Up, and walked to Greenwich, taking pleasure to walk with my minute watch in my hand, by which I am come now to see the distances of my way from Woolwich to Greenwich, and do find myself to come within two minutes constantly to the same place at the end of each quarter of an houre. Here we rendezvoused at Captain Cocke’s, and there eat oysters, and so my Lord Bruncker, Sir J. Minnes, and I took boat, and in my Lord’s coach to Sir W. Hickes’s, whither by and by my Lady Batten and Sir William comes. It is a good seat, with a fair grove of trees by it, and the remains of a good garden; but so let to run to ruine, both house and every thing in and about it, so ill furnished and miserably looked after, I never did see in all my life. Not so much as a latch to his dining- room door; which saved him nothing, for the wind blowing into the room for want thereof, flung down a great bow pott that stood upon the side- table, and that fell upon some Venice glasses, and did him a crown’s worth of hurt. He did give us the meanest dinner (of beef, shoulder and umbles of venison1 which he takes away from the keeper of the Forest, and a few pigeons, and all in the meanest manner) that ever I did see, to the basest degree. After dinner we officers of the Navy stepped aside to read some letters and consider some business, and so in again. I was only pleased at a very fine picture of the Queene-Mother, when she was young, by Van-Dike; a very good picture, and a lovely sweet face. Thence in the afternoon home, and landing at Greenwich I saw Mr. Pen walking my way, so we walked together, and for discourse I put him into talk of France, when he took delight to tell me of his observations, some good, some impertinent, and all ill told, but it served for want of better, and so to my house, where I find my wife abroad, and hath been all this day, nobody knows where, which troubled me, it being late and a cold evening. So being invited to his mother’s to supper, we took Mrs. Barbara, who was mighty finely dressed, and in my Lady’s coach, which we met going for my wife, we thither, and there after some discourse went to supper. By and by comes my wife and Mercer, and had been with Captain Cocke all day, he coming and taking her out to go see his boy at school at Brumly [Bromley], and brought her home again with great respect. Here pretty merry, only I had no stomach, having dined late, to eat. After supper Mr. Pen and I fell to discourse about some words in a French song my wife was saying, “D’un air tout interdict,” wherein I laid twenty to one against him which he would not agree with me, though I know myself in the right as to the sense of the word, and almost angry we were, and were an houre and more upon the dispute, till at last broke up not satisfied, and so home in their coach and so to bed. H. Russell did this day deliver my 20s. to my wife’s father or mother, but has not yet told us how they do.
- Dr. Johnson was puzzled by the following passage in “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” act v., sc. 3: “Divide me like a bribe-buck, each a haunch. I will keep the sides to myself; my shoulders for the fellow of this walk.” If he could have read the account of Sir William Hickes’s dinner, he would at once have understood the allusion to the keeper’s perquisites of the shoulders of all deer killed in his walk. — B. ↩