Gog, Magog, and demagogue

Up and found myself very well, and so by coach to White Hall and there met all my fellow officers, and so to the Duke, where, when we came into his closett, he told us that Mr. Pepys was so altered with his new perriwigg that he did not know him. So to our discourse, and among and above other things we were taken up in talking upon Sir J. Lawson’s coming home, he being come to Portsmouth; and Captain Berkely is come to towne with a letter from the Duana of Algier to the King, wherein they do demand again the searching of our ships and taking out of strangers, and their goods; and that what English ships are taken without the Duke’s pass they will detain (though it be flat contrary to the words of the peace) as prizes, till they do hear from our King, which they advise him may be speedy. And this they did the very next day after they had received with great joy the Grand Seignor’s confirmation of the Peace from Constantinople by Captain Berkely; so that there is no command nor certainty to be had of these people. The King is resolved to send his will by a fleete of ships; and it is thought best and speediest to send these very ships that are now come home, five sail of good ships, back again after cleaning, victualling, and paying them. But it is a pleasant thing to think how their Basha, Shavan Aga, did tear his hair to see the soldiers order things thus; for (just like his late predecessor) when they see the evil of war with England, then for certain they complain to the Grand Seignor of him, and cut his head off: this he is sure of, and knows as certain.
Thence to Westminster Hall, where I met with Mr. Pierce, chyrurgeon; and among other things he asked me seriously whether I knew anything of my Lord’s being out of favour with the King; and told me, that for certain the King do take mighty notice of my Lord’s living obscurely in a corner not like himself, and becoming the honour that he is come to. I was sorry to hear, and the truth is, from my Lord’s discourse among his people (which I am told) of the uncertainty of princes’ favours, and his melancholy keeping from Court, I am doubtful of some such thing; but I seemed wholly strange to him in it, but will make my use of it.
He told me also how loose the Court is, nobody looking after business, but every man his lust and gain; and how the King is now become besotted upon Mrs. Stewart, that he gets into corners, and will be with her half an houre together kissing her to the observation of all the world; and she now stays by herself and expects it, as my Lady Castlemaine did use to do; to whom the King, he says, is still kind, so as now and then he goes to have a chat with her as he believes; but with no such fondness as he used to do. But yet it is thought that this new wench is so subtle, that she lets him not do any thing than is safe to her, but yet his doting is so great that, Pierce tells me, it is verily thought if the Queene had died, he would have married her.
The Duke of Monmouth is to have part of the Cockpitt new built for lodgings for him, and they say to be made Captain of the Guards in the room of my Lord Gerard.
Having thus talked with him, there comes into the Hall Creed and Ned Pickering, and after a turne or two with them, it being noon, I walked with them two to the King’s Head ordinary, and there we dined; little discourse but what was common, only that the Duke of Yorke is a very, desperate huntsman, but I was ashamed of Pickering, who could not forbear having up my Lord Sandwich now and then in the most paltry matters abominable.
Thence I took leave of them, and so having taken up something at my wife’s tailor’s, I home by coach and there to my office, whither Shales came and I had much discourse with him about the business of the victualling, and thence in the evening to the Coffee-house, and there sat till by and by, by appointment Will brought me word that his uncle Blackburne was ready to speak with me. So I went down to him, and he and I to a taverne hard by, and there I begun to speak to Will friendlily, advising him how to carry himself now he is going from under my roof, without any reflections upon the occasion from whence his removal arose. This his uncle seconded, and after laying down to him his duty to me, and what I expect of him, in a discourse of about a quarter of an houre or more, we agreed upon his going this week, towards the latter (end) of the week, and so dismissed him, and Mr. Blackburne and I fell to talk of many things, wherein I did speak so freely to him in many things agreeing with his sense that he was very open to me.
First, in that of religion, he makes it great matter of prudence for the King and Council to suffer liberty of conscience; and imputes the losse of Hungary to the Turke from the Emperor’s denying them this liberty of their religion.
He says that many pious ministers of the word of God, some thousands of them, do now beg their bread: and told me how highly the present clergy carry themselves every where, so as that they are hated and laughed at by everybody; among other things, for their excommunications, which they send upon the least occasions almost that can be. And I am convinced in my judgement, not only from his discourse, but my thoughts in general, that the present clergy will never heartily go down with the generality of the commons of England; they have been so used to liberty and freedom, and they are so acquainted with the pride and debauchery of the present clergy. He did give me many stories of the affronts which the clergy receive in all places of England from the gentry and ordinary persons of the parish.
He do tell me what the City thinks of General Monk, as of a most perfidious man that hath betrayed every body, and the King also; who, as he thinks, and his party, and so I have heard other good friends of the King say, it might have been better for the King to have had his hands a little bound for the present, than be forced to bring such a crew of poor people about him, and be liable to satisfy the demands of every one of them.
He told me that to his knowledge (being present at every meeting at the Treaty at the Isle of Wight), that the old King did confess himself overruled and convinced in his judgement against the Bishopps, and would have suffered and did agree to exclude the service out of the churches, nay his own chappell; and that he did always say, that this he did not by force, for that he would never abate one inch by any vyolence; but what he did was out of his reason and judgement. He tells me that the King by name, with all his dignities, is prayed for by them that they call Fanatiques, as heartily and powerfully as in any of the other churches that are thought better: and that, let the King think what he will, it is them that must helpe him in the day of warr. For as they are the most, so generally they are the most substantial sort of people, and the soberest; and did desire me to observe it to my Lord Sandwich, among other things, that of all the old army now you cannot see a man begging about the street; but what? You shall have this captain turned a shoemaker; the lieutenant, a baker; this a brewer; that a haberdasher; this common soldier, a porter; and every man in his apron and frock, &c., as if they never had done anything else: whereas the others go with their belts and swords, swearing and cursing, and stealing; running into people’s houses, by force oftentimes, to carry away something; and this is the difference between the temper of one and the other; and concludes (and I think with some reason,) that the spirits of the old parliament soldiers are so quiett and contented with God’s providences, that the King is safer from any evil meant him by them one thousand times more than from his own discontented Cavalier.
And then to the publique management of business: it is done, as he observes, so loosely and so carelessly, that the kingdom can never be happy with it, every man looking after himself, and his owne lust and luxury; among other things he instanced in the business of money, he do believe that half of what money the Parliament gives the King is not so much as gathered. And to the purpose he told me how the Bellamys (who had some of the Northern counties assigned them for their debt for the petty warrant victualling) have often complained to him that they cannot get it collected, for that nobody minds, or, if they do, they won’t pay it in. Whereas (which is a very remarkable thing,) he hath been told by some of the Treasurers at Warr here of late, to whom the most of the 120,000l. monthly was paid, that for most months the payments were gathered so duly, that they seldom had so much or more than 40s., or the like, short in the whole collection; whereas now the very Commissioners for Assessments and other publique payments are such persons, and those that they choose in the country so like themselves, that from top to bottom there is not a man carefull of any thing, or if he be, he is not solvent; that what between the beggar and the knave, the King is abused the best part of all his revenue.
From thence we began to talk of the Navy, and particularly of Sir W. Pen, of whose rise to be a general I had a mind to be informed. He told me he was always a conceited man, and one that would put the best side outward, but that it was his pretence of sanctity that brought him into play. Lawson, and Portman, and the Fifth-monarchy men, among whom he was a great brother, importuned that he might be general; and it was pleasant to see how Blackburne himself did act it, how when the Commissioners of the Admiralty would enquire of the captains and admirals of such and such men, how they would with a sigh and casting up the eyes say, “Such a man fears the Lord,” or, “I hope such a man hath the Spirit of God,” and such things as that. But he tells me that there was a cruel articling against Pen after one fight, for cowardice, in putting himself within a coyle of cables, of which he had much ado to acquit himself: and by great friends did it, not without remains of guilt, but that his brethren had a mind to pass it by, and Sir H. Vane did advise him to search his heart, and see whether this fault or a greater sin was not the occasion of this so great tryall. And he tells me, that what Pen gives out about Cromwell’s sending and entreating him to go to Jamaica, is very false; he knows the contrary: besides, the Protector never was a man that needed to send for any man, specially such a one as he, twice. He tells me that the business of Jamaica did miscarry absolutely by his pride, and that when he was in the Tower he would cry like a child. This he says of his own personal knowledge, and lastly tells me that just upon the turne, when Monk was come from the North to the City, and did begin to think of bringing in the King, Pen was then turned Quaker. This he is most certain of. He tells me that Lawson was never counted any thing but only a seaman, and a stout man, but a false man, and that now he appears the greatest hypocrite in the world. And Pen the same. He tells me that it is much talked of, that the King intends to legitimate the Duke of Monmouth; and that he has not, nor his friends of his persuasion, have any hopes of getting their consciences at liberty but by God Almighty’s turning of the King’s heart, which they expect, and are resolved to live and die in quiett hopes of it; but never to repine, or act any thing more than by prayers towards it. And that not only himself but all of them have, and are willing at any time to take the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy.
Thus far, and upon many more things, we had discoursed when some persons in a room hard by began to sing in three parts very finely and to play upon a flagilette so pleasantly that my discourse afterwards was but troublesome, and I could not attend it, and so, anon, considering of a sudden the time of night, we found it 11 o’clock, which I thought it had not been by two hours, but we were close in talk, and so we rose, he having drunk some wine and I some beer and sugar, and so by a fair moonshine home and to bed, my wife troubled with tooth ache.
Mr. Blackburne observed further to me, some certain notice that he had of the present plot so much talked of; that he was told by Mr. Rushworth, how one Captain Oates, a great discoverer, did employ several to bring and seduce others into a plot, and that one of his agents met with one that would not listen to him, nor conceal what he had offered him, but so detected the trapan. This, he says, is most true.
He also, among other instances how the King is served, did much insist upon the cowardice and corruption of the King’s guards and militia, which to be sure will fail the King, as they have done already, when there will be occasion for them.

they demand the searching
and taking out of strangers
words that are back again
like a predecessor evil
living obscurely in a corner
of some loose mouth

an abominable discourse
of excommunications

they pray by cursing
believe in a country like themselves
as cruel as a child
and take oaths of allegiance to a flag
of sugar and toothache


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 9 November 1663.

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