Annotations and comments

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


Third Reading

About Thursday 22 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Today's entry is so full of interesting tidbits that in the course of 20 years of discussion, we still have not covered all of them. Here are a few more that are worth of note:

"At the end of dinner, my Lord Sandwich’s health was drunk in the gilt tankard that I did give to Mrs. Fox the other day."

"Drunk in the gilt tankard" means that this toast was drunk out of the tankard, with all assembled taking turns, not poured out of the tankard into individual cups or glasses. This practice survived into the 20th c. (and to the present day here and there) in the form of shared communion cups in worship services. Sam is rightly proud that the very tankard he purchased and delivered is now the center of attention at this gathering.

"my Lord did inquire for me, so I went to find him, and met him and the Duke of York in a coach going towards Charing Cross. I endeavoured to follow them but could not"

Without cell phones, it's amazing how often Sam manages to locate someone he's looking for, or who is looking for him. In this case, my Lord might have offered him a ride, but not when he is sharing a cab with the Duke of York (the king's brother). So Sam is forced to jog after them, but this being right after dinner (and more than just that one toast), he has to give up.

"[My Lady] took occasion to inquire (by Madame Dury’s late discourse with her) how I did treat my wife’s father and mother. At which I did give her a good account, and she seemed to be very well opinioned of my wife."

Why is my Lady asking about Elizabeth's parents? Maybe she is assessing Elizabeth's background and upbringing to see whether the Pepyses merit further advancement in society?

"From thence to White Hall at about 9 at night, and there, with Laud the page that went with me, we could not get out of Henry the Eighth’s gallery into the further part of the boarded gallery, where my Lord was walking with my Lord Ormond; and we had a key of Sir S. Morland’s, but all would not do; till at last, by knocking, Mr. Harrison the door-keeper did open us the door. And, after some talk with my Lord about getting a catch to carry my Lord St. Albans a goods to France..."

In a Pepys biopic, this would make a nice comic interlude — Sam and a page rattling around way after hours in a sprawling palace, trying keys in locks but nothing will work, finally knocking up the doorkeeper, all so he can briefly talk to Sandwich about shuttling the Earl of St. Albans and his stuff across the Channel. (Or maybe it's just the Earl's goods? Or should it say "Lord St. Albans and goods"?) It appears that St. Albans was being appointed ambassador to France, a post he held, on and off, from 1660 to 1668. (…)

"Weary to bed," indeed!

About Tuesday 20 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

To echo Bruce, above, about the survival of the laborious wash day into the 20thC: I remember my grandmother in the Netherlands going through that ritual in the 50s and 60s, complete with boiling pot and tongs for pulling things out. I also had an uncle who was a Dutch forest warden, and thus entitled to state-owned residence. As it happens, he got a brand new house, constructed around 1945 to his specifications. His wife, my aunt, came from a region in the Netherlands where laundry was like a religion, so they installed a fully-tiled room larger than the kitchen that was entirely devoted to laundrification, with built-in giant pots for washing and rinsing, a mangle, drying racks and whatever else. We were only allowed to look into this room from the hall. By the 50s, the washing machine was a standard item in Dutch homes, but they continued to use this anachronistic wash room for another couple of decades.

About Friday 16 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"but I would not now part with my money easily"

I read this particular investment proposal as relating to Sam's own stash, not Sandwich's. He is meanwhile looking for ways to invest Sandwich's 3000l.

About Thursday 15 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

SDS, I think the diary style for pounds, abbreviated, is not a slash "/." but an italic lower case L. Using slashes would add more confusion. I see that many commenters without a proper pound symbol on their keyboard (and without the ability to use italics in comments on this site) are using "l.", non-italicized, and I plan to switch to that going forward.

About Thursday 15 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

to David Smith's 2003 question, "Wife as partner, wife as possession; is it just me, or does Sam care that Montagu appreciates his wife for the sake not so much of her ego as for his?"

Today, Liz visits the Montagues, performs a valuable service for My Lady; has the honor of lunching with My Lord, solo; he exhibits a "just esteem" for her; and at night, she is still happy about the conversation and respect. It might all be a boost for Sam's ego, and for his standing in the eyes of his boss, but I also think that he's happy because she's happy (ie., her ego).

About Thursday 15 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"...100l., for the fee of the office at 6d. a pound..." // How does this work out? (John Wheater 2018)

The whole amount due Montague is 4000L, this 1000 is just part of it. So 4000L at 6d a pound=24,000d=100L.

About Wednesday 14 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"Sir W. Pen, the Comptroller, and I to the Dolphin, where we found Sir W. Batten, who is seldom a night from hence, and there we did drink..."

I take this to mean that Sir W. Batten hang out at the Dolphin just about every night. He will mention going to see Batten at the Dolphin several more times in the diary.

About Sunday 11 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"There being no woman this day"

We've mostly focused on the proximity of the servants, above, but two questions arise from that introductory clause:

First of all, why no ladies? Being seen at worship seems to be important to the gents; why isn't it also important to bring their wives?

Secondly, what would the seating arrangement be, if they did come along? Boy-girl-boy-girl, taking up a couple of rows? Girls in front, boys behind (suggested by Arby, above, but I doubt this)? Boys in front, ladies behind (also doesn't seem likely)? And then, wouldn't the help be seated right behind whoever took up the second row?

About Friday 9 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Perhaps the lunchtime sport with Mr. Talbot, who does not eat fish, involves the similarity between "turbot" and "talbot".

About Thursday 8 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Despite yesterday's resolve to make inquiries today about Balty's ill-advised decision to acquire a horse, Sam makes no mention of it. Perhaps Elizabeth (Balty's sister) has urged him not to make waves about it.

[Spoiler, kinda:] Balty will not be heard from in the diary for quite a few months, and the horse, never again. So maybe he pawned it.

About Wednesday 7 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

I mentioned the other day that in general, Sam might take a carriage to go across town (like we might hail a cab), but not hire a horse to ride for that purpose, due to cost and inconvenience. But Sam does hire a horse when he rides out to some country destination, just as city dwellers today might rent a car for that purpose. This illustrates the cost and value of owning a horse is equivalent to owning a car today. So now, Balty has gone out and bought a horse (car) and is now going to incur the costs of keeping it. And he may have used Sam's name to establish credit. When previously heard from (June 18) Balty came to Sam to say he was in a "bad condition" and asking Sam to "get a place for him." So most likely, Balty is not yet ready to afford a horse of his own; hence both Sam and Elizabeth are "troubled". Stay tuned for tomorrow's inquiries.

About Tuesday 6 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"where I observed how they do invite one another"

Like on Ebay, it is not good strategy to start bidding early during the bidding period. It's like showing your cards. You don't want to be the first bidder. But when it gets down to the last minute, everybody who is interested jumps in. On Ebay, you try to make your final bid in the last second, hoping that time then runs out without someone else outbidding you in the last tenth of a second. This practice is known as sniping.

So I imagine that in the candle auction, "inviting one another" is just a lot of banter going on trying to get someone to start the bidding, "and at last how they all do cry" — as the candle pin is about to drop, or the candle is about to go out, whichever the process is, everybody shouts their bids trying to be the last one.

While this makes for an expeditious auction, it doesn't necessarily get the seller the best price, because some bidders may misjudge the timing and fail to get their final bid in under the wire. So there could have been a few higher bids, if the bidding had continued.

About Sunday 4 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

I'm going to agree with Pauline, who wrote in 2003 regarding the L&H footnote for "Much company I found to come to her....", as follows:

"I don't think he is referring to Mrs. Pierce. The description (wanton) just doesn't fit for describing a friend's wife or a friend. The sentence seems to indicate the proprietress or barmaid at The Bell, or something major to its meaning has been dropped or excised."

Sam is out gallivanting with Pierce and Sheply. No one else is mentioned, certainly not Mrs. Pierce. After meeting up at Montagu's, they head over to The Bell, a tavern and stableyard on King Street, Westminster, and after admiring Montagu's new ponies, they belly up to the bar for a few rounds of Hull ale. He means to mention the proprietess or barmaid, but neglects to do so in his hurry to say how very pretty and wanton she is, and how much business that is bringing her.

L&M jump to a conclusion that "her" is "Mrs. Pearse", but that makes no sense, even if she's tagging along, because Mrs. Pierce is not in the business of attracting "much company" to The Bell.

About Thursday 1 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"I want to know who owned the horses and where they were kept. If it was a stable at the back of the Navy Office, why doesn't Pepys ride more often?"

Just a wild guess: The economics of renting horses may have been such that they only made sense for longer trips such as this one out to Batten's. Sort of like if you live downtown in a city, taking cabs makes sense (like Pepys takes a carriage or water taxi), but renting a car to go across town does not, both in terms of expense and convenience, even if you're going to return to where you started. But if you're heading out into the country somewhere, you rent a car, Sam rents a horse.

About Thursday 1 November 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

Dick Wilson 2013: "I'm missing something here. What was the purpose of this visit? Did Pepys & Pen have business with Batten, or he with them, that could not wait until all met at the office? Or did Batten just invite the two to come have drinks with some of his country buddies?"

The purpose appears to have been purely recreational, an all -day bender with lots of mutual entertainment. But at the same time, Sam well knows that he is building up relationships, particularly with Batten, who will be quite important to him going forward.

About Sunday 28 October 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"he did take us into the King’s closet, and there we did stay all service-time" after dining with my Lady.

Consider the arc of Sam's journey so far this year — on January 1, he was living in a garret, and dined upon "the remains of a turkey, and in the doing of it [Elizabeth] burned her hand." If he dined at Montagu's at all, it was in the servants' hall, not with my Lord or my Lady in the dining room. And now, he's worshiping with gentry in the King's own "closet." He rightly feels honoured.

About Friday 26 October 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"I did give him money to pay several bills."

Linguistic question: Here Sam says he "did give" his father something. Elsewhere (especially when paying for someone's lunch) he says he "gave" them something.

Is there an actual distinction in the meanings between "gave" and "did give", or is the usage just random? Was "did give", even in Sam's day, a bit more formal, reflecting language used in legal settings rather than everyday talk?

About Wednesday 24 October 1660

MartinVT  •  Link

"I found a box of Carpenter’s tools sent by my cozen, Thomas Pepys, which I had bespoke of him for to employ myself with sometimes."

Sam and Liz stopped by Thomas's place on October 15 "for some things that we wanted." Perhaps this is when Sam bespoke the set of tools. We shall see how he employs himself with them.

About Wednesday 24 October 1660

MartinVT  •  Link


Here in New England, "lights" is still used quite commonly, especially among older rural people, to mean individual panes in a window divided by muntins. A neighbor told me: "Some kid threw a rock at the window and broke one of the lights."