Tuesday 13 February 1665/66

Up, and all the morning at the office. At noon to the ‘Change, and thence after business dined at the Sheriffe’s [Hooker], being carried by Mr. Lethulier, where to my heart’s content I met with his wife, a most beautifull fat woman. But all the house melancholy upon the sickness of a daughter of the house in childbed, Mr. Vaughan’s lady. So all of them undressed, but however this lady a very fine woman. I had a salute of her, and after dinner some discourse the Sheriffe and I about a parcel of tallow I am buying for the office of him. I away home, and there at the office all the afternoon till late at night, and then away home to supper and to bed.

Ill newes this night that the plague is encreased this week, and in many places else about the towne, and at Chatham and elsewhere.

This day my wife wanting a chambermaid with much ado got our old little Jane to be found out, who come to see her and hath lived all this while in one place, but is so well that we will not desire her removal, but are mighty glad to see the poor wench, who is very well and do well.


16 Annotations

cape henry  •  Link

Nice to see Sam "mighty glad" at the success and contentment of Jane - he doesn't often show disinterested pleasure in the good fortune of others, especially those of lesser status. On the other hand, he leaves poor Mrs. Lethulier wondering all these centuries if this diary makes her look fat.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Jane is back...!

Ok, spoiler...But many of us know she's soon to return...

Hoorah!

cgs  •  Link

oh! so modern, T-shirt and some old raggedy petty coats.
No formal clothing just some 'Stuff' from Casual shop
"... all of them undressed,..." ready for the boudoir.

Australian Susan  •  Link

If I'd been Mrs Hooker, I would have been rather cross with Mr L.for bringing a near stranger back to the house to talk business when they are all obviously worried out of their wits about poor Mrs Vaughan dying probably, in childbed (puerpural fever?). Sam is usually pretty leery about remaining near anyone who is ill, for fear of contagion, so he had obviously been convinced that poor Mrs V is seriously ill with complications arising from the birth and not, therefore, at risk of passing on plague to our Sam.

Mary  •  Link

So Jane 'is very well and do well" and appears to be happy in her current place of employment, yet Sam still refers to her as "poor wench." He can hardly be referring to the girl's financial position, so he uses the adjective almost as an affectionate but slightly condescending diminutive.

The L&M Companion gives no information about Jane's family background, so it's impossible to tell whether she might be "poor" because of a sad, personal history. (The same epithet is not applied to her brother Wayneman). She has shown herself to be capable and resourceful, so can't be called "poor' on either of those scores. Could Sam be betraying a suspicion that she possesses qualities that, in other circumstances, would allow her to progress well beyond the status of domestic servant?

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... where to my heart’s content I met with his wife, a most beautifull fat woman."

SP has been hot and bothered at church for a while:
"...hoping to see and salute Mrs. Lethulier, whom I did see in passing, but no opportunity of beginning acquaintance, but a very noble lady she is, however the silly alderman got her."
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1665/12/24/
"Here I saw again my beauty Lethulier."
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1665/12/25/

Lawrence  •  Link

I know this is many years in the future, but am I right in thinking that Jane get's a ring at Samuel's funeral?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"am I right in thinking that Jane get’s a ring at Samuel’s funeral?"

The L&M Companion says her elder surviving son, Pepys's godson, Samuel Edwards did.

Sean Adams  •  Link

“am I right in thinking that Jane get’s a ring at Samuel’s funeral?”

Claire Tomlin in her biography is both more and less informative:
'Jane Penny, "little old Jane", who was given five guineas for her mourning as well as a ring would have been represented by her son Lieutenant Edwards, unless he were at sea.'

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Ill newes this night that the plague is encreased this week"

L&M: 6-13 February there were 59 plague burials and 52 the previous week.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Ill newes this night that the plague is encreased this week, and in many places else about the towne, and at Chatham and elsewhere."

L*M: For the plague at Chatham and other riverside towns (in which it spread freely), see J.F.D. Shrewsbury, Hist bubonic plague in Brit. Isles, pp. 488+.
https://books.google.com/books?id=ATOlhaEvN3wC&...

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Since Pepys is buyng tallow for the office, I think it was for candles. Until paraffin wax became available (what most candles are made of today), the poor had tallow (which smelt nasty) and the rich had beeswax. Because of the smell, a couple of winters back Pepys had insisted on beeswax candles. Recent economies have changed his lifestyle.

Churches used beeswax candles. The poor used rushes as wicks, making lights for themselves by dipping the rush in melted fat. Burning the candle at both ends meant just that: the rush was twisted up so both ends could be lit at the same time giving twice the light for half the time.

(Beeswax candles are easy to make if you have a good sheet of beeswax with straight edges - you simply put a length of cotton wick in the middle and roll it up, then cut in into sections if you want smaller candles. Cotton wicks give the best light and need to be twisted and doubled in order to not burn down too quickly and outrace the wax and get lost in the candle. But cotton wicks were yet to come.)

Had Pepys been buying tallow "for the King" or the Navy, the Salty One’s previous annotation on its uses would have been more likely: Tallow was important to running of a ship, preservation and cleaning , providing cheap lighting, keeping gun wheels running, and scrubbing decks.

Animal rendering, in other words. What the Joyce Brothers used to do for a living.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"So Jane 'is very well and do well' and appears to be happy in her current place of employment, yet Sam still refers to her as 'poor wench.'"

I think the words 'poor' and 'wench' have more to do with the paternalistic, dismissive, condescending attitude men had to women (their chattels), in those days. Elizabeth was his 'poor' wife on January 12 when she had spent days sewing new damask hangings for their bedroom. Word like this are almost a substitute for praise. But such terms could never be applied to a woman with higher status.

It doesn't take much soul-searching to come up with similar attitudes today. Women are pushy when men are ambitious. Women are bossy when men are decisive. Women have an obsessed when men are focused, Women are angry when men are passionate. Fred Astaire was famous and very well paid for his dancing, but his sister had to do everything he did, backwards and in high heels -- Adele never made much money.

So come on, don't be mystified by Pepys' attitude -- it is familiar to us all today.

-- signed by the nice little woman at the office who does everything, including making the coffee and emptying the trash, for minimum wage, who was told at school she was too dumb to go to University.

Cazbot  •  Link

YES! to San Diego Sarah :)
And thanks for interesting discourse on candles

Tonyel  •  Link

Can't argue with casual misogyny, then or now, but I think there is an element of familiar affection as well. Much like we males saying " I saw old Charlie today."

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