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Stephane Chenard has posted 483 annotations/comments since 1 January 2021.

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Third Reading

About Friday 7 June 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

In the State Papers today: A "Proclamation, on petition of Parliament" - no less - "appointing the 12th of June to be observed in London and Westminster, and the 19th in other places [go figure] as a day of fasting on account of the late immoderate rains (...)"

As Sam noted recently, the rotten spring has led to "begin to doubt a famine" […]. The irony of a fast to prevent a famine may be lost on its usual sufferers.

About Saturday 1 June 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

On this day also starts a new volume of the State Papers, that will entertain and improve us through 1662. For reference, it is available at…. Also, in a much more awkward format, at…. Much luvv to Mary Anne Everett Green, who presided over the monstruous editing job back in 1861, and to whoever ran those 780 pages one by one through the scanner at the University of Indiana in 2009. Thanks to them we know for instance that My Lord wrote today to the Navy Commissioners, for "an imprest of 1,000l. , that he may not be retarded in his sudden repairing to the fleet".

About Saturday 1 June 1661

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Buried among the undated documents that the State Papers throw together at the end of their May collection, is a "Grant to the Earl of Sandwich of the offices of Master of the Swans in the Thames and of Bailiff of Whittlesea-Mere [a large swamp, near Cambidge, rich in waterfowl;…], with the custody of the swans there".

Swans! As if My Lord didn't have enough to do already. Will Sam have to go throw them pieces of bread? Does Sandwich especially like swans? Or is there no rent-paying office that's too small for grabbing? And can he keep the feathers?

About Monday 6 May 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

On how baby Charles went, the Venetian ambassador will thrown in a brief paragraph in his weekly report (dated May 20, new style) on how he was "lamented by his parents and all the Court" - so they might be human after all - but "no one has gone into mourning for him, as it is not the custom at this Court for princes of such tender years". With maybe a hint that it's not like that in Venice, but we are reminded of (non-Christian) cultures where infants are not even named until six months old, their Fate being so unclear till then.

Mercurius Politicus will regale us tomorrow, however, with the happy tale that on "the 7th day of this month [at] a general muster of all the Citty forces (...) the Kinge, with the Duke of York" had a great banquet in Hyde Park, "where after the banquett his Majesty was pleased to make himselfe mery in throwinge amongst the soldiers neats tongues, west hamms, English gammons, oringes and leamons and the like. Great fierings, much company, great joy. Vale! Vale!"

So, not a lot of mourning indeed. But we have sad newes ourselves: For those were the final lines in our edition of Thos. Rugge's summary of Mercurius Politicus, as published online by Cambridge University Press (…). So, unless another trove is found, and until somebody invents the London Gazette, the onely newes-book at our disposal shall be... the French Gazette! Woe!

About Tuesday 23 April 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Why, dear 徽柔, but that's excellent gossip, 谢谢, we need more of that, and to know the source. Tho', we now discover footnote 1 after the entry, that Buckingham was carrying the mond. Not a diminution for my lord, on the contrary, just a canard in the Gazette... And so his highness is still grata. For now.

And for now, ostentation is good. In just four months, monsieur Fouquet in France will be dismay'd to join the roster of those who found that too much of it can be harmful to your health. But let's not spoil the mood. £20k on a suit, you say? Things go fast when you're having fun. Mercurius Politicus entertains us on how, in yesterday's parade, "som of the nobility was cloathed in cloatch of gold (...) many of their cloathes embridred with pearls and dimonds. The Lord Whorton exceeded all for dimonds; his horse was set with dimons and pearls and other costly ornements." The French Gazette's supplement hadn't missed either, "the beauty of clothes covered in gold, silver, pearls and gemstones". The Venetian ambassador, always a bit more restrained, cautions in his report (dated May 6, new style) that "some" were "covered with pearls, diamonds and other precious stones", but also notes how "the Spanish ambassador (...) must have spent over 3000£. sterling" (poor Giavarina has to compete, on his own money, hoping the Senate will reimburse). So £20,000 on a duke's habit - not implausible.

A few of those dimonds are sure to have gotten loose, jolted by the fine Arabian horses during yesterday's cavalcade. Hmm. They'll be a mess to find in all that trampled gravel, amid the horsheshit and after the rain, but we phants'y there was quite a rush to clean the street after the last of the volunteers had walked past.

About Tuesday 23 April 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Three accessories make a king easy to recognize in a crowd: A crown, a mond and a scepter (everyone has a sword). And so, who's entrusted with the scepter, until the Archibishop gets to give it to the king? Why, but it's my Lord Sandwich! At this we thought, "oh wow and la-la-la, that's being on the A-list". That's it, we're made, this way to a dukedom, and our heart was glad.

But then we saw this in the French Gazette, relating the procession into the chapel at the start of the ceremony: "Deux Roys d'Armes précédoyent, ⌠ur leurs pas (...) vn autre Comte, qui, en la place du Duc de Buckingham, portoit le Sceptre de Saint Edoüard (...)". That's right, "two Knights-at-Arms preceded, in their paces (...) another Count who, in the place of the Duke of Buckingham, carried the Scepter of Saint Edward". So my lord was a stand-in. OK, for one of the top dukes, and that's how many great opera singers got their big break, but in this case is it good or bad? The Gazette treats him as some no-name "Count". And Buckingham, what's with that rogue? Is he disgraced? Snoring under some table? In bed with the ague?

About Monday 22 April 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Mercurius Politicus shows that the narrow streets, moreover, were made even narrower by the ground-level public, the barriers, the "regiment of [the Tower] Hamlats (sic), completely armed", who stand watch, the trained bands, "several Companies of the Citty in their liveries" (24, the Gazette says). We phant'sy that the last of the volunteers were leaving the Tower after the first of the duke of York's guard had already reached Westminster.

The Gazette and Mercurius Politicus add a bit of color on what went on at the navy's arch on Cornhill: three seamen sang there to entertain the first train of the nobility, then for the king, after another "qui designoit la rivière de Tamise" (in an allegoric costume, perhaps? how do you dress as the Thames?) gave him a special speech. And that was it for the Navy, not otherwise represented in the parade (well, Sam says, *we* aren't on holiday, ye know).

Not too many speeches and harangues seem to have disrupted the merry flow. There was one that we like, as transcribed in Mercurius, made by one baronet Sir William Wylde at the Tower this morning while everyone was readying to file out. He found the ultimate compliment for the king: Charles is "not of a mushroom descent, but the son of nobles of the most royal stemme". Son of a mushroom, but that's a catchy quote.

About Monday 22 April 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Few things fascinate the French more than the pomp of English monarchy. The spectacle of the people being so happy to have a king is also exactly what M. de Renaudot is desir'd to promote in his Gazette de France. And so, on May 25 (new style) we'll be treated therein to an extraordinary, 21-page Extraordinary on "Le Couronnement du Roy d'Angleterre".

Whoever wrote this may have seen it, but also had the press kit close at hand, and rattles out an interesting order of battle for today's parade, with an obsessive count of how many footmen and pages accompanied each grandee. They're carefully arranged, starting with a troop of lowly squires each permitted two footmen, up a crescendo to such as the "secretaries of Latin and French languages" with four each, etc... all the way, through six footmen, then six footmen plus two pages, to the Grand Chambellan, with (imagine that) 24 footmen and 12 pages, to the sound (in our head) of the grand finale in Ravel's Bolero. As the parade proceeded, its segments were thus larger and larger, and increasingly exalted and glittering. The duke of York, true to style, "alloit seul" (went alone). The king himself had 60 squires and footmen.

Tabulating all this, and with minimalist assumptions e.g. on how many were the "sons of viscounts" who walked with the knights of the Privy Council (we assume one only per viscount, times 24), we come to a total of over 7,257 participants; not counting a "company of volunteers" and an infrantry company that closed the show. Amusing fact: well over 90% of the parade was made up, not of lorships, but of footmen, pages, guards and assorted servants. The knights of the Bath, for instance, were surrounded by 720 non-knights-of-the-bath, and the 80 barons by an army of 1,064 non-barons. Sam could perhaps have been in there with the "secretaries of the Privy Seal", allowed two footmen at the start of the show.

Add to this a crowd of 1,100 orphans, dressed (of course) in blue, who read a petition to Charles in the courtyard of St. Paul's. It's a lot of people to fit in London's narrow streets, so the going must have been slow. The parade stopped at least four times, at St. Paul's and at the three arches, never a good thing to do in traffic. Everyone had plenty of time to hail their cousin or neighbor who's a footman to the Master of Tents.

About Friday 19 April 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Awww, poor Sammy who missed all the fun at the the Knights of the Bath. All toil and no fun, and then this foul rain... Perhaps he can still catch up with it in Mercurius Politicus, in which summary by Thos. Rugge - who starts it with "I then beeing employed as a barber tooke this notis", go figure - the beautiful ceremony fills three full pages. We'll copy them in full on another day, but in a nutshell, the Knights - 68 of them, no doubt a few names already in Sam's book - have spent the night at Westminster in the "Cort of Request", where they were indeed provided a tub and linen and "bathed more or less as each of them found convenient" (or least repellent), then they put on the rough homespun of the humble monk, until today when they changed into lordly garb and were touched by H.M. with the Sword of State. And then everyone had ribbons, musick and a great dinner, to which Sam wouldn't have been invited anyway.

It was interesting to watch as a complete creation, the Order of the Bath and its Mysteries having just been invented. Someone at the palace must have spent a while poring at old books and having brainstorms, to come up with, as the knights file past at the end, the idea of the King's master cook standing with a chopping knife, reminding them that if they ever broke their oath, "I must hack of your spurres from your heeles". And why not?

But missing the fun might have grated a bit also because, while Sam keeps putting full half-days at the office, everyone else in government is having a pre-Coronacion break. Francesco Giavarina, the Venetian ambassador, sighs in yesterday's weekly dispatch, for the second week in a row, that he has nothing to report because everyone is away, "by reason of so many ceremonials, which are performed in the most punctilious and sumptuous manner without stint of gold"; indeed, "there is a truce to all business (...) the secretariat at the palace is closed, neither the magistrates nor anyone else will treat of anything". Francesco has already made clear that he thinks those indolent Englishmen, forever at their dinners and masques, aren't a very serious people; not like us, hyper-efficient and always industrious Venetians. But 'tis true, that no minutes for the Treasury Committee are at hand for the 16 days from April 10-26. Frolic, frolic everywhere. Except, in the Navy office, that lone window with a trembling light...

About Thursday 18 April 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Today's scuffle in the mud is not a surprise; not after the merry "eat and drank" at the Church stile, followed by the brave wine at Mr. ——, and not from Admiral Sir W.P., who, we predict, will treat us to many a showing of his boorish character in the next eight years or so, to Sam's increasingly loud sighing. At least he didn't draw a sword. No wonder his son will go Quaker and become anything but a navy man like dad.

Precedence fights in narrow streets are also a common staple all over Europe, tho' they gain our notice when they're between the equipages of noble coaches. But of the nobility the Admiral is not, by the way; he's "only" a M.P. and an officer. Otherwise he's surely never abase himself to walk (urgh) the same streets as country fellows (argh). A narrow one indeed this must have been, otherwise its high edges would have been the place to be in any case, and the flooded middle not possibly the Object of any Fight.

Anyway. Everybody getting ready for the Coronacion, we trust? Plumed hats, diamonds, rose-petals?

About Saturday 13 April 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

The King has been quite busy recently with being nice to people. Today it was with the Scrofulous, but Mercurius Politicus tells us that on Thursday last, "11 day, called Maundi Thursday, his Majesty was pleased to wash 31 poore mens feet in the Great Hall in Whit Hall, and gave evry man a purse of whit leather, in it 31 pence, and a red purse, in it a peece of gold, and a shurt, a sut of cloathes, shewes and stockings, a wooden dish and baskett, wherein was 4 loufes, half a salmon, a whole linge, and herrings redd and whit. Evry man drank claritt wine in the hall, and after service was don by the useall vicar that belonged to the Kings Chapel, also the sound of the organs, they all departed and said, God save the Kinge."

You bet they said that. The king normally touches twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays (or at least the Parliamentary Intelligencer said last year that was the schedule); but on those occasions all you get is a medal (and, OK, fresher-looking skin). But next week's the Coronacion, and so 'tis the season for handing out free fishes and loaves (we trust you get the allusion; and it's also part of our national campaign, England Eat Fish 1661, to help our brave fishermen), and cash, and of course the T-shirt ("Charles II - Best King Ever"). And clean feet, for what it's worth given the state of the streets. Only 31 poore mens, mind, not the hundreds that get Touched. Pity Sam wasn't there to see them shuffle out, clutching their half-salmons, at the end of that exquisitely organized, red-and-white photo op.

That's the sunny side. On the other side, the State Papers today have a Proclamation, "ordering all cashiered officers and soldiers of the late army to depart on or before April 19, and not come within 20 miles of London and Westminster till May 20"; also a letter from "Philip Constantine" to royal secretary Nicholas, advising of mutters "in a conversation about wearing daggers (...) that there were thousands now making in London"; "considering the numbers flocking to the coronation, thought it well to give timely notice". Mr Nicholas, pray send a note and a half-salmon to that man.

About Wednesday 3 April 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

A bribe, against the Braganza marriage, of course, but from, you say, the Dutch? Are you sure? Why would the Dutch, enemies to Spain that occupies half their land, support its cause? Unless the bribe is meant to keep England out of their own war with Portugal, over there in the East Indies? Now that would be rich, the proud Dutch paying up to avert a naval fight with England.

That would make only slightly better sense, but the real problem is the Venetian embassy has heard nothing of a Dutch bribe, despite the microscopic attention it pays to these matters. Possible explanation: Giavarina, the ambassador in London, will report tomorrow that the fantastic amounts which Madrid is sending London-way - "200,000 pieces of eight", as his colleague in Madrid put it when they were authorized a month ago (…), which he now quotes as "200,000 crowns" - are not being delivered in clinking bags of gold, but as "notes of exchange (...) payable on the mart of Antwerp" (his cable is in the usual place, at…). Previous reports had put the money in the hands of "merchants in Paris" or in those of Spanish couriers, but maybe they were different bags, or just inaccurate chatter.

Sam, not being fully plugged into that particular grapevine, may have heard of a ship inbound from "Dutch-land" with the cash finally paid on that note - though right now Antwerp, still one of the main banking centers of Europe, is part of the Spanish Flanders, not the properly "Dutch" United Provinces. A small ship sent post-haste just to collect a heavy trunk... now that would make a good story for its officers to tell in taverns where Sam listens.

As for the naval expedition being stayed, Giavarina also has a more prosaic explanation: "As everything drags on to extreme length at this Court (...) the preparation of the squadron of ships is subject to the same inconvenience"; and "the lack of money is a hindrance, delaying the provisioning required for the voyage". Now, if provisioning was the explanation, Sam would know and wouldn't be looking for it elsewhere. Of course the Spanish money could help, but it's only just arrived, and for sure the naval budget is not where it will end up...

About Monday 1 April 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

On what's up with Sam's mom, Venetian ambassador Francesco Giavarina has nothing to say, and begs to be left out of it ("lasciami fuori da tutto questo"). His colleague in Paris, Alvise Grimani, reports today that two Spanish couriers have dumped another 35,000 crowns at the Spanish embassy in London for throwing at the problem of the king's marriage.

Closer to Sam, the State Papers offer what is still a rarity these days, a letter to Sam; this one is from Phineas Pett, the resident commissioner at the Chatham dockyard, asking for "a warrant to dock the Royal James, or her sheathing cannot be completed".

Another problem, then: The James is one of the fleet's largest and fanciest ships, and putting her in dry dock and nailing worm-repelling copper plates into her hull (chuckin' them barnacles outa the way first) is gonna take some time. She may well be the command ship in that expedition to the Orient on which the clock is running. So what's going on, that warrant should have pretty much written itself long ago. In fact that ship seems to have been at Chatham for months, undergoing repairs - last month she even damaged her mainmast, for chrissakes - and Pett already wrote the Commissioners back on February 18 asking for "timber to sheathe the Royal James". Now Sam is the next cog to turn in that complicated machine. Hmm. We expect that letter will be blinking bright red on top of his desk, whenever he finds the time to check with the Navy Office.

About Friday 29 March 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

In Sam's defence, he's known about the sheathing for longer than Giavarina, writing on February 28 (at…) that "this month ends with two great secrets under dispute", one thereof being "what the meaning of this fleet is which we are now sheathing to set out for the southward"; but he may not have know about the worms-not-being-in-the-Med, and gave equal weight to the Turkish and East Indys scenarios. Presumably any southward-bound sailor would know, but a lot of Sam's naval education so far has been in the northern seas.

The Dutch, in any case, are starting to fret. Giavarina on April 8 (n.s.) notes that "the Dutch also have decided to arm a greater number of ships than those already advised, to keep a good squadron not far from these shores to be on the spot and watch the intentions of England". Their diplomats in London are being stonewalled, and may have picked up, as Venice did, that "the Council of Trade here studies to deprive them of the herring fishery on these coasts". And one should never take his herrings from a Dutchman!

So, it's all about herrings? On April 14 (n.s., April 3 in England) the French Gazette will report from The Hague that "the Fleet of the Oriental Company [the VOC, Holland's India company], intended to reinforce that which has undertaken the Siege of Goa, has left to join it". And, just in case, "two other Squadrons, are readying to set sail, one, of 18 warships, for the Mediterranean, under Vice-Admiral Rüiter; & the other, of 24, to cruise on the [Barbary] Coasts, & there fight the Pirates".

War with Spain *and* with the Dutch? That will take some biscuits.

About Friday 29 March 1661

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

To answer the esteemed Dick Wilson from ten years ago, it's likely not that the Navy Board doesn't know about the big secret expedition, as they assuredly must, it's that Sam is still only the guy in charge of the biscuits, and they don't (yet) tell him everything.

Just to make it worse, half of Europe has known about it for some time. Even England cannot completly hide readying such a fleet. We've known about it from the Venetian ambassador (who, admittedly, knows everything) since March 25 (new style, n.s., March 14 for Sam), when he reported (at…) that "ten powerful ships of war are being prepared here with great energy to put to sea as soon as possible, though their destination is so far hidden from all". A routine pyrate-bashing in the Med was one theory then, tho' "others think that the squadron is destined for the East Indies", to help Portugal against the Dutch, who are indeed besieging Goa, "for as the chancellor has received great presents from the minister of Braganza, he is bound to respond in some way".

"Presents" intended of course to sway the king toward marrying into Portugal, the great affair of the moment, and the reason why this expedition is so sensitive: If a Portuguese bride, then not a Spaniard, and so Spain would expect England to take Portugal's side in its war against Spain, and as we had occasion to report lately, this would mean war with Spain. So many eyes are watching the Chatham yard right now.

In his next dispatch on April 1 (n.s., March 21) ambassador Giavarina adds the critical intelligence that "hey are having the ships sheathed with [copper] plates, as is usual with those going to the Indies to preserve them from the worms which riddle ships in those waters, which are not found in the Mediterranean", implying "strong indications that [the fleet] will spread its sails towards the East Indies". Four days letter, he adds that "they have decided to add a number of inferior ships, but strong and well armed for war, to make twenty in all".

About Wednesday 20 March 1660/61

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Ah, and of course Venetian ambassador Francesco Giavarina has something interesting to add. Writes he, in his weekly dispatch dated April 8 (March 28, new style, at…): "After the election in the city of London of the members for the future parliament, (...) not favourable to the king's interests, (...) to prevent the news getting out at once, the posts which leave every week for the interior were stopped by the king's order (...). The letters being searched it was found that some reported this sinister choice with remarks very favourable to the sectaries, encouraging many places to choose similar fanatics. So having made a thorough enquiry they have this week had divers of those found most criminal arrested and sent to the Tower (...)"

Now we understand why the State Papers contain these eight pages full of letters; and so Henry Worster, Nich. Roberts & al. are in the Tower, as Sam soberly writes of the "great talk of the strange election". A reminder, should we get carried away by Sam's good-end-of-the-stick view of Charles II the life-loving monarch, that an iron hand lies inside the velvet glove. It moves fast, too, when it wants to.

Future Ages will perhaps see other enlightened Governments stop the Inter-Nett to becalm the masses around elections. In this case, Giavarina notes that "The city of London objected strongly to the suspension of the posts", but couldn't do much about it.

About Saturday 23 March 1660/61

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Letters in the State Papers, all dated from March 19th while London resounded from the councillors' election, show that Zachary Crofton had been a bit of a celebrity lately. "J.S." wrote that "Mr Crofton prosecuted his argument last Lord's day, and there were more people than could get into the church." J.S. also heard "that the Bishop [of Exeter] has published a large book against him". That he did, Anonymous letter No. 116 adds that it's catchingly entitled "Anti-Baal-Bench", and that Crofton "preaches against him [the bishop of Exeter, John Gauden] every Sunday night, with an infinite auditory, itching and applause". "Wm. Beauchamp" explains that Crofton "preaches that bishops are a human institution, and led to the papacy".

And so, that's a tad too much noise. Crofton didn't just preach, he wrote two books, "The fastening of St. Peter's Fetters by Seven Links or Propositions" and "Berith Anti-Baal" (Baal's the Vatican, for sure). They're not just rants on points of religion or against rival clerics, but, as the Solicitor General explains today (March 23) in a letter to the king's secretary, in case Nicholas isn't keeping up with the bishops' latest, Crofton "offers to prove, by Scripture, the people's power to be above that of the King". For that, obviously "he will deserve to be secured".

And so he's been. It's big enough to rate a mention in the French Gazette, in a dispatch dated April 7 (new style, March 28 old style): "le Sieur Zacharie Crofton, Ministre, a été mis dans la Tour, pour avoir écrit et presché contre le Gouvernement" [has been put into the Tower, to have written and preached against the Government].

From his cell, Crofton promptly petitions the King for pardon, protesting of his loyalty, of how he really wants to "share in the joy of the approaching happy coronation", and regretting "his late inconsiderate expression on matters out of his sphere". The books' printer, Ralph Smith, who's been dragged in as well, will write next month from (presumably) another cubicle that he was "not [even] privy" that Crofton's tract was in his press but, "being ill, allowed it to be printed in his name, for support of his family during the illness". That tear-jerker, plus bail, will soon allow Smith to get out, but Crofton's case is more complicated, and on May 6 another minister, Tho. Swadlin, will also write to the King, to ask for the return of "his poor Benefice of St. Botolph without Aldgate", from which he's been ejected by Cromwell and, ho-hum, "kept out by Zachary Crofton". Yep, looks like Zach's gonna miss the coronation.

About Saturday 9 March 1660/61

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

April 4, new style: Quirini reports from Madrid that "Their lordships here (...) sent to London, the day before yesterday, letters of exchange for 100,000 crowns at sight, these having been granted by Pichinotti, to be repaid on the arrival of the galleons from the Spanish Main. Thus when this money comes into the hands of the Ambassador Batteville he has the most explicit orders to employ it all in the satisfaction of the ministers and councillors of state there".

Cue the merry dance of the London courtiers: "Hoo-ray, huzzah! The riches of Perú and the Potosí, into our pockets will tumble! What need we do? Let's have a look at the Spanish ambassador's instruction, hmmm... 'to draw them away as much as possible from the secret correspondence with Portugal and to approach the more to the reasonable advantages of this crown'."

Laughter all around. The dance becomes more frantic: "For a nod, we charge 500 pounds! For a raising an eyebrow, 100! For a significant look, fifty! For harrumphing, thirty! Drag this along, drag this along, it's only once in a lifetime!"

About Saturday 9 March 1660/61

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

... And, as anyone kind enough to honor us with his or her Attention may have noticed and frown'd at, we had a little editing accident, and the last, our second posting, should be read first. As if this marriage business wasn't complicated enough already.