Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
MarkS has posted 33 annotations/comments since 10 April 2013.
The most recent…
About Friday 31 May 1661
I found the statistic that if a man or woman lived to be 30 in 17th century England, their average life expectancy was 59.
No antibiotics or modern pharmaceuticals, and no modern surgery, meant that many conditions that are not life-threatening today were life-threatening then.
About Friday 22 February 1660/61
Decisions about where to send ships,etc. are political, not administrative. It's not up to Pepys and his department to decide how to employ HM ships. All armies and navies not actively engaged in war spend most of their time sitting around and waiting, whether today or at any time in history.
On Sam's working hours, the approach is that as long as his gets the job done, it doesn't matter when or how he does it. Sometimes he works late at night to finish something. He usually takes Sundays off, but works six days a week. If necessary, he puts in long hours.
A sentence like "All the morning at the office" in today's entry means perhaps 4-5 hours of solid work. Sam usually doesn't give details of his office work, but that doesn't mean that things are not happening. Even when he is not there, clerks will be continuing to work according to his instructions.
About Tuesday 29 January 1660/61
The point about catches is that there is a 'hidden' phrase, usually bawdy, which only appears when the overlapping voices combine.
Here are two non-bawdy modern examples to give the idea:
Liverpool Street Stationhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4v88UZEgeI
University of Michigan Men's Glee Clubhttp://ummgc.org/public/audio/ugly_clothes.mp3 [direct link to mp3]
Keep listening, because the hidden catch phrase only appears towards the end of each song.
About Saturday 19 January 1660/61
Sam met them when they were being taken to their execution. The sentence for hanging, drawing and quartering would normally say something like, "...laid on a hurdle and so drawn to the place of execution...". This hurdle is what Sam calls a sledge, a wooden or wattle framework dragged behind a horse.
About Tuesday 27 November 1660
Tonyel, this is not about our own belief systems, either yours or those of any other modern commentators. Nor do I think this is an appropriate forum to advocate personal convictions about the nature of reality.
This about understanding historical texts, beliefs, concepts, and attitudes - especialy those of Pepys' time, but also those more generally related to it.
Every single writer, from the Middle Ages up to at least the middle of the 20th century, was familiar with the Bible and took it for granted that all his readers were equally familiar with it. So many references and allusions were not explicit. It was expected that readers would simply understand them.
For that reason alone, anyone wanting a reasonable knowledge of Western literature, history or culture should read the Bible at some stage. This has nothing to do with belief. It is a vital historical text for understanding the history of the past.
We couldn't possibly understand ancient Greek literature without having some understanding of ancient Greek mythology. That that doesn't mean that we have to believe ancient Greek mythology. It's the same with the Bible. It's a vital text for understanding the whole of Western culture.
Also, theology played such a pivotal role throughtout Western history that one has to understand some of the theological issues in order to have a good understanding of history.
The biggest single issue in 17th century Europe was the rift between between Catholics and Protestants. How can one possibly understand the history of the times without understanding the details of what the beliefs and issues were?
Even such a 'scientist' as Sir Isaac Newton was a deeply religious Christian his whole life. Newton spent far more time and energy writing about mystical interpretations of the Bible than he ever did on science or mathematics.
It's all very well to say, "Oh, I'm ever so superior in my understanding of reality than they were (at least, in so far as my currently evolved ape-brain allows me to understand the nature of reality at all)". But that doesn't get us anywhere in terms of understanding Western history, philosophy, literature, art, and culture.
On the story of Nabal:
a) David was not a Christian, so the comments about the meek inheriting the earth are not relevant. This is the Old Testament, not the New - there is a big difference.b) There is a lot more to the story if you understand some of the cultural subtleties.
A couple of links:
Nabal on Wikipedahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabal
A good line-by-line commentary which brings out details which may be unclear to a modern readerhttp://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/0925.htm
About Saturday 17 November 1660
It wasn't a form in the modern sense of the word, and it wouldn't be a money-spinner.
Sam was looking for an example of a legal contract for a nobleman to retain a household chaplain. No doubt the Privy Seal had many different types of model contracts on file for their own use, so Sam was hoping he could find a suitable one. It was just to save him time and give him an idea of what such a contract usually looked like.
Since there wasn't any contract of this type on file, he simply drew one up as best he could, for Sandwich and Turner to sign. It didn't affect anything at the Privy Seal Office.
Has Sam had any formal legal training? Probably not, but he has seen a large number of legal contracts, and he knows what Sandwich wants.
About Tuesday 23 October 1660
@arby That's a good point. Mr. Spong is called 'illiterate', but they look over many books of his.
I think Pepys may be speaking loosely, and may only mean that he has no knowledge of Latin, the language of educated people everywhere. He is saying that Spong is uneducated rather than unable to read.
About Monday 15 October 1660
A great favour to his family and friends. As noted in the first annotation at the top, "his quarters were granted to his brother and given decent burial that night."
In case anyone wants to read "the best writ tale that ever I read in my life", here it is on Google Books, in the 1727 edition, translated by "Thos. Brown, Mr. Savage, and Others". In this edition Scarron's story is called "The Useless Precaution":
Pepys calls it the best tale he ever read, but I take this as hyperbole. I think he just means it was very good, and he enjoyed it.