(Lord’s day). Lay long, merrily talking with my wife, and then up and to church, where a dull sermon of Mr. Mills touching Original Sin, and then home, and there find little Michell and his wife, whom I love mightily. Mightily contented I was in their company, for I love her much; and so after dinner I left them and by water from the Old Swan to White Hall, where, walking in the galleries, I in the first place met Mr. Pierce, who tells me the story of Tom Woodall, the surgeon, killed in a drunken quarrel, and how the Duke of York hath a mind to get him [Pierce] one of his places in St. Thomas’s Hospitall. Then comes Mr. Hayward, the Duke of York’s servant, and tells us that the Swede’s Embassador hath been here to-day with news that it is believed that the Dutch will yield to have the treaty at London or Dover, neither of which will get our King any credit, we having already consented to have it at The Hague; which, it seems, De Witt opposed, as a thing wherein the King of England must needs have some profound design, which in my conscience he hath not. They do also tell me that newes is this day come to the King, that the King of France is come with his army to the frontiers of Flanders, demanding leave to pass through their country towards Poland, but is denied, and thereupon that he is gone into the country. How true this is I dare not believe till I hear more. From them I walked into the Parke, it being a fine but very cold day; and there took two or three turns the length of the Pell Mell: and there I met Serjeant Bearcroft, who was sent for the Duke of Buckingham, to have brought him prisoner to the Tower. He come to towne this day, and brings word that, being overtaken and outrid by the Duchesse of Buckingham within a few miles of the Duke’s house of Westhorp, he believes she got thither about a quarter of an hour before him, and so had time to consider; so that, when he come, the doors were kept shut against him. The next day, coming with officers of the neighbour market-town to force open the doors, they were open for him, but the Duke gone; so he took horse presently, and heard upon the road that the Duke of Buckingham was gone before him for London: so that he believes he is this day also come to towne before him; but no newes is yet heard of him. This is all he brings. Thence to my Lord Chancellor’s, and there, meeting Sir H. Cholmly, he and I walked in my Lord’s garden, and talked; among other things, of the treaty: and he says there will certainly be a peace, but I cannot believe it. He tells me that the Duke of Buckingham his crimes, as far as he knows, are his being of a caball with some discontented persons of the late House of Commons, and opposing the desires of the King in all his matters in that House; and endeavouring to become popular, and advising how the Commons’ House should proceed, and how he would order the House of Lords. And that he hath been endeavouring to have the King’s nativity calculated; which was done, and the fellow now in the Tower about it; which itself hath heretofore, as he says, been held treason, and people died for it; but by the Statute of Treasons, in Queen Mary’s times and since, it hath been left out. He tells me that this silly Lord hath provoked, by his ill- carriage, the Duke of York, my Lord Chancellor, and all the great persons; and therefore, most likely, will die. He tells me, too, many practices of treachery against this King; as betraying him in Scotland, and giving Oliver an account of the King’s private councils; which the King knows very well, and hath yet pardoned him.1 Here I passed away a little time more talking with him and Creed, whom I met there, and so away, Creed walking with me to White Hall, and there I took water and stayed at Michell’s to drink. I home, and there to read very good things in Fuller’s “Church History,” and “Worthies,” and so to supper, and after supper had much good discourse with W. Hewer, who supped with us, about the ticket office and the knaveries and extortions every day used there, and particularly of the business of Mr. Carcasse, whom I fear I shall find a very rogue. So parted with him, and then to bed.
Two of our greatest poets have drawn the character of the Duke of Buckingham in brilliant verse, and both have condemned him to infamy. There is enough in Pepys’s reports to corroborate the main features of Dryden’s magnificent portrait of Zimri in “Absolom and Achitophel”:
In the first rank of these did Zimri stand; A man so various that he seemed to be Not one, but all mankind’s epitome; Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong; Was everything by starts, and nothing long,
But, in the course of one revolving moon, Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon; Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking, Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking, * * * * * * * He laughed himself from Court, then sought relief By forming parties, but could ne’er be chief.
Pope’s facts are not correct, and hence the effect of his picture is impaired. In spite of the duke’s constant visits to the Tower, Charles II. still continued his friend; but on the death of the king, expecting little from James, he retired to his estate at Helmsley, in Yorkshire, to nurse his property and to restore his constitution. He died on April 16th, 1687, at Kirkby Moorside, after a few days’ illness, caused by sitting on the damp grass when heated from a fox chase. The scene of his death was the house of a tenant, not “the worst inn’s worst room” (Moral Essays,” epist. iii.). He was buried in Westminster Abbey. ↩