Monday 21 October 1667
Up, and betimes got a coach at the Exchange, and thence to St. James’s, where I had forgot that the Duke of York and family were gone to White Hall, and thence to Westminster Hall and there walked a little, finding the Parliament likely to be busy all this morning about the business of Mr. Bruncker for advising Cox and Harman to shorten sail when they were in pursuit of the Dutch after the first great victory. I went away to Mr. Creed’s chamber, there to meet Sir H. Cholmly, about business of Mr. Yeabsly, where I was delivered of a great fear that they would question some of the orders for payment of money which I had got them signed at the time of the plague, when I was here alone, but all did pass. Thence to Westminster again, and up to the lobby, where many commanders of the fleete were, and Captain Cox, and Mr. Pierce, the Surgeon; the last of whom hath been in the House, and declared that he heard Bruncker advise; and give arguments to, Cox, for the safety of the Duke of York’s person, to shorten sail, that they might not be in the middle of the enemy in the morning alone; and Cox denying to observe his advice, having received the Duke of York’s commands over night to keep within cannon-shot (as they then were) of the enemy, Bruncker did go to Harman, and used the same arguments, and told him that he was sure it would be well pleasing to the King that care should be taken of not endangering the Duke of York; and, after much persuasion, Harman was heard to say, “Why, if it must be, then lower the topsail.” And so did shorten sail, to the loss, as the Parliament will have it, of the greatest victory that ever was, and which would have saved all the expence of blood, and money, and honour, that followed; and this they do resent, so as to put it to the question, whether Bruncker should not be carried to the Tower: who do confess that, out of kindness to the Duke of York’s safety, he did advise that they should do so, but did not use the Duke of York’s name therein; and so it was only his error in advising it, but the greatest theirs in taking it, contrary to order. At last, it ended that it should be suspended till Harman comes home; and then the Parliament-men do all tell me that it will fall heavy, and, they think, be fatal to Bruncker or him. Sir W. Pen tells me he was gone to bed, having been all day labouring, and then not able to stand, of the goute, and did give order for the keeping the sails standing, as they then were, all night. But, which I wonder at, he tells me that he did not know the next day that they had shortened sail, nor ever did enquire into it till about ten days ago, that this begun to be mentioned; and, indeed, it is charged privately as a fault on the Duke of York, that he did not presently examine the reason of the breach of his orders, and punish it. But Cox tells me that he did finally refuse it; and what prevailed with Harman he knows not, and do think that we might have done considerable service on the enemy the next day, if this had not been done. Thus this business ended to-day, having kept them till almost two o’clock; and then I by coach with Sir W. Pen as far as St. Clement’s, talking of this matter, and there set down; and I walked to Sir G. Carteret’s, and there dined with him and several Parliament-men, who, I perceive, do all look upon it as a thing certain that the Parliament will enquire into every thing, and will be very severe where they can find any fault. Sir W. Coventry, I hear, did this day make a speech, in apology for his reading the letter of the Duke of Albemarle, concerning the good condition which Chatham was in before the enemy come thither: declaring his simple intention therein, without prejudice to my Lord. And I am told that he was also with the Duke of Albemarle yesterday to excuse it; but this day I do hear, by some of Sir W. Coventry’s friends, that they think he hath done himself much injury by making this man, and his interest, so much his enemy.
After dinner, I away to Westminster, and up to the Parliament-house, and there did wait with great patience, till seven at night, to be called in to the Committee, who sat all this afternoon, examining the business of Chatham; and at last was called in, and told, that the least they expected from us Mr. Wren had promised them, and only bade me to bring all my fellow-officers thitherto attend them tomorrow, afternoon. Sir Robert Brookes in the chair: methinks a sorry fellow to be there, because a young man; and yet he seems to speak very well.
I gone thence, my cozen Pepys comes out to me, and walks in the Hall with me, and bids me prepare to answer to every thing; for they do seem to lodge the business of Chatham upon the Commissioners of the Navy, and they are resolved to lay the fault heavy somewhere, and to punish it: and prays me to prepare to save myself, and gives me hints what to prepare against; which I am obliged to him for, and do begin to mistrust lest some unhappy slip or other after all my diligence and pains may not be found (which I can [not] foresee) that may prove as fatal to a man as the constant course of negligence and unfaithfulness of other men.
Here we parted, and I to White Hall to Mr. Wren’s chamber, thereto advise with him about the list of ships and commanders which he is to present to the Parliament, and took coach (little Michell being with me, whom I took with me from Westminster Hall), and setting him down in Gracious street home myself, where I find my wife and the two Mercers and Willett and W. Batelier have been dancing, but without a fidler. I had a little pleasure in talking with these, but my head and heart full of thoughts between hope and fear and doubts what will become of us and me particularly against a furious Parliament. Then broke up and to bed, and there slept pretty well till about four o’clock, and from that time could not, but my thoughts running on speeches to the Parliament to excuse myself from the blame which by other men’s negligence will ’light, it may be, upon the office.
This day I did get a list of the fourteen particular miscarriages which are already before the Committee to be examined; wherein, besides two or three that will concern this Office much, there are those of the prizes, and that of Bergen, and not following the Dutch ships, against my Lord Sandwich; that, I fear, will ruine him, unless he hath very good luck, or they may be in better temper before he can come to be charged: but my heart is full of fear for him and his family.
I hear that they do prosecute the business against my Lord Chief Justice Keeling with great severity.