Up, and a while at the office, but thinking to have Mr. Povy’s business to-day at the Committee for Tangier, I left the Board and away to White Hall, where in the first court I did meet Sir Jeremy Smith, who did tell me that Sir W. Coventry was just now sent to the Tower, about the business of his challenging the Duke of Buckingham, and so was also Harry Saville to the Gate-house; which, as [he is] a gentleman, and of the Duke of York’s bedchamber, I heard afterwards that the Duke of York is mightily incensed at, and do appear very high to the King that he might not be sent thither, but to the Tower, this being done only in contempt to him. This news of Sir W. Coventry did strike me to the heart, and with reason, for by this and my Lord of Ormond’s business, I do doubt that the Duke of Buckingham will be so flushed, that he will not stop at any thing, but be forced to do any thing now, as thinking it not safe to end here; and, Sir W. Coventry being gone, the King will have never a good counsellor, nor the Duke of York any sure friend to stick to him; nor any good man will be left to advise what is good. This, therefore, do heartily trouble me as any thing that ever I heard. So up into the House, and met with several people; but the Committee did not meet; and the whole House I find full of this business of Sir W. Coventry’s, and most men very sensible of the cause and effects of it. So, meeting with my Lord Bellassis, he told me the particulars of this matter; that it arises about a quarrel which Sir W. Coventry had with the Duke of Buckingham about a design between the Duke and Sir Robert Howard, to bring him into a play at the King’s house, which W. Coventry not enduring, did by H. Saville send a letter to the Duke of Buckingham, that he had a desire to speak with him. Upon which, the Duke of Buckingham did bid Holmes, his champion ever since my Lord Shrewsbury’s business,1 go to him to know the business; but H. Saville would not tell it to any but himself, and therefore did go presently to the Duke of Buckingham, and told him that his uncle Coventry was a person of honour, and was sensible of his Grace’s liberty taken of abusing him, and that he had a desire of satisfaction, and would fight with him. But that here they were interrupted by my Lord Chamberlain’s coming in, who was commanded to go to bid the Duke of Buckingham to come to the King, Holmes having discovered it. He told me that the King did last night, at the Council, ask the Duke of Buckingham, upon his honour, whether he had received any challenge from W. Coventry? which he confessed that he had; and then the King asking W. Coventry, he told him that he did not owne what the Duke of Buckingham had said, though it was not fit for him to give him a direct contradiction. But, being by the King put upon declaring, upon his honour, the matter, he answered that he had understood that many hard questions had upon this business been moved to some lawyers, and that therefore he was unwilling to declare any thing that might, from his own mouth, render him obnoxious to his Majesty’s displeasure, and, therefore, prayed to be excused: which the King did think fit to interpret to be a confession, and so gave warrant that night for his commitment to the Tower. Being very much troubled at this, I away by coach homewards, and directly to the Tower, where I find him in one Mr. Bennet’s house, son to Major Bayly, one of the Officers of the Ordnance, in the Bricke Tower:2 where I find him busy with my Lord Halifax and his brother; so I would not stay to interrupt them, but only to give him comfort, and offer my service to him, which he kindly and cheerfully received, only owning his being troubled for the King his master’s displeasure, which, I suppose, is the ordinary form and will of persons in this condition. And so I parted, with great content, that I had so earlily seen him there; and so going out, did meet Sir Jer. Smith going to meet me, who had newly been with Sir W. Coventry. And so he and I by water to Redriffe, and so walked to Deptford, where I have not been, I think, these twelve months: and there to the Treasurer’s house, where the Duke of York is, and his Duchess; and there we find them at dinner in the great room, unhung; and there was with them my Lady Duchess of Monmouth, the Countess of Falmouth, Castlemayne, Henrietta Hide (my Lady Hinchingbroke’s sister), and my Lady Peterborough. And after dinner Sir Jer. Smith and I were invited down to dinner with some of the Maids of Honour, namely, Mrs. Ogle, Blake, and Howard, which did me good to have the honour to dine with, and look on; and the Mother of the Maids, and Mrs. Howard, the mother of the Maid of Honour of that name, and the Duke’s housekeeper here. Here was also Monsieur Blancfort, Sir Richard Powell, Colonel Villers, Sir Jonathan Trelawny, and others. And here drank most excellent, and great variety, and plenty of wines, more than I have drank, at once, these seven years, but yet did me no great hurt. Having dined and very merry, and understanding by Blancfort how angry the Duke of York was, about their offering to send Saville to the Gate-house, among the rogues; and then, observing how this company, both the ladies and all, are of a gang, and did drink a health to the union of the two brothers, and talking of others as their enemies, they parted, and so we up; and there I did find the Duke of York and Duchess, with all the great ladies, sitting upon a carpet, on the ground, there being no chairs, playing at “I love my love with an A, because he is so and so: and I hate him with an A, because of this and that:” and some of them, but particularly the Duchess herself, and my Lady Castlemayne, were very witty. This done, they took barge, and I with Sir J. Smith to Captain Cox’s; and there to talk, and left them and other company to drink; while I slunk out to Bagwell’s; and there saw her, and her mother, and our late maid Nell, who cried for joy to see me, but I had no time for pleasure then nor could stay, but after drinking I back to the yard, having a month’s mind para have had a bout with Nell, which I believe I could have had, and may another time. So to Cox’s, and thence walked with Sir J. Smith back to Redriffe; and so, by water home, and there my wife mighty angry for my absence, and fell mightily out, but not being certain of any thing, but thinks only that Pierce or Knepp was there, and did ask me, and, I perceive, the boy, many questions. But I did answer her; and so, after much ado, did go to bed, and lie quiet all night; but [she] had another bout with me in the morning, but I did make shift to quiet her, but yet she was not fully satisfied, poor wretch! in her mind, and thinks much of my taking so much pleasure from her; which, indeed, is a fault, though I did not design or foresee it when I went.
- Charles II. wrote to his sister (Henrietta, Duchess of Orleans), on March 7th, 1669: “I am not sorry that Sir Will. Coventry has given me this good occasion by sending my Lord of Buckingham a challenge to turne him out of the Councill. I do intend to turn him allso out of the Treasury. The truth of it is, he has been a troublesome man in both places and I am well rid of him” (Julia Cartwright’s “Madame,” 1894, p. 283). ↩
- The Brick Tower stands on the northern wall, a little to the west of Martin tower, with which it communicates by a secret passage. It was the residence of the Master of the Ordnance, and Raleigh was lodged here for a time. ↩