Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
MarkS has posted 29 annotations/comments since 10 April 2013.
The most recent…
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.
About Saturday 13 October 1660
"He looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition."
As Monty Python said, "Always look on the bright side of life"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJUhlRoBL8M
About Saturday 6 October 1660
There would have been far greater differences in dialect in Pepys' day than in ours.
Samuel Johnson, a century later, commented about pronunciation differing even among people of high rank: "I remember an instance: when I published the Plan for my Dictionary, Lord Chesterfield told me that the word 'great' should be pronounced so as to rhyme to 'state'; and Sir William Yonge sent me word that it should be pronounced so as to rhyme to 'seat', and that none but an Irishman would pronounce it 'grait'. Now here were two men of the highest rank, the one, the best speaker in the House of Lords, the other, the best speaker in the House of Commons, differing entirely."
About Friday 28 September 1660
It's a very human characteristic. When anyone says of any situation, "It's always my luck" that such-and-such happens - *invariably* it's due to person himself. He himself is the common denominator in the 'always'.
e.g. The passive-aggressive person who says, "People *always* take advantage of me", the miserly person who says, "When I lend money to a friend it *always* spoils the friendship", etc.
Pepys laughs and jokes with the workmen, and they respond. He then offers them beer and sits drinking and chatting with them - "It's strange, how I always meet such drolling workmen".
But someone else using the exactly the same workmen might criticise them and find fault with them, might accuse them of overcharging and get into an argument with them, and then complain, "It's strange how I *always* get such bad and surly workmen."
About Wednesday 19 September 1660
The Mitre tavern was a favourite haunt of Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell a century later.