Monday 2 September 1667
This day is kept in the City as a publick fast for the fire this day twelve months: but I was not at church, being commanded, with the rest, to attend the Duke of York; and, therefore, with Sir J. Minnes to St. James’s, where we had much business before the Duke of York, and observed all things to be very kind between the Duke of York and W. Coventry, which did mightily joy me. When we had done, Sir W. Coventry called me down with him to his chamber, and there told me that he is leaving the Duke of York’s service, which I was amazed at. But he tells me that it is not with the least unkindness on the Duke of York’s side, though he expects, and I told him he was in the right, it will be interpreted otherwise, because done just at this time; “but,” says he, “I did desire it a good while since, and the Duke of York did, with much entreaty, grant it, desiring that I would say nothing of it, that he might have time and liberty to choose his successor, without being importuned for others whom he should not like:” and that he hath chosen Mr. Wren, which I am glad of, he being a very ingenious man; and so Sir W. Coventry says of him, though he knows him little; but particularly commends him for the book he writ in answer to “Harrington’s Oceana,” which, for that reason, I intend to buy. He tells me the true reason is, that he, being a man not willing to undertake more business than he can go through, and being desirous to have his whole time to spend upon the business of the Treasury, and a little for his own ease, he did desire this of the Duke of York. He assures me that the kindness with which he goes away from the Duke of York is one of the greatest joys that ever he had in the world. I used some freedom with him, telling him how the world hath discoursed of his having offended the Duke of York, about the late business of the Chancellor. He do not deny it, but says that perhaps the Duke of York might have some reason for it, he opposing him in a thing wherein he was so earnest but tells me, that, notwithstanding all that, the Duke of York does not now, nor can blame him; for he tells me that he was the man that did propose the removal of the Chancellor; and that he did still persist in it, and at this day publickly owns it, and is glad of it; but that the Duke of York knows that he did first speak of it to the Duke of York, before he spoke to any mortal creature besides, which was fair dealing: and the Duke of York was then of the same mind with him, and did speak of it to the King; though since, for reasons best known to himself, he was afterwards altered. I did then desire to know what was the great matter that grounded his desire of the Chancellor’s removal? He told me many things not fit to be spoken, and yet not any thing of his being unfaithful to the King; but, ‘instar omnium’, he told me, that while he was so great at the Council-board, and in the administration of matters, there was no room for any body to propose any remedy to what was amiss, or to compass any thing, though never so good for the kingdom, unless approved of by the Chancellor, he managing all things with that greatness which now will be removed, that the King may have the benefit of others’ advice. I then told him that the world hath an opinion that he hath joined himself with my Lady Castlemayne’s faction in this business; he told me, he cannot help it, but says they are in an errour: but for first he will never, while he lives, truckle under any body or any faction, but do just as his own reason and judgment directs; and, when he cannot use that freedom, he will have nothing to do in public affairs but then he added, that he never was the man that ever had any discourse with my Lady Castlemayne, or with others from her, about this or any public business, or ever made her a visit, or at least not this twelvemonth, or been in her lodgings but when called on any business to attend the King there, nor hath had any thing to do in knowing her mind in this business. He ended all with telling me that he knows that he that serves a Prince must expect, and be contented to stand, all fortunes, and be provided to retreat, and that that he is most willing to do whenever the King shall please. And so we parted, he setting me down out of his coach at Charing Cross, and desired me to tell Sir W. Pen what he had told me of his leaving the Duke of York’s service, that his friends might not be the last that know it. I took a coach and went homewards; but then turned again, and to White Hall, where I met with many people; and, among other things, do learn that there is some fear that Mr. Bruncker is got into the King’s favour, and will be cherished there; which will breed ill will between the King and Duke of York, he lodging at this time in White Hall since he was put away from the Duke of York: and he is great with Bab. May, my Lady Castlemayne, and that wicked crew. But I find this denied by Sir G. Carteret, who tells me that he is sure he hath no kindness from the King; that the King at first, indeed, did endeavour to persuade the Duke of York from putting him away; but when, besides this business of his ill words concerning his Majesty in the business of the Chancellor, he told him that he hath had, a long time, a mind to put him away for his ill offices, done between him and his wife, the King held his peace, and said no more, but wished him to do what he pleased with him; which was very noble. I met with Fenn; and he tells me, as I do hear from some others, that the business of the Chancellor’s had proceeded from something of a mistake, for the Duke of York did first tell the King that the Chancellor had a desire to be eased of his great trouble; and that the King, when the Chancellor come to him, did wonder to hear him deny it, and the Duke of York was forced to deny to the King that ever he did tell him so in those terms: but the King did answer that he was sure that he did say some such thing to him; but, however, since it had gone so far, did desire him to be contented with it, as a thing very convenient for him as well as for himself (the King), and so matters proceeded, as we find. Now it is likely the Chancellor might, some time or other, in a compliment or vanity, say to the Duke of York, that he was weary of this burden, and I know not what; and this comes of it. Some people, and myself among them, are of good hope from this change that things are reforming; but there are others that do think but that it is a hit of chance, as all other our greatest matters are, and that there is no general plot or contrivance in any number of people what to do next, though, I believe, Sir W. Coventry may in himself have further designs; and so that, though other changes may come, yet they shall be accidental and laid upon [not] good principles of doing good.
Mr. May shewed me the King’s new buildings, in order to their having of some old sails for the closing of the windows this winter. I dined with Sir G. Carteret, with whom dined Mr. Jack Ashburnham and Dr. Creeton, who I observe to be a most good man and scholar. In discourse at dinner concerning the change of men’s humours and fashions touching meats, Mr. Ashburnham told us, that he remembers since the only fruit in request, and eaten by the King and Queen at table as the best fruit, was the Katharine payre, though they knew at the time other fruits of France and our own country. After dinner comes in Mr. Townsend; and there I was witness of a horrid rateing, which Mr. Ashburnham, as one of the Grooms of the King’s Bedchamber, did give him for want of linen for the King’s person; which he swore was not to be endured, and that the King would not endure it, and that the King his father, would have hanged his Wardrobe-man should he have been served so the King having at this day no handkerchers, and but three bands to his neck, he swore. Mr. Townsend answered want of money, and the owing of the linen-draper 5000l.; and that he hath of late got many rich things made — beds, and sheets, and saddles, and all without money, and he can go no further but still this old man, indeed, like an old loving servant, did cry out for the King’s person to be neglected. But, when he was gone, Townsend told me that it is the grooms taking away the King’s linen at the quarter’s end, as their fees, which makes this great want: for, whether the King can get it or no, they will run away at the quarter’s end with what he hath had, let the King get more as he can. All the company gone, Sir G. Carteret and I to talk: and it is pretty to observe how already he says that he did always look upon the Chancellor indeed as his friend, though he never did do him any service at all, nor ever got any thing by him, nor was he a man apt, and that, I think, is true, to do any man any kindness of his own nature; though I do know that he was believed by all the world to be the greatest support of Sir G. Carteret with the King of any man in England: but so little is now made of it! He observes that my Lord Sandwich will lose a great friend in him; and I think so too, my Lord Hinchingbroke being about a match calculated purely out of respect to my Lord Chancellor’s family. By and by Sir G. Carteret, and Townsend, and I, to consider of an answer to the Commissioners of the Treasury about my Lord Sandwich’s profits in the Wardrobe; which seem, as we make them, to be very small, not 1000l. a-year; but only the difference in measure at which he buys and delivers out to the King, and then 6d. in the pound from the tradesmen for what money he receives for him; but this, it is believed, these Commissioners will endeavour to take away.
From him I went to see a great match at tennis, between Prince Rupert and one Captain Cooke, against Bab. May and the elder Chichly; where the King was, and Court; and it seems are the best players at tennis in the nation. But this puts me in mind of what I observed in the morning, that the King, playing at tennis, had a steele-yard carried to him, and I was told it was to weigh him after he had done playing; and at noon Mr. Ashburnham told me that it is only the King’s curiosity, which he usually hath of weighing himself before and after his play, to see how much he loses in weight by playing: and this day he lost 4 lbs.
Thence home and took my wife out to Mile End Green, and there I drank, and so home, having a very fine evening. Then home, and I to Sir W. Batten and [Sir] W. Pen, and there discoursed of Sir W. Coventry’s leaving the Duke of York, and Mr. Wren’s succeeding him. They told me both seriously, that they had long cut me out for Secretary to the Duke of York, if ever [Sir] W. Coventry left him; which, agreeing with what I have heard from other hands heretofore, do make me not only think that something of that kind hath been thought on, but do comfort me to see that the world hath such an esteem of my qualities as to think me fit for any such thing. Though I am glad, with all my heart, that I am not so; for it would never please me to be forced to the attendance that that would require, and leave my wife and family to themselves, as I must do in such a case; thinking myself now in the best place that ever man was in to please his own mind in, and, therefore, I will take care to preserve it. So to bed, my cold remaining though not so much upon me. This day Nell, an old tall maid, come to live with us, a cook maid recommended by Mr. Batelier.