Thursday 15 August 1667

Up, and to the office betimes, where busy, and sat all the morning, vexed with more news of Carcasses proceedings at the Council, insomuch as we four, [Sir] J. Minnes, [Sir] W. Batten, (Sir) W. Pen, and myself, did make an appointment to dine with Sir W. Coventry to-day to discourse it with him, which we did by going thither as soon as the office was up, and there dined, and very merry, and many good stories, and after dinner to our discourse about Carcasse, and how much we are troubled that we should be brought, as they say we shall, to defend our report before the Council-board with him, and to have a clerk imposed on us. He tells us in short that there is no intention in the Lords for the latter, but wholly the contrary. That they do not desire neither to do anything in disrespect to the Board, and he will endeavour to prevent, as he hath done, our coming to plead at the table with our clerk, and do believe the whole will amount to nothing at the Council, only what he shall declare in behalf of the King against the office, if he offers anything, will and ought to be received, to which we all shew a readiness, though I confess even that (though I think I am as clear as the clearest of them), yet I am troubled to think what trouble a rogue may without cause give a man, though it be only by bespattering a man, and therefore could wish that over, though I fear nothing to be proved. Thence with much satisfaction, and Sir W. Pen and I to the Duke’s house, where a new play. The King and Court there: the house full, and an act begun. And so went to the King’s, and there saw “The Merry Wives of Windsor:” which did not please me at all, in no part of it, and so after the play done we to the Duke’s house, where my wife was by appointment in Sir W. Pen’s coach, and she home, and we home, and I to my office, where busy till letters done, and then home to supper and to bed.

22 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Another good day at the whitster's, Mrs. Pepys?"

"Hmmn? Oh, yeah..."

"Ummn. As I told you, Bess...About the play this afternoon. It was an office thing..."

"Hmmn? Oh...No problem, Sam'l."


Ah, yes...The uh ... of the other day...Sam nods to self comfortably as the coach pulls out. Yes, any woman graduating in the Pepysian hierarchy from neglected to ... is sure to ignore all worldly considerations for several days.


"Hmmn...?" Bess, disturbing from reverie on the daily encounter with Big Jude, the whitster's "scrub boy"...Though long past boyhood and no man more deserving to be promoted to "scrub man". A hearty greeting "Mrs. P! Jane!" swing and clang of the heavy buckets of wash, lifted with the ease of Sam picking one of those papers he's always scribbling away on from the floor of his study...So often with that guilty look of a man caught at something he knows he shouldn't, despite the fact the stuff is unreadable. Muscles rippling in the warm morning sun, wavy hair blowing back, rough, coarse linen shirt only enhancing his manly physique...Never a more suitable real-life stand-in for Raoul of Coucy, hero of a dozen of her beloved novels. Another hearty wave, flash of incroyable blue eyes...Jane desperately torn between trueness to dear Tommy and finding any excuse to go over and bask in the warm glow of that godlike...

While she dreams of a quick run to Brampton, clubbing the old fool and his truss out of her way as she digs up enough to keep her and Jude...In the sort of comfort that would satisfy even little Sam.


Philandering little Sam...Every barmaid and shopgirl in London chasing little Sam...Nose-pulling, black-eyeing little bullying Sam...Narrow look.

Big Jude's perfect teeth glistening in the morning sun like the bleached linen he is so proud of...

Clearly I went too far the other day, Sam shakes head solemnly. I should have been more careful after such a long drought...My poor frail wretch...Overwhelmed, no question.

Little Sam...Who did give me money for Papa without hesitation...Who risked death during the plague time to keep faith with the King's duty and our need for our old age...Who was my rock in the Fire...Who does tell the nicest stories and loves to see everything that is new, with such a boy's joy that...

Big Jude spending a hour trying to describe his favorite seat on one of the stones by the shore... "Lor' mum, a rock that's kind to a man's backside. Tis a true thing, mum, a good rock like that's a hard thing to find, mum. Yeah."

And maybe a few of those teeth aren't quite so perfect...

And I am not the easiest woman to live with at times...Eyes little Sam who has worried look on his face...Who does always come to me when I'm ill with those...Who did nearly die and lives in desperate fear of a return of death, grabbing at life whiles he can...Who makes me so proud to see him best those titles and they all deferring to him and his sharp mind...Whose love for music and wish he could write words to set a woman's heart aflame so touches my heart...And sometimes, when he is truly with me...

"So, how was your day?" she asks...

Beam... "Batten told this incredible story at dinner, wait till you hear...Oh, did I tell you I've decided to sell our interest in the Greyhound to him?..."

"No...And I hope you know you owe me a play..." she notes.

Glyn  •  Link

I understand that Pepys usually doesn't like Shakespeare's plays. They're 60 years old and must seem very unfashionable. What I don't understand is why they're still being put on stage when there's all this new material around from up-and-coming aristocratic writers (I agree with him about the Merry Wives of Windsor though.)

Margaret  •  Link

"...there saw “The Merry Wives of Windsor:” which did not please me at all, in no part of it...

So much depends on the actors. The first time I saw The Merry Wives of Windsor, I didn't much care for it either, but two years ago I saw it at the Globe Theatre in London, and my son and I found it hilarious. It was the highlight of our stay in London.

Ruben  •  Link

I understand that Pepys usually doesn’t like Shakespeare’s plays.

No respect for the integrity of the original.
The plays Pepys did not like were butchered, edited and "newly revised" versions of the plays and not the originals.
Revised for political correctness, to favor a famous actor or to please some aristocrat's lover.
Like Hollywood productions of our days...

Now, Shakespeare himself did some revisions of plays by others, only he was Shakespeare!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Well, Sam gives a big thumbs up for "Hamlet" and "Othello", though the blockbuster "Adventure of Five Hours" shoved his former favorite "Othello" aside. "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Merry Wives..." aren't always a hit with audiences even in well-restored versions and most critics seem inclined to Sam's view of "Henry VIII" as a pageant with interesting bits (probably only in part Will's product) but rather insubstantial. He's hinted at liking Falstaff, if I remember right, and noted a quote of Falstaff's from Henry IV part I by the Duke of York, so he's likely seen some version of Henry IV part I and/or II...Even if he dislikes the Sir John of "Merry Wives..." I'd say all-in-all he has a love for good Shakespeare but isn't inclined to Bardology as his religion. Then too, in the case of Sir John...If one has seen him at his greatest, in the Henry IVs, it's hard to accept watered-down comic Sir John in MWW...

Carl in Boston  •  Link

yet I am troubled to think what trouble a rogue may without cause give a man, though it be only by bespattering a man, and therefore could wish that over, though I fear nothing to be proved
Alas, this is still going on in the USA. Ethics here, ethics there, ethics charges splattered everywhere.
Back to the Sweet Bard of Avon. Much more agreeable.

David Vaeth  •  Link

"yet I am troubled to think what trouble a rogue may without cause give a man, though it be only by bespattering a man"

ironic, given what lies ahead in Sam's distant future.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I'd be worried if there weren't such charges flying around. It usually signals a tight dictatorship where all is always well, all faithful members of the elite are incorruptible, and the bright young people who want to point out problems would do well to keep quiet or are already dead or in some version of labor camps.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Good point, RG. I wonder how widespread these allegations were?

cum salis grano  •  Link

dissenters without juice sailed off to Americas.

nix  •  Link

Shakespeare's plays -- Glyn makes a good point that Samuel might have viewed Shakespeare as a bit dated.

Who were considered the great playwrights or novelists of 60 years ago? How does their work stand up today?

From 1948 to 1955, the Tony Award for best drama went to:

1948: Mister Roberts by Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan
1949: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
1950: The Cocktail Party by T.S. Eliot
1951: The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams
1952: The Fourposter by Jan De Hartog
1953: The Crucible by Arthur Miller
1954: The Teahouse of the August Moon by John Patrick
1955: The Desperate Hours by Joseph Hayes
1956: The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett

That list certainly stands up pretty well. Most of them are still performed regularly.

The Pulitzers for best fiction from mid-40s to mid-50s were:

1945: A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
1946: no award given
1947: All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
1948: Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener
1949: Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens
1950: The Way West by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.
1951: The Town by Conrad Richter
1952: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
1953: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
1954: No award given
1955: A Fable by William Faulkner

Not quite as enduring, but still a pretty strong list. (I don't know what the equivalent British awards would have been, so I can't offer that comparison.)

But I'm an old guy. I suspect my children wouldn't be nearly as impressive.

Second Reading

Kelvin Hard  •  Link

Pepys also saw Merry Wives in 1660 and 1661 and didn’t like it then either. Now if I saw a play and did not like it I would not normally go again, let alone twice. Is Pepys hoping that a new production will improve things? Or is it just that he fancied going to the playhouse and Merry Wives just happens to be what is on?

Kelvin Hard  •  Link

All the others mentioned from the Office (Minnes, Batten, Pen, Coventry) are knights. Does anyone know or can hazard a view as to why our hero never became Sir Samuel Pepys for his services to the navy?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Phil asks us to keep the blog focused on Pepys, so I won't ask Carl in Boston if he thinks things have improved in the last 10 years.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The only reason I can think that Carkasse has this much influence on the Council is that he is paying off some impoverished lords who in turn run interference for him. Brouncker and Batten must have been taking a cut of their Clerk's ill gotten gains from the tickets, etc. Or he was blackmailing them for previous scams.

Tonyel  •  Link

I have the feeling that Sam and friends used the theatre like many folk use the TV these days - you switch it on in the hope there may be something worth watching. If not, it becomes background to chatting with friends, eyeing up certain ladies, snacking on an orange......

Harry R  •  Link

"All the others mentioned from the Office (Minnes, Batten, Pen, Coventry) are knights. Does anyone know or can hazard a view as to why our hero never became Sir Samuel Pepys for his services to the navy?"

I'm hazarding a view. This doesn't answer your question specifically but I read in Chapter 2 of Charles Frith's biography of Cromwell (Oliver Cromwell and the Rule of the Puritans) that Charles I instigated or enforced a law that anyone with an estate valued at more than £40 pa.was obliged to take up a knighthood and fines of £170,000 were levied on those who didn't. This was one of a few of his fund raising ideas which didn't go down too well. Pepys may have been too young or too poor for this law to be applied to him. The other Sirs mentioned are older.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Hello Harry ... welcome to the fray. There have been several discussions about this "oversight" over the years. Let me direct you to one:…

If this doesn't answer your question, search for KNIGHT in the SEARCH bar top right, then change the search parameter to ANNOTATIONS ... and then scroll through about 10 pages of references until you see one that looks interesting.

My take is that timing is everything. By the time Pepys had earned the honor and could afford it, politics went against him (after the Diary years). There are books on the subject, as reviewed here:…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Hello Kevin ... I directed an answer to your question to Harry by accident. My apologies to you both.

Harry R  •  Link

Thanks Sarah. I can see that after 17+ years of the diary there will hardly be a stone left unturned. Your navigation tips will come in handy as, you've guessed it, I'm a newcomer..

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Welcome aboard, Harry. And there are lots of stones left, actually. I do most of my stone turning in the Encyclopedia and have learned much. Also, many of the old links need updating, so feel free to share any and all your insights and finds.

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