Annotations and comments

mountebank has posted 80 annotations/comments since 11 May 2013.


About Wednesday 14 September 1664

mountebank  •  Link

Happy diary midpoint fellow annotators!

It's been a delight to have followed the diary for the past (nearly) five years. It's opened up a whole world and these days time spent in London has an extra dimension. I'll be there on Sunday walking the route of the river Fleet.

Thanks very much for bringing us this remarkable site Phil.

About Saturday 27 August 1664

mountebank  •  Link

Speaking of music, in an hour or so (28 August) this will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4:

"Lucie Skeaping tells the story of post-diary Samuel Pepys through the music he commissioned, some of it played for the first time in 300 years..."

It should be available for 30 days. Or possibly longer.

About Friday 27 May 1664

mountebank  •  Link

Following on from the comments about whether Sam is making a joke, it is striking, well, at least to me, how few jokes there are in the diary (so far).

In the long running and comparatively very dull diary I keep, I never miss the opportunity to include jokes and word-play, and that's written solely for me without an audience in mind.

Perhaps the diary is full of jokes but we can't see them.

About Monday 16 May 1664

mountebank  •  Link

"He and Dr. Clerke did fail mightily in hitting the vein"

A curiously modern sounding usage.

Sam does seem to be very prone to recurring bollock pain. It sounds like there's an underlying medical condition.

A readable kaleidoscopic entry.

About Wednesday 11 May 1664

mountebank  •  Link

Typically, I missed out the most striking thing about this entry. It does not seem to provide a clear indication of what Sam really thought about the offer. For example had Elizabeth said "it's not great but it could provide a child, ready cash, and good security in the future so I'm up for it" would Sam have said that he'd be willing to go along with it? Looking at previous entries leading up to this, it was surely unexpected for Sam and so he did seem to be going for the "wait and see" approach.

About Wednesday 11 May 1664

mountebank  •  Link

"Does Sam's oddly muted reaction to this revelation strike anyone else as strange? This is a person of such powerful jealousy that the thought of finding the dancing master in a corner of the church drives him to distraction."

It actually didn't strike me as that strange. Sam is both a highly pragmatic man and prone to fancies and, perhaps, when faced with a real situation rather than a nebulous threat, he felt he had something he could process properly and having grasped it come up with a measured and apt response.

"and how he thought it would be best for him and her to have one between them, and he would give her 500l. either in money or jewells beforehand, and make the child his heir"

The "beforehand" is ambiguous here. It doesn't say before the sexual act and might mean before a child was ready to be delivered. One might expect Uncle Wright, a prosperous merchant used to getting his own way and presumably no fool, to seek a deal on the latter basis. This would provide him with a rather appealing hedging of his bet: if Elizabeth is fertile he has a good chance of getting his heir and if not he gets a number of free goes and as a bonus gets to keep his 500L.

About Sunday 31 January 1663/64

mountebank  •  Link

I agree with that. I've been keeping a diary* for about a decade, probably even longer than Sam, and I realised a long time ago that without spending vast amounts of time writing it up at enormous length it would at best just contain fragments of my day. Sometimes when I re-read it (a very rare event) it looks to me like a collection of the shiny things that caught my eye over the course of a day. It is difficult to write a diary reporting continually on the minor details of dull day-to-day life.

My diary is not for anyone else to read (I'm not convinced it's even for me to re-read) and yet it contains many of the characteristics that other commentators have pounced upon as proof that Sam wrote for the eyes of others. Much of this "proof" I instead put down to Sam being a thorough and curious chap who wanted to write about the interesting stuff in a lucid and coherent way.

* if anyone were to read it they'd think more Pooter than Pepys

About Monday 9 November 1663

mountebank  •  Link

"You shall have this captain turned a shoemaker; the lieutenant, a baker; this a brewer; that a haberdasher; this common soldier, a porter; and every man in his apron and frock, &c., as if they never had done anything else"

This grouping really stood out for me. Something like it could be said to be the people whose choices were behind the great political events of this year.

About Thursday 8 October 1663

mountebank  •  Link

"Pepys gave us no specifics beyond it was nasty ... so he went to church twice"

Whenever I see on ellipsis on the page my automatic thought is that there's some juicy rudeness missing and I wonder what it is.

About Wednesday 2 September 1663

mountebank  •  Link

[Slight spoiler below]

Big weekend coming up, the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. There are loads of events in London and, luckily it not being far away from here, I'll be going to town to take part in a few. For those not so lucky, BBC Radio 4 has lots of Pepys/Great Fire programmes coming up:

The Pepys dramatisations are done by Hattie Naylor who in my view captures the man and the times very well.

About Tuesday 25 August 1663

mountebank  •  Link

It's always interesting to read discussion of the multiplier for money then compared to money now. I use x100 for modest sums/purchases but keep in mind that it's not a fixed factor. To put it another way, as the amount of money increases, in Pepys time its buying power increases at a significantly greater rate compared to now.

According to my x100 factor, £1000 then would supposedly be equivalent to £100000 now but it's clear that £1000 then could buy a very great deal indeed.

It's also interesting to see what is "expensive" compared to now. Manufactured goods unsurprisingly were very expensive suggesting certain types of skilled craftsmen (craftspersons) would have been able to make a particularly good living. Unskilled labour is very cheap. This means that as soon is someone's earnings were becoming decent, having servants was affordable.

About Wednesday 29 April 1663

mountebank  •  Link

A terrific entry, despite it having a bad case of Pronoun Hell.

It's often difficult to have a clear sense of the relationship between Sam and my Lord but as we can see here Sam is in a position of real trust.

For me this is one of those entries that, while reading it, shifts my perspective of characters in the diary and their relationships. It's this sense of discovery and re-interpretation of "known" things that is one of the joys of the diary.

About A new design

mountebank  •  Link

Very smart. That is an attractive green. As ever, thanks ever so much for your continued work on this site, it is a constant joy.

About Thursday 10 May 1660

mountebank  •  Link

My first post so I'll start briefly by saying many thanks for re-running the diary. It is simply tremendous.

In case it's not been mentioned, at 14.30 the Saturday afternoon play (today) on Radio 4 is Pepys: Fire of London. It's an adaptation by Hattie Naylor who is responsible for the excellent 15 Minute Dramas which have been running for several years. It will be available (depending on your apparent geographical origin) for 7 days from this link: