Tuesday 27 October 1668

[Continued from yesterday. P.G.] …in the morning up, but my mind troubled for the poor girle, with whom I could not get opportunity to speak, but to the office, my mind mighty full of sorrow for her, where all the morning, and to dinner with my people, and to the office all the afternoon, and so at night home, and there busy to get some things ready against to-morrow’s meeting of Tangier, and that being done, and my clerks gone, my wife did towards bedtime begin to be in a mighty rage from some new matter that she had got in her head, and did most part of the night in bed rant at me in most high terms of threats of publishing my shame, and when I offered to rise would have rose too, and caused a candle to be light to burn by her all night in the chimney while she ranted, while the knowing myself to have given some grounds for it, did make it my business to appease her all I could possibly, and by good words and fair promises did make her very quiet, and so rested all night, and… [Continued tomorrow. P.G.]

20 Annotations

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Curious that Bess doesn't express any wish to sleep elsewhere, despite ample guestrooms...She seems determined to duke it out once and for all.

"...while the knowing myself to have given some grounds for it..." Some, perhaps...Though lets not go overboard, eh?...

Yet to be fair, he avoided the ultimate disaster of getting Deb pregnant (if possible for our boy)...So far...And as I noted yesterday he picked a woman not really a threat to Bess. Almost as if unconsciously he sought to choose a girl who wouldn't constitute a situation that he couldn't hope to get out of easily with a messy dismissal at worst...Say with Knepp.

Of course he probably should avoid Bath in future.

"He's gone and done what to our beloved Deb?!!"

Jenny  •  Link

Deb may not be a threat socially but she has become part of the family. Treats, outings, holidays, theatre, shopping, she's always there. A friend, companion and surrogate daughter.

A double betrayal.

I know I've been taken to task for modern experience colouring my entries but, to me, it is not all surprising that Elizabeth has not moved to another room.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I think the modern experience certainly won't differ much in the fundamentals. What interested me was Bess' instinctive response here not to disengage in horror but to close in and fight it out. It is a betrayal of the family circle, a loving wife who's put up with considerable grief, and a shy young girl's trust in a surrogate father but in terms of future consequences Deb is someone easier for Bess to deal with...A Knepp or Pierce, even a Mercer, would be a totally different matter. I wonder if Bess' behavior to Mercer is an interesting clue...When she seemed a possible threat Bess did much to try to "slap her down" and reinforce the servant status. Later, when it was clear Sam enjoyed her company but had no serious interest and she was out of the house, Bess relaxed and accepted her as something of a friend...Though of course we have only Sam's view of the improved relationship, it does seen unlike Bess would go about with Mary on their own if she continued to resent her. A tribute of course also to Mary Mercer's remarkable concilatory skills and (I think likely) a very warm and lovable personality.

john  •  Link

Was Samuel a typical man of his time and status or was he a rake? If such abominable behaviour was typical, perhaps even expected, it paints matters differently.

languagehat  •  Link

"Was Samuel a typical man of his time and status or was he a rake?"

It's impossible to know, of course. While we can take for granted that the standard of behavior was very different back then, and (probably) that the level of outrage at his behavior, had it been publicized, would have been much less than a similar revelation would occasion today, I'm guessing that even for his time his behavior is at the far end of the scale. The term "obsessive" seems to apply clearly to his need to grope women, and I find it impossible to imagine that a large number of men behaved that way on such a regular basis, even if they could get away with it far more easily than is possible today.

Kate Bunting  •  Link

Adrian Tinniswood, in his book "The Verneys", tells how Ralph Verney, in exile in France during the Civil War and with his beloved wife mortally ill, asked his uncle in London to recruit an English maidservant for them. Uncle's reply assumed that Ralph would be having sexual relations with the girl. The author wonders; was it just a crude masculine joke, or was such behaviour really considered normal at that time?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"was Samuel a typical man"?
Methinks yes cf Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings a century later;of course it applies only if you could afford to have servants or slaves;I myself have several black 1st cousins because my grandfather in Brazil was like that;nowadays is totally different.

Jenny  •  Link

On the subject of whether Sam's behaviour was typical, I have also been following the very interesting Ralph Josselin diary and the records which go with it. It has been fascinating to see the difference between the punishment for and upholding of country morals during the same time period.

The Church in the country came down like a ton of bricks on those who didn't follow the moral code of the time. The records of excommunications and "purging under the hands of neighbours" for such things as impregnating your wife before you were married make incredible reading. Not that it made any difference to the actual people - they were all still at it like rabbits!

Ralph is a pious and faithful husband but even he says "came home and found my maid was dead". Not mentioned by name, not mentioned that he performed the burial service.

languagehat  •  Link

"Methinks yes cf Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings a century later"

I guess it depends what we're talking about. If it's just a matter of molesting the hired help, yes, that's absolutely typical in any situation where there is power without accountability. I was responding in the larger context of Sam's (apparently) obsessive need to be molesting any woman he's attracted to and feels he can get away with molesting. I mean, he very frequently goes out of his way to do so, and reports on his disappointment when he went to some shop and discovered his intended victim was not there. That's not normal for our time and I don't think it was normal for his; I suspect the (pointless, in a practical sense) insertion of Romance vocabulary in his reports on such activities is a signal of whatever psychological stuff is going on there. It may be that he couldn't help himself, and I'm not saying he's a Bad Person, but in our time he'd be getting much-needed counseling.

AnnieC  •  Link

Yes indeed, languagehat. One notices that Sam would rather have a furtive fumble than a normal sexual encounter with one of the accommodating ladies he knows.

cgs  •  Link

Re: Man and his lower brain.
This period of time is repete with every variation of moral behavior, Samuel's version of behavior is one many versions .
In nature, take the swan and gander they have differing standards.
Each human follows his own particular code, each to his own be the correct one.

Ian Greenwood  •  Link

In talking of sexual matters it is very difficult to claim that such and such behaviour is not 'normal for our time'. How can we know what is not normal for our time? In our social circle, perhaps; referring to oneself, more probably. But our society is so fragmented that my neighbours do not know what I do, and I do not know what they do. The norm is that we do not pry, nor think it very much worth knowing - unless, of course, we have adopted the mindset of the gutter press.
Pepys' description of his wife's reaction to this episode strikes me as all too sadly familiar, all too emotion-wrenchingly realistic.
I presume the full extent of Pepys' circumlocutions, paraphrases and euphemisms has been laid bare by now? His macaronic language is easily understood, but what of vaguer phrases like 'did what I would' and so forth? I find myself looking for suspicious phrases every time he wanders between the City and Whitehall!

languagehat  •  Link

"In talking of sexual matters it is very difficult to claim that such and such behaviour is not ‘normal for our time’. How can we know what is not normal for our time?"

Oh, come now. If you aren't aware that groping women is considered beyond the pale these days, I don't know what to tell you. Obviously it happens; pretty much everything happens at all times. But (Western) society has come to a collective decision, with much foot-dragging, that it will no longer laugh off "boys will be boys" behavior that involves molesting women. In Pepys' time (and until much more recently), it did. Surely this does not require learned footnotes.

jeannine  •  Link

Another thought to ponder as Elizabeth expresses her pain... most of the marriages at the time were probably arranged. What set this marriage apart was that it was 'for love'. I am sure that the sting of the betrayal goes quite deep for Elizabeth. If she had married as part of an arrangement then her expecations for the marriage could have been different and made this a less painful discovery.

Jenny  •  Link

"But (Western) society has come to a collective decision, with much foot-dragging, that it will no longer laugh off “boys will be boys” behavior that involves molesting women."

Really? I don't know which rarified bubble you live in. Sexual harassment policies in workplaces are laughed at as being "political correctness gone mad" and women are told "not make a fuss" or "you must have encouraged it" when they report gropings and inappropriate behaviour.

languagehat  •  Link

I live in the rarified bubble known as the US of A. Every place I've worked for the last couple of decades has been absolutely intolerant of sexual harassment, and that has been the experience of people I know as well. I'm sure there are still plenty of benighted workplaces -- these things always take time -- but if you think there's been no change over the last few decades, again, I don’t know what to tell you. I understand bitterness at the slow pace of progress, but that doesn't justify ignoring progress altogether.

Autumnbreeze Movies  •  Link

Also in Australia people are legally and effectively protected against sexual harassment, and well aware of the very unpleasant consequences of such behaviour. On the other hand, in Italy, for example, law is one thing and machismo behaviours are often another. Could it be that in the 'old' countries, where attitudes continued for millennia in unbroken flow, it is more difficult to change behaviour, especially when custom is fused with natural inclination?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"caused a candle to be lit [not 'light'] to burn by her all night" -- so L&M.

psw  •  Link

From 2018 Feb, these prurient inspired thoughts seem pretty funny...or naive.? Plus ca change...

Not that I be better... I more agree with the Old Salty one.

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