Friday, November 9, 2012

The Diary of Samuel Pepys: 71% Complete

As you can see, I haven't gotten much reading done lately.  But it's a long weekend now, so I'm hoping to get up to 80% by Tuesday.  We'll see how that goes.  I want to give big shout out to all our military veterans out there on this Veteran's Day weekend here in the States.  We appreciate all you have done and all you have sacrificed.
Today instead of a vocabulary word, I have a phrase or sort of proverb for you that I rather liked.  The phrase is, as Pepys writes it, "I am afraid my cake will be doe [dough] still."  My edition of the diary has some editor's notes, which are very helpful, and they explain this to mean that one's hopes are lost, because if you put a cake into the oven and it's still dough when you take it out, it is considered ruined.  The note references another usage of this phrase from Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew in which he says, "My cake is dough, but I'll in among the rest. Out of hope of all, but my share in the feast."
I have two quotes for today, both of which relate to Pepys' usage of early scientific instruments.  First he writes,
"Creed and I took coach and to Reeves, the perspective glass maker, and there did indeed see very excellent microscopes, which did discover a louse or mite or sand most perfectly and largely."
Later on he says,
"We did also at night see Jupiter and his girdle and satellites, very fine, with my twelve-foote glasse but could not Saturne, he being very dark.  Spong and I had also several fine discourses upon the globes this afternoon, particularly why the fixed stars do not rise and set at the same houre all yeare long, which he could not demonstrate, nor I neither, the reason of."
These passages were surprising to me, as Pepys was not a scientist, but rather simply a Renaissance man: interested in all aspects of knowledge, and this was very early on (the first passage was from 1663 and the second from 1666) in the usage of either a microscope or a telescope, as I believe his "twelve-foot glass" was. (He also later purchased a microscope of his own).
According to Wikipedia, the first microscopes were probably created in the 1590's and the name "microscope" was coined in 1625, a mere thirty-eight years before Pepys would use it.  The first telescopes were being built in 1608 and 1609 with Newton creating the first reflecting telescope in 1668. 


  1. Pepys was not a scientist, but he was a "curiosii" and a founding member (elected 1665)of the Royal Society of London, which included such notables as Hooke and Newton; he was even President at one point in his life (1684). Sir Isaac Newton dedicated his Principia Mathmetica to Pepys.

    1. Yes, he was certainly interested in mathamatics and sciences. I just thought it was interesting how quickly these inventions got to him.