Wednesday 13 February 1666/67
Up, and by water to White Hall, where to the Duke of York, and there did our usual business; but troubled to see that, at this time, after our declaring a debt to the Parliament of 900,000l., and nothing paid since, but the debt increased, and now the fleete to set out; to hear that the King hath ordered but 35,000l. for the setting out of the fleete, out of the Poll Bill, to buy all provisions, when five times as much had been little enough to have done any thing to purpose. They have, indeed, ordered more for paying off of seamen and the Yards to some time, but not enough for that neither. Another thing is, the acquainting the Duke of York with the case of Mr. Lanyon, our agent at Plymouth, who has trusted us to 8000l. out of purse; we are not in condition, after so many promises, to obtain him a farthing, nor though a message was carried by Sir G. Carteret and Sir W. Coventry to the Commissioners of Prizes, that he might have 3000l. out of 20,000l. worth of prizes to be shortly sold there, that he might buy at the candle and pay for the goods out of bills, and all would [not] do any thing, but that money must go all another way, while the King’s service is undone, and those that trust him perish. These things grieve me to the heart. The Prince, I hear, is every day better and better. So away by water home, stopping at Michell’s, where Mrs. Martin was, and I there drank with them and whispered with Betty, who tells me all is well, but was prevented in something she would have said, her ‘marido venant’ just then, a news which did trouble me, and so drank and parted and home, and there took up my wife by coach, and to Mrs. Pierce’s, there to take her up, and with them to Dr. Clerke’s, by invitation, where we have not been a great while, nor had any mind to go now, but that the Dr., whom I love, would have us choose a day. Here was his wife, painted, and her sister Worshipp, a widow now and mighty pretty in her mourning. Here was also Mr. Pierce and Mr. Floyd, Secretary to the Lords Commissioners of Prizes, and Captain Cooke, to dinner, an ill and little mean one, with foul cloth and dishes, and everything poor. Discoursed most about plays and the Opera, where, among other vanities, Captain Cooke had the arrogance to say that he was fain to direct Sir W. Davenant in the breaking of his verses into such and such lengths, according as would be fit for musick, and how he used to swear at Davenant, and command him that way, when W. Davenant would be angry, and find fault with this or that note — but a vain coxcomb I perceive he is, though he sings and composes so well. But what I wondered at, Dr. Clerke did say that Sir W. Davenant is no good judge of a dramatick poem, finding fault with his choice of Henry the 5th, and others, for the stage, when I do think, and he confesses, “The Siege of Rhodes” as good as ever was writ. After dinner Captain Cooke and two of his boys to sing, but it was indeed both in performance and composition most plainly below what I heard last night, which I could not have believed. Besides overlooking the words which he sung, I find them not at all humoured as they ought to be, and as I believed he had done all he had sett. Though he himself do indeed sing in a manner as to voice and manner the best I ever heard yet, and a strange mastery he hath in making of extraordinary surprising closes, that are mighty pretty, but his bragging that he do understand tones and sounds as well as any man in the world, and better than Sir W. Davenant or any body else, I do not like by no means, but was sick of it and of him for it. He gone, Dr. Clerke fell to reading a new play, newly writ, of a friend’s of his; but, by his discourse and confession afterwards, it was his own. Some things, but very few, moderately good; but infinitely far from the conceit, wit, design, and language of very many plays that I know; so that, but for compliment, I was quite tired with hearing it. It being done, and commending the play, but against my judgment, only the prologue magnifying the happiness of our former poets when such sorry things did please the world as was then acted, was very good. So set Mrs. Pierce at home, and away ourselves home, and there to my office, and then my chamber till my eyes were sore at writing and making ready my letter and accounts for the Commissioners of Tangier to-morrow, which being done, to bed, hearing that there was a very great disorder this day at the Ticket Office, to the beating and bruising of the face of Carcasse very much. A foul evening this was to-night, and I mightily troubled to get a coach home; and, which is now my common practice, going over the ruins in the night, I rid with my sword drawn in the coach.
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