Tuesday 3 February 1662/63

To the office all the morning, at noon to dinner, where Mr. Creed dined with me, and Mr. Ashwell, with whom after dinner I discoursed concerning his daughter coming to live with us. I find that his daughter will be very fit, I think, as any for our turn, but the conditions I know not what they will be, he leaving it wholly to her, which will be agreed on a while hence when my wife sees her. After an hour’s discourse after dinner with them, I to my office again, and there about business of the office till late, and then home to supper and to bed.

13 Annotations

First Reading

Australian Susan  •  Link

Anyone else think it is strange that Sam is continuing so far in discussions with Mr Ashwell before either he has discussed this with the lady concerned and before Elizabeth has even met her? Surely whether or not Elizabeth and she will be compatible is the primary criterion?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Maybe it's a matter of once-burned, twice-shy? Maybe he's being extra careful and making sure all the pragmatic concerns are covered before seeing if anyone even gets along or not...

Elizabeth's Diary  •  Link

Dearest Diary,

The next meeting of SAMUEL (Secret Academy of Mischievous Unsung Elegant Ladies) is approaching and I must be prepared to present my findings to date. It proves most difficult to prepare a concise understanding of my multi-variable research with my dearest sweet Sam coming and going on such an uncertain schedule. Where this work is of the utmost importance to females everywhere I must carry on no matter what hardships I endure.

The work done by this group of self-sacrificing ladies of quality has been astounding and no doubt will open the eyes of future generations of women to come as we seek an understanding of the mysterious ways of our most beloved male companions. While I ponder my work, the Queen continues her study on the scientific question “Is it possible to move her husband’s brain from his breeches to his head?” Her sister-in-law the Duchess of York, in related research queries “Is it possible to actually place a brain into the head of her husband?” The Countess of Chesterfield builds on the theory of evolution that ladies of this secret science society have known for centuries. She is exploring the evolutionary question “If all men did evolve from monkeys, why is my husband a jack ass?” Most highly practical are Katherine Boyle Viscountess Ranelagh’s secret experiments performed on her husband. Her work, entitled “Boyle’s Other Gases” reveals the effects of excessive cabbage and other “dietary non-niceties” on the male digestive system. What that poor woman has gone through for the purposes of scientific understanding sets a stellar example to all. I am humbled by her bravery in the face of what has for years been rendered a field of silent but deadly research. Her work paves the way for adjustments in our cooking which will delightfully reunite even the most aroma sensitive couples who before always stood rooms apart! What a wondrous discovery for martial bliss.

I continue to explore the daunting question “How much, how frequently and what type of pressure need be applied before a man will actually spend some money on his wife?” Although unsettling at times, the experiments I have set up have provided ample information for scientific fact finding. My efforts of late are seemingly moving towards the breakthrough of Sam’s actually spending money to hire little Ashwell as a companion for me. My notes are overwhelming on this topic and the calculations of these diverse measurements most difficult, but I must persevere. What we women do to grow in our understanding of our cherished partners is never ending! Alas, my beloved Sam is arriving; I am off to greet him, so I must bid you au revior for now.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

"martial bliss"

A most apt pun.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

The little Creed figure pops on Sam's left shoulder... "Sam...Money and security at any price in reputation. Who'll care, in the end? Everyone does it, even the most outworldly upright and Puritanical."

The little Coventry on his right... "Pepys...Duty and service to one's king and country bring true honor, everlasting fame, and comfort of mind and soul."

"After security...One can't eat honor." little Creed hisses.

"He's got me there..." little Coventry sighs.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Mr Ashwell has seen Samuell in fine voice and seen him play a fiddle or two and surely has seen Samuells endearing ways with the Barmaids at the Leg, Dog and of course at Wills. Sam has always been respectful of the older man by useing the title Mr. in his Diary. Therefore the rules of engagement be left to the ladies with Sam agreeing to the recompense for crossing of the threshold.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

“If all men did evolve from monkeys, why is my husband a jack ass?” surely a rutting Stag, be the the nature of the beast, it be the twisted geny.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Well, Mr. Ashwell. You can rest easy regards your daughter's stay within my household." Sam smiles benignly.

"Mr. Pepys, I be entrustin' me dearest child to your care, sir. And I must be tellin' ye frankly, I've been hearin' certain allegations as to yer behavior with the ladies...Though I do hope they be unfounded rumors, sir."

Hard stare...

"Mr. Ashwell...You, sir are speaking to Samuel Pepys, Esquire. Clerk of the Acts of His Britainnic Majesty's Royal Navy. I assure you, sir, that any such rumors are baseless. The murmurrings of discontented office seekers and jealous rivals."

"Well...I hope ye did hear of the details regarding me Mary's leavin' of her last position...Though her late ex-employer was not a man fit to be spoken of."


"Yes...Five gunshot wounds to the head, ruled accidental, I believe."

Broad smile... "Ay, me cousin Sidney the judge handled that little affair with discretion. Still can't figure which of me brothers and me it was that finished the little fellow off."

Eyes Sam...

"Tweren't much bigger a fellow than you, sir. Randy little bastard full of himself...May he burn in Hell."

"Yes, quite."

"Course it was what we did to him before we killed him that did give us the greatest satisfaction...As the loving relations of a sweet innocent girl, sir."

"Naturally...Uh, Bess. Might we speak a bit, darling?"


Miss Ann fr Home  •  Link

"but the conditions I know not what they will be, he leaving it wholly to her ..." Sam seems a little incredulous that the young lady will be setting her own conditions instead of her father. This highlights the norm in women of the time not having any say in their own lives, they were still considered "chattels" to be traded, with the dear Queen's situation a pretty good example of trade between men, suitable marriages notwithstanding the compatability of the parties to the marriage. Maybe Sam might not like a young women who knows her own mind pairing off with his Bess, who knows where that will lead. I think this Miss Ashwell might bring a new dynamic to the Pepys household.

Bradford  •  Link

How long, how long have annotators wished for Elizabeth's diary; but now we can see that her correspondence is far more precious in rectifying the balance of the historical record.

Further installments keenly awaited.

Terry F  •  Link

Evidently not all "women of the time not having any say in their own lives" - there had been other exceptions.

"Elizabeth Winthrop arrived alone on American shores in 1631. She was a young widow with a small child. Over her lifetime, she established four homesteads and raised and educated a large family. She was one of the first women in the New World to hold property in her own name. Like many colonial women, Elizabeth Winthrop exhibited remarkable courage in the face of tremendous adversity."

Australian Susan  •  Link

Although it is a lot later, Elizabeth Macarthur of colonial Australia was an amazing woman and responsible for starting the sheep industry in Australia. She had appalling hardships to face and survived to the age of 83.

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

The proposal was to employ Miss Ashwell as a companion for Elizabeth, in return for her keep and a bit of pocket money. Even though women did not have many choices in those days, it is obviously sensible to leave the final negotiations to the ladies concerned, as there is no point in being companions if you don't get on.

Unfortunately, the diary records again and again that Elizabeth had difficulty maintaining good relations with other women, Lady Sandwich being a notable exception. I suspect that the difficulties were largely a product of differences in class and social circumstance between her and her female contemporaries. Currently, Elizabeth was 22, wife of a man whose star was rising, and was trying to navigate London's stormy social seas. Up to a point, one's status has always depended upon how one allowed oneself to be treated. So, for understandable reasons, Elizabeth felt the need to assert and maintain her position as mistress of her own household, and also to maintain her dignity with and distance from those like Lady Batten, whose perceived slights offended her. The consequences were a regular turnover of servants, and Elizabeth's current loneliness as Lady S was now resident at Hinchinbrooke.

With Lady Sandwich relations were different: the Pepyses owed the Sandwiches everything, including for the support when they first married. So both Elizabeth and Sam need only enjoy My Lady's many kindnesses.

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