L’esprit de l’escalier

Up, and by water to Charing Cross stairs, and thence to W. Coventry to discourse concerning the state of matters in the Navy, where he particularly acquainted me with the trouble he is like to meet with about the selling of places, all carried on by Sir Fr. Hollis, but he seems not to value it, being able to justify it to be lawful and constant practice, and never by him used in the least degree since he upon his own motion did obtain a salary of 500l. in lieu thereof. Thence to the Treasury Chamber about a little business, and so home by coach, and in my way did meet W. Howe going to the Commissioners of Accounts. I stopped and spoke to him, and he seems well resolved what to answer them, but he will find them very strict, and not easily put off. So home and there to dinner, and after dinner comes W. Howe to tell me how he sped, who says he was used civilly, and not so many questions asked as he expected; but yet I do perceive enough to shew that they do intend to know the bottom of things, and where to lay the great weight of the disposal of these East India goods, and that they intend plainly to do upon my Lord Sandwich. Thence with him by coach and set him down at the Temple, and I to Westminster Hall, where, it being now about six o’clock, I find the House just risen; and met with Sir W. Coventry and the Lieutenant of the Tower, they having sat all day; and with great difficulty have got a vote for giving the King 300,000l., not to be raised by any land-tax. The sum is much smaller than I expected, and than the King needs; but is grounded upon Mr. Wren’s reading our estimates the other day of 270,000l., to keep the fleete abroad, wherein we demanded nothing for setting and fitting of them out, which will cost almost 200,000l., I do verily believe: and do believe that the King hath no cause to thank Wren for this motion. I home to Sir W. Coventry’s lodgings, with him and the Lieutenant of the Tower, where also was Sir John Coventry, and Sir John Duncomb, and Sir Job Charleton. And here a great deal of good discourse: and they seem mighty glad to have this vote pass, which I did wonder at, to see them so well satisfied with so small a sum, Sir John Duncomb swearing, as I perceive he will freely do, that it was as much as the nation could beare. Among other merry discourse about spending of money, and how much more chargeable a man’s living is now more than it was heretofore, Duncomb did swear that in France he did live of 100l. a year with more plenty, and wine and wenches, than he believes can be done now for 200l., which was pretty odd for him, being a Committee-man’s son, to say. Having done here, and supped, where I eat very little, we home in Sir John Robinson’s coach, and there to bed.

stairs like a place
to practice going to
the bottom of things

the difficult ground of a wren
his swearing freely
at the odd robin

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 26 February 1668.

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