Tuesday 24 March 1667/68

Up pretty betimes, and so there comes to me Mr. Shish, to desire my appearing for him to succeed Mr. Christopher Pett, lately dead, in his place of Master-Shipwright of Deptford and Woolwich, which I do resolve to promote what I can. So by and by to White Hall, and there to the Duke of York’s chamber, where I understand it is already resolved by the King and Duke of York that Shish shall have the place. From the Duke’s chamber Sir W. Coventry and I to walk in the Matted Gallery; and there, among other things, he tells me of the wicked design that now is at last contriving against him, to get a petition presented from people that the money they have paid to W. Coventry for their places may be repaid them back; and that this is set on by Temple and Hollis of the Parliament, and, among other mean people in it, by Captain Tatnell: and he prays me that I will use some effectual way to sift Tatnell what he do, and who puts him on in this business, which I do undertake, and will do with all my skill for his service, being troubled that he is still under this difficulty. Thence up and down Westminster by Mrs. Burroughes her mother’s shop, thinking to have seen her, but could not, and therefore back to White Hall, where great talk of the tumult at the other end of the town, about Moore-fields, among the ‘prentices, taking the liberty of these holydays to pull down bawdy-houses.1 And, Lord! to see the apprehensions which this did give to all people at Court, that presently order was given for all the soldiers, horse and foot, to be in armes! and forthwith alarmes were beat by drum and trumpet through Westminster, and all to their colours, and to horse, as if the French were coming into the town! So Creed, whom I met here, and I to Lincolne’s Inn-fields, thinking to have gone into the fields to have seen the ‘prentices; but here we found these fields full of soldiers all in a body, and my Lord Craven commanding of them, and riding up and down to give orders, like a madman. And some young men we saw brought by soldiers to the Guard at White Hall, and overheard others that stood by say, that it was only for pulling down the bawdy-houses; and none of the bystanders finding fault with them, but rather of the soldiers for hindering them. And we heard a justice of the Peace this morning say to the King, that he had been endeavouring to suppress this tumult, but could not; and that, imprisoning some [of them] in the new prison at Clerkenwell, the rest did come and break open the prison and release them; and that they do give out that they are for pulling down the bawdy- houses, which is one of the greatest grievances of the nation. To which the King made a very poor, cold, insipid answer: “Why, why do they go to them, then?” and that was all, and had no mind to go on with the discourse. Mr. Creed and I to dinner to my Lord Crew, where little discourse, there being none but us at the table, and my Lord and my Lady Jemimah, and so after dinner away, Creed and I to White Hall, expecting a Committee of Tangier, but come too late. So I to attend the Council, and by and by were called in with Lord Brouncker and Sir W. Pen to advise how to pay away a little money to most advantage to the men of the yards, to make them dispatch the ships going out, and there did make a little speech, which was well liked, and after all it was found most satisfactory to the men, and best for the king’s dispatch, that what money we had should be paid weekly to the men for their week’s work until a greater sum could be got to pay them their arrears and then discharge them. But, Lord! to see what shifts and what cares and thoughts there was employed in this matter how to do the King’s work and please the men and stop clamours would make a man think the King should not eat a bit of good meat till he has got money to pay the men, but I do not see the least print of care or thoughts in him about it at all. Having done here, I out and there met Sir Fr. Hollis, who do still tell me that, above all things in the world, he wishes he had my tongue in his mouth, meaning since my speech in Parliament. He took Lord Brouncker and me down to the guards, he and his company being upon the guards to-day; and there he did, in a handsome room to that purpose, make us drink, and did call for his bagpipes, which, with pipes of ebony, tipt with silver, he did play beyond anything of that kind that ever I heard in my life; and with great pains he must have obtained it, but with pains that the instrument do not deserve at all; for, at the best, it is mighty barbarous musick. So home and there to my chamber, to prick out my song, “It is Decreed,” intending to have it ready to give Mr. Harris on Thursday, when we meet, for him to sing, believing that he will do it more right than a woman that sings better, unless it were Knepp, which I cannot have opportunity to teach it to. This evening I come home from White Hall with Sir W. Pen, who fell in talk about his going to sea this year, and the difficulties that arise to him by it, by giving offence to the Prince, and occasioning envy to him, and many other things that make it a bad matter, at this time of want of money and necessaries, and bad and uneven counsels at home, — for him to go abroad: and did tell me how much with the King and Duke of York he had endeavoured to be excused, desiring the Prince might be satisfied in it, who hath a mind to go; but he tells me they will not excuse him, and I believe it, and truly do judge it a piece of bad fortune to W. Pen.

  1. It was customary for the apprentices of the metropolis to avail themselves of their holidays, especially on Shrove Tuesday, to search after women of ill fame, and to confine them during the season of Lent. See a “Satyre against Separatists,” 1642.

    Stand forth, Shrove Tuesday, one a’ the silenc’st bricklayers; ‘Tis in your charge to pull down bawdy-houses.

    Middleton’s Inner Temple Masque, 1619, Works, ed. Bullen, vii., 209.

15 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"...great talk of the tumult at the other end of the town, about Moore-fields, among the 'prentices, taking the liberty of these holydays to pull down bawdy-houses."

"Holidays and festivals were traditional occasions when the young men of early modern London indulged in carnivals of misrule. One of the most striking examples of these were the ritualized attacks on brothels by apprentices, which customarily took place on Shrove Tuesday. These rituals, which often involved quite extensive destruction to property, seem to have occurred with persistent regularity, at least in the early Stuart period, there being twenty-four known Shrove Tuesday riots in the thirty-five years between 1606 and 1641. Such activities normally received moderate handling from the authorities, and only in exceptional circumstances did the courts choose to punish the rioters with heavy fines or a period of imprisonment. Contemporaries, it seems, were familiar with, and to a certain extent tolerant of this ‘ancient administration of justice at Shrovetide’ by the apprentices, as James Harrington called it. Such feats were even acclaimed in popular literature as being a sign of the virtue of London's young men. In this context, the response of the authorities to apprentice attacks on bawdy houses that occurred in Easter week of 1668 seems excessive. Here, fifteen of the ringleaders were tried for high treason, on a rather dubious interpretation of the law, and four were eventually hanged, drawn and quartered."

Tim Harris (1986). The Bawdy House Riots of 1668. The Historical Journal, 29, pp 537-556 doi:10.1017/S0018246X00018902
http://www.foreignpolicybulletinmonitor.com/act...

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Add Sam to the list of bagpipe haters (but not me, I like them).

Robert Gertz   Link to this

The boys are fighting for the right not to party? Meanwhile for the Court, it's support your local bawdy house?...er civic order. One might wonder if some of milords have money sunk in a few.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...and I believe it, and truly do judge it a piece of bad fortune to W. Pen." One can hear that little snicker at the end, Sam.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...the wicked design that now is at last contriving against him, to get a petition presented from people that the money they have paid to W. Coventry for their places may be repaid them back..."

"Of course it's not just me, Pepys. This could crumble the very foundations of English government."

"Indeed Sir Will...Why if everyone in the government who sold a place had to pay the money back, the consequences could be severe."

"Why, it could even lead to demands for all bribes to be returned." Coventry nods.

Choking gasp... "I shall do everything in my power to prevent this wrong, Sir Will!"

tonyt   Link to this

The Diary entry for last Friday tells us that it was then Good Friday which means that Shrove Tuesday was in early February. Perhaps the authorities were concerned that the apprentices were trying to create another traditional day (Easter Tuesday) for partying.

Phoenix   Link to this

"To which the King made a very poor, cold, insipid answer: “Why, why do they go to them, then?” and that was all, and had no mind to go on with the discourse."

More wisdom in those words than Sam appreciates. At what point does one take stock of personal hypocrisies? The comment implies that Charles has. Does Sam - ever?

Carl in Boston   Link to this

Bagpipes ... with great pains he must have obtained it, but with pains that the instrument do not deserve at all; for, at the best, it is mighty barbarous musick.
I had to laugh at this one. I tried a bagpipe chanter, and it takes too much practice to tame the instrument, and at the end, it's still a crummy instrument. Modern instruments are so much better, like the clarinet. Still, there's a lot of people who do love the bagpipes with Amazing Grace on top. Sometimes I'll use a bagpipe voice on a synthesizer and play Highland Cathedral. They love it to pieces. A related piece is "Time To Say Goodbye" (Andre Bocelli) on an oboe voice or bagpipe.

john   Link to this

Society has not changed much. Bawdy houses exist because of customers so blame the houses, not the customers.

As far as bagpipes go, our local police had a bagpipe-and-drum band that accompanied their mounted exhibition. It was quite the stirring sight but, alas, disbanded due to cost cutting.

Claire   Link to this

I am a fan of bagpipes but appreciate a good slam against the instrument which is, admittedly, of limited but effective use. Our county sheriff's office has a group of pipers primarily for funerals but they also do weddings.

nix   Link to this

"at the best, it is mighty barbarous musick" --

A late colleague of mine, who was a lifelong bagpiper, joked that the definition of a true gentleman is someone who knows how to play the bagpipes . . . and doesn't.

nix   Link to this

"I out and there met Sir Fr. Hollis, who do still tell me that, above all things in the world, he wishes he had my tongue in his mouth" --

Ewwwwwwww!

-- "meaning since my speech in Parliament."

Ahh, thanks for that clarification, Samuel. The long-awaited textual proof that you knew posterity might be reading over your shoulder!

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"Hollis told you he wished he had your tongue where?...And then he took you and Brouncker to a room and made you drink?"

"Why, yes...Then he brought out his bagpipes...And...Bess..? Say, Bess?!...Where the devil is she gone off with that cleaver to?"

Australian Susan   Link to this

I am wondering if these were the outdoor Scottish bagpipes or the smaller elbow-pumped Northumbrian pipes (much more suited to indoor playing).

Dawn   Link to this

I like how he used the word muSICK

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