Annotations and comments

Terry Foreman has posted 10117 annotations/comments since 28 June 2005.

The most recent…


About Thursday 15 December 1664

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the King being ruled by these men, as he hath been all along since his coming; to the razing all the strong-holds in Scotland, and giving liberty to the Irish in Ireland, whom Cromwell had settled all in one corner; who are now able, and it is feared everyday a massacre again among them."

The Scottish forts erected by Cromwell had been slighted in 1661-2 (following a Council order of 13 July 1661) , so that the English garrisons could be withdrawn. Now 'feared' is a repetition of the rising of 1641. The 'corner' was Connaught. (Per L&M footnote)

About Thursday 15 December 1664

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"there is little evidence that Newton’s early interest in comets was sustained."

There is no evidence for this claim and much against it; not merely the correspondence of 1685-86, showing how dealing with comets was a stimulus and a necessary condition of a theory of planetary motion
but also the Principia of 1687, whose Preface includes this central passage:

For the whole difficulty of philosophy seems to be to discover the forces of nature from the phenomena of motions and then to demonstrate the other phenomena from these forces. It is to these ends that the general propositions in books 1 and 2 are directed, while in book 3 our explication of the system of the world illustrates these propositions. For in book 3, by means of propositions demonstrated mathematically in books 1 and 2, we derive from celestial phenomena the gravitational forces by which bodies tend toward the sun and toward the individual planets. Then the motions of the planets, the comets, the moon, and the sea are deduced from these forces by propositions that are also mathematical.

See this very accessible exposition of Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, from which the passage above was excerpted:

About Thursday 15 December 1664

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Comet of 1664 as omen: Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year

In the first place, a blazing star or comet appeared for several months before the plague, as there did the year after another, a little before the fire. The old women and the phlegmatic hypochondriac part of the other sex, whom I could almost call old women too, remarked (especially afterward, though not till both those judgements were over) that those two comets passed directly over the city, and that so very near the houses that it was plain they imported something peculiar to the city alone; that the comet before the pestilence was of a faint, dull, languid colour, and its motion very heavy, Solemn, and slow; but that the comet before the fire was bright and sparkling, or, as others said, flaming, and its motion swift and furious; and that, accordingly, one foretold a heavy judgement, slow but severe, terrible and frightful, as was the plague; but the other foretold a stroke, sudden, swift, and fiery as the conflagration. Nay, so particular some people were, that as they looked upon that comet preceding the fire, they fancied that they not only saw it pass swiftly and fiercely, and could perceive the motion with their eye, but even they heard it; that it made a rushing, mighty noise, fierce and terrible, though at a distance, and but just perceivable.

I saw both these stars, and, I must confess, had so much of the common notion of such things in my head, that I was apt to look upon them as the forerunners and warnings of God's judgements; and especially when, after the plague had followed the first, I yet saw another of the like kind, I could not but say God had not yet sufficiently scourged the city.

About Monday 12 December 1664

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"comes Cutler to tell us that the King of France hath forbid any canvass to be carried out of his kingdom,."

No such order has been found. Writing to Coventry on this day, Pepys expressed the suspicion that Cutler's news (given to Pepys as a secret) might be the 'foreunner of a tender'. There was a shortage of canvas and prices rose, but imports from France continued to get through. Pepys himself on 20 July 1665 would be charged with the arrangements for importing canvas from St Malo. Pepys was later to point out (in a parliamentary debate of 4 November 1675) the extent of the country's dependence on foreign supplies. Four-fifths, he said, came from abroad, and mostly from France as Vitry and Morlaix canvas. Further Corr., p. 32; CSPD 1665-6 p. 132; CSPD 1664-5, 483.
(Per L&M footnote)

About Friday 9 December 1664

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"This day I had several letters from several places, of our bringing in great numbers of Dutch ships."

Prizes brought into Dover, Plymouth and Portsmouth: CSPD and The Newes, 8 December. (Per L&M footnote)