Sunday, October 11, 2009

Annals of Bathing 6: The Last Word (For Now)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Susan reports:

From the Diary of Samuel Pepys, written between 1660-1669:

"My wife being busy in going with her woman to a hot-house to bathe herself, after her long being within doors in the dirt, so that she now pretends to a resolution of being hereafter very clean. How long it will hold I can guess. . . .

"At night late home, and to clean myself with warm water; [now] my wife will have me, because she doth [wash] herself, and so to bed."

Above: The King's Bath and the Queen's Bath at Bath 1675, by Thomas Johnson (1634-1676 fl.) from the collection of the British Museum; copyright The Trustees of the British Museum.  The King's Bath is the oldest of the baths, dating from at least the 13th c.  This drawing from the 17th c. shows a lively scene worthy of a modern swimming pool, with bathers of all ages (and of all dress and undress) and both genders, plus many spectators gathered along the rails and watching from the windows of surrounding houses.  To learn more, click on the title of the print.  

6 comments:

Deb said...

So from this quote, it sounds like Samuel won't be getting lucky until he agrees to take a bath like his wife does. Good for her! That really does make for the "last word" on bathing, lol.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hmm, so in Sam's view she "pretends" to a resolution of staying clean. Sounds like he doesn't exactly wear it out when it comes to washing up, either.

Sex, however, is always a great motivator!

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Deb, I think that pretty well sums it up for poor Sam, and for his wife Elizabeth, too. Though I have to think she wasn't the only wife over the centuries who delivered the same ultimatum about bathing.

And yes, Vanessa, sex always does seems to be a pretty powerful motivator, doesn't it? *g*

Loretta Chase said...

I love Pepys mocking his wife for her resolutions--but then he does take the trouble to wash--which makes me wonder if the pot's calling the kettle black. But it is a sweet, deliciously human episode--and Pepys offers us so many of these. What a treasure he is!

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