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Stephane Chenard has posted 21 annotations/comments since 1 January 2021.

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About Tuesday 14 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Susan, we concede that your interpretation is so much more consistent with the Weymouth dispatch as to be, in fact, correct. Our minde had just recoiled at the possibility of so brazen a deed as seizing a ship in dock, but we also now do find that Mr. Muddiman was suffered to report the embarrassing incident in his Gazette (No. 216 of Jan. 13-16, page 2, col. 2), and clarifies that (a) the ship was part of a caravan that had sought shelter from a storm, (b) it was indeed "seised on by an Ostender and carryed off", and (c) the captain was not "let go" (hey, captains are good to ransom), but happened to be on shore; only the English customs-men did the Ostender have "the kindness" (how touching), and the great wisdom, to leave alone.

"Ostender" in 1668 is a loaded term. Ostend is indeed part of the United Provinces, but must have been a thorn in their side as the main base for the infamous Dunkirkers, privateers with a decades-long record of working for Spain. Their concise history at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkirkers is a bit blank on the 1660s, but clearly they're still available and Spain is still technically at war with Portugal until February, so no problem there.

One could still, if of a sinful disposition, build an alternative history in which the Portuguese captain had only pretended to be driven to the coast, was really on a mission, &c. A mission for who? The court in Lisbon did have bigger fish to fry than the fate of Bombay, had traded it off for help in Europe against Spain. But that didn't mean a lack of interest in India, where Portugal had plenty of other bases and controlled land well beyond Bombay (see the map at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_India). Brazil is fine, but why should it be enough, and aren't we all agreed that the real riches are in the Orient?

On the ground, anyway, the Portuguese viceroy and governor have been doing all they could to stop, delay or contain the transfers to England. As of 1668 they have lost bits and pieces and Bombay has a hands-on governor, a Capt. Gary, who is doing a bit more than his predecessors to fortify the island - but it's nothing like what the Company, already a formidable entity, could (and will) deploy. If Sam had worked for the EIC (and who knows if he didn't get the pitch?) he likely wouldn't have complained as much of not getting resources (why, Mr. Pepys, in the private sector of course you would have that coach already!) But, anyway, life went on. Many of the Portuguese just got rebadged as Company men. Portugal retreated to Goa and will cling to it until 1974.

About Monday 13 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

At this time the shortened link works on all our devices, of both the Windows and the Android persuasions. It does lead us to a large blackish (actually dark green) rectangle but, on close inspection, this proves to be the embossed cover of the book, and at the bottom of the page we find a sliding cursor to navigate inside the volume. The full link, https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=gCk5AQAAM…, is a mouthful and its termination is specific to each page, but if it is more serviceable we shall now favour it.

About Tuesday 14 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Not a Pepys matter really, but we also resist not quoting this message sent yesterday from Weymouth: "The Portugal ship in Portland road has been seized and carried to Ostend, notwithstanding being in the King's chamber, within shot of the castle. Only the captain, a boy and some customs' officers on board were let come on shore". [shorturl.at/ayAB6, page 165].

The "Portugal ship". From a country in revolutionary turmoil, former home to a somewhat miffed queen, and that's about to lose its Indian dominions to England. It's not trusted. And it's "within shot of the castle"? Why, if the King should happen to be in Weymouth, on a discreet outing with some mistress... An accidental broadside from the ships' guns... Kaboom. Suinto muito. Who else but the captain and that Persian spy knew of Charles' plans for Bombay anyway? And India stays Portuguese.

About Tuesday 14 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

"At the office all the morning", and then some book-buying and theater. Ah well.

The morning mail has come. At least no summons from the Duke today, yesterday's meeting was frustration enough. But what's this?

Sir William Batten assembles the Officers of the Navy, and their most trusted clerks, in a secure part of the Office. He has a paper in hand.

"Gentlemen, an announcement". Theatrical pause. Wink. "We got 'em!"

Batten waits until the applause and the catcalls subside; cries of "huzzah! Begorra! Gramercy!" And, from the Clerk of the Acts, a slightly crestfallen "Adod!" Then Batten reads the dispatch now come from Portsmouth:

-- "Jan. 13, Portsmouth Ropeyard. Gregory Peachy to the Navy Commissioners. Two rope-makers were taken last Saturday with 14 lb. weight of cable. Captain Tinker and the mayor have secured the pieces, and taken security for the men's appearance until your Honours' pleasure is known" [shorturl.at/ayAB6, page 166].

"Hang' em with their own rope", is one predictable suggestion. Batten continues, "I'd like to thank my lord the mayor of Portsmouth, the Portsmouth watch and justice of the peace, and the many others who helped in this two-month manhunt and who, for the King's security, have to carry on anonymously with their duty... And now I am going to Whitehall to give His Royal Highness the good news. You know his Grace personally tracks the pilfering that's going on" - this with a quick glance at Sam.

Saturday? Why, on Lord's day Peachy didn't know the fiends had been caught, and was still writing of failure and of how hard it was? And of course, they'd send him the bad news, but the good ones go to "the Commissioners", eh?

Will Hewer quietly asks Sam, "you're not going along to the Duke, boss?"

"Well, no. It's not victualling or contracting, see... And I have quite a busy day already".

Well, at least the nightmare is over. Still, they recovered only 14 lbs? Nearly the whole haul has already disappeared into the black market for ropes and yarn.

"Hey boss, how do we know it's them?"

"Well, Peachy had said he 'shall know the yarn again if he can see it'. It's at page 104 in the State Papers". Still... there will be others. Industrial security is a never-ending job.

Thieves and embezzlers everywhere, as if things weren't in enough chaos. If only the Navy was as tidy as Sam's books, office and closet!

Perhaps one day the Society will come up with a solution. Why, if a man's blood can be changed, why not replace other corrupted parts with clockwork? An entire Navy of honest, predictable mechanicall seamen... "Mr. Boyle to carry the experiment". Ha ha.

About Monday 13 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

At least the mail from Portsmouth did not reach the office in time for Tinker's report, of the investigation going nowhere, to be added to the sad menu of today's meeting with the Duke:

-- "Jan. [13]. M. Wren to the Navy Commissioners. The Duke expects them this afternoon. Asks them to inquire into the complaint of embezzlements in the Orange", with reports of "stores embezzled by" the carpenter and the gunner (https://shorturl.at/ayAB6, page 166).

About Monday 13 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Well, no, the mayor's giant lantern is not recorded at page 153 of the Calendar of State Papers. Disregard that typo. The lantern idea had merit, though, and will be passed to the Society for evaluation.

About Monday 13 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

And now this. On that terrible night (page 92) in November, on the very day that Navy Commissioner Col. Middleton was inspecting, individuals that poor Peachy calls "those desperate instruments" (of Hell, maybe) stole 3 hundredweights of the King's tar yarn. 180 kg! It means, a gang, a horsecart, long and deceitful planning! And, on a recent quote of 50s. per cwt (page 140), a loss of, what, 7 and a half pounds!

An inside job is suspected (page 104). A watch was set, workers were warned they'd have to replace anything found missing, the mayor issued a search warrant (page 104), all yarn is now secured at night in the tar-house (pages 153, 156). The mayor also suggested contriving a giant lantern to project onto the clouds a call for help to "Pepysman", as he curiously put it, but this was found to exceed the techniques presently at our disposall. (page 153). All though the blessed 12 days of Christmas, ropemakers were searched from Portsmouth to Gosport (page 156).

But, despite the offer of "a considerable reward" (page 156), all in vain! A 3-page memo to report they "failed" (page 164). And what's this, Mr. Peachy's questioning of the ropemakers was "not much to the purpose"? What, did they fall to drinking and yard-talk? Does Sam have to do everything himself, then? Should he go to Portsmouth?

About Monday 13 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

"Some business" between dinner and Unthanke's. Indeed. And it couldn't make this humdrum Monday much better.

Alone in his beloved closet, chief inspector Pepys fingers the dispatch, written yesterday, that just came in from Portsmouth:

-- "Jan. 12, Portsmouth. John Tinker to Sam. Pepys. I find Mr. Peachy has been very diligent in the search after the yarn; has been examining witnesses, but not much to the purpose". With a 3-page attachment, "Information of John Leverett and 4 others, before Hugh Salesbury, Mayor of Portsmouth, as to the breaking open of the rope-house at Portsmouth, on 16 Nov. last, and stealing 3 cwt. of tar yarn. - 9 Jan. 1668" [Calendar of State Papers, https://shorturl.at/ayAB6, page 164; further page references to the same source].

The rope-yard break-in. Nasty case, that, from a place where news are usually bad. Sam sighs at the depths of human depravity in which his job forces him to wade (it's to steel himself and for necessary professional training, that he browses the back shelves at Martin's, understand). Too sensitive even for the Journall, it is.

The Portsmouth rope-yard is critical to the Navy, which relies on its product to keep its sails from flying away in the breeze. Of late, like other yards full of unpaid workers, that strategic facility been a cauldron near to boiling over. "The people [are] so needy and wicked", and "the house is so weak", that "disorder" and theft are constantly to be feared. The workers had to be "several times pricked and suspended" for skimping on quality, "to make haste to finish their day's work", delivering inferior product of the prescribed diameter but with less than the 14 threads per strand which they should well know are necessary to keep the ropes from breaking (pages 95-96). Imagine if this should happen in some frantic engagement, in full view of the Dutch - who would Parliament call to account, then, hmm?

About Friday 10 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Alternatively our turbaned visitor could possibly have been the infamous Mahomed Bei himself, the Valachian crook (and, horror, apostate) that Evelyn will denounce next year, for passing himself for a top Ottoman commander turned defender of Christians. Evelyn's bio of the man is hilarious, for the utter cheek it describes, even for a time when records took a while to check. As of early 1668, the man could still be in Paris, snookering king Louis and the entire French court, or already in London, where, by September, he will be parading in Oriental dress, showing off the gold chain the French queen gave him. In February 1669 Evelyn will burn him for good in England, presenting his "Three Late Famous Impostors" to Charles himself. If it was indeed Pietro Cisij who blew the whistle (Evelyn will have a good meeting with him in September, his diary says), it begs the question why; revulsion at the apostasy? Petty rivalry among expats? Or, if Cisij was at all a Persian envoy, a chance to embarrass those who had been suckered into bogus deals with the Porte? Who knows, but apparently "Mahomed" carried on, and by 1670 he had an impressive portrait (visible at https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an…) to impress the State Council of Portugal.

About Friday 10 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Pity that Sam, a curious mind whose next move is to buy a book on China, didn't find a way, or the time or interest, to approach this Persian and seems to have only gaped at his turban. The meeting, however, wasn't all about hand-kissing because Charles and the Persian envoy had quite a lot to discuss in early 1668.

It's hard to see what use either nation could really be in the conflict between the Turk and Venice. The latter have called Christendom to help, but it's far, the forces already involved are massive, the trench warfare has been pretty nasty, and - speaking of Sam - the Turk could retaliate at Tangiers if England got involved.

Soon, however, Charles will declare full and formal control of Bombay, which had been in Catherine's dowry but awaited the Portuguese's current moment of weakness to properly change hands. He will entrust it to the East India Company, who will (a) give him a loan of £50,000 for it, and (b) start an empire of some interest to the Navy. That will be on March 27. On April 1, Charles will then write to the King of Persia, England's new neighbor. Today's meeting may have been to find out how the KoP might react and what kind of chocolates to send with the formal letter. That letter would be interesting to see, unfortunately it's not online (anyone with access to the National Archive can look up record E/3/87 f 83 of the British Library's Asian and African Archive). Sam's brush with the turban in the Vane Room was a glimpse of a pretty big chunk of history being made.

About Thursday 9 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Sam is also about to receive a report, penned this day at Portsmouth by "St. John Steventon", a detailed report on "the muster of the Cambridge", a timber carrier. Yawn (read the summary if you must, at url.at/ayAB6, page 162), but we find it interesting that the bulky envelope contains (copies of) the ship's muster books. Apart from confirming that the Age of Bureaucratic Centralization is indeed upon us, it shows Sam, much preoccupied so far with masts and hemp and rather the Boatswain General, also dealing with personnel matters. In organizations this tends to be a more senior task than buying supplies, though maybe in 1668 people are not "our greatest asset" yet, and seamen are more like "supplies that walk" (or drink). But, as a minimum, it's more work. Lots and lots of additional work, even if Sam just routes the stuff to others. Just the books for this humble little bulk carrier are 12 pages; and they must change all the time, as seamen move in, out, get married, poxed, transferred, dead, etc, etc, etc.

About Thursday 9 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

No newspapers in 1668? Surely by now we are convinced otherwise, and the debates of a decade past are long put to rest, but allow me to quote the wisdom imparted on 24 August 1667, ironically to Gazette co-founder and intelligence coordinator Joseph Williamson, by a "J. Cooper" from the humble village of Thurgarton (population in 2011: 440) - as summarized in the State Papers:

-- "Thanks him for suppressing the newsmonger at Nottingham, as they go about their business better for it; if he suppressed all Muddiman's papers [i.e., the Gazette] to the post-masters, it would be a good service, the itch of news being grown a disease" [State Papers Domestic Series, volume 7, digitized at https://books.google.ht/books?id=vGsSAAAAYAAJ, page 415].

Some postmasters, who dispatch the gazettes, have also begun to complain that their sheer weight and number is exceeding what they can handle without more resources. So yes, the newsletters get around and get the people's attention, in Thurgarton perhaps to the point of distraction.

Whether they reach the lower classes may be hard to tell but, closer perhaps to present company's interests, the Gazette often comes across as a communication platform for seamen in particular, or at least for officers. Apart from a multitude of news items on ships arriving or departing with this or that cargo, advertisements have lately been instructive. In late 1667, several issues ended with notice of a relocated lighthouse, advising care around "the place called Black Middings" on the approach to Newcastle.

And the Gazette currently circulating in the taverns, No. 223 of January 2-6, ends with a long notice - half a column, a lot for a 4-column newsletter - on how hundreds of thousands of pounds are coming "towards the payment of Officers and Seamen as follows". The notice is too long to reproduce, but seems designed to keep unpaid seamen from throwing stones at Sam's new windows. Read it at https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/224/pag…

About Wednesday 8 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

The slightly confused appearance of today's visit to HRH ("deliver [to] the Duke ... was called in ... and so went out and waited without") is perhaps explained by this note which Matt. Wren, the Duke's secretary, wrote on this day:

-- Jan. 8, Whitehall: M. Wren to Sam Pepys. I appointed you, by mistake, to attend the Duke, but the business is not to be transacted with you, but with the committee of the Council (Calendar of State Papers, shorturl.at/ayAB6, page 160).

This could relate to another appointment, and tomorrow (Jan. 9) Sam will indeed visit the Duke for naught, but it looks more like counter-orders that a runner could have been sent with to catch Sam on his way. Ah well, it was still a productive morning. It also suggests that Sam doesn't turn up every morning at the Duke's chambers just in case he's needed, but by invitation and with an agenda, of which we wonder if any are extant.

About Tuesday 7 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Two letters are written for Sam this day, which he should receive shortly:

-- by Captain J. Perriman, to report on his "proceedings in visiting ships in the river from 3 to 7 Jan." No details, but let us hope it doesn't paint the same picture of chaotic demobilization as the report sent "to the Commissioners" by Captain Wm. Hannam from Woolwich, of ships left with "none but the boatswain and some inconsiderable servants", and drifting on the tide or left for locals to pilfer ("the Delph had her fasts stolen", apparently this chronic problem with rope theft again). State Papers (shorturl.at/ayAB6), page 159.

-- by John Tinker from Portsmouth, the sort of letter which could make a lesser man than Sam rush to the theaters indeed: "There is more ironwork to be loaded than the Emser will carry. There is here 100 lasts of tar; you can have 50 now the war is ended, as it will not be spent till great part of it be leaked out". State Papers (shorturl.at/ayAB6), page 160. Wikipedia says a last of pitch is 12 or 14 barrels, so maybe 40 cubic meters and 45 tons of tar in total. The Swallow, a larger ship, is suggested to take all this stuff away, using the Emser's crew. Would that be fine, Mr. Pepys?

About Sunday 5 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

No office drudgery today, it's all lords and ladies. Meanwhile, in Portsmouth harbour, Mr Philip Latley, the boatswain of (no less) The Sovereign, is scratching a letter - a rarity, a discussion of Sam between third parties:

Jan. 5, "The Sovereign", Portsmouth Harbour: Philip Latley, boatswain of the Sovereign, to Thos. Hayter. Begs his influence with Sam. Pepys, to procure him a month's liberty to come to London on urgent business.

At last, Sam is one of the norns, hidden puppetmaster of mens' destinies ... or at least of boatswains' destinies. Sacrifices will be laid to draw his benevolent gaze. A whole month, though, that must be some business.

And, since we were asked, a note on sourcing: The heavy tomes into which the Public Records Office compiled this and myriad other letters were digitized by Mr. Google - this one in Michigan State University, of all places. The present volume, edited in 1893 and running to September 1668, is accessible at https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=gCk5AQAAM…. Unfortunately it's a stream and there is no way to download.

Mr. Google's industry is well known but he keeps not his URLs short and wieldy, so for convenience I have also crafted this shortcut: shorturl.at/ayAB6. We will see, if God grants us until then, if it is stable and if Mr. Google long tolerates such backdoors. Both links take you to the book's elegant cover, and from there you can navigate, search, index and have lots of fun. The letters are in impeccable chronological order, and today's entry is at page 157 - as printed in the book and in the page's own URL (ending in GBS.PP157), and corresponding to page 205 on the scroll bar provided by Mr. Google, a further complication. Henceforth we shall endeavour to quote the printed page number in our trusty ayAB6, as the preacher may do upon starting the sermon which (ahem) Sam again didn't seem to attend today, so busy was he with books on why religion goes to seed.

The PRO would have liked us to reference Mr. Latley's letter as "S.P. Dom., Car. II. 232, No. 38", but this seems useful only if one has access to the stacks of originals so maybe we shall not. And this "Car."? Carolus?? In 1893? Really!

About Friday 3 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

The Gazette's website was designed by Isaac Newton, who had rediscovered the secrets of an ancient race of magicians. Alas, he encyphered it for use by other Initiates only, and that knowledge is now lost.

But there is a shortcut: the Invocation for number 221, the edition of December 26-30, is

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/221/pag…

Use the template for any other edition; it comes out every 4 days or so. Uncharacteristically there's only one page for this one, but it's a good one ("Extra! Janissaries revolt in Constantinople! Behold the Extravagant Largesse of the new Cardinal de Medici! Ship sails from Hull with fish and lead!!") There is a Button to download the pdf, and a Clever Devyce that ordinarily allows to toggle to page 2.

This would be Mr. Muddiman's Gazette. Apparently his boss Mr. Williamson also sent a news-letter of his own, for which it would be interesting to find a similar archive. May I add that the French gazette of M. de Renaudot looks, by comparison, like something out of the 16th century?

About Saturday 4 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

The mailbag delivered to the Office today contained the usual chaos ("I couldn't keep my appointment 'coz I was arrested by this guy who was a prisoner on my ship when we were forced to the coast of Guinea", &c., &c.) and this letter personally to Sam:

From St. John Steventon, clerk of the cheque, in Portsmouth, January 4: (...) Most of the Milford's men, despairing of pay, have left the ship without license; but having marked them as runaway, they begin to return. Asks whether to re-enter them, or continue them by removing the R, and only checking them for the absent time.

The "R" mark of infamy on the roster... How do you remove it, truly? A strike of the quill would still leave it visible. An eraser will leave a tell-tale Abrasion. Gotta burn the whole book, is what.

And more reports of Theft of Ropes, of course. Ropes and cables are an incredibly hot commodity, ropeyards strategic facilities to be protected or broken into, a rope stolen from the ship something worth informing Westminster and a crime to be sternly punished. Sam has enjoyed this from the hemp-side but, ah, if ropes could talk...

About Friday 3 January 1667/68

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Also on January 3, Wren wrote (and Sam likely received on the same day) from Whitehall a letter asking "in whose hands the Hardereen is, how she is to be disposed of, and at what value they compute her". This is recorded (at http://3decks.pbworks.com/w/page/913241/British%2…) as a flyboat captured in 1665 from the Dutch, and its case must have been complicated as she will take another 3 years to sell.

And, on the same day, we can imagine Sam shaking his head at an item in the Gazette (dated December 23-27, but which must be hitting the street around today as it contains an article dated January 1) on the travails of poor Clarendon, whom Louis has now ordered to decamp to Rouen. And this is sandwiched between two notices of the plague breaking out again, in 50 houses in Lille and 50 houses in Douai, and of every vacant house comandeered in Douai for guns and ammo for the war in Flanders. His former lordship is now kicked around in a place full of war and plague, with extradition quite possibly in the cards...

About Tuesday 31 December 1667

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Our abject apologies! A dysfluxion of the Minde, which the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is well known to cause (or could it be too much brandy in our chocolate?) has made us confuse calendars. Our references, and the hard-won link cited above, were to the Calendar of State Papers (Domestic Series), compiled by the Public Records Office and in which Mr. Carte had no hand.

About Wednesday 18 December 1667

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

"all the morning by particular appointment with Sir W. Pen (...) to even the accounts of our prize business"

A hint of what "evening the accounts" may have entailed came in a letter dated December 18, which may have been on the table during that meeting with Penn, from a "William Newland, purser", summarized thusly in the Carte archive: "The only obstacle on paying his accounts depending with Sir Wm. Penn is an allowance for leakage of brandy and oil; the first by defective casks, and the other by an impossibility to prevent waste of such a liquor in so hot a country". (Carte domestic series, II. 225 No. 33, digitized at https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=gCk5AQAAM…)

Which ship the letter is about isn't clear, but one can imagine the bureaucrats around the table trying all morning to grapple with this: whether the casks were actually leaky, how big the leaks were, and how fast brandy evaporates in Jamaica, in tropical weather which most of them could only imagine, relying of the say-so of suntanned guys like Newland. "Very, verrry hot in the Indys, sirs. Brandy just goes poof. You wouldn't believe. Trust me". Sam, sucking on his pencil, then thinks, "yep, I'm not gambling my money on that sort of risks. Let's just do a bit of colliery around Newcastle and exit".