At the office all the morning. At noon Sir W. Pen and I making a bargain with the workmen about his house, at which I did see things not so well contracted for as I would have, and I was vexed and made him so too to see me so critical in the agreement. Home to dinner. In the afternoon came the German Dr. Kuffler,1 to discourse with us about his engine to blow up ships. We doubted not the matter of fact, it being tried in Cromwell’s time, but the safety of carrying them in ships; but he do tell us, that when he comes to tell the King his secret (for none but the Kings, successively, and their heirs must know it), it will appear to be of no danger at all. We concluded nothing; but shall discourse with the Duke of York to-morrow about it. In the afternoon, after we had done with him, I went to speak with my uncle Wight and found my aunt to have been ill a good while of a miscarriage, I staid and talked with her a good while. Thence home, where I found that Sarah the maid had been very ill all day, and my wife fears that she will have an ague, which I am much troubled for. Thence to my lute, upon which I have not played a week or two, and trying over the two songs of “Nulla, nulla,” &c., and “Gaze not on Swans,” which Mr. Berkenshaw set for me a little while ago, I find them most incomparable songs as he has set them, of which I am not a little proud, because I am sure none in the world has them but myself, not so much as he himself that set them. So to bed.
- This is the secret of Cornelius van Drebbel (1572-1634), which is referred to again by Pepys on November 11th, 1663. Johannes Siberius Kuffler was originally a dyer at Leyden, who married Drebbel’s daughter. In the “Calendar of State Papers, Domestic,” 1661-62 (p. 327), is the following entry: “Request of Johannes Siberius Kuffler and Jacob Drebble for a trial of their father Cornelius Drebble’s secret of sinking or destroying ships in a moment; and if it succeed, for a reward of 10,000l.. The secret was left them by will, to preserve for the English crown before any other state.” Cornelius van Drebbel settled in London, where he died. James I. took some interest in him, and is said to have interfered when he was in prison in Austria and in danger of execution.