Annotations and comments

mountebank has posted 15 annotations/comments since 11 May 2013.

The most recent…


About Friday 27 May 1664

mountebank  •  Link

Following on from the comments about whether Sam is making a joke, it is striking, well, at least to me, how few jokes there are in the diary (so far).

In the long running and comparatively very dull diary I keep, I never miss the opportunity to include jokes and word-play, and that's written solely for me without an audience in mind.

Perhaps the diary is full of jokes but we can't see them.

About Monday 16 May 1664

mountebank  •  Link

"He and Dr. Clerke did fail mightily in hitting the vein"

A curiously modern sounding usage.

Sam does seem to be very prone to recurring bollock pain. It sounds like there's an underlying medical condition.

A readable kaleidoscopic entry.

About Wednesday 11 May 1664

mountebank  •  Link

Typically, I missed out the most striking thing about this entry. It does not seem to provide a clear indication of what Sam really thought about the offer. For example had Elizabeth said "it's not great but it could provide a child, ready cash, and good security in the future so I'm up for it" would Sam have said that he'd be willing to go along with it? Looking at previous entries leading up to this, it was surely unexpected for Sam and so he did seem to be going for the "wait and see" approach.

About Wednesday 11 May 1664

mountebank  •  Link

"Does Sam's oddly muted reaction to this revelation strike anyone else as strange? This is a person of such powerful jealousy that the thought of finding the dancing master in a corner of the church drives him to distraction."

It actually didn't strike me as that strange. Sam is both a highly pragmatic man and prone to fancies and, perhaps, when faced with a real situation rather than a nebulous threat, he felt he had something he could process properly and having grasped it come up with a measured and apt response.

"and how he thought it would be best for him and her to have one between them, and he would give her 500l. either in money or jewells beforehand, and make the child his heir"

The "beforehand" is ambiguous here. It doesn't say before the sexual act and might mean before a child was ready to be delivered. One might expect Uncle Wright, a prosperous merchant used to getting his own way and presumably no fool, to seek a deal on the latter basis. This would provide him with a rather appealing hedging of his bet: if Elizabeth is fertile he has a good chance of getting his heir and if not he gets a number of free goes and as a bonus gets to keep his 500L.

About Sunday 31 January 1663/64

mountebank  •  Link

I agree with that. I've been keeping a diary* for about a decade, probably even longer than Sam, and I realised a long time ago that without spending vast amounts of time writing it up at enormous length it would at best just contain fragments of my day. Sometimes when I re-read it (a very rare event) it looks to me like a collection of the shiny things that caught my eye over the course of a day. It is difficult to write a diary reporting continually on the minor details of dull day-to-day life.

My diary is not for anyone else to read (I'm not convinced it's even for me to re-read) and yet it contains many of the characteristics that other commentators have pounced upon as proof that Sam wrote for the eyes of others. Much of this "proof" I instead put down to Sam being a thorough and curious chap who wanted to write about the interesting stuff in a lucid and coherent way.

* if anyone were to read it they'd think more Pooter than Pepys

About Monday 9 November 1663

mountebank  •  Link

"You shall have this captain turned a shoemaker; the lieutenant, a baker; this a brewer; that a haberdasher; this common soldier, a porter; and every man in his apron and frock, &c., as if they never had done anything else"

This grouping really stood out for me. Something like it could be said to be the people whose choices were behind the great political events of this year.

About Thursday 8 October 1663

mountebank  •  Link

"Pepys gave us no specifics beyond it was nasty ... so he went to church twice"

Whenever I see on ellipsis on the page my automatic thought is that there's some juicy rudeness missing and I wonder what it is.

About Wednesday 2 September 1663

mountebank  •  Link

[Slight spoiler below]

Big weekend coming up, the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. There are loads of events in London and, luckily it not being far away from here, I'll be going to town to take part in a few. For those not so lucky, BBC Radio 4 has lots of Pepys/Great Fire programmes coming up:

The Pepys dramatisations are done by Hattie Naylor who in my view captures the man and the times very well.