The Wife of Mr. Secretary Pepys

WHEN a man or woman is set up on high, we all stop to look, and those who come behind us stop to look also; and presently a path is worn to this object of notice, Time builds a little shrine about the place, antiquity adds its ornamental advantages, and behold ! the man or woman is famous. No doubt it would often puzzle the biographers (except when they write of themselves) to tell why they pick out those whose images they recall and reconstruct for the future. By reason of their skill, they force us to pay tribute to many a being we would not tolerate if brought into actual touch with, and as many times they fail to perceive the rarest opportunities for character study lying ready to their hands. Of the many records of lives in themselves uneventful or unprofitable which we find in the history of the times of the second Charles, we are sure they were unlike their fellows merely in their having been talked about. Nor do all of this epoch whose lives are told meet with proper recognition, if they happen to abide under the shadow of a stronger personality.

For instance, who would not (if he stopped to notice her) feel a pity for little Mrs. Secretary Pepys, doomed, not only in her actual existence, but for long years after, to remain still in the corner of the canvas whereon the racy and unique portrait of her husband is painted with his own incomparable skill ? Examine the corner where he sketched her (we will assume it was the upper left-hand corner, as being nearest the heart which beat with very real affection for her who had the honor to be his wife), and we find it to be as perfect in its way as that large figure of himself. She was an important factor in his life, and the active portion of her existence, that which affected his daily contentment, was never slighted or forgotten by Samuel Pepys. What she thought, or felt, he probably never inquired; he cared intensely for what she did, but the wishes or desires she entertained behind the row of little round curls that adorned her forehead he never guessed. As we read his unconscious revelations — betrayed even to his Diary only under the cover of a cipher of his own invention— of his daily life and of his wife, we get a glimpse now and then of much which the shrewd secretary, with all his cunning, seldom suspected; and from what he tells, and what he does not tell, we gather a pretty coherent idea of the character of Elizabeth St. Michael, his wife.

Information about her other than that obtained from Pepys himself is but meagre. Elsewhere we learn that she was of French blood on the paternal side ; her mother was English, and, it is said, came from the well-born Cliffords of Cumberland ; but it would seem that Elizabeth inherited much of the Gallic vivacity and love of gayety which made her so fond of dancing that, later, her husband was fain to be jealous of her dancingmaster; and perhaps it was to the St. Michaels she owed her beauty also.

It must have been her father’s choice which sent her to be educated at a convent in France, from which early association doubtless came the predilection for Papists that so distressed the Protestant Pepys. It was not much of an education in any direction, and it was over soon ; for Elizabeth left her convent at fifteen, and it must have been very shortly after that Samuel Pepys saw and loved her, and so speedily made her his wife.

At that time it was not, apparently, a very brilliant match she was making with the son of a London tailor, living in retirement on a small property in Brompton ; but, in comparison with the extreme poverty of her own family, it may have seemed such to her. Pepys, then twenty-two years old, had lately come from Cambridge, where, as sizar of Magdalen College, he had made a reputation for being a “ reading-man,”and had also been publicly admonished for being “scandalously overserved with drink,” — thus early showing the two strongest tendencies of his nature, the intellectual and the carnal appetites. Great always was his faith in himself, and so shrewd a calculator as he must have been certain of his yet untried powers, when he rushed in this precipitate fashion into matrimony with a penniless girl; for his only prospects lay in the favor of his kinsman, Sir Edward Montagu.

How and where Pepys first met Elizabeth we do not know, but of one thing we are sure: the wooing was ardent, for he was ever “ mighty fond ” of a pretty face, and hers must have been very pretty to cause him to forget her lack of dower. And it must have been a short courtship, too, for in October of 1653, before she was sixteen, they were married, and went to live in the family of Sir Edward Montagu, whom Pepys served as a hanger-on and useful dependent might. We can imagine him very industrious, and very subservient to his noble cousin ; and in time he won his reward, for Sir Edward, in 1658, got him a clerkship in the Exchequer. From the first entry in the Diary, dated the next year, we find Pepys was already “ esteemed rich, but indeed,”he adds, “ very poor.” We must agree with him, for they lived then, with only one maid, in Axe Yard, off King Street, Westminster, and must often have felt the pinch of poverty. Their rooms were in the garret, and they were obliged to make more than one dinner off a single fowl, since we notice Elizabeth “ dressed the remains of a turkey [for dinner], and in the doing of it she burned her hand.”

Money is scarce with the young couple, and Pepys borrows to pay his half-yearly rent. The Diary tells how he once “ went to my father’s, . . . where I found my wife, who was forced to dine there, we not having one coal of fire in the house and it being very hard frosty weather.” But they were young and light-hearted, and picked up what amusements they could get cheaply or at some one else’s expense ; and Samuel is, at this time, a most devoted husband, and takes his wife with him to church regularly of a “ Lord’s Day,” and to make merry at his father’s, and once to his cousin’s, Thomas Pepys’, where they had a dinner, “ which was very good ; only the venison pasty was palpable beef which was not handsome.” He consults her, too, as to his business (a habit he never gave over), whether for advice or sympathy he does not say ; and if on one page we read how she was “ unwilling to let me go forth, but with some discontent would go out if I did, and I going forth towards Whitehall I saw she followed me, and so I staid and took her through Whitehall, and so carried her home angry,” on the next leaf he tells that “ I and my wife were in pleasant discourse till night that I went to supper.”

Money is scarce with the young couple, and Pepys borrows to pay his half-yearly rent. The Diary tells how he once “ went to my father’s, . . . where I found my wife, who was forced to dine there, we not having one coal of fire in the house and it being very hard frosty weather.” But they were young and light-hearted, and picked up what amusements they could get cheaply or at some one else’s expense ; and Samuel is, at this time, a most devoted husband, and takes his wife with him to church regularly of a “ Lord’s Day,” and to make merry at his father’s, and once to his cousin’s, Thomas Pepys’, where they had a dinner, “ which was very good ; only the venison pasty was palpable beef which was not handsome.” He consults her, too, as to his business (a habit he never gave over), whether for advice or sympathy he does not say ; and if on one page we read how she was “ unwilling to let me go forth, but with some discontent would go out if I did, and I going forth towards Whitehall I saw she followed me, and so I staid and took her through Whitehall, and so carried her home angry,” on the next leaf he tells that “ I and my wife were in pleasant discourse till night that I went to supper.”

Their household must have been a curious one. They supped at the most irregular hours, whenever they were not asked to dine elsewhere, apparently ; and the advent of washing-day was so infrequent as to call forth a comment in the journal whenever it occurred. That was indeed a great function when Mrs. Pepys ordained a wash. Not only during the days of poverty, when her lack of service might account for this entry : “ Nine o’clock . . . home, where I found my wife and mayde a-washing. I staid up till the bellman came by with his bell just under my window, as I was writing of this very line, and cried ‘ past one of the clock, and a cold, frosty, windy morning.’ I then to bed, and left my wife and the mayde a-washing still ; ” but all her life, Elizabeth is accustomed to “sit up till two o’clock that she may call the wench up to wash ; ” and when Pepys, on coming home at night, finds “ my poor wife at work and the house foule,” the simple fact that it is “ washing-day ” seems explanation enough. Presently we note that the night before a washing-day the family goes to bed without prayers, though one would think so great a domestic upheaval would better be preceded by a special petition, rather than lack even the ordinary one.

In the matter of religion, Mrs. Pepys was called upon to follow her liege in Protestant observances more often in their day of small things than in their after prosperity ; and we shall see that the little woman manifested in this, as in other walks, a mind of her own, later, and left Mr. Pepys to go alone to church, while she, now and again, bit of the forbidden fruit as held out to her by a Roman Catholic priest. But that was a good ten years from the time of which we are writing, and in many ways Elizabeth had yet to learn independence. In this matter of church-going her complaisance is sometimes rewarded, for, we read, on a certain February “ Lord’s Day ” the pair went to church, “ and in the pew my wife took up a good black hood and kept it.” We wonder if she found, in her new possession, as much refuge from the dull sermon that was being preached that day as did Samuel, who confessed he “ read over the whole book of Tobit ” during its progress!

It is to be feared that worldly interests were not often barred out of these young people’s heads ; they were children of an age singularly devoid of all but the most worldly pursuits. Divines and laymen alike thought upon the things of a day, and the flesh-pots were never more sedulously sought after or more frankly enjoyed than during this period. It is quite in keeping with the prevailing custom that the first hint of an increasing prosperity for the Pepys occurs in the shape of Samuel’s putting buckles on his shoes “ for the first time in his life,” and in their giving a dinner-party, their first effort in a long line of “ noble feasts.”

Even now they cannot receive their friends in their garret, but at “ my Lord’s lodging,” which we take to mean the town apartment of Sir Edward, then abroad on government service. This was a great occasion for Mrs. Pepys, and nobly did she exert herself, sitting up “ making of her tarts and larding of her pullets till eleven o’clock.” She had already tried a “ new mode of dressing the maydes hair very pretty,” no doubt in view of this entertainment; and on the eventful day “ she had got ready a very fine dinner, namely, a dish of marrow-bones ; a leg of mutton; a loin of veal; a dish of fowl, three pullets, and a dozen of larks all in a dish ; a great tart; a neats tongue; a dish of anchovies; a dish of prawns and cheese.” This heavy festivity was, thanks to these mighty efforts and a “ very good fire,” a complete success, with which he and his wife were much pleased ; and probably pride helped to keep them so when, a day or two after, they dined “ on pease porridge and nothing else.” Elizabeth was allowed to lie in bed the day following the feast, and to read aloud to Samuel, while he did office work beside her.

No wonder she was fatigued ; but she was always delicate and liable to colds, and Samuel was sometimes anxious, and “gets an ointment, which I did send home, . . . and a plaister, which I took with me ; ” and sometimes, after the manner of men, was “ not a little impatient . .. and troubled at her being abed.” On the whole, he is solicitous about her, and when she, by chance, fell down, coming home from church, and “hurt her knees exceedingly,” we are sure he picked her up again very carefully. He may have been impatient, but she was never afraid to send to the office for him to come home because she was ill and wanted comforting, and he cheerfully paid a bill of four pounds “for physique” that she had had during “ a year or two.”

When she is well, Elizabeth proves an industrious housewife ; she herself, according to the involved statement of the Diary, “ kills her turkeys that Mr. Shepley gave her that came out of Zealand, and could not get her mayde Jane by no means at any time to kill anything.” We notice her making “ marmalett of quinces,” and she is a good cook, in spite of the fact that she once made “pies and tarts to try her oven with, but not knowing the nature of it did heat it too hot and so a little overbake her things, but knows how to do better another time ; ” and even when she has more servants, is always busy overseeing the ways of the household, making new curtains and bed-hangings, sewing her clothes, reading aloud French books to her husband, following the fashion of going out, in the season, “ at three o’clock of the morning to gather Maydew,” and at all times trying in vain to keep her accounts in a manner satisfactory to Samuel.

She, young thing that she was, gathered pets about her : a cat, that Samuel fetched her “ in his arms ; ” canaries and a “ fine paire of turtle-doves,” given by a sea-captain ; and a “ pretty black dog,” presented by her brother. This latter animal proved a source of vexation, for Samuel wished it put into the cellar, “and would have his will,” and a quarrel ensued. “ This night I was troubled all night with a dream that my wife was dead, which made me that I slept ill,” he exclaims ; for though his temper was none of the best, he suffered remorse when he had vexed her. We are inclined to think that if his rage rose oftener than hers, it was Elizabeth’s resentment that lasted longer, though their fallings-out were generally short-lived at this time. “ Finding my wife’s clothes lie carelessly laid up, I was angry with her, which I was troubled for. . . . After that my wife and I went and walked in the garden,” where, no doubt, they made up most sweetly, only to repeat the quarrel a day or two later, when Pepys was again “ angry with my wife for her things lying about, and in my passion kicked the little fine basket which I bought her in Holland, and broke it, which troubled me after I had done it.”

It is a pity he broke the basket, for it was a souvenir of their first separation. To better his fortunes, Samuel Pepys, anent the coming of King Charles the Second to the throne, decides to go to sea with the embassy to Holland, as secretary to Sir Edward Montagu. Parting with Elizabeth is hard for both, but she falls to work getting him ready for the journey, — sits up “ late making caps,” rises early for one of the great wash-days, and buys for him “ many things.” The pair have a solemn farewell dinner: “ In Fish Street my wife and I bought a bit of salmon for 8d., and went to the Sun Taverne and eat it, where I did promise to give her all that I have in the world but my books, in case I die at sea.” The day after : “ Gave my wife some money to serve her for a time, and what papers of consequence I had. . . . This day, in the presence of Mr. Moore (who made it) I did before I went out with my wife seal my will to her, whereby I did give her all that I have in the world but my books, which I give to my brother John, excepting only French books, which my wife is to have.” All things at their home “ were put into the dining-room and locked up, and my wife tooke the keys along with her ” to her retreat in the country, and so “ to the chequer in Holborne, where after we had drank, etc., she took coach, and so farewell.”

Of how she spent her time during Pepys’ absence we know nothing. She writes to him pretty often, and once gives him cause for worry by not writing, and once makes him anxious by ill news: “ In the evening ... a letter from my wife which tells me that she has not been well, which did exceedingly trouble me, but ... at night I wrote to her and sent a piece of gold enclosed to her.” Four days after, a messenger from London brings him better tidings ; he left Elizabeth “ at my father’s, very well, and speaks very well of her love to me.” “ She would fain see me and be at my house again, but we must be content,” says the pious journalist. He adds, “ She writes . . . that there was a talk I should be knighted by the king ; . . . but I think myself happier in my wife and estate,” he concludes. The separation is almost over now, for the embassy returns to England with the king, and Pepys met “at my father’s my wife, and went to walk with her in Lincoln’s Inn walks.” What a deal they must have had to gossip about! Samuel can look back upon the trip as the foundation of his future eminence; already he is talked of as deserving honor from the king (whose “gittar,” by the way, he is entrusted to fetch to England in his arms, to his own “mighty trouble”). He is very busy and important, with “ infinite of business that my heart and head and all were full; ” and Elizabeth is forced to wait nine days before he can get their house ready for her “and the girle and the dog” to come to. He is now become so what he calls “gallantly great ” that the captain of the first ship he commissions gives Elizabeth a silver can, the beginning of the collection of plate in which the Pepys took such just pride. The servant “ falls lame,” and they take “ a boy, so that my wife could not be longer without somebody to help her.”

A proud woman is Elizabeth when Pepys gets appointed clerk of the acts. “ To my wife . . . and presented her with my patent, at which she was overjoyed ; so to the navy office, and showed her my house, and were both mightily pleased.” As is seen, their change of fortune includes a betterment in their home, for they go now to Seething Lane. There is nothing of the laggard about them. The next day they are “ up early . . . for the putting of all our things in a readiness to be sent; ” and by night, so prompt is Elizabeth, she “had packed up all her goods in the house fit for removal.” So thorough is she that she is obliged to remain indoors all the following day, for it “ proved very rainy weather,” and not fit for moving, and she had left “ no clothes out, all being packed up yesterday.” It is recorded they ate “ a quarter of lamb ” for their first meal in the new house, but “ it was not half roasted.” Women in those days, as now, had trouble with their stoves, for the “ new range is already broke ” when it is sent to Elizabeth, “ and she will have it changed.”

And now we see that they themselves are altered as well as their house. It is perceptible in many ways. In all things their ambitions increase, and especially Elizabeth’s love of finery asserts itself ; and who abets her in it but old Pepys, her father-in-law ! “ Landed my wife at Whitefriar’s with 5l. to buy her a petticoat. My father has persuaded her to buy a most fine cloth of 26s. a yard, and a rich lace, that the petticoat will come to 5l., at which I was somewhat troubled, but she doing it very innocently I could not be angry. I did give her more money and sent her away.” Afterwards he records: “My wife had on her new petticoat, . . . which indeed is a very fine cloth, and a fine lace; but that being of a light color and the lace all silver, it makes no great show.” Samuel dearly loved to see his money’s worth in a brave ostentation of color, and in the way of feminine adornment there was nothing he was not interested in. He walks “to Grayes Inn to observe fashions of the ladies because of my wife’s making some clothes.” And that he had decided notions we observe when he “ took occasion to fall out with my wife very highly about her ribbands being ill-matched and of two colours.” Well for Elizabeth if she asked her lord’s opinion before adopting a new style! He likes “a pair of peruques, as the fashion now is for ladies to wear, which are pretty and all of my wife’s own haire, or else I should not endure them; ” but when she tries to wear “light coloured locks, quite white almost,” not being “natural,” they vex him, and he adds, “ I will not have her wear them.” To his dictum Elizabeth submits, now with a smile, and then with a frown, and by and by it is her turn. We can guess the spice of malice that lurks in her voice when, on the arrival of Samuel’s “ new-colored ferrandin suit,” to which he has given thoughtful consideration, she, with a word, puts him “ out of love with it,” and “ vexes ” him by her disapproval.

It is fitting that such well-dressed folk should go out in style, and now their “ boy ” carries the link before, and Mr. Pepys’ secretary, W. Hewer, “leads my wife.” They even go to the extent of buying “ a table-cloth and a dozen napkins of diaper, the first that ever I bought in my life,” though it is not for some years to come that Elizabeth takes lessons in the art of folding napkins in fancy patterns.

They do their duty by religion, too, for they go to church “ to demand a pew which at present could not be given us, but we are resolved to have one built;” which they did, and sat in it for the first time to hear a “ crooke legged man ” preach a “good sermon ; ” and they invited a lady of title to sit with them, into the bargain.

They begin to be acquainted with great people nowadays. It is about this time mention is first made of one Sir W. Pen, a man who was of importance to Pepys only as being associated with him in the navy office, and to Elizabeth because his family lived next door to her, and she quarreled fiercely with Lady Pen, but is chiefly of interest to us because he was the father of William Penn, the Quaker.

Altogether, the young couple begin to find themselves up in the world, and Samuel feels moved to do something generous for his family. He decities to take care of his sister Pall. Pall, or Pauline, as she was christened, was not on the best of terms with Elizabeth. Whether this was owing to Mrs. Pepys’ undeniably high temper, or arose from the long-ago occasion when Pall stole Elizabeth’s “ scissars,” an episode that made an unpleasantness at the time, — from whatever cause, it is evident the sisters - in - law were not fond of each other; and Samuel had no mind to forget the respect due his wife, nor had she any wish to forego her prerogative. This we perceive by the entry : “ Talking with my father about my sister Pall’s coming to live with me, if she would come and be as a servant (which my wife did seem to be pretty willing to do today).” These are the terms the young mistress of the new home dictates. She has apparently brought her husband to agree with her in estimating his sister when he says, “ I find her so very ill natured that I cannot love her, and she so cruel a hypocrite that she can cry when she pleases.” Whether this is a true indictment or not, we are inclined to pity poor Pall, when the prosperous brother, before her parents and his wife, “told her plainly what my mind was, to have her come, not as a sister in any respect, but as a servant, which she promised me that she would, and with many thanks did weep for joy.” Were the tears all joy ? Under these conditions it is hardly needful to say that Pall’s stay in her brother’s house was not a success. Samuel “hears ” (who told him ?) “ that Pall is idle and proud,” and that “ she makes trouble with the mayde;” and in a few months she is up before the tribunal of troubled father and irate brother, who “ in a great anger told her ... I would keep her no longer, and my father, he said he would have nothing to do with her. At last, after we had brought down her high spirit, I got my father to yield she should go into the country . . . with him and stay there awhile, to see how she will demean herself.” And so, with a gift of twenty shillings and much good advice, this effort on Pepys’ part to get another servant cheaply is ended, and in the future he must hire. Schemes for marrying Pauline trouble him from time to time, until, with the promise of a dower, a husband, one John Jackson, is found ; and, curiously enough, it is to her sons that Samuel, widowed and half blind, looks for kind offices during his later years. Old Mr. Pepys, we read, found in Pall a good daughter, and we wish Elizabeth had had more patience with her, for the Pepys family grow poorer as Samuel becomes richer. Besides, Elizabeth really owes some favor to her husband’s people in return for his efforts to get a place for her impecunious brother. Her family are always very poor. At one time they live in so low a part of London that Pepys is afraid to let his wife visit them, “ lest harm should befall her going or coming.” Even after his marriage he is called upon to give money to this same Baltazar, who thus justifies the fear Pepys confesses, that “ I shall not be able to wipe my hands of him again when I once concern myself for him.” In spite of their indigence, the St. Michaels had their notions of gentility; and Mrs. Pepys “ was vexed at them for grumbling to eat Suffolk cheese,” that being thought less delicate than other cheeses. It is amusing to note that papa St. Michael belonged to the long list of those futile inventors who have tried schemes for making London consume its own smoke. Except to Balty, Elizabeth proffered no help to her family; and it must be owned that she showed quite as proud and worldly a spirit toward both sides of the house as did her husband. They both assumed a critical, even disrespectful attitude toward their elders, which would merit the censure we are wont to think only children of the present generation deserve. Perhaps the fact that Mrs. Pepys got on better with her father-in-law than with any other member of her husband’s family is connected with the favorable opinion Samuel entertained for old Pepys, to the exclusion of all his other relatives, by more than a mere coincidence ; for Elizabeth’s influence over her husband’s opinions was as subtle as it was unsuspected by himself.

The improvement in " pocket luck ” gives Elizabeth leisure to cultivate the graces; her need of further education becomes more apparent as their prosperity grows. Samuel taxes her light brains with solid learning in addition to accomplishments ; he buys “ a payre of globes ; cost me 3£ 10s. ... I buying them principally for my wife, who has a mind to understand them, and I shall take pleasure to teach her.” He speaks truly, being never too busy, after dinner, to give her a lesson in geography, “ which she takes very prettily, and with great pleasure to her and me.” She must have been quick to learn, for Samuel evinces gusto in acting the schoolmaster, even when it comes to “ arithmetique.” Mathematical it is to be feared Elizabeth was not; he speaks of the lessons as “ bouts,” and only “ hopes ” they give her pleasure, and is presently moved to give them up, when, at last, “ she is come to do Addition, Subtraction, and Multiplicacion very well, and so I purpose not to trouble her yet with Division.”

Pepys had no call to be over-critical in the matter of spelling, yet once he found his wife’s letters “ so false spelt that I was ashamed of them, and took occasion to fall out about them.” But in the lighter branches of learning Elizabeth satisfied her domestic critic pretty fairly, although her music, which afterwards afforded him no little pleasure when they sang together on the river, was not acquired without suffering on her part. Mr. Secretary Pepys had a passion for music, and esteemed himself and was esteemed by others no mean performer on several instruments, so that it is not hard to sympathize with him in this outburst : “ Poor wretch ! her ear is so bad that it made me angry, till the poor wretch cried to see me so vexed at her, that I think I shall not discourage her so much again, but will endeavour to make her understand sounds, and do her good that way ; and therefore I am mighty unjust to her in discouraging her so much, but we were good friends.” She had her trials; and when Samuel makes her take lessons on so unsuitable an instrument as the flageolet or the bass viol, we are distinctly sorry for her.

In the way of painting, she receives from her lord nothing but praise. To be sure, the “rules of perspective ” are thought too hard for her, she “ being ignorant of the principles of lines,” but in all else she meets with “ great success.” Samuel is so proud of her efforts, especially when she “ paynts a woman’s Persian head very fine,” that he promises her a pearl necklace, worth £60, if she “ do please him therein ; ” and he notes with pride how much better her work is than that of Pegg, the daughter of Sir W. Pen. Life is not all hard labor for Mrs. Pepys. They go to the theatre nowadays far oftener than to church; they divert themselves by walking on the leads that cover the roof of their house, in the moonlight; they make boating excursions up the Thames ; they give to their clothes far more consideration than to anything else ; and Mr. Pepys takes an increasing satisfaction in his wife’s looks. She bears comparison with royalty, in his eyes, that were wont, under their deferentially downcast lids, to shoot a keenly critical shaft that pierced even the Olympian clouds which surround the English throne. When they went to the queen’s presence-chamber, they found “ the Quene a very little plaine old woman, and nothing more in any respect nor garbe than any ordinary woman. . . . The Princesse Henrietta is very pretty, but much below my expectation ; and her dressing of herself with her haire fuzzed short up to her ears did make her seem so much the less to me. But my wife, standing near her, with two or three patches on and well dressed, did seem to me much handsomer than she.” He compares her with Lady Castlemaine and other reigning beauties,finding her “as pretty as any of them,” and he has her portrait painted four times over. Elizabeth, with her pleasure-loving nature, is in her element, and is not inclined to refuse the good things in the way of gayety or compliment that come to her hand. Samuel was uneasy; “is discontented ” that she “ do not go neater, now she has two mayds ; ” and felt a pang of something very like jealousy when he called for his wife at the house of a friend, and “ found a Frenchman at dinner, and just as I came in he was kissing my wife, which I did not like, though there could not be any hurt in it.” This last clause it was politic of him to include, for it bolsters up his own conscience in regard to a custom he was himself overfond of practicing.

This little episode was nothing like that other occasion, when the easily excited curiosity and suspicion of Samuel were roused by Elizabeth’s meeting at the theatre with “ a son of my Lord Somersett whom she knew in France, a pretty man ; I showed him no great countenance, to avoyd further acquaintance.” But it was not the secretary’s acquaintance the gay young gentleman sought, as he found a few days after, when, on going home “ very merry,” his mood was changed by finding that “ my wife . . . had been abroad and bought things for nerself; ” and, worse still, had met “ with Mr. Somersett, who did give her a bracelet of rings, which did a little trouble me, though I know there is no hurt yet in it,” he reassures himself, “ only for fear of further acquaintance.” He does not feel easy, however, and detects that his wife “ has become, nowadays, very simple.” Two days later the climax is reached, on their going out together, and “ in the way meeting a French footman with feathers, who was in great quest for my wife and spoke with her privately ; but I could not tell what it was, only that my wife promised to go to some place to-morrow morning, which do trouble my mind how to know whither it was.” He would not ask, no, not he; and suffers accordingly all next day, when Elizabeth holds “ her resolution to go forth this morning, as she resolved to do yesterday; and though there could not be much hurt in it, yet my own jealousy put a hundred things into my mind, which did much trouble me all day. To dinner alone, and thence, my mind being, for my wife’s going abroad, . . . unfit for business, I went to the theatre, and saw Elder Brother ill-acted.” (Was it the acting or Samuel’s temper that was so ill?) He went to a tavern, and was “merry till late,” but found no comfort, for on getting home “ I seemed very angry, as indeed I am, and did not show her any countenance.” With this show of temper Mr. Pepys was fain to rest, for apparently the mystery of that day’s excursion was never solved; and as nothing further came of Elizabeth’s freak of independence, we hear no more of the French footman with feathers.

Judging from his own confession, Pepys’ jealousy was ever ill founded. His wife was gay and light of temperament (though for that he could scarcely blame her with any consistency), and she dearly loved to dance; but we are sure she was too well aware of her own state and position to give any reason for the excess of feeling roused by her dancing-master in the easily disturbed bosom of her husband. He knows his jealousy is absurd, and makes “ a vowe to myself not to oppose her or to say anything to dispraise or correct her . . . in pain of 2s. 6d. for every time, which, if God pleases, I will observe.” But alas ! resolutions, pious ejaculations, and, most potent of all restraints, fines cannot dispel his fears, and Mrs. Pepys, out of patience, sharpens a naturally saucy tongue, and dares her lord to the extreme. “ Being at supper, my wife did say something that caused me to oppose her in: she used the word devil, which vexed me, and among other things I said I would not have her to use that word. She took me up most scornfully, which ... I know not how to checke. So that I fear,” continues the troubled man, “ without great discretion I shall go near to lose too my command over her, and nothing do it more than giving her this occasion of dancing and other pleasures, whereby her mind is taken up from her business and finds other sweets besides pleasing me.” There lies the sting ; he feels his dearly loved authority waning, and in this stress even relaxes his pursestrings, “ because of getting her out of the way of this fellow,” the dancingmaster. “ With peace and honour I am willing to spare anything.” We read that wives of old were subservient, but Mrs. Pepys was emancipated. She had no more intention of being slavishly obedient than the women of a later century. She asserts herself emphatically when occasion arises, and their quarrels might have been dated the day before yesterday. Let one suffice, occurring about this time, when, we must suppose, Mrs. Pepys found her husband especially trying. “ After dinner,” reads the chronicle, “ . . . a little jangling, in which she did give me the lie, which vexed me so that, finding my talking did but make her worse, and that her spirit is lately come to be other than it used to be, . . . which vexes me and makes me wish I had better considered all that I have of late done concerning my bringing my wife to this condition of heat, I went up vexed to my chamber.” After this exhibition of mutual amiability and freedom of speech, it is pleasant to read, further on, “ Up by and by my wife comes, and good friends again, and to walk in the garden, and so anon to supper.” They were grown-up children. Loving each other very honestly, they fell out and made up over baubles and real troubles alike.

In truth, Elizabeth had reason for a display of temper. Mr. Pepys, now the great man, in enlarging his scheme of pleasure gradually expands in a forbidden direction. Always sufficiently appreciative of a pretty woman, his interest in a handsome face grows with his opportunities, and there come occasions when the jealousy that arises in Elizabeth’s heart is not, like his green-eyed fits, without foundation. His heart is always faithfully hers, but his eyes note beauty in other faces than her own ; and the manners of the age could not, in her opinion, excuse his predilection for kissing every pretty woman he might meet.

Pangs she felt at odd times, but the first serious annoyance came to her when Samuel took to thinking Mrs. Knipp, an actress, was “ the best company in the world.” Though Elizabeth seems not to have been averse to her society, she does not, as Samuel does, pity Mrs. Knipp for the “ sad life her ill-natured fellow of a husband leads her,” and she distinctly objects to the languishing correspondence in verse carried on between the two over the signatures of “ Barbary Allen ” and “ Dapper Dicky.” Samuel again applies his remedy of buying something for her; this time “fine counterfeit damask for her closett,” and the choice is judicious. Samuel congratulates himself that “ she minds her work so well and busies herself about the house; ” and so, since his attentions to Mrs. Knipp cease, this storm is well over. Mr. Pepys is learning discretion ; he begins to “ practice more temper and to give her her way.” Perhaps, finding himself not above reproach, he feels the need of walking warily. “I must,” he says, “use policy to keep her spirit down and to give her no offence.” But Elizabeth’s spirit is not kept down so easily. The flame once lighted is never quite extinguished ; it is ready at any gust of provocation to burst forth; and after many fitful flashes there comes at last the great conflagration, so fierce a glow that Samuel’s fine self-complacency shrivels away before its heat.

Elizabeth was particular in the choice of a tiring-woman, on whose society she depended much for her daily gossiping companionship. She was ever anxious to get an accomplished maid (yet not too talented, for she dismissed one for singing so well that Samuel took to performing duets with her), and one good to look at also (provided she were not too pretty), and both these requirements were found at last in a young woman named Deborah Willet. The customs of the age included among her duties the combing of her master’s hair, which task Deb Willet performed so completely to his satisfaction, one evening, that Elizabeth, “ coming up suddenly, did find him embracing the girl.” The faithful journalist speaks of this as bringing “ the greatest sorrow to me that ever I knew in this world,” and doubtless he speaks only the simple truth. Angry Elizabeth has been before, but now she is insulted. In every imaginable way she visits her wrath upon him. She deals a blow in a vulnerable spot, in what is by policy and by feeling the one rigid part of his facile nature,— his Protestantism. She declares herself a Roman Catholic ; she tells him she has received “the Holy Sacrament.” Mightily is he troubled ; this revives a lurking fear of old, but with unwonted meekness he makes no protest, — perhaps because he discerns the cause of the taunt too well. His only answer is to promise again and again “ particular demonstrations of my true love to her, owning some indiscretions in what I did, but that there was no harm in it.” This excuse is weak, and gives Elizabeth no feeling of security. She continues suspicious, and Samuel is not only sorry, which he has been before, but " ashamed,” — a perfectly new sensation to the satisfied man ; truly things have come to a pretty pass between the pair, who have rubbed on together a baker’s dozen of years, who are now very great and well-known people, who ride abroad in their own gilt coach, “ mighty fine.” They carry with them this family skeleton when they go a-riding, — a skeleton that is neither fine nor sad, but only a poor combination of fatuous vanity on one side, and angry jealousy on the other.

In spite of the remarkable brain, and the even more noteworthy honesty, that made him the important personage of his group, Samuel Pepys was naught but the tailor’s son, after all, with his eyes turned wholly toward the goods of the world and the attainment thereof ; and Elizabeth, aside from her French cleverness and her beauty, had neither dignity nor nobility to aid her to order her life in a difficult age. She had the power to inspire in her husband the one love of his selfish heart; she had no capacity to control his roving fancy. Like a child in her love of frivolity, she was like a child still in meeting misery.

After months of recrimination and reproaches, of apologies and vows of reformation, during which naughty Pepys is harried and badgered as never before, till he reaches a depth of humility doubtless surprising to himself; after countless scenes of rage, when Elizabeth strikes her husband and pulls his hair, followed by a return of fondness and apparent calm, there comes the climax to the vulgar quarrel. Mr. Pepys can best relate the details: “ This evening I observed my wife mighty dull, and I myself was not mighty fond because of some hard words she did give me at noon, out of a jealousy at my being abroad this morning, which God knows it was upon the business of the office unexpectedly : but I to bed. . . . Waking by and by, ... I found she . . . got fresh candles, and more wood for her fire, it being mighty cold too. At this being troubled, I after a while prayed her to come to bed ; so after an hour or two, she silent, . . . she fell out into a fury, that I was a rogue and false to her. I did, as I might truly, deny it, and was mightily troubled, but all would not serve. At last, about one o’clock, she came to my side, . . . and drew my curtaine open, and with the tongs red hot at the ends made as if she did design to pinch me with them, at which, in dismay, I rose up, and with a few words she laid them down, and did by little and little very sillily let all the discourse fall.” With this tornado the end is reached, and there follows a great peace, in which we see how thoroughly Pepys is cowed.

Richly as he deserved punishment, we pity him in his abject submission to the tyrannies of his wife. For all the years of command he has shown her, for every neglect, for every time he played the niggard in giving her one pound for her clothes while he spent four pounds on his own, for each time he had been to a theatre on the sly, for all the petty misdemeanors she knows and for those she suspects, she gives him payment, and he meekly bends his neck to the yoke, and is grateful that now they “ do live in peace.”

Never has their mutual position presented so interesting an aspect as this. Life to them has been composed of simple elements heretofore ; it threatens now to become complex. Their relationship to one another has become a problem ; one is curious to note the result; and here the record abruptly croses just as they are about to start forth on an expedition to the Continent, their first extended trip together.

The journal’s end is indeed but the foreshadowing of the end of the story itself. Coming home from a journey full of pleasure, Elizabeth takes ship’s fever, and, after a brief illness, dies just as she reaches London.

It was, we are sure, a comfort to Pepys bereft (for he never married again) to remember that Elizabeth at the last received the sacrament with him, as administered by the rector of their parish, and so put an end to the old anxiety as to her religious conditions. After their many quarrels and foolish bickerings, we like to dwell upon those last months of sight-seeing they had together, during which, we fancy, Elizabeth relaxed her righteous grip, and ceased to hold his naughtiness before his eyes; when they returned to the fonder mood of their early days of poverty. We are sure this little time of kind companionship must have been a dear memory to the great Mr. Secretary Pepys in the many years he lived without his wife Elizabeth.

Margaret Christine Whiting.