Friday 27 July 1666

Up and to the office, where all the morning busy. At noon dined at home and then to the office again, and there walking in the garden with Captain Cocke till 5 o’clock. No newes yet of the fleete. His great bargaine of Hempe with us by his unknown proposition is disliked by the King, and so is quite off; of which he is glad, by this means being rid of his obligation to my Lord Bruncker, which he was tired with, and especially his mistresse, Mrs. Williams, and so will fall into another way about it, wherein he will advise only with myself, which do not displease me, and will be better for him and the King too. Much common talke of publique business, the want of money, the uneasinesse that Parliament will find in raising any, and the ill condition we shall be in if they do not, and his confidence that the Swede is true to us, but poor, but would be glad to do us all manner of service in the world. He gone, I away by water from the Old Swan to White Hall. The waterman tells me that newes is come that our ship Resolution is burnt, and that we had sunke four or five of the enemy’s ships. When I come to White Hall I met with Creed, and he tells me the same news, and walking with him to the Park I to Sir W. Coventry’s lodging, and there he showed me Captain Talbot’s letter, wherein he says that the fight begun on the 25th; that our White squadron begun with one of the Dutch squadrons, and then the Red with another so hot that we put them both to giving way, and so they continued in pursuit all the day, and as long as he stayed with them: that the Blue fell to the Zealand squadron; and after a long dispute, he against two or three great ships, he received eight or nine dangerous shots, and so come away; and says, he saw the Resolution burned by one of their fire-ships, and four or five of the enemy’s. But says that two or three of our great ships were in danger of being fired by our owne fire-ships, which Sir W. Coventry, nor I, cannot understand. But upon the whole, he and I walked two or three turns in the Parke under the great trees, and do doubt that this gallant is come away a little too soon, having lost never a mast nor sayle. And then we did begin to discourse of the young gentlemen captains, which he was very free with me in speaking his mind of the unruliness of them; and what a losse the King hath of his old men, and now of this Hannam, of the Resolution, if he be dead, and that there is but few old sober men in the fleete, and if these few of the Flags that are so should die, he fears some other gentlemen captains will get in, and then what a council we shall have, God knows. He told me how he is disturbed to hear the commanders at sea called cowards here on shore, and that he was yesterday concerned publiquely at a dinner to defend them, against somebody that said that not above twenty of them fought as they should do, and indeed it is derived from the Duke of Albemarle himself, who wrote so to the King and Duke, and that he told them how they fought four days, two of them with great disadvantage. The Count de Guiche, who was on board De Ruyter, writing his narrative home in French of the fight, do lay all the honour that may be upon the English courage above the Dutch, and that he himself [Sir W. Coventry] was sent down from the King and Duke of Yorke after the fight, to pray them to spare none that they thought had not done their parts, and that they had removed but four, whereof Du Tell is one, of whom he would say nothing; but, it seems, the Duke of Yorke hath been much displeased at his removal, and hath now taken him into his service, which is a plain affront to the Duke of Albemarle; and two of the others, Sir W. Coventry did speake very slenderly of their faults. Only the last, which was old Teddiman, he says, is in fault, and hath little to excuse himself with; and that, therefore, we should not be forward in condemning men of want of courage, when the Generalls, who are both men of metal, and hate cowards, and had the sense of our ill successe upon them (and by the way must either let the world thinke it was the miscarriage of the Captains or their owne conduct), have thought fit to remove no more of them, when desired by the King and Duke of Yorke to do it, without respect to any favour any of them can pretend to in either of them. At last we concluded that we never can hope to beat the Dutch with such advantage as now in number and force and a fleete in want of nothing, and he hath often repeated now and at other times industriously that many of the Captains have: declared that they want nothing, and again, that they did lie ten days together at the Nore without demanding of any thing in the world but men, and of them they afterward, when they went away, the generalls themselves acknowledge that they have permitted several ships to carry supernumeraries, but that if we do not speede well, we must then play small games and spoile their trade in small parties. And so we parted, and I, meeting Creed in the Parke again, did take him by coach and to Islington, thinking to have met my Lady Pen and wife, but they were gone, so we eat and drank and away back, setting him down in Cheapside and I home, and there after a little while making of my tune to “It is decreed,” to bed.

14 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Captain Talbot's letter, wherein he says that the fight begun on the 25th...."

L&M note this letter by the commander of HMS Elizabeth "was used in the account of the battle published in the London Gazette of 2 August." A link to that issue of the London Gazette from its archives:

Couterintuitively, the story of the battle begins in the lower part of the right-hand column (Middelbourg, August 11) and occupies all of page 2 (navigation at the top)..

Terry Foreman  •  Link

I said yesterday that Pepys would know the battle's results today, but -- SPOILER --- result will trickle in for the next few days. Apologies to all.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"what a losse the King hath of his old men, and now of this Hannam, of the Resolution, if he be dead,"

L&M note that he was not dead, nor were most of his men, saved by boats from other ships.

Jesse  •  Link

"being fired by our owne fire-ships, which Sir W. Coventry, nor I, cannot understand"

Hard to understand why they can't understand. Those who play w/fire &c. Vagaries in wind and current, damaged ships drifting, smoke effecting visibilty. Also the fire ships couldn't have been the easiest vessels to control.

cape henry  •  Link

"...slenderly of their faults." What a terrific turn of phrase.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Sir W. Coventry "told me how he is disturbed to hear the commanders at sea called cowards here on shore, and that...indeed it is derived from the Duke of Albemarle himself, who wrote so to the King and Duke...."

L&M note the drumbeat of what amounts to Albemarle (George Monck), a professional military man, criticising the gentleman-captains -- see
7 June and
4 July

Jesse  •  Link

"hear the commanders at sea called cowards here on shore"

Is this really a 'drumbeat' or the DoA's echo chamber? Reviewing TFs links above it seems the initial complaint started as a cover for lack of overwhelming success, w/Sir W. Penn (not exactly the gentleman-captain) providing, though not publicly as best as I recall, another view.

cgs  •  Link

Cromwell used men to lead that failed the silver spoon test but there were exceptions, and that Royalist used the old school network. The King was invited back with some caveats that Parliament had some control over the cash flow, and Charles did not like that and 'Pari' supplied extra cash to prevent Parliament from having a say. As all People in the drivers seat, wish only to have only passengers that are sub-serviant, likable and pliable and reward them with sinecure positions but when the heat is on and require someone to dig the wheels of fortune out of the muck of governing then doers are needed and usually are too egoistical and are outside the pale thus not available to win life's tough battles on the first pass.
If they not far away from the field of influence may be around to apply a shovel and rescue the mired coach of state.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

7 June "The Duke of Albemarle writes, that he never fought with worse officers in his life, not above twenty of them behaving themselves like men."

Jesse is right that 4 July is Penn's concern about the demoralized "two-thirds of the commanders of the whole fleete...they all saying, that they durst not oppose [the view "that the whole conduct of the late fight was ill"] at the Council of War, for fear of being called cowards though it was wholly against their judgement to fight that day with the disproportion of force," &c.

Who in the Council of War is the critic? It may be the DoY; I was hypothesizing that it was consistent with Albemarle's known POV about back-seat drivers.

Jesse  •  Link

Rather than who is I was thinking who are and that they might be armchair admirals, as it were, whose probable low rank allow them to retain their anonymity.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"being fired by our owne fire-ships"
It is called friendly fire;not uncommon in Vietnam,Iraq and Afghanistan;in the Army of course.

cgs  •  Link

WWII had a famous one , little told airforce carpet bombing a whole army division.
'Tis called the fog of war, one bunch of gloster lads in Korea put their berets on backwards so that rear echelon would see who the B****** were up front, still ended as POWs.
The Caesar never mention it, but...

tonyt  •  Link

The Glosters (Gloucestershire Regiment of the British Army) did not have to put their berets on backwards because, uniquely, they wore cap badges on both the front and the backs of their berets. This privilege was granted to the Regiment following the Battle of Alexandria (1801) when the 'thin red line' managed to beat off simultaneous attacks by the French from front and rear.

Most of the Glosters did indeed finish up as POWs after the Battle of Imjin River #Korea, 1951# but only after a brave action against overwhelming odds but for which, arguably, the UN forces would have been pushed out of Korea completely. Their commander, Colonel Carne, was awarded the Victoria Cross for the action.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the generalls themselves acknowledge that they have permitted several ships to carry supernumeraries"

Pepys will later attribute the shortage of supplies to the number of unauthorized supernumeraries -- in evidence he gives to the Brooke House Committee investigation of the war (1669). (Per L&M note )

Log in to post an annotation.

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