Annotations and comments

Eric the Bish has posted 63 annotations/comments since 9 July 2020.


Third Reading

About Tuesday 30 October 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

I assume the Davis' family are not yet in residence for a search such as Pepys describes to take place. It sounds to me as though he’s trying to work out what is going on, rather than looking for missing belongings. What works are taking place to the house next door?

About Tuesday 10 July 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

Although the suit is black, it is not, at this date, black because “this is the colour of business”. It will be another hundred years or more before the great masculine renunciation (see “The Psychology of Clothes”, Flügel) when men put aside colourful clothes, leaving such frippery and adornment for women. It’s black because it looks good, although perhaps the availability of more brightly coloured silk was not great in immediately post-Puritan England.

About Sunday 8 July 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“… a great flattering sermon, which I did not like that Clergy should meddle with matters of state“.

Above all Pepys loves excellence, and a “flattering“ sermon adds nothing in the huge transition the nation is going through. The role of the church is to speak truth to power, not to be sycophantic. Others may correct me, but I do not think Pepys is a secularist: surely his objection is not to the church being involved with the state but to it doing so in a slipshod, “meddling“ way!

About Tuesday 22 May 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“… so many Dutch of all sorts came to see the ship till it was quite dark, that we could not pass by one another, which was a great trouble to us all.”

The difficulties of just moving around the ship - with little light, narrow passageways, a dangerously large store of gunpowder (some of which is being carried around the ship), a large crew, authorised passengers and now … tourists(!) - should not be underestimated.

About Thursday 10 May 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

I have worked on a flagship with the general and his staff on board. This all feels very familiar.

What a consummate Staff Officer, Samuel Pepys has turned out to be. A safe pair of hands who can be trusted with large volumes of correspondence, which will certainly not all be checked in detail before it is signed and sent out. And smaller matters, such as the ship for Pinckney and Saunderson, he deals with his own initiative. And he works until the job is done.

What he is not, apparently, is a Chief of Staff: the gatekeeper for access to, and authoritative spokesman for, his Principal. Have we had any indication as to who fulfils those necessary roles?

About Saturday 5 May 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“… our parson did, in his prayer to-night, pray for the long life and happiness of our King and dread Soveraign, that may last as long as the sun and moon endureth.”

By happy coincidence, this appears on the morning of the Coronation of Charles III.

About Thursday 3 May 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary gives as an (obsolete) definition of bullet “a ball for a cannon or other piece of ordinance“. So these are proper cannonballs; quite capable of smashing Pepys’ boat, and taking the lives of two or three people with it; not mere ‘bullets’ as we think of them. With the general excitement; the chances of a partial misfire causing the ball to drop short; and the vagaries of aiming a non-rifled barrel, it must indeed have been an “interesting” experience!

About Tuesday 1 May 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

"HMS Nonesuch" (note the modern spelling) survives eternally in the Royal Navy in the pages of paper based training scenarios: “You are the Supply Officer of HMS Nonesuch. You are preparing for a royal visit in three days time, when the freezers break down, spoiling all the fresh food on board and flooding 2 deck …”. That sort of thing.

About Monday 30 April 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

I’m fascinated by Pepys’ drunken behaviour. A man of great ability and promise … if he can avoid becoming a sot. It will be interesting to see how things develop. I sense that the diary here, more than sometimes, is both a mirror, by which he can assess his behaviour, and something of a confessional.

About Thursday 19 April 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

Ships - even modern grp and steel ones - leak: there are deck piercings for masts and fittings (like that chimney); and a wooden ship has gaps between the deck planks. These are caulked and tarred, but the caulking/tarring can be and often is less than 100%. The water gets in, then tracks along beams etc so where it drips is almost certainly not where it’s getting in. And if you do get the ship utterly watertight you have condensation to worry about.
So a cabin just below the main deck may have disadvantages.
Clever sailors stow their bedding away until it’s needed; dodge the drips, and on dry days air the blankets to get them fully dry.
Sleeping in the great cabin a deck below as Pepys did two days ago might be another smart move.

About Monday 9 April 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

Just to add on the guns: there would be recoil only if the gun was shotted. But I don’t think we know if they were shotted or not. You’d get a more satisfactory bang if they were. From modern weapons “rattle” normally indicates small arms fire, but here it seems clear that the big guns are being fired.

About Wednesday 4 April 1660

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“I dined all alone to prevent company, which was exceeding great to-day, in my cabin.”

Not to avoid company, but to eat before they arrive: “prevent” has the meaning “go before”, as in the Collect (prayer): “Prevent us O Lord in all our doings …”.

With so many meetings to attend Pepys has to carve out time for a hurried meal - dining alone ensures that he can eat quickly and get back to work.

About Thursday 15 March 1659/60

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“I did promise to give her all that I have in the world... in case I should die at sea.”

We live longer and healthier lives, yet we are less able to accept the reality of death than Samuel Pepys. When we get to the plague in London, it will be interesting to hold up the narrative and effects of Lockdown during and after the Covid pandemic against Samuel’s more realistic age.

Second Reading

About The end of the second cycle

Eric the Bish  •  Link

Many many thanks, Phil, for all your efforts. In a world full of lunacy the diary has been a daily thread of sanity. Dare we hope, please, for a third cycle?

About Friday 28 May 1669

Eric the Bish  •  Link

@Phil, having come late to the party, may I request - please - that you go the third mile and when Samuel puts away his pen; you once more re-run the entire diary from the start?

About Tuesday 20 April 1669

Eric the Bish  •  Link

“… no doubt but it will be of profit to merchantmen and others, to have guns of the same force at half the charge.”
Good military leaders pay attention to logistics: with this gun you can carry less powder, or keep fighting longer. Either way is “profitable”.
“Point blank”: in popular usage, point-blank range has come to mean extremely close range; here it may mean the range where the gun will hit a target without the need to adjust the standard elevation.

About Friday 2 April 1669

Eric the Bish  •  Link

With grateful thanks to a random WordPress website – link below:
“Pothecary, Potticary — Middle English: apotecarie, ultimately from Latin apothecarius “store-keeper” (specifically of spices and drugs — only later came to mean some-one who prepared drugs, an apothecary).”

About Thursday 25 March 1669

Eric the Bish  •  Link

Public announcement of punishment was retained in the RN until around 2000 in the “Warrant Reading” - a sailor who had, for example, been found guilty of theft from his messmates (a heinous offence and one which is highly damaging to teamwork) would be brought, under arrest, in front of a parade of those same messmates and the warrant of punishment read. He was then marched immediately to the van which would take him to military detention at Colchester.

About Wednesday 17 February 1668/69

Eric the Bish  •  Link

We “had each of us a ring”. Does anyone know what you did with the ring when you had it? I assume that over time there would be too many to continue wearing them all.