Annotations and comments

Oliver Mundy has posted 13 annotations/comments since 12 August 2016.

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About Cornelius Bee

Oliver Mundy  •  Link

Cornelius Bee deserves to be better known. As a publisher he devoted himself to large scholarly projects, often in the field of mediaeval history, such as the works of Matthew Paris (1639–40), the first printing of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1644) and Roger Twysden's collection of ten mediaeval chronicles, known as 'Scriptores Decem' (1652). In addition, he seems to have insisted on high production standards from his printers; at a time when British printing was for the most part deplorably slapdash, these printers (who included Miles Flesher and his son Jacob, Richard Hodgkinson, and Roger Daniel of Cambridge) produced work which bears comparison with all but the finest Dutch printing of the period. The court case mentioned by Pepys was an early attempt to establish a rule of copyright which, unlike the 'privileges' often granted to earlier publishers, did not depend on a specific protection granted by the Crown or a similar authority; the attempt failed and Bee was ruined, but the need for legislation on the subject finally gained recognition in an Act of Parliament passed in 1710.

About Harry Spelman

Oliver Mundy  •  Link

Spelman's 'Glossarium' had originally been published incomplete in 1626 under the title 'Archaeologus'. It is essentially a dictionary of Latin legal, ecclesiastical and other specialised terms; the Anglo-Saxon element comes in because Spelman includes many expressions from ancient English law which appear in Latin charters and chronicles, often illustrating them with quotations in Old English. The range of the work is surprisingly wide, including for example an article on the word 'Admiral' which embodies a list of everyone who bore that title from the age of Alfred to that of Charles I - a possible source of Pepys's interest.

According to the Latin bio-bibliographical sketch by 'J.A.' (John Aubrey?) added to the 1687 edition, Spelman had struggled to get the book published, at one time offering it to the royal printer John Bill and asking nothing more in return than a few pounds' worth of books. This may have been partly because of the state of the manuscript; even the later editions are notable for duplications, articles in which Spelman offers two or three mutually contradictory definitions of a single word, gaps where he has intended to fill in a reference but has never got round to it, or admissions of defeat such as 'Tu tibi Oedipus esto' (meaning 'Be your own Oedipus', or in other words 'Your guess is as good as mine'). Nonetheless, modern legal historians still refer to the work with respect, partly for its acute observations on the early history of Parliament and the jury system.

About Cards

Oliver Mundy  •  Link

The Diary period, or a few years after it, is the earliest era from which any reasonably complete set of English court cards survives. The designs are based on French (Rouen) originals of about 1570 and are known to have been in use in England by 1610, when two 'knaves' (jacks) are illustrated in a satirical pamphlet by Samuel Rowlands; they are the direct forerunners of those used on modern Anglo-American ('Bridge') cards, but the figures are full-length, not double-headed, and are crudely printed from woodcut blocks and coloured by hand in water-colour by means of stencils. Corner pips (indices) date only from the 1870s. The Ace of Spades was blank until 1765. Cards were larger than those of today (about 95 x 64mm) and substantially thicker; the corners were not rounded and the backs were undecorated.

See 'People > John Hewson' for a possible example of political caricature on playing-cards in Pepys's day.

About John Hewson

Oliver Mundy  •  Link

In English playing-cards of the Diary period (the earliest such cards known) the Jack of Clubs, or Knave of Clubs as he was then called, is sometimes labelled C HEWSON. French cardmakers often placed their names on this card, and it might occur to English makers to do the same; on the other hand, no cardmaker named Hewson is recorded and no other name ever appears on English jacks of clubs. At least three different 'Hewson' Jacks survive. W. Gurney Benham ('Playing Cards, their History and Secrets', 1931) suggests that the allusion may be to C[obbler] (or C[olonel]?) Hewson. This is non-proven, but at any rate the practice of caricaturing this man in the Restoration era is attested by Pepys and is also mentioned in the original Dictionary of National Biography article on him.

About Bacon's 'Faber Fortunae sive Doctrina de ambitu vitae'

Oliver Mundy  •  Link

What is certain is that in 1662 the Elzevirs of Amsterdam published a Latin version of the Essays, titled as in Terry Foreman's post above, with four longer treatises appended; the second of these (numbered LX, as if it were part of the series of Essays) is a 36-page work with the title 'Faber fortunae sive de ambitu vitae' ('Maker of [one's] fortune, or on ambition in life'). This must be what Pepys read with so much pleasure.

Here is my own translation of the opening: 'And at the first glance I may seem to be presenting something of a new and unprecedented thesis in teaching men how they can become the makers of their own fortune: assuredly a doctrine to which any man might readily attach himself, until he has experienced the difficulty it involves.' It goes on to discuss the six ways in which one may attract favourable notice (by one's appearance, by words, by deeds, by the quality of one's mind, by one's object or purpose, and by other people's account of oneself); it quotes frequently from Tacitus, occasionally from Machiavelli and once from the Epistle of James, and ends 'Thus we see it in Marcus Brutus, who on the point of death broke out in these words: "Virtue, I have pursued you as a reality, but you are no more than an empty name." However, if this foundation is laid down by God on high it always grows as firm as a rock. And so we conclude our teaching on ambition in life.' The opening word 'Ac' ('and' or occasionally 'but') suggests that this may be a chapter extracted from a larger work. I hope these indications will help others to trace the elusive 'Faber fortunae' to its source; though clearly the matter must be more difficult than it looks, or it would have been settled long ago.

About Domesday Book

Oliver Mundy  •  Link

Domesday Book was not transcribed in print until 1783 (Abraham Farley's edition). However, it was increasingly studied and cited in the seventeenth century; for example, Spelman's 'Glossarium Archaiologicum' (q.v.) includes a number of quotations.

About Mackenzie's 'Religio Stoici'

Oliver Mundy  •  Link

This is Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, Scottish judge, antiquary, political philosopher, essayist, persecutor of the Covenanters and reputed poltergeist: not to be confused with Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat (later Earl of Cromartie) who, long after the Diary period, indirectly provided Pepys with some information about 'second sight' among the rural Scots (letter from Sir George Reay quoting Mackenzie, 1699, in de la Bédoyère, 'Letters of Samuel Pepys' [2006]).

Pepys calls Mackenzie of Rosehaugh 'a sorry man'; however, long afterwards he would acquire the same author's 'A Moral Essay preferring Solitude to Public Employment' (1685 edition, still in the Magdalene College collection).

About Elizabeth Pepys (wife, b. St Michel)

Oliver Mundy  •  Link

Has anyone ever commented on the clear statement in the Latin inscription that Elizabeth was 'initially educated in a convent' ('in Coenobio primu[m] . . . educata')? This surely contradicts Balthasar's tendentious assertion (already viewed with some doubt by Claire Tomalin) that the convent episode was an aberration imposed by their mother's advisers and terminated after twelve days.

I also feel (if, as a nobody without the least scholastic standing, I may be allowed a personal viewpoint) that Pepys was showing some measure of courage and conjugal loyalty in writing this. 'Coenobium' was the standard Latin term for a monastery or convent (used, for example, throughout Dodsworth and Dugdale's 'Monasticon Anglicanum', 1655-73), and thus nobody who knew Latin could have been in any doubt that Pepys was asserting his wife's upbringing in a Catholic environment – a perilous thing for him to say amid the sectarian paranoia of those times. And why should he have mentioned it at all, if it was not as a kind of atonement to the woman he had so often deceived and misused? During their quarrel over Deb Willet, Elizabeth had told him explicitly that she was a Catholic, a fact that might have ruined him if it had reached the public ear. Now, only a year later, we find him stating her religious background as explicitly as he could possibly venture to do: giving her the last word on the subject, in fact.

About Joshua Kirton

Oliver Mundy  •  Link

His name was definitely Joshua, not Joseph as stated in Wheatley's notes and index. The writer of this has a book published by him in 1653 (Verstegan, 'A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence') which gives his name as 'Josuah', corrected to 'Joshua' when the book was reissued with a new title-page in 1655 (Wing V269 and V270). Notably, he continued to display the King's arms as his shop-sign throughout the Commonwealth; it is mentioned on the title-pages of both these editions.