Up and by coach with Sir W. Pen to Charing Cross, and there I ‘light, and to Sir Phillip Warwick to visit him and discourse with him about navy business, which I did at large and he most largely with me, not only about the navy but about the general Revenue of England, above two hours, I think, many staying all the while without, but he seemed to take pains to let me either understand the affairs of the Revenue or else to be a witness of his pains and care in stating it.
He showed me indeed many excellent collections of the State of the Revenue in former Kings and the late times, and the present. He showed me how the very Assessments between 1643 and 1659, which were taxes (besides Excise, Customes, Sequestrations, Decimations, King and Queene’s and Church Lands, or any thing else but just the Assessments), come to above fifteen millions. He showed me a discourse of his concerning the Revenues of this and foreign States. How that of Spayne was great, but divided with his kingdoms, and so came to little. How that of France did, and do much exceed ours before for quantity; and that it is at the will of the Prince to tax what he will upon his people; which is not here. That the Hollanders have the best manner of tax, which is only upon the expence of provisions, by an excise; and do conclude that no other tax is proper for England but a pound-rate, or excise upon the expence of provisions.
He showed me every particular sort of payment away of money, since the King’s coming in, to this day; and told me, from one to one, how little he hath received of profit from most of them; and I believe him truly. That the 1,200,000l. which the Parliament with so much ado did first vote to give the King, and since hath been reexamined by several committees of the present Parliament, is yet above 300,000l. short of making up really to the King the 1,200,000l., as by particulars he showed me.1 And in my Lord Treasurer’s excellent letter to the King upon this subject, he tells the King how it was the spending more than the revenue that did give the first occasion of his father’s ruine, and did since to the rebels; who, he says, just like Henry the Eighth, had great and sudden increase of wealth, but yet, by overspending, both died poor; and further tells the King how much of this 1,200,000l. depends upon the life of the Prince, and so must be renewed by Parliament again to his successor; which is seldom done without parting with some of the prerogatives of the Crowne; or if denied and he persists to take it of the people, it gives occasion to a civill war, which may, as it did in the late business of tonnage and poundage, prove fatal to the Crowne.
He showed me how many ways the Lord Treasurer did take before he moved the King to farme the Customes in the manner he do, and the reasons that moved him to do it.
He showed me a very excellent argument to prove, that our importing lesse than we export, do not impoverish the kingdom, according to the received opinion: which, though it be a paradox, and that I do not remember the argument, yet methought there was a great deale in what he said. And upon the whole I find him a most exact and methodicall man, and of great industry: and very glad that he thought fit to show me all this; though I cannot easily guess the reason why he should do it to me, unless from the plainness that he sees I use to him in telling him how much the King may suffer for our want of understanding the case of our Treasury.
Thence to White Hall (where my Lord Sandwich was, and gave me a good countenance, I thought), and before the Duke did our usual business, and so I about several businesses in the house, and then out to the Mewes with Sir W. Pen. But in my way first did meet with W. Howe, who did of himself advise me to appear more free with my Lord and to come to him, for my own strangeness he tells me he thinks do make my Lord the worse. At the Mewes Sir W. Pen and Mr. Baxter did shew me several good horses, but Pen, which Sir W. Pen did give the Duke of York, was given away by the Duke the other day to a Frenchman, which Baxter is cruelly vexed at, saying that he was the best horse that he expects a great while to have to do with.
Thence I to the ‘Change, and thence to a Coffee-house with Sir W. Warren, and did talk much about his and Wood’s business, and thence homewards, and in my way did stay to look upon a fire in an Inneyard in Lumbard Streete. But, Lord! how the mercers and merchants who had warehouses there did carry away their cloths and silks. But at last it was quenched, and I home to dinner, and after dinner carried my wife and set her and her two mayds in Fleete Streete to buy things, and I to White Hall to little purpose, and so to Westminster Hall, and there talked with Mrs. Lane and Howlett, but the match with Hawly I perceive will not take, and so I am resolved wholly to avoid occasion of further ill with her.
Thence by water to Salsbury Court, and found my wife, by agreement, at Mrs. Turner’s, and after a little stay and chat set her and young Armiger down in Cheapside, and so my wife and I home. Got home before our mayds, who by and by came with a great cry and fright that they had like to have been killed by a coach; but, Lord! to see how Jane did tell the story like a foole and a dissembling fanatique, like her grandmother, but so like a changeling, would make a man laugh to death almost, and yet be vexed to hear her.
By and by to the office to make up my monthly accounts, which I make up to-night, and to my great content find myself worth eight hundred and ninety and odd pounds, the greatest sum I ever yet knew, and so with a heart at great ease to bed.
hours without a witness
how the state and Customs
assess the foreign
how divide and excise
part by part
like the prerogative of the crow
to take any sandwich
with a cheap cry and fright
they kill a story
like a dissembling fanatic
laugh to hear pound
the greatest heart
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 29 February 1663/64.