Saturday 17 April 1669

Up, and to the office, where all the morning. At noon at home to dinner, and there find Mr. Pierce, the surgeon, and he dined with us; and there hearing that “The Alchymist” was acted, we did go, and took him with us to the King’s house; and it is still a good play, having not been acted for two or three years before; but I do miss Clun, for the Doctor. But more my eyes will not let me enjoy the pleasure I used to have in a play. Thence with my wife in hackney to Sir W. Coventry’s, who being gone to the Park we drove after him, and there met him coming out, and followed him home, and there sent my wife to Unthanke’s while I spent an hour with him reading over first my draught of the Administration of the Navy, which he do like very well; and so fell to talk of other things, and among the rest of the story of his late disgrace, and how basely and in what a mean manner the Duke of Buckingham hath proceeded against him — not like a man of honour. He tells me that the King will not give other answer about his coming to kiss his hands, than “Not yet.” But he says that this that he desires, of kissing the King’s hand, is only to show to the world that he is not discontented, and not in any desire to come again into play, though I do perceive that he speaks this with less earnestness than heretofore: and this, it may be, is, from what he told me lately, that the King is offended at what is talked, that he hath declared himself desirous not to have to do with any employment more. But he do tell me that the leisure he hath yet had do not at all begin to be burdensome to him, he knowing how to spend his time with content to himself; and that he hopes shortly to contract his expence, so as that he shall not be under any straits in that respect neither; and so seems to be in very good condition of content. Thence I away over the Park, it being now night, to White Hall, and there, in the Duchess’s chamber, do find the Duke of York; and, upon my offer to speak with him, he did come to me, and withdrew to his closet, and there did hear and approve my paper of the Administration of the Navy, only did bid me alter these words, “upon the rupture between the late King and the Parliament,” to these, “the beginning of the late Rebellion;” giving it me as but reason to shew that it was with the Rebellion that the Navy was put by out of its old good course, into that of a Commission. Having done this, we fell to other talk; he with great confidence telling me how matters go among our adversaries, in reference to the Navy, and that he thinks they do begin to flag; but then, beginning to talk in general of the excellency of old constitutions, he did bring out of his cabinet, and made me read it, an extract out of a book of my late Lord of Northumberland’s, so prophetic of the: business of Chatham, as is almost miraculous. I did desire, and he did give it me to copy out, which pleased me mightily, and so, it being late, I away and to my wife, and by hackney; home, and there, my eyes being weary with reading so much: but yet not so much as I was afeard they would, we home to supper and to bed.

6 Annotations

Paul Chapin   Link to this

"the leisure he hath yet had do not at all begin to be burdensome to him, he knowing how to spend his time with content to himself; and that he hopes shortly to contract his expence, so as that he shall not be under any straits in that respect neither; and so seems to be in very good condition of content."

A happily retired man, and an excellent role model. Good for you, Sir William. Enjoy!

Ramona   Link to this

"When you dine alone with your people…You go to Whitehall. When you go to Whitehall, you attend the Duke of York. When you attend the Duke of York, you go to the Duke’s playhouse and sit in the 18d seats. When you sit in the 18d seats you go to the pit. When you go to the pit you meet your wife with Henry Sheeres. When you meet your wife with Henry Sheeres you get jealous. When you get jealous you meet the poet Shadwell. When you meet the poet Shadwell, you help him write comedy. Don’t help Shadwell the poet write comedy."
Robert Gertz, as usual I am catching up, a few days behind, and just read your posting of two days ago. And as usual, it made me laugh out loud. I would
send you a private thank you but cannot figure your website out!
Thank you for ten years of sheer entertainment and brilliant interpretations.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

regertz@aol.com if you like. Thanks, and stay in touch if you can. (the web site is sheer fun for me but there is a Pepysverse in the selection box)
***

Like so many pioneering reformers William Coventry gets short shrift and poor thanks in his time but for his disciples. He's in good company...And like many of them, he will be vindicated to posterity by his beloved star pupil. That's rather nice to think on.

Though I'm still glad he failed...His well-intentioned plans for an efficient autocracy might well have made the ships sail on time but could have set development of Parliamentary authority back. But again it's nice to know in the area where his hopes for reform would not conflict with the slow move toward representational democracy, his work bore good fruit via Sam's reforms of the Navy. And that Navy one day will save his England from two despots, one brilliant but utterly egotistical, the other an utterly insane murderer.

Tony Eldridge   Link to this

But more my eyes will not let me enjoy the pleasure I used to have in a play.

It seems strange that artificial lighting would bother him in the daytime - or would it be the smoke from many cheap candles?

Mary   Link to this

Troublesome candlelight.

I've also wondered whether, in addition to whatever principal eye problem Pepys had, he didn't also suffer from dry eyes. This might have been exacerbated when he was trying to work by the light of candles on his desk. No 'Viscotears Gel' available in those days.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"an extract out of a book of my late Lord of Northumberland’s, so prophetic of the: business of Chatham, as is almost miraculous."

L&M say this was a passage in Bk V of the MS 'Tracts' written by the admiral Sir William Monson (d. 1643), which had been in the possession of the 19th Earl of Northumberland, Lord High Admiral, 1638-42. In it Monson warned:

"Holland, by reason of their abundance of Shipping, the number of Soldiers Quarters in all the parts of their Country, and their daily and speedy use in gathering their Forces together for present Service, as they often do, will give us the less suspicion if they should intend any sudden Stratagem upon us; and the first thing that they will attend, is the opportunity of a settled Easterly Wind, to bring their Ships, without striking Sail, as high as Gravesnd, and there suddenly put 8 or iocoo Men on the Kentish Shore, to march to Upnor-Castle, 4 or 5 Miles from thence; where they shall find no resistances , the Castle being both weak and weakly provided; and having it, they have an Entrance to the River, where the Ships ride.

"The Ships having done so much as belongs to them, in landing their Men, they will, no doubt, repair presently to Upnor, which is the place they will principally shoot at; and the Castle being taken before their coming, their Passage is made for them to surprize our Navy, which they will find unprovided of Men, more than the ordinary Ship-keepers; their Ordnance commonly ashore, and without Powder or Shot ; for unless there be Employment of Ships to Sea, the Ammunition is always kept in the Tower of London, and too late at that time to be supplied from thence, if this Devilish Design should prevail; I protest the very thought of it makes me tremble, and wish it may be prevented.

"And for prevention it will behove us to seek, how by Art and Skill to raise Works and Fortifications, both by Land and Water for the Guard and Strength of Upnor Castle; and to order and appoint that a certain number of Trained Soldiers, thereabouts dwelling, upon every Allarm repair thither with their Arms, which will prevent any sudden surprize; and in the mean time we shall have leasure to draw a greater Army together, than they will be able to withstand."

http://books.google.com/books?id=B2hZAAAAYAAJ&p...

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