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Pepys Infedelities:

"Up; and dressing myself, I did begin para tocar the breasts of my maid Jane, which ella did give way to more then usual heretofore, so as I have a design to try more what I can bring to do."

(Pepys, September 16, 1668).

To find out what Pepys was trying to conceal click here to paste the quotation into this Spanish Translator.

Four days later on September 20th, Pepys makes this entry:

"Mrs. Turner stayed an hour talking with me and yo did now for the first time tocar her cosa with my hand and did make her do the like with con su hand to my thing... yo did do both and yo do believe I might have hecho la cosa too mit her."

(Pepys, September 20, 1668).

To focus too much on Pepys philandering would be superficial, but it is one of the more interesting and entertaining things about the diary. He pursues women somewhat methodically and somewhat playfully. He sees how far he can seduce them and when he is told to cease he does, knowing that he will try again at a later date.

Pepys was not always a success in his pursuits. In Samuel Pepys and his World Geoffrey Trease writes,

It was certainly no Cassanova who found time to chronicle such schoolboy trivialities as this flirtation during a church service: 'stood by a pretty modest maid, whom I did labour to take by the hand; but got further and further from me; and at last, I could percieve her to take pins from her pockets to prick me if I should touch her again--which seeing I did forbear... And then I fell to gaze upon another pretty maid'


Nor was he always confident enough to approach women. Trease also writes,

Pepys... was heldback by timidity rather than virtue. In the early hours of the morning... in an inn at the Schevingen, where as the common practice was, he shared the room with strangers even of the other sex. 'In another bed,' the diary records, 'there was a pretty Dutch woman in bed alone... I had not the boldness to go to her.'


He devoted a great amount of thought and energy in attaining mistresses. In his diary entry for the Great Fire of London, as the fire destroys his city and approaches his home, he mentions three women that he has made advances on or would like to make advances on.

the poor steeple by which pretty Mrs. [Horsely]... lives [made advances on her previously]
Barbary Sheldon... she mighty fine
Barbary [actually Elizabeth Knepp, a mistress of Pepys] and her husband were away before us

(Pepys September 2, 1666)

In fairness, Pepys actually wrote the diary entry for the Great Fire a while after it had occured.

Although, Pepys may not have always taken his infidelities seriously, his wife, Elizabeth, did when she found out about them. On October 25, 1668 him "embracing... [Deb Willet, his wife's maid] con my hand sub su coats; and indeed... with [his]... main in her cunny." (Pepys, October 25, 1668) Pepys later expresses guilt towards his wife. He says, "I hope God will give the grace... to be true to my poor wife." (November 19, 1668) Initially though, his guilt is projected towards Deb Willet. He refers to her as the "poor girl" and that his "mind was troubled for" her. (October 26, 1668) He portrays his wife as ridiculous and annoying. He sarcastically says, "about 2 in the morning [she] waked me and cried, and fell to tell me a great secret that she was a Roman Catholic." (October 25, 1668). Trease calls Elizabeth, "as undomesticated as she was she was unintellectual." (18) She was however, seven years younger than her husband and Pepys was probably tired when he made the entry. She woke him in middle of the night several times to berate him.

The affair progressed while Pepys was conflicted between the desire to continue seeing Deb Willet and the guilt which resulted from doing so. Furthermore, although he was continuously breaking the seventh and tenth commandments, Pepys was religous. After seeking her out on November 18th for her to "Tener mi cosa in her mano," (Pepys 2130) he resolves on the following day to cease the relationship:

there being no curse in the world so great as this of difference between myself and her; [his wife] and therefore I do by the grace of God promise never to offend her more, and did this night pray to God upon my knees alone in my chamber; which God knows I cannot yet do heartily...

(Pepys 2131)

As a side note to this festering heap of moralising. Pepys philandering may have been one of his major reasons for becoming a diarist. Martin Howard Stein says,

It would seem... that he was attempting to separate those thoughts [of adultery] from himself [by encoding them in the diary], to make them less immediately part of his own consciousness and yet at the same time more titillating.

(Berger Jr. 565)

Stein suggests that Pepys wrote such entries to excite himself when he re-read them.

As a side note and in the form of questions, since Pepys's diary was deciphered during the Victorian period, what would the response have been if a similiar diary were written by a woman? Would studies of her diary focus exclusively on her philandering? Or would the philandering be relegated for more significant topics? Furthermore, although Pepys escapades were omitted when the diary was first published, would readers today know her as the fallen woman of the Restoration? If not, what archetype would she be confined too? How would the Feminist movement make use of her?

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