Up and betimes with Captain Erwin down by water to Woolwich, I walking alone from Greenwich thither, making an end of the “Adventures of Five Hours,” which when all is done is the best play that ever I read in my life. Being come thither I did some business there and at the Rope Yarde, and had a piece of bride-cake sent me by Mrs. Barbary into the boate after me, she being here at her uncle’s, with her husband, Mr. Wood’s son, the mast-maker, and mighty nobly married, they say, she was, very fine, and he very rich, a strange fortune for so odd a looked mayde, though her hands and body be good, and nature very good, I think.
Back with Captain Erwin, discoursing about the East Indys, where he hath often been. And among other things he tells me how the King of Syam seldom goes out without thirty or forty thousand people with him, and not a word spoke, nor a hum or cough in the whole company to be heard. He tells me the punishment frequently there for malefactors is cutting off the crowne of their head, which they do very dexterously, leaving their brains bare, which kills them presently. He told me what I remember he hath once done heretofore: that every body is to lie flat down at the coming by of the King, and nobody to look upon him upon pain of death. And that he and his fellows, being strangers, were invited to see the sport of taking of a wild elephant, and they did only kneel, and look toward the King. Their druggerman did desire them to fall down, for otherwise he should suffer for their contempt of the King. The sport being ended, a messenger comes from the King, which the druggerman thought had been to have taken away his life; but it was to enquire how the strangers liked the sport. The druggerman answered that they did cry it up to be the best that ever they saw, and that they never heard of any Prince so great in every thing as this King. The messenger being gone back, Erwin and his company asked their druggerman what he had said, which he told them. “But why,” say they, “would you say that without our leave, it being not true?” — “It is no matter for that,” says he, “I must have said it, or have been hanged, for our King do not live by meat, nor drink, but by having great lyes told him.”
In our way back we come by a little vessel that come into the river this morning, and says he left the fleete in Sole Bay, and that he hath not heard (he belonging to Sir W. Jenings, in the fleete) of any such prizes taken as the ten or twelve I inquired about, and said by Sir W. Batten yesterday to be taken, so I fear it is not true.
So to Westminster, and there, to my great content, did receive my 2000l. of Mr. Spicer’s telling, which I was to receive of Colvill, and brought it home with me [to] my house by water, and there I find one of my new presses for my books brought home, which pleases me mightily. As, also, do my wife’s progresse upon her head that she is making.
So to dinner, and thence abroad with my wife, leaving her at Unthanke’s ; I to White Hall, waiting at the Council door till it rose, and there spoke with Sir W. Coventry, who and I do much fear our Victuallers, they having missed the fleete in their going. But Sir W. Coventry says it is not our fault, but theirs, if they have not left ships to secure them. This he spoke in a chagrin sort of way, methought. After a little more discourse of several businesses, I away homeward, having in the gallery the good fortune to see Mrs. Stewart, who is grown a little too tall, but is a woman of most excellent features.
The narrative of the late expedition in burning the ships is in print, and makes it a great thing, and I hope it is so.
So took up my wife and home, there I to the office, and thence with Sympson the joyner home to put together the press he hath brought me for my books this day, which pleases me exceedingly. Then to Sir W. Batten’s, where Sir Richard Ford did very understandingly, methought, give us an account of the originall of the Hollands Bank, and the nature of it, and how they do never give any interest at all to any person that brings in their money, though what is brought in upon the public faith interest is given by the State for.
The unsafe condition of a Bank under a Monarch, and the little safety to a Monarch to have any; or Corporation alone (as London in answer to Amsterdam) to have so great a wealth or credit, it is, that makes it hard to have a Bank here. And as to the former, he did tell us how it sticks in the memory of most merchants how the late King (when by the war between Holland and France and Spayne all the bullion of Spayne was brought hither, one-third of it to be coyned; and indeed it was found advantageous to the merchant to coyne most of it), was persuaded in a strait by my Lord Cottington to seize upon the money in the Tower, which, though in a few days the merchants concerned did prevail to get it released, yet the thing will never be forgot.
So home to supper and to bed, understanding this evening, since I come home, that our Victuallers are all come in to the fleete, which is good newes.
Sir John Minnes come home tonight not well, from Chatham, where he hath been at a pay, holding it at Upnor Castle, because of the plague so much in the towne of Chatham. He hath, they say, got an ague, being so much on the water.
whichever king or malefactor
kills a wild elephant
they take his life
like a never-heard river
of a thing they do in the sticks
when the war is all here
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 17 August 1666.