Monday 27 July 1668

Busy all the morning at my office. At noon dined, and then I out of doors to my bookseller in Duck Lane, but su moher not at home, and it was pretty here to see a pretty woman pass by with a little wanton look, and je did sequi her round about the street from Duck Lane to Newgate Market, and then elle did turn back, and je did lose her. And so to see my Lord Crew, whom I find up; and did wait on him; but his face sore, but in hopes to do now very well again. Thence to Cooper’s, where my wife’s picture almost done, and mighty fine indeed. So over the water with my wife, and Deb., and Mercer, to Spring-Garden, and there eat and walked; and observe how rude some of the young gallants of the town are become, to go into people’s arbours where there are not men, and almost force the women; which troubled me, to see the confidence of the vice of the age: and so we away by water, with much pleasure home. This day my plate- maker comes with my four little plates of the four Yards, cost me 5l., which troubles me, but yet do please me also.

14 Annotations

LKvM  •  Link

Sam Pepys, stalker of pretty women "with a little wanton look."
I'll be very interested to read annotations about "young gallants . . . going into people's arbours where there are not men . . . ."

Jenny  •  Link

The irony of the two incidents in one diary entry seems to escape Sam entirely.

Max Gay  •  Link

I have been an avid reader of the diary and the annotations but have refrained from commenting until this entry. The entry today makes me think that while by our standards Samuel is lascivious and wanton in his dealings with women, the almost offhand way he refers to the actions of "young gallants" makes me think that in his day Samuel may have been considered a bit of a prude. And his less aggressive manner may have in fact been a welcome change for some of those women who were accustomed to rougher treatment.

Jesper  •  Link

By describing this pretty woman as looking "wanton" I imagine Sam is implying that she was a prostitute out trawling the streets for trade. And his following her would suggest that the thought of getting a bit on the side may have entered his mind.

Obviously it wasn't meant to be as he lost track of her before deciding one way or the other. And his subsequent expression of dismay towards the younger generation's lewd behavior also suggests a man in several minds on the subject of carnality.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

One of Sam's great appeals is his willingness to describe his several minds with an honesty that we can all recognise.
To wit: "cost me £5, which troubles me but yet do please me also"

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Certainly Sam thought the young lady was the willing type at least. Added to his uncomfortable feeling toward the "gallants" would offer some hope that he required some willing interest or cooperation on the lady's part to proceed beyond a certain degree of groping. Hard to say though if he's simply annoyed that the young blokes do it openly, in a public place by light of day rather than keep it for say, a dark coach or one's quiet closet.

Sounds as though Sam couldn't get the plates paid for by the Office.

Well, at least he hasn't started trying to use the eyes to accomplish his goals. "Oh, miss? I hate to trouble you but..." sigh...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

The Duck Lane bookseller seems a wise fellow...

"And that pretty wife of yours...Another errand?"

"Delivery, sir. Will that be all, sir?"

"Could she perhaps deliver these?"

"Oh, no, sir...Busy all day, sir. Be happy to deliver myself, sir."

"No, no. I'll not trouble you. I'll return for them."

"Very good, sir. A moment for your change, sir" goes back.

Hiss..."This mean I'm stuck back here all day, tomorrow, too?"

"Would you rather wait on him?"

"No...Plenty to do back here."

Nate  •  Link

Jasper, Robert, and Max: his use of "gallants" suggests to me that they are from the upper class as well and they know that they are immune for discipline unless they pick the wrong young woman, ie, one of their own class who complains.

AnnieC  •  Link

The pretty woman's "little wanton look" suggests the possibility that she recognised Sam the famous groper even though not personally acquainted.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"The pretty woman’s “little wanton look” suggests the possibility that she recognised Sam the famous groper even though not personally acquainted."

Intriguing...One does wonder at what point gossip about Sam has to start making the rounds when he seems so unable to restrain himself with any vulnerable woman...While on the other hand, he does generally stick to women often considered at this time fair game for a man in his position of power, sooner or later he has to acquire some notoriety. To be fair a desperate woman turning to him for support...A widow like Burroughs for example...seems to leave him with something for her trouble and he is not brutal physcially so he may actually have a rather good rep compared with other men with something like his power. I could see a Bagwell insisting to his wife that Mr. Pepys is a true gentleman who keeps his word and would not use her roughly. Sadly many did not measure up to Sam's behavior, awful thought.

languagehat  •  Link

"The entry today makes me think that while by our standards Samuel is lascivious and wanton in his dealings with women, the almost offhand way he refers to the actions of 'young gallants' makes me think that in his day Samuel may have been considered a bit of a prude."

Oh, I seriously doubt that. I'm pretty sure he's just applying the usual double (or triple) standard ("I am a gallant cavalier, you are somewhat crude in your approach to the ladies, those guys over there are sexist pigs").

Australian Susan  •  Link

Women alone

At the end of the nineteenth century, a woman could be arrested simply for walking the street by herself. It was assumed, if she was without maid, chaperone or respectable male companion, that she was Up To No Good. This mindset lingered on for far too many years into the 20th century - if a female was alone with a man, of course, intercourse had taken place because men had uncontrollable urges and if you were alone with a man, what did you expect? And this is also used for all those defences [sic] of rape - that the female person was "asking for it", by her behaviour, mode of clothing or demenour.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Apropos of what I wrote above - has anyone else read Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage series of novels? Apart from being, wopderfully, the first stream of consciousness novels, they are full of the dilemmas of the young woman at the start of the 20th century trying to be independent, but walking a social minefield. In the Diary, we note that Bess is hardly ever described as being out alone - she takes a maid or female companion with her or Sam drops her off and collects her from respectable places.

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