Annotations and comments

Eric the Bish has posted 66 annotations/comments since 9 July 2020.

The most recent first…


Third Reading

About Sunday 16 June 1661

Eric the Bish  •  Link

Sam’s original plan (plan A) had been to send the goods by land to Deal for Wednesday; thence to be taken out to the Downs by small boat. The arrival of the Duke’s purser in the evening offers a possibility of an excellent plan B: cheaper, faster and direct delivery. It’s not certain to work but would have been great if it had.

It didn’t. Time and tide - not to mention weather and Dukes - wait for no man: the non arrival of the purser to collect the goods in the morning gives Pepys a lesson in maritime risk management. He’s missed the daytime tide today, so nothing will happen until Monday.

He is now forced to reassess his Plan A; eventually judging the risks too great. Sending by sea buys out at least three risks: his Lord sailing early; mishap on the road to Deal (cart breakdown; theft, fraud); weather on Wednesday turning foul so delivery to the ship cannot take place.

Hence Pepys is willing to take time for some light reading while Will checks on various options … and in the evening Sam selects plan C: the hoy.

His frustration is twofold: his clever plan B did not come off, and his original plan A wasn’t a good one. But plan C seems ok.

About Friday 14 June 1661

Eric the Bish  •  Link

If the "Shipp [glass]" is indeed a telescope it is a precious object - the telescope had been invented only about 60 years before, and the reflector would not be invented for another eight years. The sort of telescope we are speaking of here might have a 3x magnification, and would give an upside down image.

About Sunday 21 April 1661

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“… my work will be hindered but I must prevent it if I can.”

“”Prevent” here meaning “enable” the work to go forward without difficulty. The meaning is seen in the Book of Commpn Prayer collect which starts "Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings, …". The word "prevent" there means "to go before" or "to precede." In that context, it's asking for God's guidance and protection to lead or go before us in all our actions or undertakings ensuring that we are directed and protected by divine grace. Here it will be by Pepys’ skills as a diplomatic wheeler dealer!

About Friday 19 April 1661

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“ and then … to bed with my wife.” To bed, but not to “lie with”. This seems to mean no more than it says.

About Tuesday 16 April 1661

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“ … and there lay with my wide.”

I posted about this a couple of days ago here:….

It’s not clear, and in context today’s entry doesn’t (to me) have the overtone of sexual intimacy which the previous entry seems (to me) to suggest.

He does keep us guessing!

About Sunday 14 April 1661

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“… a lazy sermon“. My Latham/Matthews gives “lazy“. So, to understand the word we maybe take into account the context “like a Presbyterian“. But Presbyterian clergy in Samuel Pepys's day were typically well-educated individuals who had undergone formal theological training and held university degrees. so I doubt that the sermon was intellectually lazy.

I can only guess that the key is in the text for the sermon, and that the preacher did not do the hard work of applying “let us love one another” in the context of Christ’s sacrificial love for us. On this subject it is all too easy to take refuge in generalised platitudes and to avoid the real difficulties in the complexities and messiness of real life, of knowing what loving one another actually means in practice. But as to why this made Pepys think of Presbyterian clergy, I could not say.

About Sunday 14 April 1661

Eric the Bish  •  Link

In the (AV) Bible to “lay” / “lie” with someone often has the meaning “have sex with”, and it may be so here. Abstaining from sex during Lent was encouraged (in Roman Catholicism) in the 14th and 15th centuries, according to History of Christianity Professor, Denis Janz, and the practice may well have continued in later years, with some evidence from birth records showing a decline nine months after Lent. It’s been a difficult time with the house all ahoo, and the couple don’t seem to communicate well about such as issues. So the sort of strop we see here is entirely predictable.

About Saturday 13 April 1661

Eric the Bish  •  Link

The adjective “dirty“ to describe the weather is still used in the maritime context, though always with a noun: “ It’s a dirty night, we had better put a reef in …“ etc.

About Sunday 31 March 1661

Eric the Bish  •  Link

"... preached like a fool."

The shorter OED offers three possible meanings for the noun:
1) The preacher's message was unwise or imprudent. Perhaps he was asserting universal equality or some other enthusiastic and extremist (non-Anglican) doctrine, like the much abused Quakers - see eg 7 February 1659/60? Some millennial teachers over the years have advised, for example, selling all one's worldly goods and just preaching the gospel - a recipe for poverty and commercial and administrative collapse.
2) The preacher acted like a jester or clown - and I have seen preachers who allow some gimmick to be overly dominant: maybe the bishop in the diocese of Chelmsford who, about 20 years ago, would bring a washing machine to church when preaching at a baptism (a symbol of forgiveness) might have attracted Pepys' ire in this way.
3) The preacher appeared to have a mental handicap or mental illness (the meaning is now obsolete of course except in eg "born fool" or "natural fool").

My guess is that meaning (1) is the most likely.

About Thursday 14 March 1660/61

Eric the Bish  •  Link

Petty provisions.

By analogy with “Petty Officer” which derives from the French “petite” – little – I am guessing they are some of the myriad of miscellaneous small/infrequently used items which are required to keep a ship in a position to float, move and fight.

About Saturday 16 February 1660/61

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“… work extraordinary …”
I believe that “extraordinary” here means not that he did his work in an extraordinarily effective manner, but that he did work “extra” (outside) the work which he “ordinarily” did. The equivalent in today’s Royal Navy is “Additional Duties” pay, for example a warfare officer teaching GCSE maths and English.

About Sunday 10 February 1660/61

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“God forgive me”: a breach of Pepys’ internal moral code rather than (or as well as) divine commandment? Is the failing simply the frittering away of time which could have been better employed, or the nature of these French romances? I wonder if anyone has collected, categorised and analysed the self-confessed failings which prompt this plea.

About Sunday 3 February 1660/61

Eric the Bish  •  Link

Weapons in church: I suspect Pepys brought his sword in with him. Today it’s a no-no: I took the wedding of a Royal Marines officer and the groom’s sword - and those of his fellow officers who made a sword arch outside the church - were left (guarded) in the porch during the service. Equally, at military funerals the rifles used to fire a salute at the graveside are not brought into the church.

But in Pepys’ time; well we do know of (somewhat elaborate) sword rests inside some City churches; the oldest of which predates the great fire - it is in the vibrant parish church of Saint Helens Bishopsgate (come early to get a seat!). So it was clearly not seen as completely inappropriate. And in any case, casually calling into a few churches as Pepys on occasion does, there would be considerable inconvenience in having to remove a sword, and have it looked after securely… so I suspect Pepys simply took his sword in with him.

About Saturday 19 January 1660/61

Eric the Bish  •  Link


My beloved and learned fellow readers.

I enjoy reading your interesting annotations: they help my understanding and increase the pleasure of reading this fascinating document. But a heartfelt plea to a very few within our diverse and. eclectic community: no more spoilers please. None. Zero. Nada. Also, writing a spoiler but adding “[SPOILER]” doesn’t make it ok: it merely adds to the spoil.

So please, pretty please with sugar on top, NO MORE SPOILERS!

With my very best wishes to you all.

Eric the Bish.

About Thursday 17 January 1660/61

Eric the Bish  •  Link

Gun salutes .

The 13 gun salute will have been in honour of her husband: 13 guns for an admiral. The earlier five gun salute seems to have been a personal and unofficial compliment to her.

The Royal Navy today has an entire chapter of “BRd 2” devoted to the topic: the firing of gun salutes is tightly organised and controlled. It was not so in Samuel Pepys’ day: look back to Tuesday 22 May 1660 for the firing of wild and exuberant gun salutes around the fleet upon the return of the king.

About Tuesday 15 January 1660/61

Eric the Bish  •  Link

Rope making. Splices in a long rope are points of weakness, but as yet nobody had invented a way to make rope by a continuous process - so the longest rope you could make was the length of your ropewalk. The nation with the world’s longest ropewalks will have the best (longest) ropes, and her warships a technological edge over others.

About Sunday 30 December 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“… calling in at many churches in my way“.

Not to attend worship as such, but I guess simply to take the theological and liturgical temperature and see how well the new services and culture are taking root. What are the clergy wearing? About what are they preaching? Are they preaching intelligently and engagingly? This is Pepys being his eclectically curious self. It would allow him to judge the statements of others who pontificate about “how things are“ against his own observations.

About Wednesday 26 December 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

The tide is strong enough that I believe Pepys would only ever have travelled with the tide, or at slack water. He would have made no progress against the tide. With a good water taxi and at the strongest part of a spring tide he might make seven or eight miles an hour: both quicker and (depending how much risk you want to take shooting the bridges) safer than travelling ashore.

I feel there’s a piece of neat research, which someone may already have done, to map the tide times for the relevant days to the journeys described in the diary.