a Pepysian phrase: ‘and so to bed’





The phrase and so to bed was popularised by its frequent use in the diary (1659-69) of the English naval administrator Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)—diary which was in turn popularised by Richard Griffin (1783-1858), 3rd Baron Braybrooke, who edited it:
– under the title Memoirs of Samuel Pepys, Esq. F.R.S. Secretary to the Admiralty in the reigns of Charles II. and James II. comprising his Diary from 1659 to 1669, deciphered by the Rev. John Smith, A.B. of St. John’s College, Cambridge, from the original Short-hand MS. in the Pepysian Library, and a Selection from his Private Correspondence. Edited by Richard, Lord Braybrooke—first edition: London, Henry Colburn, 1825; second edition: London, Henry Colburn, 1828;
– under the title Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys, F.R.S., Secretary to the Admiralty in the reigns of Charles II. and James II. The Diary deciphered by the Rev. J. Smith, A.M., from the original Shorthand MS. in the Pepysian Library. With a Life and Notes by Richard, Lord Braybrooke (London: Henry Colburn)—third edition: London, Henry Colburn, 1848-49; fourth edition: London, published for Henry Colburn by his successors, Hurst and Blackett, 1854.

The following are a few occurrences of and so to bed from Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys (third edition – 1848-49):

– 7th May 1660: I find that, all my debts paid and my preparation to sea, I have £40 clear in my purse, and so to bed.
– 22nd May 1661: Before I went to bed, the barber come to trim me and wash me, and so to bed, in order to my being clean to-morrow.
– 5th June 1661: This morning did give my wife £4, to lay out upon lace and other things for herself. Sir W. Pen and I went out with Sir R. Slingsby to bowles in his ally, and there had good sport. I took my flageolette, and played upon the leads in the garden, where Sir W. Pen come out in his shirt into his leads, and there we staid talking and singing and drinking great draughts of claret, and eating botargo*, and bread and butter till twelve at night, it being moonshine; and so to-bed, very near fuddled.
* botargo: a sausage made of eggs, and of the blood of a sea mullet.
– 9th June 1661: I went up to Jane Shore’s towre, and there W. Howe and I sang, and so took my wife and walked home, and so to-bed.

And the following are two 19th-century occurrences of and so to bed used with explicit reference to Samuel Pepys’s diary:

1-: From the sentence concluding the summary of the plot, in the review of The Knights of the Round Table, a stage play produced at Wallack’s Theatre, New York City—review published in The Albion, or, British, Colonial, and Foreign Weekly Gazette (New York City, N.Y.) of 1st March 1856:

The usual marriages take place, the old General’s eyes fill with the usual tears, his lips utter the usual benedictions, and as Mr. Samuel Pepys hath it, in his Diary,—and—“so to bed.”

2-: From an article titled London Society, published in the New York Commercial Advertiser (New York City, N.Y.) of 3rd July 1869:

Half an hour in the dining room, and then to one or more balls, or perhaps a scientific gathering as a corrective, and so to bed, as Mr. Pepys says, in the small hours. Such is the life of the luxurious classes in London during the season.




The popularity of the phrase was then revived by And So to Bed (1926), a stage play based on Samuel Pepys’s diary, by the Irish actor, theatre manager, producer and playwright James Bernard Fagan (1873-1933).

This play was first produced at the Manchester Opera House, Manchester, Lancashire, England, on 30th August 1926; it opened in London at the Queen’s Theatre on 6th September 1926, before being transferred to the Savoy Theatre, London, on 1st November 1926. In the USA, And So to Bed was first performed at the Stamford Theatre, Stamford, Connecticut, on 17th October 1927, and opened in New York City at the Shubert Theatre on 9th November 1927.




Among the many parodies of Samuel Pepys’s diary—in which, of course, and so to bed occurred—was Diary of Our Own Pepys, a weekly column by Ernest W. Harrold, published for many years in The Ottawa Evening Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario). The following is from this column, published on 3rd January 1931:

Tuesday, Dec. 30th
Up betimes, and the snow falling gently so that it hath covered thickly with a mantle of whiteness the trees and shrubs, making as lovely a sight as ever I did see. So to town by trolley-coach, and this day comes word from my Uncle Christopher in Indiana, U.S.A., and he tells me that deep discontents do gnaw the vitals of that great land, which is not to my great surprise. So at my stint without pause till nightfall and thence to pick up my barber who is to trim my children’s hair. So later set my hand to my journall, and so to bed.




However, the phrase and so to bed was not peculiar to Samuel Pepys—as illustrated by the following six quotations:

1-: From The Bond-man: An antient Storie (London: Printed by Edw: Allde, for Iohn Harison and Edward Blackmore, 1624), by the English playwright Philip Massinger (1583-1640):

Cleon. Where are you, Wife? I faine would goe abroad,
But cannot finde my Slaues, that beare my Litter:
I am tyr’d, your shoulder, Sonne; nay sweet, thy hand too,
A turne or two in the Garden, and then to Supper,
And so to Bed.

2-: From On Sir Edward Giles and his Lady, at Dean Prior, Devon, an epitaph of 1642, by the English poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674)—as published in Select and Remarkable Epitaphs on Illustrious and Other Persons (London: T. Osborne, and J. Shipton, 1757), by John Hackett:

Here’s the Sunset of a tedious Day;
These two asleep are, I’ll but be undrest,
And so to Bed; pray wish us all good Rest.

3-: From the diary of the English cleric Henry Teonge (1621-1690)—as published in The Diary of Henry Teonge, Chaplain on board his Majesty’s Ships Assistance, Bristol, and Royal Oak, Anno 1675 to 1679 (London: Printed by S. and R. Bentley for Charles Knight, 1825):

1st June 1675: I […] com on board the ship Assistance, (then still in the Longe Reach;) dranke part of 3 boules of punch, (a liquor very strainge to me;) and so to bed in a cabin so much out of order, that when I thought to find my pillow on the topp, I found it slipt betweene the coards, and under the bed.

4-: From A Net for the D—l [= Devil]: or, The Town Display’d. A Satyr. Written in a plain English Stile (London: [unknown publisher], 1705):

Some the Day with stricter Notice keep,
Brutes that just rise to Eat, and go to sleep,
Where wallowing again till Night they’re laid,
Then Sup, and sing a Psalm, and so to Bed.

5-: From a letter that the Irish satirist, poet and Anglican cleric Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) wrote to Stella (Esther Johnson – 1681-1728) from London on 31st October 1710—as published in The Works of the Reverend Dr. Jonathan Swift (Dublin: George Faulkner, 1772):

What if a letter from MD 1 should come in the mean time? Why then I would only say, Madam, I have received your sixth letter; your most humble servant to command, Presto 2; and so conclude. Well, now I’ll write and think a little, and so to bed, and dream of MD.

1 MD stands for My Dear.
2 In his letters to Stella, Jonathan Swift called himself Presto (Italian presto translates the English adjective swift).

6-: From Sunday in London: Illustrated in Fourteen Cuts, by George Cruikshank 3, and A Few Words By A Friend of His 4; With A Copy of Sir Andrew Agnew’s Bill (London: Effingham Wilson and Thomas Hurst, 1833)—as quoted in The Globe and Traveller (London, England) of 13th May 1833:

Sunday Recreations.—Higher orders.—[…] Sunday papers, sporting and double entendre; home to dress; grand dinner, eating too much, devilish fine; playing too little, pigeons so shy on a Sunday; soiree musicale, d—d bore; conversazione, almost ditto; cursed head-ache, soda and hock, and so to bed rather queerish.—Middle orders—[…] Sunday paper, full of fun, and coming it strong! Jolly good dinner. Jaunt to somewhere—shay or omnibus. Pity poor horses! poor devils! Blow a cloud 5. Three or four grogs—hot with or cold without. Rattle home again. Pity poor devils of horses; quite blowed, and dead beat; cheap riding though. Jolly good supper. A couple of grogs. Another cloud, and so to bed pretty comfortable.

3 George Cruikshank (1792-1878) was an English painter, illustrator and caricaturist.
4 This friend of Cruikshank’s was the journalist and author John Wight.
5 The colloquial phrase to blow a cloud meant to smoke tobacco.

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