Annotations and comments

Nate Lockwood has posted 80 annotations/comments since 10 April 2013.


Second Reading

About Tuesday 15 March 1663/64

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Why would Tom and Sam have not learned French in school? Sam studied until he had a speaking knowledge of Latin and at least some Spanish and could probably read ancient Greek which I assume he knew before attending University. It's multiplication and division (and probably some other arithmetic) he had to learn later as those are tools of merchants and not particularly suitable or necessary for gentlemen).

About Tuesday 8 March 1663/64

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Urea in urine has a low ph and breaks down with ammonia as one of the products so was used for cleaning. It was used to remove hair from hides and the Romans used it to whiten teeth. I read something some time ago that suggested that indigenous women of Greenland or Iceland (can't remember which) used it to wash their hair.
My physician advised me to use a lotion for my skin, gave me a brand name and told me that the important thing was the urea in the lotion as it 'dissolves' dead skin. It does help but I don't think I'll try to save money by collecting my urine and using instead.

About Thursday 17 December 1663

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Some time ago, but less than a decade I think, I read about a study that compared the length of marriages (before divorce) vs. ages of the couple in societies that supported both arranged marriages and (presumably) love marriages. If the couple were under about 26 arranged marriages were longer lasting but above that age love marriages lasted longer. I think that around 25 - 26 years of age men tend to have become more mature, less impulsive, etc.

About Thursday 22 October 1663

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Were there stereotypes then of women being poor in arithmetic?

AFAIK arithmetic was considered a skill needed by tradesman, useless and beneath for most other men then and for at least another century or so. Education? Not so much for women of the leisure class.

I don't know what was considered arithmetic at the time but I expect numerate people were expected to be able add and subtract, but multiplication, division, etc. were advanced skills.

About Wednesday 1 April 1663

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

A "live oak" is one that is not seasonally deciduous; it has green leaves all year long. Where there are several species of oaks 'live oak' may be contrasted with "black oak" which are seasonally deciduous and, at least in Southern California, really do look black in the winter. In California live oaks are said to have year around access to water whereas black oaks may not and consequently drop their leaves in the colder, dry, early winter. Quercus agrifolia leaves are small and stiff, which are adaptations to our hot dry summers and fall. Live oaks can grow at any time of year so have the potential of growing larger than their cousins.

About Saturday 14 February 1662/63

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Hanging wild fowl or aging beef decomposes the connective tissue when lysosomes in the cells break down releasing many kinds (~50) of enzymes that break down biological tissues; I don't think bacteria play any part.

Beef is butchered, lysosomes break down tissue, and the cuts are allowed dry which concentrates the flavor. I doubt if fowl tend to dry. As the beef dries a fungus may grow on the surface and produce a crust. Aging is also a way of preserving beef so that it may be stored. IIRC dried beef has been mentioned in the diary.

I've eaten reconstituted beef produced this way in Brasil, it's a specialty of the Brasilian state of Minas Gerais, and is quite tasty.

About Thursday 12 February 1662/63

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

I first learned of Castile Soap in a chemistry class. We made the soap and then added gasoline to make napalm. While production napalm is not made from castile soap the 'palm' comes from palmitic acid (a constituent of palm oil). I believe that the 'na' relates to Sodium (Na).

About Thursday 12 February 1662/63

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Susan of the south, my Grandmother raised me from about 1940-1939 and the use of soap that you described was one of her remedies. It must have impressed me as I still remember it.

About Sunday 29 June 1662

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Wouldn't Sam have all the shutters closed to avoid the 'bad' night air and possibility of intruders? That would certainly limit the influence of dawn's early light.

About Sunday 4 May 1662

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

The black ribbon is probably the (outer) bandage for the wound on his arm from giving blood and black so as not to show the blood.

About Sunday 4 May 1662

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

"Maggots are also being used in wounds to get rid of dead tissue. (They will digest only the dead tissue). No pain involved."

What matters to me is what's bitten off, not what's digested.

About Friday 2 May 1662

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Paul, Pepys wrote the diary in shorthand which, for practical purposes, was a cypher and unlikely to be understood by anyone else. I assume that the French and Spanish was in shorthand as well.

About Friday 4 April 1662

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Paying off the ship was much the same through the end of the 1950's in the US Merchant Marine (commercial vessels). One would sign articles for the duration of the voyage which specified an ending date and an ending port, whichever came first. During the voyage one could draw on accumulated pay not to exceed 1/2 of that due (with any deductions taken into account). This practice was to discourage 'jumping ship' some idyllic (never visited one of those myself).

After one long voyage my payout was something like $100 and a few cents and I was forced to accept a $100 bill. Unfortunately the only way to get from the shp into the nearest town was by taxi or walking, no taxi driver would have change for 100 dollars, and it would be hard to find any business to break the bill. Some things never change.

About Thursday 20 February 1661/62

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Sasha , harquebus was almost certainly a smoothbore weapon which fired a spherical projectile: a ball. A rifle is a grooved bore weapon, the grooves imparting a spin to the aerodynamic projectile. Rifles were known in Pepys day but were very, very, slow fire, fired a ball, and, in the military, would only have been used by snipers. For the last over 100 years most any long gun except a shotgun is rifled and hence a rifle, but not the harquebus, musket, etc.

About Friday 10 January 1661/62

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

I think it's difficult for us to comprehend difficulties of navigation before Harrison's clock. Around 1958 I sailed on three cargo ships as a cadet, something like a midshipman without any authority. Our only electronic navigation instrument was a RDF (Radio Direction Finder) which, to the best of my knowledge, was never used for navigation because, even after two or three days of cloudy weather our uncertainty of position was always less than the RDF's uncertainty. Thus we were dependent on dead reckoning. But computing our speed was much, much, better that that used by sailing ships (counting how many knots in a knotted line slip past one's fingers in some period of time measured with an hourglass) and our last known position was much more recent and accurate than it would have been before the chronometer.

The route of many ships across the Atlantic would involve sailing south pretty much along the coasts until the altitude (angle with the horizon) of the North Star matched the altitude of the destination and then sailing East using dead reckoning to estimate Longitude and watching for land birds, floating debris such as tree branches and leaves, and the peculiar clouds that form over islands to forewarn the proximity of land.

Still, groundings (and collisions) continue to occur to this day.

In Sam's day many countries established their prime meridian based on the country's capital city and not all the charts had North at the top which further complicated exchanges of position.

About Friday 8 November 1661

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

"Gentleman and a scholar"

AFAIK in those days in general a gentleman was a man who had an independent income and didn't work for wages, it was a description of a member of a social class (a class in which most members had to find activities to occupy their extensive leisure time).

I suspect that a scholar, in the context of the diary, would be an educated person who persisted in acquiring knowledge, much as we would understand it today.

Today, in my experience, a gentleman would be a man who exhibits good manners, that is, defined by those traits and not class.

I think that in Sam's day in most cases a scholar would of necessity be gentleman since, to the best of my knowledge, only men of the gentleman class could obtain an education.

Any thoughts on which interpretation Sam was using?

About Friday 13 September 1661

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Thanks, Bill, I wondered about that. Potatoes are in the same family as the poisonous nightshade and those familiar with the flowers may have suspected that they were poisonous; all parts except the tubers contain the poison alkaloid solanine. The sources of your quotes probably confounded the sweet potato with the common potato - they are not related.

This may have been part of the era when they were becoming more acceptable.

It's interesting that they speak of Spanish, Virginia, and Canada potatoes since the source of the potato is an area around the border of Peru and Bolivia but well before the Europeans were in South America their cultivation had spread. BTW the Virginia potato is a 'real' potato, as is the Irish potato, but I'm at a loss to understand a Canada potato. The name Spanish potato, I guess, may have come about from it being introduced to Europe by Spain. (Several plants have the species name 'chininsis' because a long time ago a crate with plant samples was mislabeled as originating in China.)

About Thursday 12 September 1661

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

My first thought when I read 'blind ale house' was a disreputable place, populated with disreputable people, known not by a sign, but by reputation; a dive. The kind of place from which Sam would not want to be recognized when leaving.