Saturday 30 June 1666

Up, and to the office, and mightily troubled all this morning with going to my Lord Mayor (Sir Thomas Bludworth,1 a silly man, I think), and other places, about getting shipped some men that they have these two last nights pressed in the City out of houses: the persons wholly unfit for sea, and many of them people of very good fashion, which is a shame to think of, and carried to Bridewell they are, yet without being impressed with money legally as they ought to be. But to see how the King’s business is done; my Lord Mayor himself did scruple at this time of extremity to do this thing, because he had not money to pay the pressed-money to the men, he told me so himself; nor to take up boats to carry them down through bridge to the ships I had prepared to carry them down in; insomuch that I was forced to promise to be his paymaster, and he did send his City Remembrancer afterwards to the office, and at the table, in the face of the officers, I did there out of my owne purse disburse 15l. to pay for their pressing and diet last night and this morning; which is a thing worth record of my Lord Mayor. Busy about this all the morning, at noon dined and then to the office again, and all the afternoon till twelve at night full of this business and others, and among these others about the getting off men pressed by our officers of the fleete into the service; even our owne men that are at the office, and the boats that carry us. So that it is now become impossible to have so much as a letter carried from place to place, or any message done for us: nay, out of Victualling ships full loaden to go down to the fleete, and out of the vessels of the officers of the Ordnance, they press men, so that for want of discipline in this respect I do fear all will be undone. Vexed with these things, but eased in mind by my ridding of a great deale of business from the office, I late home to supper and to bed. But before I was in bed, while I was undressing myself, our new ugly mayde, Luce , had like to have broke her necke in the darke, going down our upper stairs; but, which I was glad of, the poor girle did only bruise her head, but at first did lie on the ground groaning and drawing her breath, like one a-dying. This month I end in much hurry of business, but in much more trouble in mind to thinke what will become of publique businesses, having so many enemys abroad, and neither force nor money at all, and but little courage for ourselves, it being really true that the spirits of our seamen and commanders too are really broke by the last defeate with the Dutch, and this is not my conjecture only, but the real and serious thoughts of Sir G. Carteret and Sir W. Coventry, whom I have at distinct times heard the same thing come from with a great deale of grief and trouble. But, lastly, I am providing against a foule day to get as much money into my hands as I can, at least out of the publique hands, that so, if a turne, which I fear, do come, I may have a little to trust to. I pray God give me good successe in my choice how to dispose of what little I have, that I may not take it out of publique hands, and put it into worse.

  1. As his conduct during the Great Fire fully proved, when he is said to have boasted that he would extinguish the flames by the same means to which Swift tells us Gulliver had recourse at Lilliput. — B.

18 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"As his conduct during the Great Fire fully proved, when he is said to have boasted that he would extinguish the flames by the same means to which Swift tells us Gulliver had recourse at Lilliput.—B"

Swift wrote: "The case seemed wholly desperate and deplorable; and this magnificent palace would have infallibly been burnt down to the ground, if, by a presence of mind unusual to me, I had not suddenly thought of an expedient. I had, the evening before, drunk plentifully of a most delicious wine called glimigrim, (the Blefuscudians call it flunec, but ours is esteemed the better sort,) which is very diuretic. By the luckiest chance in the world, I had not discharged myself of any part of it. The heat I had contracted by coming very near the flames, and by labouring to quench them, made the wine begin to operate by urine; which I voided in such a quantity, and applied so well to the proper places, that in three minutes the fire was wholly extinguished, and the rest of that noble pile, which had cost so many ages in erecting, preserved from destruction."
http://snipurl.com/l73fo

A. Hamilton   Link to this

Thanks Terry. Brings to mind A.J. Liebling quoting Earl
Long as saying to Louisiana politician Camille Gravel, "Camille, you ain't nothin' but an old pissant." I think Long enjoyed the double-entendre.

A. Hamilton   Link to this

An air of panic rises from the last two entries. California politicians no doubt feel much the same way tonight as they face their inability to meet the deadline (Midnight PDT = 8AM June 1 BST) to cover $24 billion of the state's debts.

Carl in Boston   Link to this

he would extinguish the flames by the same means to which Swift tells us Gulliver had recourse at Lilliput
Hard to stay on topic with this one, but I think it means, it means, it means
"England expects every Manne to do his Duty".

Paul Chapin   Link to this

City Remembrancer

The Remembrancer is one of the City’s Chief Officers and the role dates back to 1571. His traditional role is as the channel of communications between the Lord Mayor and the City of London on the one hand and the Sovereign, Royal Household and Parliament on the other. The Remembrancer is also the City's Ceremonial Officer and Chief of Protocol.

The Remembrancer’s department at the City of London is broken into three distinct branches of work - parliamentary, ceremonial and private events. The parliamentary office is responsible for looking after the City of London's interests in Parliament with regard to all public legislation, while the ceremonial office’s objectives are to enable the Lord Mayor and City of London to welcome high profile visitors both domestically and internationally. Functions staged range from small receptions to major state dinners. Finally, the private events team co-ordinate the hiring of the Guildhall for private banquets, receptions or conferences.

- Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_remembrancer

Eric Walla   Link to this

15 l. from your own purse, Sam!?! I hope this if for demonstration purposes only, solidarity with the cause and all. Perhaps he needs to make a big impression so he won't get pressed himself ...

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... my Lord Mayor himself did scruple at this time of extremity to do this thing, because he had not money to pay the pressed-money to the men, he told me so himself;... insomuch that I was forced to promise to be his paymaster, and he did send his City Remembrancer afterwards to the office, ..."

Charles's credit is beyond shot if neither the City as a corporate body nor a wealthy merchant personally will produce 15L and they collect the cash up front from the Navy Board; no wonder SP is concerned to grab as much as he can of his own from the wreck.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"Invade your 'poor' brother Charles' kingdom, dear Minette? Ha, ha, ha...Credit me with at least as much sense as my Dutch allies. Whyever would I wish to take on such a bankruptcy?"

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Pressing the men needed to man the ships to supply the fleet...That is bad. Will Hewer and Tom Hayter had best tred carefully after dark.

Wim van der Meij   Link to this

I remember from the books about Horatio Hornblower that almost anyone could fall victim to the infamous press gangs during the French wars. This habit existed in Sam's time too apparently.
Wikipedia has a long entry on impressment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Press_gangs

Australian Susan   Link to this

".....So that it is now become impossible to have so much as a letter carried from place to place, or any message done for us: nay, out of Victualling ships full loaden to go down to the fleete, and out of the vessels of the officers of the Ordnance, they press men, so that for want of discipline in this respect I do fear all will be undone...."

Can't you hear Sam's exasperation at this crazy state of affairs!

"... new ugly mayde..."

Hired solely by Elizabeth, I assume?

City Remembrancer - sounds like a title Mervyn Peake might have invented for Gormenghast.

classicist   Link to this

I'm surprised by the Wikipedia entry saying that impressment was used only by the navy. Impressment into the army was a very hot issue during the English Civil Wars, and there were repeated demands by Parliament's soldiers for a guarantee of immunity from any further impressment. Maybe the practice died out because infantrymen frequently deserted in droves, while sailors couldn't?

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Of course, for an island nation the navy is the main thing (pun intended).

classicist, can you edit/correct the Wikipedia article?!

Ruben   Link to this

“As his conduct during the Great Fire fully proved, when he is said to have boasted that he would extinguish the flames by the same means to which Swift tells us Gulliver had recourse at Lilliput.—B”

There is another instance in wich Swift's solution was used, but not to put down a fire.
It is said (by apocryphal authors) that when preparing the German invasion, Hitler had millions of soldiers kneeling in the French beaches and ordered them to drink the Channel waters, so they could walk to England.
Churchill, who knew Swift by heart, was on the other side of the Channel, had millions of English soldiers relieving themself in Dover.

Carl in Boston   Link to this

England expects every Manne to do his duty
even in the channel.
Har, har, that's a good one. Yay Ruben.

language hat   Link to this

"Press" in this sense has nothing to do with the usual English word, it's from "prest (money)" = "ready" (from French prest, now prêt). I wrote about it here: http://www.languagehat.com/archives/001899.php

Nix   Link to this

Impressment is a bit more peremptory, but doesn't seem to be any different in principle from the military draft in our times.

GrahamT   Link to this

Nix, there was a discussion about this back in June 1664: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1664/06/04/#c13...
I thought that receiving a letter telling you "go to war or go to gaol", wasn't so different to getting a tap on the shoulder and being told "go to war or go to gaol", but not everyone agreed.

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