Friday 27 November 1663

Up and to my office, where busy with great delight all the morning, and at noon to the ’Change, and so home to dinner with my poor wife, and with great content to my office again, and there hard at work upon stating the account of the freights due to the King from the East India Company till late at night, and so home to supper and to bed. My wife mightily pleased with my late discourse of getting a trip over to Calais, or some other port of France, the next summer, in one of the yachts, and I believe I shall do it, and it makes good sport that my mayde Jane dares not go, and Besse is wild to go, and is mad for joy, but yet will be willing to stay if Jane hath a mind, which is the best temper in this and all other things that ever I knew in my life.

29 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

"that ever I knew in my life."

With Master, Wife, Doubtful Maid, and Joyous Maid of Two Minds, debating a holiday in France, we have the plot-makings for the half-hour pilot of that rollicking sitcom of the 1660s, "The Pepyses of Seething Lane."

MissAnn  •  Link

"Up and to my office, where busy with great delight all the morning" - can't say I feel the same. What a happy chappy he is today, obviously no stone pain or conjestion in the intestines - and a forthcoming holiday in France with the wife and maybe family - I wonder what he's on today.

Patricia  •  Link

Day after day lately, Sam makes reference to "dinner with my poor wife". Why does he refer to her this way? He doesn't say she is sick; perhaps he feels bad for her being stuck in the house all day while he gads about?

cumgranosalis  •  Link

poor wifee? she has to get the grub up for his worship, get his long johns washed, front steps polished, womens work never be done, keeping eye on the 'elp be a paine, he will not tell her but his Kalendarium be 'is concience.
He has the lads at their desks writing away, with dust powder working to keep the ink from blotting their copy book, and he justs toodles off here and there, a pub , coffee shop, corridoors of whitehall, heck he has it mayde.

MissAnn  •  Link

"Why does he refer to her this way?" -

Patricia, one thing to keep in mind is her problems that the dear doctor was looking into just a few days ago, I'm sure she hasn't been cured yet, and it did sound quite painful.

Terry F  •  Link

"poor wifee?....

cumgranosalis, Eliizabeth has a made and a cook-maid (Jane and Besse) to take care of the household chores - Elizabeth is an upper-class wife. It's clearly her physical condition that's bemoaned.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

getting a trip ... in one of the yachts

Offering the wife the equivalent of a flight in the company private plane.


Pepys' Diary: Thursday 8 November 1660
"In the afternoon Commissioner Pett and I went on board the yacht, which indeed is one of the finest things that ever I saw for neatness and room in so small a vessel. Mr. Pett is to make one to outdo this for the honour of his country, which I fear he will scarce better. "…

and also the Ship "Catherine"…

language hat  •  Link

"my poor wife"

I disagree with Terry F. that she has it easy -- the maids help, but they don't make it possible for her to sit around all day eating bonbons -- but I also disagree with cgs: men simply don't notice the work women do around the house. It has to be a reference to her physical ailments.

Don McCahill  •  Link

Elizabeth is an upper-class wife

Upper middle class, I should think. You can't be upper class without a title, and Sam is not even a Sir, let alone a milord.

They could not even aspire to upper class in those times. Sam's skills and talent have taken his almost as far socially as he can go.

jeannine  •  Link

"my poor wife"
I'll throw my 2 cents into the mix here. I think that this has become a habit for Sam, almost a nickname perhaps that started even before the Diary , when they were literally poor, she did all of the work and she did have health problems. Many people coin a phrase for another person, pet, etc. that sticks with them so that they are always referred to that way, ie. (and yes some of these examples are obnoxious, but it makes the point) "my better half", "the little woman", "the wife", "my sweet baby", etc.

And of course, there's always the option that will irk the Sam-can-do-no-wronger's, but I might as well throw that out too. Maybe Sam coined the phrase while being interviewed by Dr. Phil when he came to the realization that by being married to him, she really was his "poor wife".

Ruben  •  Link

"my poor wife"
I did not make a systematic search for the word "poor" in Pepys old diary entries, but only from memory, I cannot remember Pepys using this word so frequently in the past. In a more Pepysian stile, I should say that this month they were more "poor" uses than ever I read in my life.
This month we had an inflated use of "poor": in the 14, "poor Deane" and "poor lad". 16 "poor wretch". 17 "poor and bad house". 25 and 26 "poor wife".
English is so rich.
May be Samuel suffers from a "poor" word transitory verboseness syndrome? Future will tell...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"They could not even aspire to upper class in those times. Sam's skills and talent have taken his almost as far socially as he can go."

I disagree. Spoiler...We all know Sam won't be knighted (though King James might well have capped his career with it had he had the chance) but he will rise higher. Beyond that several folks will appear or have who will rise quite high from very little. Titles will be bestowed with at times surprisingly little fanfare and men whose origins were humbler than Sam's will be called "Sir". Not a fully mobile society open to merit advancement alone, but not closed to talent and ability (or good luck, right place/right time) by any means.

cumgranosalis  •  Link

Poor wife, she be not in the literal sense: Sam being sarky when he calls her a"poor wife" [and so was I in the above]. She has it made in the shade, no more wringing of necks, red knees and hands from scrubbing "his worships' smalls".
It is about her usual moan, a lack of intelligent conversation and stimulating problems , she be bored out out of her gourd, she would like to be like Sam, meeting and discussing challenging problems of the day, not how many feathers make a duster.
Having monies and staff, do not make for happiness, one has to solve problems, not create them, Eliza for all intense and purposes, be intelligent and curious, solving 2 X 2 is not enough, reading french underground 1d thrillers be not enough, but what will be!
Her illness is a problem for her but I doth think for "wot" it be worth , it is about a rant greeting Sam when gets to eat his pie, and about she not getting brain stimulus, and Sam says poor wife { you have have it 'mayde', that should be enough}?
[modern version of nagging]
Problems not change, the solutions get better or getting closer to being solved , all the senses have to be forfilled for happiness.

cumgranosalis  •  Link

Poor wife not in OED: many combos, poor man ,poor box and Sam gets another mention in dispatches with
"1662 PEPYS Diary 5 Mar., To the pewterer's, to buy a poore's box, to put my forfeits in, upon breach of my late vows"
The OED does not use comic entries? or misuse of good words.

1622 DEKKER & MASSINGER Virgin Martyr II. i, To..give your *poor-minded rascally servants the lie!

Bradford  •  Link

It would not be amiss to bring to mind, now and again, that in pre-electrical days, before the Industrial Revolution introduced so many small conveniences, it required an incredible amount of work to secure, prepare, and cook food, not to mention firing the stove to do so, as well as to heat the water to wash dishes (or clothes), or keeping the house clean with brooms and mops, or the vigilance necessary to maintain fireplaces, lamps, candles, to get even a modicum of light when sunlight failed---and that's just a starter. Somebody---often several somebodies---had to be at work almost all day to ensure that even a small household operated halfway decently. No wonder Calais energized them all---it must have seemed like a preview of Paradise.

Nate  •  Link

"They could not even aspire to upper class in those times."
If I recall correctly many titles held by impoverished Lords etc. were purchased by the newly rich sugar barons who made fortunes in the new world, enough to change that society.

cumgranosalis  •  Link

mythe of all myths ! Most of the Lords of spiritual kind, came from lessor stock, as for the terrestial types, every time the grim reaper turned up in the form of Gods vengeance, the upper layers of wealth of pomp and arrogance had to be replaced with new found wealth, gotten legally or at the connivance of doing favors for power structure [Morgan eg]. Albermarle got his coronet, when he was lucky not to get a noose.
Life be a pyramid where more be born at the base, ['tis life] so only the the most ingenious can rise to the level of their incompitance, most humans just maintain the status quo, unless 'luck' of being in the right place with all your marbles intact can get a boost.
Wars can weed out the Pleasers and find those that do the impossible.
Revolutions do the same, clense the agean stables.
In stable times one has to be likable first, be of the same feather [or appear to be], but when plans go awry, then it be a differing personality takes over.
This period of time the gentleman captain gave way to the knowledgable sailor, and then if with enough funds could purchase his Coronet, if he has the funds to feather the royal nest and have a suitable income to lay more goldern eggs to keep the King in power.
The pyramid be at each up ward level reduced by 10 bodies, 'tis why 1% of the population has 90% of the wealth.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

hard at work upon stating the account of the freights due to the King from the East India Company

Pepys the efficient administrator; first get the appropriate legal advice and then the practical to understand the questions and issues involved, then begin work.

Pepys' Diary: Saturday 7 November 1663
"Thence to Doctors' Commons and there consulted Dr. Turner about some differences we have with the officers of the East India ships about goods brought by them without paying freight, which we demand of them. "…

Pepys' Diary: Tuesday 24 November 1663
"where late with Captain Miners about the East India business. "…

cumgranosalis  •  Link

nice insight M.R.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"My wife mightily pleased with my late discourse of getting a trip over to Calais, or some other port of France, the next summer, in one of the yachts, and I believe I shall do it"

SPOILER - Pepys and his wife did not go to France until 1669; in September-October visiting Holland, Flanders and Paris: Priv. Corr. , ii. 424.
(L&M footnote)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"poor wife"

The Large Glossary of the L&M Companion volume weighs in:

POOR WRETCH: (Sept 17 1663)) poor dear (term of affection), used of both sexes.

So "poor wife" - my poor dear ?!

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"My wife mightily pleased with my late discourse of getting a trip over to Calais, or some other port of France, the next summer,"

It's cold, it's dark, Elizabeth is trying not to appear "ill" but is probably still worried and resting, they are missing that rascal Will, there was an insurrection last month, and the plague is in Amsterdam.

To divert the conversation and cheer everyone up, Sam says he thinks he can swing a trip to France as a perk ... knowing full-well they could be at war with the Dutch by then, and he's one of the people responsible for supplying the response. He's talking through his new beaver hat, and pleased with the result.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Bradford is right, Elizabeth probably did as much as the maydes did and she was responsible to get it done right. She also might have been complaining that Sam is seldom home and that she is stuck in the house all day. She's a "poor wife" indeed. I suppose Sam thought he was doing her a great favor by coming home to dinner once in a while.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Yup ... remember who was moving the beds after the flood? Elizabeth. Not Sam.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

"Elizabeth probably did as much as the maydes did"

There's no evidence for this, and it's doubtful.

1) You don't keep dogs and bark yourself - and I doubt Sam would permit it: It would look bad if he brought visitors home.
2) Elizabeth is ill and in pain at the moment.
3) Her difficult relations with female staff don't suggest a preference for solidarity with the sisterhood!

Cassidy  •  Link

I agree with Sasha. Wives in the "household manager" position were supervising maids and performing, essentially, skilled labor - not scrubbing alongside them.

She is most likely "poor" because she's ill.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ’ . . dinner with my poor wife . . ’

‘Poor wife’ occurs 11 times in the OED but is not defined anywhere. So the sense must be:

‘poor, adj. and n.1 < Anglo-Norman . .
. . 5. attrib. That provokes sympathy, or compassion; that is to be pitied; unfortunate, wretched, hapless . .
. . 1691 J. Wilson Belphegor v. iii, Poor comfortless Woman; she's fall'n asleep at last.
1715 C. Bullock Woman's Revenge iii. 58 O my poor Dear Husband, I can't bear the Loss of you,—I shall, I shall break my Heart.
1769 F. Brooke Hist. Emily Montague III. cliv. 138 Pray let Emily be married; every body marries but poor little Emily . . ‘

Sam feels sympathy for his wife’s discontent but doesn’t know how to remedy it without spending money which he is loth to do until he has amassed a fortune sufficient to maintain them if he loses his livelihood. If he was a tradesman she could work in the family business and be happier but poorer and even more subject to ill-fortune. But he is a rising professional with pretension to gentry status, which requires that his wife do (or at least appear to do) nothing useful.

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