Tuesday 4 April 1665

All the morning at the office busy, at noon to the ‘Change, and then went up to the ‘Change to buy a pair of cotton stockings, which I did at the husband’s shop of the most pretty woman there, who did also invite me to buy some linnen of her, and I was glad of the occasion, and bespoke some bands of her, intending to make her my seamstress, she being one of the prettiest and most modest looked women that ever I did see. Dined at home and to the office, where very late till I was ready to fall down asleep, and did several times nod in the middle of my letters.

12 Annotations

Jesse  •  Link

"the husband’s shop of the most pretty woman there, who did also invite me to buy"

I'm assuming the shop is a husband/wife operation. We've friends who own a jewelry store. Generally the wife tends new male customers and the husband female ones. An old, and obviously effective practice ("I was glad of the occasion, and bespoke some bands of her, intending to make her my seamstress"). Especially when the wife is "the most pretty woman there".

Bradford  •  Link

Can she sew?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Can she sew?"

Does anyone believe Mimi could afford a garret apartment in Paris on a seamstress' pay?

Anyway, this is one of the times in Sam's fumblings that I'm sure the intended had a good howl at his expense after he left. Lets hope Mr. Batelier (if it is the Bateliers' place) keeps close watch on our randy hero so that this one at least can remain a comedy.

DougS  •  Link

A lurker here . . . with a basic question: Sam's language sounds archaic when he writes, but I notice when he quotes people (not today, of course) their words sound much more contemporary to us -- not completely but much more so than how his written words read.

Why is this? Is it because the shorthand skews the language? Surely in our own time the written words follows pretty closely on the spoken; certainly it isn't as different as it seems to be with the Diary.

Thanks, and I've really enjoyed the site: the diary and some really great annotations, which I might add, will quite possibly form a significant addition to the Pepys record.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

A keen observation, DougS!

It's all written in the same cypher or shorthand. My own sense is that, though he quotes with care, as you say, he dashes off other descriptions of any day's doings with greater haste, and falls into certain conventions that are oft repeated -- as are his daily activities, e.g., today's "All the morning," "at noon to the ‘Change" and "Dined at home and to the office, where very late". He elides verbs in such passages in the Diary, but not in formal correspondence, as Jeannine's quotations from some of those letters in certain In-Depth Articles shows.

Carl in Boston  •  Link

Yay lurkers, and well spotted on the archaic yet contemporary feel of the language. We all (you too) get used to the old language and feel it best in the old archaic. I still grind my teeth at the Episcopal Book Of Common Prayer of 1982 (I think) at its up to date language. What a comfort to go to crusty old Trinity Church in Boston and hear and slip into "we have followed too much the devices and desires of our hearts, and there is no health in us, but Thou, O Lord" etc, etc. Very soothing to hear the old ways as ye language once be spake. Anyone for Roman Catholic Mass in the Latin?
In the words of The Scottish Play (methinks), much good in this DougS, let us hear more. Oops, that was "As You Like It". Study enough of Shakespeare, and his speech seems very natural and better than the f....ing f f f I so often hear.

language hat  •  Link

"in our own time the written words follows pretty closely on the spoken"

Less so than you might think, but much more so than in previous periods, when writing -- even for your own eyes -- was seen as serious business, worthy of a higher form of language than everyday conversation. The striking thing is the fact that he does seem to try to quote people accurately, doubtless part of his nitpicking approach to life in general. (I use "nitpicking" in a positive sense, being a copyeditor by trade.)

DougS  •  Link

Thanks, guys . . . .

Language Hat: I have a sense you're onto it: We do, in fact -- now that you mention it -- speak distinctly differently than we write. The spoken language is always more "advanced" and tends to be less formal than the written -- more idiom, slang, short cuts, etc.

Sam is probably reverting to the formality of how he was taught to write the language (and how others wrote at this time, as well), with somewhat ossified usages that had come down from long in the past and existed in books he had read or in the voices/writing instruction of teachers striving to be "correct." But what he heard and used was more modern and would ("betimes"?!) become the new "standard" in an English language that is famous for change.

I've always imagined Sam talking to Elizabeth, Pen, etc., etc. in the kind of language he used in the Diary, but it's probably better to think of him sounding the way he reports conversations. Unfortunately, there is very little of that, and I don't quite have the imagination to translate a lot of the more archaic Diary language into more contemporary language as I read it.

But, then, Carl: You're right: There is a pleasure all its own in "hearing" and getting a grip on the somewhat foreign -- but still understandable -- language that Sam employs in the Diary. That's one of its many charms.

language hat  •  Link

Well said, Doug S. Please comment more often!

Pedro  •  Link

One that Dirk missed by the Rev Ralph?

This morning I saw the third blazing star northeast. it arose about 3 in morning, and ascending was taken from our sight by light. the stream direct upwards, the star ruddier and brighter than that of December 24 at night and the stream more luminous. this day I fetched all my wood from chadwells safely, yet near dangers, god caution me against sin.

dirk  •  Link

Yes, sorry Pedro, and thanks. I took a few days off, so I wasn't there in time to post.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

John Evelyn's Diary

April 4: Lond: Commiss: to take order about some Prisoners sent from Cap: Allens ship, taken in the Solomon, viz. the brave Man who defended her so gallantly.

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