Betimes this morning comes a letter from the Clerke of the Cheque at Gravesend to me, to tell me that the Dutch fleete did come all into the Hope yesterday noon, and held a fight with our ships from thence till seven at night; that they had burned twelve fire-ships, and we took one of their’s, and burned five of our fire-ships. But then rising and going to Sir W. Batten, he tells me that we have burned one of their men-of-war, and another of theirs is blown up: but how true this is, I know not. But these fellows are mighty bold, and have had the fortune of the wind easterly this time to bring them up, and prevent our troubling them with our fire-ships; and, indeed, have had the winds at their command from the beginning, and now do take the beginning of the spring, as if they had some great design to do.
I to my office, and there hard at work all the morning, to my great content, abstracting the contract book into my abstract book, which I have by reason of the war omitted for above two years, but now am endeavouring to have all my books ready and perfect against the Parliament comes, that upon examination I may be in condition to value myself upon my perfect doing of my own duty.
At noon home to dinner, where my wife mighty musty, but I took no notice of it, but after dinner to the office, and there with Mr. Harper did another good piece of work about my late collection of the accounts of the Navy presented to the Parliament at their last session, which was left unfinished, and now I have done it which sets my mind at my ease, and so, having tired myself, I took a pair of oares about five o’clock, which I made a gally at Redriffe, and so with very much pleasure down to Gravesend, all the way with extraordinary content reading of Boyle’s Hydrostatickes, which the more I read and understand, the more I admire, as a most excellent piece of philosophy; as we come nearer Gravesend, we hear the Dutch fleete and ours a-firing their guns most distinctly and loud. But before we got to Gravesend they ceased, and it grew darkish, and so I landed only (and the flood being come) and went up to the Ship and discoursed with the landlord of the house, who undeceives me in what I heard this morning about the Dutch having lost two men-of-war, for it is not so, but several of their fire-ships. He do say, that this afternoon they did force our ships to retreat, but that now they are gone down as far as Shield-haven: but what the event hath been of this evening’s guns they know not, but suppose not much, for they have all this while shot at good distance one from another. They seem confident of the security of this town and the River above it, if the enemy should come up so high; their fortifications being so good, and guns many. But he do say that people do complain of Sir Edward Spragg, that he hath not done extraordinary; and more of Sir W. Jenings, that he come up with his tamkins in his guns. Having discoursed this a little with him, and eat a bit of cold venison and drank, I away, took boat, and homeward again, with great pleasure, the moon shining, and it being a fine pleasant cool evening, and got home by half-past twelve at night, and so to bed.
the east winds of spring
hard at work on my books
my musty collection of philosophy
nearer to being plain
with a bit of cold moon
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 24 July 1667.