Saturday 2 June 1666

Up, and to the office, where certain newes is brought us of a letter come to the King this morning from the Duke of Albemarle, dated yesterday at eleven o’clock, as they were sailing to the Gunfleete, that they were in sight of the Dutch fleete, and were fitting themselves to fight them; so that they are, ere this, certainly engaged; besides, several do averr they heard the guns all yesterday in the afternoon. This put us at the Board into a tosse. Presently come orders for our sending away to the fleete a recruite of 200 soldiers. So I rose from the table, and to the Victualling office, and thence upon the River among several vessels, to consider of the sending them away; and lastly, down to Greenwich, and there appointed two yachts to be ready for them; and did order the soldiers to march to Blackewall. Having set all things in order against the next flood, I went on shore with Captain Erwin at Greenwich, and into the Parke, and there we could hear the guns from the fleete most plainly. Thence he and I to the King’s Head and there bespoke a dish of steaks for our dinner about four o’clock. While that was doing, we walked to the water-side, and there seeing the King and Duke come down in their barge to Greenwich-house, I to them, and did give them an account [of] what I was doing. They went up to the Parke to hear the guns of the fleete go off. All our hopes now are that Prince Rupert with his fleete is coming back and will be with the fleete this even: a message being sent to him to that purpose on Wednesday last; and a return is come from him this morning, that he did intend to sail from St. Ellen’s point about four in the afternoon on Wednesday [Friday], which was yesterday; which gives us great hopes, the wind being very fair, that he is with them this even, and the fresh going off of the guns makes us believe the same. After dinner, having nothing else to do till flood, I went and saw Mrs. Daniel, to whom I did not tell that the fleets were engaged, because of her husband, who is in the R. Charles. Very pleasant with her half an hour, and so away and down to Blackewall, and there saw the soldiers (who were by this time gotten most of them drunk) shipped off. But, Lord! to see how the poor fellows kissed their wives and sweethearts in that simple manner at their going off, and shouted, and let off their guns, was strange sport. In the evening come up the River the Katharine yacht, Captain Fazeby, who hath brought over my Lord of Aylesbury and Sir Thomas Liddall (with a very pretty daughter, and in a pretty travelling-dress) from Flanders, who saw the Dutch fleete on Thursday, and ran from them; but from that houre to this hath not heard one gun, nor any newes of any fight. Having put the soldiers on board, I home and wrote what I had to write by the post, and so home to supper and to bed, it being late.

24 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

John Evelyn's Diary

[2] Thence next day towards the Downes & Sea-Coast : but meeting with the Lieutennant of the Hantshire fregat, who told me what pass’d, or rather not pass’d, I returned to Lond: (there being no noise, nor appearance at Deale or the Coast of any engagement) this recounting to his Majestie whom I found at St. James’s [Park] impatiently expecting) & [I] knowing that Prince Rupert was loose, about 3 at St. Hellens point at N. of Wight, it greately rejoic’d him: but was astonish’d when I assur’d him they heard nothing of the Gunns in the Downes, nor the Lieutennant who landed there by five that morning.

Michael L  •  Link

From the map here:
the Four-Days Battle is taking place in the middle of the North Sea, roughly a hundred miles from London. It is remarkable that the cannon may be heard from so great a distance.

cape henry  •  Link

"This put us at the Board into a tosse." Imagine what it did for the lads on those ships. It would have been pretty obvious to the English that they were stunningly outnumbered - if you close your eyes you can see a horizon blooming ever more Dutch ships. It will be interesting to see, over the next few days, how the battle is discussed and what spin Pepys puts on it.

cgs  •  Link

"It is remarkable that the cannon may be heard from so great a distance."
My Pater, used to tell of hearing the guns speak from the Somme battles far away in London N2 in the early hours.

cgs  •  Link

"...this put us at the Board into a tosse. ..."
2. A state of agitation or commotion. Obs.
1666 PEPYS Diary 2 June, This put us at the Board into a tosse
I remember it was said " I do not give a tosse for your ****
An act of tossing.

1. A pitching up and down or to and fro.

[In use soon after 1500, and current in nearly all its senses by 1550. Origin uncertain: the only cognate word appears to be the Norw. and Sw. dialect tossa to spread, strew (Aasen); Welsh tosio is from Eng.]

verb I. trans.

1. To throw, pitch, or fling about, here and there, or to and fro: expressing the action of wind or wave, or the light, careless, or disdainful action of a person, on something easily moved.

2. To turn over and over, to turn the leaves of (a book, etc.). Obs.
1555 W. WATREMAN Fardle Facions Ded. 2 The searche of wisedome and vertue, for whose sake either we tosse, or oughte to tosse so many papers and tongues
3. To shake, shake up, stir up.

b. To fling (hay, wool, etc.) abroad, so as to loosen the mass. Obs. exc. as in 1.
1557 TUSSER 100 Points Husb. xci, With tossing and raking, and setting on cox: The grasse that was grene, is now hay for an ox

4. fig. To disturb or agitate socially or politically.
1552 R. ASCHAM Germany 36 Cæsar..also tossed the whole world with battle & slaughter, even almost from the sun setting unto the sun rising. 1618 BOLTON Florus (1636) 250 Hee tossed both Sea, and Land with mixture of his miseries

b. To disquiet or agitate in mind; to set in commotion, as by shifting opinions, feelings, circumstances, or influences; to disturb, disorder.
1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 172b, To be exercised and tossed in dyuerse temptacyons.

II. intr. (Related to I.)
5. To be in mental agitation or distraction; to be disquieted in mind or circumstances. Obs.

a. for refl. To fling or jerk oneself about; to move about restlessly.

b. for pass. To be flung or rocked about; to be kept in motion; to be agitated.
1582 [see 5]. 1596 SHAKES. Merch. V. I. i. 8 Your minde is tossing on the Ocean. 1809

III. trans.

* To throw in a specified direction.

7. To throw, cast, pitch, fling, hurl (without any notion of agitation).

b. absol. To fling oneself (like a body tossed).
b. fig. spec. To bandy (a subject or question) from one side to the other in debate; to discuss; to make the subject of talk.
c1540 tr. Pol. Verg. Eng. Hist. (Camden) II. 8 The Frenche, somewhat appalled,..tossed the matter amongst themselves what best were to do. 1637 GILLESPIE Eng. Pop. Cerem. III. viii. 177 When questions and controversies of Faith, are tossed in the Church.
9. To throw up, throw into the air; esp. to throw (a coin, etc.) up, to see how it falls; = toss up, 15a.
to toss in a blanket, to throw (a person) upward repeatedly from a blanket held slackly at each corner: see BLANKET n. 2. to toss a pancake, to throw it up so that it falls back into the pan with the other side up.
1526 .....
...1688 in Ellis Orig. Lett. Ser. II. IV. 125 Capt. Ouseley is said to be come to town to give his reasons for tossing the Mayor of Scarborough in a blanket.

10. To throw or jerk up suddenly without letting go; {dag}spec. to brandish (arms) (obs.). to toss oars, ‘to throw them up out of the rowlocks, and raise them perpendicularly an-end’ (Adm. Smyth).
b. To drink out of (a cup, etc.), tilting it up; hence, to empty by drinking; = toss off, 13a. Obs.
1568 U. FULWELL Like will to Like Biv, From morning til night I sit tossing the black bole. 1695 CONGREVE Love for L. III. xv, For my Part, I mean to toss a Can, and remember my Sweet-Heart, a-fore I turn in.
13. toss off. a. To drink off with energetic action. b. To dispose of in an off-hand manner. c. To do or make easily, without effort. d. trans. and intr. To masturbate. slang.
c1590 GREENE Fr. Bacon i. 15 Tossing off ale and milk in country cans. 1816 T. L. PEACOCK Headlong Hall xi, Having..insisted on every gentleman tossing off a half-pint bumper.

14. toss out. See prec. senses and OUT; in quot., to dress smartly, ‘trick out’.
15. toss up. a. See also prec. senses and UP.
1588 ..

c. To cook or dress (food, a meal) hastily; to prepare, to serve up. Also fig. Obs.

then there be the school boys version , only for the uncouth.

Glyn  •  Link

This is the Four Days Battle? Then, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the greatest battle between sailing ships in all of history. And it's partly thanks to Pepys's efforts in getting the English ships outfitted for the war.

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

This Four Days Battle was the highlight of the Dutch naval supremacy on the seas; also one that marked the decline of it.
I suppose it is not Pepys's fault the English lost the battle, Glyn.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

Sir Thomas Liddall (with a very pretty daughter, and in a pretty travelling-dress)
Good to see that Sam is not too flustered by all the excitement to overlook a pretty woman.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...did order the soldiers to march to Blackewall..."

"So I tells ye, Clive. In this kind of war, it's the army for ye. All fightin's done at sea and we live the soft life on the King's purse."

"Castlemaine's, Charley."

"Ha, ha...Right ye are, Clive."

"TTTTTeeeennnnsiiiooonnn!! Marching orders from the Clerk of the Acts!!! We're bound to join the fleet, lads!!!"

"The fleet? Clive...Orders from the Who of the What?"

"That little son of a... what came by the other day preening like a peacock?"

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"All our hopes now are that Prince Rupert with his fleete is coming back and will be with the fleete this even: a message being sent to him to that purpose on Wednesday last; and a return is come from him this morning, that he did intend to sail from St. Ellen’s point about four in the afternoon on Wednesday [Friday], which was yesterday; which gives us great hopes, the wind being very fair, that he is with them this even, and the fresh going off of the guns makes us believe the same."

Nagumo at Midway, awaiting that report from the last scouting plane...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"But, Lord! to see how the poor fellows kissed their wives and sweethearts in that simple manner at their going off, and shouted, and let off their guns, was strange sport."

"There he be, Charley...Let the little bastard have it, lads!"

"Damn, just out of range."

Phoenix  •  Link

Atmospheric effects - temperature inversion, wind etc. - can influence long distance sound transmission and be location specific which might explain why the guns can be heard at Greenwich and not at the coast. The positioning of ships while firing would influence it as well.

JWB  •  Link

Where's Rupert? "The world wants to know."

Analogous to Halsey @ the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

JWB  •  Link

Against the wind...

From Mahan, wind from the SSW on first day, which would hwve mitigated reports heard in London.

Carl in Boston  •  Link

This just in from Antiques RoadShow UK: one of the presenters declared the reign of Charles II to be the most interesting and stylish period ever. He showed a brown chamberpot from Cromwell's time, inscribed "watch and pray, pity the poor, etc". Then he showed a flagon in the shape of an owl from Charles II time, head lifts off for a cup, all colorful feathers and very fun. They had a male model wearing the clothing of the time, waistcoat, sash, wig, and a buckle to his sash for swashing and buckling. Very swanky, and fun. So you can see the cheerful attitude of the time in their pots and their dress.

cgs  •  Link

POTS : as long as they had one, most never had one.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Second Day of the Four Days Battle

10 Wikimedia Commons images of the Four Days Battle

"Where's Rupert?"
"On learning that the French fleet intended to join the Dutch at Dunkirk, the English decided to prevent this by splitting their fleet. Their main force would try to destroy the Dutch fleet first, while a squadron under Prince Rupert was sent to block the Strait of Dover against the French - who didn't show up."

Terry Foreman  •  Link

June 2. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
Marin Zorzi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The earl of Sandwich, ambassador extraordinary of England, entered this city late on Thursday. With three [coaches] (fn. 4) of the king the introducer of ambassadors accompanied by other gentlemen, met him three leagues out. He paid his respects on behalf of his Majesty and then caused the ambassador to enter one of the places and brought him to the house, gorgeously decorated with costly furnishings. That same evening they began to entertain him at a sumptuous banquet, those of the royal household serving. A hundred doubles a day have been set apart to provide everything with magnificence and splendour. He keeps seventeen companions at his table, persons of quality and of distinguished name. The rest of his people will amount to seventy persons. He is now arranging the liveries for his public audience and seems desirous of entering upon his embassy soon and beginning his functions.
He did not send the ordinary compliment to any ambassador when he arrived and no one wished to be the first with him. It seems very strange to the ambassador of Germany that he does not observe the usual style and ceremonies. I will watch to see what happens, to be guided by it later, in accordance with the decorum and service of the state. That same evening Medina sent one of his secretaries to congratulate him on his safe arrival, with expressions of regard for his person and character. I do not know whether any other minister has passed a similar office, but as it was rather affected than decorous I imagine that they will not follow the example.
The ordinary ambassador [ Sir Richard Fanshaw ] went two leagues out from Madrid to welcome him. It was noticed that at their first meeting few words were exchanged and they looked ill-pleased, an indication of very strained relations and an unfriendly disposition. The reason for this is that the one tried to prevent the other from coming, while the other did his utmost to come. The moment he arrived he began not only to speak openly about the departure of his predecessor but to make sure that a start was made. He has already begun to pack a lot of his goods, taken from the cart, and in his house may be seen all the indications of an approaching journey. Those of the household of the earl of Sandvich confirm it, adding that he has to leave, to his great disgust. In effect, [ Sir Richard's ] distress is apparent, his face being overshadowed with great sadness and in a few days he has lost his colour and become very pale.
I have been told that for the negotiation with Portugal [ Sir Richard ] has received a severe reprimand, as it has by no means pleased his king and pleased this Court even less. They say that having exceeded his commissions he is blamed for this also in addition to the deep mortification.
The envoy is staying on, but at the longest it will only be until he sees the new minister in possession of his ministry. In the mean time he frequents his house greatly and they pass the greater part of the day together.
At Cadiz the greatest precautions were taken because of the approach of the French fleet. Some who landed to see that town engaged in wordy altercations with some of the people. The disturbance grew, arms were seized, blood was shed and some were killed. The French, finding themselves at a disadvantage, withdrew honourably to their ships. Bofort likewise went to see the flagship of this crown. Although he did not wish to be recognised he was entertained with some refreshments.
Madrid, the 2nd June, 1666.

Glyn  •  Link

The Four Days’ Battle / Vierdaagse - Day Two (June 2nd )

See previous account for Day One.

The English attack at close range using tactics previously devised by Sandwich. The day itself is very hot and so is the fighting which lasts for over 10 hours. At one point Admiral Cornelis Tromp’s ship is trapped until de Ruyter “heroically improvising communications” takes his own squadron through the English line to rescue him. By the evening, at the end of the day’s fighting, Albermarle has only 28 ships left fit for action (reduced from 50). (Based on the account in “The Command of the Ocean” by N.A.M. Rodger.)

Robert Gertz  •  Link

De Ruyter might well ask "Where's Louis?"

JWB  •  Link

Sorry for above post, I've confused the Battle of Leyte Gulf with the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Australian Susan  •  Link

JWB - many thanks for the link - I used to live in Kent (which is littered with relics of coastal defences from the end of the 18th century (Napoleon) onwards) and I never knew what the objects you identify as sound mirrors were.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.