Stealthy

Up betimes, and vexed with my people for having a key taken out of the chamber doors and nobody knew where it was, as also with my boy for not being ready as soon as I, though I called him, whereupon I boxed him soundly, and then to my business at the office and on the Victualling Office, and thence by water to St. James’s, whither he is now gone, it being a monthly fast-day for the plague. There we all met, and did our business as usual with the Duke, and among other things had Captain Cocke’s proposal of East country goods read, brought by my Lord Bruncker, which I make use of as a monkey do the cat’s foot. Sir W. Coventry did much oppose it, and it’s likely it will not do; so away goes my hopes of 500l..
Thence after the Duke into the Parke, walking through to White Hall, and there every body listening for guns, but none heard, and every creature is now overjoyed and concludes upon very good grounds that the Dutch are beaten because we have heard no guns nor no newes of our fleete. By and by walking a little further, Sir Philip Frowde did meet the Duke with an expresse to Sir W. Coventry (who was by) from Captain Taylor, the Storekeeper at Harwich, being the narration of Captain Hayward of The Dunkirke; who gives a very serious account, how upon Monday the two fleetes fought all day till seven at night, and then the whole fleete of Dutch did betake themselves to a very plain flight, and never looked back again. That Sir Christopher Mings is wounded in the leg; that the Generall is well. That it is conceived reasonably, that of all the Dutch fleete, which, with what recruits they had, come to one hundred sayle, there is not above fifty got home; and of them, few if any of their flags. And that little Captain Bell, in one of the fire-ships, did at the end of the day fire a ship of 70 guns.
We were all so overtaken with this good newes, that the Duke ran with it to the King, who was gone to chappell, and there all the Court was in a hubbub, being rejoiced over head and ears in this good newes.
Away go I by coach to the New Exchange, and there did spread this good newes a little, though I find it had broke out before. And so home to our own church, it being the common Fast-day, and it was just before sermon; but, Lord! how all the people in the church stared upon me to see me whisper to Sir John Minnes and my Lady Pen. Anon I saw people stirring and whispering below, and by and by comes up the sexton from my Lady Ford to tell me the newes (which I had brought), being now sent into the church by Sir W. Batten in writing, and handed from pew to pew. But that which pleased me as much as the newes, was, to have the fair Mrs. Middleton at our church, who indeed is a very beautiful lady. Here after sermon comes to our office 40 people almost of all sorts and qualities to hear the newes, which I took great delight to tell them. Then home and found my wife at dinner, not knowing of my being at church, and after dinner my father and she out to Hales’s, where my father is to begin to sit to-day for his picture, which I have a desire to have. I all the afternoon at home doing some business, drawing up my vowes for the rest of the yeare to Christmas; but, Lord! to see in what a condition of happiness I am, if I would but keepe myself so; but my love of pleasure is such, that my very soul is angry with itself for my vanity in so doing. Anon took coach and to Hales’s, but he was gone out, and my father and wife gone. So I to Lovett’s, and there to my trouble saw plainly that my project of varnished books will not take, it not keeping colour, not being able to take polishing upon a single paper. Thence home, and my father and wife not coming in, I proceeded with my coach to take a little ayre as far as Bow all alone, and there turned back and home; but before I got home, the bonefires were lighted all the towne over, and I going through Crouched Friars, seeing Mercer at her mother’s gate, stopped, and ‘light, and into her mother’s, the first time I ever was there, and find all my people, father and all, at a very fine supper at W. Hewer’s lodging, very neatly, and to my great pleasure. After supper, into his chamber, which is mighty fine with pictures and every thing else, very curious, which pleased me exceedingly. Thence to the gate, with the women all about me, and Mrs. Mercer’s son had provided a great many serpents, and so I made the women all fire some serpents. By and by comes in our faire neighbour, Mrs. Turner, and two neighbour’s daughters, Mrs. Tite, the elder of whom, a long red-nosed silly jade; the younger, a pretty black girle, and the merriest sprightly jade that ever I saw. With them idled away the whole night till twelve at night at the bonefire in the streets. Some of the people thereabouts going about with musquets, and did give me two or three vollies of their musquets, I giving them a crowne to drink; and so home. Mightily pleased with this happy day’s newes, and the more, because confirmed by Sir Daniel Harvy, who was in the whole fight with the Generall, and tells me that there appear but thirty-six in all of the Dutch fleete left at the end of the voyage when they run home. The joy of the City was this night exceeding great.

the sound of a cat’s foot
like the ground in flight

a little fire whispering up
the bat in the church

so light a wing to polish
the bone of the ear


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 6 June 1666.

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