Up, and by coach to St. James’s, where I find Sir W. Coventry, and he desirous to have spoke with me. It was to read over a draught of a letter which he hath made for his brother Commissioners and him to sign to us, demanding an account of the whole business of the Navy accounts; and I perceive, by the way he goes about it, that they will do admirable things. He tells me they have chosen Sir G. Downing their Secretary, who will be as fit a man as any in the world; and said, by the by, speaking of the bankers being fearful of Sir G. Downing’s being Secretary, he being their enemy, that they did not intend to be ruled by their Secretary, but do the business themselves. My heart is glad to see so great hopes of good to the nation as will be by these men; and it do me good to see Sir W. Coventry so cheerfull as he now is on the same score. Thence home, and there fell to seeing my office and closet there made soundly clean, and the windows cleaned. At which all the morning, and so at noon to dinner. After dinner my wife away down with Jane and W. Hewer to Woolwich, in order to a little ayre and to lie there to-night, and so to gather May-dew to-morrow morning,1 which Mrs. Turner hath taught her as the only thing in the world to wash her face with; and I am contented with it. Presently comes Creed, and he and I by water to Fox-hall, and there walked in Spring Garden. A great deal of company, and the weather and garden pleasant: that it is very pleasant and cheap going thither, for a man may go to spend what he will, or nothing, all is one. But to hear the nightingale and other birds, and here fiddles, and there a harp, and here a Jew’s trump, and here laughing, and there fine people walking, is mighty divertising. Among others, there were two pretty women alone, that walked a great while, which being discovered by some idle gentlemen, they would needs take them up; but to see the poor ladies how they were put to it to run from them, and they after them, and sometimes the ladies put themselves along with other company, then the other drew back; at last, the last did get off out of the house, and took boat and away. I was troubled to see them abused so; and could have found in my heart, as little desire of fighting as I have, to have protected the ladies. So by water, set Creed down at White Hall, and I to the Old Swan, and so home. My father gone to bed, and wife abroad at Woolwich, I to Sir W. Pen, where he and his Lady and Pegg and pretty Mrs. Lowther her sister-in-law at supper, where I sat and talked, and Sir W. Pen, half drunk, did talk like a fool and vex his wife, that I was half pleased and half vexed to see so much folly and rudeness from him, and so late home to bed.
- If we are to credit the following paragraph, extracted from the “Morning Post” of May 2nd, 1791, the virtues of May dew were then still held in some estimation; for it records that “on the day preceding, according to annual and superstitious custom, a number of persons went into the fields, and bathed their faces with the dew on the grass, under the idea that it would render them beautiful” (Hone’s “Every Day Book,” vol. ii., p. 611). Aubrey speaks of May dew as “a great dissolvent” (“Miscellanies,” p. 183).—B. ↩