Wednesday 8 April 1668

Up, and at my office all the morning, doing business, and then at noon home to dinner all alone. Then to White Hall with Sir J. Minnes in his coach to attend the Duke of York upon our usual business, which was this day but little, and thence with Lord Brouncker to the Duke of York’s playhouse, where we saw “The Unfortunate Lovers,” no extraordinary play, methinks, and thence I to Drumbleby’s, and there did talk a great deal about pipes; and did buy a recorder, which I do intend to learn to play on, the sound of it being, of all sounds in the world, most pleasing to me. Thence home, and to visit Mrs. Turner, where among other talk, Mr. Foly and her husband being there, she did tell me of young Captain Holmes’s marrying of Pegg Lowther last Saturday by stealth, which I was sorry for, he being an idle rascal, and proud, and worth little, I doubt; and she a mighty pretty, well-disposed lady, and good fortune. Her mother and friends take on mightily; but the sport is, Sir Robert Holmes do seem to be mad too with his brother, and will disinherit him, saying that he hath ruined himself, marrying below himself, and to his disadvantage; whereas, I said, in this company, that I had married a sister lately, with little above half that portion, that he should have kissed her breech before he should have had her, which, if R. Holmes should hear, would make a great quarrel; but it is true I am heartily sorry for the poor girl that is undone by it. So home to my chamber, to be fingering of my Recorder, and getting of the scale of musique without book, which I at last see is necessary for a man that would understand musique, as it is now taught to understand, though it be a ridiculous and troublesome way, and I know I shall be able hereafter to show the world a simpler way; but, like the old hypotheses in philosophy, it must be learned, though a man knows a better. Then to supper, and to bed. This morning Mr. Christopher Pett’s widow and daughter come to me, to desire my help to the King and Duke of York, and I did promise, and do pity her.


17 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

gamut

"The use of a seven-note diatonic musical scale is ancient, though originally it was played in descending order.

"In the eleventh century, the music theorist Guido of Arezzo developed a six-note ascending scale that went as follows: ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la. A seventh note, "si" was added shortly after.[6] The names were taken from the first verse of the Latin hymn Ut queant laxis, where the syllables fall on their corresponding scale degree." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solfege#Origin_of_th…

"The idea of the Guidonian hand is that each portion of the hand represents a specific note within the hexachord system, which spans nearly three octaves from "Γ ut" (that is, "Gamma ut") (the contraction of which is "Gamut", which can refer to the entire span) to "E la" (in other words, from the G at the bottom of the modern bass clef to the E at the top of the treble clef)." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guidonian_hand

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...married by stealth..." I like that. I wonder if Alex and the St. Michels felt the same way in '55, though given their practical destitution it would have been unfounded and far more likely they were relieved to get Bess off their hands financially.

I picture Sir Robert the bold fighting commander hearing of Sam's little remark. Still, given he's angry at brother John, he might not kill Pepys too brutally.

Seriously I'm always amazed at the forbearance of men like Holmes and Penn and Prince Rupert, even "turncoat Will" Batten with Pepys, but I imagine it might be a very different story were Sam to lose the favor of the Duke and Sandwich. Avoid dark corners for a little while, Sam.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"...This morning Mr. Christopher Pett’s widow and daughter come to me, to desire my help to the King and Duke of York, and I did promise, and do pity her...."

Am I just being a cynic or were there others reading this who thought Mrs P was being clever in coming with her daughter to see Sam - maybe if either of them had come alone, and with Bess being away, we might have had another patch of Franglais and Spanglish to interpret.....

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Susan, L&M say widow Pett claimed her husband had been owed £500 at his death. Do we know how old her daughter was? I think you're being cynical.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... here we saw “The Unfortunate Lovers,” no extraordinary play,..."

Sam, this is the third time you've seen this play, and you didn't think much of it the other two times either.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Mrs. Turner...did tell me of young Captain Holmes’s marrying of Pegg Lowther last Saturday by stealth, which I was sorry for, he being an idle rascal, and proud, and worth little, I doubt; and she a mighty pretty, well-disposed lady, and good fortune."

L&M: The bridegroom was John Holmes, younger brother of Sir Robert, the admiral, and himself later a knight and admiral. The bride was the daughter of Ald. Robert Lowther or London, and sister of Anthony, who had married Peg Penn.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Her mother and friends take on mightily;"

L&M: But the marriage certificate records her mother's consent.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Sir Robert Holmes do seem to be mad too with his brother, and will disinherit him, saying that he hath ruined himself, marrying below himself, and to his disadvantage; whereas, I said, in this company, that I had married a sister lately, with little above half that portion,"

L&M: Paulina, married to John Jackson on 27 February, with a portion of £600.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

I asked above: Do we know how old the daughter of the widow of Christopher Pett was?

The best I've been able to find out is that, like her mother, named Ann, died 1714, married in 1674 to Daniel Furzer (Master Shipwright, Chatham: 1698, Surveyor of the Navy 1699) -- so she may not yet be marriageable.
My source is Wikipedia's amazing Pett Dynasty page:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pett_dynasty#Extens…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The House of Commons was in a feisty mood today. They discussed banning the export of woolens ... voted not to act on Charles II's plea for religious toleration, despite a warning that no one will want to give this news to Charles ... called for hearings about the fees charged for Milford Haven Light-house ... and seem predisposed to continue to suppress conventicles.

The trouble with riots is that they often scare the powers that be into reactionary positions. But no riots means the powers assume all is well. More riots to come?

Harry R  •  Link

"that he should have kissed her breech before he should have had her"

I don't understand this remark. It's presumably some kind of an insult but what is its literal meaning? It seems to me unlike Sam to to be so indiscreetly disparaging, even if we know he's capable of such thoughts. And then he says he's sorry for the girl.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"kissed her breech" must be one of the idioms that has been lost to time, Harry. I Googled it, and their guess was "kiss my arse" ... indicating he wasn't good enough for her.

Given the Holmes' family relationship with Prince Rupert, we can assume Capt. John Holmes was a young "gentleman captain". Then there are rumors about Robert Holmes and Elizabeth from pre-Diary days -- so we can safely assume Pepys would be disparaging about anything the brothers did. History shows us that they might have been 'gentlemen captains,' but they were both excellent seamen.
The family came from Ireland, so their background also made them a tad suspect.

We also know (but Pepys presumably did not at the time) that her mother signed the Marriage Certificate, so the rumor that she and the family friends are upset by the couple's marriage is also suspect. Surprised is probably a better word. Maybe Margaret's step-father was plotting a glorious arranged marriage for her, and he's pissed that won't happen.

Vice Adm. Sir John Holmes MP's Parliamentary bio indicates he and Peg live in Robert Holmes' mansion on the Isle of Wight, and they had a daughter and two sons. The brothers continued to serve together, so that shows the brothers were not estranged by this event.
http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1…

The whole episode sounds like Pepys calling the kettle black to a group of gossips to me. (I'd like to hear what the gossips had to say about the Pepys' marriage.)

Harry R  •  Link

Thanks Sarah. I wasn't aware that there was history between Holmes and Bess (or I'd forgotten more like). I too googled the phrase and came up with this from Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale "Oh no,” said the Host. “Christ send me to hell first! I’ll never give you anything as long as I live. You’d call your own pants a relic and make me kiss them even though they’re soiled with crap!"

It would have made more sense to me if Sam had said Holmes should have dismissed the idea of the marriage by kicking her breech or that she would have to kiss his before he would even consider it.

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