Monday 11 January 1663/64

Waked this morning by 4 o’clock by my wife to call the mayds to their wash, and what through my sleeping so long last night and vexation for the lazy sluts lying so long again and their great wash, neither my wife nor I could sleep one winke after that time till day, and then I rose and by coach (taking Captain Grove with me and three bottles of Tent, which I sent to Mrs. Lane by my promise on Saturday night last) to White Hall, and there with the rest of our company to the Duke and did our business, and thence to the Tennis Court till noon, and there saw several great matches played, and so by invitation to St. James’s; where, at Mr. Coventry’s chamber, I dined with my Lord Barkeley, Sir G. Carteret, Sir Edward Turner, Sir Ellis Layton, and one Mr. Seymour, a fine gentleman; were admirable good discourse of all sorts, pleasant and serious.

Thence after dinner to White Hall, where the Duke being busy at the Guinny business, the Duke of Albemarle, Sir W. Rider, Povy, Sir J. Lawson and I to the Duke of Albemarle’s lodgings, and there did some business, and so to the Court again, and I to the Duke of York’s lodgings, where the Guinny company are choosing their assistants for the next year by ballotting. Thence by coach with Sir J. Robinson, Lieutenant of the Tower, he set me down at Cornhill, but, Lord! the simple discourse that all the way we had, he magnifying his great undertakings and cares that have been upon him for these last two years, and how he commanded the city to the content of all parties, when the loggerhead knows nothing almost that is sense.

Thence to the Coffee-house, whither comes Sir W. Petty and Captain Grant, and we fell in talke (besides a young gentleman, I suppose a merchant, his name Mr. Hill, that has travelled and I perceive is a master in most sorts of musique and other things) of musique; the universal character; art of memory; Granger’s counterfeiting of hands and other most excellent discourses to my great content, having not been in so good company a great while, and had I time I should covet the acquaintance of that Mr. Hill.

This morning I stood by the King arguing with a pretty Quaker woman, that delivered to him a desire of hers in writing. The King showed her Sir J. Minnes, as a man the fittest for her quaking religion, saying that his beard was the stiffest thing about him, and again merrily said, looking upon the length of her paper, that if all she desired was of that length she might lose her desires; she modestly saying nothing till he begun seriously to discourse with her, arguing the truth of his spirit against hers; she replying still with these words, “O King!” and thou’d him all along.

The general talke of the towne still is of Collonell Turner, about the robbery; who, it is thought, will be hanged.

I heard the Duke of York tell to-night, how letters are come that fifteen are condemned for the late plot by the judges at York; and, among others, Captain Oates, against whom it was proved that he drew his sword at his going out, and flinging away the scabbard, said that he would either return victor or be hanged.

So home, where I found the house full of the washing and my wife mighty angry about Will’s being here to-day talking with her mayds, which she overheard, idling of their time, and he telling what a good mayd my old Jane was, and that she would never have her like again. At which I was angry, and after directing her to beat at least the little girl, I went to the office and there reproved Will, who told me that he went thither by my wife’s order, she having commanded him to come thither on Monday morning. Now God forgive me! how apt I am to be jealous of her as to this fellow, and that she must needs take this time, when she knows I must be gone out to the Duke, though methinks had she that mind she would never think it discretion to tell me this story of him, to let me know that he was there, much less to make me offended with him, to forbid him coming again. But this cursed humour I cannot cool in myself by all the reason I have, which God forgive me for, and convince me of the folly of it, and the disquiet it brings me.

So home, where, God be thanked, when I came to speak to my wife my trouble of mind soon vanished, and to bed. The house foul with the washing and quite out of order against to-morrow’s dinner.

53 Annotations

First Reading

Glyn  •  Link

Everyone's overslept, usually they get up at about 2 to start the washing.

Paul Dyson  •  Link

counterfeiting of hands

Does this mean forging of signatures and handwriting?

A long and busy day, what with not sleeping a wink after 4 a.m. Sam names, by my count, twenty individuals he meets and /or converses with, from the King to Will, and there are unnamed people at his Monday meeting with the Duke of York. A Navy business meeting, some tennis watching (is this when he witnesses the scene between the King and the Quaker Girl?), dinner at Coventry's, second business meeting, two attempts to see the Duke, stimulating conversation at the coffee house and a probably noisy interview with Will. Maybe the fact that it is Wash Day spurs him on to find "away" activities. Poor Bess has to put up with the "foul" house all day but all seems calm at the end, despite Sam's feelings of jealousy, which he seems not to have mentioned to her.

Glyn  •  Link

"The house foul with the washing and quite out of order against to-morrow's dinner."

I wonder which idiot arranged a dinner with guests for the following day ... oh yes, that would have been Sam.

daniel  •  Link

What an odd discourse between King and Quaker!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Ah Ha! At last Will Hewer has raised a spark of jealousy in our boy!

I dunno Sam...He's about her age, charming when he flings that cloak dramatically back...I can just see poor neglected Bess' heart throbbing at the sight of dear, attentive, puppy-fond Will.

"You'd never inconsiderately order a big dinner party for the day after washday, would you, William?"

"Certainly not, Mrs. Pepys."

Sam listening by the side of the house...Trembling all over, eyes rolling...Barely able to contain himself...

"O beware, my lord...Of jealousy..."
a grinning Lady Batten calls, eyeing him from her window...

Hope Plump Betty appreciated the wine, Sam.

"...telling what a good mayd my old Jane was, and that she would never have her like again." Well, there never can be another girl like our dear Jane Birch. Good for you, Will.

Patricia  •  Link

What has me wondering is: do the Pepyses have a lot of laundry? I know the water all has to be drawn, heated, etc., but how many items actually need washing, do you think? Not the outerwear, that would get a good brushing, and how often do they change their underwear & sheets? Couldn't anybody think outside the box and change their laundry day to Wednesday when they had a dinner party planned for Tuesday? Or were all the tablecloths dirty? Did they use tablecloths? Who knows?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...after directing her to beat at least the little girl..."

"Bess? What are you...And little Susan...And Mary...And Jane...Doing here at the office? Go home and I shall be along presently."

"Well, Sam...I was thinking...After you told me to beat Susan soundly and I went to do it...And I asked myself 'Bess, who are you really angry at?' And just then the sun shined through our kitchen window and shone right on your lovely portrait in the parlor. It was like a sign from God, Sam'l."


"You do understand...?"

"Right...Sign from God...Bess, why are the girls holding my arms behind my back? And why are you holding that bundle of sticks with your arm above my chest?"

"It's clearly God's will, Sam'l...At keast it was like divine inspiration. Anyway like you with Wayneman that time, this is probably gonna hurt me more than you." she raised her arm.


"No. But I hoped it would make you feel better." she replied.


Paul Chapin  •  Link

"counterfeiting of hands - Does this mean forging of signatures and handwriting?"

Yes, I think so. The only reference I have found to Granger identifies him as a "notorious forger." See the Granger link… for further information, plus a fascinating tidbit of Restoration history.

Ruben  •  Link

We had a lot of interesting annotations in the past about this laundry business and the paraphernalia involved.
Households like the Pepyses had it once a week, but if you were really rich, you would have enough sheets to last for, lets say, half a year.
So, the frequency of your laundry was a direct function of your wealth.

Ruben  •  Link

Errata: "...was a function of your wealth."

Ruben  •  Link

more laundry
see: for some information

first time we delt with laundry was Monday 16 January 1659/60, but there is more later on.

andy  •  Link

that his beard was the stiffest thing about him

penile joke by the King?

Benvenuto  •  Link

that his beard was the stiffest thing about him
Poor old Minnes having to grin and bear such sallies! But good for the Quaker woman with her Thouing throughout, none of this "Your Majesty" nonsense.

Paul Dyson  •  Link

that his beard was the stiffest thing about him

penile joke by the King?

Sam's recording of this royal conversation may be interpreting it as a "sophisticated" mens' interchange with lots of innuendo which they assume the girl doesn't understand; she either genuinely doesn't or steadfastly declines to blush until they get bored and deal with her actual request. Agreed, Benvenuto, that she is commendably free of the forelock-tugging approach, but we don't hear whether she got "her desire".

Nate  •  Link

Couldn't anybody think outside the box and change their laundry day to Wednesday when they had a dinner party planned for Tuesday?

Laundry on some other day? But everybody always does it on Mondays and always will. Unthinkable!

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Another penile joke?

I think Andy is right, because the "stiffest thing about him" joke is followed immediately by a joke about the length of the Quaker woman's petition ... the King joking, I think, that if she desired "something" as long as her petition she would soon change her mind if she got it. (This sort of wit probably wowed the Castlemaines and Buckinghams.) Sam appears to have admired her ignoring the King's off-color banter and sticking to business.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"where the Duke being busy at the Guinny business"
According to Basil Davidson, the captives,slaves,were branded with DK.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"where the Duke being busy at the Guinny business"
According to Basil Davidson, the captives,slaves,were branded with DY.

Paul Dyson  •  Link

she would soon change her mind if she got it

Or perhaps "lose her desire" may mean that she would be disappointed in her unrealistic expectations.

Amidst our dissection of the King's wit, should we be surprised to see an apparently ordinary citizen, a woman at that and also the member of a minor and ridiculed religious sect, being able to speak to the King in person and put a petition to him, which he at least to some extent considers and attempts to answer?

Also Sam's ambivalence towards Charles comes out in his admiration of the woman's modesty, dignity and adherence to her principles in the face of a vulgar attempt to belittle her. One gets the feeling that Sam had a low personal opinion of the King, while always claiming in his work practices that he was seeking to do him good.

jeannine  •  Link

"One gets the feeling that Sam had a low personal opinion of the King, while always claiming in his work practices that he was seeking to do him good"
Paul, you raise an interesting point. I do think that Sam, like many others, had a low opinion of Charles II's character (mostly moral character, but also in his laziness, shadiness, etc.), but that they tended to differentiate the position/power of the role of the King from the actual person who was the King. Sam and others of the time (ie. Clarendon), were strongly supportive of the role although they didn't necessarily respect the man performing that role.

language hat  •  Link

art of memory

Anyone interested in the background of this phrase should read Frances Yates' The Art of Memory; she begins in antiquity and ends with Leibniz in the seventeenth century ("because one must stop somewhere"), and presents an astonishing survey of the many ways in which the ancient art of "artificiosa memoria" (Cicero: "persons desiring to train this faculty must select places and form mental images of the things they wish to remember and store those images in the places") wound its way through the philosophical, mystical, and scientific thought of the succeeding centuries. From the last chapter:

"It is a curious and significant fact that the art of memory is known and discussed in the seventeenth century not only, as we should expect, by a writer like Robert Fludd who is still following the Renaissance tradition, but also by the thinkers who are turning in the new direction, by Francis Bacon, by Descartes, by Leibniz. For in this century the art of memory underwent yet another of its transformations, turning from a method of memorising the encyclopaedia of knowledge, of reflecting the world in memory, to an aid for investigating the encyclopaedia and the world with the object of discovering new knowledge. It is fascinating to watch how, in the trends of the new century, the art of memory survives as a factor in the growth of scientific method."

The book:…

A theoretical discussion:…

language hat  •  Link

"a low personal opinion of the King"

I've been doing a lot of reading about prerevolutionary Russia, and it's fascinating to see how many people were at the same time fervent supporters of the monarchy and utterly contemptuous of Nicholas II, the weak-willed, ignorant person who happened to be occupying the throne.

Nix  •  Link

The same is probably true of most high offices -- the papacy, or the American presidency, for example.

Douglas Robertson  •  Link

Or perhaps "lose her desire[s]" may mean that she would be disappointed in her unrealistic expectations.

Or that she ought to drop her petition, as its fulfilment would preclude her enjoyment of certain "lengthy" articles.

Xjy  •  Link

King and Quaker - "O king! Thou..."

Everyone and everything was much more accessible in those days. You needed an expensive personal bodyguard and very expensive buildings, furniture, locks etc to keep others away.

And in this case I think there was a petition involved and there were probably customary laws about this.

The demeanour of the woman is no surprise to anyone who has seen a principled woman confront an exploiter or some person in power (think "suffragette"). The Quakers are generally brave and principled (well, they did have Nixon, to their eternal shame) - their only quaking was in awe before their god, not in the least before any human. Hence the "thou", which today's French and Russians would feel very clearly and strongly as exceptional, Germans and Spanish a bit less so. Mind you, I think thou was on its way out by this time, so there was a quaint touch of the obsolescent about it - perhaps less offensive than humorous to those hearing it.

Typical attempt of someone rich and powerful to belittle and ridicule the needs of those "under" him. Particularly if they're women. Still very common.

Xjy  •  Link

"lazy sluts", "loggerhead", "beat at least the little girl"

Sam's been on a high over the New Year. This marks an end to the summaries of accumulation of gold and status, and a return to the everyday grind and graft.

Sam's assimilating the easy cruelty of the well-positioned now. The slaveys are sluts, and the best one to whip to teach the others a lesson is the smallest.

Pedro  •  Link

Opinions of Charles.

As Jeannine says many had a low opinion of the King's moral character, and his laziness going about the buisiness of the country. But here, the very fact that anyone could get near to him, shows an example of why many agree that he was one of the most approachable of Kings, and was well liked by the "common" people.

He would often walk alone in the Park, prompting the Duke of York to warn him of the danger. He replied, "James, no one will kill me to see you on the throne."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Despite Charles' joking, he is giving a member of an often misunderstood ("charm Quakers with a string about their wrists...") religious sect not too popular with many, and a woman, a chance to present her petition. Since both Charlie and Jamie have good reason to regard religious zealots with horror and hatred, it's to his credit that Charles does show both an ability to distinguish between the sincere and the fanatic and some kindness to Quakers in particular. Whatever his defects, he was raised by a sincerely religious father and by parents who loved each other. Perhaps every now and then while unable to break the layer of cynicism and mistrust of all, he enjoys dealing with someone he senses who is, as the modern world says, real.

Poor Sir John...I honestly think Charles meant only that he trembles and shakes constantly... "his beard is the stiffest thing about him". Could he be suffering from Parkinson's? That might explain some of his difficulties in handling the Comptroller's job. Have to keep a watch for more possible clues.

JWB  •  Link

O xjy!Thou

" their eternal shame", you mistake what it means to be a Christian.

Bradford  •  Link

So, masters, what sort of wine is Tent?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Horrible image, actually...Poor Sir John trying to cover his constant shakes, a scholar increasingly unable to read and comphrend easily and all too aware that his body and mind are slipping away while every day he must endure a little bumptuous fellow of a Pepys, in the naval office solely by chance, sneering at his incompetence and encouraging even the clerks to laugh at him.

Clement  •  Link

Tent \Tent\, n. [Sp. tinto, properly, deep-colored, fr. L.
tinctus, p. p. of tingere to dye. See Tinge, and cf.
Tint, Tinto.]
A kind of wine of a deep red color, chiefly from Galicia or
Malaga in Spain; -- called also tent wine, and tinta.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

Robert Gertz  •  Link


See what I mean...Tragic.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

The King and "the King"
When Pepys talks, as he often does, about saving money for or getting the best deal for "the King," I really think he is not thinking of the person Charles, but of an abstraction which today we would call "the government." A conscientious civil servant will do his or her best to serve the government well, whatever he/she may think of the people currently at the head of it. (I speak as someone who worked for the U.S. government through five administrations.)

Ruben  •  Link

"The King showed her Sir J. Minnes, as a man the fittest for her QUAKING religion, saying that his beard was the stiffest thing about him,"

Robert is rigth. Sir Minnes suffered from some quaking condition. Today we call this condition Tremor. It can be an inborn condition or may have developed at a later age.
Parkinson is a good bet considering he was 64 at this time. But lets not forget Sir John was a chemist, something that in those days was a risky avocation, because of the use of led and other reactive materials that produced fumes and the like. Without any preventive measure and not knowing what a neuropathy was, they could not relate the intoxication to the disease.
Remember how Madam Curie, less than a hundred years ago, was killed by her experiments.
Another possible tremor is the one from drinking alcohol, another Sir John avocation...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Ruben, you remind of a horrible story I read back in sixth grade..."Twisting the Tiger's Tail" about an early nuclear scientist who enjoyed playing an insane game of bringing two isotopes close together, just out of reaction reach while colleagues watched the "fun". He always pull them apart before a reaction could occur...Which for some bizarre reason the writer found 'brave, daring, etc'. One day, naturally, his 'daring' hands slipped and he got a lethal dose of radiation, dying in agony a short time later. The writer went on to praise him as a 'bold pioneer' and something of a martyr for Science. Even then my own reaction was my God, how many of his colleagues did that maniac kill?

But poor Sir John...Wish Sam could show a little compassion.

Ruben  •  Link

Considering that Sir John is Samuel's neighbor and that they had a small "battle of the rooms" some time ago, may be Pepys is just happy to hear the King's comments.
On the other hand, Samuel never remarked a medical condition about his neighbor, in spite that he usually gives us all information relevant, I think.
Is it possible that the old sailor disembarked just because of his tremor?

corebis3  •  Link

could it be that the man had Tourettes syndrome?

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"a horrible story I read back in sixth grade..."Twisting the Tiger's Tail"...

Robert, you bring back memories. A condensed version of the story was in the Reader's Digest. "On May 21, 1946, physicist Louis Slotin and seven other Los Alamos personnel were in a Los Alamos laboratory conducting an experiment to verify the exact point at which a subcritical mass (core) of fissile material could be made critical by the positioning of neutron reflectors. The test was known as "tickling the dragon's tail" for its extreme risk...."" For the incidents [sic] esp. Slotin's see…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to White Hall, where the Duke being busy at the Guinny business, the Duke of Albemarle, Sir W. Rider, Povy, Sir J. Lawson and I to the Duke of Albemarle’s lodgings, and there did some business..."

This was a meeting of the Tangier Committee; Lawson was in command of the Mediterranean squadron. (L&M footnote)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the universal character" Pepys refers to may not mean what you might think

The attempt to produce a non-mathematical system of character or symbols which could represent words in any language -- a favourite project of the virtuosi of the time. The signs would represent not sounds (as in shorthand), but ideas. Bacon and Comenius were interested in it; for Bishop Wilkins's book on the subject, see…
(L&M footnote)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"letters are come that fifteen are condemned for the late plot by the judges at York"

On 2 January 15 of the conspirators in the Derwentdale (aka Northern) Plot… were convicted.
(Per L&M footnote)

Bill  •  Link

Terry says above: "the universal character" Pepys refers to may not mean what you might think.

He may indeed have been referring to John Wilkin's ideas (mentioned by SP in 1666 and published in 1668). But he may also have had this 1657 publication in mind:

[Cave] Beck is remembered for his book, "The Universal Character", published in London in 1657; it was also published the same year in French. The books's full title was "The Universal Character, by which all Nations in the World may understand one another's Conceptions, Reading out of one Common Writing their own Mother Tongues. An Invention of General Use, the Practise whereof may be Attained in two Hours' space, Observing the Grammatical Directions. Which Character is so contrived, that it may be Spoken as well as Written".

In his book Beck sought to invent a universal language that could be understood and used by anyone in the world, no matter what their mother tongue. It was based on the ten Arabic numerals, 0-9, which he proposed the following pronunciations:

1. Aun, 2. Too, 3. Tray, 4. For orfo, 5. Fai, 6. Sic, 7. Sen, 8. At, 9. Nin, 0. o.

The combinations of these characters, intended to express all the main words in any language, were to be arranged in numerical order, from zero to 10,000, which he considered sufficient to cover all words in general use.

---Wikipedia entry for Cave Beck. (1623–c.1706)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Bill, thanks for the reference to Cave Beck's 1657 "The Universal Character":.…

As L&M note this was "a favourite project of the virtuosi of the time. The signs would represent not sounds (as in shorthand), but ideas. Bacon and Comenius were interested in it." For Bacon, et al. see The New Philosophy and Universal Languages in Seventeenth-century England: Bacon, Hobbes, and Wilkins ...By Robert E. Stillman…

See also Janua linguarum reserata (English: The Door of Languages Unlocked, often mistranslated[1] as The Gate of Languages and the like) is a textbook written by John Amos Comenius in 1629. It was published in 1631 in Leszno.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the universal character"

Definition of character
1a : a conventionalized graphic device placed on an object as an indication of ownership, origin, or relationship
b : a graphic symbol (as a hieroglyph or alphabet letter) used in writing or printing
c : a magical or astrological emblem
d : alphabet
e (1) : writing, printing (2) : style of writing or printing (3) : cipher
f : a symbol (as a letter or number) that represents information; also : a representation of such a symbol that may be accepted by a computer…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

What might a "universal character" be good for?

The global expansion of European commerce in this time provided mercantilist motivations for a universal language of trade so that traders could communicate with any natural language.

The Latin term characteristica universalis, commonly interpreted as universal characteristic, or universal character in English, is a universal and formal language imagined by the German polymathic genius, mathematician, scientist and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) able to express mathematical, scientific, and metaphysical concepts. Leibniz thus hoped to create a language usable within the framework of a universal logical calculation or calculus ratiocinator....This [ideographic system] was to be based on a rationalised version of the 'principles' of Chinese characters, as Europeans understood these characters in the seventeenth century.

Leibniz talked about his dream of a universal scientific language at the very dawn of his career, as follows:
We have spoken of the art of complication of the sciences, i.e., of inventive logic... But when the tables of categories of our art of complication have been formed, something greater will emerge. For let the first terms, of the combination of which all others consist, be designated by signs; these signs will be a kind of alphabet. It will be convenient for the signs to be as natural as possible—e.g., for one, a point; for numbers, points; for the relations of one entity with another, lines; for the variation of angles and of extremities in lines, kinds of relations. If these are correctly and ingeniously established, this universal writing will be as easy as it is common,and will be capable of being read without any dictionary; at the same time, a fundamental knowledge of all things will be obtained. The whole of such a writing will be made of geometrical figures, as it were, and of a kind of pictures — just as the ancient Egyptians did, and the Chinese do today. Their pictures, however, are not reduced to a fixed alphabet... with the result that a tremendous strain on the memory is necessary, which is the contrary of what we propose.

— On The Art of Combination, 1666, translated in Parkinson 1966: 10–11…

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

A new (to me) meaning of the word loggerhead, as a "Blockhead or fool" (Wiktionary)

Quote "Ah, you whoreson loggerhead, you were born to do me shame!"
(1590, William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost, IV. iii.)

Sir John Robinson had some cause to boast as, not only was he Captain of the Tower, but he had also been Lord Mayor in the previous year, which meant that he was also in charge of the City magistrates and militia.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Many people have tremors to a greater or lesser degree. A common form, "essential tremor" runs in my own family: some have it very mildly, and others more severely. Essential Tremor is rather more common than Parkinson's disease, but to a casual observer the symptoms are similar. My father had ET early in life, which was made much worse by shellshock, having been blasted from the turret of a tank, in WWII. Strangely enough, for much of his life he was involved in professional and amateur dramatics, and it did not interfere with his stage performances.

Sir John Lawson may have been suffering from some form of ET, exacerbated by his own experiences.…

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Even if laundry was done only once a month or once every six months in the Pepys household, I'll bet underclothes and bed linen were washed every time whether they needed washing or not.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ‘ . . when the loggerhead knows nothing almost that is sense.’

‘loggerhead, n. < logger n.2* . .
1. a. A thick-headed or stupid person; a blockhead.
. . 1611 R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues Teste de boeuf, a ioulthead,..logerhead; one whose wit is as little as his head is great .. .

. . 3. a. An iron instrument with a long handle and a ball or bulb at the end used, when heated in the fire, for melting pitch and for heating liquids.
1687 in J. Strype Stow's Survey of London (1720) II. v. xviii. 288/2 Not to suffer Pitch, Tar, Rozin, &c. to be heated on board by Fire, Loggerhead Shot, or any other thing . .

* dial. a. A heavy block of wood fastened to the leg of a horse to prevent it straying (1777 in Eng. Dial. Dict.).’


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