Thursday 9 April 1663

Up betimes and to my office, and anon we met upon finishing the Treasurer’s accounts. At noon dined at home and am vexed to hear my wife tell me how our maid Mary do endeavour to corrupt our cook maid, which did please me very well, but I am resolved to rid the house of her as soon as I can.

To the office and sat all the afternoon till 9 at night, and an hour after home to supper and bed. My father lying at Tom’s to-night, he dining with my uncle Fenner and his sons and a great many more of the gang at his own cost to-day.

To bed vexed also to think of Sir J. Minnes finding fault with Mr. Hater for what he had done the other day, though there be no hurt in the thing at all but only the old fool’s jealousy, made worse by Sir W. Batten.

24 Annotations

First Reading

TerryF  •  Link

"gang" - a contemporary-sounding word with a pedigree fit for Pepys:

O.E. gong "a going, journey, way, passage," and O.N. gangr "a group of
men, a set," both from P.Gmc. *gangaz (noun of action related to *gangan "to go"), from PIE base *ghengh- "to step" (cf. Skt. jangha "shank," Avestan zanga-"ankle," Lith. zengiu "I stride"). The sense evolution is probably via meaning "a set of articles that are usually taken together in going," especially a set of tools used on the same job. By 1627 this had been extended in nautical speech to mean "a company of workmen," and by 1632 the word was being used, with disapproving overtones, for "any band of persons traveling together."…

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sam's horror at the thought of losing his cook reminds me of Bertie Wooster's horror to learn that his Aunt's wonderfully talented French chef, Monsieur Anatole has left when he visits her!

Bradford  •  Link

Anyone care to make a sally of pinning down the exact sense, in this context, of "corrupt"? And what would Mary's motive be?

dirk  •  Link


"The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language", © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company, gives four meanings that might be relevant here:

1. To destroy or subvert the honesty or integrity of.
2. To ruin morally; pervert.
3. To taint; contaminate.
4. To cause to become rotten; spoil.

Synonyms: corrupt, debase, debauch, deprave, pervert, vitiate
These verbs mean to ruin utterly in character or quality: was corrupted by limitless power; debased himself by pleading with the captors; a youth debauched by drugs and drink; indulgence that depraves the moral fiber; perverted her talent by putting it to evil purposes; a proof vitiated by a serious omission.

I think we can settle for something in the sense of "to ruin utterly in character or quality"...

Miss Ann  •  Link

We've all worked with people like Mary, always spreading gossip, always being malicious in what they chat about, never happy in their work, you often wonder why they keep turning up every day. As the cookmaid is such a find obviously Mary's days are numbered, Sam has started putting together his case for terminating her employment, I'd start packing my bags if I were her.
Apropos yesterday - I note The Wiggles have been given an honorary masters degree over the weekend, I wonder when mine will come.
Glad to see Samuel is on Mr Hayters side and can see the old curmudgeon Minnes as the fool that he is.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

No previous complaints about Mary that I've noticed, suggesting that this might be something other than theft or gossipy behavior...And it must be fairly serious for Sam to resolve so suddenly to sack a servant. There's no real evidence of course but from that violence of Sam's sudden resolve there's always the possibility that Bess caught Mary making sexual advances. "Corrupting" was frequently used as a euphemism even to the 20th century for such behavior.

Again, there's no hard evidence and to be sure it's not even completely clear who is to be sacked...Mary or Hannah, the cookmaid. But the possibility is there... It will be interesting to see who gets sacked and if Sam gives more details.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Today's entry does seem to confirm that poor Tom Hater did post an entry without giving Sir John a chance to sign off on it.

One could wonder how our Sam might feel if the roles had been reversed. I can't see Sam being pleased at the idea of say Sir William Penn's clerk stamping or signing off on something without his review.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Poor Maid Marion[Mary] be thought to be a saviour, dothe cook a good dinner,[see references they be good=] then in comes a hoity toity from that ramshackled kitchens of The Gen; who now lauds it over the lowly kitchens of Seething Lane. I can hear it now, "When I be cooking for Her Ladyship the Du_chess_e, I did not have to scrape carrots, strip turnips , peal damn spuds [tatters], depod peas, that be your job Mary quite contrary, I had 4 girls to do that, and stop whinning to the Mistress Eliza, about how I make ye curtsy to me every time you come into the room"
In other words noses be out of joint, the come down from the great Palace, and tother, no longer gets a nice wink from Maister of the House.

TerryF  •  Link

"Tom Hater did post an entry without giving Sir John a chance to sign off on it."

"One could wonder how our Sam might feel if the roles had been reversed"

Keen query, Robert; one could also wonder how our Sam might behave! (like a coxcomb, etc.?)

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Problems of Hayter and Mary: Stepping on toes, going beyond the Job description, reduction in position, changein status, wrecks havoc on the community of the work force. The Pecking order be always adhered too, egos be very thin shelled quite paranoiac really. Tis the task of a good leader to keep the balance and well buttered. That includes Princes, Generals, all way down the ladder of pecks to the faceless dogs body.
Every Organisation needs a Father [Fair and honest]figure to keep the system running. There be no PHD for this perfect character.

Australian Susan  •  Link

For those who do not know who The Wiggles are (there may be a few...). Here is their website:

TerryF  •  Link

Thanks, Aus.Susan, I wondered whether they were figments of....

JohnT  •  Link

I wonder at Sam's chances of keeping hold of a good cook. I am mindful of Kay ( Mrs ) Miniver's line, "She was a good cook, as good cooks go. And as good cooks go, she went. "

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"a great many more of the gang"
methougt "gang" was more recent.
"peal damn spuds[tatters]"
Thinking of the Cole Porter song in the USA would be [taters].

Glyn  •  Link

Corrupt in this entry may simply be communicating bad habits, telling her to slow down or not work so hard. This cook has been cooking almost single-handedly for dinner parties of 10 people, perhaps Mary is telling her not to make the others look bad.

However, I'm not sure if Miss Ann is correct in saying that Mary should start packing her bags (I haven't read ahead so don't know). Pepys seems to find it difficult to get rid of servants even after he's decided to, e.g. isn't Wayneman Birch still here?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

methinks it does not mean the horrible synne or the unmentionable vice,based on Sam's reaction, because if it was so, even allowing for Sam's liberalism, he would have reacted differently.

language hat  •  Link

I wonder if this is the OED's sense 4:
To destroy or pervert the integrity or fidelity of (a person) in his discharge of duty; to induce to act dishonestly or unfaithfully; to make venal; to bribe.
e.g., 1596 SPENSER F.Q. V. ii. 23 She ment him to corrupt with goodly meede.

Otherwise, I think we can take it as a general condemnation meaning something like "lead into bad ways."

jeannine  •  Link

"do endeavour to corrupt our cook maid" I remember as a teenager having a job doing gardening (ie. pulling weeds) for a neighbor. A little boy who I used to babysit (from the "Dennis the Menace" variety) came by, asked me what I was doing and then asked, "how do you get paid for that job?'. I replied, "I get paid by the hour". He said, "work slow".......the seeds of corruption come early and with Sam's love of a good meal messing with "super cook" isn't wise.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Minnes and Batten ... what, no Penn?

Interesting to see how the other Sir William has been absent from Sam's diatribes about his co-workers' foolishness, laziness, etc. And just a while ago, Sam was threatened by Penn's hard work!

Susan, FWIW, a friend of mine from Oz knows Murray (the red Wiggle) quite well (Murray was best man at my friend's wedding), and those guys all do have a pretty deep background in childhood education ... so, it's not too far a stretch that they've been given honorary masters degrees (I know my kids wouldn't complain).

Australian Susan  •  Link

JohnT - This is Saki [Hector Hugh Munro] Incomparable short story writer, killed in WWI shot by a sniper. His last words were "...and put that bloody cigarette out" (snipers could see the red tips). He would have appreciated that. This cook quotation is from "Reginald on Besetting Sins". Wonderful author. Should be compulsory reading. Sam would have appreciated his wonderfully sharp observation of the human psyche. Sorry off topic.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Personally, I think the Wiggles far more deserving of Masters Degrees than the D of M.
A pompous sportsperson [whom I won't name] once called a press conference to announce that the team he represnted had decided they had to do the right thing, put personal fears and concerns aside and tour Europe (this was October 2001). Someone from the Press Corps had had enough of this: "Did you know" he yelled out "The Wiggles left to tour England as planned last week with no fuss?" Collapse of inflated ego.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sorry, Phil

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

" To bed vexed also to think of Sir J. Minnes finding fault with Mr. Hater for what he had done the other day"

The day before yesterday:
After dinner to the office, where Sir J. Minnes did make a great complaint to me alone, how my clerk Mr. Hater had entered in one of the Sea books a ticket to have been signed by him before it had been examined, which makes the old fool mad almost, though there was upon enquiry the greatest reason in the world for it. Which though it vexes me, yet it is most to see from day to day what a coxcomb he is, and that so great a trust should lie in the hands of such a fool.…

If Hayter's act were a significant misdeed, why the complaint to Pepys alone?

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

It may be worth noting that Hayter is Pepys' clerk, not just an office clerk, so Sam perhaps sees this as an attack upon himself personally, especially as Hayter is high in his regard.

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