Wednesday 27 February 1666/67
Up by candle-light, about six o’clock, it being bitter cold weather again, after all our warm weather, and by water down to Woolwich rope-yard, I being this day at a leisure, the King and Duke of York being gone down to Sheerenesse this morning to lay out the design for a fortification there to the river Medway; and so we do not attend the Duke of York as we should otherwise have done, and there to the Dock Yard to enquire of the state of things, and went into Mr. Pett’s; and there, beyond expectation, he did present me with a Japan cane, with a silver head, and his wife sent me by him a ring, with a Woolwich stone; now much in request; which I accepted, the values not being great, and knowing that I had done them courtesies, which he did own in very high terms; and then, at my asking, did give me an old draught of an ancient-built ship, given him by his father, of the Beare, in Queen Elizabeth’s time. This did much please me, it being a thing I much desired to have, to shew the difference in the build of ships now and heretofore. Being much taken with this kindness, I away to Blackwall and Deptford, to satisfy myself there about the King’s business, and then walked to Redriffe, and so home about noon; there find Mr. Hunt, newly come out of the country, who tells me the country is much impoverished by the greatness of taxes: the farmers do break every day almost, and 1000l. a-year become not worth 500l.. [A tax rate of approximately that of New York State in the year 2000. D.W.] He dined with us, and we had good discourse of the general ill state of things, and, by the way, he told me some ridiculous pieces of thrift of Sir G. Downing’s, who is his countryman, in inviting some poor people, at Christmas last, to charm the country people’s mouths; but did give them nothing but beef, porridge, pudding, and pork, and nothing said all dinner, but only his mother would say, “It’s good broth, son.” He would answer, “Yes, it is good broth.” Then, says his lady, Confirm all, and say, “Yes, very good broth.” By and by she would begin and say, “Good pork:” — “Yes,” says the mother, “good pork.” Then he cries, “Yes, very good pork.” And so they said of all things; to which nobody made any answer, they going there not out of love or esteem of them, but to eat his victuals, knowing him to be a niggardly fellow; and with this he is jeered now all over the country. This day just before dinner comes Captain Story, of Cambridge, to me to the office, about a bill for prest money, for men sent out of the country and the countries about him to the fleete the last year; but, Lord! to see the natures of men; how this man, hearing of my name, did ask me of my country, and told me of my cozen Roger, that he was not so wise a man as his father; for that he do not agree in Parliament with his fellow burgesses and knights of the shire, whereas I know very well the reason; for he is not so high a flyer as Mr. Chichley and others, but loves the King better than any of them, and to better purpose. But yet, he says that he is a very honest gentleman, and thence runs into a hundred stories of his own services to the King, and how he at this day brings in the taxes before anybody here thinks they are collected: discourse very absurd to entertain a stranger with. He being gone, and I glad of it, I home then to dinner. After dinner with my wife by coach abroad, and set Mr. Hunt down at the Temple and her at her brother’s, and I to White Hall to meet [Sir] W. Coventry, but found him not, but met Mr. Cooling, who tells me of my Lord Duke of Buckingham’s being sent for last night, by a Serjeant at Armes, to the Tower, for treasonable practices, and that the King is infinitely angry with him, and declared him no longer one of his Council. I know not the reason of it, or occasion. To Westminster Hall, and there paid what I owed for books, and so by coach, took up my wife to the Exchange, and there bought things for Mrs. Pierces little daughter, my Valentine, and so to their house, where we find Knipp, who also challengeth me for her Valentine. She looks well, sang well, and very merry we were for half an hour. Tells me Harris is well again, having been very ill, and so we home, and I to the office; then, at night, to Sir W. Pen’s, and sat with my Lady, and the young couple (Sir William out of town) talking merrily; but they make a very sorry couple, methinks, though rich. So late home and to bed.