Annotations and comments

James Morgan has posted 97 annotations/comments since 21 October 2015.


Second Reading

About Friday 15 March 1666/67

James Morgan  •  Link

I didn't get the sense that Sam and his contemporaries thought death from the plague was acceptable. They seemed downright terrified at the prospect. As are we, having to relearn the practice of quarantine. Fortunately modern sanitation is some help.

About Thursday 14 February 1666/67

James Morgan  •  Link

It seems Sam is slowing down or perhaps more busy; in early years he was out early to make sure he was the first to be someone's Valentine.

About Saturday 9 February 1666/67

James Morgan  •  Link

I wonder if Elizabeth had any practical use for a watch? At a time when few people had them I don't imagine she'd be telling a friend to meet her at 2pm, for example. Perhaps one could us it for timing a recipe, e.g. "bake for 2 hours". Or checking activities "Hmm, 9 p.m. and Sam's not home yet. I wonder what he's up to." But mostly I would imagine it's and expensive piece of jewelry.

About Monday 28 January 1666/67

James Morgan  •  Link

Their impeachment procedures at least seem open to discussion between the two houses, though the Lords seem to have prevailed. In the US it seems the Senate decides how to judge an impeachment. It would have been interesting to see President Trump sitting before the bar with head uncovered.

About Friday 4 January 1666/67

James Morgan  •  Link

Mr Isaac the dancing master seems to have been active from 1675-1715 when he retired according to the text cited above. So if the ballad text is from 1661 it seems it is not the same Mr. Isaac.
I also think that the practice of dancing masters hosting balls developed in the 18th century as they developed schools for teaching dance. In Pepys era they seem to be hired to teach or lead dances in private homes or the court.
So I think "Isaac's balls" refer to something other than dance balls.
English Country dancers today still dance Mr. Isaac's Maggot that is from Playford's 1695 edition of the English Dancing Master. (A "maggot" is slang of those times for a brainwave or a strikingly different idea and employed in a number of dance titles of the era. The idea was that this odd and different and possibly brilliant idea came from having an actual maggot gnawing at the brain.

About Sunday 23 December 1666

James Morgan  •  Link

In the wake of Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump and the me-too movement just in the last few years, it doesn't seem like our modern mores are very different from those of Pepys times. A few days ago the diary mentioned Parliament reprimanding an MP who raped the daughter of his Parliamentary opponent. So exposure had some limited effect then as now.

About Thursday 20 December 1666

James Morgan  •  Link

Thanks Michael for the lovely description of the maypole. These were indeed grand monuments, and should not be confused with the smaller beribboned Victorian ones. Those had to be much shorter to make the ribbons practical. The earlier generations danced around them without ribbons and the maypole was a center village or town marker left up all the year.

About Monday 17 December 1666

James Morgan  •  Link

I think in some place earlier he indicates Mercer is homely though with very fine breasts, so less temptation and more proximity to Mrs Pepys, plus apparently plenty of other attractions available. It is nice that Elizabeth and Mercer have mended their differences. Perhaps the mercurial Elizabeth can be charming when she wants to be.

About Thursday 6 December 1666

James Morgan  •  Link

Thinking of Mr. Gunning's comment "It is strange to think Sam needed duress considering how people always feel so much better after having a hot bath or at least a good 'clean' with warm water.", I think this might just be something we learn to like. Little children and pets clearly don't take naturally to bathing, and some people are just as happy roughing it as they are bathing.
I imagine Sam is quite in keeping with the practices of his day, and has obviously not been subjected to modern advertising campaigns for perfumed soap.

About Margaret Lowther (b. Penn)

James Morgan  •  Link

The birthdate of 1636 for Margaret, William's daughter, seems suspicious. As Vincente noted in 2004, Wm Penn was born in 1621 and would have been 13 in 1636. Vicente gives her birthdate as 1651, which seems much more plausible.

About Wednesday 21 November 1666

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Betty is visiting her mother, and I assumed Samuel meant to carry her to her home with her new husband, and have some flirtation on the way, but her father, perhaps picking up on this intention, decides to take her home himself.

About Thursday 15 November 1666

James Morgan  •  Link

The link to the Wikipedia entry for Corante is informative. In Baroque musice it is normally partnered with an Alemande, but since that didn't happen at this ball, the succession of slow elegant Corantes might well be tedious. Per the entry the Italian corante is faster than the French one, so these are probably the French type.

The court often danced English country dances popular with the middle class, and these spread throughout Europe during this time. In 1662 Pepys describes the King dancing Cuckolds All Awry. Glancing through the diary entries, most of the time Pepys or his wife dance are probably the country dances, though the dancing master Pemberton may have been teaching them some of the court dances as well as the more refined country dances, so that they could appreciate the finer points of the Court dances.
English country dance is still popular today, along with it's it's descendent contra dancing. See for a list of US affiliates that offer it.

About Monday 24 September 1666

James Morgan  •  Link

"Why no sadness about the Fire now?
In 2019 right after Greta Thunberg's emotional speech to the UN, one could equally ask how does life go on normally when we'll reach a climate tipping point in 11 years?

Sadly Australian Susan may have it right: " is so much easier to worry about dogs and cats rather than bring your mind to bear on the awfulness of the human tragedies. So Sam busies himself about the office and home. Much less stressful."

We now have our own blindness to catastrophe to consider.

About Wednesday 19 September 1666

James Morgan  •  Link

I wondered if this royal bastard could be a son of the famous Gustavus Adophus (d.1632), but it seems more likely to be a child of Charles X (d.1660).

About Wednesday 5 September 1666

James Morgan  •  Link

I was wondering if there were other great fires in cities that rival this one in London. Chicago 1893 comes to mind, and the great earthquake fires in San Francisco 1906 and Tokyo 1923, but it seems like there should be other famous ones. Perhaps Pepys Diary keeps this one famous.

There's a long list in wikipedia of city and town at….
Some of them are smaller fires, and many were in war, especially WWII, but I was surprised by many I'd never heard of, such as the two medieval Great Fires of London.

About Saturday 1 September 1666

James Morgan  •  Link

I am surprised at the reported comment by L&M. My feeling about the passage is that a drunken party of "sparks" came in, and Pepys, with two women to protect sensibly took cover. I think there was a discussion somewhere of whether or not Pepys would have a sword (and I think he didn't wear one), and in any case he would be badly outnumbered if some young spark takes it in his head to insult Bess or Mercer. It's a little harder for me to imagine that anyone in this crowd of young sparks would know who Pepys is, or would think of reporting him to someone at the Court.

About Saturday 28 July 1666

James Morgan  •  Link

I would imagine Pett is a civilian, not partofthenay or under military discipline, and that in any case would the navy yard be threatened by the battle? The 17th Century was pretty far from the 20th century concept of total war.
Though since I'm just reading The Command of the Ocean now, so I may find I'm wrong. I think the Dutch did attack the navy yard at some point in the diary, or at least the ships there and it seem to have come as a surprise to the English.