2 May 1670

2 May 1670

Sir

I have yours of the 28th of the last with the enclosed particulars relating to the Office of the Ordnance, and shall in that, as well as in what respects our own Office, endeavour to procure you all the satisfaction and with what speed I possibly can, being very desirous to give you all the ease and furtherance within my reach towards the great work you are upon.

But there happens a particular which, though I believe in itself it signifies but little, yet in the noise which some people are disposed to raise upon it, seems to be designed to do you a greater prejudice than is fit for me to permit without giving you notice of it. It is that you have of your own head, without precedent, as well as without the advice, or so much as the privity, of this Board or the Commissioner upon the place, presumed to lay aside the old secure practice of fastening your beams in your new ships with standards and knees, and in the room thereof taken upon you to do it with iron. An experiment which they would represent as the more extrava-gant, as being made upon a ship of such value as that you are now building.

Whether you have done this for dispatch, husbandry, or any other convenience, or reduced to it by necessity, I shall not enquire. But the complaint has reached as far as the King and Duke; in whose presence hearing the matter urged, and that not without some expressions of dissatisfaction in them, I took liberty to say that I doubted not but that if the matter were in fact true, you would be able to give them a reasonable account of your proceedings therein, and therefore prayed that they would suspend their censure concerning it till I had wrote and received your answer about it; which his Majesty and Royal Highness readily granted me. I desire that you will draw up such an answer speedily to this matter, directing it either to the Board or me, grounded upon mine to you, for the satisfaction of his Royal Highness and them, and let it be so as may be fit for me to show to the King and Duke.

The matter I believe springs from Mr Steventon, his name having been used in it; but as I am confident your understand-ing, so I do not doubt but your care on his Majesty’s behalf and prudence on your own is such as cannot have misled you to the doing anything in this matter beyond your ability to justify, and therefore am not in any pain for you, though I shall always have a regard to the preservation of your esteem with his Majesty and his Royal Highness, and therefore wish myself armed to do you right in this particular…

Pepys’s evolving relationship with Anthony Deane meant that when he learned Deane was making unauthorized experiments in shipbuilding technology, he now chided him in a more restrained fashion than a few years before (Letter no. 45).

Deane defended himself strongly in a letter of 5 May 1670, arguing that his use of iron was far more suitable for securing beams. He went as far as to say that building more “great ships” would be impossible without them. This convinced Charles II, and Deane’s unauthorized innovations were permitted.

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