Annotations and comments

RLB has posted 41 annotations/comments since 10 May 2023.

The most recent first…


Third Reading

About Thursday 31 January 1660/61

RLB  •  Link

@Stewart "This dramatically demonstrated how effective transportation of any heavy goods was by water rather than on the roads of the time":

It still is. That's why Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg and London are so important. Bulk goods (like coal, oil and gravel, but also like, in this case, uncut wood) are still more efficiently shipped by, well, ship. Not everything needs to be Alibaba'd to your doorstep within three working days; the only difference between Pepys' days and ours is than some things can be, not that everything has to be.

About Tuesday 29 January 1660/61

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According to Wikipedia (citation a print book with no web link, so too much bother to verify), Pepys saw this play at the Apothecaries' hall, which is indeed in Black Friars Lane. Don't ask why the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries would put up a play like this, or indeed any play at all.

About Monday 7 January 1660/61

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For anybody wondering what a Trained Band looked like, look no further than Rembrandt's Night Watch, official, snappy title "The Company of captain Frans Banninck Cocq and lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburgh prepares to march out". It was painted not quite 20 years before this point in the diary, so these bands would still have looked similar.

About Friday 11 January 1660/61

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@Awanthi Vardaray: you're probably taking the word "slut" to mean "sexually easy woman". But when Pepys uses it, it's in the older meaning of "slovenly person, usually but not always woman".

About Tuesday 1 January 1660/61

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It is possible that Anthony is only keeping a brave face. Being, apparently, a man of not always mentally happy disposition in the first place, he may well have learnt to be quite good at that.

About Monday 31 December 1660

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As I have no cat (and have only ever been infested by a single mouse), all I can do is join the chorus and wish everybody a good new year, and Phil in particular!

About Sunday 30 December 1660

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@LKvM (are you Dutch, too?) - "I to the Abby and walked there" -- wouldn't it be wonderful today to be able to just walk in and mosey around?

Last time I was there, you actually could - and St. Paul's, too. After all, they may be monuments and major works of architecture, but their main function is still what it always was: a church! Poets' Corner in the Abbey is there because Chaucer was the first famous author buried there, but he wasn't buried there because he was a famous author; but because he was a regular member of the congregation.

All these churches, for all we may think of them as important works of architecture, were first and foremost *churches* in Chaucer's time; first and foremost churches in Samuel's time; and maybe not first and foremost, but very much still are churches in our time. And yes, you can attend service there.

About Thursday 27 December 1660

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@dirk (the very first entry!) - I'm not sure we can immediately spring to that lascivious conclusion. If it were only Samuel, maybe - though not necessarily quite yet - but we really have no hint of that in Elizabeth. I do want to believe that they were merely happy about the way she ran to her business.

About Tuesday 25 December 1660

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Gifts, in these days, if they were given at all, would be given a. not in England, but in the Low Countries and northern Germany; b. not lavish, but just a toy to a child or perhaps an orange or something like that, and most of all c. on Saint Nicholas' Eve, so three weeks ago. And make no mistake, Saint Nicholas was *not* Sanity Clause!

Father Christmas was another thing altogether. As far as I can tell (but I admit I'm not sure here) he was a tradition *before* Cromwell in England, and became one again a century later; and was, in some form or another, - maybe even in the St. Nick-form aforementioned - present in southern Germany and adjoining regions. He was reimported *in that form* into England in Victorian times, partly because Victoria was, well, German.

And then there is a whole lot of other traditions involving Odin, Yule lads, and so on, which it would take too much time to go into. But in any case, in Sam's time, the current tradition of Chrimbo stocking-filling was decidedly not the fashion. Neither - but that's probably no surprise to any reader - were tree-adorning or card-sending (if only for the lack of postage stamps).

About Thursday 13 December 1660

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Not only can vines withstand frost, for the production of ice wine (…) it is essential that the grapes themselves are frozen. Modern ice wine production only started after Pepys' life, but producing good red wine in England was therefore quite possible in his days.

About Saturday 24 November 1660

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Vermouth was not banned as absinthe was because apparently, despite the name, wormwood is more easily replaced in vermouth than in absinthe. Also, absinthe was much, much more dangerous.

It is now known that in the amounts wormwood is present in either drink, it is not dangerous unless you drink litres of the stuff a day. The problem with absinthe was a. 70% (!) alcohol by volume - that is, 140 proof (again: !) - and b. bad quality control of the other ingredients and fusel oils. Vermouth suffered from neither of those, and modern absinthe only suffers from the ABV. In moderation, it's quite safe. (Disgustingly cloying, IMO, but safe.)

As for vermouth, it *is* a wormwood wine, or rather, a fortified wine aromatised with herbs traditionally including wormwood as a main aroma. These days, it doesn't usually contain wormwood any more, but I believe some brands still (or again) do. So, what Sam and pals drank today may well have been not dissimilar to our vermouth. Cheers!

About Thursday 15 November 1660

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Slashes for pounds are all the more confusing because historically, it was the normal sign for abbreviating shillings and pence, not pounds. See, for example, the Mad Hatter's label of "In this Style 10/6", meaning ten shillings sixpence. So I agree, let's not.

(For another illustration, see… ; that theatre was first built three years from the diary's now, and I would not be surprised if later on, Sam mentions seeing a play there.)

About Tuesday 13 November 1660

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@San Diego Sarah: there's nothing incongruous to me about a pie served in a dish of pie crust. After all, what else is the good old English pork pie?

About Tuesday 13 November 1660

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Back to the very first annotation for today...

In fact, thermometers had been around for nearly 50 years by now. However, they were scientific and/or experimental instruments. I;m sure in a few years Sam will handle a few at the Royal Society, along with Boyle.

It would indeed be a bit more than 50 years until Fahrenheit invented the first truly accurate thermometer, the first practical one (clinical, in that case) took a decade or two more, and a workable oven thermometer centuries more.

It turns out to be easy to measure temperature on an -ish scale, and much harder to do it well.

About Wednesday 7 November 1660

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As Terry Foreman hinted but did not state explicitly last year, "raised" in this context means raising in status, not raising as a child. In fact, Sir Sidney was older than Charles I, and Charles II was only 14 years old at his death. But the elder king turned him from a younger son in an important family with more important branches, to a proper mover and shaker.

About Tuesday 30 October 1660

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There is again, but not still, a pub in London (itself) called The Hercules Pillars. The modern one is nearby, also in Holborn, but not on Fleet Street. Also, from the looks of its website isn't very old at all. So not the one Sam visited.

However, there are still some famous pubs on Fleet Street which date back, if not to 1660, to the later 17th century. Ye Olde Cock has been relocated, but is the same venture. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was rebuilt after the Fire of London. Sam may well have frequented the originals.

About Monday 29 October 1660

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The next Lord Mayor's Parade will be in two weeks, on November 11. Auntie Beeb still broadcasts it every year, I believe, so if you want to see a pageant Sam might have watched as well, tune in then.

About Saturday 27 October 1660

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@David Quidnunc: Alsted was Protestant, which will go a long way to explain the (somewhat notoriously old-school) Catholic Encyclopaedia's opinion on him.

About Wednesday 24 October 1660

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OK, so after two decades, which of the two is it!? Is it pepperbox, as in the OED (a source I do not lightly dismiss, as I have a SOED on my table here, although it has only the Shakespeare citation and omits Sam and everything later); or is it paper box, as in Wheatley as cited here and on Gutenberg?
Pepperbox, to me, makes slightly more sense. A pepperbox in those days would be a box with a lid, not a grinder as we have now; and a paper box would be what? A foolscap page folded into a container? A cardboard box, like a shoebox? Seems unlikely. Some academic could write a paper on the analysis of this one word in Pepys' original manuscript.