Thursday 19 November 1668

Up, and at the Office all the morning, with my heart full of joy to think in what a safe condition all my matters now stand between my wife and Deb, and me, and at noon running up stairs to see the upholsters, who are at work upon hanging my best room, and setting up my new bed, I find my wife sitting sad in the dining room; which enquiring into the reason of, she begun to call me all the false, rotten-hearted rogues in the world, letting me understand that I was with Deb. yesterday, which, thinking it impossible for her ever to understand, I did a while deny, but at last did, for the ease of my mind and hers, and for ever to discharge my heart of this wicked business, I did confess all, and above stairs in our bed chamber there I did endure the sorrow of her threats and vows and curses all the afternoon, and, what was worse, she swore by all that was good that she would slit the nose of this girle, and be gone herself this very night from me, and did there demand 3 or 400l. of me to buy my peace, that she might be gone without making any noise, or else protested that she would make all the world know of it. So with most perfect confusion of face and heart, and sorrow and shame, in the greatest agony in the world I did pass this afternoon, fearing that it will never have an end; but at last I did call for W. Hewer, who I was forced to make privy now to all, and the poor fellow did cry like a child, [and] obtained what I could not, that she would be pacified upon condition that I would give it under my hand never to see or speak with Deb, while I live, as I did before with Pierce and Knepp, and which I did also, God knows, promise for Deb. too, but I have the confidence to deny it to the perjury of myself. So, before it was late, there was, beyond my hopes as well as desert, a durable peace; and so to supper, and pretty kind words, and to bed, and there je did hazer con elle to her content, and so with some rest spent the night in bed, being most absolutely resolved, if ever I can master this bout, never to give her occasion while I live of more trouble of this or any other kind, there being no curse in the world so great as this of the differences between myself and her, and therefore I do, by the grace of God, promise never to offend her more, and did this night begin to pray to God upon my knees alone in my chamber, which God knows I cannot yet do heartily; but I hope God will give me the grace more and more every day to fear Him, and to be true to my poor wife. This night the upholsters did finish the hanging of my best chamber, but my sorrow and trouble is so great about this business, that it puts me out of all joy in looking upon it or minding how it was.

26 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Ormond to Sir Thomas Wharton
Written from: Whitehall
Date: 19 November 1668

Thanks his correspondent for friendly advertisements concerning some reports of the writer's removal from his Lieutenancy. ... His enemies are not like to prevail with the King ... till the writer shall have been once more in Ireland; and then, no man shall be more desirous to remove him from, than he will be to quit, the government. ... He would not, for any worldly good, be tied, during life, to the drudgery, disquiet, & envy, which attend [in MS.: "attends"] it. ...…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Oh, Lord...I am so dreadfully sorry to have been caught."

Amazing intelligence service, Bess "Walsingham" Pepys. I wonder if she followed him yesterday...?

Ah, well...Poor Sam. Poor Bess. And above all, poor, poor Will Hewer, having to bear all this. Hard to follow the timeline but it sounds like Bess took pity on praying, weeping Sam, alone in his chamber after her raging all afternoon, and brought him in for supper and make-up sex. Lets hope he means it but I suspect he will be out and about for Deb tomorrow. Perhaps Bess, suspecting even worse, was mollified by his sincerity in confessing to what was true and rather grateful to find it was no worse, bad as it was.

"Oh, Bess...You can't leave...I'd give you everything. All um...500 pounds."

"Sir, you have at least..."

"Shut up, Hewer!"

Mary  •  Link

"which God knows I cannot yet do heartily...."

Hmmmm. At least Sam recognises that he's just going through the motions for the time being.

We must hope that Will Hewer will continue to play the good and faithful servant, as this intimate knowledge of Pepys' affairs could give him quite a hold over his boss.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"would slit the nose of this girle"
Poor Deb, thank God she still has an intact hymen, because going around with a slit nose and having lost her virginity she would be considered damaged goods and woul not find a good husband;by the way was virginity considered a virtue at the time?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Curious how this tragic one starts and ends with "joy". Guilty pleasure joy of a spoiled little boy sneaking his forbidden a shattered, flawed man realizing, however vaguely, but with increasing clarity, that he has lost the innocent shared joy he delighted in... Though he still couldn't resist noting that the chamber was finished, rather like that "we had an extraordinary good dinner" at the height of the fire. And something tells me Bess couldn't resist slipping over at some point between rages to eye the work herself.

Phoenix  •  Link

Rages indeed! Who knows what their relationship was really like but with her fury now, past episodes involving servants and female friends, complaints that Sam hadn't touched her for months at a time and hints that she's inclined to dress in ways that displease her husband it's possible she's less deserving of sympathy than would appear to be the case.

Background Lurker  •  Link

"by the way was virginity considered a virtue at the time"

I guess we would have to say "it depends". By all accounts young Mrs Frances Stuart valued hers more than, say, Barbara Palmer did.

languagehat  •  Link

"but I have the confidence to deny it to the perjury of myself."

Can anybody parse this remarkably opaque clause?

"complaints that Sam hadn’t touched her for months at a time and hints that she’s inclined to dress in ways that displease her husband it’s possible she’s less deserving of sympathy than would appear to be the case."

You're kidding, right? Please tell me you're kidding.

LHayes  •  Link

Amazing entry.

"and did there demand 3 or 400l. of me to buy my peace, that she might be gone without making any noise, or else protested that she would make all the world know of it."

Apparently Elizabeth could be confident that Sam's conduct was shameful enough that she could seriously hurt him by exposure. Given Sam's conduct over the years, I'd been thinking that his behavior was considered within the bounds of normality for the time. What's different here? Deb's standing as a respectable companion for Elizabeth? His breaking of his oath that he wouldn't see her again?

Not sure I get this: "she would be pacified upon condition that I would give it under my hand never to see or speak with Deb, while I live, as I did before with Pierce and Knepp, and which I did also, God knows, promise for Deb. too, but I have the confidence to deny it to the perjury of myself."

Is he saying he is now denying that he earlier took at oath never to see Deb again (though he and God know he did)? I get it he's taking such an oath now, and Elizabeth is apparently accepting it. Tonight he seems sincere in his regret, but it's hard to see why she should trust him this time (even as he's lying to her again!), or to feel confident that the peace is really "durable."

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Should be "earlier when there was a need" &c.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Oh, this was awful...The worst thing in the world." San, sighing. "I must keep to the right path."

Little angel Sam appears on right shoulder. "Well, thank God you've learnt at last, Samuel. Bess is a treasure of uncommon kindness to be cherished whilst we..."

Devil Sam on left... "Sam? You know if she can put up even with this? Maybe one more visit to Deb...?"

"Avant, ye demon!" Angel Sam. "In the name of all things good and Bess!"

"Sam...You know you want the girl. And she seemed nearly there...Yesterday...And what would be the harm to anyone? You won't get her...You know."

"Samuel...God sees all...And Bess even more, it seems." Angel Sam, reflecting...

"Oh, pshaw. God's never minded about a little thing like this. Did He show any wrath over Diana Crisp? No... Now this fair to you? Bess thinks you've...You know...With the girl already. You know she does. So why not go and get it over with? You may as well reap the...Benefit...Of all this suffering."



"What are you gonna do choir boy, tell him about next year?"

Ooops...Devil Sam flames out...

Phoenix  •  Link

It would be reasonable (Sam certainly thinks so) for Elizabeth to dress in a manner in keeping with his sense of propriety. She has in the past refused to so. He has absented himself from sex with her for lengthy periods - something husbands generally don't do without cause. And being studious to a modern sensibility can in some provoke astonishment.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

“but I have the confidence to deny it to the perjury of myself"

Simply that he does not intend to keep his word.

languagehat  •  Link

"Simply that he does not intend to keep his word."

That may well be what he means, but I don't think "simply" is le mot juste.

Mary  •  Link

"confidence' seems to represent the crux of the query here.

There existed a pejorative sense of the word, (OED gives examples from 1594 - 1694) which could be taken to mean excess of assurance, over-boldness, hardihood, presumption, impudence.

Pepys' use here is surely of this kind. He's admitting the brazenness of his conduct, but pursuing that course anyway.

London Lynn  •  Link

Agree with language hat - Samuel making promises but with his fingers crossed behind his back!

David G  •  Link

I may be a bit slow on the uptake -- especially after nearly nine years of reading the diary and annotations every day -- but is the explanation for today's confrontation, and Bess's anger at Sam over the past weeks, that she has learned to read Sam's shorthand and is looking at his entries in the diary when he's out, so she "knows all," as they say?

Bess must know that Sam writes in his diary most days, and after more than 3,000 diary entries, there has to have been at least a few occasions when she saw him writing and leaned over his shoulder to ask what he's doing and why the letters look so odd. As the Diary Encyclopedia's entry on shorthand reflects, Sam was using a fairly common shorthand to write the diary and Bess could easily have purchased one of Thomas Shelton's guides to tachygraphy or perhaps Sam even kept a copy of a shorthand guide in the bookcase and she took a look at it.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Westminster, early morning: James, duke of York, sips his chocolate by his favorite fireplace. An usher discreetly introduces Navy comptroller Vice Admiral Sir John Mennes, intelligencer Sir Joseph Williamson, and Sir Stephen Fox, army paymaster and recipient of vast budgets for "secret services". Williamson tenders a thin file.

"The Pepys file", the duke guesses. "Thankfully not so thick".

"Indeed, your grace", Williamson says. "But we were right to worry that the fracas lately issuing from Pepys House could deserve the Crown's attention. 'Twas a woman, of course. Your grace knows our Clerk of the Acts..."

"A most devoted servant of his Majestie", York says with a wink and a nod.

"In this case, his errands around London grew so frantic yesterday, and took him to parts so disreputable and so thick with our Agents, that my man needed but two hours to figure his interest: The maid of one Doctor Allbon..."

"Known to you?" York asks.

"A poor, broken fellow", Fox supplies. "But the name is Scot, of course".

"Scotland?" York's mind veers to a thousand theories of sedition and Conspiracies.

"For the sake of discretion we haven't hauled him in yet but we checked and the best matches were at…", and they're all Scots."

"Our trusted Clerk and repository of every Naval secret was also tailed by two Dutch agents and one French, so discreet was he", Williamson says. "Mr. Pepys cares for his appearance, so as things stand, the potential for blackmail..."

"Should, for instance, this broke Scot doctor realize what he's got on his doorstep..."

"Yes, yes, I see", York says.

"We can neutralize some of the key characters", Fox suggests eagerly.

A shrug of ducal shoulders... but without the raised eyebrows that would mean assent, to Fox's slight dismay. York instead asks for notepaper and a quill, scribbles a few words, folds and seals the note. "I have a better idea. Mr Mennes?" The admiral wakes up with a jolt, "ha! Your R'yal 'ness?"

"Pray have this note delivered by a trusted hand to Mrs. Pepys' personal and private attention. Let us lance the boil while it is still small."

"Use Sam's factotum", Williamson adds - with Mennes it never hurts to give precise instructions. "What's his name, Brewer?"

"Hewer", Mennes recalls. "Yes, he'll be perfect. I'll do this right away, while Mr Pepys is at the Office."

From a pocket the duke of York fishes out a fat, freshly-minted gold coin, hands it to Mennes. "Leave that with the boy for his discretion and service to England. Good. So, gentlemen, chill weather, what? An early winter, I say. Chocolate, anyone?"

Sam Ursu  •  Link

"but I have the confidence to deny it to the perjury of myself"

The way I read this, he was saying that his promises about not seeing Deb again were TRUE because otherwise, he'd be perjuring himself because of the oath given to Hewer.

In other words, he's saying, "Bess, I might've lied to you before, but now that I swore an oath in front of a witness (Hewer), I'd be severely embarrassing myself if I end up breaking my word."

But my interpretation may be wrong...

mountebank  •  Link

Tricky isn't it? Not only do we have Sam-speak that sometimes is hard to get to the bottom of but we also have Sam possibly lying to himself, possibly lying to Elizabeth, and possibly both.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

I have to take exception the Phoenix's comment. Liz is a woman who knows what she deserves and it is more than what Sam is giving her. She is a fighter and she is fierce. Maybe that requires some to think she is undeserving for being so, I certainly do not!

JB  •  Link

I'm throwing in with Mary, languagehat, and London Lynn. My reading of "but I have the confidence to deny it to the perjury of myself", given past behavior and modes of expression, is that he is projecting into the future and at least considering not keeping his word, but is comfortable in doing so because he believes he will have skill enough to get away with it, even if it means perjuring himself.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

I forgot to add: What a stupendous entry!

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