Monday 26 June 1665

Up and to White Hall with Sir J. Minnes, and to the Committee of Tangier, where my Lord Treasurer was, the first and only time he ever was there, and did promise us 15,000l. for Tangier and no more, which will be short. But if I can pay Mr. Andrews all his money I care for no more, and the bills of Exchange. Thence with Mr. Povy and Creed below to a new chamber of Mr. Povy’s, very pretty, and there discourse about his business, not to his content, but with the most advantage I could to him, and Creed also did the like. Thence with Creed to the King’s Head, and there dined with him at the ordinary, and good sport with one Mr. Nicholls, a prating coxcombe, that would be thought a poet, but would not be got to repeat any of his verses. Thence I home, and there find my wife’s brother and his wife, a pretty little modest woman, where they dined with my wife. He did come to desire my assistance for a living, and, upon his good promises of care, and that it should be no burden to me, I did say and promise I would think of finding something for him, and the rather because his wife seems a pretty discreet young thing, and humble, and he, above all things, desirous to do something to maintain her, telling me sad stories of what she endured with him in Holland, and I hope it will not be burdensome. So down by water to Woolwich, walking to and again from Greenwich thither and back again, my business being to speak again with Sheldon, who desires and expects my wife coming thither to spend the summer, and upon second thoughts I do agree that it will be a good place for her and me too. So, weary, home, and to my office a while, till almost midnight, and so to bed. The plague encreases mightily, I this day seeing a house, at a bitt-maker’s over against St. Clement’s Church, in the open street, shut up; which is a sad sight.

19 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"a bitt-maker"

What had been called a lorimer
(obsolete) A person who makes the bits and other metal parts of a horse's bridle, and other small metal pieces
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lorimer

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... did promise us 15,000l. for Tangier and no more, ..."

Cash, or just other forms of Royal debt obligations?

"But if I can pay Mr. Andrews all his money I care for no more, and the bills of Exchange."

Do we know what SP' is charging as Andrews a 'facilitation fee' (a.k.a. rake-off), it can not just be a kindness to keep Andrews in untroubled voice as a musical partner.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... and the rather because his wife seems a pretty discreet young thing, ..."

Potential as a 'flower' for SP's horticultural pursuits?

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"my Lord Treasurer...did promise us 15,000l. for Tangier and no more, which will be short."

See last Saturday 24 June 1665: "I with Creed and Povy attended my Lord Treasurer, and did prevail with him to let us have an assignment for 15 or 20,000l., which, I hope, will do our business for Tangier." http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1665/06/24/

In the event, L&M note, a warrant for £17,500 was issued on 28 June.

jeannine   Link to this

Gee, I don't know what is more exciting this month-- winning the Battle of Lowestoft or the return of Balty! So for the historical factor, we'll have to vote #1, for the hysterical factor we'll have to vote for #2.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Balty's back and Esther's got him.

Sad stories of what they did endure in Holland, eh? Why did they end up in Holland I wonder? What possible thing could bring that gallant fighter for Christendom, Balthazar Marchant de St. Michel away from the courageous field of Empire vs Turk to the lair of the English foe? What possible attraction could the enemy of his adopted country have for a spendthrift, penniless, would be aristocrat who happens to be related by marriage to the English Navy's key adminstrative figure?

Actually, given Sam's surprisingly warm welcome and willingness to help, I half suspect Balty made some careful observations for future reference with an eye to pleasing his brother-in-law while in Holland.

Well, Bess must be pleased. And Sam owes her after her week showing Mum a grand time.

***
"...good sport with one Mr. Nicholls, a prating coxcombe, that would be thought a poet, but would not be got to repeat any of his verses." Perhaps, but smart enough to keep his mouth shut. Did he just affect the poetical manner of the day? Rakish throwing of cloak over shoulder...Sighing air with careful, long-drawn out musings off into space...Heavy drinking bouts, with a phrase or two dropped at just the right moment?

"What s fool..." Sam concludes at home.

"Oh, no." Bess waving torn paper hastily. "I've read his latest work...Uh...Mother Pepys and I just happened to drop by the tavern where he gives readings every Thursday. For our supper."

Ahem...

"'Love, a Cheat'...Isn't that a brilliant title?"

"Brilliant..." Mercer echoes. Sigh...

"What?!!!"

"Yeah. It's a great title..." giggling smile. "He says the sheet is so worn and torn because he threw it away one night and had to go find it in the street. You know, Sam'l...It's amazing how like your hand his is..."

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"But if I can pay Mr. Andrews all his money I care for no more..."

Tangier colony...

"Pepys, you say? The new Treasurer who's gone and left us with no food or ammunition?"

"Yes, effendi. A Samuel Pepys, that's P-e-p-y-s, not Peeps. The letters our ships captured confirm it. My poor English brethren...Though we differ in religion our hearts have bled for your sufferings. Take yourselves safely home now and avenge your honor on this vulture who preys on you and the bones of your dead and abandoned brothers. I believe the letters gave his address as..."

"Seething Lane, my emir." a servant interjects.

"Yes." the Turk nods solemnly. "May his hideous death at the hands of you and your men bring some peace to you. A safe journey to England my friend."

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"Why did they end up in Holland I wonder?"

L&M say since early 1664 Balthazar's been in the Dutch army (they don't say what his position/s was/were).

CGS   Link to this

bitt-maker:
he be not a maker of flasks or odds and ends or
a maker of drills.
OED: I. Biting; what one bites. All Obs. or dial.
1. a. The act or action of biting; a BITE. at a bit: at one bite; also fig. Obs.
c893

II. The ‘biting’ part of anything.

5. The cutting blade or edge of an edged tool, axe, spade, etc. (obs.); the point of a pickaxe.
c133

6. a. The biting or cutting end or part of a tool; spec. the movable boring-piece of a drill (e.g. brace and bit, stock and bit), or a similar tool for use with the ratchet, drilling machine, boring machine, etc.; the borer for clearing the vent of a gun; the cutting-iron of a plane, the nipping parts or jaws of tongs, pincers, and similar tools.
1594

1660 SHARROCK Vegetables 109 Get a strong hoe, of a good broad bit.
1677 GREW Anat. Seeds iv. §14 The Lobes..are shaped like the Bitt of a Spade.

CGS   Link to this

nor a maker of piece of bread and it known as bit of a bite, but
8. a. The mouthpiece of a horse's bridle, consisting of the metal bit-mouth, and adjacent parts, to which the reins are attached. (It is not clear whether the word in this sense signifies that which the horse bites, or that which bites or grips the horse's mouth. OE. had bitol bridle, frænum; ON. bitull, bitill bit of a bridle; the Da. is bid, Sw. bett, Du. gebit, Ger. gebisz.)

1613 SHAKES. Hen. VIII, V. iii. 23 Stop their mouthes with stubborn Bits & spurre 'em.
e. comb., as bit-bridle, bit-chain, -maker, -mouth, -rein.
1577 HELLOWES Gueuara's Ep. 72 Alexander the Great did write unto Pulion his Bitmaker. 1

GrahamT   Link to this

Ahh, CGS has the bit between his teeth on this one. (sorry, couldn't resist)

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Interesting that Balty should be so well received by Sam after fighting(? or at least considering it) on the opposing side.

Spoiler...Sam will use Balty as a confidential agent in the future, particularly during the "Captain Scott" affair and while I understand things were more tolerant regarding shifting allegiances then I can't wondering if Balty wasn't doing something for him in Holland-just having someone observing the fleet and how things were progressing as well as the general mood would be quite valuable intelligence.

Bradford   Link to this

Excellent plot device, for Balty to reappear right now, just in time for the Plague. Speaking of which, remember it when next we meet Llewelyn (Luellin).

"good sport with one Mr. Nicholls, a prating coxcombe, that would be thought a poet, but would not be got to repeat any of his verses."

How different from today, when they commence unprompted, and cannot be got to stop.

Bradford (aka the Shelley de nos jours)

dirk   Link to this

Balthazar St Michel is mentioned in an article in the "Journal for Maritime Research", May 2001: "Re-creating a seventeenth-century sea officer"
http://www.jmr.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/conJmrArti...

quote
"Letters written by Phineas Bowles and Balthazar St Michel show the problems of naval store keeping at Gibraltar and Lisbon in the mid-1680s"
unquote

http://www.jmr.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/conJmrArti...

CGS   Link to this

Ah! GT, I usually bite off more than I can chew too.

Sjoerd   Link to this

"telling me sad stories of what she endured with him in Holland,"

Then Netherlands had their "plague year" the year before. Maybe it goes too far to speculate, but an english/french/huegenot foreign couple traveling or connected to the army... will not have been made to feel very welcome.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Poor Esther...And we sometimes think Bess and Margaret have it bad.

***
Hmmn...It was that easy to go from one combatant nation to another in wartime?

Spoiler...

Of course a good part of the Dutch fleet at Medway will be composed of embittered British seamen who somehow slipped out.

Gus Spier   Link to this

Bitt-maker, alternatives ... Definitions of bitts on the Web:

* The wooden structure (two uprights supporting one crossbar) on the upper deck of sailing ships to which the ends of sheets (ropes to haul sails .....

* A frame of strong oak timber bolted to the deck beams in the fore part of a ship to which were secured the cables when the ship rode to anchor

Australian Susan   Link to this

Bits

As this is a dense urban area, i think making small bits for bridles is a more likely occupation for this poor man than big structures for ships.

On the subject of bits, i watched a recent Time Team (OK, yes, recent for Down Here - prob. shown yonks ago in dear old Blighty....) where they had unearthed a Roman bit. They had it replicated and tried it out on local Pony Clubites (well, their ponies to be more accurate - though one is tempted sometimes...). They proved that the Romans in the far North of England (up on the Wall) were either riding tiny ponies (12.2hh) or ones with Very Small Mouths (they inclined to the former) but that the bit was far more gentle and cleverly designed to be more effective than anything around today. There you are - bit (pun intended) of horsy trivia for you.

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