Wednesday 13 April 1664

Though late, past 12, before we went to bed, yet I heard my poor father up, and so I rang up my people, and I rose and got something to eat and drink for him, and so abroad, it being a mighty foul day, by coach, setting my father down in Fleet Streete and I to St. James’s, where I found Mr. Coventry (the Duke being now come thither for the summer) with a goldsmith, sorting out his old plate to change for new; but, Lord! what a deale he hath! I staid and had two or three hours discourse with him, talking about the disorders of our office, and I largely to tell him how things are carried by Sir W. Batten and Sir J. Minnes to my great grief. He seems much concerned also, and for all the King’s matters that are done after the same rate every where else, and even the Duke’s household matters too, generally with corruption, but most indeed with neglect and indifferency. I spoke very loud and clear to him my thoughts of Sir J. Minnes and the other, and trust him with the using of them. Then to talk of our business with the Dutch; he tells me fully that he believes it will not come to a warr; for first, he showed me a letter from Sir George Downing, his own hand, where he assures him that the Dutch themselves do not desire, but above all things fear it, and that they neither have given letters of marke against our shipps in Guinny, nor do De Ruyter stay at home with his fleet with an eye to any such thing, but for want of a wind, and is now come out and is going to the Streights. He tells me also that the most he expects is that upon the merchants’ complaints, the Parliament will represent them to the King, desiring his securing of his subjects against them, and though perhaps they may not directly see fit, yet even this will be enough to let the Dutch know that the Parliament do not oppose the King, and by that means take away their hopes, which was that the King of England could not get money or do anything towards a warr with them, and so thought themselves free from making any restitution, which by this they will be deceived in. He tells me also that the Dutch states are in no good condition themselves, differing one with another, and that for certain none but the states of Holland and Zealand will contribute towards a warr, the others reckoning themselves, being inland, not concerned in the profits of warr or peace. But it is pretty to see what he says, that those here that are forward for a warr at Court, they are reported in the world to be only designers of getting money into the King’s hands, they that elsewhere are for it have a design to trouble the kingdom and to give the Fanatiques an opportunity of doing hurt, and lastly those that are against it (as he himself for one is very cold therein) are said to be bribed by the Dutch. After all this discourse he carried me in his coach, it raining still, to, Charing Cross, and there put me into another, and I calling my father and brother carried them to my house to dinner, my wife keeping bed all day … . . All the afternoon at the office with W. Boddam looking over his particulars about the Chest of Chatham, which shows enough what a knave Commissioner Pett hath been all along, and how Sir W. Batten hath gone on in getting good allowance to himself and others out of the poors’ money. Time will show all. So in the evening to see Sir W. Pen, and then home to my father to keep him company, he being to go out of town, and up late with him and my brother John till past 12 at night to make up papers of Tom’s accounts fit to leave with my cozen Scott. At last we did make an end of them, and so after supper all to bed.

16 Annotations

Pedro   Link to this

"he showed me a letter from Sir George Downing, his own hand, where he assures him that the Dutch themselves do not desire, but above all things fear it"

"You have infinite advantages upon account of the form of government of this country (United Provinces) which is such a shattered and divided thing; and though the rest of the provinces give Holland their votes, yet nothing is more evident or certain than that Holland must expect to bear the burden. Even Zeeland can do very little, for that is very poor, and the other provinces they neither can nor will."

(Boxer...The Dutch Seaborne Empire)

Terry F   Link to this

"my wife keeping bed all day . . . . "

"my wife keeping bed all day, she having those upon her."

So L&M, Pepys apparently having come to an understanding with us, his Readers, about "months." Will we ever be able to read or hear of "those" again without thinking of, ah, umn, Wheatley or his Monarch?

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...he tells me fully that he believes it will not come to a warr; for first, he showed me a letter from Sir George Downing, his own hand, where he assures him that the Dutch themselves do not desire, but above all things fear it, and that they neither have given letters of marke against our shipps in Guinny, nor do De Ruyter stay at home with his fleet with an eye to any such thing..."

Sounds like Coventry, faced with the hard evidence of the unfitness of navy and country for war, is getting cold feet rapidly...

Alas...Too late to recall Holmes.

Terry F   Link to this

"and so I rang up my people,..."

How contemporary rings this phrase: Pepys as macher (Yiddish for 'a guy who gets things done').

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"He tells me also that the Dutch states are in no good condition themselves, differing one with another, and that for certain none but the states of Holland and Zealand will contribute towards a warr, the others reckoning themselves, being inland, not concerned in the profits of warr or peace."

"Those silly colonists will never unite to fight us!"

"Spanish dogs governed by English shopkeepers...I fear them not!"

"I shall make peace with Alexander at the point of my sword at St. Petersburg."

"Them Yankees'll never fight! A Southern gentleman is worth ten Yankee hirelings."

"Our enemies (The Allies) are little worms...I saw them at Munich."

"We have but to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure (USSR) will collapse."

"We'll bomb them back into the Stone Age."

"We will shock and awe them."

Patricia   Link to this

Robert, I must add this quote, famous in my country:

President Thomas Jefferson [was convinced] that taking Canada would be "a mere matter of marching."

http://www.amazon.com/Invasion-Canada-Battles-W...

cumsalisgrano   Link to this

"The Athenians and the Spartans fought for one reason only- because they were powerful and were compelled to seek more power." Hobbes I do think. Fight occurs only when the thinking is it will be an easy win. And he that starts usually ends up with hi inflation and it will take another generation to restore the wealth, along as they retain some freedom to restore their coffers [ chests ].
And so it goes on , Boys like fighting and girls luv te watch, as long as they be winning.
Charles still needs parliament, his friend the Sun King has him on subsidy, but not enough to be able to keep the Commons Mob down back on the commons along with the gooses.
Must legalise the collection of monies so that cheese and crackers and processed dung can be purchased.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

to talk of our business with the Dutch ...

"It will all be over by Christmas."

Robert Gertz   Link to this

I suppose the question now is, is Coventry just getting nervous as the real thing approaches and he sees just how poor the state of the Navy is for war or is he really now turned against the war...Or was he always against it but had to maintain a public face of support with the Duke which is only cracking in the presence of Sam, a man who knows the real score.

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !

Pepys's account of the gathering war fever is fascinating because it is so fragmentary, leaving those of us not specialists in the history of these events to weigh conflicting impressions. For example, Coventry for (Pedro in the annotations for April 2) or against (Glyn April 2 and today's Pepys) the war? http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1664/04/02/#ann...
I think we are now in the pre-war assessment period, where individual motives are being balanced against political and military realities, and principals are weighing the possibility of gaining their aims without a fight. A profit motive has been advanced in the annotations. James and Coventry may profit from expanding the trade of the East India Company by dislodging the Dutch. Coventry has written instructions to Capt. Holmes aimed at testing Dutch resolve. James of York leaves Sam the strong impression he wants Parliament to give the king authority to fight the Dutch ( April 1 diary). But he then chats up Sam on several occasions about the Navy, and today Coventry tells Sam he's "very cold" on going to war. Coventry says he thinks a strong resolution by Parliament will be enough to let the Dutch know England feels abused, and cites Downing's letter as evidence the Dutch are not prepared for war. Not being spoiled by more than vague knowledge of what's to come, I'm eager to read Sam's next installment on this plot.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

he believes it will not come to a warr ...

Coventry's position; in the end the Dutch will back off and the situation will be managed without fighting, I think assumes the knowledge that "we beat them the last time."

However, the mercantile clamor "we beat them before but the so-and-so's won't behave beaten; us poor 'victims' of continuous trade aggression will have to do it again ....;" the court "allow/encourage the clamor, it gets us money from parliament for programs, jobs for the boys, and the popular wind behind our rule;" and, not least, the possibility of substantial windfall profits for all from prizes; taken together do not appear to encourage or allow a rational calculation of English weaknesses / Dutch strengths, or to leave open the possibility of negotiated resolution. The dispute is now framed, and has been inflamed, in such a general manner by the English that any 'specific solutions to specific problems' approach will not be available to them.

First Anglo-Dutch War, 1652 - 54
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Anglo-Dutch_War

Terry F   Link to this

"Mr. Coventry (the Duke being now come thither for the summer) with a goldsmith, sorting out his old plate to change for new"

I'm not *sure* I understand. Is this more than a seasonal change/updating of place-settings?

Spring cleaning.

"In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle,...." (NRSV)

cumsalisgrano   Link to this

"...old plate to change for new..." Could it be that the Plate has the look of Cromwellian era attached ? Remember anything that has memory of Commonwealth smell attached, has to be eradicated, or too puritanical an straight laced in color, need of more saucy Restoration Tupper ware for the entertaining elitist royalists.

Terry F   Link to this

"In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle,...." 2 Samuel 11:1a and 1 Chronicles 20:1a.

Ruben   Link to this

"In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle,"
Let's not forget that the previous words come just before "David arose from his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon"...and the rest of Bathsheva's story.
War and sex machinations, just like 1664.

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

Well summed, Michael.

Merchant clamor, royal politics and principals' greed
"taken together do not appear to encourage or allow a rational calculation of English weaknesses / Dutch strengths, or to leave open the possibility of negotiated resolution"

Gives the whole affair a somewhat tragic cast, and helps explain why, because they are driven by the mixed motives of people who see aggression as the means to their ends, "policy" wars can go awry.

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