Up and by water to White Hall and so to St. James’s, to Mr. Coventry; where I had an hour’s private talk with him. Most of it was discourse concerning his own condition, at present being under the censure of the House, being concerned with others in the Bill for selling of offices. He tells me, that though he thinks himself to suffer much in his fame hereby, yet he values nothing more of evil to hang over him for that it is against no statute, as is pretended, nor more than what his predecessors time out of mind have taken;1 and that so soon as he found himself to be in an errour, he did desire to have his fees set, which was done; and since that he hath not taken a token more. He undertakes to prove, that he did never take a token of any captain to get him employed in his life beforehand, or demanded any thing: and for the other accusation, that the Cavaliers are not employed, he looked over the list of them now in the service, and of the twenty- seven that are employed, thirteen have been heretofore always under the King; two neutralls, and the other twelve men of great courage, and such as had either the King’s particular commands, or great recommendation to put them in, and none by himself. Besides that, he says it is not the King’s nor Duke’s opinion that the whole party of the late officers should be rendered desperate. And lastly, he confesses that the more of the Cavaliers are put in, the less of discipline hath followed in the fleet; and that, whenever there comes occasion, it must be the old ones that must do any good, there being only, he says, but Captain Allen good for anything of them all. He tells me, that he cannot guess whom all this should come from; but he suspects Sir G. Carteret, as I also do, at least that he is pleased with it. But he tells me that he will bring Sir G. Carteret to be the first adviser and instructor of him what to make his place of benefit to him; telling him that Smith did make his place worth 5000l. and he believed 7000l. to him the first year; besides something else greater than all this, which he forbore to tell me. It seems one Sir Thomas Tomkins of the House, that makes many mad motions, did bring it into the House, saying that a letter was left at his lodgings, subscribed by one Benson (which is a feigned name, for there is no such man in the Navy), telling him how many places in the Navy have been sold. And by another letter, left in the same manner since, nobody appearing, he writes him that there is one Hughes and another Butler (both rogues, that have for their roguery been turned out of their places), that will swear that Mr. Coventry did sell their places and other things. I offered him my service, and will with all my heart serve him; but he tells me he do not think it convenient to meddle, or to any purpose, but is sensible of my love therein. So I bade him good morrow, he being out of order to speak anything of our office business, and so away to Westminster Hall, where I hear more of the plot from Ireland; which it seems hath been hatching, and known to the Lord Lieutenant a great while, and kept close till within three days that it should have taken effect. The term ended yesterday, and it seems the Courts rose sooner, for want of causes, than it is remembered to have done in the memory of man. Thence up and down about business in several places, as to speak with Mr. Phillips, but missed him, and so to Mr. Beacham, the goldsmith, he being one of the jury to-morrow in Sir W. Batten’s case against Field. I have been telling him our case, and I believe he will do us good service there. So home, and seeing my wife had dined I went, being invited, and dined with Sir W. Batten, Sir J. Minnes, and others, at Sir W. Batten’s, Captain Allen giving them a Foy‘ dinner, he being to go down to lie Admiral in the Downs this summer. I cannot but think it a little strange that having been so civil to him as I have been he should not invite me to dinner, but I believe it was but a sudden motion, and so I heard not of it. After dinner to the office, where all the afternoon till late, and so to see Sir W. Pen, and so home to supper and to bed. To-night I took occasion with the vintner’s man, who came by my direction to taste again my tierce of claret, to go down to the cellar with him to consult about the drawing of it; and there, to my great vexation, I find that the cellar door hath long been kept unlocked, and above half the wine drunk. I was deadly mad at it, and examined my people round, but nobody would confess it; but I did examine the boy, and afterwards Will, and told him of his sitting up after we were in bed with the maids, but as to that business he denies it, which I can [not] remedy, but I shall endeavour to know how it went. My wife did also this evening tell me a story of Ashwell stealing some new ribbon from her, a yard or two, which I am sorry to hear, and I fear my wife do take a displeasure against her, that they will hardly stay together, which I should be sorry for, because I know not where to pick such another out anywhere.
- This reminds one of the prosecution of Sir. Francis Bacon of an earlier century. Queen Elizabeth established then, for the first time, salaries for government officers, that they need not provide a living for themselves by selling offices and services. D.W.