Sunday 24 May 1663

(Lord’s day). Having taken one of Mr. Holliard’s pills last night it brought a stool or two this morning, and so forebore going to church this morning, but staid at home looking over my papers about Tom Trice’s business, and so at noon dined, and my wife telling me that there was a pretty lady come to church with Peg Pen to-day, I against my intention had a mind to go to church to see her, and did so, and she is pretty handsome. But over against our gallery I espied Pembleton, and saw him leer upon my wife all the sermon, I taking no notice of him, and my wife upon him, and I observed she made a curtsey to him at coming out without taking notice to me at all of it, which with the consideration of her being desirous these two last Lord’s days to go to church both forenoon and afternoon do really make me suspect something more than ordinary, though I am loth to think the worst, but yet it put and do still keep me at a great loss in my mind, and makes me curse the time that I consented to her dancing, and more my continuing it a second month, which was more than she desired, even after I had seen too much of her carriage with him. But I must have patience and get her into the country, or at least to make an end of her learning to dance as soon as I can. After sermon to Sir W. Pen’s, with Sir J. Minnes to do a little business to answer Mr. Coventry to-night. And so home and with my wife and Ashwell into the garden walking a great while, discoursing what this pretty wench should be by her garb and deportment; with respect to Mrs. Pen she may be her woman, but only that she sat in the pew with her, which I believe he would not let her do.

So home, and read to my wife a fable or two in Ogleby’s AEsop, and so to supper, and then to prayers and to bed. My wife this evening discoursing of making clothes for the country, which I seem against, pleading lack of money, but I am glad of it in some respects because of getting her out of the way from this fellow, and my own liberty to look after my business more than of late I have done. So to prayers and to bed.

This morning it seems Susan, who I think is distracted, or however is since she went from me taught to drink, and so gets out of doors 2 or 3 times a day without leave to the alehouse, did go before 5 o’clock to-day, making Griffin rise in his shirt to let her out to the alehouse, she said to warm herself, but her mistress, falling out with her about it, turned her out of doors this morning, and so she is gone like an idle slut. I took a pill also this night.

42 Annotations

First Reading

Australian Susan  •  Link

Does anybody else suspect Elizabeth is just showing attention to Mr P in order to get money for clothes from notoriously stingy husband???

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Very fishy, wife tell hubby about yon new lass then suggest new outfits.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Ogilby's Aesop

The fables of Aesop paraphras’d in verse, and adorn’d with sculpture / by John Ogilby.
London : Printed by Thomas Warren for Andrew Crook, at the Green Dragon in St. Pauls church-yard, 1651.
82 full-page engravings, presumably after C. Cleyn, comprising frontispiece (Aesop among the animals) which is signed F. Cleyn", portrait of Ogilby and 80 engravings.

A splendedly illustrated and luxurious quarto volume; is is just simple co-incidence that Ogilby started life as a dancing master?

jeannine  •  Link

Okay I've had enough!
Sam isn't feeling well, Elizabeth says there is a pretty lady at church so, Sam goes to church to LEER at her in front of his wife. Ooops, Sam spies Mr. P LEERING at his wife and flips his cookies. How ridiculous is that! Then he goes home and is "discoursing what this pretty wench should be by her garb and deportment" with his wife. I just wish that Elizabeth had mentioned just how nice Mr. P looked today all dressed up for church and how wonderful his garb and deportment are too! The only standards for behavior that our Sam is showing today are "double standards". I hope she gets a whole new wardrobe ~~she deserves it.

jeannine  •  Link

"I took a pill also this night"...
gee, can't wait until tomorrow's entry now can we....

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Jeannine, I'm sure Sam didn't leer -- he probably was very discrete as he checked out the new hottie at church. Elizabeth, on the other hand, curtsies out loud to Mr. Pembleton without so much as an excuse to her hubby ... what a brazen hussy!

On a more serious note, seems as if Susan's been getting into the cooking wine (or ale, anyway) a bit, and it's gotten the best of her. Wonder who taught her to drink?

Bradford  •  Link

Does one have to be taught? DIY seems to work.
Oh, if only there had been a pill to purge the self-ailing mind!

dirk  •  Link

The Rev. Josselin's diary: the weather report --- in the Rev's usual style...

"God good in outward mercies, the yet liberty I have, my great unworthiness may cause god to shorten my time here if it please thee, awaken my spirit to more fruitfulness for thy name sake. weather warm and dry."

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

"...Jeannine, I’m sure Sam didn’t leer .." Nae just peered intently over the top of his common prayer book discreetly, until the nape of her neck doth redden, and then there be a pin in his rump.

judyj  •  Link

So, there are two reasons for Sam to go to church:
1) Opportunity to watch pretty ladies
2) Opportunity to monitor certain men who might be watching his pretty wife

Sometimes when Pepys gets so focused on business and the goings on of the king and nobility, we forget how young this couple was.

jean-paul buquet  •  Link

Hope this is not too much off subject, but i've just had the terrifying thought of somebody starting a website featuring Rev. Josselin's diary! What an unsufferable bore he was!
i thank Samuel, Phil, and everybody who haunts the comments page, a little more every day!
PS: Go Elizabeth!

JohnT  •  Link

An unusual repetition about prayers before bed. Sam's diary entries can sometimes ramble and frequently leap from topic to topic ( and register to register). The entries do not always follow the day through chronologically. But he seldom repeats himself. Maybe it is because the reference is formulaic for a Sunday. Or else, since it was plainly written the day after,it was not written at a single sitting.

On a slightly indelicate note, why does he record taking the pill the day after by which time he would presumably know the outcome, or otherwise?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Bess is clearly having a grand time...Little Sam'l for once is rushing home ummn "to dance" every evening and no doubt barely able to conceal his feeling at the sight of Mr. P "leering" at her in church.

Service was never so fun.

And soon she'll be heading off to Brampton's bucolic joys...And perhaps the courteous charm of Capt Ferrers' visits?

Need we point out, Sam that if she was head over heels about Mr. P she would hardly be so willing to head out of London.

Unless of course Mr. Pembleton has a few students outside London...

"By the way, Pembleton..." a relieved, Bess just off to Brampton, the lessons at last complete, Sam can afford a little courtesy. "...where do you reside in London?"

"Oh, I don't live in London, Mr. Pepys. No, much too expensive for a mere dancing master. In fact, by good fortune in that I will be able to pay my respects to your good wife, my family resides very near your father's property in...Mr. Pepys?..." Pounds back as Sam chokes.

Don McCahill  •  Link


We must be careful not to judge Sam by 21st century morals. He is a product of the 17th century and at that time women were pretty much possessions. One acquired as many as one could, and protected that ones he had as best he could.

I'm not saying it is right, but at that time it seemed so.

alanB  •  Link

It has to be said that between Pembie's leering and Sam's oggling of this pretty unknown wench, Our Sam is in great danger of falling between two stools ;)

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Mr Holliard's pills"
Do we know the ingredients? maybe senna?

jeannine  •  Link

King Leer

Forebore church because I did great stool
Hearing a beauty there I start to drool

Against my intention I’m fast on my way
Never occurring to me to actually pray

With my subtle glances the lady I do see
Whose looks of beauty do heartily impress me

In the gallery I see that snake Pembleton
Leering at my wife in front of most everyone

I observe to him she makes a curtsey
And fear that she do to be coyly flirtsy

My suspicions cause me to think the worst
Jealousy the sin of which I am cursed

My secret plan is to soon send her away
Putting end to dance and suspected foreplay

What my poor wife does fail to see
Is her only reason for being is to please me

I know public displays and looks of affection
Should remain private to avoid their detection

I hide my lusts in the pages of my diary
Expressing inner thoughts that are carnal and fiery

In those hidden words it is certainly most clear
That in my heart I am King of the Leer

Sjoerd  •  Link

Queen of Mean Jeannine

"he 'll never hear the end of it" springs to mind.

Ebo  •  Link

"... she is gone like an idle slut."

Am I right in thinking that has a different meaning in Pepys's day than it does now -- that it's a more general term of opprobrium?

Joe  •  Link

"Bess is clearly having a grand time."

Indeed, it was just three weeks ago today that Pepys noted that Elizabeth was "jealous of my freedom with Ashwell, which I must avoid giving occasion of" (… ). I can't help wondering, though, if Ashwell and Pembleton aren't the ones having the grandest time of all orchestrating this little domestic drama....

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Jeannine, I have to say though I was hard on Sam the other day regarding his casual reference to striking Bess for less offense, I think we have to be fair. For one thing Bess herself encouraged Sam to come and see the pretty lady and remember that this is a form of entertainment, seeing and being seen at the time. The lady even becomes a subject of entertaining discussion among the whole 'family circle' later.

As for the double standard, yes...But again, this is Samuel Pepys' private diary and the man should be allowed the human right to do his peeving, whining, and occasional lapses into hypocrisy and the rest in what he would regard as private space. I seriously doubt many of us in our enlightened, modern age would fare much better than he if all our private thoughts were to be laid open for display. I know I wouldn't, which is why you shall never be reading a revealing private diary of mine.

Though with all his faults I rather hope Bess has somehow gotten her chance to read the Diary in some afterlife existence. After a few years, decades, centuries of letting him have it, I think she'd be touched...I hope so.


(sorry, Ms. Morrisette, you're dead)

"What the hell is that...?" Sam stares at the racket.

"You...Son of a louse-pricking..." Bess waves the Diary at him.

Gulp...oh, well...Inevitable...But what the hell is...

"Bess, that infernal wailing...God hasn't rescinded my in here? Bess, you didn't...Speak to Him?"

"Nothing you wouldn't deserve...If this entry..." Waves a particularly dangerous entry in face.

"I can explain...It was..." thinks fast, ah...Fantasy...No, this is Heaven, I'd never get away with it.

And who is that dark-haired young lady, apparently the source of the well, perhaps not so hideous wailing...
Yes, the good ole dodge...

"Bess, who is that lady? A fiend from Hell?"

"You...You...You Oughta Know!..." screams the young lady.

"Ms. Morrisette is my new acquaintance...And I think her song just about says it all, you..."

"That is a song?" Sam's barely made through Mozart by now...His enrapturement by the music to come the most heavenly thing about Heaven.

"Twenty-first century...When we come into our own."

"Hmmn...well, it does have a certain..."

"Are you listening to the words you little...?"

"Oh...Right...Now, Bess. Darling."

"If Mr. Pembleton weren't a faithful husband..." door slam...

One hour later...Head peep...

"Sam'l? Samuel?!" Oh, nice card. Pearls, eh? Well, one must make...


"Miss Morrisette?"

"Ummn...Darling...Ms. Morrisette was so kind about showing me everything about..."

"You mean...Showing you everything!" Throws empty pearls box...

No way she's going to throw the pearls after waiting this long...Sam runs for cover...

"Ms. Morrisette? After all you said about..."

"I'm sorry, Bess." Nervous titter... "The little guy is just so damned charming..."

"Get out..."

"Right...Ummn if he still wants that lesson..."

"GET OUT!!!"


A. Hamilton  •  Link

Sam backslides -- with more than a little encouragement from Elizabeth, who is playing an interesting game with his mind. She is clearly no pushover.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sam may groan and complain and pontificate but I think he generally rather fancies Bess' spirit...Much as he would never admit that to himself or us.

Tyciol  •  Link

I had not heard slut used in such a way til now.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"On a slightly indelicate note, why does he record taking the pill the day after by which time he would presumably know the outcome, or otherwise?"

It is unclear to me why Pepys records a lot of things, pill consumption included. Unless he anticipates referring back to it when he goes back to see Dr. Holliard for a refill of his prescription (sorry -- no such things then of course!). Transit time can be fascinating if you are a hypochondriac, which I think Sam tended to be. Every sore throat and sniffle is so carefully documented.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

""Mr Holliard's pills" Do we know the ingredients? maybe senna?"

Since our encyclopedia doesn't have a medicine section, I reprint a purgative recipe from last year ... I haven't discovered any pill recipes yet:

✹ dirk on 29 Apr 2006 • Link • Flag
17th c. purgative A recipe from *the* 17th c. standard work by Nicholas Culpeper's: "The Complete Herbal and English Physician"
"Syrupus de Cichorio cum Rhubarbaro -- Or Syrup of Succory with Rhubarb"
Take of whole Barley, the roots of Smallage, Fennel, and Sparagus, of each two ounces, Succory, Dandelyon, Endive, smooth Sow-thistles, of each two handfuls, Lettuce, Liverwort, Fumitory, tops of Hops, of each one handful, Maiden-hair, white and black, Cetrachs, Liquorice, winter Cherries, Dodder, of each six drams, to boil these take 16 pounds of spring water, strain the liquor, and boil in it six pounds of white sugar, adding towards the end six ounces of Rhubarb, six drams of Spikenard, bound up in a thin slack rag the which crush often in boiling, and so make it into a Syrup according to art.
It cleanses the body of venemous humors, as boils, carbuncles, and the like; it prevails against pestilential fevers, it strengthens the heart and nutritive virtue, purges by stool and urine, it makes a man have a good stomach to his meat, and provokes sleep. [...] This I believe, the Syrup cleanses the liver well, and is exceeding good for such as are troubled with hypocondriac melancholy. [...]…....

Terry Foreman  •  Link

An updated link to the magisterial Full text of "Culpeper's Complete herbal : to which is now added, upwards of one hundred additional herbs, with a display of their medicinal and occult qualities : ... : to which are now first annexed his English physician enlarged, and Key to physic.."…

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Liz would have made a wonderful 20th Century feminist. She doesn't let Sam push her around and she gives as good as she gets. I wanted to cheer when she told him about the pretty woman at church and Sam immediately trots off to see. She knows him far better than he knows her. And how "convenient" that Mr. Pembleton was in attendance, too. I can just see her smirking behind her glove. Sam, you don't have a chance. You've met your match. I love it!

StanB  •  Link

Given 17th century attitudes towards women in general when the 'Lords Day' comes around there must have been a lot of lewd ogling going on . As regards Sam and today's entry People in Glasshouses and all that, you just can't keep that green eyed monster at bay

Weavethe hawk  •  Link

I must say, I enjoyed the 2006 comment of Mons. Jean-Paul Buquet about Rev. Josselin and the horrifying prospect of a website featuring his slightly over pious diary entries. He really was a crashing bore.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Might Pepys's view of the Rev. Ralph Josselin's diary differ from that of Mons. Jean-Paul Buquet and Weavethe hawk? Pepys had yet a trace of Puritan moralism; some of his friends and family are of a pious Puritan stripe, e.g., Mr. Hollier and the beloved Aunt James; and Pepys prized -- as scrupulous and trustworthy -- and protected -- at his own peril -- the sectarian Thomas Hayter.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Elizabeth as a feminist role model? To make proper sense of this question requires a Marxist-style analysis: feminism did not arise in a vacuum, but in the context of more than two centuries of struggle by various disadvantaged groups in society. Arguably the origin of these struggles was in the Protestant Reformation and the Civil War. Indeed in Restoration times there were already some women who would set a shining example for future generations. One remarkable example was Margaret Fell, "mother of Quakerism", who amongst other things, argued for women's right to preach.…

What about Elizabeth? The late Gloriana might perhaps have been a proto-feminist, but not Mrs Pepys. Undoubtedly she has spirit and a mind of her own, but for her own ends and not as a member of the sisterhood.

1) There's no evidence she wants to earn her own living, or acquire skills which would give her comparable status to her husband. In that sense, Ashwell, having already had an incipient career as a teacher, would be a much more appropriate proto-feminist role model. Lady Penn, currently managing the family estates in Ireland, might be another.

2) She treats the household's female employees with very little consideration, and generally gets on poorly with other women apart from a chosen few. Not only does she alienate the Lady Battens, mother and daughter, she will only have her sister in law Pall in the house with the status of a servant. Elizabeth has no compunction about turning poor drunken Susan out onto the street, rather than helping her find some dignity and independence! Admittedly there are sensible selfish reasons for all this, but there's no solidarity with the fellow oppressed half of humanity.

Like a lesser and probably more scrupulous Lady Castlemaine, Elizabeth is a willing female member of the ruling class: her main concerns are to make sure she gets her share of the spoils: and an increasing share as her husband's wealth and status improve.

This is observation and not criticism: being educated in a convent, Elizabeth would inevitably have a limited outlook and socially conservative attitudes. But Sam who has perforce seen far more of the world, regularly displays far more compassion, concern and awareness for the problems of the less fortunate than does his wife.

NJ Lois  •  Link

"We must be careful not to judge Sam by 21st Century morals. He is a product of the 17th Century. ..." 21st Century morals (and 17th Century morals ) were and are based upon the Ten Commandments and Scripture, for those who follow the Judeo-Christian tradition. Our code of ethics and morality is one of the foundations of Western Civilization; another being Philosophy.
I came across a quotation once, by a Frenchman, I think, who said something to the effect that " no matter how loud you shout it, or how oft' you repeat it-- if it's wrong, it's wrong." Sam knows right from wrong.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

NJ Lois--Sam may know right from wrong but as we know, he gives into wrong more often than not.

As for Liz being a feminist--it's true that she would not be one by 20th or even 19th century standards, but even then, not all women who considered themselves feminists wanted to earn her own living or acquire skills that would give them comparable status to their husbands, nor did they treat women of the "lower classes" with much respect, but I think Liz did exhibit the seeds of later feminism. She wanted to have her say and would probably have said so, at least for the women of her own class. It took a long time for today's widespread feminism to develop from those tiny seeds (and we still have a long way to go). Meanwhile, there was a tremendous amount of resistance from both men and women through its years of development.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Someone who is chronically constipated may record their nightly doses of laxative to help them judge their effectiveness the following day and decide how much to take next time.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

‘Slut’ here means:

‘ . . < Of doubtful origin . . 2. a. A woman of a low or loose character; a bold or impudent girl; a hussy, jade.
c1450 Cov. Myst. (Shaks. Soc.) 218 Com forth, thou sloveyn! com forthe, thou slutte!
. . 1621 R. Burton Anat. Melancholy i. ii. iv. i. 191 A peevish drunken flurt, a waspish cholerick slut . . ‘

but sometimes it meant:

‘ . . b. In playful use, or without serious imputation of bad qualities.
1664 S. Pepys Diary 21 Feb. (1971) V. 55 Our little girl Susan is a most admirable slut and pleases us mightily . . ‘

which is from next year and relates to a different Susan, I think.

Matt Newton  •  Link

Any thoughts on Sam's constipation being caused by his diet?
Any research done here on the general diet of 1600's.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

A year from now Pepys reports meeting Lady Penn for the first time. So this Mrs. Penn must be the daughter.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Starting at the end of May, 1663, Louis XIV nearly died. The progress of his disease was noted daily by his physician, Monsieur Antoine Vallot, in the Journal de la santé du Roi. The story and translated bits come from…

By Sunday, June 3, Louis XIV felt well enough to do a little business. He felt weak and was given a soup. Then he received visitors in bed.

Monsieur Vallot recorded, “His Majesty received visits and compliments from an influx of people of quality and from the magistrates of Paris, without feeling the least inconvenience in the world, in the same way and with the same vigour as if he had not been ill.”

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