Annotations and comments

Robert Harneis has posted 20 annotations/comments since 7 November 2013.

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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.

About Tuesday 5 January 1663/64

Robert Harneis  •  Link

Moral dilemmas - As one who many years ago was close to the construction industry, I think he is rehearsing the arguments to make sure it passes 'the smell test' as mentioned above but also to satisfy himself he hasn't missed anything, that there are no gaps in his justificatory armour. I remember so well my boss saying to me about fifty years ago 'my boy, it is very simple, a bootle of whisky is a present, a case of whisky is a bribe'. Or as somebody else a bit more sophisticated put it 'make sure everything that goes in the file passes the judge test. How would a judge interpret what is written there in five years time?'

More generally, there is a type of personality that cannot get his head round a problem without writing it out and this is not a problem he can chat through with a mate or his wife. General de Gaulle, a solitary man of action but also a witer if ever there was one, said of himself that he had to write down a concept to fully grasp it. As Sarah says above, Sam used the diary in a number of ways and this was one of them.

About Thursday 31 December 1663

Robert Harneis  •  Link

Wandering about in Hungary two years ago, we visited Eger with its wine and castle but also its minaret which marks the furthest point ever reached by the Ottoman Empire.

"The Turke very far entered into Germany, and all that part of the world at a losse what to expect from his proceedings."

Interesting that over three hundred years later we are still 'at a loss' as to what to expect from his proceedings. At the same time our sympathy goes out to the Turkish people victims of yet another terrible terrorist attack last night.