Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
Nate Lockwood has posted 23 annotations/comments since 10 April 2013.
The most recent…
About Friday 8 November 1661
"Gentleman and a scholar"
AFAIK in those days in general a gentleman was a man who had an independent income and didn't work for wages, it was a description of a member of a social class (a class in which most members had to find activities to occupy their extensive leisure time).
I suspect that a scholar, in the context of the diary, would be an educated person who persisted in acquiring knowledge, much as we would understand it today.
Today, in my experience, a gentleman would be a man who exhibits good manners, that is, defined by those traits and not class.
I think that in Sam's day in most cases a scholar would of necessity be gentleman since, to the best of my knowledge, only men of the gentleman class could obtain an education.
Any thoughts on which interpretation Sam was using?
About Friday 13 September 1661
Thanks, Bill, I wondered about that. Potatoes are in the same family as the poisonous nightshade and those familiar with the flowers may have suspected that they were poisonous; all parts except the tubers contain the poison alkaloid solanine. The sources of your quotes probably confounded the sweet potato with the common potato - they are not related.
This may have been part of the era when they were becoming more acceptable.
It's interesting that they speak of Spanish, Virginia, and Canada potatoes since the source of the potato is an area around the border of Peru and Bolivia but well before the Europeans were in South America their cultivation had spread. BTW the Virginia potato is a 'real' potato, as is the Irish potato, but I'm at a loss to understand a Canada potato. The name Spanish potato, I guess, may have come about from it being introduced to Europe by Spain. (Several plants have the species name 'chininsis' because a long time ago a crate with plant samples was mislabeled as originating in China.)
About Thursday 12 September 1661
My first thought when I read 'blind ale house' was a disreputable place, populated with disreputable people, known not by a sign, but by reputation; a dive. The kind of place from which Sam would not want to be recognized when leaving.
Well, there's link rot. Here is the painting said to to include a bezan but I don't see any single masted 15 foot gaff rigged boat. Perhaps it's the one in the center of the picture but with the mast un-stepped. Not very interesting, that!
About Wednesday 4 September 1661
Oysters, mussels, etc. are filter feeders so if there is a bloom of dinoflagellates (algae) those shellfish could readily have accumulated toxins. Blooms tend to occur in warm weather, shallow calm seas and estuaries after rains and are due to the presence of nutrients such as nitrates and potassium in the water column which can come from fertilizer application but are also present in sewage. Manure was a primary fertilizer in the 16 and 17 centuries so was probably used in Pepys' time, too. When in a military survival course in June many years ago we were forbidden to collect shellfish as there was an algal bloom so our pot was a bit empty.
About Friday 31 May 1661
To judge if some one is 'old' or not I think one must ask the question: "What is the average life expectancy for those how have lived to be 25." (Pick your own threshold age.) IMHO the threshold age should be at least after childhood diseases are past although for males it perhaps should be later as males tend to engage in dangerous activities until they are 25 or so. I would expect that the differences between then and now would be evident but not as great as most people might think - except somewhat for females because of the dangers of childbirth and pregnancy.
About Wednesday 10 April 1661
"in which he intends to ride as Vice-Admiral in the narrow seas all this summer."
What are the narrow seas, the English Channel?
About Monday 4 March 1660/61
Bill, I think your sentence needs a little restructuring. Perhaps if "the current ..." were changed to "the then current ..." my cognitive dissonance bells would quiet. :-)
About Thursday 28 February 1660/61
The candles of this period were not like the candles of today which are mostly made from petroleum wax and have a type of wick that was not yet invented in Pepys' time.
In the 17th century candles were mostly made from tallow and and the wicks were probably from the pith of a reed. I think that they smoked and know that they had an unpleasant smell. They could melt in warm weather. Of course there were beeswax candles but they were probably quite a bit more expensive.
The behavior of a pin in one of today's candles might not be quite the same as in Pepys' day.
About Monday 25 February 1660/61
I suspect that it lagged far behind other areas and, remember, no germ theory; bleeding was popular as was expertise in the four humors.
IIRC in the mid 19th century Physicians were arguing strongly that bloomers would be very injurious to women's health.