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War and sex

Samuel Pepys is at war. Or rather, England is at war with the Dutch; and Samuel Pepys, as senior administrator with the Navy Board, is deeply engaged with it. Last month, in a prolonged battle fought from 1 to 4 June 1666, the British were defeated, though not decisively.

In last night's diary entry, Pepys tells how he had drafted a new paper on victualling the fleet, and was waiting for the King to come out of chapel to show it to him, when there came "people out of the Parke, telling us that the guns are heard plain. And so every body to the Parke, and by and by the chappell done, and the King and Duke into the bowling-green, and upon the leads [the roof], whither I went, and there the guns were plain to be heard."

Once again, battle is raging at sea, and the government have no idea how it is going. Pepys hangs around court as long as seems practical (getting some of the King's food and drink - the latter actually cooled with ice, an unthinkable luxury). But the working day is disrupted beyond repair.

So Pepys checks in with three of his lovers, and ends up going home with his wife. (Who was "twatling" at Lady Penn's. Whatever that means.)

For future developments, check pepysdiary.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 26th, 2009 07:11 am (UTC)
Wow, how brilliant! Thank you for that link, I've added it to my list. :D
Jul. 26th, 2009 08:22 am (UTC)
Related to twaddle, I expect. I don't think Sam is deliberately disrespectfully describing his wife and Lady Penn as talking egregious nonsense, but just meaning to say they were chatting.

Jul. 26th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC)
I suspect 'twatling' was a forerunner of twitting - before it became a brand name and an international time waster.
Jul. 27th, 2009 11:43 am (UTC)
And so every body to the Parke ... and upon the leads, whither I went, and there the guns were plain to be heard

It's about 70 miles from the North Foreland to Whitehall. Could the sound of the guns really travel that far?
Jul. 27th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
No noise from motorways or industry to drown them out in those days!

I remember on 11 December 1985, sitting in Armagh Observatory where I was working at the time, I clearly and loudly heard an IRA mortar attack on the police station at Tynan 10 miles away across hilly countryside with lots of trees and hedgerows. I imagine that the naval guns of 1666 were more powerful than the IRA's arsenal, and don't see any implausibility in the sound carrying up the flat water of the Thames estuary (which perhaps may have had a funneling, intensifying effect as well).
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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