Annotations and comments

Steven Scrivener has posted three annotations/comments since 27 August 2017.

The most recent first…


Second Reading

About Monday 15 August 1664

Steven Scrivener  •  Link

This brew/bake imagery brings to mind one of the riddles from the Exeter Book (Krapp-Dobbie #45):

I have heard of something wax in a corner,
swell and pop, lift up the covers.
A proud-minded woman seized with her hands
that boneless thing, a prince’s daughter;
covered with her dress the swelling thing.
(trans. Paull Franklin Baum, taken from Wikipedia)

The usual answer commentators give is dough/bread. In Old English, there is a lot of wordplay going on. "Prince" here in OE is theod, "prince/lord", synonymous with OE hlaford, "lord", but etymologically "loaf-keeper". The daughter of the loaf-keeper might make the dough, covering it with a cloth ("her dress") while it rises. However, "the swelling thing" has also been interpreted as the swelling of the belly containing the "boneless thing" (first/second trimester according to AS medical understanding); or seized "the boneless thing" soon after having lifted the covers can alternatively be interpreted as the penis. In this riddle, then, "the prince's daughter" seems to anticipate the farmer's daughter jokes. (If it seems that I'm trying to get words do double service, the syntax in OE is very different, and, of course, lacks modern punctuation, so I'm just raising the possibilities.)

Anyway, it would seem that Sam was employing a turn of phrase which drew on what was then a very old tradition.

About Saturday 16 July 1664

Steven Scrivener  •  Link

San Diego Sarah:

This is a tangential question, but I wonder whether you might clarify something for me. (Unfortunately, I don't have access to my library at the moment, so going from memory). I understand that the shortage of precious metal was a constant constraint on specie (though adequate supply might have been an inflationary factor) in Europe, but I was under the impression that it wasn't so much gold that was required for that purpose as it was silver, primarily from Potosi. Gold was certainly of massive importance, but not so much for coinage. Or do you mention gold because it would be used for higher denominations (e.g., guinea) that would be used to settle the large quarterly accounts rather than s/d used for buying buying a book or a barrel of oysters?