Saturday 15 June 1667

All the morning at the office. No newes more than last night; only Purser Tyler comes and tells me that he being at all the passages in this business at Chatham, he says there have been horrible miscarriages, such as we shall shortly hear of: that the want of boats hath undone us; and it is commonly said, and Sir J. Minnes under his hand tells us, that they were employed by the men of the Yard to carry away their goods; and I hear that Commissioner Pett will be found the first man that began to remove; he is much spoken against, and Bruncker is complained of and reproached for discharging the men of the great ships heretofore. At noon Mr. Hater dined with me; and tells me he believes that it will hardly be the want of money alone that will excuse to the Parliament the neglect of not setting out a fleete, it having never been done in our greatest straits, but however unlikely it appeared, yet when it was gone about, the State or King did compass it; and there is something in it. In like manner all the afternoon busy, vexed to see how slowly things go on for want of money. At night comes, unexpectedly so soon, Mr. Gibson, who left my wife well, and all got down well with them, but not with himself, which I was afeard of, and cannot blame him, but must myself be wiser against another time. He had one of his bags broke, through his breeches, and some pieces dropped out, not many, he thinks, but two, for he ‘light, and took them up, and went back and could find no more. But I am not able to tell how many, which troubles me, but the joy of having the greatest part safe there makes me bear with it, so as not to afflict myself for it. This afternoon poor Betty Michell, whom I love, sent to tell my wife her child was dying, which I am troubled for, poor girle! At night home and to my flageolet. Played with pleasure, but with a heavy heart, only it pleased me to think how it may please God I may live to spend my time in the country with plainness and pleasure, though but with little glory. So to supper and to bed.

7 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Brodrick to Ormond
Written from: [London]
Date: 15 June 1667

To give to the Duke the dismal prospects of our affairs were but to repeat & enlarge, what Lord Arlington wrote to his Grace by the last post.

"So stupendous a negligence, in all sorts of officers, no story mentions; nor can anything less than a miracle preserve us". ... The platform at Sheerness was not defensible against a single ship: Upnor Castle had been made a place of entertainment for the Commisioners of the Navy; ... one of the blockhouses at Gravesend, a dining-room. ...

The Prince is [now] at Woolwich endeavouring to make good the road. Sir A[rthur] Apsley (to whom the King has given the Regiment designed for Flanders), at Blackwall. Ships are sunk, & cannons planted, across the Thames ...

Carlingford to Ormond
Written from: London
Date: 15 June 1667

... A conjunction of a French Fleet & Army with the Hollanders is apprehended ... What influence these disturbances may have on Ireland, the Lord Lieutenant can best judge of. ... But the writer knows that the French are solicited ... to attempt a conquest of that Kingdom, ... "by some of our countrymen". ...

Arlington to Ormond
Written from: Whitehall
Date: 15 June 1667

... The Dutch advanced with about forty sail, up the river of Medway towards Chatham ... Their first Ship struck upon the chain; the second broke through it. They clapped fire ships aboard the 'Matthias' & 'Unity' and also burned the 'Charles V',- all three Dutch ships formerly taken from the Enemy. That same day, they also possessed themselves of the 'Royal Charles'.

On Thursday, they came again with six men-of-war and five fireships. They burned three of our great ships,- the 'Royal James', the 'London', and the 'Royal Oak', but were so warmly received by Upnor Castle & batteries on the shore, that they were forced to retire with great damage. ...

"The King is now raising a great army; greater, I fear", adds the writer, "than there will be found money to pay" ...

Anglesey to Ormond
Written from: London
Date: 15 June 1667

The writer has the less cause to wonder at the calamities that are befallen us, "because, in duty & affection to the King, about nine months ago, ... I obtained of his Majesty the freedom, in his cabinet, to represent the dangers of the counsel taken up not to have a Royal Navy at sea, sufficient to balance our enemy; and then foretold upon a clear ground what the Dutch might & would do" ...

... Continues his account of the proceedings taken, or to be taken, about the assignment of moneys for the service of Ireland. ...

Colonel Cooke to Ormond
Written from: Chiswick
Date: 15 June 1667
Document type: Holograph. Partly in cypher.

Has received the Duke's letter of June 6. Laments "these last four days' dishonours, which the nation hath suffered by reason of great remissness". Certainly, if no nation ever had more enemies, adds the writer, none ever had worse intelligence [of their preparations]. Only the extreme caution and slowness of the subsequent movements of the Dutch, when in the Thames, saved London, he thinks, from disaster, by giving time for precautions, neglected almost until the last hour. Adds (at great length) his views upon some political questions of the day. Notices various Court incidents.

sbt  •  Link

I'm wondering how much of the 'passing off' of duties to others Pepys mentioned yesterday was a deliberate 'hedging of bets' as opposed to a continuance of old habits, as Pepys believes. Those concerned were not blatantly acting in a treasonous manner but if the Dutch took over they could cry 'look, I deliberately slowed the response to help you!'.

I'm also wondering how many of the 'miscarriages' were due to those doing the ordering being Landsmen, or at least not mariners, and not really understanding thing like the great difference between a ship fitted and properly stored and one not prepared and thus more suitable for sinking as a block-ship. A Landsman would not understand the great cost and often rarity of the various items of ships equipment and stores.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"He had one of his bags broke, through his breeches, and some pieces dropped out"

The "pieces" here are money, honey.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

I'm surprised Pepys isn't suspicious of Mr. Gibson and his story of pieces "lost"! I certainly am...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I think what's remarkable is Pepys' good fortune in having so many in whom he feels safe to place trust. Gibson, Will Hewer, our poor Bess, all entrusted with large fortunes...

"Will, lets kill the old man and run for France."

"You make it sound like crossin' the street, Bess."

"Easier, I'd...Hello, father-in-law...Having a good day?"

"Middlin...So, you two think ye be mighty clever, eh? The old man Pepys don't know what's up beyond the tailor's needle of his nose, eh? Eh?"

"Mr. Pepys, sir, I..."

"Blow it out your saddlebags, boy. But I'll be tellin' ye, you two wouldn't have made it to Brampton, let alone the coast."

"The coast, father-in-law?"

"The coast, little French trollop...Kill the old fool with his own truss and make out for the coast. Twas yer plan, right?"


"But I've a better one..."

"Father-in-law? This is all so..."

"That bug-eyed little bastard gave me and Meg 10L a year to live on after dumping us out in the country to keep his cottage guarded. The same little so-and-so who's been fondlin' every barmaid, shopgirl, and actress from here to Deptford...And back again. Don't give me that St. Catherine pose, girl...You know damned well all about it. But now, I'm willin' to help you two idiots...For a little of me own back."

"Sir...I must tell you..." Will, solemnly.

"How little...?" Bess cuts in.

...Yes, thank his lucky stars he has people who love him, the little...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Played with pleasure, but with a heavy heart, only it pleased me to think how it may please God I may live to spend my time in the country with plainness and pleasure, though but with little glory."

Ah, the simple life...

Brampton...Parallel world of Alternate Sam...

"Don't know, son...Funny kinda day. Might rain." John rocks in chair, thoughtfully.

"Yes, father." Sam sighs, eyeing clear blue sky.

"Might not. Funny kind of a day."

Oh, God...Sam sighs...

"Eh, here she comes again, son. Best to see to her." John points to where Bess, wild-eyed, strolls out, half-dressed...

"Paris looks so lovely this time of year..." she murmurs. "I'm so glad you were able to leave your duties and take me again this year, Sam'l." she notes, glancing across the paltry garden to an empty field, looking back to the road passing near the cottage where a cart drawn by oxen is slowly passing the house.

"Look! The King Louis himself! We must bow, Sam'l, but not kneel as you represent England as her highest naval official."

"Right..." Sam sighs, nodding to cart driver eyeing Bess...

"Will you go in, Bess? We ought to dress for the evening reception at the palace."

"Oh...Yes..." Bess allows herself to be pulled inside.

"Well...They've gone and hung your old friend Coventry from a lamp post after croppin' the King's head for that defeat, Sam'l." John notes, reading from his London Gazette, a week old. "Think on how ye might be there now but for your wise choice of our good country life."

Oh, God...Yes... To be back in London...Even with only a view from a lamp post.

"YOu mustn't touch me, sir...For I'm to be a nun here in Paris." Bess whispers as he leads her in.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Poor, poor Betty...How bewildering it must be in the midst of all this to want to turn to dear Bess for comfort, given Sam and his playful habits.

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