Annotations and comments

MartinVT has posted 44 annotations/comments since 10 January 2016.

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Third Reading

About Saturday 26 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"very uncouth all this day" — 

"uneasy," "unpleasant" from the OED cited by Languagehat back in 2003 seem correct for "uncouth". Basically, he is grumpy because his buddies aren't around, and the visiting vice-admiral is officious.

But regarding "all this day," actually by dinnertime (lunchtime) he must be over it, getting to preside at the high table, and then playing some ninepins. Plus, he learns that he's 30 pounds richer for a few weeks of work.

About Wednesday 23 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Goodbye, Scheveningen! Sam mentions the place only once more in passing, and never referred to it as Scheveningen, always Scheveling. The latter (along with Schevelinge) seems to have been an alternative form used in maps, works of art and written works in England, Holland and France, from the 17th until the early 19th century, although the Dutch usage was much more typically Scheveningen (or, early on, Scheveninghe). So Sam was not off base to use it consistently.

About Friday 18 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

I commented on yesterday's entry regarding the Echo at Huis ten Bosch, now he is back there again and says the Echo is "under the house".

About Thursday 17 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"After that to the Dr.’s, where we drank a while or so." — Uncharacteristic imprecision on Sam's part, but who's watching the time when you're drinking? Maybe this means, anywhere from half a while to a while and a half?

"he and I, and W. Howe to the Echo, which was very pleasant" — I'm not finding any reference to "The Echo" at Huis ten Bosch, nor elsewhere in The Hague. I assume this was either a garden feature or a room with echo effects.

About Thursday 17 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Regarding confusion in the comments as to whether "my boy" actually means "the child" (Edward Mountagu) — no, it will be clear from tomorrow's entry that both children are on shore, Edward presumably having come over in a different party.

About Thursday 17 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"...dined at a French house, but paid 16s. for our part of the club"

Andrew Stephenson in 2003 asks "This seems incredibly expensive for a meal. Presumably the party was numerous and they were reserving a section of the place. Any thoughts re the value of 16s?"

16s in today's money via the UK National Archives calculation tool translates to £84.14 ($104.91) in 2017. A bit more today. This covered dinner presumably for five: Pepys, Pickering, How, Pim and Whittington (assuming Pepys's boy ate in the kitchen), or about 17 pounds ($21) apiece. A very reasonable price today (think evening French restaurant meal). But, the Archives tool also says that 16s in 1660 represented 11 days wages for a skilled craftsman (which would come to over 2000 pounds or dollars today, so looked at in that light, yes, it's a pretty pricy meal. Sam's "but" indicates he thought so as well. Nice to be on an expense account, though.

About Sunday 13 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"Capt. Isham went on shore, nobody showing of him any respect; so the old man very fairly took leave of my Lord, and my Lord very coldly bid him “God be with you,” which was very strange, but that I hear that he keeps a great deal of prating and talking on shore, on board, at the King’s Courts, what command he had with my Lord, &c."

No one has attempted to explain this confusing passage over the course of three readings. Apparently, Sam himself had no idea what the issues were between Isham and my Lord, it just was "very strange" to him and my Lord was very cold to Isham. Sam did not always write his daily entries the same day, and this passage feels like it was written some days after the fact, since it refers to Isham's prattlings "at the King's Courts" which they have not yet reached. So "went on shore" may also refer to going ashore once they reach their destination, which feels like it is only a day or two ahead, Sam writing this entry perhaps 3-4 days after today's date.

About Saturday 12 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"Sir R. Freeman and some others" come to visit from the Lark, which is proceeding in the opposite direction. Do both ships heave to while this confab takes place? If so, my Lord doesn't seem to be in a big hurry to get to Scheveningen. (They've been aboard ship since late March awaiting today's departure, what's another hour or two?) Or, perhaps, is there a quick transfer, the ships sail on, and then, business done, Freeman and company catch another boat heading west to catch up with the Lark or get to the Lark's destination?

One way or another, I've been intrigued by the amount of ferrying of people and stuff between the ships in the squadron as well as back and forth to Deal, Dunkirk or Dover. I imagine a fleet of small boats circulating among the ships, making deliveries and awaiting signals to come alongside to transport people or goods.

About Thursday 10 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link


I'm not peeking ahead, but I'm assuming that he is using presently to mean "soon," not "right now," and not necessarily tomorrow. But certainly this means all necessary final preparations are to be made. The arrival of Montague's son is a good indication. Also, if the King is choosing his embroiderer, preparations at his end must be down to the fine points, as well.

About Wednesday 9 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Sam lost another 5s at ninepins today. So far in the diary, he has mentioned playing the game 8 times. The first time, on 4/28, he says he won a crown (5s) but his opponent stiffed him. Once, he says he "won something," amount not specified. Twice, he mentions playing but doesn't specify any amount lost or gained. (But if he were winning he'd have mentioned it, one would think.) Three times, he lost 5s, and once (to my Lord) 9s. So, he appears to be down 24 shillings, or a pound and four shillings, against his net worth of 40 pounds mentioned a few days back. So he has gambled away 3 percent of his net worth. Let's keep an eye on this situation.

About Tuesday 8 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

From the very first comment in 2003: "if he has £40 to his name then 9s represents nearly 1/80th of his worth. If a civil servant today earned £40,000 a year that would be equivalent to losing nearly £500 in one evening's play - not something most of us could afford to do."

This comparison is not accurate, since one's net worth is not equivalent to one's annual salary. At this time, Sam's net worth is pretty modest at £40. From the page on Pepys's wealth (, this equates to £5,892 in 2016, 1/80th of which comes to £73.65 forked over to my Lord. And he lost 5 more shillings to someone else the other day. The larger loss to my Lord may be attributable to it being hard to say no to my Lord when he suggests another game or two.

About Monday 7 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

To revisit the topic of legal doublets explored in the previous readings, here's a nice essay on how this practice may have evolved:… It states that originally, the doublets consisted of English and French-derived words to cover both bases (like give and grant), but eventually just became something lawyers liked to do, regardless of where the words came from (like cease and desist).

About Sunday 6 May 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Happy Coronation Day to all our UK/Commonwealth friends, long live the next King Charles!

About Sunday 29 April 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

I think the key to "shook his shoulders" is this at the end of that sentence: "which he [Montagu] did not like, but however he [Monk] had done his business, though it be with some kind of baseness." So it is not anger and not mirth. It's a shrug, meaning "I don't like it, but what's done is done."

About Friday 27 April 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"I am informed that the Exchequer is now so low, that there is not 20l. there, to give the messenger that brought the news of Lambert’s being taken..."

Surely the messenger is not owed 20 pounds for delivering the news?

About Thursday 26 April 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"Massy timbers" — Massy is a nice word, rarely used today, supplanted by massive. Seems to have peaked in the early 1800s.

No mention of any of the boss's wine being sampled during that storeroom visit, so probably not. Maybe some of it came up with them to supper. In any case, this is another example of the kind of access that Sam is reveling in, every day.

About Wednesday 25 April 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

In 2017 above, Bill and Terry Foreman commented that Sam is being treated above his rank and is indulging in self-deception with regard to his importance. But let me posit a contrary opinion: Sam is being invited to dine with vice admirals, rear admirals and captains, because just as Sam is a hell of an interesting fellow to *us*, he probably also struck *them* as a hell of a conversationalist and great dinner companion. It didn't hurt that he worked for Mountague (and he would not have been invited had he held some lower rank) but this "respect" and inclusion is not solely due to his position as Mountague's clerk.

About Thursday 19 April 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Regarding that reporting in the Gazette: Keep in mind that even back then, fake news was a thing. I prefer to trust the accounts of Mr. Pepys, who is well placed right there on the flagship, than the likely second- or third-hand report in the Gazette, embellished at each step along the way.