Tuesday 15 November 1664

That I might not be too fine for the business I intend this day, I did leave off my fine new cloth suit lined with plush and put on my poor black suit, and after office done (where much business, but little done), I to the ’Change, and thence Bagwell’s wife with much ado followed me through Moorfields to a blind alehouse, and there I did caress her and eat and drink, and many hard looks and sooth the poor wretch did give me, and I think verily was troubled at what I did, but at last after many protestings by degrees I did arrive at what I would, with great pleasure, and then in the evening, it raining, walked into town to where she knew where she was, and then I took coach and to White Hall to a Committee of Tangier, where, and every where else, I thank God, I find myself growing in repute; and so home, and late, very late, at business, nobody minding it but myself, and so home to bed, weary and full of thoughts. Businesses grow high between the Dutch and us on every side.

41 Annotations

First Reading

Nate  •  Link

after many protestings by degrees I did arrive at what I would, with great pleasure

For shame, Sam. At least you should keep up your side of the (implied?) bargain.

Blind as used by Pepys: dark, obscure, out of the way (Google books).

Australian Susan  •  Link

Oh yuck! For shame, Sam! For shame! What a smutty business. But isn't it amazing that he records all this? All the details too. Did he put on plain clothes to avoid being mugged or recognised or to avoid stains? Or all three one wonders. And well he may write that he finds himself "growing in repute" - but not in repute with his readers of 2007 as regards personal habits. Sorry, judging by my standards, not his.

jeannine  •  Link

"Blind alehouse"

Forgive me for being politically incorrect here, but, I was sort of hoping this literally was a "blind" alehouse. I can picture a Monty Python scene, with John Cleese and team groping around, dumping ale all over Sam, eating off his plate and a bunch of other totally outrageous things. It would have served Sammy right and God knows his behavior would have fit right in!

cape henry  •  Link

Despicable business, and yes, the suit was chosen for the very reasons A.S. postulates. I will merely second what she has said so well and wait 'til tomorrow.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Blind - we still use it in this way, I think, when referring to things to observe birds from. No, no, not that sort of bird......

Sorry - wedding plans or not plans getting to me. So much more pleasant to take refuge in the 17th century than make decisions on gazebo hire.

I'll go and make some more lists......

cgs  •  Link

Blind, it being a pub without windows onto the main thoroughfare, or the landlord [publican is known for keeping the MI5 and 6 out of the bar area cooling their heels on the gunnel's], very useful for assignations with Downing's men.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Even if the Bagwells are sitting home, chortling at having the 'great' Mr. Pepys eating out of their hands, with Mrs. B acting out all her protestations for Mr. B, Sam would still have done an awful thing today. At least Betty Becke seems to have fully welcome Lord Sandwich's attentions.

Seems hard to believe he can give thanks to God in the same entry. Surely he can't believe this one would be overlooked or excused? "Hey, our Divine Guy understands..."

What next, Sam? Going to sell Bess to Uncle Wight or put her on the open market? Hows about treason? Bet the Dutch would pay big bucks for a few minor betrayals.

Well we can hope the Bagwells are laughing their heads off at the great lover...


cgs  •  Link

Strange no blind pub in the OED, there be blind alley, blind side and much more but not inn or hostel or a pub.
As a noun in found usage at a later date, 1702,
here be its roots?

[A com. Teut. adj.: OE. blind = OS. blind (MDu. blint(d), Du. blind), ON. blindr (Da., Sw. blind), OHG. blint, (MHG. blint(d), mod.G. blind), Goth. blinds:{em}OTeut. *blindo-z, of which the Aryan form would be *bhlendh-: cf. Lith. bléndza-s blind, bl{ehookacu}sti to become dark, Lettish blendu I do not see clearly, OSlav. bl{ehacek}d{ubreve} pale, dim, pointing perhaps to an earlier sense ‘become dim or dark’ (Franck).]

I. Literal.

Mary  •  Link

"hard looks and sooth"

L&M amend this reading to - 'hard looks and sithes'


PHE  •  Link

To me, it seems very strange he should describe the lady as "Bagwell's wife" - for various reasons:
- with his usual tendency to feel guilty for misbehaviour, referring to another man's wife - even in his secret diary - would surely only heighten the sense of a misdeed;
- surely he knows her first name, but perhaps he's still on surname terms!;
- why not use a euphemism, such as 'B', etc?
- He has no need to remind himself of her true identity when he re-reads his diary in the future years. Surely a euphemism would be enough.
At least it helps us and the historians to know exactly who she was.

AussieRene  •  Link

Nothing much new in the last few hundred years. Much protesting about another's morals. Young Sam's doings brings to mind an intern and a recent US President.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

Oh come on folks, let's not get too puritanical about our puritan friend! Men (and women) were ever thus.

Ruben  •  Link

"by degrees , I did arrive at what I would with great pleasure"
What did Pepys mean "I did arrive at what I would"
Our lustful public thinking is intercourse, something more or less normal between sexes. But it could mean other kind of sexual conduct. As AussieRene suggests, may be "he did not have sex with that woman".
In the first instance he would have felt guilt. In the second, may be he, like the illustrious one, did not feel it was sex, so no blame for him, in spite of an orgasm.
The second possibility plays well with the wardrobe changes, and is a perfect example of Pepys prescience, historically speaking.

Erna D'haenen  •  Link

In Dutch, "een blinde muur" (= a blind wall) is a wall without any windows or doors.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"So then?"

"Well, then I rather pulled away and went on about me modesty. 'Oh, Mr. Pepys', says I. 'I loves me poor sweet husband, twould be sooo...wrong to 'buse him so.' So nows hes a bit...Far gone, you know?...So he takes me hand and says 'Oh, faire one, I mean only the best for your good man. Tis only a mere trifle I ask in return.' The little man's red-faced by now...You ought to have seen him, Billy. Them bug-eyes of his bulging right out of his head... Knew then he was just about ready for the pluckin'."

"That's me girl."

"So now I cuts to the chase 'Oh, Mr. P', says I. 'Tis only that Will's preferment to Head Carpenter at Deptford would mean so much to us.' Takes his warm little hand does I and puts on me chest, like this. 'Do show us kindness, Mr. P.' I says...Givin' him the eye...And droppin' the hand a bit. Nothing too forward. Genteel-like. And he gives me bit of a tug and... Now, Billy, don't be looking like that."

Bob T  •  Link

Blind Ale House. This could be a place where illegal activity was known to take place, which would account for Sam changing into his old black suit, so as not to attract attention. "A Blind Pig" was the name used for a bootlegger in Canada years ago.

andy  •  Link

So he gets his way (maybe the Clinton definition of no genital-to-genital contact) with Mrs Bagwell, but didn't get there with Jane the barber's assistant. I wonder what Jane did to scare him off?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"an intern and a recent US President"
Oh no, Monica wanted it and was so proud.

jeannine  •  Link

Not so hidden pleasures

Sam forgot all about his dear spouse
Sneaking off to a sleazy alehouse
He dressed himself in his poor black suit
Through Moorfields they took a secret route
With hopes to find himself intertwined
With Bagwell in a place he thought blind
As he groped at her hidden treasures
He found himself full of great pleasures
Though Sam hid for the world not to see
He recorded it for history…………

Martin  •  Link

"But isn’t it amazing that he records all this?" (Au.Susan)

It is, but since the tryst must have been set up a few days ago when Bagwell's wife visited Sam at the office ("to meet again shortly", Nov. 8), presumably he has had the methodology plotted out since then, without telling us about it. Presumably, no guilty feelings intervened over the past week, although I suspect they do now ("to bed, weary and full of thoughts").

Bradford  •  Link

"Blind pigs" has been an American term for an illegal (i.e., unlicensed) drinking establishment, which naturally would forsake having a sign or windows, dating back to the 1880s.

Pedro  •  Link

Blind alehouse.

A quick google search produced...

BOY Your friends! Seek ’em in some blind alehouse, they ne’er drink wine but on a prince’s birth-day, when every conduit runs it.


Using the grey square for a modern translation gives...

BOY To your friends? Look for them in a dark tavern. They don’t drink wine, except perhaps on our sovereign’s birthday when it is ladled out of the gutters.

Martin  •  Link

To further beat that blind alehouse to death, this is from Wheatley's Pepysiania, via Google Books (quote):

A blind alehouse is referred to in Etherege's "Comical Revenge," and at a later date Swift (1727) makes use of the same expression. We still speak of a blind alley, but the meaning of a blind alehouse has been completely forgotten. Mr. Richard Lawson supplied "Notes and Queries" (8th series, vii. 37) with a satisfactory explanation from an original source. In the "Thurloe State Papers" are some letter from one of Cromwell's major-generals (Charles Worsley), who writes that he finds it "a difficult business how to observe my instructions as to alehouses, though it's turly too visible that they are the bane of the counties. We have ordered at least 200 alehouses to be thrown down in the Blackburn hundred after taking notice of these several qualifications." He then enumerates the qualifications, No. 3 of which relegates such alehouses "as stood in bye and dark corners and go under the name of blind alehouses."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Home, Bess!"

"We have a guest, Sam'l!"

"Mr. Pepys." broad smile.

"Uh...Uh...Mrs. Uh..."

"Bagwell. I do believe you know my husband?"

"Ah, yes...Bagwell. Yes. Do believe I do, now you mention it. Works for one of our yards...?"


"Ah, yes..."

"Sam'l? You must know the man. You just promoted him, Mrs. Bagwell says. And Will Hewer mentioned seeing Mrs. Bagwell with you a few weeks ago in the office."


Damn that boy...Damn him to...

"Oh, I'm sure Mr. Pepys handles hundreds of promotions like my Will's and gets thousands of visits like mine."

"Oh, yes...Quite."

"But I had to come and thank you both in person. I mean for Will to be advanced to Chief of the Carpentry Works..."

"What?!...Ummn...Oh, yes...Right. Chief."

"It's just there seemed to be a mistake as Mr. Turner at Deptford told him he was only raised to supervisor."

"Really? I'm sure that was just a minor error...I'll speak to Turner."

"That's so kind...He is one of the good ones, Mrs. Pepys. I mean, what with it being likely that I'm expecting..."

"Good God!"


"Ummmn...I mean...Thanks be to our good God for such glorious news. Congratulations."

"Not quite certain, yet. But I suspect it..." broad smile. "Well, I must be going...Thank you again, Mr. Pepys. I expect we'll all be seeing more of each other in the future...Good day, Mrs. Pepys."

"How nice...Sam'l? How is it you forget meeting with such a sweet lady?"


"Such a pretty, sweet lady...Alone in your office." cold stare.

Martha  •  Link

An auction in Bostn this weekend has for sale a document by which our Sam appointed a Mr Patience a master carpenter. Do you think that Mrs. Patience got the same treatment?


Robert Gertz  •  Link

Gives the concept of sale of offices a whole new slant...

"So, I'm off for the war, Pepys."

"Good luck, Mr. Coventry. If I may say so, sir...You have been my inspiration and guiding light in this office, sir."

"Thank ye, Samuel. Oh, Pepys. You never did tell me...Apart from the cash, how many fair lasses did you land via office appointments?"

"Lasses, sir?"

"What, none? Samuel, cash is fine but don't neglect the fringe benefits. There are a lot of very dedicated comely young wives and sweethearts in the King's Navy, boy. Nothing like offering a good post to their man to make them very friendly."


"You do realize it's merely the delayed panic of the Duke's ordering me to sea duty that's causing me to be so frank and if I return this conversation never happened, Samuel? In any case, seize the day, young Pepys...For war, plague, and fire could come at any time. Farewell, my friend."

Clement  •  Link

"Do you think that Mrs. Patience got the same treatment?"

If so I wonder how her Dickensian name played into the plot. Perhaps not as successfully (from Sam's perspective) as "Mrs. Bagwell."

Patricia  •  Link

Alas, the power was off last night during my regular reading time, so I have to weigh in on this a bit late. It reminds me of the infamous "casting couch", only in this case it's not Mrs. Bagwell that's hoping for the role, it's her husband. Such a sacrifice for the man you love: Being mauled all over in a cheap alehouse. Ugh!

Cactus Wren  •  Link

Hate to break this to you, andy, but it was Newt Gingrich who first came up with that definition, at least in the US political world: one of his ex-mistresses said that he always liked oral sex for that very reason -- "He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, 'I never slept with her.'"

DiPhi  •  Link

The amazing thing to me is that this entire entry is one long, complex sentence, moving from the mundane to the profane and back again.

DiPhi  •  Link

The amazing thing to me is that this entire entry is one long, complex sentence, moving from the mundane to the profane and back again.

pepfie  •  Link

"To further beat that blind alehouse to death"
- no, still alive and kicking:

Pepys 1.192-193


Through the Royal Exchange as I walked,
Where Gallants in sattin doe shine,
At midst of the day, they parted away,
To seaverall places to dine.

The Gentrie went to the King's Head,
The Nobles unto the Crowne :
The Knights went to the Golden Fleece,
And the Ploughmen to the Clowne.

The Cleargie will dine at the Miter,
The Vintners at the Three Tunnes,
The Usurers to the Devill will goe,
And the Fryers to the Nunnes.

The Ladyes will dine at the Feathers,
The Globe no Captaine will scorne,
The Huntsmen will goe to the Grayhound below ,
And some Townes-men to the Horne.

The Plummers will dine at the Fountayne,
The Cookes at the Holly Lambe,
The Drunkerds by noone, to the Man in the Moone,
And the Cuckholdes to the Ramme.

The Roarers will dine at the Lyon,
The Watermen at the Old Swan;
And Bawdes will to the Negro goe,
And Whores to the Naked Man.

The Keepers will to the White Hart,
The Marchants unto the Shippe,
The Beggars they must take their way
To the Egge-shell and the Whippe.

The Farryers will to the Horse,
The Blackesmith unto the Locke,
The Butchers unto the Bull will goe,
And the Carmen to Bridewell Docke.

The Fishmongers unto the Dolphin,
The Bakers to the Cheat Loafe,
The Turners unto the Ladle will goe,
Where they may merrylie quaffe.

The Taylors will dine at the Sheeres,
The Shooemakers will to the Boote,
The Welshmen they will take their way,
And dine at the signe of the Goate.

The Hosiers will dine at the Legge,
The Drapers at the signe of the Brush.
The Fletchers to Robin Hood will goe,
And the Spendthrift to Beggars Bush.

The Pewterers to the Quarte Pot,
The Coopers will dine at the Hoope,
The Coblers to the Last will goe,
And the Bargemen to the Sloope.

The Carpenters will to the Axe,
The Colliers will dine at the Sacke,
Your Fruterer he to the Cherry-Tree,
Good fellowes no liquor will lacke.

The Goldsmith will to the Three Cups,
For money they hold it as drosse;
Your Puritan to the Pewter Canne,
And your Papists to the Crosse.

The Weavers will dine at the Shuttle,
The Glovers will unto the Glove,
The Maydens all to the Mayden Head,
And true Louers unto the Doue.

The Sadlers will dine at the Saddle,
The Painters will to the Greene Dragon,
The Dutchmen will go to the Froe
Where each man will drinke his Flagon.

The Chandlers will dine at the Skales,
The Salters at the signe of the Bagge;
The Porters take pain at the Labour in Vaine,
And the Horse-Courser to the White Nagge.

Thus every Man in his humour,
That comes from the North or the South,
But he that has no money in his purse,
May dine at the signe of the Mouth.

The Swaggerers will dine at the Fencers,
But those that have lost their wits :
With Bedlam Tom let that be their home,
And the Drumme the Drummers best fits.

The Cheter will dine at the Checker,
The Picke-pockets in a *blind alehouse*,
Tel on and tride then up Holborne they ride,
And they there end at the Gallowse."

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"I did leave off my fine new cloth suit lined with plush and put on my poor black suit, ..."

Sounds like Pepys went to a Tangier Committee meeting somewhat under-dressed and rumpled today. I wonder if anyone noticed and thought it odd.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... walked into town to where she knew where she was, ..."

Definitely a #MeToo episode.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

I wonder if a blind alehouse was something like what were called speakeasies in the 20th century—a drinking place that had no sign, hidden doorways, perhaps no windows, where secret assignations could take place. Although actual speakeasies in the US were created during Prohibition to skirt the law against buying and selling alcoholic drinks, there were probably secret pubs for other kinds of subterfuge in many places.

Snark  •  Link

Blind as in not being seen - somewhere that neither he nor Mrs Bagwell will be known - judging by the careful clothing choice Samuel was well aware that these places were not a place to be seen in any form of finery.

Hope  •  Link

Robert Gertz, that sex scene with the Bagwell’s is a gem! LOL

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ’ . . a blind alehouse.’

‘blind, adj. < Common Germanic . .
. . 8. a. Out of sight, out of the way, secret, obscure, privy . .
. . 1661 S. Pepys Diary 15 Oct. (1970) II. 195 To Paul's churchyard to a blind place, where Mrs. Goldsborough was to meet me . . ‘
Re: ‘Businesses grow high between the Dutch and us on every side.’

‘business n. < Germanic . .
. . 5. Fuss, ado.
a. Trouble, difficulty. Obs.
. . 1693 J. Locke Some Thoughts conc. Educ. §157 His learning to read should be made as little Trouble or Business to him as might be.

b. Disturbance, commotion; (also) an instance of this. Obs.
. . 1577 R. Holinshed Hist. Scotl. 65/2 in Chron. I Herevpon was Argadus sent forth..with a power to appease that businesse . . ‘

Bill  •  Link

"to a blind alehouse"

[Feb. 9, 1655] Major general Worsley to secretary Thurloe,
... We have put down a considerable number of alehouses, after takeing notice of these several quallifications following; viz.
1. Such as have been in armes against the parliament ...
2. Such as have good trades and need not thereunto.
3. Such as stand in by and dark corners, and go under the name of blind alehouses.
---A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, September, 1655 to May, 1656.

Rich  •  Link

When you click on Mrs. Bagwell's references tab, you'll see that Pepys has been grooming her for an affair right from the start, forming a sneaky friendship with the young couple, finding excuses to see her alone (and promising career advancement for hubby), then progressing from tickles under the chin to friendly kisses to....


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