Wednesday 11 March 1662/63

Up betimes, and to my office, walked a little in the garden with Sir W. Batten, talking about the difference between his Lady and my wife yesterday, and I doubt my wife is to blame. About noon had news by Mr. Wood that Butler, our chief witness against Field, was sent by him to New England contrary to our desire, which made me mad almost; and so Sir J. Minnes, Sir W. Pen, and I dined together at Trinity House, and thither sent for him to us and told him our minds, which he seemed not to value much, but went away. I wrote and sent an express to Walthamstow to Sir W. Pen, who is gone thither this morning, to tell him of it. However, in the afternoon Wood sends us word that he has appointed another to go, who shall overtake the ship in the Downes. So I was late at the office, among other things writing to the Downes, to the Commander-in-Chief, and putting things into the surest course I could to help the business. So home and to bed.

20 Annotations

First Reading

dirk  •  Link

"and I doubt my wife is to blame"

Throughout the diary Sam, rather consistently, has been using "doubt" in the (then common) meaning of "to fear". So this sentence should probably read: "...and I fear my wife is to blame."

Interesting though that if "doubt" were used with its modern meaning, this sentence would imply the exact opposite of the above...

LH, can we be sure what Sam means here?

Bradford  •  Link

So it looks, Dirk, according to the Companion Large Glossary, loath though I am to believe that Pepys would cede the right to Lady Batten against Elizabeth. Over to you, Dictionary Devil.

celtcahill  •  Link

I'm sure that is what it means, but there is an entry in the future that whereas he does not encourage her to antagonize lady Pen, he makes it plain that it doesn't bother him much. I wish he'd be more forthcoming in this Field buisness, though.

celtcahill  •  Link


Peter  •  Link

Dirk, the same doubt was in my mind.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"What can we do, Wood? If Butler gives witness, we are lost."

"Not to worry, Field. I have "taken care" of our little problem. Mr. Butler as we speak is on his way to...New England. A few months there should solve our difficulties. Heh, heh."

"New England? The New England? My God, Wood...This is a bit of overkill...Emphasis on "kill"...For a minor dispute over reporting of frauds. I wouldn't send my worst enemies (Pepys, Penn, Batten) to that frozen, pestilential hell-hole."

"Obviously, I would." Wood grins. "Now, I'd best head home to dinner. Come along and meet my wife."

"Wood...I know those rogues have put some pressure on you." Field nervously notes as they near the Wood home.

"They had me called to Trinity House to summon Butler back, yes. I gave them but cool answer. You may rely on me, Field. This matter affects us both and I will see it..." Wood stares at an open window though which the redoubtable Capt. Ferrers can be seen.

Rather preoccupied with Mrs. Wood.


"And to my beloved wife and children..." Butler pauses, looking out across the desk, over the water towards the coast. The last bit of civilized territory he expects to ever see.

"Courage, Mr. Butler." his clerk offers comfort. "New England is not quite the end of the world."

Right...Easy to say if you're not doomed to exile in that God-forsaken wilderness. Lord, why did I ever offer that little bastard Pepys my testimony in this affair?

"Shall we hurry it,sir? I must make the boat for shore."

"Ahoy there!" a cry from a fast-approaching small boat. A dumbfounded Capt. Ferrers sitting glumly at the stern.


Robert Gertz  •  Link

Say, Sam seems to have mixed Penn and Batten. Obviously Penn couldn't have been with them at Trinity House if he was off at Walthamstow since morning and had to be informed by messinger of what transpired with Wood.

language hat  •  Link

“and I doubt my wife is to blame”

Dirk, I had the same thought. The modern meaning is also the older meaning (the word is from Latin dubitare 'to waver in opinion, hesitate'), but both meanings were common in Pepys' day, which makes it irritatingly difficult to figure out what is meant in an unadorned statement like this. My guess is the same as yours, that he means "I fear," but there's no way to know for sure unless it's cleared up by a later entry in which he either chastises or supports his wife.

Jesse  •  Link

"and I doubt my wife is to blame"

Perhaps if the modern (older) usage of doubt was intended then he would've used 'but' for the conjunction as in nevertheless I don't think my wife is to blame.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Good example of Sam's energy is despatch of business here - getting things done swiftly and effectively: "Putting things into the surest course."

If Sam is suspecting his wife of being in the wrong over the water access business, he is being rather disloyal. Wonder if he will actually tell Elizabeth he thinks she is wrong? Or are his concerns just for the pages of the Diary?

language hat  •  Link

Thoughts aren't disloyal!
Publicly supporting the other Lady over his wife, now that would be disloyal.

Australian Susan  •  Link


Wasn't it Jimmy Carter who talked of "adultery of the heart" when he had an interest in women other than his wife?

Katie Brown  •  Link

If the word "doubt" used in this entry means "to fear" anyone else feeling sorry for Elizabeth? He not only leaves her at home to do laundry all day while he goes sailing around on a yacht eating fresh oysters and expensive cheese(March 2nd entry), but now he possibly has an interest in other women and feels Elizabeth may be an inadequate wife.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I wonder who Mr. Wood was ... none of the Woods in the index seem appropriate, but he couldn't have been a lawyer because he was able to rescind Butler's orders. Wood must have been in the Navy somehow. If he had been "against" Pepys and the gang in the Field affair, he wouldn't have told them about the appointment while it was still possible to reverse it.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

"Doubting" his wife is to blame.

There are very few relationships, business or personal, where one doesn't occasionally question the judgement of the other party/parties. It's not disloyal to think for yourself and question things - or record one's thoughts in a private diary. And is there anyone here who has not at times been grateful for a bit of quiet advice from a partner or loved one? The question is: how does one resolve differences in a constructive manner for the common good and for mutual benefit?

Batten Pepys and Penn have to work together as well as living in the same building. Mishandling a petty domestic dispute could, in this age of duels, literally be fatal. Not being able to work together could lead to the one with the fewest protectors being dismissed. It's a matter of record that Lady B and Elizabeth don't get on, but it's in everyone's interest if Sam and Sir W B can smooth things over.

BTW, at this time, and for much of human history, oysters were not a luxury food, but a cheap source of protein that even the poor might afford.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

"which made me mad almost"

Pepy's has used this sort of phrasing before for the word "mad". Not sure what it means in this context. If it almost made him angry it would be hardly worth the effort to write it. At least that's how it seems to me. But if it nearly drove him crazy that would be worth noting. Crazy mad seems too modern an idea. Which is it: angry mad, crazy mad or something else entirely?

Bill  •  Link

@Gerald, "Crazy mad seems too modern an idea." Maybe not...

MAD, deprived of Reason, Furious.
---An Universal English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘mad, adj. < Old English gemǣd . . mad emerged, after the decline of wroth and other synonyms which had been common in Middle English, as the ordinary term for ‘feeling anger’ in many dialects in Great Britain (and later in North America), alongside standard English angry: use in this sense is frequently proscribed in usage guides from the late 18th cent. onwards.

4. a. Of a person: insane, crazy; mentally unbalanced or deranged; subject to delusions or hallucinations; (in later use esp.) psychotic.
. . 1665 S. Pepys Diary 25 Jan. (1972) VI. 21 He told me what a mad freaking fellow Sir Ellis Layton hath been and is—and once at Antwerp, was really mad.

6. a. Of a person: beside oneself with anger; moved to uncontrollable rage; furious.
b. Angry, irate, cross. Also, in weakened sense: annoyed, exasperated . . Now colloq. (chiefly N. Amer.) and Brit. regional.
. . 1611 Bible (King James) Acts xxvi. 11 And being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them euen vnto strange cities.
1622 J. Mabbe tr. M. Alemán Rogue ii. 155 Whereat the merchant was so mad, and so transported with passion, that he knew not what to say . .

. . Phrases P1. like mad: (literally) in the manner of one who is mad; (hence) furiously, with excessive violence or enthusiasm; now often (colloq.) in weakened sense, as an intensifier: greatly, to a high degree. Also †like any mad, †for mad.
. . 1663 S. Pepys Diary 13 June (1971) IV. 182 Thence by coach with a mad coachman that drove like mad.

. . Special uses S1. Parasynthetic.
. . mad-humoured adj.
1665 S. Pepys Diary 6 Dec. (1972) VI. 321 Knipp, who is..the most excellent mad-humourd thing; and sings the noblest that ever I heard.’

Sense 6 here, I think.

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