Gun culture

Up; and news brought us that, the Dutch are come up as high as the Nore; and more pressing orders for fireships. W. Batten, W. Pen, and I to St. James’s; where the Duke of York gone this morning betimes, to send away some men down to Chatham. So we three to White Hall, and met Sir W. Coventry, who presses all that is possible for fire-ships. So we three to the office presently; and thither comes Sir Fretcheville Hollis, who is to command them all in some exploits he is to do with them on the enemy in the River. So we all down to Deptford, and pitched upon ships and set men at work: but, Lord! to see how backwardly things move at this pinch, notwithstanding that, by the enemy’s being now come up as high as almost the Hope, Sir J. Minnes, who has gone down to pay some ships there, hath sent up the money; and so we are possessed of money to do what we will with. Yet partly ourselves, being used to be idle and in despair, and partly people that have been used to be deceived by us as to money, won’t believe us; and we know not, though we have it, how almost to promise it; and our wants such, and men out of the way, that it is an admirable thing to consider how much the King suffers, and how necessary it is in a State to keep the King’s service always in a good posture and credit. Here I eat a bit, and then in the afternoon took boat and down to Greenwich, where I find the stairs full of people, there being a great riding there to-day for a man, the constable of the town, whose wife beat him. Here I was with much ado fain to press two watermen to make me a galley, and so to Woolwich to give order for the dispatch of a ship I have taken under my care to see dispatched, and orders being so given, I, under pretence to fetch up the ship, which lay at Grays (the Golden Hand), did do that in my way, and went down to Gravesend, where I find the Duke of Albemarle just come, with a great many idle lords and gentlemen, with their pistols and fooleries; and the bulwarke not able to have stood half an hour had they come up; but the Dutch are fallen down from the Hope and Shell-haven as low as Sheernesse, and we do plainly at this time hear the guns play. Yet I do not find the Duke of Albemarle intends to go thither, but stays here to-night, and hath, though the Dutch are gone, ordered our frigates to be brought to a line between the two blockhouses; which I took then to be a ridiculous thing. So I away into the town and took a captain or two of our ships (who did give me an account of the proceedings of the Dutch fleete in the river) to the taverne, and there eat and drank, and I find the townsmen had removed most of their goods out of the town, for fear of the Dutch coming up to them; and from Sir John Griffen, that last night there was not twelve men to be got in the town to defend it: which the master of the house tells me is not true, but that the men of the town did intend to stay, though they did indeed, and so had he, at the Ship, removed their goods. Thence went off to an Ostend man-of-war, just now come up, who met the Dutch fleete, who took three ships that he come convoying hither from him says they are as low as the Nore, or thereabouts. So I homeward, as long as it was light reading Mr. Boyle’s book of Hydrostatics, which is a most excellent book as ever I read, and I will take much pains to understand him through if I can, the doctrine being very useful. When it grew too dark to read I lay down and took a nap, it being a most excellent fine evening, and about one o’clock got home, and after having wrote to Sir W. Coventry an account of what I had done and seen (which is entered in my letter-book), I to bed.

o sing some exploits
to do with the enemy

we all itch for a beat-down
where pistols and guns play house

and count to ten bouts
on a dark clock


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 10 June 1667.

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