Annotations and comments

Nate Lockwood has posted 81 annotations/comments since 10 April 2013.


Second Reading

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.

About Wednesday 4 September 1661

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Oysters, mussels, etc. are filter feeders so if there is a bloom of dinoflagellates (algae) those shellfish could readily have accumulated toxins. Blooms tend to occur in warm weather, shallow calm seas and estuaries after rains and are due to the presence of nutrients such as nitrates and potassium in the water column which can come from fertilizer application but are also present in sewage. Manure was a primary fertilizer in the 16 and 17 centuries so was probably used in Pepys' time, too. When in a military survival course in June many years ago we were forbidden to collect shellfish as there was an algal bloom so our pot was a bit empty.

About Friday 31 May 1661

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

To judge if some one is 'old' or not I think one must ask the question: "What is the average life expectancy for those how have lived to be 25." (Pick your own threshold age.) IMHO the threshold age should be at least after childhood diseases are past although for males it perhaps should be later as males tend to engage in dangerous activities until they are 25 or so. I would expect that the differences between then and now would be evident but not as great as most people might think - except somewhat for females because of the dangers of childbirth and pregnancy.

About Wednesday 10 April 1661

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

"in which he intends to ride as Vice-Admiral in the narrow seas all this summer."

What are the narrow seas, the English Channel?

About Monday 4 March 1660/61

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Bill, I think your sentence needs a little restructuring. Perhaps if "the current ..." were changed to "the then current ..." my cognitive dissonance bells would quiet. :-)

About Thursday 28 February 1660/61

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

The candles of this period were not like the candles of today which are mostly made from petroleum wax and have a type of wick that was not yet invented in Pepys' time.

In the 17th century candles were mostly made from tallow and and the wicks were probably from the pith of a reed. I think that they smoked and know that they had an unpleasant smell. They could melt in warm weather. Of course there were beeswax candles but they were probably quite a bit more expensive.

The behavior of a pin in one of today's candles might not be quite the same as in Pepys' day.

About Monday 25 February 1660/61

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

I suspect that it lagged far behind other areas and, remember, no germ theory; bleeding was popular as was expertise in the four humors.

IIRC in the mid 19th century Physicians were arguing strongly that bloomers would be very injurious to women's health.

About Friday 1 February 1660/61

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

I think that the sword just sits around in a humid environment, the air is probably a bit acid from burning coal and wood, that the blade may be a bit rusty, the brass tarnished, and perhaps mold and nicks on the scabbard. He probably seldom removes the sword from the scabbard, doesn't have the wherewithal or supplies to clean it and doesn't want to do it himself; thus hires the refurbishing out.

My guess is that it's bad enough that he doesn't want to be seen with it in that condition as it certainly won't look ready for use and would imply that he doesn't really know how to use it well. Of course there might also be an event on the horizon that will require him wear it ceremonially.

About Thursday 31 January 1660/61

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

A minor note of the difference between "stevedore" and "longshoreman" that I learned early on in the US Merchant Marine (aka Merchant Navy in GB). A longshoreman actually does the labor of loading and unloading vessels and is employed by a stevedore who represents or owns the company that provides those services. The words are often confused.

In my experience in foreign ports the stevedore would provide baksheesh in the form of perhaps some wine or whisky to the captain, and also sometimes to the chief engineer and first mate.

About Tuesday 15 January 1660/61

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

A cable, made of three hawser laid lines, must also be more than 10 inches in circumference to properly be called a cable. In the days of sail a cable's prime use was to attach the anchor. The cable was 100 fathoms long or approximately a tenth of a nautical mile so cable was also used as a measure of length or distance. A cable of this length would allow a large sailing vessel to anchor in as much as 14 fathoms of water in decent weather although I doubt very many ships ever anchored in water this deep.

Most of the cordage in the days of sail were termed lines but had specific names such as halyard, shroud, etc. Almost none were called "ropes" by the sailors although they did use the term "know your ropes". Lines were also described by their lay such as cable laid and hawser laid.

About Monday 14 January 1660/61

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Lieutenant Lambert was not just a "junior officer" but would have been second in command of his ship and would assume command in the absence, incapacitation, or death of the Captain.

Apparently he was Mountagu's Lieutenant, or chief assistant, at one point and so could speak for Mountagu.

I think that the British Navy didn't have many of ranks for officers at this time - at least up to and including the skipper.

About Saturday 12 January 1660/61

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

AFAIK that in Pepys day when one found one's self in a group of other gentlemen one would need to quickly establish the pecking order of the group especially with those who are strangers. If one doesn't receive a formal introduction then that's a clue, for instance, and someone without a title or formal introduction would not engage someone with a title in conversation; the one with the title would do that.

Introductions in those days were different than today (in social settings at least). The person doing the introduction would essentially vouch for the two people being introduced, that is, who they are, perhaps the family or connections, and the explicit or implied social standing.

Sam has no title but does have power and is Sandwich's creature, so this bleeds into his social position and makes status a bit ambiguous both to others and to him. He must use care in those groups less he make enemies for reaching above his class especially if it's apparent that he is better educated, well read, and knowledgable about many things than his betters.

So it would be bad manners to behave inappropriately for one's class; a class one offense. I know that this was true about 100 years later and expect that it was more or less true in Sam's day as well. Business dealing would probably be a bit more loose.

About Monday 26 November 1660

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

""a son that is neat in his house"

NEAT clean, trim, cleanly and tightly dressed, clever.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675."

I still use neat in that respect as in "I like my whisky (and whiskey, too) neat" so it survives. Today's bartender's tend not to understand though, in the US at least.

About Monday 12 November 1660

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

If the money is used to pay off the crew then they would need quite a bit of change such as silver shillings and copper pence. At the end of voyage when I was in the Merchant Marine (Merchant Navy to some of you) many, many years ago I was owed something like $101.50 and the paymaster would not provide change. Thus I had no way to get into town some distance away, as no taxi driver could change a $100 bill.

About Monday 29 October 1660

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

The fly-through is a great simulation.

I think that there would have been more haze (smog) from cooking fires and a lot more in the winter when at least some who could afford it would have heating fires in fireplaces.

The lanterns and lights escaping from windows would have been much dimmer and no outside lights, at least, would have been lit in daytime but the creators probably wanted a more artistic effect.

At least a couple of the streets had the centers lower than the sides for drainage of sewage and I suspect that most of the paved streets would have been built that way.

Sure looks like a prosperous area. I can imagine Sam walking down the streets and lanes which were full of people, dogs, livestock, etc. keeping an eye out for where his next step would land and for any coaches, carriages, or mounted horsemen whose horses would be splattering the drainage everywhere. The fact that almost no one bathed would be lost in the general miasma.

About Tuesday 5 June 1660

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

"So, are we to presume that the fishing was better ashore, than at sea?"

For trout, yes! For fly-fishing, of course, if that was practiced in those days. Of course it could have been an excuse to go ashore for some other reason as there is no mention of bringing fish back to the ship.