Annotations and comments

Robert Harneis has posted 55 annotations/comments since 7 November 2013.


About Tuesday 5 January 1663/64

Robert Harneis  •  Link

Moral dilemmas - As one who many years ago was close to the construction industry, I think he is rehearsing the arguments to make sure it passes 'the smell test' as mentioned above but also to satisfy himself he hasn't missed anything, that there are no gaps in his justificatory armour. I remember so well my boss saying to me about fifty years ago 'my boy, it is very simple, a bootle of whisky is a present, a case of whisky is a bribe'. Or as somebody else a bit more sophisticated put it 'make sure everything that goes in the file passes the judge test. How would a judge interpret what is written there in five years time?'

More generally, there is a type of personality that cannot get his head round a problem without writing it out and this is not a problem he can chat through with a mate or his wife. General de Gaulle, a solitary man of action but also a witer if ever there was one, said of himself that he had to write down a concept to fully grasp it. As Sarah says above, Sam used the diary in a number of ways and this was one of them.

About Thursday 31 December 1663

Robert Harneis  •  Link

Wandering about in Hungary two years ago, we visited Eger with its wine and castle but also its minaret which marks the furthest point ever reached by the Ottoman Empire.…

"The Turke very far entered into Germany, and all that part of the world at a losse what to expect from his proceedings."

Interesting that over three hundred years later we are still 'at a loss' as to what to expect from his proceedings. At the same time our sympathy goes out to the Turkish people victims of yet another terrible terrorist attack last night.

About Monday 2 November 1663

Robert Harneis  •  Link

A. De Araujo on 3 Nov 2006
‘"went gray as a result of his distress"
There was also of Marie Antoinette's hair turning gray because of her tribulations; methinks it is just coincidence; until a few years ago even the medical profession related peptic ulcers to distress but thanks to some Australian doctor we now know better.’

I have found many good things on this site but I never thought I would find a reference to one that medical heroe, the very Pepsyian Dr Barry Marshall, and the best bit is he finally confirmed his revolutionary theories about the ‘Oh glorious, sneaky H.pylori, the bacterium that sank a thousand antacid companies’ almost by accident. The worst part of this wonderful story is the medical profession happily using endoscopy equipment for decades from one patient to another, without sterilizing it properly because they believed that no dangerous bacteria could live in a human stomach. Anybody who likes this site will enjoy this characteristic interview with him in 1998 -….

As for anxiety and hair, I don't know about going grey but I knew a man who was a decorated a WWII bomber pilot, who told me that he came back after one particularly terrifying episode, took off his flying helmet and large chunks of his hair came out with it.

About Sunday 1 November 1663

Robert Harneis  •  Link

Patricia on 2 Nov 2006 - "How could Mrs. P run a household without a knowledge of basic arithmetic?"
4 hours ago - Louise Hudson "Illiterate and innumerate women throughout history successfully ran households, helped on farms and other businesses and raised children."

A long time ago my parents' neighbour was a farmer who used itinerant labour to pick potatoes, known locally as 'gypsies'. He told me that he was always amazed by the fact that although he knew they were illiterate and had had no formal education, their mental arithmatic was infallible. They were paid by the row and they always knew exactly how much they were owed in the complicated Pounds Shillings and Pence of the time. Bearing in mind that it is known that South African baboons can count up to four, it is reasonable to assume that we can all calculate without the need for schooling, at least enough to get by in life.

About Monday 7 September 1663

Robert Harneis  •  Link

dirk on 8 Sep 2006 "Are there any pictorial references to the Pepys house fully furnished?" Sorry to be so slow in commenting dirk - hope you are still with us. I recommend a visit to Flamsteed House, the home of the Astronomer Royal built in 1675, in the Royal park at Greenwich. I imagine Pepys would have visited it after the Diary ended. Well worth a visit anyway.…

About Wednesday 26 August 1663

Robert Harneis  •  Link

"I went by water to White Hall, where the Court full of waggons and horses, the King and Court going this day out towards the Bath"

What a wonderful picture of what travel meant in those days - water and/or horses. An old school master told me that when he was young all the great London railway stations smelt of dung from all the horses needed to bring goods to and from the trains.

About Monday 3 August 1663

Robert Harneis  •  Link

Terry: 'Sat close' - Doesn't it also imply without all the 'entourage' that were always around with big ears and bigger mouths but that Sam often does not mention, like Will or 'the boy' or the junior officers of the yard?

About Wednesday 28 January 1662/63

Robert Harneis  •  Link

Terry Foreman: "The House of Lords today is concerned that the King might exercise arbitrary power in religious matters" Is it not more that Charles was an untypically well travelled and tolerant man and in particualr wanted to help Roman Catholics, whereas the Lords and Parliament generally were a bunch of insular bigots?

About Tuesday 27 January 1662/63

Robert Harneis  •  Link

'perfectly capable of holding two opposing concepts in his mind at once' with all due respect to Scott Fitzgerald it is the perfect description of great hypocrites and most of the political class in the West who spend their time talking about 'our values', lecturing all who still listen to them on Human Rights whilst at the same time bombing the hell out of some country that has done something they don't like.
Back on subject... almost - corruption - my old boss told me a long time ago, it's simple really "a bottle of whisky is a present, a case is a bribe." Pepys was a worldly man of his time, except that he was passionate about efficiency for the navy and he cared about people less fortunate than himself as the record shows. Perhaps his great good fortune was growing up under rule of the very efficient Oliver Cromwell.
Finally mixing with great men. In his day it was about the only way there was to get ahead however brave, clever, efficent and honest you were.

About Saturday 27 December 1662

Robert Harneis  •  Link

12 year olds can function as adults if they have to. They are physically weak and therefore especially vulnerable. Christopher Robin David Williams is far from being alone in his grim childhood. As late as the 1950s, in France Germany and Switzerland, and elsewhere no doubt, children, either orphaned or too numerous, were placed in farms and sometimes slept in the hay in the barn. They were often beaten and suffered all the usual abuses. I have known some of them in later life. They were clearly marked by their experiences. Some were strengthened by what they had undergone and lead successful adult lives. Beating of course was common place in schools until recent years, particularly in expensive English ones. I have come to believe, on no scientific basis, that children are better treated in societies where birth control has limited the numbers. They are thus less of them so they are more appreciated and hopefully less likely to be born to feckless parents... hopefully. Sam seems to me to have been a pretty good master considering his power over his servants, particularly for those days.

About Tuesday 6 November 1660

Robert Harneis  •  Link

"for the sale of two ships by an inch of candle (the first time that ever I saw any of this kind), where I observed how they do invite one another, and at last how they all do cry, and we have much to do to tell who did cry last."

I have attended a property auction by a French notaire using a set of three candles like birthday cake candles that burn for about a minute each and the auction ends when two are burnt without a bid. It is stil quite common practice. There is an explanation in French on Wiki and a footnote from a learned 19th Century tome explaining all about it. The simplest way to make sure the candle goes out after a minute is to cut the wick at the appropriate place. The Pepys version sounds a lot more dodgy and open to 'interpretation' in favour of one or another bidder.