Saturday 2 April 1664

Up and to my office, and afterwards sat, where great contest with Sir W. Batten and Mr. Wood, and that doating fool Sir J. Minnes, that says whatever Sir W. Batten says, though never minding whether to the King’s profit or not. At noon to the Coffee-house, where excellent discourse with Sir W. Petty, who proposed it as a thing that is truly questionable, whether there really be any difference between waking and dreaming, that it is hard not only to tell how we know when we do a thing really or in a dream, but also to know what the difference [is] between one and the other. Thence to the ‘Change, but having at this discourse long afterwards with Sir Thomas Chamberlin, who tells me what I heard from others, that the complaints of most Companies were yesterday presented to the Committee of Parliament against the Dutch, excepting that of the East India, which he tells me was because they would not be said to be the first and only cause of a warr with Holland, and that it is very probable, as well as most necessary, that we fall out with that people. I went to the ‘Change, and there found most people gone, and so home to dinner, and thence to Sir W. Warren’s, and with him past the whole afternoon, first looking over two ships’ of Captain Taylor’s and Phin. Pett’s now in building, and am resolved to learn something of the art, for I find it is not hard and very usefull, and thence to Woolwich, and after seeing Mr. Falconer, who is very ill, I to the yard, and there heard Mr. Pett tell me several things of Sir W. Batten’s ill managements, and so with Sir W. Warren walked to Greenwich, having good discourse, and thence by water, it being now moonshine and 9 or 10 o’clock at night, and landed at Wapping, and by him and his man safely brought to my door, and so he home, having spent the day with him very well. So home and eat something, and then to my office a while, and so home to prayers and to bed.

43 Annotations

Terry F   Link to this

"whether there really be any difference between waking and dreaming"

The discussion goes back to Plato, but had been given new impetus by Descartes' *Meditations*, which essayed to secure indubitable certainty for knowledge by systematically doubting common beliefs about the world, ourselves and God. He began the First Meditation by doubting whether we can know we are not dreaming: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-epi...

Re Descartes, see also http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/6622/

Terry F   Link to this

"to the Coffee-house, where excellent discourse with Sir W. Petty, who proposed it as a thing that is truly questionable, whether there really be any difference between waking and dreaming"

Are there such coffee-houses anymore? There were rare places like this in the 1960's. And -- ecce -- the discussion-leader is a leading intellectual. one of "the King's "virtuosos," Sir William Petty, co-founder of the Royal Society.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

I hear such discussions at some good Starbucks, Terry. But more seriously there's still many a great funky place about. I know of one I'm very fond of in Southbridge, Massachusetts that does open discussion, storytelling, and poetry, the Half-Moon Cafe. Really, it's more a lack of people willing to sit and talk than a shortage of good spaces...Folks seems to shy away from discussions these days where they can't edit the content of their remarks. (Let me type that over).

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

Sounds to me as if Sir William Petty should lay off that wormwood ale for his morning draught...

Terry F   Link to this

Does anyone else wonder what Mr. Pepys thinks of the war talk?

cape henry   Link to this

Ideal moment to ask that question TF, because there is no indication in the diary entries so far that he is looking at the situation professionally, that is, from the standpoint of his position and the impact that a war would certainly have on him personally, etc. Todays contretemps with the office crowd seems to be over routine matters, and they have become routine for us readers as well. One would think, however, that he would, given his temperament, be looking ahead and wondering aloud, but it may be that since this issue is so far removed into the political system that it is yet too abstract, like weather. All this folderol of mine just to say, "Yes, TF, I wonder what Pepys does think about the war talk."

cumsalisgrano   Link to this

Dreaming and reality: for moi , be two differing worlds, because my five external sensors are turned off, and my internall sensors are not complaining about sustenance, and by leaving my seventh to warn me of impending doom, allow me to wander off to the ether, letting my grey mattter coast while the sub-conconcious goes about updating and cleaning up the days mess. If on the other hand my food proceesing system be over loaded with unusual life forms [dead, grapes etc.,] then the grey matter fails to close down the system, then I be visualizing the future/past world, then the brain gets abit agittated.
We are but the what grey matter says we are.
The subconcious still can record the sensor imports, like when thee have been ethered, many are aware of the enviroment.
Coffee house be a great place to fuel the brain with sweet liquid to stimulate and process the audio input along with some visuals.
Des Cartes idea of Ergo.. is very scary, so install thy blue tooth, and Ipod and......

Australian Susan   Link to this

JK Rowling wrote a lot of Harry Potter in coffee shops.

Australian Susan   Link to this

"there heard Mr. Pett tell me several things of Sir W. Batten's ill managements,"
Sam seems rather to enjoy all this tittle-tattle. Mr Pett knows which horse to back.

Would Sam be familiar with Plato? Or Descartes?
(are other people humming the tune of the Philosophers' Drinking song from Monty P? Or is it just me who's lowering the tone here?)

Sam had a very late night tonight, but didn't comment on it. Must have been about midnight. Wonder what time he'll get up tomorrow?

Australian Susan   Link to this

For those who don't know:

http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/...

bchan   Link to this

Shades of Descartes! Our Sam ponders the central question of ontology: is anything real? To this day no one has discovered a satisfactory answer. For all Sam knew then (and for all each of us know right now) everything we are experiencing is a dream. We all believe that the "real world" exists, of course -- but it is extremely important to realize that our confidence in the "real world" is very much a belief, not a demonstrable fact. The act of accepting the existence of a real world external to and separate from onself is an act of faith; thus, even the scientific/materialist worldview is ultimately a faith-based worldview. Skeptical Baconian science demands objective evidence; to the true skeptic, therefore, the evidence of a reality outside onseself is debatable, having as its source one's subjective senses. The only thing an honest skeptic can know with certainty is that which he requires no sensory inputs to know: that he himself exists. Cogito, ergo sum

cumsalisgrano   Link to this

DesCartes: spoke of his luck to have the funds to have his needs satisfied by living off a private income that allowed him to THINK, along many other amateure brains , having time not to assume but look for a QED: The new foods and drinks sugars, I doth believe stimulated this thought expansion. The rest of us had 24/7 to get minimum caloric intake, so never could lett the little old grey cells run wild.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

"Would Sam be familiar with ... Descartes?"
Yes. In the entries for 5 August 1663 and 8 August 1663, he records discussing Descartes with his brother John.
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/08/05/
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/08/08/

Ruben   Link to this

Are there such coffee-houses anymore?
Human discourse and dialogue began eons ago. From seating around a fire, from standing in the forum or the local market (shuk), we moved to the tea or coffe house, that still prevails in many places.
We are in a transitional period were human dialogue is moving away from direct contact to the ethereal roads of ciberspace. Isn't it that we have forum's on the net? Isn't it that people seat in a "Net-coffe place" everyone with his laptop and in complete silence?
Discourse and dialogue have moved away from the tongue to the fingers and from our ears to our eyes.

GrahamT   Link to this

The pub has taken over from the coffee house. Every Saturday night throughout the British Isles, all the problems of the world and all the intractable philosophical questions are solved over several pints of beer. I, myself have solved Fermat's last theorum on the back of a beermat. Unfortunately, by Sunday morning, no one can remember what the solutions were.
As DesCartes said, according to Monty Python, (see Susan's link above) "I drink, therefore I am."

Robert Gertz   Link to this

What's curious to me regarding the war talk is that there seems to be either no real planning going on at the Naval Office, presumably the major department of government dealing with a naval war against the Dutch...Or Sam is almost totally locked out of the loop of war planning. While I don't expect the German General Staff of the two World Wars with a raft of "Cases" outlining every possible wartime strategy (except perhaps 'what if we actually conquer France? Could win in Africa? Spend a month in Russia waiting for the Leader to recover from dysentery?') I would expect someone to be doing some evaluation and planning... Holmes at least seems active but Sandwich, the premier battle fleet commander is solely preoccupied with card games and debts...We hear nothing of Penn or Batten considering where to place the fleet or what moves to make to take on the Dutch fleet. It's a little reminisent of the first months of the American Civil War on the Rebel side... "We gonna whip them Yankees." But nobody even asking...How?

Xjy   Link to this

Dreams and waking

Hm, Bchan, things aren't that simple. The act of objectifying thought to make it perceptible involves language and symbolic manipulation, and although the brain is preprogrammed for this, it requires sensory input to trigger it. Your "honest skeptic" would know zilch without sensory input from the surrounding world and language from other people. I think - therefore I am part of a human community in this world.

Objectifying something also makes it external. We make our self external to ourselves (considered as Subject-thinking capacity) when we speak of self-consciousness. The act of thinking is unknowable directly, just as the brain lacks feeling. Every perception we have of thought etc is indirect and preprocessed and only possible cos the thought etc is already a "dead" product of our living thinking processes.

Obviously we can't be "absolutely" or "100%" certain of anything given this. This worried the Greeks and others, and led Plato to absolutify reality into his ideas, giving us conditional access to absolute certainty and truth. The more empirically inclined paid lip service to this absolute truth but got on with empirically investigating sensuality and our real-life thoughts about it anyway (eg Aristotle, Descartes, Kant), banishing inquiries into "reality as such" to metaphysics. Hegel also paid this kind of lip service but blew the lot of them sky-high doing so, as he gave an incredibly thorough analysis and categorization of the modes of thought and attitudes to consciousness etc they had employed in their various approaches (esp in The Phenomenology of the Spirit).

This cleared away all the mumbo-jumbo except for the Absolute Spirit and its final embodiment among humanity in the Prussian state bureaucracy. When this was tossed out all the power of Thought and the Ideal was able to be reinstated in human consciousness where it belongs and in the interaction of individual humans and the human community that together, and quite materially, constitute the sphere of human consciousness.

This'll do for the moment in relation to "dreaming and waking". The whole discussion is really a typical idealist red herring, epitomized by Bishop Berkeley and his solipsism. "Let the rich and powerful suck your blood and destroy your bodies for their own material enjoyment, it's only a dream anyway , and there'll be pie in the sky bye and bye, and the rich and powerful really love you so much they just do all this hard enjoyment for your sake alone."

And Sam just cultivates his cabbages, allowing himself the occasional diverting observation about the ways of the world and the behaviour of kings and masters, and the occasional whimsical reference (as now) to philosophy as a curio. As long as his station is bearable, he's quite ready to ride along on the coattails of the rich and powerful and let them decide the big questions for him. But the more dependent he grows on his own little world, the less human contact he has with those outside it.

djc   Link to this

"I, myself have solved Fermat's last theorum on the back of a beermat." Unfortunately the beermat was too small for the proof.

Pedro   Link to this

"What's curious to me regarding the war talk is that there seems to be either no real planning going on at the Naval Office,"

Robert, this has also puzzled me, but perhaps this could be the time when the momentum for war gathers pace. The mentions of the war so far seem to have been from the merchants and politicians with vested interest in trade. But the old sea dogs are sleeping, which may suggest that the preparations are still in the hands of an inner circle including the Duke, Prince Rupert and Coventry. Any whiff of definite plans would soon get them aroused...

(The Dukes attitude was representative of more widespread feelings among the Cavalier officers who had entered the service after 1660. A Dutch war would provide more opportunities for employment than had been available for many years, an opportunity to build reputations and fortunes...Gentlemen and Tarpaulins by Davies.)

Many blame Holmes for the start of two Dutch wars, but he has been specifically chosen by the inner circle to deliberately provoke the Dutch. They know that he is the right man to be over zealous. The instructions given to him by Coventry seem to be worded so as to give him enough scope to exceed.

The other day the Parliament were incited, and so maybe will not have long to wait until the reality dawns and we may find out Sam's thoughts.

J A Gioia   Link to this

a thing that is truly questionable, whether there really be any difference between waking and dreaming. . . .

Sam: "I refute Petty thus!!!" (Kicks at large rock, foot goes sailing through it. Hat turns into swan.)

Sam: ". . . Right."

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Still puzzles me Pedro that they've sent Holmes off and the Duke is eager for war yet no one seems to have convened a meeting of the top naval personnel...Especially not Sandwich, given his current behavior as described by Sam. One would think the dutiful Jamie would be holding constant meetings with all top commanders if only to rally support and "stand ready" and Sam would be eagerly noting the activity...Or gripping that Penn and Batten are in the elite active personnel circle whilst he the real organizer of victory is locked out. Beyond that...Our boy is notable for anticipating things...While he has shown a little interest in acquiring strategic knowledge about the Dutch, there seems no urgency on his part to be in position to dominate the wartime Naval scene.

Of course, that may not be a bad thing...

"I'm not getting tagged as the planner of this coming disaster..." Sam sighs contentedly as he dodges yet another attempt by Penn to get him in on strategic planning...

Bradford   Link to this

If things are going the way you wish them, without let or hindrance, and the consummation of your desires draws near, you are dreaming.

Terry F   Link to this

"If things are going the way you wish them, without let or hindrance, and the consummation of your desires draws near, you are dreaming."

The pro-war-party thinking of the glory to come.

jeannine   Link to this

"Still puzzles me Pedro that they've sent Holmes off and the Duke is eager for war yet no one seems to have convened a meeting of the top naval personnel"
What was pointed out in the bio of Holmes (which Pedro gave me as a 'reading assignment' and I finally finished!) is that Holmes was sent out with orders that gave him leeway to provoke the Dutch, but that those giving those orders wanted the flexibility to also disavow any of his actions. Therefore, if it seemed that Holmes' activity swayed towards an unfavorable reaction back home, then Coventry could hang Holmes out to dry and cover his true intentions of favoring a war. Coventry has a bit of snake in him and it's not clear that Sam will see this for what it is.
To Holmes advantage he can make some good money for himself along that way, as long a he can tolerate the risk.
Personally, I don't think it's fair for Sam to pass a judgment on Sandwich. Why should Sandwich want to be involved in provoking a war when there's nothing in it for him. He's probably passing time while the other busy bodies do their clandestine politicking. I'd rather be playing cards too.

cumsalisgrano   Link to this

Planning : be part of pro's {professionals and those that be trained in the arts of combat} This is the period of Amateurs, not unlike those participating in a game of Rugby and Cricket [wait! let me finish this pint then I be with thee for the start whistle], war was practiced on the back wall of Eton and its ilk.
War , Oh! collect a bunch of ships, round up some ne'er do wells to let out sails, oh! by the way, get more cheese and bickeys from the lads on Seething Lane.
Organising and planning ahead was still in its infancy, Cromwell started with his Army and Navy, previously it was a question, ask ones wealthy buddies [ The Barons ] for a use of some of lads and the merchants for a few sailing vessels with a few cannons. Holmes etal., were sanctioned pirates.
Even the Artillery was an amature sport, that was called upon in time of need.
The Battle of Britain was the Last time that weekenders went off to battle after a pint a beer, went on their spits and tally ho'ed. It proved disastrous, so many failed on their first venture, that it was neccessary to practice and be preconditioined to fight.
Link trainers have improved and thus more can survive the first emersion of war.

Terry F   Link to this

"Organising and planning ahead was still in its infancy"

?? The lads did read Thucydides and Caesar....

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Methinks Admiral DeRuyter's staff will turn out to be a bit better prepped...

Jeannine, you raise the question I was wondering about before...Is Sam not truly in the loop for all his organizing frenzy and his insistence that he is only one actually working in the office? Even if Coventry is keeping Holmes' mission to some extent a state secret, one would think there would be an effort to plan for the next act.

On the other hand, there is Admiral Yamamoto's famous "Then what?" remark when he explained his strategy could offer Japan about six to twelve months of victory in the Pacific...Then there'd better be an exit strategy as there could be a little trouble as the US got its industry and forces mobilized. Apparently no one at the top levels cared to read his memo...Hey, the beaten Allies will just negotiate, right?

Gus Spier   Link to this

"Organising and planning ahead was still in its infancy"

?? The lads did read Thucydides and Caesar....

Well, so did I. But I can't claim that I learned from 'em. Have we any reason to believe that these fellows remembered any of the classics that were drilled into their heads?

r,

Gus

cumsalisgrano   Link to this

H. of C. did look into the problems of loss of bickees ,ships and weak London ale.

Members of the House do not want its merchant[s] ships delivered to sea pirates.
see
merchant ships
Vintners. [ Please no watered down lagers.]
A Bill for the speedy levying of the Forfeitures incurred by Vintners, and Sellers of Beer and Ale; and for preventing Frauds and Abuses in Selling of Wine, Beer, and Ale; was read the Second time.

then no pilfering of stores
Seamen and Naval Stores.
An ingrossed Bill to prevent the Disturbances of Seamen, and others; and to preserve the Stores belonging to his Majesty's Navy Royal; was read.

From: 'House of Commons Journal Volume 8: 2 April 1664', Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8: 1660-1667 (1802), pp. 541-42. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?com.... Date accessed: 03 April 2007.

Glyn   Link to this

Anyone who is in Amsterdam in the next few months - the National Maritime Museum has a special exhibition on De Ruyter with English-language commentaries and I highly recommend it.

Previously Coventry has expressed disquiet about going to war with the Dutch, and Pepys has tended to follow him perhaps because of his respect for him, but that's definitely a minority view. James, Duke of York, is definitely one of the leading pro-war party and once he's convinced his brother then that's it, especially as people think they can run this war at a profit.

As to why Sandwich and Penn don't appear to be preparing for war; it seems to me that it's correct to say that they're out of the loop. The Navy Board's function isn't high-level strategic planning, it's to get the basic things done. This would mean things such as building up stores and speeding up the routine repairs of the ships but that's expensive and they're still working to a peacetime budget until Parliament votes them more funding. In any case Sandwich does seem bored with his life at the moment - he's a fighting seaman who's also interested in his country estate but who has to be in London for the sake of his career not because he wants to be there.

Terry F   Link to this

How the classics are read depends

on trends.

Pepys was still living in the broad downstream of the Renaissance, i.e., the rebirth of ancient high culture -- even theatre. We've seen how epitaphs were written in Latin, the international language of learning. The difference between the ancients and modernity was broached in 1690 by Sir William Temple's *An Essay upon the Ancient and Modern Learning* in which he argued for the superiority of the ancients over the moderns. I.a., the ancients were superior teachers -- about, e.g., morals and military preparedness. Thucydides was read for what he said about war as a feature of political life and about strategy.

(A link to Jonathan Swift's *The Battle of the Books*
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/battle.... )

I would argue that the great gulf between antiquity and modernity, with a preference for the latter, was defined most sharply a century later when Friedrich Schlegel, in *Athenaeum* (1798), defined Romantic poetry as progressive and dynamic contra classical "beauty" and fixity. The classics were to be read so as to be assimilated and transformed for contemporary, Romantic works. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/schlegel/#RomTur

F. Schlegel's era Thucydides was C.P.G. von Clausewitz, author of *Vom Kriege* (*On War*)(1832), but, since war is a constant, Thucydides continued and continues to be read. http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/CWZBASE.htm

Pedro   Link to this

"Coventry has a bit of snake in him"

Sam says..."excepting that of the East India, which he tells me was because they would not be said to be the first and only cause of a warr with Holland"

Holmes has sailed with ships loaned by the King to aid the Company, whose affairs are managed by a committee of six which included William Coventry, who drafted the instructions. Coventry has money tied up in this!

It does seem strange that the promoters of war think that they only have to turn up to win.

Terry F   Link to this

Seamen and Naval Stores.

An ingrossed Bill to prevent the Disturbances of Seamen, and others; and to preserve the Stores belonging to his Majesty's Navy Royal; was read.
And some Amendments being, upon the Question, agreed; and made at the Table;
Resolved, &c. That the Bill do pass: And that the Title shall be, An Act to prevent the Disturbances of Seamen and others; and to preserve the Stores belonging to his Majesty's Navy Royal.
And Mr. Coventry is to carry up the Bill to the Lords for their Concurrence.

From: 'House of Commons Journal Volume 8: 2 April 1664', Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8: 1660-1667 (1802), pp. 541-42. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?com.... Date accessed: 03 April 2007.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

"Holmes was sent out with orders that gave him leeway to provoke the Dutch, but that those giving those orders wanted the flexibility to also disavow any of his actions"

Why am I suddenly hearing viols scraping along in 5/4 time? "Good luck, Captain Holmes. These papers will self-destruct -- well, you're *ordered* to burn them -- in 5 seconds..."

jeannine   Link to this

"Good luck, Captain Holmes. These papers will self-destruct -- well, you're *ordered* to burn them -- in 5 seconds..."
Todd, while I was typing my entry above, I was thinking of the old episodes of "Mission Impossible" where the orders would be given and then the tape recorder would explode --sort of a similar situation for Holmes.

Also, as Pedro confirms -those with money tied up in the Holmes activity (Coventry) would be all for war, while those with no incentive (Sandwich) would rather enjoy their non-political lives. Sam probably isn't aware of the extent of the selfish motives behind the instigators or those egging them on.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"So...It really is war, then?" Sir William Penn eyes Pepys who eyes Sir William Batten who eyes Sir John Minnes who is busy snoring soundly...

Damn...Hoped it was just the usual royal blustering...

"It does appear so, Sir Will...Apparently Captain Holmes has already engaged them in Africa. They could likely strike back at any moment." Sam nods.

Hmmn...

"I see. And Mr. Coventry and the Duke would like us to come with a strategic plan before tomorrow's meeting at Whitehall?"

"That was the gist of his and the Duke's words to me, Sir Will." Sam nods.

Hmmn...

"And we are fighting the Dutch, correct?"

"They said so...Whether anyone else is included, they didn't mention."

Hmmn... "Right...Well..." glance around the Board...

"Any one have any ideas?"

Nervous glances about...

"Any one? Pepys, you're always full of notions...And you're close to Lord Sandwich who is our best battle commander. What's his take on this?"

"I believe Mr. Coventry was just about to tell him we were at war, Sir Will."

Hmmn...

"Well, you know when I stopped home for dinner my wife had a good idea about approaching King Louis about an alliance..." Sam offers.

"Oh?" A ray of hope? "Hmmn...Pepys, that's not bad."

Sir John offers an emphatic snore of support...

"But a bit difficult if we're already at war..." Batten shakes head. "Louis can just sit tight and wait for one of us to beg for help."

"Right...Well, I suppose we could have you, Pepys, ask Lord Sandwich if he might consider taking command of the fleet. How about heading over and asking him before dawn? In fact, tell him the King commands him on his allegiance to take the fleet and wage all-out, vigorous war."

"But we have no plan, Sir Will. And we're on a peacetime footing with no funding for war preparations."

"Well...Maybe the Dutch are still, too...That would give us some time. Besides, it's Lord Sandwich's problem now."

"Here, here..." Sir John chimes in, blinking...

"You know, my Bess and I were reviewing her geography after dinner...And she asked if we were planning to move the fleet to blockade the Dutch coast and cut off their East India trade..."

Hmmn...Again, not bad... "Think you could bring her over after you call on Lord Sandwich so she could explain the idea?"

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"Vat do you mean the Englanders have no plan? They have made an attack and declared war on us."

"Mine Heer Admiral...I have been posing as a clerk in the Englander Naval Office for months. Most of them, including the senior officers, don't even know they are at war."

"Vat kind of fool nation declares war without a plan?"

Whitehall...

"Coventry...Jamie...Say, did we win that war with...Ummn...That place on the coast..."

"The Dutch, sire..." Coventry sighs.

"Right, yes."

***

cumsalisgrano   Link to this

RG: ye forgot the brandy sniffer, and best Oporto wines for some clear thinking. QED

Jacqueline Gore   Link to this

Penn's made a wise choice. Bess surely couldn't do worse as a strategic planner, Robert. Besides, she's been revealed by you to be a heroic superheroine vampire slayer, a better-than Bond (well at least Balty) spy, and a cool-headed spy mistress (we shall let her evil papist agent side sit in another Pepysian universe). Why not England's 17th century Clausewitz?

Oooh, I'm forgetting scientific genius and discoverer of Uranus (Minerva), aren't I? And they ask "is there nothing Sam can't do?".

Pedro   Link to this

"Coventry has a bit of snake in him(2)"

Ollard in his biography of Holmes says of Coventry...

"No one...can ever quite escape the fascination of that brilliant intelligence, that incisiveness of expression and that handwriting, at once exquisite and unaffected, in which they are recorded. Never obscure, never crabbed, never irrational, he seems to personify civilisation and efficiency."

"...After the war Coventry wrote a manuscript of some ten pages on the causes and lessons to be learned, dismissing any Machiavellian policy...Coventry himself was generally recognised as one of the leaders or the war party. But this, of course, was before its gigantic cost and disastrous unpopularity had come close to ruining his own public career."

Ollard picks a passage concerning Holmes and the Guinney Company from the manuscript.

"...that the Guinney Company ...grew very violent in their debates against the Dutch, and nothing would serve but their sending ships of force to the coast of Africa to support their trade...Upon design Captain Holmes was sent in the Jersey, a man of an understanding fit to make war, and a courage to make it good; in the latter few go beyond him; in the former few come short....though the instructions were pretty bold, yet served not the Captain's turn, who not having the patience to stay till he came to the Gold Coast meeting some Dutch ships outward bound at or near Cape Verde, he seized them and fell to shooting at the Fort (on which we had no claim) and by the cowardice of those within it, it was surrendered to him..."

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Clearly a first-rate biography of the fascinating William Coventry is overdue...Unless someone can suggest...?

Glyn   Link to this

Reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon "The Ultimate Crime": Lucy and Charlie Brown are standing peacably next to each other when for no apparent reason Lucy punches him to the ground. "Why did you do that" Linus asks as Charlie Brown lies dazed on the ground. "He was standing where I wanted to walk" replies Lucy.

Can anyone suggest a world ranking of nations at this particular date? - obviously you'd try to avoid wars with bigger ones than yourself.

I'm assuming the two most powerful are China and France, but then who's next? At this point England are probably below Sweden, Russia, Austria but are lucky enough to be on the edge of things and not get sucked into wars they don't need.

cumsalisgrano   Link to this

No 1: Surely The Ottoman Empire is Contender along with Holy Roman Empire ?:
The Meditteranean zone be an area of conflict and one of the causes for the growth of the English Navy, in fact this month Parliament was trying to instil backbone, in that an English Merchantman should not give into Corsairs that operated at the blessing of Constantinople:

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