Even if they have not read it, most people have heard of the diary of that old reprobate, Samuel Pepys. It seems unfair that he alone should have the first and last words: no documents written by his young wife Elizabeth have been discovered. So here is an extract, freely translated, from Elizabeth’s never-found diary.
Diary of Elizabeth Pepys
18th day of June 1668
‘Tis a man’s right, methinks, to go where he will. But what of a husband’s duty? I know he was at the King’s Theatre again yesterday – he dotes on Mistress Knipp. Sing well she may, though she’s not half as fair as myself. He said not a word of being there; he must think me a dolt. Two can play mute. He thinks I know naught of his Betsys and his Bellas. This one of the pretty hands; that one of the soft cheek – and not content with Earl’s servants he must dally under this very roof. Then to complain I neglect the housekeeping! As if the wives of men who dine here must bother with such tedious matters. There was ever a better table served here than in their own dining rooms though he hold his purse so tight. He did regret his words after, and thought to pacify me with a new nightgown, costing but 24 shillings. Pah!
I am too much alone – too much time to brood – with narry the comfort of a daughter. It boiled up in me last night. I was so vexed I slept not a wink. My crying did disturb him so, he got up from the bed and paced about the room but I would not speak. Let him think on his own misdeeds, though that is not the reason for my silence. In my distress I wrote to dear Balty, entreating him to take his unfortunate Sissy back home to France. It calmed me, but I put it to the fire. No, I have more wit than my husband gives credit for. Today I made out all to be well again and was in good humour – he so relieved as to be very jovial and we took a coach and walked in St James’s park and on to the Queen’s chapel for the music. No, I shall say naught. If he knows I learnt to read that sly script in his diary, perchance will he find another way to keep his secrets from me.