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Stephane Chenard has posted 300 annotations/comments since 1 January 2021.

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About Monday 31 May 1669

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Our little boat comes to rest on the shore, with a dry hiss of its paper hull against the fine sand. Behind us the immense sea of paper churns and heaves, stirred by the fights of the Archival monsters deep within. Sam Pepys neatly stows the oars, stands up, adjusts his golden lace cuffs and his periwig, steps ashore and walks away without a word or a look back.

"Mr. Pepys", we say, "we urge utmost caution! Those are the Sands of Time! People have been known to disappear in them. On this Sea and with us you would be safer".

Up and down the shore, dozens of other boats, of all styles and sizes, are similarly beached, and from them dozens of Sam Pepyses step out. The Annotators all plead like us, to no avail. Some leave their boats to trudge after Sam up the beach, but he's already disappeared behind a dune.

It's a problem for the Annotators. We are, you see, mostly from the future. But most of us are in fact from our past, though we converse with them almost as in the present. And now we have no future, because the past has stopped; the past has no future anymore. What to do?

Why, of course the past has a future. It is the past itself – the deeper past! We fell into this boat, in Sam's company, on 1 January, 1665. And so we will turn our boat around, round this little cape here, on which stands this tavern appropriately named The World's End, and the shop where they make these elegant white walking sticks for the blind. Then we will resume our progress from 1 January, 1660. Aye, that is our designe. The past will then be younger! Sam, younger, fresher and poorer. The King, still brushing off ashes from the recent past. London, still a warren of timbered, combustible narrow lanes, and the plague still on its way to Constantinople.

The Annotators, also younger, though this much older, and bringing to the past their new wisdom from the future – for we know the past's future, the past years 1665-69 that will all be the future (but only then, in the past of the past) and these future people that we will meet in the past will not yet have seen this future. That is, we will do this in the future, if the Diary Gods allow, as we pray.

On the dune, two seagulls contemplate us. "This one's severely confused, isn't he", one remarks to the other. "Didn't bring us any fish, though. Is it going to be like this every ten years, then? We should put up a sign: 'Bring fish for the Time Gulls'."

Ah well. We have six months now to find January 1, 1660 and haul our little boat there. Sure, we could just cross over, and be there already, but who wants to read of wintertime at the height of summer?

So see you soon! Let's meet again, ten years ago in six months. How shall we survive until then? Not to worry; just scoop some Gazettes, some State Papers, from the bountiful sea. Onward, now! Onward, to the past!

About Wednesday 26 May 1669

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Of course we had been inform'd of the Milford his misadventures against the French, and we do suspect from the sources at our disposall that they grew somewhat with the retelling. The Milford, by coincidence, was the frigate which his Majestie had sent to fetch prince Cosmo of Tuscany after he was marooned in Scilly. Then it was detailed to the Straights, to support Thos. Allin's fleet in the Tangiers area.

On the 23rd of April, Capt. Hubbard wrote from Cadiz of being, on the 13th, "met with a new three-decked French man-of-war of 75 or 80 guns, and being covetous of news, I ran alongside and hailed him, but could have no other answer but out of the mouths of several men speaking English, 'Dog, strike your topsail'. As I could never understand that language in any if his Majesty's ships, finding the Milford not able to dispute that punctilio with him, though very inclinable to it, I passed by, telling him in his own words that I scorned to strike a topsail for any French dog in the sea; which so disturbed him, that he immediately bore up after me, fired, and gave chase for 1½ hours, when he tacked about. Four other ships coming up, one of which was French, on the 15th I anchored in Tangier Road, and have the Governor notice of what had passed".

The basics of the storie are there, and the French dogg did fire, but no mention of eight men kill'd. That would seem to require the ships to engage within musket-range, and a firefight that should've made it into the captain's letter (which was to Matt. Wren, and is duly preserv'd in the State Papers). Of course they could've been just ordinary seamen, and so valued at slightly less than bacon, but still. Hubbard wrote next to the Navy Commissioners on April 30, to report having crack'd his foremast, but with no further mention of the incident. He was still in Cadiz then, and whether the Milford has yet returned to an English port for his men to spread their version, we know not, and the Gazette does not say.

About Saturday 22 May 1669

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We're pleas'd to report, as all is made neat and tidy before the End of the World, that after weeks of careful cross-examination and auditing the Treasury Commission has today enter'd a minute of a "Privy seal for £6,313 to the Earl of Sandwich in full of his ordinary and extraordinaries in his embassy to Spain". Let's hope that Sam isn't my lord's only creditor, or is first in line. The minute (at…) notes that my lord had already been paid £19,253 7s. 4d.

About Monday 24 May 1669

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But the best is, as always, in a report by Venetian ambassador Piero Mocenigo. The latter keeps an eye on his fellow Italian. The chat with Piero which the prince's Journall mentions today, won't make it into the ambassador's weekly report, but this comedic episode will, in his dispatch sent yesterday, May 24 (at…):

"In respect of ceremonious relations with the prince of Tuscany I have conformed precisely with the practice of the ambassadors of France and Spain. As they thought fit not to follow the example of Madrid and not be seen expressly in a third place, I also abstained and only paid my respects in the queen's chamber after the Spanish ambassador [in a less ignominious show, then, of coming second; coming before the Spaniard would have probably have caused a clash]. The Ambassador Colbert, who first raised the difficulty about visiting in a third place, wrote to Paris. While he was waiting for the reply he found that the grand prince had responded to the courtesy of [Spanish ambassador] Molina by visiting the ambassadress, his wife, according to the style introduced of visiting the wives of gentlemen who have favoured him in his house. Colbert being offended at this step taken at the Spanish embassy before coming to his own, did not abstain from speaking to the prince in the queen's chamber [one gathers that being there as a wallflower and ignoring the prince would have made Colbert officially 'not there']. When his Highness sent to arrange a visit to the ambassadress, the time was fixed; but when he arrived at the house and mounted the stair he was told that the ambassadress had gone out. This action which shows the feeling of Colbert about the precedence claimed from Spain is received by the prince as the act of the wife without having arranged it with her husband and so the ambassador did not offer a word of excuse to his Highness when they met last Tuesday, in the presence of his Majesty, who was holding a state review of his troops in this neighbourhood."

Piero, it must be said, has to put up with all this folderol of precedence and elbowing in the Queen's antechamber, so important to the French and Spaniards, but always relates it with a heavy sigh.

About Monday 24 May 1669

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The prince, recall, is travelling incognito. 'Twas a wise precaution, given the cost of an official entourage and the fights which have been known to break out, and spread from, the escorts of grandees when their coaches cannot both pass at once through some narrow street. But as for this particular incognito, may we be suffered to say "LoL"? Since His Highness ('tho you're not supposed to call him that, shh, shh, he's incognito) has landed, it's been a non-stop deluge of honors, dinners, cannonades and receptions. He was so grandly received at Oxford, and the London Gazette covered it in so much detail, that a Cambridge official, Dr. John Carr, complained to Williamson on May 11 (in the State Papers) that "they talk here that you were too succint in omitting in the Gazette the Prince of Tuscany's entertainment at Cambridge, and too copious in the narrative of his reception at Oxford".

It seems the PR disaster resulted from Williamson missing the man who was bringing him the press kit for Cambridge. "I could not find you yesterday, to let you know the Prince's desire concerning his reception at Cambridge", an Italian diplomat, Bernard de Gascoigne, wrote to Williamson on April 26; this was just five days before the reception, close enough for Williamson to miss the press release if that's all he based the story on, rather than having a local correspondent (at which we would be shocked). Diplomatically Williamson had made it up by printing what news he still had (in Gazette No. 361, page 2) in large type.

About Monday 24 May 1669

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'Tis said one should live with the times. In this spirit, how can we not comment indeed on the Duke of Tuscany's vacation? Why, Sam himself gave us leave, by ticking off that box and ogling the "comely, fat black man" as he came out of the Queen's chapel, making sure to name-drop him in the Diary (this was at, back when he still cared about the Diary).

The prince's visit is such an attraction that today the French Gazette publishes (at an "Extraordinaire", a "Letter from an Englishman to a Frenchman", to which it supplies the headline ("La Réception faite au Prince de Toscane, dans les villes d'Angleterre") and three full pages. Of course in that news-letter's style the letter is generally uninformative, though exceedingly well written, but it does include droll details of how the Prince's boat was tossed by storms from Irish port to Scottish port, and what looks like an ad planted by the English Tourist Board: "Vous ſerez bien aiſe d'apprendre de quelle manière, nous accüeillons ceux de ſa qualité" ("you will be well pleased to learn how we welcome those of his quality"). We phant'sy that a gazette devoted entirely to vignettes of the private entertainments of the rich and famous could attract the favors of a broad public; perhaps with illustrative wood-cuts.

Pity that, as we read yesterday (at…, courtesy of San Diego Sarah), the English "are not accustomed to that delicacy and variety in their dishes for which the French are so remarkable, and, following their example, the Italians also". Or, as the prince in another Age would post on Tripadvisor, "they served us the same meat pies every day".

About Wednesday 12 May 1669

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It seems that while at Whitehall Sam also attended the Treasury commissioners, whose minutes for this morning session (at…) mention that "Mr. Pepys prays that his warrant for the last half-year for Tangier may be signed. Warrant by way of loan on his months. Warrant for the money to be borrowed. Pepys to give an account next Wednesday [the 19th - we'll be there] of all payments charged on his office that my Lords may see which payments they will take up on money [borrowed] at interest. Auditors Aldworth and Chislet to state Pepy's interest account for moneys borrowed for Tangier."

If the minutes are chronological it would have been in the late morning, so the good time with Mrs. Martin perhaps overwrote Sam his memory. After the dinner break the Treasurers' cramped room must have been a sight, being packed with a lot of periwigs and lace as the King dropped by to deal with Irish farm revenue.

About Monday 10 May 1669

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'Tis Monday, and so we delight again in the weekly dispatch of Venetian ambassador Piero Mocenigo. Still trying to get England to help against the Turk in Candia, and getting nowhere, he's now tried a last-ditch, wonder weapon - a letter from the Pope to Queen Catherine de Braganza.

That doesn't work either, but we still get this vividly frank report, nearly straight from their Majesties (visible at…). They come across as not telling themselves any stories when looking out the windows at this their Kingdome:

"The confidence existing between their Majesties permitted the most intimate considerations to be frankly discussed between them. Without repeating all the particulars I will simply report here that the queen had to let herself be convinced and to believe that the king was justified in avoiding any commitments from fear of stirring up trouble with those interested in the commerce of the Levant, in order not to hazard an obedience so recently planted and far from being rooted in the hearts of this people towards his royal person. Further the approaching assembly of parliament called for infinite reserve as he had to ask money from those who were resolved to refuse it. Here the queen exposed their sores, admitting the very considerable debts of his Majesty."

Nothing we didn't know, of course, but one easily imagine the Queen, having thought aloud of these debts and shallow roots, glancing up at the gilded ceiling, and wondering when it would come crashing down. Oh, the solitude of power.

Piero goes on with comments on how York and St. Albans "are believed to be the gobetweeners" in an upcoming secret alliance with the French. On this we shouldn't say too much, but while perusing the Treasury Commission's minutes for today we did have a LoL moment upon this "money warrant for 222L. 13s. 4d. to Peter Massonet (...) as (...) teacher of the French tongue to the King and the Duke of York".

About Tuesday 6 April 1669

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Three days ago Roger Baker, the purser whose beating at the hands of Capt. Trenavion occasioned the Court-Martiall in question, wrote to the Commissioners on how badly it all went for him, notwithstanding the wise lessons which Sam and the Duke extracted from the events:

"I am in a deplorable condition (...) I beg for a protection till I have passed my intricate accounts, which will take time, as I am 5 years in arrears". There we pause; 5 years in arrears, in "intricate" accounts? Baker seems a more complex man than one would surmise; more than the humble quill-pushing Bob Cratchit we may suppose; an Adventurer perhaps; recall an obscure private quarrel with the captain about wine purchases had kindl'd their fight, and wonder in what cahoots those two may have been. Anyway, "my creditors have threatened to clap me into prison, by reason of my dismissal by the unjust sentence of the court martial. Thanks for your having moved his Royal Hignness on my behalf (...) I hope my captain may not receive his wages, until satisfaction is given me for the abuses and damages sustained through him" [State Papers,].

The letter may well be in Sam's hands today. Young Captain Trevanion will go on having a long and illustrious career, warmed by all that Esprit de Corps that will so comfort the lonely officers after a hard day of beating up the crew, up to Bounty days and well beyond. Roger Baker will surface once more, post-Diary at the end of the year, having apparently dodged jail but still not passed his accounts, and pleading for this and that.

About Sunday 25 April 1669

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Hewer having left to deal with the day's load of unpaid suppliers and late deliveries, Mr. Lead remains alone with Sam and pulls out some papers.

"You had mention'd some improvements for the Navy's consideration", Sam recalls.

"Indeed", Lead says, unrolling blueprints on Sam's desk. "By your leave, Mr. Pepys." The blueprint shows a vizar much like the one on Sam's head, but with a brass cage on top. "My efforts to train crows to recognize objects are successful. For a start I selected 'pretty young ladies', and specifically their denuded ankles and bosoms, as easier targets for the birds to figure out in a church's low-light environment. The crow does react every time, and already knows to, with its little beak, twist this lever here" - he points at detail No. 58 in the blueprint - "and to make the mirror swing in the correct direction. Crows, as you know, are remarkably sharp-ey'd".

"And protectors of the Kingdom", Sam adds.

"Of course, Mr. Pepys. If they can pick out the rosy glow of a bare wrist, imagine what they can do to, ah, er, an enemy fleet on the stormy Straits..."

"Say no more, Mr. Lead. I will speak to the Duke about a budget. I am confident he will support this".

"I must be frank, Mr. Pepys, the power of this Artificeal Intelligence augmentation to my vizar doth keep me awake of nights. Is it wise to unleash it on the World, without careful consideration of the Effects?"

"Hmm". Sam nods, making the tubes shake and rattle to Lead's slight concern. "How true. The Government will only employ this in an ethickal and responsible manner. But the French and the Dutch, Mr. Lead, would show no such restraint. Now, how much did you say your Researches might require?"

About Sunday 25 April 1669

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Will Hewer ushers Mr. Lead into Sam's office and closes the door. Lead opens the velvet-lined case he came with and pulls out a heavy contraption of leather, cardboard tubes and brass gears.

Sam, now a strange, tube-eyed creature, rearranges his periwig around the vizar's straps that encircle his head and swings his gaze around the room. Hewer coughs in his hand to disguise a laugh.

"Why, it is a bit heavier than I phantsi'ed, but the effect is... most remarkable, Mr. Lead. A very balm on my poor Eyes".

"And it comes with the features we discuss'd, Mr. Pepys".

"Yes", Sam says. "Now, Hewer, you may stay, but we are about to discuss Naval secrets. Eyes only, ha ha".

Lead reaches to the vizar near Sam's right ear and turns a tiny brass wheel, hidden behind one of the decorative mermaids. "Tweak this gear thusly, and the mirror rotates, and redirects your gaze to the side."

"So now you can ogle neighboring pews at church, without moving your head or letting anyone follow your gaze", Hewer immediately understands. "Most ingenious", he grunts with audible disapproval.

"Well, it's meant to let you inspect papers on the Dutchman's desk, or, er, perceive pyrate vessels without their knowing, or..."

Lead, continuing his demonstration, now gives a slight pull to the brass wheel, and clicking noises issue from the vizard's tubes. "Pull thusly, and the magnifying lenses now spring into action".

"Oooh", Sam now marvels, his gaze seemingly straight ahead at the door-knob, but in fact angled down to Hewer's beribboned shoes. "Every detail of your ankles is crystal-clear. Mr. Lead, you are a magician. Let's try this presently. Um, at church, why not".

"We call this model the Dull Sermon", Lead says. "You will have noticed many persons of quality in all of the better London churches have adopted it. There is now no dark corner for the Devil to hide unobserved."

"Of course", Sam says. "We philosophers understand each other at the merest hint. And, my vizard being so equipp'd, of course stays between us".

"We vizard-makers sell discretion and anonymousness, Mr. Pepys."

About Wednesday 21 April 1669

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Oh, and the Ukraine, since it's mentioned. The gazettes of London and Paris indicate that it's currently at war. Against the Tartars. It's helped by its good friend, the king of Muscovy (whom we understand to have taken to a local title, the "Tsar of Russia"). For now at least, because it seems that since last year a Mr. Stenka Razin ( is leading a revolt against Russian control, notably to liberate a province called the Donbass. Newes of this particular guerilla have yet to make it into the gazettes, though torrents of blood are shed on both sides.

But we disgress. And surely they'll find a lasting solution. More chocolate, anyone?

About Wednesday 21 April 1669

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On today's meeting with the Treasury there is much less intrigue, but just so we have the numbers here's the summary from their minutes (at…):

The Duke of York came in with the Commissioners of the Navy and Sir Denys Gauden about his 28,000l. orders. [Yes, Gauden was there too] He [Gauden, the Victualler] says he desires no orders, but that he may have his money according to his contract, which my Lords say he shall. Write the Customs Farmers and Mr. Meynell to attend on Friday next about lending money for the Victualler. Mr. Pepys opens the present occasions of the Navy for money. The Duke of York says the principal officers shall send to my Lords a letter of the particulars by which there will be necessary above 220,000l. more than the 200,000l. appointed for the Navy for this year: of which 117,000l. [will be] for finishing the ships on the stocks, and [for] the fleet to go to the Straits and other necessary extraordinaries for docks and other charges in harbour, which yet needs not to be all ready money: and the remaining 103,000l. for other matters to be provided as occasion arise. (...) The Duke of York also moves that the Navy officers be encouraged to go on with repairing the ships burned, &c. My Lords said they would make the best provision they could.

"We'll do what we can". So ordered.

About Wednesday 21 April 1669

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

But mere "liberal promises of pensions" is not what the "million of money" rumor seems to be about. It's not the 800k in Colbert's strong-box either, that was for daily spraying and expenses. Hmm. And then, there's this: You'll remember that the Duke of York's apartments were broken into last month, prompting much speculation about a black-bag job. Mocenigo felt the matter was sensitive enough to encrypt this part of his dispatch of April 5:

"The first unvarnished reports untrammeled by ulterior considerations, were that although the closet contained a lot of money, a quantity of jewels and a good number of rare and precious things, only the papers were missing. These reports being subsequently edited (regolate) the notion was put about by the Court that the duchess, jealous of the duke's affection and impatient to ferret out some correspondence, had opened the closet. But this report is discredited from pure lack of evidence, and now they wish to have it believed that a lot of money is missing. With all sorts of opinions being expressed one circumstance gives rise to the gravest reflection. This is the modest behaviour of the duke of York, who is suspending further search. This is an indication that he has discovered that the rifling was the work of a superior hand, one beyond the reach of fear. This would indicate that his Highness had fallen under suspicion of secret intelligencies outside the kingdom. The most plausible conclusion is that these are with the lord chancellor, the father of his wife. The other idea, of some understanding with France, is a baseless absurdity. It is encouraged by the expected appearance here of St. Albans, sent over by the queen mother; but he will have no other business beyond the private matter of the queen's assignments and such correspondence would require a solid basis and lead to consequences of too great moment."

So, we don't know, everyone is much embarrassed and wants the affair buried, but now the corridors of power (in the person of Cholmley) are buzzing.

About Wednesday 21 April 1669

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The Most Christian, himself hardly adverse to war or to messing up the infrastructure, does of course buy his way when it's cheaper or more convenient. Why, every serious power does this. Our friend Venetian ambassador Piero Mocenigo, who keeps a close eye on these machinations in general and on Ambassador Colbert in particular, wrote on the 12th current in his weekly report to the Doge and Senate (at…), of how Spain is currently paying Sweden to stay in the Triple Alliance. He threw in, however, a comment on the French method, which suggests that not everyone in London is impressed:

"[Sweden] cannot disown the pledge involved in the acceptance of the money paid by the Spaniards (...) Such is the opinion of the Secretary Arlington, who enlarged on the subject with me. He pointed out that Sweden alone, as distinguished from the other allies enjoyed the advantage of being paid by the Spaniards for what, in the event of a rupture [by Spain] with France, she would contribute for guaranteeing the states of the Catholic [Spain]. He said that she would arrive at having an army on foot at the expense of Spain, whereas from France she [Sweden] could expect nothing but liberal promises of pensions which would be a long time in taking shape."

About Sunday 18 April 1669

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As Williamson finishes reading Appendix III to Sam's dense and detailed letter, James bends toward the King and whispers: "You should say something".

"Hmm? Yeah, thanks Williamson. Gentlemen, we'll discuss this in private now, if you would be so kinde as to wait outside..."

Sam and the rest bow and file out. Williamson has a stretch and a large glass of wine. James to Charles: "You should have said more".

"More about what? Whatever are you after?"

"You know how the gossips are. A 30-minute presentation, and then you say nothing. They'll say you didn't understand or care or don't have the mental capacity. You should have asked two questions and contradicted a little and offered on-the-spot advice. All Great Leaders do this. I had questions ready for you on this card here. You could have asked for another report, Pepys loves doing them".

"For God's sake, Jimbo, we asked him to do a report on how that office is set up, he did it, he says in perfectly clear language that all's fine and should be kept as is, and that's it! It's if I had launched into a detailed debate that people would wonder if I understood. Arlington, send that report to the Lords, and then we'll see what a fountain of clever ideas they are. And I'd like to see my Privy Council meetings being gossiped openly..."

"They all keep Diaries, bro, you know that, nothing's really private anymore".

"So if in a hundred years people read of King Charles' wise pronouncement on how many types of specialist officers the Navy Office should have, my place in history will be assured?" The king harrumphs. "Let's discuss the budget, instead, shall we, my lord High Admiral? If I'm gonna fight the French this summer, I'd rather not spend my time opining on org charts. OK, bring' em back in".

About Sunday 18 April 1669

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La Gazette de France (available, in high French only, at…) publishes today an "Extraordinary", a supplement on "the Affaires of England, in a Letter from London". The French gazette is rarely where you find your red-hot newes, so imagine our surprize on reading this:

"Mais, preſques en meſme temps qu'on a ici, reçeu cette bonne Nouvelle [a letter to Charles from the king of Denmark, which had come sometime in March] il en eſt arrivé une trés faſcheuse de Tanger, que les Tempeſtes en ont entiérement rüiné le Mole, auquel on avoit dépenſé des Sommes immenſes (...) Cette diſgrace a beaucoup faſché le Roy de la Grand' Bretagne: lequel, ayant appris le bon eſtat de la Place (...) ne penſoit plus qu'à donner les ordres nécéſſaires pour (...) en rendre la Garnison la plus forte qu'il lui auroit été poſſible (...) en cas que le Roy de Taffiléta (...) se fut réſolu d'en entreprendre le Siége".

[But, nearly at the ſame time as we had here received this good Newes, came a most vexing one from Tangiers, that the Stormes have entirely wrecked its Mole, to which we had devoted immenſe Amounts (...) This diſgrace has much angered the King of Great Britain: who, having learned of the good state of the Place (...) only thought to give the necesſary orders to (...) make its Garrison as strong as possible (...) in case the King of Taffilet (...) would resolve to undertake its Siege".]

At this we almost choked on our cardamome coffee, for when had Mr Pepys, emerging from all these Committees for Tangiers, ever mentioned this Apocalypse? Never - his only discourse of Tangiers was of routine budget matters and, indeed, on the reorg of the troops there. (Or could the quicksilver in our daily Purgative indeed have confused our Braines? Some say it can do that). We perused the State Papers - keeping in minde that the French gazette is usually a month behind, even with this newfangled calendar the Continentals are using - and found no mention either!

This would indeed make it wise to send Taffilet gifts of jewels and ego-boosting Ambassies. If 'tis true. If 'tis not, we now wonder what Advantage could accrue to Versailles, in disseminating this canard...

About Friday 9 April 1669

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By some strange magic the State Papers open themselves today on a document of April 8, a "warrant, to pay to the earl of Sandwich, Master of the Great Wardrobe" - oh yes, he's that too - "4000 L., to furnish a present to be sent to the Emperor of Morocco, by Henry, Lord Howard, Ambassador Extraordinary to him".

Because while Thomas Allen has indeed sailed home, we're not forgetting Taffilet, the pirate-king of Barbary, whose wish to try diplomacy (especially acute since Allen threatened to burn down his fleet) and to receive a glamorous British ambassador, will presently be fulfilled. Of late there had been a lot of to- and fro on the budget for that indispensable gift, and yea, £4,000 should buy something not too shabby. In fact it must make Sandwich's head spin just to think about it, given his own perspective on ambassadorial budgets.

'Tis probably for the better if the merchants, whose ships have been England's gifts to Taffilet so far, don't know about this. But they shouldn't miss the greater picture. We find in Gazette No. 353 newes, from a ship now come to Yarmouth, that a French merchant was detained "by an Algiers man of War of 36 guns", and his captain most civilly entertained while its cargo was closely inspected. The Turks, whose patronage Taffilet seems to have accepted, "excusing the strictness of the search upon several abuses put upon them by such of their Enemies [e.g., currently, the French] as had pretended their ships and goods to have been English".

And so, between Allin's treaty of last September with Taffilet and Charles' care to stay out of Venice's fight for Candia with the Turks, 'tis a good thing in the Med to be English right now, and perhaps worth a carbuncle or two.

About Wednesday 7 April 1669

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Sam's appearance with Dennis Gauden before the Treasury Commissioners is duly listed among their minutes for today. The session, the last before a two-week recess, must have been quite intense, as Sam's turn is item No. 54 out of 57, not bad for a morning's business, especially as only two Treasurers are recorded to have been there: "When the Navy privy seal is passed the Treasurers of the Navy are to have the 30,000L. on the Wine Act; also a warrant for 6,000L. out of the ready money of the Customs in the Exchequer" […].

Makes sense. Surely that didn't take "most of the morning", which must have been spent waiting to be called. Sam then may have attended this earlier discussion: "A letter to be written to all the nobility that are in arrear with their Poll money" - well, almost by definition that should be all the nobility, period - "and their warrants are to be stopped till they have paid". The warrants include the "creation money" their lordships receive from the crown just for being who they are (or were made, rather), and sundry other subsidies such as "stable money". A few deadbeats are specifically named, including no less than "the Lord Chamberlain" and, gasp but of course, "the Earl of Sandwich", whose "last warrant" (unspecified) hangs in the balance. Either Sam wasn't in the room at that time, or his Sandwich account is so written off that the above that he just shrugged and thought comfy thoughts of the coming pea porridge instead. All the better, if Sam was in this rare mood for "buffoonery" (Sam Pepys the buffoon not being so often in evidence).

Surely none of their lordships saw fit to attend so base and absurd a phant'sy as their actually paying taxes, like vulgar merchants. Every day new complications are thought up! This makes what should be the simple exercise of living on credit far beyond your means and without working, sooo outlandishly and needlessly complex! Why can't we just be given money by his Majestie, without having to give it back the next day to his clerkes, and in exchange, I dunno, ride to the crusades or somethin'?

About Thursday 1 April 1669

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

That a lot of luv there between Sam and the gentlemen-captain was not, could be expected. This flat-foot quill-pusher from the central admin, this vile commoner, disguised as one of them, the horror. But it also seems clear which way this court-martial would go if left to the officers' corps. In this case we wonder how widely the case may have been followed, through the grapevine, by the restless multitude of the ordinary seamen. Pray recall, from the case summary we had thought usefull to post (at…) that Roger Baker's plight migtht've been fairly widely known, as his ship's crew had rallied and he had apparently agitated and written around quite a bit, including to Sam. A fact which, if known to the gentlemen-captain, they might've used to plead for his recusal as a judge.

This Society has phant'sied on occasion that seamen would throw bricks through Sam's beautiful windows, as payment for all the rotten biscuits, pressing and whatnot. Sam now comes across as the lower ranks' go-to friend in London - at least for the pursers, who are perhaps not to be confused with the lumpen who furl sails. How the case will go we know not, but 'tis likely the brass knew exactly what it was doing in appointing him to the bench. It suggests the system isn't as well stacked against the tars as one may doubt, or maybe that the system was prudent, given how the fleet's full attention will be needed this summer.

Meanwhile, Sam who yesterday said "how soon I know not" when the Treasurers would deliver the cash they promised him for Tangiers, was satisfied today: The machine, which on occasion can crank fast, has spit out a "Treasury order for 1,449L. 8s. 10d. and 2,000L. to Samuel Pepys for Tangier" (at…).