Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
has posted 17 annotations/comments since 9 July 2020.
The most recent first…
About Sunday 23 August 1668
… and my Shorter OED gives “offal” as an adjective which can also mean “rejected”. If this is the meaning here, and these pieces were simply too short, or the wrong shape, or otherwise unsuitable for use in a warship subject to all the stresses and strains of the sea and the enemy, then this timber would certainly have a value in another context, but it would need some administrative action to move it out of the “waste wood“ compound and get it sold.
Thanks San Diego Sarah. “Offal timber” was a new one on me; but this waste left over from squaring off round trunks clearly had a value; perhaps in construction on shore?
About Monday 18 May 1668
“ coming up with the Dutch fleet riding at the Texel, with his topsails a-trip, the admiral fired at her, upon which she lowered a little; but the pilot, a Dutchman, saying they shot not at her, the master hoisted the sails again, upon which the admiral made another shot which passed between the masts, when he lowered and bore up”
A civilian vessel is bound to salute a military vessel. Nowadays we dip the ship’s ensign; or if in a small boat without one “let all fly”, so that the sails flap. Here the Yarmouth boat should have lowered her topsail yard, making the sail flap. He was ready to do so – everything was “atrip“. But either he had not quite done it yet, and the admiral (well, the duty officer on the flagship) was impatient, or possibly he was hoping to sneak by without having to go through the labour of lowering and raising the sail. Either way, the first gun reminded him of his duty! So he began lowering the sails, but the pilot told him the gun was not a signal to them. So he hoisted the sail again.Now the duty officer is really cross, because the captain appears to have paid mere lip-service to his duty. Hence the second gun, impressively fired between the two masts of the vessel. That would certainly get my attention! Sails down, stop the vessel, collected by boat from flagship, “interview without coffee” with the admiral, grovelling apology and excuse: “It’s all the pilot’s fault“. Pilot collected, put in irons, vessel’s captain gets away with it (admirals are often much more understanding than their juniors).
The courtesies of saluting are still observed, and the incident above could happen, amended only by modern technology, today.
About Sunday 3 May 1668
I believe “cast away” means to be wrecked on the shore (in this case, the French coast or, perhaps, the Isle of Wight) as opposed to sunk, burned or taken by an enemy. With a limited ability to sail upwind, being cast away is a risk, hence the second half of the Navy’s Friday toast: “a willing foe, and sea-room”. The Naval hymn neatly summarises the risks to the mariner: “… in danger’s hour, from rock and tempest, fire and foe …“. With best wishes to everyone.
About Friday 1 May 1668
“ Thence by water, not being able to get a coach, nor boat but a sculler”. From other references, were not all the boats used for these trips up and down the river propelled by oars? So does Samuel mean that he could not get a large boat with one person per oar either side, but a small boat with only a single rower operating both oars? This would presumably be a slow trip!
About Wednesday 1 April 1668
Ref Robert Gertz’ queston (1 Apr 2011): “Does Sam never worry that one of these girls will tell Bess?”
Well sometimes yes: 1 Aug 1662: “I had also a mind to my own wench, but I dare not for fear she should prove honest and refuse and then tell my wife.”
Wishing you all a blessed 2021 Good Friday (Easter a little later this year than in 1668).
About Tuesday 24 March 1667/68
Teehee “ ... bagpipes, ... at the best, it is mighty barbarous musick.” It is said that the definition of a gentleman is a man who can play the bagpipes, but doesn’t.
About Sunday 22 March 1667/68
As a clergyman it is salutary to read SP’s brief summaries of various sermons “A dull sermon“, “A very good sermon”, “A poor sermon”, “An able sermon” et cetera. It would be interesting to know how he judged which category to place each meticulously prepared and carefully crafted masterpiece into. I fear his judgement on my own!It’s also discouraging, for a preacher, to notice that few, if any, of these sermons seem to do much good, at least as far as our hero is concerned! Perhaps in this pre-mass-media age they are no more consequential than the drone of the television in the background of a busy family living room. Samuel seems to think a good tune is preferable to almost any sermon at all.
About Wednesday 29 January 1667/68
@Terry Foreman: “The letter merely recites the questions which had been referred to the appropriate officers (L&M) -- as though to assure the committee cursorily that the Board understand what they each have been asked to do.” Yes indeed: classic defensive staff work: send a reply which says nothing whatsoever. At the very least it will protect you from any accusation that you are not cooperating. At best, you will never hear about the matter again.
About Saturday 25 January 1667/68
By the time of the Napoleonic wars English superiority in rope-making directly translated into battle-winning advantages at sea. A spliced rope is a weakened rope, and with many miles of standing and running rigging on a line of battle ship, well-made and cared for – and above all long – ropes meant a ship which was less likely to have equipment failure under the stress of weather, battle, or just month on month blockade. You can still see one of these strategically important rope sheds: look up “Anchor Lane Portsmouth“ on your favourite Internet map and there it is: on the north side of the lane.
About Sunday 12 January 1667/68
“... we fell very foul“ - a naval analogy: to fall foul upon another ship is not just to bump into them, but for the vessels to get tangled up together - almost inevitable for square rigged ships. Damage is almost inevitable unless great care is taken to extricate the vessels from each other - which has perhaps happened here?
About Monday 16 December 1667
In Cochin. in 1997, I found a tailor who would make up for me an embroidered cummerbund. I was taken aback when I thought our business was finished, but he held out his hands and asked me where the cloth was. That’s what comes from not understanding that a tailor is not necessarily his/her own mercer. Another benefit of reading this diary.
About Friday 22 November 1667
"neither hath, nor do, nor for the future likely can ..." - djc has it exactly: a fine turn of phrase. The rhythm is somewhat Cranmerian to my mind: the careful and measured pacing out of exact meaning, as in “ ... a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world”. But of course these rhythms were entirely familiar to him.
About Wednesday 20 November 1667
Could someone help me out please: I have lost the significance of “ discharging of two or three little vessels by ticket without money”. Why is this a bad thing to have done? Does it indicate corruption? Incompetence? Maladministration? Regards, Eric the Bish.
About Thursday 10 October 1667
“Telling” (counting) continues in the UK Parliament, where “Tellers” are appointed to count the votes. It’s also used in common speech in the UK come to think of it, but without the explicit concept of counting being foremost in the meaning: “How many?” and “what is it?” can both be answered “I can’t tell”. See also https://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossa…
About Sunday 25 August 1667
"... so I back to my boat, which had broke one of her oars in rowing, and had now fastened it again; "
A friend who is coxswain of a very historic vessel has told me about oars of the period. They were generally made of a single piece of wood, and were very narrow. The blades are quite thin and relatively easily damaged. They are repaired by scarfing in a new piece of wood, which can be done in just a few hours. So this may be the case here. An hour in the pub, 90 minutes in church, an hour in the crowd, and 30 minutes of walking between these various locations: four hours is enough time for the unlucky Waterman to go to a Riverside “Kwik Fit“.
About Monday 8 July 1667
Good morning, and after a few years of “lurking” I thought I should register and comment - and thank all those make this wonderful website possible! Raising a sunken vessel in UK waters is easier than in eg the tideless Baltic. Less need for that tedious pumping of water in and out of the lifting vessels before moving the sunken vessel to shallower water: in many cases you can just let the tide do the work for you. Indeed, if the upper works of the sunken vessel are exposed at low tide you may simply have to close the sea cocks and allow the tide to float her – soggily – whereupon you can pump her out. Useful things, tides.