Annotations and comments

Robert Harneis has posted 23 annotations/comments since 7 November 2013.

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About Friday 18 March 1663/64

Robert Harneis  •  Link

'Call no man happy 'til he be dead.'
Burial round the church was the norm in Britain and France as far as I know until quite recent times. Problems of space, and in France, the separation of church and state in 1905 changed things. Historically, you were nearer to God the closer in you were buried. For those outside being buried where the water from the church roof fell on your tomb was a plus. 'Women and men separate'. In a remote village in the Lot until recently and maybe still, the men and women from local families, including married couples, sat on opposite sides of the church durng the service. It was considered 'correct' and showing proper respect to visit the house of the deceased and view the body, the night before the funeral, before the coffin was closed. Funerals for the old were quietly jovial affairs with the men all outside discussing the weather, the price of sheep at the local market, whilst the women were in the church doing the right thing. Occasionally one would come out and tell us to keep our voices down. Local squabbles (numerous) were forgotten for the day. Numbers attending were large. Funerals for the unexpected deaths of the young and the very young were not so funny. Occasionally the local shops closed for the afternoon out of respect. Sometimes everybody was invited to the house for a drink and something to eat. All pretty similar to Tom's funeral and no doubt rapidly passing away along with the accompanying 10,000 year old agricultural society.

About Friday 4 March 1663/64

Robert Harneis  •  Link

I never had so much discourse with the Duke before, and till now did ever fear to meet him.
Andrew Hamilton '-- what's going to be the effect on our man? Hope you are still out there Andrew!

Momentous moment in his life it turns out. The beginning of his close association with the royal family, becoming the Duke's man, which makes his career but also takes him within an inch of the public executioner. With his first glimpse of just how smart Charles is, on March 2nd chatting with Bragby, I think this period marks the moment when the King and the Duke decided he was 'one of us' and fit for the most important business. The apparent reconciliation with Sandwich is no coincidence.

About Wednesday 2 March 1663/64

Robert Harneis  •  Link

'That nobody almost understands or judges of business better than the King, if he would not be guilty of his father’s fault to be doubtfull of himself, and easily be removed from his own opinion.'

Is this the first time that Pepys picks up on the fact that the King is a whole lot smarter than his public 'sex and drugs and rock and roll' image? There is a fascinating account in Arthur Bryant's The Saviour of the Navy around page 30 of Charles' deft management in front of the royal Councilof the accusations against the navy by Commissioners appointed by the House of Commmons. Sam was resposible for preparing and delivering the defence of the navy and the King presided. Every now and then he slips in little bits of information or good humoured comments and makes sure his dog in the fight Sam does not get too carried away. It is an impressive performance and crucial in defeating the anti-Navy Office gang in their attempts to prove that the money spent on the navy was being wasted or that things were much more econonically managed under Cromwell.

About Tuesday 23 February 1663/64

Robert Harneis  •  Link

After the the diary ends, during the Popish plot paranoia that seized England - a bit like the current Russophobia but much more vicious, - he does take a bad fall but he does have the heart and perhaps the luck, to deal with it. He understood very well the shifting political sands and dangerous currents he and his contempories had to contend with. As did Charles II.

About Sunday 21 February 1663/64

Robert Harneis  •  Link

RSGII I seem to remember, on visiting a castle in the Dordogne, being told they kept them in baths full of brine to harden for at least ten years before use. After the big storm in eastern and northern France in 1996(?) that devastated many forests, for years afterwards huge amounts of pine tree trunks were piled up and sprayed continually with water to stop them decaying.

About Saturday 6 February 1663/64

Robert Harneis  •  Link

More than a little off subject is the tragic life of Ignaz Semmilweis 1818-1865, a Hungarian obstetrician who drastically reduced mortality amongst mothers by washing hands and instruments with chlorinated lime. Unfortuately he could not explain why the procedure was so effective which enabled his numerous medical enemies to prevent the spread of his ideas. They eventually got him sacked and as a result the mortality rate soared again, which troubled them not a bit. To read the whole astonishing story see -

About Wednesday 3 February 1663/64

Robert Harneis  •  Link

@ Louise - I think it is a bit of an assumption that rape was more likely by upper class cads. There were and are plenty of lower class cads. Expendable babies - I have observed over time that concern for children has increased as the number of them has decreased. I suspect that is no coincidence and does not mean we are necessarily 'better' than our ancestors. Whatever, this is indeed a chilling entry but on the other hand Pepys is astonishly frank about his feelings, God forgive him.