Sunday 14 February 1668/69

(Lord’s day). Up, and by coach to Sir W. Coventry, and there, he taking physic, I with him all the morning, full of very good discourse of the Navy and publick matters, to my great content, wherein I find him doubtful that all will be bad, and, for his part, he tells me he takes no more care for any thing more than in the Treasury; and that, that being done, he goes to cards and other delights, as plays, and in summertime to bowles. But here he did shew me two or three old books of the Navy, of my Lord Northumberland’s times, which he hath taken many good notes out of, for justifying the Duke of York and us, in many things, wherein, perhaps, precedents will be necessary to produce, which did give me great content. At noon home, and pleased mightily with my morning’s work, and coming home, I do find a letter from Mr. Wren, to call me to the Duke of York after dinner. So dined in all haste, and then W. Hewer and my wife and I out, we set her at my cozen Turner’s while we to White Hall, where the Duke of York expected me; and in his closet Wren and I. He did tell me how the King hath been acquainted with the Treasurers’ discourse at the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, the other day, and is dissatisfied with our running him in debt, which I removed; and he did, carry me to the King, and I did satisfy him also; but his satisfaction is nothing worth, it being easily got, and easily removed; but I do purpose to put in writing that which shall make the Treasurers ashamed. But the Duke of York is horrid angry against them; and he hath cause, for they do all they can to bring dishonour upon his management, as do vainly appear in all they do. Having done with the Duke of York, who do repose all in me, I with Mr. Wren to his chamber to talk; where he observed, that these people are all of them a broken sort of people, that have not much to lose, and therefore will venture all to make their fortunes better: that Sir Thomas Osborne is a beggar, having 11 of 1200l. a-year, but owes above 10,000l.. The Duke of Buckingham’s condition is shortly this: that he hath about 19,600l. a-year, of which he pays away about 7,000l. a-year in interest, about 2000l. in fee-farm rents to the King, about 6000l. wages and pensions, and the rest to live upon, and pay taxes for the whole. Wren says, that for the Duke of York to stir in this matter, as his quality might justify, would but make all things worse, and that therefore he must bend, and suffer all, till time works it out: that he fears they will sacrifice the Church, and that the King will take anything, and so he will hold up his head a little longer, and then break in pieces. But Sir W. Coventry did today mightily magnify my late Lord Treasurer, for a wise and solid, though infirm man: and, among other things, that when he hath said it was impossible in nature to find this or that sum of money, and my Lord Chancellor hath made sport of it, and tell the King that when my Lord hath said it [was] impossible, yet he hath made shift to find it, and that was by Sir G. Carteret’s getting credit, my Lord did once in his hearing say thus, which he magnifies as a great saying — that impossible would be found impossible at last; meaning that the King would run himself out, beyond all his credit and funds, and then we should too late find it impossible; which is, he says, now come to pass. For that Sir W. Coventry says they could borrow what money they would, if they had assignments, and funds to secure it with, which before they had enough of, and then must spend it as if it would never have an end.

From White Hall to my cozen Turner’s, and there took up my wife; and so to my uncle Wight’s, and there sat and supped, and talked pretty merry, and then walked home, and to bed.


13 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Typo above: "11 or 1200l. " read L&M.

Jesse  •  Link

"but his satisfaction is nothing worth"

Pepys certainly doesn't seem overawed by royalty. Not that he has to sign up for the great chain of being, but King comes across as yet another boss's boss.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to Sir W. Coventry, and there, he taking physic, I with him all the morning, full of very good discourse of the Navy and publick matters, to my great content, wherein I find him doubtful that all will be bad"

"doubtful" probably here means "fearful"

I love how Pepys hangs out all morning with an esteemed friend who's being purged (perhaps his "monethlies") -- to provide company and get his take on life.

Peter Last  •  Link

"...but his [Charles II] satisfaction is nothing worth, it being easily got, and easily removed..."

This is one of Sam's beautifully pithy pronouncements, which can be applied to many political figures of today as much as then.

"Put not your faith in princes -- or Australian Prime Ministers!"

Katherine  •  Link

There's no mention of Valentine's Day. Is that because it is Sunday?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Equally nice is Coventry's touching fondness for his protege...He may be trying to give up all his blighted interest in the Stuart administration but he can't resist providing Sam, his bright young man, with help and advice.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"these people are all of them a broken sort of people"

L&M note Osborne's father's estate's annual yield had been valued in 1646 at £970, to which he had added by his marriage. He had increased his indebtedness last year (1668) by maintaining a property in London as well as his Yorkshire home.
Buckingham's estates' annual yield was valued in 1651 at £28,000, when Parliament confiscated them. His debts were so heavy that by 1671 he had settled all or most of his estates on trustees.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"The Duke of Buckingham’s condition is shortly this: that he hath about 19,600l. a-year, of which he pays away about 7,000l. a-year in interest, about 2000l. in fee-farm rents to the King, about 6000l. wages and pensions, and the rest to live upon, and pay taxes for the whole. "

Buckingham's estates were valued in 1651, when parliament confiscated them, at £26,000 p.a. His debts were so heavy that be 1671 he had settled all or most of his estates on trustees: H.J. Habbakuk, in Studies in social hist. (ed. J.H. Plumb, p.145. (L&M note)

Gerald Berg  •  Link

To make a beggar the treasurer. Good idea! Elect me!

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"He did tell me how the King hath been acquainted with the Treasurers’ discourse at the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, the other day, and is dissatisfied with our running him in debt, which I removed; ..."

I presume Wren is talking about this heated entry:
"... Thence to the Treasurer’s; and I and Sir J. Minnes and Mr. Tippets down to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and there had a hot debate from Sir Thomas Clifford and my Lord Ashly (the latter of which, I hear, is turning about as fast as he can to the Duke of Buckingham’s side, being in danger, it seems, of being otherwise out of play, which would not be convenient for him), against Sir W. Coventry and Sir J. Duncomb, who did uphold our Office against an accusation of our Treasurers, who told the Lords that they found that we had run the King in debt 50,000/. or more, more than the money appointed for the year would defray, which they declared like fools, and with design to hurt us, though the thing is in itself ridiculous. But my Lord Ashly and Clifford did most horribly cry out against the want of method in the Office. At last it come that it should be put in writing what they had to object; but I was devilish mad at it, to see us thus wounded by our own members, and so away vexed, ..."
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1669/02/12/

I'm not sure exactly what Pepys is referring to "I was devilish mad at it, to see us thus wounded by our own members," but we know Batten had a hand in fiddling the Tallies, Anglesey had diverted some funds in the last year, Penn did inconvenient things (never found out quite what), and that Mennes didn't know how to do his job, but so far as I can tell, Pepys was unable to do the very thing he was accused of, much as he might liked to have done: "they found that we had run the King in debt 50,000/. or more, more than the money appointed for the year would defray, which they declared like fools, and with design to hurt us, though the thing is in itself ridiculous."

He was good at getting his instructions in writing from a superior, and general c-y-a paperwork.

Time to get out the files and start around-the-clock dictation again, Pepys. Sigh.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"But Sir W. Coventry did today mightily magnify my late Lord Treasurer [Thomas Wriothesley, 4th earl of Southampton], for a wise and solid, though infirm man: and, among other things, that when he [Wriothesley] hath said it was impossible in nature to find this or that sum of money, and my Lord Chancellor [Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon] hath made sport of it, and tell the King that when my Lord [Wriothesley] hath said it [was] impossible, yet he hath made shift to find it, and that was by Sir G. Carteret’s getting credit, my Lord [Wriothesley] did once in his [Coventry's] hearing say thus, which he [Coventry] magnifies as a great saying — that impossible would be found impossible at last; meaning that the King would run or himself out, beyond all his credit and funds, and then we should too late find it impossible; which is, he [Coventry] says, now come to pass."

So there we have it: Carteret was one of the deep pockets behind Charles II and the Second Anglo-Dutch Wars. He donated more than a sister/daughter to the Royalist cause ... and his reward was to be sent off to Dublin to audit the books of his friend, James Butler, Duke of Ormonde, nicely out of the way as the Treasury Committee audits the books and his friend is removed from office.

The fickle finger of fate strikes again.

Perhaps Charles II thought he was protecting Carteret by getting him out of the line of fire, just as he had protected Sandwich from the ire of Parliament? Either way, both men were treated shoddily IMO, given the evidence Pepys shares with us.

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