Tuesday 25 August 1668

Up, and by water to St. James’s, and there, with Mr. Wren, did discourse about my great letter, which the Duke of York hath given him: and he hath set it to be transcribed by Billings, his man, whom, as he tells me, he can most confide in for secresy, and is much pleased with it, and earnest to have it be; and he and I are like to be much together in the considering how to reform the Office, and that by the Duke of York’s command. Thence I, mightily pleased with this success, away to the Office, where all the morning, my head full of this business. And it is pretty how Lord Brouncker this day did tell me how he hears that a design is on foot to remove us out of the Office: and proposes that we two do agree to draw up a form of a new constitution of the Office, there to provide remedies for the evils we are now under, so that we may be beforehand with the world, which I agreed to, saying nothing of my design; and, the truth is, he is the best man of them all, and I would be glad, next myself, to save him; for, as he deserves best, so I doubt he needs his place most. So home to dinner at noon, and all the afternoon busy at the office till night, and then with my mind full of business now in my head, I to supper and to bed.

16 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Barberini to James Taaffe
Written from: Rome
Date: 25 August 1668

The taking upon himself by Father Taaffe of the functions of a Nuncio Apostolic, and the daring act of deputing Visitors into the several Provinces of Ireland, are things that threaten the perdition of his own soul & the greatest danger that can be to the Catholics of that Kingdom. ... The writer is commanded by the most eminent Cardinals of this Sacred Congregation, and also by our most holy Lord to exhibit pardon but only upon express condition that Father Taaffe withdraws his hands from all such matters, and instantly quitting Ireland, returns either to France or Flanders, and there betakes himself into some convent of his Order, not departing thence without licence from this Sacred Congregation. ...

Ormond to Carteret
Written from: Whitehall
Date: 25 August 1668

Notices (1) by way of caution, charges or suspicions against persons named Meynell and Cooke, as concerned in the uttering of false money in Ireland; (2) the proceedings of the Commissioners of Revenue Inquiry; and aspersions thrown upon Lord Anglesey in connexion therewith; (3) the payment of the writer's entertainments, by an arrangement with Sir Daniel Bellingham, as to the continuance of which Mr Mathew will desire an opportunity of conference with Sir George Carteret. ...


Jesse  •  Link

"how to reform the Office"

Maybe I've not been paying close attention but I don't recall much if anything in the diary that'd provide any clue that this 'great' letter was going to be written. It's been noted that there's general unhappiness about the Office's performance but the high level observations, reforms, and building motive for Pepys to step up as he's about to do seem to be missing.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

It seems to me the key change recently has been Sam's realization that the Duke of York, Lord High Admiral, is increasingly the target of Parliament's wrath and no longer so able to shield the Naval Office in his lee. Right now it's not so personal, I'd say...Really a way of getting at the King for general mismanagement...But soon the focus will center on Jamie as an unsuitable heir. Therefore the logical move is to help the Duke lead the "exposure" of faults in the Office so as to prevent a Parliamentary take-over...And winning the gratitude of the challenged Lord High Admiral...The only problem being that Sam is now increasingly hitching his star to Jamie's. Fine if Jamie either regains Parliament's good will or Charles produces a suitable Protestant heir...Not so good if Jamie becomes the dreaded Catholic/absolutist menace...

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Oops, Art perry asked on the 23rd whether the MS of the letter mentioned in the footnote to the 20th (that he linked to) is online.

Jesse  •  Link

RE: summarize in writing a conversation in which Pepys made certain recommendations about the reorganization of the navy office.

Thanks, but the issues w/the navy office have been going on for quite some time. The meeting w/the DoY was less than a month ago. I would think we'd have seen some comment on the general issues and gestation of the proposed reforms in the diary way before Pepys meeting or... some evidence of/for Pepys desire to "hitch his star to Jamies".

Pepys (or maybe it's me) seems to be plodding along, reporting the issues Parliament's having w/the Navy office then all of a sudden - bang - a meeting w/the DoY and he's now way(?) out on a limb, arguing for a major overhaul.

Jenny  •  Link

Jesse, there are many instances where Sam records his worry about and displeasure with the way "things are done" in the Navy. I can't cite them without trolling through many, many diary entries. I don't think Sam has "hitched his star to James" yet. He has been asked to provide a report to his boss (the Admiral of the Navy who happens to be the Duke of York) and the "great letter" is his opportunity, as a gifted administrator, to do this now.

djc  •  Link

Jesse, There are numerous diary entries that touch on concerns about the Navy Office. But the Diary is a running account of many aspects of Pepys life. Of necessity it does not have an overarching plot-line or theme. It is one of the delights of the Diary that it records what mattered at the time, big things and trivia together. Often we don't get the full story; there were other documents which may not have survived, and some things are so important they become so familiar as to escape recording.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Not quite hitched yet but increasingly so. He's outgrown Montagu and now Coventry, both of whom have or are falling from grace and real power, and soon Jamie, and Charles himself but Jamie more directly as LHA, will be the only game in town for an administrator of Sam's level, unless he can and is willing to do a backstairs deal with Parliament, a very potentially risky business for the next ten or so years. The lines haven't formed yet, but the outlines are developing.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"So?" Abby eyes her lord.

"Well, that venison pasty didn't get him, I have no alternative..." Brouncker sighs. "I must try to get on...eghad...The little bug-eyed nobody's good side and join with him in...urggh...Reform. Anyway, we can blame it all on Minnes. He'd probably love to be on the scaffold going out with a Shakespearian farewell..."

"Like hell..." Minnes, listening in study via his personal copy of the Otocousticon...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"What?!" Sam stares at the news of the outcome of his Great Letter...

"All of us? Turned out?! Mr. Wren, that was not the outcome I was led to expect, sir!!"

"Things change, Mr. P. Full sweep, new broom, eh, what?" thin smile.

York enters...

"Congratulations on your appointment as the new Secretary of the Admiralty, Wren." firm hand shake...

"Pepys..." passes by Sam's shaken face.

"We shall take very great pleasure in your forthcoming knighthood, Sir Matthew..." York, followed by attendants, departs room.

"Fortunes of office wars, Samuel..." Wren, beaming.

"By the way...I have to tell you, I've asked Parliament as the new Clerk of the Acts/Secretary of the Admiralty...Secretary is such a better title, don't you think?...to assist me in investigating all operations of the Naval Office since 1660. There are reports circulating, Pepys...Financial improprieties...Gifts of uncertain purpose...Pressure put upon wives and female employees for sexual favors..."

"But...Wren, this is outrageous. The reform project was my own idea, my initiative..."

"You might very well think so, Samuel...I couldn't possibly comment."

Ramona  •  Link

If you note the diary entry for July 4th, Coventry
"gives me advice to write a smart letter to the Duke of York about the want of money in the Navy..."

Jesse  •  Link

RE: many instances where Sam records his worry about and displeasure, ...

I think that's part of my point. (It seems) everyone before, including and after our hero, who works for a large organization, frets and complains about 'the way things are done', viz. the proverbial waste, fraud and abuse (aka inefficencies). But in his "great" letter Pepys has to take a significant step beyond the typical carping and address underlying causes and propose specific remedies. It's some insight into these later elements that I (seem to surprisingly) find missing in the diary.

PS Thanks for the comments.

Art perry  •  Link

Terry - I would love to see the contents of any version of this great letter. If anyone has a source, please share!

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