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Sasha Clarkson has posted 342 annotations/comments since 16 February 2013.

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About Monday 9 February 1662/63

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Danzig was a multi-ethnic city state, Hanseatic port and manufacturing centre. It's position on the Vistula delta made it a vital hub in the Baltic trade of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth.

The convenient "surfeit of gherkins" theory may be taken with a pinch of salt. Michael was proving to be an unsuccecsful king, and was widely believed to have been poisoned.

About A Walk with Ferrers

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

There was no direct English precedent for granting precedence and such a senior title to a legitimised son. However, one must remember that the Stuart claim to the throne of England derived, very dubiously, via Henry VII to John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset. Somerset was the legitimised son of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (son of Edward III) by his mistress Katherine Swynford.

Henry married Elizabeth of York, a Plantagenet and Richard III's sister, to cement his claim, but the official line was that his maternal descent via Margaret Beaufort was enough.

On the Stuart side, Charles was descended from Robert III of Scotland, born out of wedlock in 1337, but legitimised by the marriage of his parents in 1347.

As Queen Elizabeth's godson Sir John Harington wrote:

Treason doth never prosper:
what ’s the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

Had the dice of history fallen differently, Monmouth would have had little difficulty ascending the throne.

About Friday 6 February 1662/63

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

"I'm dead sick of Pepys' uncle Thomas et al..."

Oh dear: there really is no point in being "sick of" people who've been dead for three hundred years, judging them on incomplete knowledge, or being partisan in an old dispute about which we have insufficient information.

The Pepyses (and Creeds BTW) were yeomen stock, that is descended from peasants who had done well in the aftermath of the Black Death and become landowners. They were upper middle class in the sense that they might marry into the aristocracy, as Sandwich's mother had done. However, all or the greatest proportion of the land stayed with the eldest son, if there was one. In this class, if possible daughters were married off - with some sort of a dowry if necessary, or sent into service with someone of higher status - or they were trapped at home. Life was precarious for younger sons, who had to learn a profession, acquire a trade - or marry an heiress! Great uncle Talbot (Sandwich's maternal uncle) was well off because he was the eldest son of his father's second marriage, and inherited his mother's marriage portion.

Uncle Thomas was his father's second son and had to find a trade: we don't know what it was, but he wasn't very well off: one son was a joiner, and the other is referred to as a "turner", that is, a lathe worker. In short, that branch of the family seemed to be on the way down and had clearly hoped to be lifted up in class and out of relative poverty by an inheritance from childless rich elder brother/uncle Robert. We don't know when or why Robert decided to cut them out in favour of his youngest (full) brother and children. Perhaps the two elder brothers had fought as children; perhaps he admired his youngest brother for investing in the education of his sons' perhaps it was Sandwich's influence. We can speculate, but we don't know. Nor do we know the extent to which Thomas et al knew about uncle Robert's plans. In any case, the legal disorder in which Robert left his affairs gave them the opportunity to try to salvage something. They could not afford not to fight their corner.

About Friday 6 February 1662/63

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Why did Pepys use the term "Old" Exchange today?

Probably because he's been in the vicinity of the new one, at the bookshop in the Strand? I suppose it's possible that the bookshop was actually IN the new exchange: books were a luxury good after all!

Incidentally, just a reminder that the diary omits a lot: how did Sam get to Lincoln's Inn Fields? It's worth looking at an online map. Today, through the streets, it would be about two miles and half an hour's walk from Seething Lane. Or did Sam take a coach? Either way, he didn't mention it.

Before he went to Sandwich's quarters in Whitehall, all the places he visited were fairly close to each other. But with Sam partly retracing his steps before he ended up at the Temple, he may have wandered another couple of miles on top of his original journey. Then, did he walk the mile from Temple to Whitehall, or did he get a coach then too? We just don't know! Today one might travel a couple of stops on the District/Circle line.

About Wednesday 4 February 1662/63

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

"I think not so good as ours were in our time"
Sam did praise the students' knowledge of geography, but the past often ages well in the bottle.
Memory plays tricks: one looks in the mirror and it's always the same person who looks back, but the people on one's old photographs look younger every year.

Sam has improved his own knowledge of Classical languages since his schooldays, by study at Cambridge and incrementally, by regular use. It is inevitable that the efforts of today's schoolboys will not sound as learned as his fellows' did in his own time.

About Tuesday 3 February 1662/63

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

The proposal was to employ Miss Ashwell as a companion for Elizabeth, in return for her keep and a bit of pocket money. Even though women did not have many choices in those days, it is obviously sensible to leave the final negotiations to the ladies concerned, as there is no point in being companions if you don't get on.

Unfortunately, the diary records again and again that Elizabeth had difficulty maintaining good relations with other women, Lady Sandwich being a notable exception. I suspect that the difficulties were largely a product of differences in class and social circumstance between her and her female contemporaries. Currently, Elizabeth was 22, wife of a man whose star was rising, and was trying to navigate London's stormy social seas. Up to a point, one's status has always depended upon how one allowed oneself to be treated. So, for understandable reasons, Elizabeth felt the need to assert and maintain her position as mistress of her own household, and also to maintain her dignity with and distance from those like Lady Batten, whose perceived slights offended her. The consequences were a regular turnover of servants, and Elizabeth's current loneliness as Lady S was now resident at Hinchinbrooke.

With Lady Sandwich relations were different: the Pepyses owed the Sandwiches everything, including for the support when they first married. So both Elizabeth and Sam need only enjoy My Lady's many kindnesses.

About Monday 2 February 1662/63

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

There is a recipe for "Cock Ale" in C J J Berry's 'Home Brewed Beers and Stouts' (from which I taught myself the craft of brewing 45 years ago.) Cyril Berry records how he adapted the recipe and made 1 gallon (Imperial - 4.54 litres) as an experiment. His verdict was that it was 'surprisingly good'.

I've posted a scan here on my Facebook page.