Annotations and comments

MarkS has posted 45 annotations/comments since 10 April 2013.

The most recent first…


Second Reading

About Thursday 23 November 1665

MarkS  •  Link

The use of 'it' has been sufficiently discussed above, and an example has been given of a woman using 'it' for an adult male in the 18th century.

The one mitigating factor for Pepys is that he never went further than "doing what I would with my hands about her". It seems he considered actual sex as going too far. There is no suggestion that she was unwilling, though of course that is no excuse, then or now.

About Friday 15 July 1664

MarkS  •  Link

"But, says he, take it from me, never to trust too much to any man in the world, for you put yourself into his power; and the best seeming friend and real friend as to the present may have or take occasion to fall out with you, and then out comes all."

I wonder if this may be a subtle hint to Pepys, since their relationship has just been through a problematic period. Sandwich also explains that having to choose between two friendships can give rise to a problem.

About Saturday 2 April 1664

MarkS  •  Link

On dreaming and reality, an extreme view - going far beyond Descartes - is given in the Yoga Vasishtha:

"One who wakes up from a dream thinks, 'It is like this, and not like that which I saw in the dream.' After death too, one thinks, 'It is like this, and not like that which I saw before death.' The dream may be brief, and the life may be long, but the experience of the moment is the same in both."

About Thursday 10 December 1663

MarkS  •  Link

Just to clear up this issue about the shortest day of the year:

The winter solstice in 1663 was on Dec 21 according to our calendar (Gregorian + plus minor adjustments), but according to the Julian calendar which was in use in England at that time, the solstice was on December 11 at 6:03pm.


So Pepys was one day out, but the shortest day was usually on the 10th or 11th of December, and he may just be assuming it was the 10th, without looking at astronomical tables.

About Wednesday 4 February 1662/63

MarkS  •  Link

"Sir, young men have more virtue than old men: they have more generous sentiments in every respect. I love the young dogs of this age: they have more wit and humour and knowledge of life than we had; but then the dogs are not so good scholars."
- Dr Samuel Johnson

Just as true today as 1663 or 1763.

About Tuesday 16 December 1662

MarkS  •  Link

I read this differently. I think that Bess borrowed 50s, claiming that it was for Will, but then gave it to Balty and her father.

About Sunday 12 October 1662

MarkS  •  Link

@Bridget Davis

In defence of Sam, he was at home with his own parents and family. He wouldn't have acted like that in someone else's house. The beer they were drinking may have been very strong and bitter, so he sent for something lighter and less alcoholic. Also, he had been deep in intricate legal discussions all day, and it may not have easy to suddenly switch to light entertaining conversation.

About Sunday 12 October 1662

MarkS  •  Link

"... Mr. Piggott, who gives me good assurance of his truth to me and our business..."

"Truth" here is used in the older meaning of loyalty, faithfulness. He's saying that Mr. Piggott supports him and his business.
This usage is related to the expression 'to plight one's troth' = to pledge one's loyalty.

About Sunday 23 March 1661/62

MarkS  •  Link

It appears that Sam bore the Pepys family coat of arms quartered with another. Does anyone know what that was?

Pepys says in this entry that the colours of his arms are black, gold and grey. Those are the arms displayed in the 1st and 4th quarters - Sable, on a bend or between two horse's heads erased argent, three fleurs de lys of the field.

But in the 2nd and 3rd quarters he bears what looks to me like Gules, a lion rampant within a bordure engrailed or. Presumably these are the arms of his mother's family?

About Sunday 8 September 1667

MarkS  •  Link

Sorry for the typos. I pressed Post by mistake rather than Preview, and there is no way to edit it later.

It would also help if comments were allowed to have markups like bold, italic and blockquote, as on most blogs.

About Sunday 8 September 1667

MarkS  •  Link

The incident concerning of the prisoner throwing a brickbat at Judge Richardson is recorded in a well-known and quaint piece of Law French, the language of English lawyers at the time.

Apparently the prisonor "ject un Brickbat a le dit Justice que narrowly mist."

"Richardson, ch. Just. de C. Banc al Assises at Salisbury in Summer 1631. fuit assault per prisoner la condemne pur felony que puis son condemnation ject un Brickbat a le dit Justice que narrowly mist, & pur ceo immediately fuit Indictment drawn per Noy envers le Prisoner, & son dexter manus ampute & fix al Gibbet, sur que luy mesme immediatement hange in presence de Court."


"Richardson, Ch(ief) Just(ice) of C(ommon) Bench at the Assizes at Salisbury in Summer 1631. There was an assault by a prisoner there condemned for felony; who, following his condemnation, threw a brickbat at the said Justice, which narrowly missed. And for this, an indictment was immediately drawn by Noy against the prisoner, and his right hand was cut off and fastened to the gibbet, on which he himself was immediately hanged in the presence of the Court."

The story goes that the Judge had a profound stoop, resulting from illness, and he later remarked, “You see, now, if I had been an *upright* judge I had been slaine.”

About Friday 31 May 1661

MarkS  •  Link

I found the statistic that if a man or woman lived to be 30 in 17th century England, their average life expectancy was 59.

No antibiotics or modern pharmaceuticals, and no modern surgery, meant that many conditions that are not life-threatening today were life-threatening then.

About Friday 22 February 1660/61

MarkS  •  Link

@joe fulm

Decisions about where to send ships,etc. are political, not administrative. It's not up to Pepys and his department to decide how to employ HM ships. All armies and navies not actively engaged in war spend most of their time sitting around and waiting, whether today or at any time in history.

On Sam's working hours, the approach is that as long as his gets the job done, it doesn't matter when or how he does it. Sometimes he works late at night to finish something. He usually takes Sundays off, but works six days a week. If necessary, he puts in long hours.

A sentence like "All the morning at the office" in today's entry means perhaps 4-5 hours of solid work. Sam usually doesn't give details of his office work, but that doesn't mean that things are not happening. Even when he is not there, clerks will be continuing to work according to his instructions.

About Tuesday 29 January 1660/61

MarkS  •  Link

The point about catches is that there is a 'hidden' phrase, usually bawdy, which only appears when the overlapping voices combine.

Here are two non-bawdy modern examples to give the idea:

Liverpool Street Station…

University of Michigan Men's Glee Club… [direct link to mp3]

Keep listening, because the hidden catch phrase only appears towards the end of each song.

About Saturday 19 January 1660/61

MarkS  •  Link

Sam met them when they were being taken to their execution.
The sentence for hanging, drawing and quartering would normally say something like, "...laid on a hurdle and so drawn to the place of execution...". This hurdle is what Sam calls a sledge, a wooden or wattle framework dragged behind a horse.

About Tuesday 27 November 1660

MarkS  •  Link

Tonyel, this is not about our own belief systems, either yours or those of any other modern commentators. Nor do I think this is an appropriate forum to advocate personal convictions about the nature of reality.

This about understanding historical texts, beliefs, concepts, and attitudes - especialy those of Pepys' time, but also those more generally related to it.

Every single writer, from the Middle Ages up to at least the middle of the 20th century, was familiar with the Bible and took it for granted that all his readers were equally familiar with it. So many references and allusions were not explicit. It was expected that readers would simply understand them.

For that reason alone, anyone wanting a reasonable knowledge of Western literature, history or culture should read the Bible at some stage. This has nothing to do with belief. It is a vital historical text for understanding the history of the past.

We couldn't possibly understand ancient Greek literature without having some understanding of ancient Greek mythology. That that doesn't mean that we have to believe ancient Greek mythology. It's the same with the Bible. It's a vital text for understanding the whole of Western culture.

Also, theology played such a pivotal role throughtout Western history that one has to understand some of the theological issues in order to have a good understanding of history.

The biggest single issue in 17th century Europe was the rift between between Catholics and Protestants. How can one possibly understand the history of the times without understanding the details of what the beliefs and issues were?

Even such a 'scientist' as Sir Isaac Newton was a deeply religious Christian his whole life. Newton spent far more time and energy writing about mystical interpretations of the Bible than he ever did on science or mathematics.

It's all very well to say, "Oh, I'm ever so superior in my understanding of reality than they were (at least, in so far as my currently evolved ape-brain allows me to understand the nature of reality at all)". But that doesn't get us anywhere in terms of understanding Western history, philosophy, literature, art, and culture.

About Tuesday 27 November 1660

MarkS  •  Link

On the story of Nabal:

a) David was not a Christian, so the comments about the meek inheriting the earth are not relevant. This is the Old Testament, not the New - there is a big difference.
b) There is a lot more to the story if you understand some of the cultural subtleties.

A couple of links:

Nabal on Wikipeda…

A good line-by-line commentary which brings out details which may be unclear to a modern reader…

About Saturday 17 November 1660

MarkS  •  Link

It wasn't a form in the modern sense of the word, and it wouldn't be a money-spinner.

Sam was looking for an example of a legal contract for a nobleman to retain a household chaplain. No doubt the Privy Seal had many different types of model contracts on file for their own use, so Sam was hoping he could find a suitable one. It was just to save him time and give him an idea of what such a contract usually looked like.

Since there wasn't any contract of this type on file, he simply drew one up as best he could, for Sandwich and Turner to sign. It didn't affect anything at the Privy Seal Office.

Has Sam had any formal legal training? Probably not, but he has seen a large number of legal contracts, and he knows what Sandwich wants.

About Tuesday 23 October 1660

MarkS  •  Link

@arby That's a good point. Mr. Spong is called 'illiterate', but they look over many books of his.

I think Pepys may be speaking loosely, and may only mean that he has no knowledge of Latin, the language of educated people everywhere. He is saying that Spong is uneducated rather than unable to read.