Those people

Up, and to the office; where Mr. Fryer comes and tells me that there are several Frenchmen and Flemish ships in the River, with passes from the Duke of York for carrying of prisoners, that ought to be parted from the rest of the ships, and their powder taken, lest they do fire themselves when the enemy comes, and so spoil us; which is good advice, and I think I will give notice of it; and did so. But it is pretty odd to see how every body, even at this high time of danger, puts business off of their own hands! He says that he told this to the Lieutenant of the Tower, to whom I, for the same reason, was directing him to go; and the Lieutenant of the Tower bade him come to us, for he had nothing to do with it; and yesterday comes Captain Crow, of one of the fireships, and told me that the officers of the Ordnance would deliver his gunner’s materials, but not compound them, but that we must do it; whereupon I was forced to write to them about it; and one that like a great many come to me this morning by and by comes Mr. Wilson, and by direction of his, a man of Mr. Gawden’s; who come from Chatham last night, and saw the three ships burnt, they lying all dry, and boats going from the men-of-war and fire them. But that, that he tells me of worst consequence is, that he himself, I think he said, did hear many Englishmen on board the Dutch ships speaking to one another in English; and that they did cry and say, “We did heretofore fight for tickets; now we fight for dollars!” and did ask how such and such a one did, and would commend themselves to them: which is a sad consideration. And Mr. Lewes, who was present at this fellow’s discourse to me, did tell me, that he is told that when they took “The Royall Charles,” they said that they had their tickets signed, and showed some, and that now they come to have them paid, and would have them paid before they parted. And several seamen come this morning to me, to tell me that, if I would get their tickets paid, they would go and do all they could against the Dutch; but otherwise they would not venture being killed, and lose all they have already fought for: so that I was forced to try what I could do to get them paid. This man tells me that the ships burnt last night did lie above Upnor Castle, over against the Docke; and the boats come from the ships of war and burnt them all which is very sad. And masters of ships, that we are now taking up, do keep from their ships all their stores, or as much as they can, so that we can despatch them, having not time to appraise them nor secure their payment; only some little money we have, which we are fain to pay the men we have with, every night, or they will not work. And indeed the hearts as well as affections of the seamen are turned away; and in the open streets in Wapping, and up and down, the wives have cried publickly, “This comes of your not paying our husbands; and now your work is undone, or done by hands that understand it not.” And Sir W. Batten told me that he was himself affronted with a woman, in language of this kind, on Tower Hill publickly yesterday; and we are fain to bear it, and to keep one at the office door to let no idle people in, for fear of firing of the office and doing us mischief. The City is troubled at their being put upon duty: summoned one hour, and discharged two hours after; and then again summoned two hours after that; to their great charge as well as trouble. And Pelling, the Potticary, tells me the world says all over, that less charge than what the kingdom is put to, of one kind or other, by this business, would have set out all our great ships. It is said they did in open streets yesterday, at Westminster, cry, “A Parliament! a Parliament!” and I do believe it will cost blood to answer for these miscarriages. We do not hear that the Dutch are come to Gravesend; which is a wonder. But a wonderful thing it is that to this day we have not one word yet from Bruncker, or Peter Pett, or J. Minnes, of any thing at Chatham. The people that come hither to hear how things go, make me ashamed to be found unable to answer them: for I am left alone here at the office; and the truth is, I am glad my station is to be here, near my own home and out of danger, yet in a place of doing the King good service. I have this morning good news from Gibson; three letters from three several stages, that he was safe last night as far as Royston, at between nine and ten at night. The dismay that is upon us all, in the business of the kingdom and Navy at this day, is not to be expressed otherwise than by the condition the citizens were in when the City was on fire, nobody knowing which way to turn themselves, while every thing concurred to greaten the fire; as here the easterly gale and spring-tides for coming up both rivers, and enabling them to break the chaine. D. Gawden did tell me yesterday, that the day before at the Council they were ready to fall together by the ears at the Council-table, arraigning one another of being guilty of the counsel that brought us into this misery, by laying up all the great ships. Mr. Hater tells me at noon that some rude people have been, as he hears, at my Lord Chancellor’s, where they have cut down the trees before his house and broke his windows; and a gibbet either set up before or painted upon his gate, and these three words writ: “Three sights to be seen; Dunkirke, Tangier, and a barren Queene.” It gives great matter of talk that it is said there is at this hour, in the Exchequer, as much money as is ready to break down the floor. This arises, I believe, from Sir G. Downing’s late talk of the greatness of the sum lying there of people’s money, that they would not fetch away, which he shewed me and a great many others. Most people that I speak with are in doubt how we shall do to secure our seamen from running over to the Dutch; which is a sad but very true consideration at this day. At noon I am told that my Lord Duke of Albemarle is made Lord High Constable; the meaning whereof at this time I know not, nor whether it, be true or no. Dined, and Mr. Hater and W. Hewer with me; where they do speak very sorrowfully of the posture of the times, and how people do cry out in the streets of their being bought and sold; and both they, and every body that come to me, do tell me that people make nothing of talking treason in the streets openly: as, that we are bought and sold, and governed by Papists, and that we are betrayed by people about the King, and shall be delivered up to the French, and I know not what. At dinner we discoursed of Tom of the Wood, a fellow that lives like a hermit near Woolwich, who, as they say, and Mr. Bodham, they tell me, affirms that he was by at the justice’s when some did accuse him there for it, did foretell the burning of the City, and now says that a greater desolation is at hand. Thence we read and laughed at Lilly’s prophecies this month, in his Almanack this year! So to the office after dinner; and thither comes Mr. Pierce, who tells me his condition, how he cannot get his money, about 500l., which, he says, is a very great part of what he hath for his family and children, out of Viner’s hand: and indeed it is to be feared that this will wholly undo the bankers. He says he knows nothing of the late affronts to my Lord Chancellor’s house, as is said, nor hears of the Duke of Albemarle’s being made High Constable; but says that they are in great distraction at White Hall, and that every where people do speak high against Sir W. Coventry: but he agrees with me, that he is the best Minister of State the King hath, and so from my heart I believe. At night come home Sir W. Batten and W. Pen, who only can tell me that they have placed guns at Woolwich and Deptford, and sunk some ships below Woolwich and Blackewall, and are in hopes that they will stop the enemy’s coming up. But strange our confusion! that among them that are sunk they have gone and sunk without consideration “The Franakin,” one of the King’s ships, with stores to a very considerable value, that hath been long loaden for supply of the ships; and the new ship at Bristoll, and much wanted there; and nobody will own that they directed it, but do lay it on Sir W. Rider. They speak also of another ship, loaden to the value of 80,000l., sunk with the goods in her, or at least was mightily contended for by him, and a foreign ship, that had the faith of the nation for her security: this Sir R. Ford tells us: And it is too plain a truth, that both here and at Chatham the ships that we have sunk have many, and the first of them, been ships completely fitted for fire-ships at great charge. But most strange the backwardness and disorder of all people, especially the King’s people in pay, to do any work, Sir W. Pen tells me, all crying out for money; and it was so at Chatham, that this night comes an order from Sir W. Coventry to stop the pay of the wages of that Yard; the Duke of Albemarle having related, that not above three of 1100 in pay there did attend to do any work there. This evening having sent a messenger to Chatham on purpose, we have received a dull letter from my Lord Bruncker and Peter Pett, how matters have gone there this week; but not so much, or so particularly, as we knew it by common talk before, and as true. I doubt they will be found to have been but slow men in this business; and they say the Duke of Albemarle did tell my Lord Bruncker to his face that his discharging of the great ships there was the cause of all this; and I am told that it is become common talk against my Lord Bruncker. But in that he is to be justified, for he did it by verbal order from Sir W. Coventry, and with good intent; and it was to good purpose, whatever the success be, for the men would have but spent the King so much the more in wages, and yet not attended on board to have done the King any service; and as an evidence of that, just now, being the 15th day in the morning that I am writing yesterday’s passages, one is with me, Jacob Bryan, Purser of “The Princesse,” who confesses to me that he hath about 180 men borne at this day in victuals and wages on that ship lying at Chatham, being lately brought in thither; of which 180 there was not above five appeared to do the King any service at this late business. And this morning also, some of the Cambridge’s men come up from Portsmouth, by order from Sir Fretcheville Hollis, who boasted to us the other day that he had sent for 50, and would be hanged if 100 did not come up that would do as much as twice the number of other men: I say some of them, instead of being at work at Deptford, where they were intended, do come to the office this morning to demand the payment of their tickets; for otherwise they would, they said, do no more work; and are, as I understand from every body that has to do with them, the most debauched, damning, swearing rogues that ever were in the Navy, just like their prophane commander. So to Sir W. Batten’s to sit and talk a little, and then home to my flageolet, my heart being at pretty good ease by a letter from my wife, brought by Saunders, that my father and wife got well last night to their Inne and out again this morning, and Gibson’s being got safe to Caxton at twelve last night. So to supper, and then to bed. No news to-day of any motion of the enemy either upwards towards Chatham or this way.

who would live on war

who would kill time every day for hours
and be unashamed
to cut down trees

who laugh at prophecies

who know nothing but distraction

who have guns and a foreign faith

who service the mouth

who tick like a heart
under the bed


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 14 June 1667.

2 Replies to “Those people”

  1. I am enjoying so much your erasure poems, Dave! And the opportunity to read through them Pepy’s diary in an entirely different way… Somehow you’re giving to that great historic document and chronicle the poetry that I found lacking in its author’s soul.

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