Up, and to the office, where all the morning busy with Fist again, beginning early to overtake my business in my letters, which for a post or two have by the late and present troubles been interrupted. At noon comes Sir W. Batten and [Sir] W. Pen, and we to [Sir] W. Pen’s house, and there discoursed of business an hour, and by and by comes an order from Sir R. Browne, commanding me this afternoon to attend the Council-board, with all my books and papers touching the Medway. I was ready [to fear] some mischief to myself, though it appears most reasonable that it is to inform them about Commissioner Pett. I eat a little bit in haste at Sir W. Batten’s, without much comfort, being fearful, though I shew it not, and to my office and get up some papers, and found out the most material letters and orders in our books, and so took coach and to the Council- chamber lobby, where I met Mr. Evelyn, who do miserably decry our follies that bring all this misery upon us. While we were discoursing over our publique misfortunes, I am called in to a large Committee of the Council: present the Duke of Albemarle, Anglesey, Arlington, Ashly, Carteret, Duncomb, Coventry, Ingram, Clifford, Lauderdale, Morrice, Manchester, Craven, Carlisle, Bridgewater. And after Sir W. Coventry’s telling them what orders His Royal Highness had made for the safety of the Medway, I told them to their full content what we had done, and showed them our letters. Then was Peter Pett called in, with the Lieutenant of the Tower. He is in his old clothes, and looked most sillily. His charge was chiefly the not carrying up of the great ships, and the using of the boats in carrying away his goods; to which he answered very sillily, though his faults to me seem only great omissions. Lord Arlington and Coventry very severe against him; the former saying that, if he was not guilty, the world would think them all guilty.1 The latter urged, that there must be some faults, and that the Admiral must be found to have done his part. I did say an unhappy word, which I was sorry for, when he complained of want of oares for the boats: and there was, it seems, enough, and good enough, to carry away all the boats with from the King’s occasions. He said he used never a boat till they were all gone but one; and that was to carry away things of great value, and these were his models of ships; which, when the Council, some of them, had said they wished that the Dutch had had them instead of the King’s ships, he answered, he did believe the Dutch would have made more advantage of the models than of the ships, and that the King had had greater loss thereby; this they all laughed at. After having heard him for an hour or more, they bid him withdraw. I all this while showing him no respect, but rather against him, for which God forgive me! for I mean no hurt to him, but only find that these Lords are upon their own purgation, and it is necessary I should be so in behalf of the office. He being gone, they caused Sir Richard Browne to read over his minutes; and then my Lord Arlington moved that they might be put into my hands to put into form, I being more acquainted with such business; and they were so. So I away back with my books and papers; and when I got into the Court it was pretty to see how people gazed upon me, that I thought myself obliged to salute people and to smile, lest they should think I was a prisoner too; but afterwards I found that most did take me to be there to bear evidence against P. Pett; but my fear was such, at my going in, of the success of the day, that at my going in I did think fit to give T. Hater, whom I took with me, to wait the event, my closet-key and directions where to find 500l. and more in silver and gold, and my tallys, to remove, in case of any misfortune to me. Thence to Sir G. Carteret’s to take my leave of my Lady Jem, who is going into the country tomorrow; but she being now at prayers with my Lady and family, and hearing here by Yorke, the carrier, that my wife is coming to towne, I did make haste home to see her, that she might not find me abroad, it being the first minute I have been abroad since yesterday was se’ennight. It is pretty to see how strange it is to be abroad to see people, as it used to be after a month or two’s absence, and I have brought myself so to it, that I have no great mind to be abroad, which I could not have believed of myself. I got home, and after being there a little, she come, and two of her fellow-travellers with her, with whom we drunk: a couple of merchant- like men, I think, but have friends in our country. They being gone, I and my wife to talk, who did give me so bad an account of her and my father’s method in burying of our gold, that made me mad: and she herself is not pleased with it, she believing that my sister knows of it. My father and she did it on Sunday, when they were gone to church, in open daylight, in the midst of the garden; where, for aught they knew, many eyes might see them: which put me into such trouble, that I was almost mad about it, and presently cast about, how to have it back again to secure it here, the times being a little better now; at least at White Hall they seem as if they were, but one way or other I am resolved to free them from the place if I can get them. Such was my trouble at this, that I fell out with my wife, that though new come to towne, I did not sup with her, nor speak to her tonight, but to bed and sleep.
Pett was made a scapegoat. This is confirmed by Marvel:
After this loss, to relish discontent, Some one must be accused by Parliament; All our miscarriages on Pett must fall, His name alone seems fit to answer all. Whose counsel first did this mad war beget? Who all commands sold through the Navy? Pett. Who would not follow when the Dutch were beat? Who treated out the time at Bergen? Pett. Who the Dutch fleet with storms disabled met, And, rifling prizes, them neglected? Pett. Who with false news prevented the Gazette, The fleet divided, writ for Ruhert? Pett. Who all our seamen cheated of their debt? And all our prizes who did swallow? Pett. Who did advise no navy out to set? And who the forts left unprepared? Pett. Who to supply with powder did forget Languard, Sheerness, Gravesend, and Upnor? Pett. Who all our ships exposed in Chatham net? Who should it be but the fanatick Pett? Pett, the sea-architect, in making ships, Was the first cause of all these naval slips. Had he not built, none of these faults had been; If no creation, there had been no sin But his great crime, one boat away he sent, That lost our fleet, and did our flight prevent.
Instructions to a Painter. — B ↩