Annotations and comments

Sasha Clarkson has posted 752 annotations/comments since 16 February 2013.


Second Reading

About Thursday 12 September 1661

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

In fact, the prank upon the admiral proves to be a "storm in a tankard", and blows over pretty quickly; even if there was a pause, Sam is soon socialising with Penn and his family again. Indeed, over the course of the diary, it is obvious that Penn enjoys Sam's company and they are often together.

I don't think it helpful to make comparisons with Japan, a different culture with different social norms and command structures: such a prank would not have been played there.

About Monday 9 September 1661

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

It's a huge company gone to drink at Penn's expense: even Comptroller Slingsby. There must have been quite a few happy to take him down a peg or two, even if Sam is now starting to have pangs of conscience.

About Sunday 8 September 1661

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Interesting and nice that, despite the rain, there's no mention of anger, from either Sam or his Elizabeth, that Doll was asleep.

About Friday 6 September 1661

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

It occurs to me, that as Sam's ma also suffered from bladder stones (according to Wikipedia), that this might help account for her less than cheerful disposition as she got older?

About Friday 6 September 1661

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Elisabeth died of typhoid fever in 1669 after a short period of illness.

Given Sam's life-long problems with (hereditary) bladder stones, I doubt that he would have lived as long as he did (70 years) if he had also suffered from a venereal disease. Some philanderers were luckier and/or more careful than others.

About Monday 2 September 1661

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Yesterday: " ... good God! what an age is this, and what a world is this! that a man cannot live without playing the knave and dissimulation."

Today: " ... and there walked an hour or two talking, and though he be a fool, yet he keeps much company, and will tell all he sees or hears ..."

No contradiction here of course, more a demonstration: "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!"

About Friday 30 August 1661

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Sam is not of course "writing his feelings openly". It's a personal diary in shorthand. One keeps a personal diary to help remember both what was important: events emotions etc, and maybe a snapshot of trivial detail, perhaps decades later.

About Friday 30 August 1661

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Apart from the probable jealousy, Sam could not afford to socialise with the Somersets, financially or politically. As Beauforts, being descended from John of Gaunt, they were high aristocrats, and were also prominent at court; but they also had papists and priests amongst their number, and so were politically toxic, certainly in the 1660s.…

About Sunday 25 August 1661

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"Good for Pall"?

The choices for everyone in the seventeenth century were harsh: if you didn't inherit money, it was work or starve. If you thought you were too good to work, you'd better have some unearned private income. Was Pall inherently "better" than any of Pepys' housemaids? I think not. Was she more deserving than Sam's wife? I'm sure that if Pall had been so pleasant that Elizabeth had wanted too keep her, Sam would have acquiesced. Sam records his disagreements with his wife: there were none over Pall.

Although Papa Pepys was of yeoman stock, with aristocratic connections, he was merely a tradesman, and not overly successful: the family couldn't afford passengers. This might well have been a bitter pill for poor Pall to accept: as a companion to Elizabeth, she would have had glimpses of the pampered lives of the Pepys' aristocratic relatives. She may well not have understood that part of the reason for Sam's success was that HE was not too proud to kow-tow when necessary.

Back to reality: Pall was already 21: ie, of an age to be married or to work. Even in the 21st century, no-one would claim that she had a fundamental right to be housed and maintained in leisure by the relative of her choice: "if you don't like the rules of the house. move out and fend for yourself" would be the choice now. In Pepys' day it was even starker.

The other problem on the horizon is setting Sam's brother Tom up to be independent and carry on the business. Tom is older than Pall, but there are many difficulties ahead there too.

About Friday 23 August 1661

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"Scotland had the same government as England as of 1707"

Scotland did NOT have the same laws or legal system. Even after the Act Of Union (and before devolution), different laws were often passed for England and Wales and for Scotland. It was not just criminal law: for example, Scotland developed its own education system, substantially different from that in the rest of the UK. Also, the famous Gretna Green marriages took place because the age of consent was different in Scotland and England.

About Tuesday 13 August 1661

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Is Sam treating Pall "like trash"?

As the scion of a, hitherto, landless branch of a yeoman family, Papa (John) Pepys has been clinging precariously to middle class status, working at a trade. He has invested in the education of the two sons who seemed capable of benefiting from it. But although Sam has done well, the family cannot afford to be complacent. At the time Pall was taken into Sam's household, Papa was of very little net worth. There was not enough money to give Pall much of a dowry, so for her to have a prospect of marriage, she would have to learn to manage a household and not necessarily to depend upon servants, and also be pleasant enough for someone to want to have her. These were the harsh realities of the time: they were much worse for other young women.

With Sandwich's patronage, Sam has started to do well in the world, but his position is precarious. He took Pall into his household as a servant to help with her training to be fit for the world, not pamper her. Sam owed her a helping hand, but not a life of luxury. The only mistress of the household could ever be Elizabeth. Now Papa has inherited Brampton, Sam is effectively saying: "take her back pa - I've done what I can for her, which isn't much because she won't learn her place - she'd be better off with you now."

In fact, Pall eventually found a husband at Brampton via the Sandwich connection, and her younger son, John, became Pepys' heir.

About Sunday 11 August 1661

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Sam, at least for now, has lost interest in the Butler sisters, but later he goes to Gray's Inn Walks: THE place to see and be seen!

About Saturday 10 August 1661

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Re the new chamber maid: on July 23rd, Pepys recorded that he had decided not to keep Pall: more is revealed later in August.

To those wondering why Uncle William Wight might have expected to have an interest in uncle Robert's will: remember that he and Robert were half-brothers. They might have had a good relationship when William was a toddler.

About Pepys Family Tree updated

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Thanks Phi! :)

Might I make a further request for when your busy schedule allows it? (I know from experience that a webmaster's work is never done.)

The Dr Thomas Pepys whom our Sam disdains is the elder brother of Roger Pepys whom he greatly esteems. Could his link be added to the family tree at some point?

About Monday 5 August 1661

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

The Pepys family tree and place-names have often made me think of Tolkien's fictional hobbit family trees: never more than today, when I was put in mind of the Gamgee-Cotton family tree of Master Samwise! (Though perhaps the Pepyses were more like the Bagginses! :) )…

About Sunday 4 August 1661

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The parson knew his job under the new regime: "God bless the Squire and his relations, and keep us all in our proper stations."

About Friday 2 August 1661

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"... much discourse with a fellmonger, a Quaker ..."

Even today, I often chat with accidental travel companions on trains, planes etc. The eye-contact (or lack of it) determines whether discourse is desired.

From the context, it seems that the fellmonger may have been rather older than Sam, so the conversation might have been about rather more than his sins. Many early Quakers were ex-Cromwellian soldiers who renounced violence in the light of their experiences. Like many Independents, they tended to be literate artisans with a trade. Sam was always interested in the details of how tradesmen worked too, partly for his own professional reasons.