Wednesday 29 January 1667/68

Up betimes, and by coach to Sir W. Coventry, whom I found in his chamber, and there stayed an hour and talked with him about several things of the Navy, and our want of money, which they indeed do supply us with a little, but in no degree likely to enable us to go on with the King’s service. He is at a stand where to have more, and is in mighty pain for it, declaring that he believes there never was a kingdom so governed as this was in the time of the late Chancellor and the Treasurer, nobody minding or understanding any thing how things went or what the King had in his Treasury, or was to have, nothing in the world of it minded. He tells me that there are still people desirous to overthrow him; he resolving to stick at nothing nor no person that stands in his way against bringing the King out of debt, be it to retrench any man’s place or profit, and that he cares not, for rather than be employed under the King, and have the King continue in this condition of indigence, he desires to be put out from among them, thinking it no honour to be a minister in such a government. He tells me he hath no friends in the whole Court but my Lord Keeper and Sir John Duncomb. He tells me they have reduced the charges of Ireland above 70,000l. a-year, and thereby cut off good profits from my Lord Lieutenant; which will make a new enemy, but he cares not. He tells me that Townsend, of the Wardrobe, is the eeriest knave and bufflehead that ever he saw in his life, and wonders how my Lord Sandwich come to trust such a fellow, and that now Reames and ––— are put in to be overseers there, and do great things, and have already saved a great deal of money in the King’s liverys, and buy linnen so cheap, that he will have them buy the next cloth he hath, for shirts. But then this is with ready money, which answers all. He do not approve of my letter I drew and the office signed yesterday to the Commissioners of Accounts, saying that it is a little too submissive, and grants a little too much and too soon our bad managements, though we lay on want of money, yet that it will be time enough to plead it when they object it. Which was the opinion of my Lord Anglesey also; so I was ready to alter it, and did so presently, going from him home, and there transcribed it fresh as he would have it, and got it signed, and to White Hall presently and shewed it him, and so home, and there to dinner, and after dinner all the afternoon and till 12 o’clock at night with Mr. Gibson at home upon my Tangier accounts, and did end them fit to be given the last of them to the Auditor to-morrow, to my great content. This evening come Betty Turner and the two Mercers, and W. Batelier, and they had fiddlers, and danced, and kept a quarter, which pleased me, though it disturbed me; but I could not be with them at all. Mr. Gibson lay at my house all night, it was so late.

11 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Ormond to Lord Cornbury
Written from: Dublin
Date: 29 January 1668

In the condition into which the writer is threatened to be brought, Lord Cornbury cannot but find a reasonable excuse for the delay of reply to his letter of December 8th, brought by Mr Barniston. Lord Berkeley could have no ground for reporting ... that, to his knowledge, the writer had long since broken off all friendship with Lord Clarendon. ... The writer values himself upon nothing more than upon being a punctual observer of all true rules and offices of friendship, as far as he is a competent judge of them, wherein, as he never failed Lord Cornbury's father so he holds himself to be obliged by the same rules, as well as by those of duty, not to presume to censure the King's extraordinary proceedings with him, or to judge of them at a distance which puts upon him an incapacity of being rightly informed, as well as of serving Lord Clarendon or his family. ...

From all representations to his prejudice the writer appeals to the whole course of his life, and to former experience [of Lord Cornbury's family]. He beseeches his Lordship to assure the Duke and Duchess [of York] that, as far as his understanding shall give him power, and their commands direct him, he will ever be found more faithful in service than ceremonious in professions.

http://www.rsl.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects/ca...

Association with Clarendon is poisonous; Ormond's loyalty's a well-known trait.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"He do not approve of my letter I drew..."

Yeah gads! This is the first time I can remember Sam mentioning a negative reaction from someone he accepts as his superior...ever.

Christopher Squire   Link to this

‘bufflehead, n.  1. A fool, blockhead, stupid fellow.
1659    Lady Alimony i. ii. sig. A3,   What a drolling bufflehead is this . . ‘

‘† ˈbuffle, n.  1. a. A buffalo; = buffalo n.1 1a, 1b.
c1511    in E. Arber 1st Three Eng. Bks. on Amer. (1885) Introd. 29/1   There [i.e. in India] be bulfeldes [? buffelles] & coyes [? cowes] but the coyes slepe [? sleye] they not . . ‘

1668: ' . . there never was a kingdom so governed as this was in the time of the late Chancellor and the Treasurer, nobody minding or understanding any thing how things went or what the King had in his Treasury, or was to have, nothing in the world of it minded . . '

2010: ex-Chief Treasury Secretary to his successor: "I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left."
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/politics...

Plus ca change . .

Paul Chapin   Link to this

"eeriest" should be "veriest." We've seen this mis-scan twice before.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Just to clarify the context of today's letter from Ormond, Cornbury is Clarendon's son and heir. In 1674 he became the second Earl of Clarendon. Thanks to TF for keeping us abreast of this increasingly fraught correspondence.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Paul Chapin, thank you for that clarification!

Australian Susan   Link to this

I don't think Sam has ever reported Coventry as being so fed up, frustrated and candid before. It does seem to show he trusted Sam and also saw him as a fellow diligent worker.

"...This evening come Betty Turner and the two Mercers, and W. Batelier, and they had fiddlers, and danced, and kept a quarter, which pleased me, though it disturbed me; but I could not be with them at all. ..." Poor Sam! No dancing, no fun.

Phil Gyford   Link to this

Paul - thanks for the "eeriest"/"veriest" correction. A shame: I imagine some people could accurately be described as "eery"! I've corrected it (as I usually do with the occasional obvious typo in the Project Gutenberg text, which L&M have differently). I'll also go back and fix the previous occurrences, for future readers.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Well, generous of Sam to be pleased at the others' enjoying the music and dancing...Though he doesn't mention whether it was the Turners' function or something at his place and the fact that Bess isn't mentioned in attendance suggests he was watching a Turner party from the office and regretting he couldn't go.

Geesh, a wild bunch at the Seething Lane Naval complex... I wonder the King and Jamie don't drop by as this seems the happenin' place in London.

"Well, Mr. Ambassador, if you really want a fine party time here in London...I mean, no dull salon talk, pure philosophical discussion (Please...Not another night with Mr. Evelyn, the ambassador raises a hand...A good man but...), or worrying about having that Castlemaine on your back constantly demanding 'gifts'...It's either Fleet St or Seething Lane...For those in the know, sir."

"Ah, this 'Seething Lane'...Sounds rather like a place one could fancy."

"The best music and dance in London to be found, sir. But if you're going for good food and wine as well, I'd wait for Mr. Pepys to throw pne of his parties...Of all of them, he's the consumate host...Truly a man who has mastered the art of living, sir."

"In England...?"

"Well, the man has a half-French wife, sir."

nix   Link to this

Personally, I like "eeriest" better. What would Coventry have said?

pepfie   Link to this

RG: "...suggests he was watching a Turner party from the office"

Alas, as of Monday, February 11 1666/67, the Turner family weren't living there anymore.
"...our neighbour, Mrs. Turner, poor woman, did come to take her leave of us, she being to quit her house to-morrow to my Lord Bruncker, who hath used her very unhandsomely."
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1667/02/10/

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