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RSGII has posted 69 annotations/comments since 30 December 2015.

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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 Pepys's Navy: Ships, Men and Warfare 1649-1689

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 measuringworth.com 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.

About Saturday 25 March 1665

RSGII  •  Link

Re Penn and Halsey: No one ever questioned Halsey’s courage-his judgement/rashness maybe but not his courage. “The World wants to know” was code filler that was never intended to be included in the delivered message.

About Friday 24 February 1664/65

RSGII  •  Link

As the Navigator of a Destroyer in the 1960’s, I used both dead reckoning and celestial navigation. DR is simply laying out on a chart (in pencil so the chart can be reused) your ships track using your starting point, course, speed and elapsed time to establish your current position. You do not attempt to correct it for tides or currents. And yet it can be remarkably effective and is still used today as a check on electronic charts.
Celestial navigation tries to give you a fix of your current position at the time of measurement, but it requires you to be able to see both the stars and the horizon during a brief period at sunrise and sunset. It is difficult or impossible in cloudy conditions, which are frequent in the tropics. At best you have a probable error of 5 to 10 miles. A noon sun line gives you only your latitude, but in the old days was a useful way to travel East or West along a known latitude.

About Thursday 23 February 1664/65

RSGII  •  Link

A toast to you Mr Pepys and your many accomplishments and extraordinary network of friends and associates. And for your willingness to candidly share your faults and weaknesses. Cheers also to Mr Gyford for doing this for us. I try to read this day by day to experience your life as you did. We may be better educated than you were but few, if any, can match your accoplishments by Thirty Two.

About Thursday 16 February 1664/65

RSGII  •  Link

It seems like such an extraordinary request to modern eyes- for a former neighbor to show up for dinner with a daughter in tow and a letter requesting you take her as your own. Was this accepted behavior in the 17th century? I gather from his reaction that it was not. One can only imagine what Elizabeth’s reaction might have been.