Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
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About Friday 14 December 1660
How typical that the conversation at the coffee house turned to the science of nature, instead of song and merriment, as it tends to do at an alehouse. I wonder if Pepys reflected on the surprising stimulative effect of this novel concoction.
About Thursday 29 November 1660
Is there an English teacher aboard who can explain the grammar of the "did/do" construction ("I did step thither," "he did seem very ready . . . did also tell me how thieves did attempt to rob, which do make us all afraid")? There must be one in this erudite group.
Something like it exists in modern English for particular uses ("I really did read the whole book" or "I do love Shakespeare"). But I don't see any such special meaning for it in Pepys, where "did" seems to be just another form of the simple past or present tense, such as survives today in archaic legalese ("defendant did feloniously . . .").
Please forgive me if this topic has been raised and discussed before. I actually have vague recollection of a related discussion, but can't find it now.