The perfect audience

(Lord’s day). Up, and walked to St. James’s; but there I find Sir W. Coventry gone from his chamber, and Mr. Wren not yet come thither. But I up to the Duke of York, and there, after being ready, my Lord Bruncker and I had an audience, and thence with my Lord Bruncker to White Hall, and he told me, in discourse, how that, though it is true that Sir W. Coventry did long since propose to the Duke of York the leaving his service, as being unable to fulfill it, as he should do, now he hath so much public business, and that the Duke of York did bid him to say nothing of it, but that he would take time to please himself in another to come in his place; yet the Duke’s doing it at this time, declaring that he hath found out another, and this one of the Chancellor’s servants, he cannot but think was done with some displeasure, and that it could not well be otherwise, that the Duke of York should keep one in that place, that had so eminently opposed him in the defence of his father-in-law, nor could the Duchesse ever endure the sight of him, to be sure. But he thinks that the Duke of York and he are parted upon clear terms of friendship. He tells me he do believe that my Lady Castlemayne is compounding with the King for a pension, and to leave the Court; but that her demands are mighty high: but he believes the King is resolved, and so do every body else I speak with, to do all possible to please the Parliament; and he do declare that he will deliver every body up to them to give an account of their actions: and that last Friday, it seems, there was an Act of Council passed, to put out all Papists in office, and to keep out any from coming in.
I went to the King’s Chapel to the closet, and there I hear Cresset sing a tenor part along with the Church musick very handsomely, but so loud that people did laugh at him, as a thing done for ostentation. Here I met Sir G. Downing, who would speak with me, and first to inquire what I paid for my kid’s leather gloves I had on my hand, and shewed me others on his, as handsome, as good in all points, cost him but 12d. a pair, and mine me 2s. He told me he had been seven years finding out a man that could dress English sheepskin as it should be — and, indeed, it is now as good, in all respects, as kid, and he says will save 100,000l. a-year, that goes out to France for kid’s skins. Thus he labours very worthily to advance our own trade, but do it with mighty vanity and talking. But then he told me of our base condition, in the treaty with Holland and France, about our prisoners, that whereas before we did clear one another’s prisoners, man for man, and we upon the publication of the peace did release all our’s, 300 at Leith, and others in other places for nothing, the Dutch do keep theirs, and will not discharge them with[out] paying their debts according to the Treaty. That his instruments in Holland, writing to our Embassadors about this to Bredagh, they answer them that they do not know of any thing that they have done therein, but left it just as it was before. To which, when they answer, that by the treaty their Lordships had [not] bound our countrymen to pay their debts in prison, they answer they cannot help it, and we must get them off as cheap as we can. On this score, they demand 1100l. for Sir G. Ascue, and 5000l. for the one province of Zealand, for the prisoners that we have therein. He says that this is a piece of shame that never any nation committed, and that our very Lords here of the Council, when he related this matter to them, did not remember that they had agreed to this article; and swears that all their articles are alike, as the giving away Polleroon, and Surinam, and Nova Scotia, which hath a river 300 miles up the country, with copper mines more than Swedeland, and Newcastle coals, the only place in America that hath coals that we know of; and that Cromwell did value those places, and would for ever have made much of them; but we have given them away for nothing, besides a debt to the King of Denmarke. But, which is most of all, they have discharged those very particular demands of merchants of the Guinny Company and others, which he, when he was there, had adjusted with the Dutch, and come to an agreement in writing, and they undertaken to satisfy, and that this was done in black and white under their hands; and yet we have forgiven all these, and not so much as sent to Sir G. Downing to know what he had done, or to confer with him about any one point of the treaty, but signed to what they would have, and we here signed to whatever in grosse was brought over by Mr. Coventry. And [Sir G. Downing] tells me, just in these words, “My Lord Chancellor had a mind to keep himself from being questioned by clapping up a peace upon any terms.” When I answered that there was other privy-councillors to be advised with besides him, and that, therefore, this whole peace could not be laid to his charge, he answered that nobody durst say any thing at the council-table but himself, and that the King was as much afeard of saying any thing there as the meanest privy-councillor; and says more, that at this day the King, in familiar talk, do call the Chancellor “the insolent man,” and says that he would not let him speak himself in Council: which is very high, and do shew that the Chancellor is like to be in a bad state, unless he can defend himself better than people think. And yet Creed tells me that he do hear that my Lord Cornbury do say that his father do long for the coming of the Parliament, in order to his own vindication, more than any one of his enemies. And here it comes into my head to set down what Mr. Rawlinson, whom I met in Fenchurch Street on Friday last, looking over his ruines there, told me, that he was told by one of my Lord Chancellor’s gentlemen lately (———— byname), that a grant coming to him to be sealed, wherein the King hath given her [Lady Castlemaine], or somebody by her means, a place which he did not like well of, he did stop the grant; saying, that he thought this woman would sell everything shortly: which she hearing of, she sent to let him know that she had disposed of this place, and did not doubt, in a little time, to dispose of his. This Rawlinson do tell me my Lord Chancellor’s own gentleman did tell him himself.
Thence, meeting Creed, I with him to the Parke, there to walk a little, and to the Queen’s Chapel and there hear their musique, which I liked in itself pretty well as to the composition, but their voices are very harsh and rough that I thought it was some instruments they had that made them sound so.
So to White Hall, and saw the King and Queen at dinner; and observed (which I never did before), the formality, but it is but a formality, of putting a bit of bread wiped upon each dish into the mouth of every man that brings a dish; but it should be in the sauce. Here were some Russes come to see the King at dinner: among others, the interpreter, a comely Englishman, in the Envoy’s own clothes; which the Envoy, it seems, in vanity did send to show his fine clothes upon this man’s back, which is one, it seems, of a comelier presence than himself: and yet it is said that none of their clothes are their own, but taken out of the King’s own Wardrobe; and which they dare not bring back dirty or spotted, but clean, or are in danger of being beaten, as they say: insomuch that, Sir Charles Cotterell says, when they are to have an audience they never venture to put on their clothes till he appears to come to fetch them; and, as soon as ever they come home, put them off again.
I to Sir G. Carteret’s to dinner; where Mr. Cofferer Ashburnham; who told a good story of a prisoner’s being condemned at Salisbury for a small matter. While he was on the bench with his father-in-law, judge Richardson, and while they were considering to transport him to save his life, the fellow flung a great stone at the judge, that missed him, but broke through the wainscoat. Upon this, he had his hand cut off, and was hanged presently! Here was a gentleman, one Sheres, one come lately from my Lord Sandwich, with an express; but, Lord! I was almost ashamed to see him, lest he should know that I have not yet wrote one letter to my Lord since his going. I had no discourse with him, but after dinner Sir G. Carteret and I to talk about some business of his, and so I to Mrs. Martin, where was Mrs. Burroughs, and also fine Mrs. Noble, my partner in the christening of Martin’s child, did come to see it, and there we sat and talked an hour, and then all broke up and I by coach home, and there find Mr. Pelling and Howe, and we to sing and good musique till late, and then to supper, and Howe lay at my house, and so after supper to bed with much content, only my mind a little troubled at my late breach of vowes, which however I will pay my forfeits, though the badness of my eyes, making me unfit to read or write long, is my excuse, and do put me upon other pleasures and employment which I should refrain from in observation of my vowes.

an audience
of no one with no
possible body

no skin
no public release
no paying member

no hands clapping
no insolent ink
no voice of an interpreter

no danger
of a flung stone
not one letter to me

only my ow
my bad eye
my oy

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 8 September 1667.

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