Friday 7 December 1666

Up, and by water to the Exchequer, where I got my tallys finished for the last quarter for Tangier, and having paid all my fees I to the Swan, whither I sent for some oysters, and thither comes Mr. Falconbridge and Spicer and many more clerks; and there we eat and drank, and a great deal of their sorry discourse, and so parted, and I by coach home, meeting Balty in the streete about Charing Crosse walking, which I am glad to see and spoke to him about his mustering business, I being now to give an account how the several muster-masters have behaved themselves, and so home to dinner, where finding the cloth laid and much crumpled but clean, I grew angry and flung the trenchers about the room, and in a mighty heat I was: so a clean cloth was laid, and my poor wife very patient, and so to dinner, and in comes Mrs. Barbara Sheldon, now Mrs. Wood, and dined with us, she mighty fine, and lives, I perceive, mighty happily, which I am glad [of] for her sake, but hate her husband for a block-head in his choice. So away after dinner, leaving my wife and her, and by water to the Strand, and so to the King’s playhouse, where two acts were almost done when I come in; and there I sat with my cloak about my face, and saw the remainder of “The Mayd’s Tragedy;” a good play, and well acted, especially by the younger Marshall, who is become a pretty good actor, and is the first play I have seen in either of the houses since before the great plague, they having acted now about fourteen days publickly. But I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play. Soon as done I home, and then to my office awhile, and then home and spent the night evening my Tangier accounts, much to my satisfaction, and then to supper, and mighty good friends with my poor wife, and so to bed.

25 Annotations

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

and there I sat with my cloak about my face, ...I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play.

Oddly furtive of Sam. I am at a loss to understand why.

cape henry  •  Link

There are several things in this entry, but the tantrum in the dining room over the table cloth demonstrates quite vividly the hierarchical gulf that exists between husband and wife and master and servants. This is the power display of the petty tyrant.

On the other hand, the business with the cloak in the theater is pure, madcap comedy.Does Pepys actually imagine this ruse works? Or is there some gentleman's convention operating here wherein if you've got your cloak up, you're not there?

CGS  •  Link

"...younger Marshall, who is become a pretty good actor..." not Actress????

CGS  •  Link

Interesting debate
House of C tried to scupper the Navy boys.
"...A Proviso tendered, for taking away all Fees, Salaries, and Rewards, from the Treasurer of the Navy, and Officers of Exchequer, for Monies paid by Anticipation, was twice read..."
voted on.

CGS  •  Link

The Lords still debating Bastardization of Lady Roos's Kids and trying to get the realm more coins.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

" comes Mrs. Barbara Sheldon, now Mrs. Wood, and dined with us, she mighty fine, and lives, I perceive, mighty happily, which I am glad [of] for her sake, but hate her husband for a block-head in his choice."


"Bess? Why are you laughing? Bess...?"


"Oh, Bess...Why are you crying?"

Glyn  •  Link

(1) It's Friday, in the middle of the day, and he should be at work.

(2# There are refugees living in tents in the north in the wilds of Hampstead and south in the fields of Blackheath, and yet here you are enjoying yourself, how dare you? # For comparison, earlier this week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was pictured in the Daily Mail smiling at the X-factor on television - "While our soldiers are fighting and dieing in Afghanistan!" has he no shame to be enjoying himself?" etc.

(3) You know that last year's plague was spread by close proximity and human contact, even if that's the only thing that the quacks called doctors do know. And yet here you are crowding next to strangers to watch some harlot do some foolishness for the public.

What impresses me, is that he knows the risks but still can't stay away from the theatre, because he really does love it.

But yes, the image of him and lots of others there, trying to disguise themselves, is very Blackadder-style funny.

Mr. Gunning  •  Link

"but hate her husband for a block-head in his choice."

His choice of what?

Mary  •  Link

His choice of wife, one presumes. She may be living mighty fine and happy, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she's a social, professional or financial asset to her husband.

andy  •  Link

I read it as it's the choice of him ie he is the blockhead and she has to put up with it.

LAN  •  Link

Does "mighty good friends with my poor wife" simply mean the quarrel was settled, or something saucy?

Geoff Hallett  •  Link

Dictionary says trencher is a wooden plate for cutting meat. He uses the plural, is this for various meats, surely not the plates. They would have moved on since the days of the square wooden plates that provided the 'square meal on board ship.

CGS  •  Link

Trencher: not this version

"Me old serj. did say be a trencher, dig" thus I dug one, for I did not like low flying bullets.

trencher 2.
One who trenches.

1. One who carves; a carver. Obs. rare.
a1625 FLETCHER Noble Gent. III. i, I was not born, I take it, for a trencher, Nor to espouse my mistress' dairy-maid.

2. One who cuts or digs trenches; one who trenches ground.
[a. AF. trenchour = ONF. trencheor (1206 in Godef.), tren-, trancheur, = OF. tranchouoir (14th c. in Littré), trencheoir (Cotgr.), mod.F. tranchoir, f. {dag}trenchier, trancher to cut, TRENCH v.....

I. 1. A cutting or slicing instrument; a knife.
c1330 R. BRUNNE Chron. (1810) 166 Fulle bro{th}ely & brim he kept vp a trencheour, & kast it at Statin,..His nese & his ine he carfe at misauentoure.

II. 2. A flat piece of wood, square or circular, on which meat was served and cut up; a plate or platter of wood, metal, or earthenware. arch. and Hist.
1624 CAPT. SMITH Virginia III. ii. 48 They imagined the world to be flat and round, like a trencher.

1696 PHILLIPS (ed. 5), Trencher, a square, thin Plate of Wood, for People to cut their Meat upon.
3. A slice of bread used instead of a plate or platter. Obs.
4. a. A trencher and that which it bears; a supply of food; cf. TABLE 6c. arch.
1576 FLEMING Panopl. Epist. 238 What benefites are obteined, by the sweate of other mennes labours, and also by the fatte crumbes of other mennes trenchers.
1612 DEKKER lf it be not good Wks. 1873 III. 280 Waite on the Priors Trencher soberly.

1659 W. BROUGH Schism 535 These new rabbis..are chaplains extraordinary to the trencher. 1667 L. STUCLEY Gospel-Glass xxii. (1670) 224 We have..brought our Children to live upon others trenchers.

5. transf. A flat board, circular or otherwise.
c1511 ...
1669 BOYLE Contn. New Exp. I. xli. (1682) 144 In the midst of the fixed Trencher (as we call a piece of solid wood shap'd like a Milstone). 1710 J. CLARKE Rohault's Nat. Phil. (1729) I. 61 Water in a Pail is made to ascend up a Trunk, such as they shoot with, open at both Ends, and one End fixed in a Hole in a Trencher which exactly fits the whole Superficies; upon depressing the Trencher, the Water is forced up.

b. Applied to a butcher's ‘tray’.

Bob T  •  Link

I grew angry and flung the trenchers about the room, and in a mighty heat I was:

Anyone who has been through military recruit training will recognise this technique. Sam's Wife was responsible for the servants, and obviously they weren't doing as they were told. Sam helps out by throwing a few things around to get their attention, and put the fear of God into them. After that all is well in the Pepys' household, and no doubt Elizabeth got a talking to too.

Nix  •  Link

actor v. actress --

Samuel won't invent the distinction for a few more weeks. OED:

2. a. A female player on the stage. (ACTOR was at first used for both sexes.)

1666 PEPYS Diary 27 Dec., Doll Common doing Abigail most excellently, & Knipp the widow very well, & will be an excellent actor, I think. 1700 DRYDEN Epil. to Pilgrim 40 To stop the trade of love behind the scene, Where actresses make bold with married men. 1711 SHAFTESBURY Charact. (1737) III. 368 Study'd action and artificial gesture may be allow'd to the actors and actrices of the stage. 1741 WALPOLE Lett. to H. Mann 6 (1834) I. 15 A bad actress, but she has life. 1790 BOSWELL Johnson xxiv. (Routl.) 214 This elegant and fashionable actress. 1882 Academy 8 July 39/2 As long as such an actress treads the boards, it is possible to take a worthy view of the functions of the theatre.

Bryan M  •  Link

“but hate her husband for a block-head in his choice.”

In an earlier entry Sam reports that Mrs Barbary has a number of fine attributes but is not pretty, while Wood is very rich. A rich man who can't manage to get himself a beautiful wife is clearly a dill.

"Hate" is a strong reaction, but I guess we're dealing with Sam's two obsessions: money and pretty women.

"Mrs. Barbary...with her husband, Mr. Wood’s son, the mast-maker, and mighty nobly married, they say, she was, very fine, and he very rich, a strange fortune for so odd a looked mayde, though her hands and body be good, and nature very good."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I think Sam means in his convoluted way that Barbara's choice of Wood was to be hated, as he's a blockhead. Since Sam never let a little thing like marriage come between him and pleasure, perhaps Wood's "blockheadedness" is in large measure a refusal to allow easy access to Barbara.

Nix  •  Link

Wood/block-head --

Perhaps just a pun, for his own amusement?

Australian Susan  •  Link

If this had been modern times, I think the ladies Pepys and Sheldon would have sighed with relief when Sam snuck off ["to attend to important Government business - such a nuisance when there's such good company!"], got out a DVD with someone nice to look at (Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp) and settled in for a girls' afternoon with the chilled Chardonnay.

I found it interesting that the Pepys household has tablecloths everyday as a matter of course and that Sam was careful not to have his tantrum with anything breakable - the trenchers being wood or maybe pewter. Pewter would make a lovely, satisfying servant-frightening noise come to think of it. Delicious entry this and yes, Sam was performing to a Richard Curtis script in the playhouse.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

What France is up to

119. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It would seem as if the exhalations mutually exchanged between the two nations, England and Holland, both orally and in writing, have served in part to clear their spirits of scorn and wrath. Mons. d'Estrades, ambassador of this king in Holland, writes that he has had an inkling of some transactions introduced between the said parties, to bring them, once and for all, to a composition and tranquillity. The advice is rather a plausible conjecture.... It is not credited that the Dutch are about to conclude a treaty without the inclusion of this [French] crown, which will never make any objection to approving of a peace which will be able to relieve it of the great burden which is involved in the maintenance of double armaments. It is also true, however, that they are by no means sorry to see the continuation of the embarrassments of those two powerful nations, and they will not neglect openings which serve for this. [some details]....
Paris, the 7th December, 1666.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"“but hate her husband for a block-head in his choice.”"

L&M think it's her choice of him.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"But I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play."

L&M: Pepys had not visited a public theatre since 15 May 1665, though he had seen a play at the royal private theatre in the Great Hall at Whitehall on 29 )ctober 1666. He presumably felt that playgoing was a dangerous and unbecoming pastime in the midst of the war and so soon after the Plague and the Fire. Cf.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"But I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play."

I think he was in such a fit he went to the theater to "punish" Elizabeth and the mayds for messing up, hense arriving in the third act. Having thus made a spectacle of himself, he became ashamed of himself for being there.

Pepys has gone through this desire not to be seen before: One Christmas (1663?) he and Elizabeth stayed in Sandwich's Whitehall apartments, and he hid behind pillars making efforts not to be seen for several days.

London was a small place ... he takes a lot of risks with his womanizing. Being invisible to his betters must be getting more and more difficult. Or maybe he was worried about an unpaid sailor seeing him ... or a widow ... or a victualler. He has no protection detail.

Present-day 'personalities' must identify.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

and there I sat with my cloak about my face, ...I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play.

He probably means anyone who knew he had promised to not to go to the theatre and might publicize it, or that he might be seen by someone who would mention it to his wife.

“and mighty good friends with my poor wife”

I think he meant she wasn’t giving him the cold shoulder after their recent contretemps.

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