Wednesday 22 April 1668

Up, and all the morning at my office busy. At noon, it being washing day, I toward White Hall, and stopped and dined all alone at Hercules Pillars, where I was mighty pleased to overhear a woman talk to her counsel how she had troubled her neighbours with law, and did it very roguishly and wittily. Thence to White Hall, and there we attended the Duke of York as usual; and I did present Mrs. Pett, the widow, and her petition to the Duke of York, for some relief from the King. Here was to-day a proposition made to the Duke of York by Captain Von Hemskirke for 20,000l., to discover an art how to make a ship go two foot for one what any ship do now, which the King inclines to try, it costing him nothing to try; and it is referred to us to contract with the man. Thence to attend the Council about the business of certificates to the Exchequer, where the Commissioners of the Treasury of different minds, some would, and my Lord Ashly would not have any more made out, and carried it there should not. After done here, and the Council up, I by water from the Privy-stairs to Westminster Hall; and, taking water, the King and the Duke of York were in the new buildings; and the Duke of York called to me whither I was going? and I answered aloud, “To wait on our maisters at Westminster;” at which he and all the company laughed; but I was sorry and troubled for it afterwards, for fear any Parliament-man should have been there; and will be a caution to me for the time to come. Met with Roger Pepys, who tells me they have been on the business of money, but not ended yet, but will take up more time. So to the fishmonger’s, and bought a couple of lobsters, and over to the ‘sparagus garden, thinking to have met Mr. Pierce, and his wife and Knepp; but met their servant coming to bring me to Chatelin’s, the French house, in Covent Garden, and there with musick and good company, Manuel and his wife, and one Swaddle, a clerk of Lord Arlington’s, who dances, and speaks French well, but got drunk, and was then troublesome, and here mighty merry till ten at night, and then I away, and got a coach, and so home, where I find Balty and his wife come to town, and did sup with them, and so they to bed. This night the Duke of Monmouth and a great many blades were at Chatelin’s, and I left them there, with a hackney- coach attending him.

17 Annotations

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...where I was mighty pleased to overhear a woman talk to her counsel how she had troubled her neighbours with law, and did it very roguishly and wittily." So little changes...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...and one Swaddle, a clerk of Lord Arlington’s, who dances, and speaks French well, but got drunk, and was then troublesome..."

Dickensian. And what could be more troublesome than a drunken, French-speaking, dancing clerk with a name like Swaddle.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Let me get this straight:
van Heemskerck wants £20,000 to fund his experiment (which L&M say has to do with the way the grain of the wood goes), but it will cost the King nothing?

Christopher Squire   Link to this

‘blade, n. Etym:  Common Germanic: Old English blæd,. .
. .  III. Applied to a man.  [Probably connected with senses 6, 7, though whether as a fig. use of these, or as a wielder of a blade, does not appear from the 83 earliest quotations examined.]
 11. a. A gallant, a free-and-easy fellow, a good fellow; ‘fellow’, generally familiarly laudatory, sometimes good-naturedly contemptuous. (The original sense is difficult to seize: Bailey 1730 says, ‘a bravo, an Hector; also a spruce fellow, a beau’; Johnson ‘a brisk man, either fierce or gay, called so in contempt.’) (Now colloquial or slangy: in literature, chiefly a reminiscence of the eighteenth century.)
. . 1658    J. Ussher Ann. World 159   Sending for such‥as he knew to be blades, and had good hearts and head-peeces of their owne.
1667    S. Pepys Diary 3 June (1974) VIII. 249   As the present fashion among the blades is . .’ [OED]

Paul Chapin   Link to this

The van Heemskerck proposal

That caught my attention too, Terry. My first thought was that referring the proposal to the Navy board, with a "do fund" mandate, meant the money would have to come from the Navy's funds, but Sam is always referring to his work at the office as saving the King's money, so that's probably wrong. A second, maybe more likely possibility - the proposal was made to the Duke of York, who has his own resources, so if James provides the money, then Charles doesn't have to.

Carl in Boston   Link to this

one Swaddle, ... who dances, and speaks French well, but got drunk, and was then troublesome
Now we have drunken dancing men to go with the shameless flaunting women.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Sounds to me like van Heemskerck offered to do it on his own, present the results, and if he can provide proof, Charlie will only then proceed to fund the project.

Bryan M   Link to this

The van Heemskerck proposal

A paper by Luca Codignola sheds light on this matter.
“(I)n April 1668 he risked his fortunes on a submission to the king to build a ship of any class that could outsail, by three miles to two, the best ships of His Majesty's Navy. … “
Codignola briefly describes how the trial was not the success Heemskerk had hoped.
“…The winter of 1669-70 found Heemskerk and his family in deep financial trouble. The king had agreed to pay him £20,000 if his gamble succeeded, but as it did not, he was given only £100 before the trial, at the end of 1668, and another £100 at the end of 1669 ~ free gifts from the king. The promised life pension of £200 per year never materialized.”

Heemskerk seems to have been quite a character. He’s the Dutchman who guided Robert Holmes into the Vlie estuary in 1666 for his famous bonfire. (However, Ollard in his biography of Holmes, argues that Heemskerk wasn’t that much help and Holmes did not trust him.) Codignola tells how, after the trial above, Heemskerk switched allegiance to the French and became a pretend explorer.

Laurens Van Heemskerk's Pretended Expeditions to the Arctic, 1688-1672: A Note Author: Luca Codignola The International History Review, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Aug., 1990), pp. 514-527

john   Link to this

The term "gay blade" was still in use when I was much younger (with a meaning as above).

language hat   Link to this

Swaddle is definitely Dickensian, but Manuel made me think of Fawlty Towers.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Another take on the van Heemskerck proposal

L&M say a frigate (the Nonsuch) was built to the design of van Heemskerck and his [unnamed] partner by Anthony Deane at Portsmouth; her success earned Heemskerck a knighthood and a life pension. (CSPD, 1668-9, pp. 204, 399-40) http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?co...

Confirmation of the knighthood is here: http://17th-centurynavwargaming.blogspot.com/20...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Hmmn...Knepp and Sam observe the unconscious Swaddle, now peacefully asleep in the cabman's livery after making quite a drunken ruckus during the ride. "In Swaddle's clothes, lying in a manger..." Knepp notes. "Poetic."

"Indeed." Sam, nodding, leaning close.

"Enough with the handiwork for one night, Samuel." Knepp, frowning.

Michael L   Link to this

So why did the King et al. laugh at his reply? Because it sounded so subservient, or is there another reason I am missing?

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Because Sam was calling Parliament the masters. He was afraid some from the House might have heard him and been annoyed.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Re Sam's comment - He was right to be uneasy - most of those who heard him would have remembered how squabbles and insults to Parliament could lead to death as no doubt he did.

Australian Susan   Link to this

....or was he concerned that the D of Y might have thought this was a personal insult?

Mary   Link to this

Sam's quip.

Like many who make a smart remark, Sam has almost instant regrets. Not surprising, really. It's only a couple of weeks since he spoke so eloquently and persuasively to members of the House and it could prove foolish for him to risk tainting his resulting high reputation with this kind of quip.

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