Friday 12 March 1668/69

Up, and abroad, with my own coach, to Auditor Beale’s house, and thence with W. Hewer to his Office, and there with great content spent all the morning looking over the Navy accounts of several years, and the several patents of the Treasurers, which was more than I did hope to have found there. About noon I ended there, to my great content, and giving the clerks there 20s. for their trouble, and having sent for W. Howe to me to discourse with him about the Patent Office records, wherein I remembered his brother to be concerned, I took him in my coach with W. Hewer and myself towards Westminster; and there he carried me to Nott’s, the famous bookbinder, that bound for my Lord Chancellor’s library; and here I did take occasion for curiosity to bespeak a book to be bound, only that I might have one of his binding. Thence back to Graye’s Inne: and, at the next door, at a cook’s-shop of Howe’s acquaintance, we bespoke dinner, it being now two o’clock; and in the meantime he carried us into Graye’s Inne, to his chamber, where I never was before; and it is very pretty, and little, and neat, as he was always. And so, after a little stay, and looking over a book or two there, we carried a piece of my Lord Coke with us, and to our dinner, where, after dinner, he read at my desire a chapter in my Lord Coke about perjury, wherein I did learn a good deal touching oaths, and so away to the Patent Office; in Chancery Lane, where his brother Jacke, being newly broke by running in debt, and growing an idle rogue, he is forced to hide himself; and W. Howe do look after the Office, and here I did set a clerk to look out some things for me in their books, while W. Hewer and I to the Crowne Offices where we met with several good things that I most wanted, and did take short notes of the dockets, and so back to the Patent Office, and did the like there, and by candle-light ended. And so home, where, thinking to meet my wife with content, after my pains all this day, I find her in her closet, alone, in the dark, in a hot fit of railing against me, upon some news she has this day heard of Deb.’s living very fine, and with black spots, and speaking ill words of her mistress, which with good reason might vex her; and the baggage is to blame, but, God knows, I know nothing of her, nor what she do, nor what becomes of her, though God knows that my devil that is within me do wish that I could. Yet God I hope will prevent me therein, for I dare not trust myself with it if I should know it; but, what with my high words, and slighting it, and then serious, I did at last bring her to very good and kind terms, poor heart! and I was heartily glad of it, for I do see there is no man can be happier than myself, if I will, with her. But in her fit she did tell me what vexed me all the night, that this had put her upon putting off her handsome maid and hiring another that was full of the small pox, which did mightily vex me, though I said nothing, and do still. So down to supper, and she to read to me, and then with all possible kindness to bed.

13 Annotations

Chris Squire  •  Link

' . . and looking over a book or two there, we carried a piece of my Lord Coke with us, . . '

OED offers 25 distinct meanings for 'piece' but not this one.

Jenny  •  Link

Chris, I take "piece" as meaning a "piece written by Lord Coke" i.e. a book or pamphlet; used in the same way we say "what a fine piece of writing".

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sam's day could have been written by Charles Dickens. His descriptions of government offices and the work done therein seems to have changed little from the 1660s to the 1830s.

Sam's diligence and attention to detail during these days is similar to his preparation for his Great Speech in Parliament and both these efforts to marshal facts, gather evidence etc. will stand him in good stead when (post Diary) he gets slung in the Tower himself and has to work up a complex defence with few resources - but he had his mind and what a resource that was!

Reading the end of this entry, I had this sudden vision of Bess hiring a make up artist from Drury Lane to "inflict" smallpox scars on future maids.

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Australian Sue, I find that worth a deep chuckle.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

"some news she has this day heard of Deb.’s living very fine, and with black spots,"

Shades of Thomas Hardy's "The Ruined Maid"

Adam  •  Link

Wanted: Housemaid for large household. Must be hideously ugly and scarred by smallpox.

Betsy  •  Link

I almost spit my coffee all over my computer when I read that part about the mangy maid with the pox. I love it! I don't think there ever WAS a beautiful maid she was going to hire. It was all some feminine ruse...

Dorothy Willis  •  Link

Hiring unattractive maids seems only prudent to me, given Sam's susceptibility.

Mary  •  Link

The problem is that, if this new maid is ever to serve Elizabeth as her waiting-woman and accompany her abroad, it would look much better if she appeared at least personable rather than downright ugly. Elizabeth finds herself caught on the horns of a dilemma.

Australian Susan  •  Link

A Personable Maid

Yes - Bess needs someone to accompany her on outings who looks good (but not as good as she), so this maid with the smallpox scars is presumably only for household duties.

Reminds me of a story (probably a factoid) about Mrs Beckham who, when they moved to the US, demanded that applicants for her personal assistant's position had to be less pretty than she was as she was the star. Status matters. Probably why Bess is so incensed over the report about Deb.

Chris Squire  •  Link

Jenny: thanks - I agree on rereading that the following sentence makes it clear that the item was one of Coke's writings and so 'a piece'. I had overlooked this & taken it to be one of Coke's books not by him.

AnnieC  •  Link

Honey, I'm ho-ome! "...where, thinking to meet my wife with content, after my pains all this day, I find her in her closet, alone, in the dark, in a hot fit of railing against me,...”
Never a dull moment with Bess.

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