Saturday 18 July 1663

Up and to my office, where all the morning, and Sir J. Minnes and I did a little, and but a little business at the office. So I eat a bit of victuals at home, and so abroad to several places, as my bookseller’s, and then to Thomson the instrument maker’s to bespeak a ruler for my pocket for timber, &c., which I believe he will do to my mind. So to the Temple, Wardrobe, and lastly to Westminster Hall, where I expected some bands made me by Mrs. Lane, and while she went to the starchers for them, I staid at Mrs. Howlett’s, who with her husband were abroad, and only their daughter (which I call my wife) was in the shop, and I took occasion to buy a pair of gloves to talk to her, and I find her a pretty spoken girl, and will prove a mighty handsome wench. I could love her very well.

By and by Mrs. Lane comes, and my bands not being done she and I posted and met at the Crown in the Palace Yard, where we eat a chicken I sent for, and drank, and were mighty merry, and I had my full liberty of towzing her and doing what I would, but the last thing of all … [for I felt as much as I would and made her feel my thing also, and put the end of it to her breast and by and by to her very belly. – L&M] Of which I am heartily ashamed, but I do resolve never to do more so.

But, Lord! to see what a mind she has to a husband, and how she showed me her hands to tell her her fortune, and every thing that she asked ended always whom and when she was to marry. And I pleased her so well, saying as I know she would have me, and then she would say that she had been with all the artists in town, and they always told her the same things, as that she should live long, and rich, and have a good husband, but few children, and a great fit of sickness, and 20 other things, which she says she has always been told by others.

Here I staid late before my bands were done, and then they came, and so I by water to the Temple, and thence walked home, all in a sweat with my tumbling of her and walking, and so a little supper and to bed, fearful of having taken cold.

32 Annotations

First Reading

TerryF  •  Link

L&M provide what Wheatley was more ashamed of than the Diarist (who recorded it)

"but the last thing of all; for I felt as much as I would and made her feel my thing also, and put the end of it to her breast and by and by to her very belly -- of which I am heartily ashamed."

John M  •  Link

The ale houses must have been divided up into 'snugs' (small drinking areas separated by wooden partitions) otherwise they couldn't behave so outrageously.

dirk  •  Link

Beware Sam!

Remember the words of the ancients:
Το γαρ ηδυ, εαν πολυ, ου τι γε ηδυ
"A sweet thing tasted too often is no longer sweet."

"Of which I am heartily ashamed"
That doesn't seem to keep him from doing it again and again...

I'm surprised Sam doesn't seem to take into account that Mrs Lane might tell others -- and eventually the rumour might reacht Elizabeth. But the only thing that really seems to trouble him is that he may have "taken cold".

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Poor horny Puritan Sam, too eager to hold back and too conflicted to have pleasure. And furtive! He'd have a hard time acting or even acknowledging the full force of lust.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoy'd no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Sonnet 129, W. Shakespeare

daniel  •  Link

Any idea what the ellipsis hides?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

We are shocked, and scold
Yet it is such things that help keep this Diary from getting old
In Sam we see the Human Condition
Too often we've been in his position!

Sam loves da Bettys. (Betties?) And who can blame him? It's this very lust for life -- and his frankness about it -- that makes the Diary such interesting reading.

And besides, we shouldn't be too hard on Sam, or on Betty Lane, for that matter. It's obviously Betty Howlett/Mitchell's fault for getting him so riled up ("I could love her very well").

language hat  •  Link

"Any idea what the ellipsis hides?"

Read the first comment.

Aqua  •  Link

Wow! The moment of truth, not quite 1300 readings into the saga, to discover mans ultimate weaknest.
Going to Hades be easy, its the return journey that be difficult.
Vvirgil Aenid VI 126.

TerryF  •  Link

"It’s obviously Betty Howlett/Mitchell’s fault for getting him so riled up”

Again Pepys is forgetting his Epictetus (*Encheiridion* 1.1): * τών οντων τά μέν έστιν εκ εφ ήμιν, τά δε ουκ εφ ώμιν” (‘Of things, some are in our power, others are not’). His attitude toward her pulchritude is within his power - so Epictetus; but what did he know? he was also a slave.

Joe  •  Link

"this very lust for life — and his frankness about it"

Obviously Pepys thinks about his day's activities as he writes his Diary; but do you wonder if he ever thinks about what he will write in his Diary as he goes about his business?

The fact of a man's towzings, and his attempts to palliate them shouldn't surprise or shock us, I suppose (remember "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is"?); it's Pepys' clarity, or at least his committment to his Diary, no matter the events of the day and the hearty shame they may bring, that does surprise.

Such an odd puzzle, this man, this diary.

Mary  •  Link

"their daughter, which I call my wife"

MINOR SPOILER to explain an obscure comment. Sam calls this girl his wife because, as he explains a few days later, he used at some time in the past to be of the opinion that she bore a resemblance to Elizabeth.

Xjy  •  Link

"too conflicted to have pleasure"
Well, not exactly ;-)... "a bliss in proof"...
Hm, I wouldn't call their behaviour outrageous. Perhaps not even indiscreet in the circumstances. Perhaps not even unconventional for the time and place ("private" corner of the pub). Perhaps we could call it "not appropriate in public".
Anyway, he liked her and she liked him and good luck to them. Particularly her.
As for the what the meaning of "is" is, take a look at the knots into which the Flickr group admins are tying themselves over the word "wow" in the WOW group:…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Betty, Betty, Betty...

Well, he's somewhat consistent.

"I have been faithful to thee, [Elisabeth], in my fashion..."


So is it "Mrs." Lane? A bit confusing at times, (however protective it may have been for a lady's honor when she went out in the cruel 17th century world), the use of Mrs. for unmarried ladies. Since Sam mentions her eager desire of a husband I assume she's single.

Careful Sam...Plump Betty wants a husband and the distinguish Clerk of the Acts sounds just fine to her.

Quite a lady, in fact...Running her own business, obviously kind-hearted and friendly, probably lots of fun for a lonely summer bachelor suffering from the eight-year itch. Poor Betty deserves better.

In an alternate universe...

Tomorrow's headlines...

Leading broadsheets...

"London in shock as Puritan government returns!"

"John Creed, secret leader, takes reins of government as Charles II flees with Queen for Holland...Again..."

"Reasonable moderation and clemency with promised by the new government...No trials for former government men...All worthy officials to retain posts!...Lord Sandwich first to seek and obtain pardon, will head Navy!...No censorship and tightening of moral code will be sensible, new Lord Protector Creed promises..."We'll only go after a few truly bad apples and protect the children!" he vowes."

"Clerk of the Acts, Samuel Peeps [Pepys]arrested for lewd behavior to underage shopgirl...Young Betty Howlett gives shocking testimony!"

The London Tattler...

"..."My wife was away" whines 'Sinner Sam' to police. (full sordid details on page 2)..."

andy  •  Link

to bespeak a ruler

so it'll be a bespoke ruler then? Remind me to bespeak my next computer system. Funny how we've kept the past particple but not the rest of the verb. (As for "towzing", well we've all done it without knowing what it was!)

Robert Gertz  •  Link


"See...I avoided 'the last thing of all...'..." Sam points out in the Diary, hopefully, to a glaring Bess.

Who suddenly gives the sweetest smile...

"Why...So did I, dear." she turns and walks...Or floats, it being Heaven...Off.

"What? Bess? What do you mean? Did what? What's that? Bess? Bess!!" Sam hurries after her...

"It's Pembleton, right? I knew it! Bess?! What did you mean? Who did you mean?! Wait, Bess! Was it my Lord?!! I know he liked you!! Bess?!! I don't care what they say about no giving in marriage in Heaven, we are still married!! Bess, wait!!!"

J A Gioia  •  Link

she would say that she had been with all the artists in town, and they always told her the same things

By 'artists' I think we should here read 'fortune tellers'. It is remarkable to me how Sam in a few lines sketches a psychological portrait of Mrs. Lane - a sentimental adventuress, independent, adrift, prone to palm readers and aching for a happy ending.

And then, "And I pleased her so well, saying as. I know she would have me". In a era when second marriages were likely as common as today, though for different reasons, this is something more than a sweet nothing. The comment also shows a level of respect from a 'date' which Mrs. Lane is probably not used to receiving. Anyone here think our Sam could unbend and choose a party girl (cf. the Battens?) second time 'round?

Yeah, me neither.

Tom Burns  •  Link

doing what I would, but the last thing of all ...

I wonder, can we really trust the diarist here? Or he did he indeed do the last thing of all, and assauge his guilt by denying it here? For all of his sterling qualities, Sam has never impressed me with his self-denial. I guess we'll never know ...

Stolzi  •  Link

"the use of Mrs. for unmarried ladies"

It wasn't protective, it's that all ladies were "Mistress." The shortening to "Miss" for an unmarried girl was only just beginning to happen.

"Online Etymology" says

'...sense of "title for a young unmarried woman, girl" first recorded 1666.'

Below a certain social status they weren't called "Mistress" anyway, but "Goodwife" or "Goody."

As for wanting Pepys for a husband, I don't think plump Betty would be so ready to wait perhaps a whole lifetime. Divorce just didn't happen, except sometimes for Kings and Lords.

JWB  •  Link

The Reformation held marriage not a sacrament & as such divorce allowed in the case of adultry. The right to remarry was a contentious issue. Puritans generally maintained that right for the innocent party. Milton argued for divorce to be removed from public jurisdiction and that grounds should be extended to incompatiblity.

TerryF  •  Link

Somewhere in Whitehall Palace today --

A Royal Charter was granted by King Charles II for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

This charter had been long sought by Roger Williams, the founder of Providence Plantation in 1636, to help prevent the Plantation from being absorbed by the Colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut. "Unlike many of the other colonies' charters, the charter for Rhode Island specifically guaranteed religious freedom for all Christians [including Catholics] and even Jews. Because of this, a small Jewish population existed in Rhode Island, the only one in the original 13 British colonies of North America in which they were able to practice their religion freely.

"Roger Williams, [known as a friend, correspondent and beneficiary of Sir Henry Vane, was] a Baptist minister [who had fled] from religious persecution in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was joined [in Providence] by Anne Hutchinson after her banishment [from Massachusets]. Other settlements in Portsmouth, Newport, and Warwick quickly followed. A Parliamentary patent was secured in March 1644, uniting the four settlements. It was also a Self-Governing colony, where high-ranking exiles and criminals were sent."…

"Roger Williams...dedicated 'to the High Court of Parliament' his 'Conference between Truth and Peace [1644].' He contends for 'a permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or Antichristian consciences and worships;' because 'an inforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation confounds the civil and religious,' while 'other permission of other consciences and worships than a state professeth, only can procure a firm and lasting peace; good assurance being taken for uniformity of civil obedience.' Writing in 1654, he thus illustrates the same opinion:
—" There goes many a ship to sea, with many hundred souls in one ship, whose weal and woe are common; and is a true picture of a commonwealth. It hath fallen out, some times, that both Papists and Protestants, Jews and Turks, may be embarked into one ship. Upon which supposal, I affirm, that all the liberty of conscience that ever I pleaded for, turns upon these two hinges; that none of the Papists, Protestants, Jews, or Turks, be forced to come to the ship's prayers or worship; nor compelled from their own particular prayers or worship, if they practise any. I further add, that I never denied that, notwithstanding this liberty, the commander of this ship ought to command the ship's course: yea, and also command that justice, peace, and sobriety, be kept and practised, both among the seamen and all the passengers."
See Backus's "History of New England." Boston, (1777) i. 297.

Speech by the Speaker regarding the humble Petition and Advice
Mr. Speaker's speech to the Lord Protector in the Banquetting House, the 31st March, 1657, at the tendering of the humble Petition and Advice, as it was at first tendered in the presence of the House of Parliament.Fn27

From: 'The Diary of Thomas Burton: Speech by the Speaker regarding the humble Petition and Advice', Diary of Thomas Burton esq, volume 1: July 1653 - April 1657 (1828), pp. 397-413. URL:…. Date accessed: 17 July 2006.

Aqua  •  Link

" bespeak ..." Bespoke [came later?] custom made one of a kind.
Came from the nice Dutch / German Sprecken.
custom made came about as it be spoken for, when some saw work in progress , customer wanted it , and was told it be spoken for.
Sam uses the word elswhere, in the sense, on the behalf of.

OED first entry 1755: as customed made:
before it be good diction. and polite
1755 MRS. C. CHARKE Life 203 At length the bespoke Play was to be enacted.

[See BESPEAK v.]
1474 CAXTON Chesse III. vi. (1860) Hivb, The hostelers ought to be wel bespoken and curtoys of wordes.
[Com. WGer.: OE. bi-, besprecan = OS. bisprecan (Du. bespreken), OHG. bisprehhan (MHG. and mod.G. besprechen), f. bi-, BE-
+ sprecan (specan) to SPEAK. The connexion of the senses is very loose; some of them appear to have arisen quite independently of each other from different applications of BE- prefix.]
Bespeak: I. intr.
4 b. To promise. Obs. rare. (Ger. versprechen.)
5. To speak for; to arrange for, engage beforehand; to ‘order’ (goods).
b. To stipulate or ask for (a favour or the like).
c. To request or engage (a person) to do (something). Obs.
1667 PEPYS Diary (1877) V. 35 Who I feared did come to bespeak me to be Godfather to his son.
6. To speak to (a person), to address. (Now chiefly poet.)

dirk  •  Link

Today is Dr Robert Hooke's birthday!

Hooke was "Curator of Experiments" for the Royal Society. It was his task to perform three to four major experiments each week, and report on them to the Society.…

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: "can we really trust the diarist here?"

Tom, I think we can. If he were trying to hide something, why would he admit to the acts he does describe?

Bradford  •  Link

How can you be an enthusiastic adulterer if you're going to worry about catching cold every whipstitch?

Australian Susan  •  Link

"enthusiastic adulterer" Well, that's just it - he isn't - never does "the last thing" as he is too afraid of disease: if you read Elizabethan and Jacobean pamphlets and poems, this theme recurs again and again: how to have sex and not get poxy! Along with "cures"[sic] such as mercury and also peeing furiously after sex (for men), which was supposed to flush the system. There is a good collection of low life literature of that time in "Coney Catchers and Bawdy Baskets." Sorry haven't time to Amazon it!

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

“she would say that she had been with all the artists in town”

ARTIST, a Master of any Art, an ingenious Workman.
---An universal etymological English dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Coney-catching is Elizabethan slang for theft through trickery. It comes from the word "coney" (sometimes spelled conny), meaning a rabbit raised for the table and thus tame.
A coney-catcher was a thief or con man.
It was a practice in medieval and Renaissance England in which devious people on the street would try to con or cheat vulnerable or gullible pedestrians. The term appears in The Taming of the Shrew and The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, and in the John Florio translation of Montaigne's essay, "Of the Cannibals."
The term was first used in print by Robert Greene in a series of 1592 pamphlets, the titles of which included "The Defence of Conny-catching," in which he argued there were worse crimes to be found among "reputable" people, and "A Disputation betweene a Hee Conny-catcher and a Shee Conny-catcher." Kirby Farrell wrote a book called Cony-catching in 1971.…

Gerald Berg  •  Link

I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

Well, did he?

What a great entry. Feeling guilty? Sure, but no filling the entry with whining about having sinned against God for his filthy, disgusting lustfulness. I know that's how I would've done it if I were then!

I even think he would've respected her in the morning.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ‘ . . she had been with all the artists in town’ . . ‘

OED has:

‘artist n. < Latin . .
. . II. A person skilled in a learned art.
. . 4. A person skilled in magic arts or occult sciences; an astrologer, an alchemist. Obs.
. . a1626 W. Rowley Birth of Merlin (1662), The Artists..that seeks the secrets of futurity . . ‘

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Just found a story behind Charles II's approval of the Rhode Island charter:

Obadiah Holmes was baptized March 18, 1610, in Didsbury, Lancs.
At 21 he married Katherine Hyde; they had 9 children. Together they joined the Great Puritan Migration to Massachusetts. He started a glassmaking business in Salem; then moved to Rehoboth in Plymouth Colony. There he led a small group of Baptists who opposed infant baptism.

A Massachusetts grand jury indicted Holmes for heresy. The Holmes family left for Newport, R.I., in 1650.

There Holmes met Baptist ministers John Crandall and John Clarke. In 1651 the three made a missionary visit to a Baptist man in Lynn, just north of Boston. During a small religious service in the man’s home, two constables burst in, arrested them and took them to jail in Boston.

A court found the 3 men guilty of crimes of heresy and fined John Clarke 20l., John Crandall 5l. and Obadiah Holmes 30l.
Friends of Clarke and Crandall paid the fine. Holmes refused to let them pay his, so a magistrate sentenced him to 30 lashes.

Obadiah Holmes awaited his whipping for 5 weeks in Boston jail. Roger Williams in Rhode Island heard about his sentence, and sent a blistering letter to Gov. John Endecott for persecuting people for their religious beliefs.

On Sept. 5, 1651, a crowd gathered at the whipping post to watch the flogging. Holmes asked to speak, but Magistrate Encrease Nowell refused. Holmes spoke anyway, saying he was about to shed his blood for what he believed. Nowell said it was no time for debate.
“I am to suffer for … the Word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ".
“No, it is for your error and going about to seduce the people,” Nowell said.
The two debated as the executioner tore off Holmes’ clothes and tied him to the whipping post. He was lashed 30 times with a three-corded whip.
At the end, a bleeding Holmes said, “You have struck me as with roses.” The whipping left his back so raw couldn’t lie down for days.

The next year Holmes took over as pastor of the Newport Church, the second Baptist church in America. He held the position for 30 years.

News spread about the persecution of Massachusetts Baptists. Holmes' friend, John Clarke, turned the persecution of Baptists into an international cause by going to England and writing a book called "Ill Newes in New England". It included a letter from now Pastor Holmes describing his whipping.

Richard Saltonstall, a Puritan founder of Massachusetts then in London, read it, and sent a letter to Puritan pastors berating them for ‘tyranny and persecutions in New England.’
The dissenters of Rhode Island felt persecuted by Connecticut and Massachusetts because those colonies wanted to divide and absorb Rhode Island.
Rhode Island needed a royal charter to survive.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Pastor John Clarke spent a decade in England as an agent for Rhode Island.

At the Restoration, Agent Clarke lobbied Charles II for a charter, and drafted the Rhode Island Royal Charter which Charles approved in July, 1663.
The charter granted unprecedented religious freedom to Rhode Island and remained in effect for 180 years.

Pastor Obadiah Holmes died Oct. 15, 1682, in Newport, R.I.
His great-great-great-great-great-grandson, Abraham Lincoln, was the 16th president of the United States.

For pictures and the full story, see

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