Wednesday 24 July 1667

Betimes this morning comes a letter from the Clerke of the Cheque at Gravesend to me, to tell me that the Dutch fleete did come all into the Hope yesterday noon, and held a fight with our ships from thence till seven at night; that they had burned twelve fire-ships, and we took one of their’s, and burned five of our fire-ships. But then rising and going to Sir W. Batten, he tells me that we have burned one of their men-of-war, and another of theirs is blown up: but how true this is, I know not. But these fellows are mighty bold, and have had the fortune of the wind easterly this time to bring them up, and prevent our troubling them with our fire-ships; and, indeed, have had the winds at their command from the beginning, and now do take the beginning of the spring, as if they had some great design to do. I to my office, and there hard at work all the morning, to my great content, abstracting the contract book into my abstract book, which I have by reason of the war omitted for above two years, but now am endeavouring to have all my books ready and perfect against the Parliament comes, that upon examination I may be in condition to value myself upon my perfect doing of my own duty. At noon home to dinner, where my wife mighty musty, —[Dull, heavy, spiritless]— but I took no notice of it, but after dinner to the office, and there with Mr. Harper did another good piece of work about my late collection of the accounts of the Navy presented to the Parliament at their last session, which was left unfinished, and now I have done it which sets my mind at my ease, and so, having tired myself, I took a pair of oares about five o’clock, which I made a gally at Redriffe, and so with very much pleasure down to Gravesend, all the way with extraordinary content reading of Boyle’s Hydrostatickes, which the more I read and understand, the more I admire, as a most excellent piece of philosophy; as we come nearer Gravesend, we hear the Dutch fleete and ours a-firing their guns most distinctly and loud. But before we got to Gravesend they ceased, and it grew darkish, and so I landed only (and the flood being come) and went up to the Ship and discoursed with the landlord of the house, who undeceives me in what I heard this morning about the Dutch having lost two men-of-war, for it is not so, but several of their fire-ships. He do say, that this afternoon they did force our ships to retreat, but that now they are gone down as far as Shield-haven: but what the event hath been of this evening’s guns they know not, but suppose not much, for they have all this while shot at good distance one from another. They seem confident of the security of this town and the River above it, if the enemy should come up so high; their fortifications being so good, and guns many. But he do say that people do complain of Sir Edward Spragg, that he hath not done extraordinary; and more of Sir W. Jenings, that he come up with his tamkins in his guns. Having discoursed this a little with him, and eat a bit of cold venison and drank, I away, took boat, and homeward again, with great pleasure, the moon shining, and it being a fine pleasant cool evening, and got home by half-past twelve at night, and so to bed.

8 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"I to my office, and there hard at work all the morning, to my great content, abstracting the contract book into my abstract book"

Pepys has done this before, 16 April 1662 with help: "Mr. Hater to that end coming to me, he and I did go about my abstracting all the contracts made in the office since we came into it." http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1662/04/16/

L&M note the official contract-books of the Navy Office (eight in number, covering 1660-86) were in the office of the Clerk of the Acts at 12 October 1688 and are listed in the British Library catalog. abstract-book, for Pepys's own use, should have been entered monthly. All seem now to have disappeared.

Mary   Link to this

"and now do take the beginning of the spring"

The 'spring' here must refer to a spring tide - the significantly high (and low) tide that occurs during the time of the full moon.

JWB   Link to this

Frisson...

Galley crew pulling against the spring flood charging to the sound of guns whilst reading Boyle's 'Hydrostatickes'. My kind'a war.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Wonder what's up with our "musty" Bess?

"Talkin to meself and feelin' blue...
Sometimes I'd like to quit...
Sam'l puts me in a fit...
Hanging around...Nothin' to do but frown...

Rainy days and Wednesdays always get me down...

Funny how it seems I always wind up here with you...
Would be nice to know you love me...

Funny how I can even bear the flagolet...
Long as practice says you love me...

What I feel has come and gone before...
Though it'd be nice to talk it out...I know what you're busy about...

Hanging around...Watching you stomp and frown...
Rainy days, wartime, and Wednesdays get me down..."

Or, it could have been...

"Mr. Coleman? You say...?"

"Fifteen hundred pounds, Mrs. Pepys or I reveal to your husband details of our little affair..."

"But there was no...."

"Methinks your father-in-law will eagerly support my version of events. Oh, Mrs. Pepys, I regret what I must do to make my way in this wicked world. Indeed tis' a far, far worse thing I now do than I have ever done before..."

Or...

"Mrs. Burroughs (or Daniels or Bagwell or...)? You say that my husband...Approached you?"

"Bit more than 'approached' me, love. And unless the man does right by me and this child..." Points to belly...

Sigh...Am I more depressed over the confirmation of my suspicions as to philandering or that he got someone else pregnant?

Or...

"Sir, you are threatening me?"

"Dearest niece..." Uncle Wight, leering... "I would never presume, never...To do such a thing. Yet I am sure you can see the benefits of fulfilling my request. Merely a little information for me to provide my associates in Holland in exchange for preventing word of your Catholic conversion from reaching Parliament and destroying your husband's career. I suggest you give it, hmmn-hmmn, hee...Considerable thought."

andy   Link to this

musty

reminds me of "mardy" but it's a noun: as in "She's in a mardy this morning".

you won't find the solution to this in Boyle's Hydrostatics, Sam!

Paul E   Link to this

I'd like to know more of the finer details of transportation on the River. Here, it seems he's taking two oarsmen to a place where he can hire a boat. Are the men sailors available to Navy civilian executives like Sam? Is the galley a navy asset or does he rent it?. I wonder what the rates are? They make pretty good time. Surely Sam timed his excursion to take advantage of the tides. He traveled down river until he meets the "flood" (a tidal bore?) near his destination down river so the tide is likely still coming in a couple hours later as he heads back to London. Six or seven miles/hour with the flow would be a good clip. So I figure its 2-3 hours each way from London to Gravesend by water.

Ruben   Link to this

"I’d like to know more of the finer details of transportation on the River"
Not that I have the answer to your question, but I remember some years ago, I toured Hampton Court. I was instructed by the local guide that King Edward used to come by a rowing boat from London, that was the fastest mode of transportation in those days. Of course, Hampton Court is upriver from London.

cum salis grano   Link to this

Rivers were the super highways, thus a large variety of conveyances.
Very few major centers of commerce could survive without the water providing sustenance to people, trade and war.

Until the Hooke gave us rules for being sprung, traveling in an unsprung vehicle was a chiropractors joy, thus for comfort "easy does it" and the river provided more comfort and luxury in travel. [ try an unsprung empty hay cart at speed]

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