Friday 7 May 1669

Up, and by coach to W. Coventry’s; and there to talk with him a great deal with great content; and so to the Duke of York, having a great mind to speak to him about Tangier; but, when I come to it, his interest for my Lord Middleton is such that I dare not.

So to the Treasury chamber, and then walked home round by the Excise Office, having by private vows last night in prayer to God Almighty cleared my mind for the present of the thoughts of going to Deb. at Greenwich, which I did long after.

I passed by Guildhall, which is almost finished, and saw a poor labourer carried by, I think, dead with a fall, as many there are, I hear.

So home to dinner, and then to the office a little, and so to see my Lord Brouncker, who is a little ill of the gout; and there Madam Williams told me that she heard that my wife was going into France this year, which I did not deny, if I can get time, and I pray God I may. But I wondering how she come to know it, she tells me a woman that my wife spoke to for a maid, did tell her so, and that a lady that desires to go thither would be glad to go in her company. Thence with my wife abroad, with our coach, most pleasant weather; and to Hackney, and into the marshes, where I never was before, and thence round about to Old Ford and Bow; and coming through the latter home, there being some young gentlewomen at a door, and I seeming not to know who they were, my wife’s jealousy told me presently that I knew well enough it was that damned place where Deb. dwelt, which made me swear very angrily that it was false, as it was, and I carried [her] back again to see the place, and it proved not so, so I continued out of humour a good while at it, she being willing to be friends, so I was by and by, saying no more of it. So home, and there met with a letter from Captain Silas Taylor, and, with it, his written copy of a play that he hath wrote, and intends to have acted. — It is called “The Serenade, or Disappointment,” which I will read, not believing he can make any good of that kind. He did once offer to show Harris it, but Harris told him that he would judge by one Act whether it were good or no, which is indeed a foolish saying, and we see them out themselves in the choice of a play after they have read the whole, it being sometimes found not fit to act above three times; nay, and some that have been refused at one house is found a good one at the other. This made Taylor say he would not shew it him, but is angry, and hath carried it to the other house, and he thinks it will be acted there, though he tells me they are not yet agreed upon it. But I will find time to get it read to me, and I did get my wife to begin a little to-night in the garden, but not so much as I could make any judgment of it.

So home to supper and to bed.

19 Annotations

First Reading

Linda F  •  Link

Poor Elisabeth. At least she did not infer from Sam's being so very positive that Deb did not live in the vicinity that he therefore must know where she does.

Perhaps in France she was able to leave this behind. Actually said "damned place"? -- or is that Sam?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Well, God bless you Sam...One entry that will give you some comfort later on, in that you did try. Another crack at praying the lust away, eh?

Seems Bess is quite familiar with your "What? What young gentlewomen?" look.

Hmmn...That should make for an interesting sojourn in France. That land of puritan virtue where no doubt our boy will find only the most innocent of scenes to strengthen his moral character.

Linda F  •  Link

What they will both find in France is relief from the prospect of encountering Deb W. -- a relief indeed.

R.G., Must take exception to the characterization of France as more morally lax than England, particularly at this period in history. Please, lay off French folk! They were and are not all sybarites. Thanks.

Billy Pilgrim  •  Link

Interesting to see the point about a labourer killed on the reconstruction of the Guildhall, no 'elf and safery in those days

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sorry, my comment was misunderstood. It was not a comment on morality of French-men and -women but only on my amusement at Bess' willingness to expose Sam to even more of the pretty "young gentlewomen" and equally fearful I suspect, the clever and witty young gentlewomen, Sam's likely to encounter in France in social settings featuring wonders guaranteed to be irresistible to him (and her) in music, art, philosophy, architecture, and minus the remains of England's recent official attempts to enforce a theocratic public morality, which however unsuccessful, clearly had some restraining effect on Sam for a time (i.e, he used to be much more fearful of being spied in public with ladies). No doubt in France there is currently a view of heretic England, the land where marriage was so recently reduced to a civil ceremony as a nation of people living in sin with the corrosive effects borne out by scandalous rumors of the debauchery of Charles' court...Not entirely without merit.

Of course I realize the emotional and sentimental pull is overweighing Bess' likely natural caution and there is the practical realization that she likely will never have such leverage over her boy as to enforce the long-desired trip abroad again. It's a pity we won't have a diary of the trip...

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"It’s a pity we won’t have a diary of the trip…"

We have a letter Evelyn wrote Samuel providing an ideal itinerary, but we know not whether the Pepyses followed it, nor what really happened (or did not) on that trip.

Allen Appel  •  Link

Has anyone ever written historical fiction about Pepys? Either while the diary was being recorded or after? Except Robert G. of course.

AnnieC  •  Link

I enjoyed The Journal of Mrs Pepys by Sara George, first published 1998. "Compelling and often moving" said the Sunday Times review. Reading it in conjunction with the Diary added to the enjoyment.

Linda F  •  Link

R.G., Sorry that I misunderstood your comment; thanks for the clarification.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Dale Spender also wrote a Diary for Elisabeth. Her characterisation makes Bess much more fed up with Sam much more frequently and covers the period pre Diary and only part of the Diary. It also has Bess keeping a Diary first and Sam copying her. ISBN 0586067353 called the Diary of Elizabeth Pepys and available 2nd hand. actually preferred it to the Sara George one which I found bland, apart from the poignant last few pages.

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Many thanks Terry. I found myself eagerly wanting to follow all Evelyn's suggestions. But then I read the heartbreaking letter of thanks from Sam that follows.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I passed by Guildhall, which is almost finished, "

L&M note work in fact continued on it and its ancillary buildings for many years, but in November 1671 it was so far complete that it was again used for the elaborate ceremonies of the installation of the Lord Mayor's feast: LBO, Repert. 76, f. 245r.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"met with a letter from Captain Silas Taylor, and, with it, his written copy of a play that he hath wrote, and intends to have acted. — It is called “The Serenade, or Disappointment,”"

L&M note the play is not otherwise known. Silas Taylor (naval storekeeper at Harwich) was an antiquary and musician.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... having by private vows last night in prayer to God Almighty cleared my mind for the present of the thoughts of going to Deb. at Greenwich, which I did long after."

Another, but different, example of Pepys using the word "vow" when we would use the word "resolve". Although he admits he had to pray on the subject (and I don't recall him admitting to real prayer on any other occasion in the Diary), he didn't make a bargain with God to ensure his good behavior, he made his (albeit qualified) decision his own responsibility.
I think we all know about taking difficult/painful decisions one day at a time.

For Pepys' more common use of vows in his career, see:…

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