Monday 11 July 1664

But betimes up this morning, and, getting ready, we by coach to Holborne, where, at nine o’clock, they set out, and I and my man Will on horseback, by my wife, to Barnett; a very pleasant day; and there dined with her company, which was very good; a pretty gentlewoman with her, that goes but to Huntington, and a neighbour to us in towne. Here we staid two hours and then parted for all together, and my poor wife I shall soon want I am sure.

Thence I and Will to see the Wells,1 half a mile off, and there I drank three glasses, and went and walked and came back and drunk two more; the woman would have had me drink three more; but I could not, my belly being full, but this wrought very well, and so we rode home, round by Kingsland, Hackney, and Mile End till we were quite weary, and my water working at least 7 or 8 times upon the road, which pleased me well, and so home weary, and not being very well, I betimes to bed.

And there fell into a most mighty sweat in the night, about eleven o’clock, and there, knowing what money I have in the house and hearing a noyse, I begun to sweat worse and worse, till I melted almost to water. I rung, and could not in half an houre make either of the wenches hear me, and this made me fear the more, lest they might be gaga; and then I begun to think that there was some design in a stone being flung at the window over our stayres this evening, by which the thiefes meant to try what looking there would be after them and know our company. These thoughts and fears I had, and do hence apprehend the fears of all rich men that are covetous and have much money by them. At last Jane rose, and then I understand it was only the dogg wants a lodging and so made a noyse. So to bed, but hardly slept, at last did, and so till morning.

28 Annotations

First Reading

Terry F  •  Link

"this made me fear the more, lest they might be gaga;"

"gaga" GAGA?

The first attestation of this word in the OED is 1905. Have we another Pepys première?

Alas, no. L&M have "gag'd".

Glyn  •  Link

If you were in dangerous situation, would you prefer to have Pepys or Jane by your side? Didn't she once cut off the moustache of a sailor who got fresh with her?

Patricia  •  Link

Night sweats, paranoia, sleeplessness--I'd stay away from that Barnett water in future, Sam.

JWB  •  Link


"The ground rises rapidly from the plain of London to the south, a huge mound of boulder clay once pushed before a glacier that ended near Potters Bar during the last ice age. Strange though it may seem, a fragile link thus associates the outcome of the battle of Barnet with prehistoric glacial movement, as the waterlogged boulder clay of this high ground, still covered in ponds and bogs which are shown on the earliest maps available..."…

cape henry  •  Link

" poor wife..." I have come to conclude that Pepys at times uses the word 'poor' as we might 'dear' or 'sweet' in referring to a loved one.

(I was all agog over the idea that Pepys used the term 'gaga,'but alas, the esteemed TF soon burst that bubble.)

Michael Robinson  •  Link

These thoughts and fears

Or did SP slip into another 'Everett World' and unknowingly become part of a yet to be written Robert Gertz work ?

Terry F  •  Link

"my water working at least 7 or 8 times upon the road"

Does Barnett water give us as good a purge as water at Epsom? Yes!!!

Cumsalisgrano  •  Link

Gaga> " Alas, no. L&M have "gag'd " needs some one to go maudlin and peek at the original text. could be some poetic license on behalf of the translator.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...then parted for all together, and my poor wife I shall soon want I am sure." Well, well...Joint illness has made the heart grow fonder this summer. Very sweet and commendable, though I suspect we will be paying a visit to Mrs. Lane's stall shortly.

All that water was probably the best possible thing Sam could have taken for his stone trouble at the time. A shame he couldn't have it every day.

Different Jane, Glyn. Our Jane Birch hasn't yet returned. Still this one's a gem.

"Sir? You rung, sir?"

"Ah, yes, Jane...Ummn. You didn't just now notice anything...Unusual?"


"Noises, broken windows, strong, brutal, heavily armed men kicking in the door?"

"No, sir. Did ye want anything, sir? Ye be lookin' rather pale, sir?"

"Loneliness, Jane...A terrible, terrible thing."

"Yes, sir." slight frown. Here we go again...

Eghad! "Jane?!"

"Sorry, sir. The candle's drippin', sir. Would ye be wantin' anything, sir?"

"A glass of the water I brought home, if you would. And my viol, Jane. I feel the need of musical comfort. I am a turtledove that is bereft of its mate, Jane."

"Yes, sir. I'll fetch them, sir."

"And if you wouldn't mind taking a quick look round downstairs...Just see if all the windows and doors are secured? Call me if you see anything untoward."

"Aye, sir."

Lord, mournful scratchin' away for the rest of the night...Still better that than having to burn his damned... off. Though for him, he has been behavin' himself.

"Mr. Pepys all right?" Susan now up in the hall.

"'e's fine...Wants his viol and some water."

"Ah...Sorrowin' for the Missus. That's so lovely. A noble lovin' soul is our Mr. P." Susan sighs.

"Not so noble as not to send me downstairs alone to look for thievin' rascals." Jane frowns.


Robert Gertz  •  Link

Once upon a midsummer's night dreary.
Whilst I played my viol, sad and weary,
Playing oer many an old tune of yore,
Camst a soft, unfamilar tapping, rapping at my windows secure...

Tis the wind, quoth I, rapping at my windows secure. Only this and nothing more.

Eagerly I wished for morrow; vainly I now sought to borrow,
From my books surcease from sorrow, tears falling upon my breast,
For that rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Bess -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each fabric curtain (15 and 6 by my household accounts book)
Thrilled me, filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, I stood repeating
"Jane! Susan!!"

"Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my door; -
This it is, and nothing more. Girls, look sharp!!"

Presently my soul grew stronger; pondering what might ongoing yonder, (could be Coventry's sent a messenger?...Trouble on the road?) hesitating then no longer, down ran I to my front door.

"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is my maids were napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you" - here I opened wide the door; (-my sword...Ouch!...drawn...)
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before

"Bess...!" cried I... "Forgive me, darling! God say it's not our point of parting."

But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only words now spoken were the whispered words, "Mr. Pepys?"

Jane this whispered, "Sir, why you screamin'? And hangin' round by the front door?"

"Jane..." quoth I "I did hear a tapping. And a sort of gentle rappin'. Rapping out by this front door."

"Tis the wind, sir."

Merely this and nothing more.

Terry F  •  Link

Wind? Weather's scratching breath? Pepys rapt in his mind's winding sheet in the lonely night, entertains the shuffling sound of his mortal coil.

Robert, just brilliant! LOL evocative if our Sammy's terrors!

If ye've never once been frighted
by a sound or nighttime shadow,
then ye can read Robert's tale.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I guess it works this way... When she's around A) You're a bit more afraid of looking like the abject coward you are in front of her than confronting the goons downstairs. B) If there are goons downstairs, they're somewhat less likely (hopefully) to kill you in front of the screaming missus. C) It's easier to laugh at her fears than your own. Hers of course are ridiculous;yours are sensible and very likely.

I know I always feel safer beside her wheelchair.

Bardi  •  Link

Ah, there's the dog again. After having last March bred his bitch to the neighbor's dog (it would seem without permission), we have never heard anything more. Pups would have been whelped end of May.

Roboto  •  Link

It seems one would get up out of bed and investigate a strange noise at night rather than cower in ones room. However, to each his own.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"....only the dogg wants a lodging and so made a noyse..." I had all three of the current dog household (we have a visitor) barking at possums at 4am last night. Grrr! I got out of bed and got them all settled and quiet (husband slumbered peacefully through it all), but I do admit to feeling much more inclined to stay in bed if the dogs behave like that when I'm alone in the house - just in case......and 2 of our neighbours have been burgled recently - both single widow households without dogs - burglars do their homework - as Sam surmised.

Pedro  •  Link


What was the well? Well, it served a spring and its water was supposed to have therapeutic qualities.

In 1586 a William Camden wrote: "Upon the south border (of Hertfordshire) was discovered a medicinal spring which is of great service to the sex where there is general languor, difficult respiration, febile heat and loss of appetite. In all colds and fevers and rheumatic complaints. The Barnet whey is much recommended." 1652, it was reported in a journal: "There is lately found at Barnet, 10 miles from London an excellent purging water. It springs from a nitre mine and half the quantity works as effectively as that of Epsom. It is much approved of by several eminent physicians and those that have occasion to use it may repair there for free."…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"It seems one would get up out of bed and investigate a strange noise at night rather than cower in ones room. However, to each his own."

Hmmn...I dunno. In some neighborhoods I and, especially, my wife have lived in, it might be wiser if unarmed to fortify oneself in the bedroom and wait it out. The real question is that he thought the poor girls might have been gagged and presumably in danger...That's a little disturbing that he'd consider leaving them to their fate. Though who knows how one would behave in such a situation till it befalls one...And we can hope had Sam had clear evidence of danger he would have tried to help them.

John D. Eure  •  Link

"... and hearing a noyse, I begun to sweat worst and worse ... I rung, and could not in half an houre make either of the wenches hear me ..."

And RG's "Once upon a midsummer's night dreary ..."

In the servants' quarters, Susan and Jane take the cue:

Hear the tinkling of the bells,
Nasty bells!
What a world of inconvenience their jangling foretells!
In the darkness of the night,
How they wake us out of spite
And we groan!
'Cause the pot's too full and nasty,
Or the master's purged a pasty,
Or a stone!
With the mistress not at home
We must manage him alone!
What's that? Perchance a burglar creeping?
For the gold and and books he's seeking!
While the master's upstairs keeping
To his bed, from blankets peeping!
And he's jangling,
And he's wrangling,
Till his apprehension swells
With the tintinabulation that so turbulently wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells!
From the jangling of those darned infernal bells!

jeannine  •  Link

Robert and John, Thanks so much for your poems (John we'll have to hear from you again soon!). I must remind you both of one thing --Sam's view of a Midsummer's Night Dream...

"where we saw "Midsummer's Night's Dream," which I had never seen before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life. I saw, I confess, some good dancing and some handsome women, which was all my pleasure."…

He probably would have liked to see your versions of Midsummer's Night Dreary on stage----even if it poked fun at him it was still ALL ABOUT HIM!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I suspect we both know, Jeannine. I certainly chose it because he hated the play so...

But since Sam's fondest guilty pleasure in later life will be chronicling the career of his nemesis and would-be assasin (character- and career-wise) the remarkable Capt. Scott, I think after denouncing us vigorously in public, he might pull down the shades and have a chuckle or two in private.

"No doubt about it, I need yet a larger bell."

Second Reading

Bridget Carrie Davis  •  Link

Poor Sam, he was so happy about being able to pass water so readily, now he is suffering so badly that he feels he cannot get out of bed in order to save his own home.
Is this because of what he ate today?

Gerald Berg  •  Link

Methinks Sam uses "poor" in reference to his wife a bit too much. I wonder the ratio negative to positive? 10 to 1?

Matt Newton  •  Link

I grew up in Barnet but have never heard of the Wells.
All links above for info. do not now work.
Anyone any info on where the Well was located. There are plenty of ponds on Hadley Common. Could this be the location?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Barnet’s historic physic well now sad and forlorn

Much of what in the 17th century was Barnet Common, stretching south from Wood Street to Dollis Valley, is now housing estates and it is hard to imagine how the well must have looked in Pepys’ day, when it was a fashionable place to “take the waters”.

The well originated from a chalybeate spring and the effects of the water were to make the drinker urinate, which was thought at the time to help restore the body’s humours. For a time Barnet Water was sold in London, in competition with Tunbridge Water and Epsom Water, and Barnet nearly became a spa town.

But now the only clues to the existence of the well house, which is tucked away on a small green in the middle of a housing estate, are the names of the surrounding roads: Well House Lane leads to Well Road (and Well House Approach) and continues in a circle formed by Pepys Crescent.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Thence I and Will to see the Wells," - in 1664

L&M: At Barnet Common, one mile southwest of Chipping (High) Barnet; discovered in 1652, and by this time well known, being near to London. The well-house was later maintained by a trust established in 1677, but was demolished in 1840: VCM, Herts, ii. 329; A. S. Foord, Springs, streams and spas of London, pp. 152-5.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Samuel Pepys visits Barnet’s physic well

In about 1650 a chalybeate spring was discovered on Barnet Common and it became a fashionable resort for Londoners attracted by its alleged medicinal properties. The effect of water from such a well was to stimulate urination, an action that was thought to help restore the body’s humours to their natural balance.

In 1656 the parish built a wellhouse, and for a while the well was so popular that Barnet almost became a spa town. The water was also bottled for sale in London.

And so it was that 350 years ago, on 11 July 1664, the diarist Samuel Pepys rode north to Barnet “to see the Wells”. After lunch at the Red Lion (which still exists) he continued to the well and drank five glasses of water. He reported: “The woman would have had me drunk three more; but I could not, my belly being full — but this wrought me very well; and so we rode home … and my waters working at least seven or eight times upon the road, which pleased me well.”

However, Pepys then recorded: “And not being very well, I betimes to bed, and there fell into a most mighty sweat in the night, about eleven o’clock; and there … I begun to sweat worse and worse, till I melted almost to water.”

Despite that off-putting experience, Pepys made another visit to Barnet three years later. This time he took only three glasses of well water before retiring to the Red Lion, where he “ate some of the best cheese cakes I ever did eat in my life”. [There is more, including the water's toxicity.]
Posted by: Andrew Haynes, 30 JUN 2014

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The George, Holborn was the coaching inn terminus for coaches to Buckden, which is close to Brampton, Cambridgeshire.

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