Annotations and comments

has posted 45 annotations/comments since 10 April 2013.


About Monday 15 October 1660

MarkS  •  Link

A great favour to his family and friends. As noted in the first annotation at the top, "his quarters were granted to his brother and given decent burial that night."

About Monday 15 October 1660

MarkS  •  Link

In case anyone wants to read "the best writ tale that ever I read in my life", here it is on Google Books, in the 1727 edition, translated by "Thos. Brown, Mr. Savage, and Others". In this edition Scarron's story is called "The Useless Precaution":…

Pepys calls it the best tale he ever read, but I take this as hyperbole. I think he just means it was very good, and he enjoyed it.

About Saturday 6 October 1660

MarkS  •  Link

There would have been far greater differences in dialect in Pepys' day than in ours.

Samuel Johnson, a century later, commented about pronunciation differing even among people of high rank: "I remember an instance: when I published the Plan for my Dictionary, Lord Chesterfield told me that the word 'great' should be pronounced so as to rhyme to 'state'; and Sir William Yonge sent me word that it should be pronounced so as to rhyme to 'seat', and that none but an Irishman would pronounce it 'grait'. Now here were two men of the highest rank, the one, the best speaker in the House of Lords, the other, the best speaker in the House of Commons, differing entirely."

About Friday 28 September 1660

MarkS  •  Link

It's a very human characteristic. When anyone says of any situation, "It's always my luck" that such-and-such happens - *invariably* it's due to person himself. He himself is the common denominator in the 'always'.

e.g. The passive-aggressive person who says, "People *always* take advantage of me", the miserly person who says, "When I lend money to a friend it *always* spoils the friendship", etc.

Pepys laughs and jokes with the workmen, and they respond. He then offers them beer and sits drinking and chatting with them - "It's strange, how I always meet such drolling workmen".

But someone else using the exactly the same workmen might criticise them and find fault with them, might accuse them of overcharging and get into an argument with them, and then complain, "It's strange how I *always* get such bad and surly workmen."

About Tuesday 11 September 1660

MarkS  •  Link

Regarding washing the wainscot, I don't think that the word 'wash' is being understood correctly.

One definition of wash is 'to cover or coat with a watery layer of paint or other coloring substance.' (Free dictionary. I'm sure the OED has better definitions along with dates, but I don't have access.) This meaning is preserved today in a 'wash' on a watercolour painting, and 'whitewash'.

We know that Pepys had the carpenters in the house that day, presumably repairing the woodwork. What Jane was doing was applying a wash, probably a varnish or lacquer, to the bare wood left by the carpenters. She wasn't cleaning, she was painting. This was normally the job of a workman or tradesman, hence the amusement. She was doing a man's job, and doing it very well.

About Saturday 4 August 1660

MarkS  •  Link

Parliament is concerned about outstanding debts which may exist after the long interregnum. They are trying to get a clear idea of the financial state of things, and discover whether there are any transactions that were never finalised due the civil war and disruption in government.

They want the details of any outstanding money owed both by and to the navy. If any debts are owed to the navy, they want to claim them. And they want details of old transactions, so that if anyone comes along saying that in King Charles I' s time they supplied the navy with goods and were never paid, and asking for money, there is documentary proof of what happened.

However, it seems that the old account books no longer exist, or cannot be found.

About Saturday 21 July 1660

MarkS  •  Link

A catch is a part song, where the overlapping voices reveal a 'secret' phrase, often bawdy. Catches were popular in the late 17th and through the 18th century.


This page has an mp3 example of a modern catch you can listen to: "University of Michigan Men's Glee Club"

Another modern example: "Liverpool Street Station song"

(I've just posted this message under the annotation for "catch" as well.)

About Tuesday 10 July 1660

MarkS  •  Link

If Montagu had not changed his mind and decided to use the title 'Sandwich', rather than 'Portsmouth', then his descendants would all have had the same title...

...and we would be eating BLT portsmouths today.


About Wednesday 27 June 1660

MarkS  •  Link

"a poor house and ill dressed, but very good fish and plenty."

The punctuation seems to be wrong here. It should read "a poor house, and ill-dressed (but very good) fish, and plenty."

It was the fish not the house that was 'ill-dressed'. To dress means to prepare a dish of food. It means that the fish, though good in itself and plentiful, was badly prepared.

From Boswell's Life of Johnson, a century later: "At the inn where we stopped he was exceedingly dissatisfied with some roast mutton which we had for dinner. The ladies, I saw, wondered to see the great philosopher, whose wisdom and wit they had been admiring all the way, get into ill-humour from such a cause. He scolded the waiter, saying, 'It is as bad as bad can be: it is ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, and ill-dressed.'"

About Sunday 24 June 1660

MarkS  •  Link

I'm pretty sure that 'simple' here is used disparagingly, and means 'silly', 'inept', 'childish', 'foolish'. This would be the normal meaning of the word in this context at the time.

Think of 'simpleton' - a person who is simple. That is, backward, 'intellectually challenged'.

From the Book of Proverbs (King James Version): "The simple believeth every word, but the prudent man looketh well to his going."

About Saturday 23 June 1660

MarkS  •  Link

"Is there any record indicating that a king caught anything contagious from the supplicants?"

Scrofula is not actually a skin disease. It's a form of tuberculosis which affects the lymph nodes rather than the lungs. It was normally spread by drinking milk from an infected cow. I doubt whether it could be transferred by touching the external swellings or lesions.

About Saturday 23 June 1660

MarkS  •  Link

A good example is the touch-piece which belonged to Dr. Samuel Johnson, and is now kept in the British Museum:…

Johnson suffered from scrofula as a child, and bore the scars all his life. in 1712, at the age of two and a half he was taken to London to be touched by Queen Anne.

"His mother ... carried him to London, where he was actually touched by Queen Anne. Mrs. Johnson indeed, as Mr. Hector informed me, acted by the advice of the celebrated Sir John Floyer, then a physician in Lichfield. Johnson used to talk of this very frankly; and Mrs. Piozzi has preserved his very picturesque description of the scene, as it remained upon his fancy. Being asked if he could remember Queen Anne, 'He had (he said) a confused, but somehow a sort of solemn recollection of a lady in diamonds, and a long black hood.' This touch, however, was without any effect. I ventured to say to him, in allusion to the political principles in which he was educated, and of which he ever retained some odour, that 'his mother had not carried him far enough; she should have taken him to ROME.' [i.e. to the Old Pretender]
- Boswell, Life of Johnson

Johnson wore the touch-piece round his neck for the rest of his life.

That is an example of a touch-piece specially created for the purpose. Previously a gold 'angel' coin was used, with a hole bored through it. After gold angels ceased to be minted, similar special stamped medals were produced like the one given to Johnson.

Here is the angel coin which was used previously:

About Saturday 23 June 1660

MarkS  •  Link

Receiving a gold coin worth ten shillings must have been a good incentive for poor people to go and receive the king's touch, quite apart from anything else.

About Thursday 21 June 1660

MarkS  •  Link

Did anybody notice that Captain Curle gives Pepys five pieces of gold, and then later when visiting the children, "my Lord did bid me give them five pieces in gold".

It was obviously the same five pieces of gold. Pepys must have told Mountagu that he got the money from Curle, and Mountagu asked Pepys to pay it to the person looking after the children. Presumably Mountagu will pay it back later.

It's a significantly large amount of money, perhaps to enable them to rent a house elsewhere.

About Friday 1 June 1660

MarkS  •  Link

It's interesting to see how bribery is totally standard in society at this time. When Sheply gives Pepys a share of the money, Pepys feels obliged to give him a gift of expensive gloves in return, presumably to thank him for being given a good share. Everything is done on the basis of personal obligations and 'you rub my back, I'll rub yours'.

I also noted a couple of weeks ago when Pepys was writing out the orders to various officers to give them posts on various ships, the officers felt obliged to give gifts of money to Pepys when he presented them with their commissions.

About Tuesday 29 May 1660

MarkS  •  Link

Answers to the currency calculation questions - and methods of working them out without a calculator.

1. 3 bottles at 1s 4d is 4 shillings. 2 bottles at 2s 8d is 5s 4d. Total 9s 4d, so just over 3s each. Call it 3s 2d each to make it simple and the innkeeper gets 2d extra.

2. Half a crown is 30 pence, so 10d - easy.

3. Call it 2½ weeks for simplicity. Seven and six for two weeks, plus 1 shilling ten pence ha'penny for half a week. That makes 9 shillings four pence ha'penny. But she actually worked half a day less than that, and she earns a bit more than sixpence a day, so subtract thruppence, and it's just over 9 shillings. Call it 9s 2d.

4. Twenty pounds is 400 shillings. 1% of that is 4 shillings, 8% is 32 shillings. In a quarter of a year the interest is 8 shillings.

5. 4d per day is 28d per week, i.e. 2s 4d. For 7 weeks that's 14s 28d or 16s 4d each. That's 3s 8d less than a pound. So for eight labourers it's 8 pounds less 24s 64d, or £1/9/4. So £7 less 9s 4d, is £6 10s 8d total.

About Tuesday 29 May 1660

MarkS  •  Link

@Al Doman

Very true. And the advantage of a guinea is that it's divisible by 7 (number of days in a week), and also by 14, 21, 28.

7x36, 14x18, 21x12, 28x9