Annotations and comments

RSGII has posted 54 annotations/comments since 30 December 2015.

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About Tuesday 18 December 1666

RSGII  •  Link

Traveling the Thames with its strong currents in a small boat was a dangerous business as Batters death reminded Sam. He had to do it often and was often understandably afraid and Batters death will make him even more fearful in the future.

About Recent Pepys articles

RSGII  •  Link

The podcast “Beyond the Diary” is a light and enjoyable overview of the diary and Sam’s life.

About Tuesday 29 May 1666

RSGII  •  Link

As I understand it, on the day of or after Monk’s entry into the city, and defiance of the rump Parliament, Pepys interviewed Monk’s personal secretary and got the inside story of what had happened from him, a far better source than trying to make sense of troop movements. He then reported on this to Sandwich and us along with careful details of the celebrations and atmospherics, e.g. the number of bonfires observed at various locations, the eating of rumps, etc.

About Saturday 10 March 1665/66

RSGII  •  Link

Goofing Off? The guy is up at 5 or 6, works 6 or 7 hours until noon, takes a few hours off, lets say until 3 or 4, then works until midnight, his usual late night cut off, so basically two of our modern 7 1/2 to 8 hour days. I would hire him in a minute.

About Ask Pepys author Dr Kate Loveman a question

RSGII  •  Link

As I understand from Pepys Navy, the Navy was by far the largest economic unit/actor in Great Britain of the time, having a major impact on trade, employment, suppliers etc. Hence Pepys importance in managing the behind the scenes day to day working of the enterprise, while leaving strategy or fighting to the naval officers and aristocrats.
What I am less clear is how it was financed, something Pepys and his professional colleagues spent a lot of time worrying over.

About Review: "Pepys's Navy: Ships, Men and Warfare 1649-1689" by J. D. Davies

RSGII  •  Link

Having now read this book, it is the kind of reference book you dip into from time to time, I recommend it as providing an essential context to understanding Pepys and his time and what he was actually doing that made him so important to Kings, Dukes and Admirals. By the 1660’s, the Navy was by far the largest industrial enterprise in Britain, and its imports and purchases of masts, lumber, hemp, guns, and supplies, a major driving force in the economy and trade.

Sam was at the center of all this, and it explains his rise to prominence in the political world of Kings and Dukes as management by unqualified nobles gave way to technocrats like Sam, self taught as he was. Logistics wins wars. And he understood the logistics that enabled the experienced fighters like Penn and Monck to be successful. That is why they valued him.

The book also gives you a better feel for the forces leading to the crucial Anglo Dutch wars that dominated the period. And the reasons for seeming obscure and petty importance given to such things as salutes to the flag.

And you learn why the ships Carpenter was as important as the ships Gunner, and Ships Master. And why the Baltic trade, importing masts and hemp, was so vital.

About Saturday 30 December 1665

RSGII  •  Link

See the discussion on Prices in the encyclopedia to better understang how wealthy Pepys had become in a very short time. Or go to the site for calculators to convert to present day values his 4,000£ of liquid assets. Depending on how you measure his wealth, his 4,,000£ today could be worth from £0.6m to £7.6m to £13m, depending whether you use the real wage, the labor value or relative income to convert. And, of course, the basket of goods available to him didn’t include Mercedes cars or Anesthesiologists, but did include a lot of cheap labor, watermen, links boys, etc.
Happy New Year

About Friday 22 December 1665

RSGII  •  Link

"now the river is frozen I know not how to get to him."

He normally travels by water from his Greenwich office and often comments on the dangers of traveling when the river starts to ice. When the river freezes, he doesn’t have this option. Getting to London Bridge is the problem, not crossing it.

About Sunday 17 September 1665

RSGII  •  Link

Or some places in the 20th century. I remember the shock of being posted to Hong Kong in the 1960s and finding the standard workweek was 5 1/2 days. Sunday was the only real day off.

About Tuesday 12 September 1665

RSGII  •  Link

And is repaid handsomly when, after the diary period, Balty goes to France to collect evidence that helps spring Sam from his false imprisonment in the Tower.

About Paris, France

RSGII  •  Link

The guides at Versailles say Louis XIV moved the palace there because he was affraid of assasination in Paris- both his father and grandfather having been assasinated. Also to better control the nobility, by having them under the watchful eye of his Swiss secret police.

About Wednesday 2 August 1665

RSGII  •  Link

Or the similar entry on Prices. In short, in terms of relative economic status he is worth several million in todays dollars or pounds.
I find it useful to remember his cooks annual salary was 5 pounds, so he is roughly worth 380 times a modern cook. But the detailed alternative ways of looking at the issue in the two encyclopedia entries, and their widely different results, forces one to look beyond simple ratios in trying to understand what his 1900£ means. Cheers

About Friday 4 August 1665

RSGII  •  Link

Thames tides. I don’t have local knowledge, but the published tide tables and current flows in the Thames below the modern London Bridge are quite formidable. Tides can have a maximum range of 25 feet and river velocities can vary from 2 to 7 knots, very difficult for a human propelled craft to handle. Of course the modern river has been substantially altered with embankments etc. so hard to know with any precision what the numbers were in Sams day. But may explain why those royal barges need so many rowers!

About Saturday 6 May 1665

RSGII  •  Link

Yes, I hadn’t realised the importance of spare masts, sails, and cordage to the warfare of the day until I read the Davies book “Pepys Navy”. Or that the Carpenter and his crew were as important as the Gunner and the Master to success.

Some of those mast and spares were huge pieces of timber. A first rate ship, the largest, had a lower main mast 3 foot in diameter at the base and over 100 ft high. And the spars were nearly as big. Moving this stuff around required a lot of men and skill. And this explains the concern of Pepys and others about the supply of good masts (Baltic, New England), sails (France), and hemp (Baltics).

About Saturday 6 May 1665

RSGII  •  Link

I do understand him. He is working most nights to midnight to help keep those 105 ships at sea. England in those days did not have enough mast trees and had to import them. They had to be properly stored in water so that mast dock was crucial.

Spare masts were critical to warships of the day as they were usually damaged in battle. It is why one of the most important officers on the ship was the carpenter. He was responsible for repair during and after battle. One of the Dutch’s favorite tactics was to shoot chain connected shot at the masts to disable an enemies ship. (See the Davies book).

John Evelyn has the critical assignment from the King to organize care for wounded seamen, both British and Dutch, who were already flowing ashore. Pepys had sought his help and vice versa and they worked together for years. He was trying to see him because he lived at Deptford.

Hardly frivolous stuff.

About Friday 21 April 1665

RSGII  •  Link

Like JWB some years ago, I read this as Sam making a risky “bottomy” loan, a loan with the ship as collateral. If the ship is lost, the loan is not repaid. Hence his not wanting to risk more of his limited capital, but still wanting to play with the big boys. Risky business in peacetime, let alone when at war. The old fear versus greed quandry of investors since the begining of time.