Ghetto moon

This morning up by moon-shine, at 5 o’clock, to White Hall, to meet Mr. Moore at the Privy Seal, but he not being come as appointed, I went into King Street to the Red Lyon to drink my morning draft, and there I heard of a fray between the two Embassadors of Spain and France; and that, this day, being the day of the entrance of an Embassador from Sweden, they intended to fight for the precedence! Our King, I heard, ordered that no Englishman should meddle in the business,1 but let them do what they would. And to that end all the soldiers in the town were in arms all the day long, and some of the train-bands in the City; and a great bustle through the City all the day. Then I to the Privy Seal, and there Mr. Moore and a gentleman being come with him, we took coach (which was the business I come for) to Chelsy, to my Lord Privy Seal, and there got him to seal the business. Here I saw by day-light two very fine pictures in the gallery, that a little while ago I saw by night; and did also go all over the house, and found it to be the prettiest contrived house that ever I saw in my life. So to coach back again; and at White Hall light, and saw the soldiers and people running up and down the streets. So I went to the Spanish Embassador’s and the French, and there saw great preparations on both sides; but the French made the most noise and vaunted most, the other made no stir almost at all; so that I was afraid the other would have had too great a conquest over them.
Then to the Wardrobe, and dined there, end then abroad and in Cheapside hear that the Spanish hath got the best of it, and killed three of the French coach-horses and several men, and is gone through the City next to our King’s coach; at which, it is strange to see how all the City did rejoice. And indeed we do naturally all love the Spanish, and hate the French.
But I, as I am in all things curious, presently got to the water-side, and there took oars to Westminster Palace, thinking to have seen them come in thither with all the coaches, but they being come and returned, I ran after them with my boy after me through all the dirt and the streets full of people; till at last, at the Mewes, I saw the Spanish coach go, with fifty drawn swords at least to guard it, and our soldiers shouting for joy. And so I followed the coach, and then met it at York House, where the embassador lies; and there it went in with great state. So then I went to the French house, where I observe still, that there is no men in the world of a more insolent spirit where they do well, nor before they begin a matter, and more abject if they do miscarry, than these people are; for they all look like dead men, and not a word among them, but shake their heads.
The truth is, the Spaniards were not only observed to fight most desperately, but also they did outwitt them; first in lining their own harness with chains of iron that they could not be cut, then in setting their coach in the most advantageous place, and to appoint men to guard every one of their horses, and others for to guard the coach, and others the coachmen. And, above all, in setting upon the French horses and killing them, for by that means the French were not able to stir.
There were several men slain of the French, and one or two of the Spaniards, and one Englishman by a bullet. Which is very observable, the French were at least four to one in number, and had near 100 case of pistols among them, and the Spaniards had not one gun among them; which is for their honour for ever, and the others’ disgrace.
So, having been very much daubed with dirt, I got a coach, and home where I vexed my wife in telling of her this story, and pleading for the Spaniards against the French.
So ends this month; myself and family in good condition of health, but my head full of my Lord’s and my own and the office business; where we are now very busy about the business of sending forces to Tangier, and the fleet to my Lord of Sandwich, who is now at Lisbon to bring over the Queen, who do now keep a Court as Queen of England.
The business of Argier hath of late troubled me, because my Lord hath not done what he went for, though he did as much as any man in the world could have done.
The want of money puts all things, and above all things the Navy, out of order; and yet I do not see that the King takes care to bring in any money, but thinks of new designs to lay out money.

Moonlight over
all the streets
made a great conquest of the city.
Strange to see it go
to the water with
drawn swords.
We met it like dead men,
not a word among us,
not able to stir
in the dirt.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 30 September 1661.

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