Saturday 18 May 1667

Up, and all the morning at the office, and then to dinner, and after dinner to the office to dictate some letters, and then with my wife to Sir W. Turner’s to visit The., but she being abroad we back again home, and then I to the office, finished my letters, and then to walk an hour in the garden talking with my wife, whose growth in musique do begin to please me mightily, and by and by home and there find our Luce drunk, and when her mistress told her of it would be gone, and so put up some of her things and did go away of her accord, nobody pressing her to it, and the truth is, though she be the dirtiest, homeliest servant that ever I kept, yet I was sorry to have her go, partly through my love to my servants, and partly because she was a very drudging, working wench, only she would be drunk. But that which did a little trouble me was that I did hear her tell her mistress that she would tell her master something before she was aware of her that she would be sorry to have him know; but did it in such a silly, drunken manner, that though it trouble me a little, yet not knowing what to suspect she should know, and not knowing well whether she said it to her mistress or Jane, I did not much think of it. So she gone, we to supper and to bed, my study being made finely clean.

16 Annotations

First Reading

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"she was a very drudging, working wench, only she would be drunk"

Well, you know, a little drink makes the drudgery a little more tolerable...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sam wisely choosing ignorance and bliss...


All right, Bess! We've got to know! My money would be on Luce having seen Will Hewer in puppy mode, giving Bess a gift or two. I really don't believe Bess would (or could, given Sam's lapses into jealous possessiveness) do anything seriously wrong. (Even if our hero would definitely deserve it)

"Wrong, sir?" Uncle Wight, slyly. "Relative term, sir, as we all should know."

arby  •  Link

" love to my servants..." Yeah, right.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Well, Sam loses his temper frequently with them but he does seem to get very attached to his servants...Will Hewer and Tom Edwards are like the sons he never had (whose ears he probably would have boxed just as firmly as he does them) and Jane has been referred to with affection (as opposed to lust) many times. Mercer has remained a family friend despite her break-up with Bess and Sam's delight in her breasts.

Glyn  •  Link

My guess is that some very important person has been trying unsuccessfully to seduce Bess - but Sam would be upset if he found out - or else she's been diverting some of her housekeeping money to her impoverished parents.

cum salis grano  •  Link

"a little drink makes the drudgery a little more tolerable…"
Ergo bibamus
in vino veritas.
Uxor formosa et vinum sunt dulcia venena.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Is he gone yet?" "Can we come out?" low voice...

"All..." hic "...clear, sirs. Wait! 'ere, 'e's come back again!"

"Quick, Jamie...Back in the closet! What?"

"So long as Rupert Everett never plays you in the future, nothing."

"What? Who's in here? Young Hinchingbroke?"

"Your Grace? Your Majesty?"

Hallway entrance outside...

"Now Miss Luce, you are sure Mrs. Pepys will see me? I spent my last visit in that dratted closet and then when I came out she screamed and told me to never show myself here again."

"T'aint sayin' she..." hic "...will, Capt'n...And..." hic "...t'aint sayin' she won't. But a little swig of somethin' might get me all inclined ta do yer service."

"Is that Ferrers?" Hinchingbroke...

"Quiet!" Luce bangs on the door. "An' tell 'is Maje...'is...Maj...The king guy there 'e owes me a bottle."


"Jane? Now I'm sure I hear something in the hall. Oh, why do I let Mr. Pepys keep gold in the house!"

"Don't hear nothin', mum. Probably just Luce, stumbling about..." eye roll as Bess scans kitchen door anxiously. "But I'll go and see if you like, just wait a mo..."

"Thank you, Jane. If it's that Captain Ferrers trying to see me again, send him away."

"Pack 'im right off, mum."


"Now are you intending to see Mrs. Pepys on...Business, Ferrers?"

"Same likely...Business, you are, your Grace."

"I happen to be her husband's employer and Lord High..."

"Quiet. No..." hic "...riotious behave in me employer Mr. P's house."

"Jamie, enough...I will appoint you Lord High Poobah if you keep quiet." Charles chimes in. "Oh, hello." eyes the frowning Jane, arms folded, staring at the group.

"Out." Jane points to front door.

"Jest a lil..." hic " tranactin', Jane." Luce tries, swaying on feet.


"Yes, we're going." Charles nods. "My best to the pretty lady."

"Just dropping some vital info for your employer, Mr. Pepys." Jamie tries.

"Dad's due home soon, Jane." beaming Hinchingbroke tries presuming on his associations with the family. "Just wanted to pass on the good..."


"You doing anything tonight, miss?" Ferrers tries to avoid a total waste of his time.

"I'm free." hic...Luce notes.


Second Reading

Marquess  •  Link

Sam shows a great deal of affection for a drunken servant, I wonder what became of Luce?

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Considering how servants were treated in 1667 it’s no wonder they get drunk. Sam claims affection for them but it doesn’t stop him from batting them around on a regular basis when he’s displeased, and his wife often does the same with his encouragement.

Tonyel  •  Link

And I wonder what she gets drunk with so often? Surely not Mr Pepys fine wine in his special bottles? That would change his love for her, especially if she replaced it with beetroot juice or - no, let's not go there......

Scube  •  Link

Do any of you more knowledgeable folks have a sense of how many servants Sam and Bess keep at any one time, and what their respective roles and duties are?

john  •  Link

Luce seems to have had an alcohol problem. Back then, as now, alcohol problems tend to be dismissed and not regarded as a debilitating addiction.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Back then, as now, alcohol problems tend to be dismissed and not regarded as a debilitating addiction."

There is a big difference between then and now, though. Today you can drink the water, or buy a bottle of safe water, or put a potable tablet in the pail overnight and drink the next day ... back then you couldn't count on anything like that. Any safe beverage included a level of alcohol. Even children drank Small Beer for breakfast. If you were genetically predispositioned to be an alcoholic, it didn't take much of what was commonly available.

However, it does sound as if Luce imbibed more than was acceptable ... maybe her booze was supplied by the watermen the maydes had been entertaining on the quiet?

I think Pepys' "regrets" are that Luce will be hard to replace as she did all the mucky dirty things.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Do any of you more knowledgeable folks have a sense of how many servants Sam and Bess keep at any one time, and what their respective roles and duties are?"

At the start of the Diary Pepys told us much more about the household activities, but once the war started and he became obsessed with making money, he stopped documenting every hiring and firing, when laundry was done, etc. Around the time the plague arrived he stopped writing the Diary daily, but kept notes and did catch-up dumps of information when he could. There are many subjects I wish he had elaborated on.

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