Monday 14 September 1668

Up betimes, and walked to the Temple, and stopped, viewing the Exchange, and Paul’s, and St. Fayth’s, where strange how the very sight of the stones falling from the top of the steeple do make me sea-sick! But no hurt, I hear, hath yet happened in all this work of the steeple, which is very much. So from the Temple I by coach to St. James’s, where I find Sir W. Pen and Lord Anglesey, who delivered this morning his answer to the Duke of York, but I could not see it. But after being above with the Duke of York, but said nothing, I down with Mr. Wren; and he and I read all over that I had, and I expounded them to him, and did so order it that I had them home with me, so that I shall, to my heart’s wish, be able to take a copy of them. After dinner, I by water to, White Hall; and there, with the Cofferer and Sir Stephen Fox, attended the Commissioners of the Treasury, about bettering our fund; and are promised it speedily. Thence by water home, and so all the afternoon and evening late busy at the office, and then home to supper, and Mrs. Turner comes to see my wife before her journey to-morrow, but she is in bed, and so sat talking to little purpose with me a great while, and, she gone, I to bed.

7 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"strange how the very sight of the stones falling from the top of the steeple do make me sea-sick! But no hurt, I hear, hath yet happened in all this work of the steeple, which is very much "

The deconstruction proceeds apace for the nonce:…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"attended the Commissioners of the Treasury, about bettering our fund; and are promised it speedily"

Don't hold your breath, Mr. Pepys et al.

L&M say the fund for payment of "Tangier, the Guards and the Household" was "already overdrawn to the extent of two years' net income."

Second Reading

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

In the State Papers written out today there is also this one, which gives us a rare glimpse into Leicester House, where France is splashing out on its extravagant embassy: "Privy seal for 30 tuns of wine, half French, half Spanish, for Sieur Colbert, the French Ambassador" [Entry Book 30, f.80b.]

Mon Dieu! A tun, Dr. Wikipedia informs us at…, is 252 gallons, or 952 liters - so yes, that's over 28,000 liters which M. Colbert will have at his disposal to get his points across to visiting courtiers, console himself of diplomatic reversals, or (the King's wine tax being what it is) indulge in a li'l bit of business on the side if he (or his butler) should phant'sy that.

Today apparently, the claret would be more for consolation. Our friend Piero Mocenigo, the Venetian ambassador, favors us with two of his voluminous letters to the Doge and Senate; in one (No. 340, at…) he updates the intelligence he had provided a week ago (see…) on Colbert's proposals to King Charles. They included (a) selling Tangiers to France - alas, "money has not sufficed to remove the obstacles" to that, Piero writes (either the price wasn't right, or Charles ain't what you all think); and (b) to make France and England mutually exclusive trading partners; though "strenuously urged", that outlandish idea was rejected as "it would cause a fundamental disturbance" (you bet, imagine how Spain and the Dutch would react).

More bad news: Piero says Colbert is lobbying the king to let Clarendon return. Seriously? Does he understand how radioactive is the disgraced former Lord Chancellor? The latter, after boucing all over France and supposedly being kicked out to far Lorraine, is now in Montpellier - which should be a lovely exile at this time of year, but from where he "succeeded in persuading" Louis XIV that, back in London, he could be, er, "advantageous" to French interests.

And to top it all, and with an eye on the plague news from Rouen that Sarah relayed yesterday, "it is stated that the death of some servants of the Ambassador Colbert has no other origin than the arrival at his house of persons coming from the suspected parts". C'est le bouquet!

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Piero, in his other letter of this day (No. 341), also continues to whine on how hard it is to get England to do anything about the siege of Candia. This time, it's that, after working so hard to get a public audience with Charles (he already had a private meeting where Charles made excuses, but obviously that's not what he's in London for), it all got cancelled when the court went on its tour of the provinces. Aaargh! Here, Piero flatters himself in thinking that it was all to dodge him: "It looks as if the absence of the Court is only to lose time for my offices to get a decision [on sending ships against the Turk] before the departure of the ships with the Dutch troops". The States have promised to send some, and Piero counted on one-upmanship by Charles; in your dreams only, amico mio.

His Venetian Excellency tells himself stories and he knows it: In his second letter (No. 342, mistakenly referenced in our preceding annotation as No. 340, sorry about that) he relates that the royal trip out of town was in part for the big-time ceremony where York was appointed Lord High Admiral, a sure sign this York has a big future (you betcha): "The duke of Hiorch has been declared General of the Cinque Ports".

Ha ha, the "duke of Hiorch". Has Piero ever seen his name in print, or does England keep its documents so jealously? We are tempted to put this together with this otherwise completely unrelated, but delightful, private letter which also appears in today's State Papers [S.P. Dom Car II. 246, No. 51]. The Papers' editors also thought it such a savoury piece of 17C style that they excerpted rather than summarized it. A "J. Aldrich" apparently offers to correct his uncle's lamentable orthograph: "for it grieves a man's heart to hear (besides the manifest damage that accrues to his Majesty's English from the reading of false spellings) how sadly people are forced, with great hazard to their own teeth and their friend's ears, to pick out of your letters such words as would challenge even Wales itself for harshness. I beg fair writing for the sake of the University your mother (...)"

On th' other hand, orthograph - what a strange modern notion, do you meane a ſingle Way of writing that should enſlave our Wits to some man's Rule? A sign of the Age, that young people should fancy Systems of that sort, but then, it's all about Systems and Classifications now, isn't it.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

More on "le bouquet", of Colbert spreading plague as well as cash: Sir Richard Bulstrode caught the rumor as well, and two days ago (on September 12) debunked it in his own diary: "The report of the sickness being in the French ambassador's house is found to have noe ground, one page haveing only happened to dye after a sickness, as the ambassador says, of many weekes, and all his family not haveing now one sick person in it" (…, page 60).

So, all's fine. "Noe ground". Colbert, on Leicester House's doorstep, thanks the assembled newsmen, declines requests to show his groin and armpits, and hands everyone a purse. We're all a bit hair-triggered, though, uh? As a reminder though, you can't catch the sickness by handling money.

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