Annotations and comments

Al Doman has posted 18 annotations/comments since 30 May 2013.

The most recent…


About Sunday 5 October 1662

Al Doman  •  Link

@Edith Lank:

- "Lay long in bed with my wife": one's imagination should suffice

- "We were friends again" - from time to time Sam has a disagreement of opinion with Liz - in this case whether or not to keep employing Sarah. These could be "spirited" and I for one get the impression Liz could get in a quite a snit if she didn't get her way. Sam uses this phrase to indicate there was a disagreement but it was solved amicably (at least temporarily)

About Friday 28 February 1661/62

Al Doman  •  Link

@Sasha Clarkson: mod +1, insightful ;)

I think to experience this diary to the fullest, one must have a certain empathy with our hero.

As for "Who amongst US would be equipped to survive in Restoration England?", that's easy - Chuck Norris :)

About Sunday 12 January 1661/62

Al Doman  •  Link

@Louise Hudson: probably because her real or perceived failings aren't affecting him (or to a lesser extent, his wife) in the eyes of others.

Pepys' entire household depends on him. He has zero job security and is almost completely dependent on the patronage of others such as Sandwich. His reputation is absolutely crucial to retaining the various positions he holds and the associated income(s). If for any reason he falls from favour his whole dependent household would suffer, not just him. His wife and staff understand that, in their bones. They're all part of Team Pepys.

A maid being lazy sounds like an internal matter. A sharp word may or may not suffice; a reminder that she's in a decent household with improving prospects and that she can be dismissed with a poor (or no) reference. If she's a good maid but has broken the best serving dish through carelessness, what punishment might the team decide?

External matters: far more serious. Suppose a maid were to sass a distinguished visitor? Looks bad on Sam. If she steals a loaf of bread? Hopefully Sam can square it with the merchant and spare her the potentially harsh justice of the day: . But you can be sure she'd still face some private punishment at home.

Sam wisely keeps a very close eye on his wife and her interactions with other women of their acquaintance. Also on Will Hewer, who to some extent is acting as his agent in some matters - that's why Sam sometimes has strong reactions to seemingly trivial "infractions".

About Sunday 25 August 1661

Al Doman  •  Link

@Louise Hudson:

>I wonder how they "brought down her high spirit."

Raw fear. If neither Sam nor his father would employ her, what was she to do?

Get a position with another family, one which would treat her with the respect she deserves? She'd need a good reference. Chances of that? Square root of boo-all.

Make a poor marriage? A surefire recipe for her getting ridden hard and put away wet for the rest of her life. Maybe her male relatives could provide enough dowry to buy her a little less drudgery, but hardly a life she'd dream of.

The convent? Assuming they'd take her, they're the experts in breaking high spirits. A bare existence, constantly told what to do, hard work, zero prospects - a life sentence.

It's a matter of near life-or-death importance that Pall retain respectability. If she can make a respectable marriage she would be the lady of a household where there might be servant(s) to take the edge off the hard work. Maybe some leisure time and even a little luxury from time to time.

Sam & his dad briefly pulled aside the veil and showed her the chasm. She has to demonstrate some value, beyond whatever dowry may go with her. By the way that's value by 17th century standards, not 21st century.

About Sunday 14th July 1661

Al Doman  •  Link

@Louise Hudson: not quite sure where you're going with this, and at the risk of walking into a minefield I'll offer a few observations.

Sam is often away from his wife. During these periods he knows nothing of what she's doing; there was no telephone, Facebook, e-mail etc. At best one might expect him to record when he left, and when he returned; maybe a note that he misses her. Sometimes the reader is expected to infer that if he travels, he is in general away from his wife, and that is not noteworthy. In contrast from time to time she does travel with him, and these travels are often well-recorded.

One of the great strengths of this diary is that Sam often records aspects of daily life which could be considered beneath the notice of "serious" diarists. As others here have observed it "brings the diary to life". That said, there's still a tendency for anyone to take things for granted. At this point, despite their young (especially her) ages, they have been married 6-odd years.

There is the tendency for us in the 21st century to judge the characters in the diary by our standards. The lamentable fact is that in 17th century England, women were not equal to men e.g. . While Sam trusts Elizabeth to run their household she cannot help him with his business affairs. When consumed by business, Elizabeth is far from his mind, and often will be remarked on only if there are unexpected domestic issues which affect Sam, or that he feels he needs to address because they were not adequately dealt with by his wife.

When one adds all that up, perhaps it's not so strange Elizabeth isn't mentioned in the diary every day.

About Friday 14 June 1661

Al Doman  •  Link

Breaking wind -- he dangled his legs in the Thames, downstream of a major city, probably unclean water. While he probably didn't absorb anything directly through his legs he might have got microbes on his hands whilst drying them off, then subsequently ingested them.

In some people, getting significantly chilled or mildly hypothermic can have insalubrious effects on the digestive system.

Or, it could just be the cherries, or the wine, or the beer. Or his guts just saying, "Enough is enough".