Oh say can you see

(Lord’s-day; Whit-sunday). Up, and by water to White Hall, and there met with Mr. Coventry, who tells me the only news from the fleete is brought by Captain Elliott, of The Portland, which, by being run on board by The Guernsey, was disabled from staying abroad; so is come in to Aldbrough. That he saw one of the Dutch great ships blown up, and three on fire. That they begun to fight on Friday; and at his coming into port, he could make another ship of the King’s coming in, which he judged to be the Rupert: that he knows of no other hurt to our ships.
With this good newes I home by water again, and to church in the sermon-time, and with great joy told it my fellows in the pew. So home after church time to dinner, and after dinner my father, wife, sister, and Mercer by water to Woolwich, while I walked by land, and saw the Exchange as full of people, and hath been all this noon as of any other day, only for newes.
I to St. Margaret’s, Westminster, and there saw at church my pretty Betty Michell, and thence to the Abbey, and so to Mrs. Martin, and there did what ‘je voudrais avec her, both devante and backward, which is also muy bon plazer. So by and by he come in, and after some discourse with him I away to White Hall, and there met with this bad newes farther, that the Prince come to Dover but at ten o’clock last night, and there heard nothing of a fight; so that we are defeated of all our hopes of his helpe to the fleete. It is also reported by some Victuallers that the Duke of Albemarle and Holmes their flags were shot down, and both fain to come to anchor to renew their rigging and sails.
A letter is also come this afternoon, from Harman in the Henery; which is she [that] was taken by Elliott for the Rupert; that being fallen into the body of the Dutch fleete, he made his way through them, was set on by three fire-ships one after another, got two of them off, and disabled the third; was set on fire himself; upon which many of his men leapt into the sea and perished; among others, the parson first. Have lost above 100 men, and a good many women (God knows what is become of Balty), and at last quenched his own fire and got to Aldbrough; being, as all say, the greatest hazard that ever any ship escaped, and as bravely managed by him. The mast of the third fire-ship fell into their ship on fire, and hurt Harman’s leg, which makes him lame now, but not dangerous.
I to Sir G. Carteret, who told me there hath been great bad management in all this; that the King’s orders that went on Friday for calling back the Prince, were sent but by the ordinary post on Wednesday; and come to the Prince his hands but on Friday; and then, instead of sailing presently, he stays till four in the evening. And that which is worst of all, the Hampshire, laden with merchants’ money, come from the Straights, set out with or but just before the fleete, and was in the Downes by five in the clock yesterday morning; and the Prince with his fleete come to Dover but at ten of the clock at night. This is hard to answer, if it be true. This puts great astonishment into the King, and Duke, and Court, every body being out of countenance. So meeting Creed, he and I by coach to Hide Parke alone to talke of these things, and do blesse God that my Lord Sandwich was not here at this time to be concerned in a business like to be so misfortunate.
It was a pleasant thing to consider how fearfull I was of being seen with Creed all this afternoon, for fear of people’s thinking that by our relation to my Lord Sandwich we should be making ill construction of the Prince’s failure. But, God knows, I am heartily sorry for the sake of the whole nation, though, if it were not for that, it would not be amisse to have these high blades find some checke to their presumption and their disparaging of as good men.
Thence set him down in Covent Guarden and so home by the ‘Change, which is full of people still, and all talk highly of the failure of the Prince in not making more haste after his instructions did come, and of our managements here in not giving it sooner and with more care and oftener thence.
After supper to bed.

news is a blown-on fire
becoming our backward flag

not a dangerous thing
like people thinking

or a heart sorry for the whole high
disparaging of care


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 3 June 1666.

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