The Soul of Samuel Pepys

By Gamaliel Bradford | Go to book overview

VI
PEPYS AND HIS WIFE

I

THE case of Mrs.* Pepys is peculiar. In a sense we may say that few women of the past are better known to us than she. Her husband's intimate record shows her in most of the aspects of her character with his usual intense veracity. We see her grave and gay, eager and petulant, fretful and mocking, angry and loving. We see her ill, with all the distress and disturbance that accompany illness. We see her well and ardent, ready for work or play with equal zest, sharing her husband's pursuits, or questioning them, or interfering with them. During those ten long years it seems as if we almost lived her life.

Yet it is hardly fair that any human being should be so entirely judged on the testimony of another, no matter how vivid. We have not one written word of

____________________
*
In the Diary Mrs. Pepys is always referred to as "my wife." We do not even know whether her husband called her "Elizabeth" or "Betty" or "Bess," any more than we know what she called him. The written abbreviation, "Mrs.," is frequently used in referring to other ladies, as "Mr." with men. So far as I can gather from the Oxford Dictionary, the pronunciation "Mister" came into use earlier than "Missez," and we should probably think of "Mister Pepys" and "Mistress Pepys." But the chronology of the matter is obscure.

-176-

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The Soul of Samuel Pepys
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Illustrations xv
  • Chronology xvi
  • I- The Man and the Diary 1
  • II- Pepys and His Office 37
  • III- Pepys and His Money 71
  • IV- Pepys and Humanity 105
  • V- Pepys and His Intellect 140
  • VI- Pepys and His Wife 176
  • VII- Pepys and God 210
  • Notes 241
  • Index 257
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