Annotations and comments

Paul Chapin has posted 849 annotations/comments since 17 January 2003.


First Reading

About Thursday 23 January 1667/68

Paul Chapin  •  Link

There are several stable (non-radioactive) metals heavier than gold, of which platinum is the most familiar (others are osmium, iridium, and tungsten). Platinum was used by pre-Columbian natives in South America, and the first known European report of it is from 1557. However, it did not become widely known in Europe until the mid 18th century. William Brownrigg presented a detailed report on it to the Royal Society in 1750.

About Diary and Encyclopedia data available

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Phil, this looks like a great addition to make the contents of the site more useful for future scholars. I was just reading an article in _Science_ detailing some early exercises in what people are calling "culturomics" working with the Google corpus of books (about 4% of all the books ever published), and it's replete with fascinating findings. This is clearly an important new direction in, and tool for, humanities scholarship. Congratulations for being a pioneer.

Just a couple of comments about the data package as you've described it. First, I see that you've included the number of comments for each diary entry, but not the comments themselves. Those of us who have been writing comments have been hoping (I believe I speak for more than just myself) that those comments would remain part of the record and add to the value of the diary for future users. I don't know if it's technically infeasible to include them in the database, but I have some concern that if the chief way that the diary is available to future readers is through the database, the comments will disappear from view.

A second minor point: in your "location" example of an encyclopedia entry, I believe you have the latitude and longitude of New Palace Yard reversed. I don't know if that's a one-off error, or reflects a structural problem in the database that needs correction.

Many thanks, as always, for your leadership in this wonderful effort.

About Thursday 16 January 1667/68

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Right. I've read somewhere that naval historians regard the diary as a minor embarrassment, a youthful indiscretion on the part of the greatest architect of the Royal Navy.

About Saturday 11 January 1667/68

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"I do find that where I expect most I find least satisfaction"
Right. When I watch a movie that's been hyped to the skies I'm often disappointed.

About Sunday 5 January 1667/68

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Gilbert and Sullivan had a thought about this. The Lord High Executioner's list of people who never will be missed includes "The idiot who praises with enthusiastic tone all centuries but this and every country but his own."

About Monday 6 January 1667/68

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"with much pleasure we into the house"
"By and by to my house"
"I took Mrs. Turner and Hollworthy home to my house"

As I read this passage, after the play Sam went into his house three times without ever leaving it. Clearly he was happy to be there.

About Tuesday 31 December 1667

Paul Chapin  •  Link

And thus ends our year as well, with a thought of thanks to Sam for continuing to struggle through his eye problems to tell us about his life and times. And many thoughts of thanks to my fellow travelers on this extended journey through the 17th century, for their continuing contributions to our entertainment and enlightenment with their wise and witty annotations. And most of all to Phil for paving the path. May you all have a happy and healthy 2011 (or 1668).

About Tuesday 31 December 1667

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"its nature is such as I have no mind to go about to read it, for fear of meeting matter in it to trouble me"
Right on, Sam. Exactly how I feel about most political news these days.

About Sunday 29 December 1667

Paul Chapin  •  Link

One further note about the American land grant to William Penn the younger. It was not given out of personal admiration, or as a gesture of support to Quakers, but to settle a debt. Per Wikipedia (under "Pennsylvania"):

On February 28, 1681, Charles II granted a land charter to William Penn to repay a debt of £16,000 (around £2,100,000 in 2008, adjusting for retail inflation) owed to William's father, Admiral Penn. This was one of the largest land grants to an individual in history. It was called Pennsylvania, meaning "Penn's Woods", in honor of Admiral Penn. William Penn, who had wanted his province to be named "Sylvania", was embarrassed at the change, fearing that people would think he had named it after himself, but King Charles would not rename the grant. Penn established a government with two innovations that were much copied in the New World: the county commission and freedom of religious conviction.

About Wednesday 25 December 1667

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Re NJM's question about why SP was never knighted, I think Frank G's answer is right on. I'm equally puzzled about why John Evelyn never became Sir John (his grandson did, but I think it may have been a purchased baronetcy). Could it also have been an effect of the Glorious Revolution of 1688?

Incidentally, while trying to find out a little more about this, I learned that the Crabtree & Evelyn soap and skin products company, founded by an American in 1973, was named for him.

About Friday 27 December 1667

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"wrote a letter to the Duke of York from myself about my clerks extraordinary, which I have employed this war, to prevent my being obliged to answer for what others do without any reason demand allowance for, and so by this means I will be accountable for none but my own, and they shall not have them but upon the same terms that I have, which is a profession that with these helps they will answer to their having performed their duties of their places."

Having puzzled over this passage, I THINK Sam is saying that when the predators start picking apart the Navy office, he will accept responsibility for the actions of his own clerks but no others, and that if his clerks are questioned, they can talk about their official duties but not other matters. Do others have more or less the same interpretation, or am I missing something?

About Thursday 19 December 1667

Paul Chapin  •  Link

From TF's quote from Birch: "Mr. Coga ... had been at first somewhat severish ..." I suspect the word intended here was "feverish", with the standard f-s confusion found in documents of that time.

About Wednesday 18 December 1667

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"I hope to secure out of the plate"
I believe we may have talked about this before, but I can't remember the conclusion if any. Whenever Sam has talked about his "plate", whether acquiring it or storing it or using it, it has always been formed into useful objects, usually for dining - flagons, salts, etc. - and not ingots or silver coins (though he also has some of the latter). So when he transfers some to his Lord to secure a loan, I gather he's actually going into the cupboard and taking out serving pieces, which they will do without until the loan is paid and the lender satisfied. A pawn arrangement, in other words, but apparently a common practice among the moneyed classes in Sam's time. Do others see the situation in this way? It seems a bit strange from our modern perspective to eat off your wealth, but then I've heard of contemporary cultures where people carry their wealth in their teeth.

About Sunday 8 December 1667

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"serving a Prince that minds not his business is most unhappy for them that serve him well"

The link on "Prince" in this passage goes to Prince Rupert, but I think here the term is meant generically, viz., a royal. This is Coventry talking, reflecting on his service to the Duke of York, having been forcibly reminded of the same by the recent sighting of the Duchess.

About Wednesday 4 December 1667

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Terry, thanks for that. A great example of how one must know the context to understand the text. To the naive reader (me) Clarendon's defense sounds judicious and well-founded, yet the Parliament men, knowing how to read between the lines, found it scandalous and seditious, and they were probably right.

It's amusing that their ire demanded that the hangman burn the paper, obviously in lieu of its author, now safely out of reach. Hard to see how much practical effect that could have had in a town full of printing presses constantly spewing out broadsides.