The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Source: Samuel Pepys, Diary, entry for 19 August 1666, online version http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1666/08/19/

Text: Sunday 19 August 1666

(Lord’s day). Up and to my chamber, and there began to draw out fair and methodically my accounts of Tangier, in order to shew them to the Lords. But by and by comes by agreement Mr. Reeves, and after him Mr. Spong, and all day with them, both before and after dinner, till ten o’clock at night, upon opticke enquiries, he bringing me a frame he closes on, to see how the rays of light do cut one another, and in a darke room with smoake, which is very pretty. He did also bring a lanthorne with pictures in glasse, to make strange things appear on a wall, very pretty. 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 the yeare long, which he could not demonstrate, nor I neither, the reason of. So, it being late, after supper they away home. But it vexed me to understand no more from Reeves and his glasses touching the nature and reason of the several refractions of the several figured glasses, he understanding the acting part, but not one bit the theory, nor can make any body understand it, which is a strange dullness, methinks. I did not hear anything yesterday or at all to confirm either Sir Thos. Allen’s news of the 10 or 12 ships taken, nor of the disorder at Amsterdam upon the news of the burning of the ships, that he [De Witt] should be fled to the Prince of Orange, it being generally believed that he was gone to France before.

Comments: Samuel Pepys (1663-1703) was a British naval administrator, MP and diarist. In between the speculations on astronomy, using a telescope of some kind, is the earliest account in English of a magic lantern. London optician Richard Reeves was a manufacturer of optical instruments and the first person to sell magic lanterns in Britain (from 1663), from his shop in Long Acre, London, though the Reeves referred to here is believed to be one or other of his sons, John and Richard. Three days after this account, Pepys purchased a ‘lanthorne’ (“and so home, and there find Reeves, and so up to look upon the stars, and do like my glasse very well, and did even with him for it and a little perspective and the Lanthorne that shows tricks, altogether costing me 9l. 5s. 0d” i.e. £9 5s). A projecting lantern with lens is generally accepted to have been invented by the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens in 1659.

Links: The Diary of Samuel Pepys

This entry was posted in 1660s, Diaries, United Kingdom and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *