Tuesday 28 May 1667

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.

  1. 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.

10 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

St Alban to Ormond
Written from: Colombe
Date: 28 May 1667

Thanks the Lord Lieutenant for care of certain of the writer's concernments in Ireland.

The King [ of France] is marched from Peronne to besiege Charleroi ... "Our friend Colonel Murphy ... is ... Governor" there. ..."Normentiers & La Basse are slighted, and the French already possessed of them". ...

Asks his correspondent to tell him something of his mind concerning "the politics of the neighbours, among whom we are not the least concerned. ... we must grow bold enough to speak plainly & to the point". "I have been", adds the writer, "long very frank in that part of this matter which hath been of late the question:- That was to be rid of the fetters that tied us, hand & foot. These are [ now ], as it were taken off. But how the liberty we have obtained is to be used, is a nicer point. And yet, within a little while, I will be as frank forward as I have been hitherto. It would be a great fault that the suspicion that lies upon me of being 'such a Monsieur', should keep me from being as good an Englishman, as I am in Duty bound to be". ..

http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects...

JWB   Link to this

Jew's harp

I recall taking a twang or two in my youth and found its playing very annoying. Not only does it vibrate the front teeth, but the metal taste is offensive & the sound of teeth on metal is cringing.

language hat   Link to this

"I was troubled to see them abused so"

Hahahaha! Excuse me, I meant to say:

"Divertise" was an infrequent variant of "divert"; the OED cites this entry:

Hence divertising ppl. a., entertaining, amusing.
1655 Theophania 84 His humour [was] so divertising. 1667 PEPYS Diary 28 May, 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. 1694 CROWNE Married Beau I. 5 The compliment is not divertising.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"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..."

Hmmn...Last time I remember Sam referring to a damsel in distress at the hands of cads she was alone, being carried off, ahd he rather wished he'd could've joined in what one could've presumed would be gang rape. Of course these ladies were probably of the correct social class to "deserve" the protection of our hero whereas the other girl was perhaps not (in fairness, one could guess Sam was talking about an unlucky streetwalker that time) Still, I can't help wondering if today's sudden return of the possibility of virtue or at least the attempt of it to Charles' administration in the form of Coventry's latest try at reform is having a subtle effect on all Sam's behavior? Will, should Sir Will C succeed, we see a reformed Sam, rededicated to his work and casting aside the more sordid aspects of his nature?

Nah...

eric   Link to this

To hear the nightingale and other birds

I wonder how long that stopped happening?

cum salis grano   Link to this

"...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,..."
So few see the hidden man behind the mask of respectability, never talk while there is a "mike" left on or let thyself be in ones cups in a semi publick place.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"the bankers being fearful of Sir G. Downing’s being Secretary, he being their enemy"

Can someone explain? Thanks.

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"the banks being fearful"
Banking is too important to be left to the bankers themselves,the present crisis proves it.

Fern   Link to this

"at last, the last did get off out of the house,"

To get off out of the house - does this mean to decide to leave?

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Of course banker or no, there's good reason to fear the somewhat sinister Downing, once Sam's boss. His betrayal and kidnapping of old Commonwealth government associates in hiding in Holland back in the early Restoration days left little room to wonder about the extent of his ruthlessness.

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