Annotations and comments

MartinVT has posted 182 annotations/comments since 10 January 2016.


Third Reading

About Friday 11 January 1660/61

MartinVT  •  Link

"discontented that my wife do not go neater now she has two maids."

For all the discussion since 2004, prompted by this line, as to whether Sam is likable or not, we don't actually know whether or how he showed his discontent. Did he keep it to himself? Did he have words with Elizabeth about it? If so, were they gentle or harsh? We have no clue. We do know that at other times when Sam has scolded his wife about something, he often feels remorse later, and there is sometimes mention of making up and "being friends" once again. between them. But there is no mention of that, this time. I'm inclined to think he just grumbled a little and kept his feelings mostly to himself. As any of us might do today.

About Tuesday 25 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

The candlestick discussion above is on the wrong page. Sam heard about Pett's flagons yesterday, and the fact that "he" did not receive them.

Anyway, I respectfully disagree with LKvM, I think it's pretty clear that Coventry simply did not accept them; Sam therefore has the idea of doing the same thing — offering a gift, having it turned down, and getting credit for the "thought that counts".

"Receive" meaning "accept" is used elsewhere in the diary. For example back on May 4, Sam paraphrases this paragraph in a letter written by Sandwich:

"That my Lord is very joyful that other countries do pay him the civility and respect due to him; and that he do much rejoice to see that the King do resolve to receive none of their assistance (or some such words), from them, he having strength enough in the love and loyalty of his own subjects to support him."

And on April 9, 1661, Sam will reflect as follows:

" general it was a great pleasure all the time I staid here to see how I am respected and honoured by all people; and I find that I begin to know now how to receive so much reverence, which at the beginning I could not tell how to do."

In both instances the language makes sense only if "receive" means "accept". Naturally, Sam uses "receive" in other senses as well.

About Friday 4 January 1660/61

MartinVT  •  Link

Thanks SDS for further describing the gift exchange system, which was well-established by this time. Besides resulting in some financial gain for the monarch, it should be noted that a system like this served to strengthen bonds between the monarch and all his noble minions (and others like foreign diplomats). Montagu hangs out with the king pretty often, but quite a few of the nobles might not see the king all year. So this more or less obligatory exchange guaranteed that each noble paid homage, and got something in return that he could display as a reminder to him and his own subordinates and guests of his relationship with the king. If you think of it, an absolute ruler has no means of enforcing his rule other than retaining the loyalty of henchmen, so for the British monarchy this system helped cement that loyalty. (Though even by this time, the monarchs could not be called absolute rulers.)

About Sunday 1 January 1659/60

MartinVT  •  Link

Welcome, Rusty! I recommend that while you begin at the beginning, as you have, also catch up with where the current "Reading" is, at Jan. 2, 1661, so that you can catch any "live" comments being posted.

About Monday 31 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"and my having a book, I believe did spoil it a little."

But he just bought the book the same day. He doesn't say that he read it sometime previously. He's sitting there with the book open in his lap, following along, and that's what spoils it for him. I don't believe this means "spoilers" in our sense of knowing in advance how it all turns out; I think he means to say that following along in the book didn't enhance his experience of the book.

About Saturday 29 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Recapping the saga of the candlesticks and plate, so far:
-- On December 24, Sam hears from Commissioner Pett that Pett presented a couple of silver plated flagons to Mr. Coventry, but Coventry "did not receive them" — turned them down. Sam, wishing also to remain in Coventry's good graces, decides to offer a similar gift (perhaps in hopes of having it turned down, as well), and bespeaks a pair of candlesticks at Alderman Blackwell's, a gold and silversmith.
-- On December 26, he calls at Blackwell's, but the candlesticks are not yet ready.
-- On the 27th, he stops by again, picks them up, and rides with Blackwell in a coach to Sandwich's place. (Blackwell was likely heading over there himself for other business.) Sam gives the sticks to Mr. Shepley, a servant of Sandwich's, perhaps so that Sandwich can get them to Coventry on Sam's behalf, or maybe so Sandwich can advise whether they are appropriate.
-- Today, he heads back to Blackwell's and exchanges the candlesticks for "a brave state-plate and cupp", and carries those to Sandwich's. Clearly something has been left out of the story, but maybe either Sandwich advised Sam to get the plate and cup instead, or word came back from Coventry that he had plenty of candlesticks.
-- Stay tuned, we should hear how the story ends.

About Sunday 23 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"A stranger made a dull sermon"

What was the 17thC system for pulpit rotations? Presumably the regular fellow was on vacation (hah!) or sick, or called somewhere else for church business or some personal exigency. Where did the stranger come from to substitute? Was there a pool of retired priests, or some other source? Or, did priests swap places now and then just for a change of pace? Inquiring minds want to know.

About Saturday 15 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Indications that Sam is paying the workmen out of his own pocket:
-- He always refers to them as "my workmen".
-- He keeps a close eye on them, "looking upon my workmen" often in this and previous projects.
-- Sometimes their "laziness does much trouble" him — if the Navy were paying, maybe it wouldn't matter so much.
-- The improvements are all designed to suit his needs and preferences (a door to the rooftop, a new entry door, wainscoting, etc., not necessary maintenance to keep the house in good repair.
-- He gets Navy permission for certain changes, such as the rooftop access, but there is never mention that the Navy board agreed to pay for something or reimburse him.

On the other hand, so far he never mentions the cost of these improvement, which you'd expect him to do given his careful guardianship of his monetary wealth.

Small spoiler: It will be around two years before Sam is fully content with the house; until then workmen will be there, on and off, for a number of additional projects.

About Thursday 13 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Sarah, upon review I think you are correct, the my Ladies are confusing but this must be Lady Batten. Liz had just spent two days in her company so maybe she did not tag along for that reason.

About Thursday 13 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Enough about the wine. "Only at noon" is telling: had Liz gotten home sooner, she might have had time to prepare a decent dinner. But since there's nothing to eat but some leftovers, he skedaddles over to my Lady's, where there's always good food and he appears to be welcome anytime. Liz probably hopped over to the Battens', where the larger household must have had a good repast ready.

About Wednesday 12 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Note "to pass away the time" in the passage about visiting the Batten household. And then the "wench" keeping him company as each is passing the time in their own way, reading and mending. Sam is genuinely lonely ("troubled with the absence of my wife"); he often passes time at home in conversation with Elizabeth, but she's off gallivanting, and there's no TV or internet to fill the gap.

About Friday 7 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

It was with Laud the page that Sam was roaming Whitehall Palace back on Nov. 22, trying to get past locked doors in search of Montagu. At the time I though Laud was My Lord's equivalent of one of Sam's houseboys. But now today we have Laud's mom dining with My Lady, and Sam quizzing his proficiency in Latin. So clearly, Laud is not a common servant, but a gentleman-in-training.

About Wednesday 5 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Thanks Sarah, I will not call it a humble household anymore! Still, I enjoy that Sam is drafting papers for the King and Parliament in the morning, and hunting for a kidney stone (or bladder stone; I should not have said gallstone) at night. A nice story arc.

About Wednesday 5 December 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

A nice journal entry that typifies the worlds that Sam is straddling these days. In the morning, as an officer of the Navy, he is writing legislation to be reviewed by the King and voted on by Parliament. At night he is visiting the humble household of his father, a taylor, and helping his mother look for a gallstone she chucked into the smoldering ashes of the fireplace.

About Thursday 29 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"do bless Almighty God that he is pleased to send so sudden and unexpected payment of my salary so soon after my great disbursements. So that now I am worth 200l. again."

Sam appears to figure his new worth on a cash basis, which is probably smart in these uncertain times. Technically, he was worth the same 200l. yesterday, on what we call an accrual basis today, since he could count his salary as a receivable. But now he is worth 200l. in cold cash. (Side note to Sam: The Lord God Almighty doesn't actually disburse your salary.)

About Wednesday 28 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"In one day he collects 34L 19s ,9d Plus he will get more {30L} and he did not have to sue." (Vincent, 2003)

So to be clear, based on Peter and Pauline's later comments: He is NOT getting the 30l., because he already received it. Technically, until until his bill of impress was cleared, he owed that money back to the state. But not anymore. So this improves his balance sheet, but doesn't put cash into his pocket.

About Saturday 24 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"6 men drinking 4 pints of absinthe, if that's what it was. That's an awful lot of absinthe per person!" (Ivan, 2015)

Indeed. All the talk in 2003 notwithstanding, we are not talking about absinthe, as we know it, at all. Wikipedia says that absinthe was "created in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland in the late 18th century by the French doctor Pierre Ordinaire. Well past Sam's time; they were not consuming a spirit.

However, Wikipedia adds that wormwood extracts and "wine-soaked wormwood leaves" were in made as long ago as the ancient Greeks. And the Wikipedia page for wormwood itself says that "in the Middle Ages, wormwood was used to spice mead," and "in 18th-century England, wormwood was sometimes used instead of hops in beer."

And of course, it has been used to spice wine (remember, Sam calls it "wormwood wine". This page (…) has a more detailed description of all the ills it cures, and includes specific mention of Rhenish wine. (They were at the Rhenish winehouse).