Hangman

The always-interesting Sam Pepys put this reflection in his diary on May 28, 1661:

… [T]here saw the hangman burn, by vote of Parliament, two old acts, the one for constituting us a Commonwealth, and the others I have forgot. Which still do make me think of the greatness of this late turn, and what people will do tomorrow against what they all, through profit or fear, did promise and practise this day.

“This late turn”:  Burning these acts would expunge them from Britain’s official memory, but not from Britain’s history.  Pepys was born in 1633; already his life had seen Charles I beheaded, Cromwell’s republic, and the restoration of the monarchy.  The issues which drove these revolutions were not settled during Sam’s life, and it likely wasn’t entirely clear that the situation had fully stabilized. 

An interesting and metaphorical expansion, by the way, of the function of the hangman.