a good fire also. I find my new table..."
Listen to Sam brag! "I" "MY"! Like HE had anything to do in preparation of the lovely dinner, cleaning the house, laying the fire, etc. etc. Miserable paternalistic, chauvinistic creep, always pointing out the conceit in others, while his own pride soars higher & higher. Mrs. P may have forgiven him for his outburst of a few days ago, but I haven't.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"The Jack is a part of the oven that rotates the meat mechanically - perhaps by clockwork or some system of weights (or maybe putting the dog on a treadmill?!), and Sam was worried that the meat would be too heavy to either hold it or rotate it properly." -- Glyn

That would be s turnspit dog, a short-legged, long-bodied dog bred to run on a wheel, called a turnspit or dog wheel, to turn meat. The type is now extinct.

Links of sites and images documenting them

Bill  •  Link

"this day’s feast will cost me near 5l."

At the end of this month SP will declare his worth at 640l. so this meal represents almost 1% of that.

Two of those silly historical monetary equivalent calculators give about 670l. and $1000 in current value. In any case SP spent a lot of money for this meal for 8.

Lex Lector  •  Link

We had a brass clockwork "roasting jack" at home (in Sheffield, Yorks.) in the 1950s/60s. I think it had passed down from Victorian grandparents; though the clockwork functioned it had become an "antique". It was about 20 inches high, made to hang, and have meat hung below and turn next to a fire. Not large: enough meat to feed a Victorian family for a single meal, perhaps, and of a size to suit a kitchen range in an unpretentious lower middle class house...I think these things were pretty normal...

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Not a word is ever said about vegetables or fruit. Not even potatoes, just meat. Sam doesn't even mention bread. I guess Yorkshire pudding hadn't made its way to London yet.  It's no wonder people had severe digestive complaints in those days. 
He refers to his  "poor" wife. He is probably saying she is unhappy with the work she has to do and Sam's uncaring and controlling attitude. So he refers to her as a "poor" girl, not that Sam would do much to make her life easier. She has her duty to serve him, and her burden to bear, after all, and if she complains, well, too bad--she'll remain a "poor" wife and she should be happy to have as much as he deigns to give her. 
What changed domestic help as much as anything were modern conveniences--flush toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners. It was cheaper, easier and more efficient to buy machinery to do the work than to hire people, and people who would work as servants became less and less available after WWI. Growing up in the 50s, in the US, we never had one servant in our house--except for my grandmother, but we had a few of the other, somewhat primitive by today's standards,  labor-saving appliances, such as a wringer washer. Clothes were hung out on clotheslines to dry, even in freezing weather. What luxury!

Linda  •  Link

There were Turnspit Dogs that powered jacks, and then there were human-wound "clockwork jacks." King Charles II himself, who, when he as a youth he was escaping incognito from England, pretended to be a kitchen worker and was lambasted by the chef for not knowing how to wind the clockwork jack.

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

The jack and Charles as servant: Actually, Charles II was playing the role of manservant to Jane Lane, who had a pass for her and a servant to travel about a hundred miles from her home in Staffordshire to her friend's house near Bristol, where Charles hoped to be able to get a ship to France or Spain.

They spent the first night on the road at her cousin's house in Long Marston, and the king was sent to the kitchen. He later recounted that when the cook told him to wind up the jack, he had no idea what she meant. She pointed to it and he took hold of the handle but the wrong way. "What simpleton are you," she asked, "that cannot work a jack?" He thought quick and told her he was but a poor tenant farmer’s son, and that they rarely had meat, and when they did, they didn’t use a jack to roast it.

My novel "The September Queen" (UK title "The King's Mistress" [not my choice!]) tells the story of Jane and her adventures with Charles. It's quite a story! And we have Sam Pepys to thank for preserving it. He was on the Royal Charles bringing the king back to England in 1660, and Charles told him the story. In Newmarket in 1680, Sam spent two three-hour sessions with the king, getting him to tell the story in detail, and taking it down in his famous shorthand. He edited it and bound it with many other accounts of Charles's odyssey, because after the Restoration, many people who had helped get him out of England wrote their stories.

The combined accounts create an almost hour-by-hour record of what Charles did, said, wore, and ate for much of the time during the six weeks he was on the run with a price on his head. It came to be called "The Royal Miracle" because he narrowly escaped capture so many times. If you want to read the whole thing, find "Charles II's Escape from Worcester," edited by William Matthews, which has Pepys's transcription of Charles's account and his edited version side by side, as well as other contemporary accounts.

Bridget Davis  •  Link

This might be one of my favorite entries so far. I found it delightful and full of those details I love so much. I think Sam calling Elizabeth "poor" was in reference to yesterday - he realized that he must have been hard on her, for her to rise at so early (pitch dark).
I don't believe Sam was bragging at all tonight, though he probably will later. He admits that his dining room was too smoky for guests and that must have been embarrassing, especially after all that recent work on the house.
I think that our young man is simply pleased that he threw a successful grown-up dinner party.
And as for Bess? Showing off her newly remodeled house (with substantial dining table and hired chef) might have been one of the nights of her life.
I too was curious on how this party came about. Does anyone recall the date Sam first mentioned it?

GrannieAnnie  •  Link

Louise Hudson: "Not a word is ever said about vegetables or fruit. Not even potatoes, just meat."

My guess is they served the meat dishes with vegetables surrounding them on the platter for a nice presentation. Sam just doesn't bother mentioning them because his wealth is shown by the amount of meat served not in the number of potatoes or carrots. He did mention they served fruit and a tart which may have been a fruit/vegetable tart. The French serve a sweet carrot tart for dessert sometimes.

Weavethe hawk  •  Link

Great diary entry, one can almost smell the aromas and feel the atmosphere. Some nice annotations as well, no attempts at concocting little dramas for a change.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

I find it very interesting to observe that people read the diary, read anachronistically between the lines, and then use their speculations to grind their own, modern, axe without regard the to the social realities of the time.

Firstly, today is a good day for "Poor" Bess. She has some company of her own class, four ladies, and a chance to show off to them in her own home and even her own chamber. If you look at the links, you will find that both of the male guests were employed as Doctors in the Royal Household, which means that they were both high status, and sources of Royal gossip: no doubt their wives were too. A successful dinner party would greatly enhance Bess's social opportunities: well worth getting up early for, to ensure that the food from the market was fresh and of the highest quality. After all "poor" Sam is often up at the crack of dawn because of his job. The alternative, for both of them, is a much lower standard of life: I don't recall Bess ever pleading with him, in 17th century terms, to give up the rat race and find a way for them to live a simpler life. (Nor would I expect it in their reality.)

"Poor" Bess is not a drudge: all she has to do today is supervise and entertain. Others do the dirty work. Bess is not a member of an oppressed class, except in to the extent that all woman of her day were. She is a member of the ruling and oppressing class, and what we have seen of her attitudes to the servants reflects that. Her desire for Sam to spend money on a companion is not to relieve her of drudgery, but to enhance her status, and so she can keep a "proper" distance from her maids etc, rather than rely on them for company.

Some annotators have written that it's a pity that Bess didn't leave a diary herself. Personally, if I could conjure up another diary, it would be that of Jane: she seems both intelligent and spirited, and we would get both her view of Sam, Bess and all their upper and middle class relatives and contemporaries, as well as her own family - not to speak of a much more realistic view of the street life of London - and maybe at least a little of its seamier side.

None of my comments are a judgement of any of the characters: Pepys diary is a record of people's lives, and inevitably of some of their attitudes: it is NOT a morality play!

john  •  Link

Well put, Sasha.

GrannieAnnie, comments on fruit and veg may be found via the Pepys encyclopedia. Further discussion in Tomalin (a tome well worth buying and reading).

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘Jack, n.1 < A pet-name or by-name, used as a familiar equivalent of John; in Middle English Jakke,
. . II. Applied to things which in some way take the place of a lad or man, or save human labour; also more vaguely to other things with which one has to do.
. . 7. A machine for turning the spit in roasting meat; either wound up like a clock or actuated by the draught of heated air up the chimney (smoke-jack).
. . 1660 S. Pepys Diary 23 Oct. (1970) I. 273 After supper we looked over..his Wooden Jack in his Chimny that go with the Smoak; which indeed is very pretty . . ‘

Log in to post an annotation.

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