Monday 16 April 1666

Up, and set my people, Mercer, W. Hewer, Tom and the girle at work at ruling and stitching my ruled book for the Muster-Masters, and I hard toward the settling of my Tangier accounts. At noon dined alone, the girl Mercer taking physique can eat nothing, and W. Hewer went forth to dinner. So up to my accounts again, and then comes Mrs. Mercer and fair Mrs. Turner, a neighbour of hers that my wife knows by their means, to visit me. I staid a great while with them, being taken with this pretty woman, though a mighty silly, affected citizen woman she is. Then I left them to come to me at supper anon, and myself out by coach to the old woman in Pannyer Alley for my ruled papers, and they are done, and I am much more taken with her black maid Nan. Thence further to Westminster, thinking to have met Mrs. Martin, but could not find her, so back and called at Kirton’s to borrow 10s. to pay for my ruled papers, I having not money in my pocket enough to pay for them. But it was a pretty consideration that on this occasion I was considering where I could with most confidence in a time of need borrow 10s., and I protest I could not tell where to do it and with some trouble and fear did aske it here. So that God keepe me from want, for I shall be in a very bad condition to helpe myself if ever I should come to want or borrow. Thence called for my papers and so home, and there comes Mrs. Turner and Mercer and supped with me, and well pleased I was with their company, but especially Mrs. Turner’s, she being a very pretty woman of person and her face pretty good, the colour of her haire very fine and light. They staid with me talking till about eleven o’clock and so home, W. Hewer, who supped with me, leading them home. So I to bed.

17 Annotations

jeannine  •  Link

"the girl Mercer taking physique can eat nothing"

Poor little Mercer. I wonder how much of the taking of physique was the result of poor diet vs. illness.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I was considering where I could with most confidence in a time of need borrow 10s. ...."

Pepys's cash must be with the banker/goldsmiths, locked up in long-term notes?

Mary  •  Link

"... so God keep me from want"

Undoubtedly some of Pepys's capital is tied up, but in this instance I think that he's leading himself in more general terms to consideration of the uncomfortable way in which the wheel of fortune can turn. When you have money, it's much easier to borrow more than when you're really strapped for cash. The lack of 10s. in ready money in his pocket has given him pause for thought; where might he turn if financial disaster were to overtake him?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"citizen woman"

Anyone know what he means by this?

Interesting that Sam swings by to visit Betty Martin -- his sexual appetite has clearly been whetted by seeing Mrs. Turner and the old woman's maid.

Mary, I think you're right, plus I think there's an element of self-realization in Sam's statement -- he's realized he's simply not comfortable ("with some trouble and fear") asking to borrow money...

Mary  •  Link

citizen woman.

One of Dr. Johnson's definitions of 'citizen' is "a townsman; a man of trade; not a gentleman."

Possibly a fit for this context: not a lady, a bit common.

Bradford  •  Link

My thought, Todd, was it might mean "plebeian" in this context. (Pepys would not regard, even if he knew it, "bourgeois" as a disparaging term.) Dictionarists?

Margaret  •  Link

"citizen woman" -- I'm not sure, but I think this means that her husband is a citizen of the city of London, & I'm assuming a citizen was one who was qualified to vote in civic elections. In the city, this would probably mean a prosperous merchant or banker.

Margaret  •  Link

Older readers like myself remember the days before instant teller machines, when you could easily run out of cash on a weekend when the banks were closed. Sam's lucky that running out of cash seems to be unusual for him.

If he ever needed to borrow a substantial sum, wouldn't the best person to ask be Sandwich? He is family, after all.

language hat  •  Link

"citizen woman"

I think Mary is right: this is Johnson’s sense “a man of trade; not a gentleman.”

language hat  •  Link


This word was not yet part of English (though Pepys would presumably have known it as a French word); the first OED definition is "A (French) citizen or freeman of a city or burgh, as distinguished from a peasant on the one hand, and a gentleman on the other," and the first citation is:

a1674 CLARENDON Hist. Reb. III. XII. 241 He liv'd in a jolly familiarity with the Bourgeois and their Wives.

Mary  •  Link

Borrowing from Sandwich?

I doubt it. His finances have always seemed precarious and his present term as Ambassador to Spain is unlikely to improve that situation.

Robert Gertz  •  Link


In fact his beloved Lady Sandwich will soon be seeking to borrow from him...


Nice to see Sam has no trouble with a servant needing to take time off for physic...

Either Mary Mercer has made it pretty clear she'll allow no funny business or she's not terribly attractive...

Interesting...The past few Sam seems to have been fighting off his usual instincts and behaving himself by directing his pleasures in safe channels...Trips with Betty (I can handle Sam Pepys and how) Pierce and her brood, etc. Sarah to the hopefully safe chapel? However...It's been what...A couple of Bess-less days?...And "Capt Kirk" Pepys is getting antsy.

Lawrence  •  Link

"the colour of her haire very fine and light" does that mean she's blond?

Mary  •  Link


Not necessarily. The adjective 'blond(e) first appears in print in the 15th Century with reference to 'yellow' hair, so if that was what Sam meant, then the precise term was available to him.

Kevin Peter  •  Link

I think "fine and light" was describing the texture and weight of her hair rather than the color. The opposite of that would be "thick and heavy".

CGS  •  Link

"fine and light" , attractive

A. adj. (In all the older senses formerly used antithetically with foul. This is now obs. or arch. exc. with the ns. weather, means.) I. Beautiful.

1. Beautiful to the eye; of pleasing form or appearance; good-looking. Phrases, fair to see (arch.); fair and free (obs. or arch.).
No longer in colloquial use; in literature very common, but slightly arch. or rhetorical.

a. of persons; chiefly with reference to the face; in mod. use, almost exclusively of women. Also of the body or its parts.

fair vs foul:

II. 6. Of complexion and hair: Light as opposed to dark.

1690 LOCKE Hum. Und. III. x. §34 Eloquence, like the fair sex, has too prevailing beauties in it to suffer itself ever to be spoken against.

Well coiffed:

psw  •  Link

peeps even more this time acknowledges woman beauty not skin colour bound. Brown Sugar Nan who first whetted 'is appetite today.

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