Samuel Pepys Diary 1666 - extracts

The Complete Diary


January 9th

n comes Pierce ... he tells me that my Lord Sandwich is lost there at Court, though the King is perticularly his friend. But people do speak everywhere slightly of him. Which is a sad story to me, but I hope it may be better again. ... That matters must needs go bad while all the town and every boy in the street openly cries the King cannot go away till my Lady Castlemayne be ready to come along with him, she being lately brought to bed. And that he visits her and Mrs Stewart every morning before he eats breakfast.
[Lady Castlemaine had given birth to George (later Earl, then Duke of Northumberland) fifth child of her union with the King.]

January 24th

By agreement, my Lord Brouncker called me up; and though it was a very foul windy and rainy morning, yet down to the waterside we went, but no boat could go, the storm continued so.

... my Lord and I, the wind being again very furious, so as we durst not go by water, walked to London quite round the Bridge, no boat being able to Stirre; and Lord what a dirty walk we had, and so strong the wind, that in the fields we many times could not carry our bodies against it, but was driven backwards. ... It was dangerous to walk the streets, the bricks and tiles falling from the houses, that the whole streets were covered with them - and whole chimneys, nay, whole houses in two or three places, blowed down. But above all the pales on London-bridge on both sides were blown away so that we were fain to stoop very low, for fear of blowing off of the bridge. We could see no boats in the Thames afloat but what were broke loose and carried through the bridge, it being ebbing water. And the greatest sight of all was, among other parcels of ships driven here and there in clusters together, one was quite overset, and lay with her masts all along in the water and keel above water.

January 28th

... The Council being up, out comes the King, and I kissed his hand and he grasped me very kindly by the hand. The Duke also, I kissed his; and he mighty kind... I found my Lord Sandwich there, poor man, I saw, with a melancholy face and suffers his beard to grow on his upper lip more than usual. I took him a little aside, to know when I should wait on him, and where; he told me, and that it would be best to meet at his lodgings, without being seen to walk together - which I liked very well; and Lord, to see what difficulty I stand, that I dare not walk with Sir W Coventry for fear my Lord or Sir G Carteret should see me; nor with any of them, for fear Sir W Coventry should.

... I went into one of the Courts and there met the King and the Duke; and the Duke called me to him - and the King came to me of himself and told me : "Mr Pepys," says he, "I do give you thanks for your good service all this year, and I assure you I am very sensible of it."

February 12th

Then comes Mr Caesar, my boy's lute-master, whom I have not seen since the plague before, but he hath been Westminster all this while very well - and tells me how, in the height of it, how bold people there were to go in sport to one another's burials. And in spite to well people, would breathe in the faces (out of their windows) of well people going by.

February 19th

Up, and by coach to my Lord Sandwiches, but he was gone out. So I to White-hall and there waited on the Duke of Yorke with some of the rest of our brethren; and thence back again to my Lord's to see my Lord Hinchingbrooke, which I did, and I am mightily out of countenance, in my great expectation of him by others' report; though he is endeed a pretty Gentleman, yet nothing what I took him for methinks, either as to person, or discourse discovered to me - but I must try him more before I go to far in censuring.
[ Hinchingbrooke, Sandwich's eldest son, now 18, had returned from abroad in August 1665. He had been away for four years, studying in Paris, and travelling in France and Italy.]

Certainly this year of 1666 will be a year of great action, but what the consequence of it will be, God knows ...

March 9th

Anon all home to Sir W Batten's and there, Mrs Knipp coming, we did spend the even together very merry, she and I singing; and God forgive me, I do still see that my nature is not to be quite conquered, but wil esteem pleasure above all things; though, yet in the middle of it, it hath reluctancy after my business, which is neglected by my following my pleasure. However, music and women I cannot but give way to, whatever my business is.

March 26th

... Thence alone to Broad Street to Sir G Carteret, by his desire to confer with him; who is, I find, in great pain about the business of the office, and not a little, I believe, in fear of falling there, Sir W Coventry having so great a pique against him. And herein I first learn an imminent instance how great a man this day, that nobody could think could be shaken, is the next overthrown, dashed out of countenance, and every small thing of irregularity in his business taken notice of, where nobody the other day darst cast an eye upon them. And next, I see that he that hath the other day nobody durst come near, is now as supple as a spaniel, and sent and speaks to me with great submission, and readily hears to advice.

April 22nd

... Thence walked wearily as far as Fleet street, and so there met a coach and home - to supper and to bed - having sat a great while with Will Joyce, who came to see me - and it is the first time I have seen him at my house since the plague, and find him the same impertinent prating coxcomb that ever he was.

May 16th

... and Lord, to see with what itching desire I did endeavour to see Bagwell's wife, but failed, for which I am glad; only, I observe the folly of my mind, that cannot refrain from pleasure at a season, above others in my life, requisite for me to show my utmost care in.

June 2nd

Up, and to the office, where certain news is brought us of a letter come to the King this morning from the Duke of Albermarle, dated yesterday at 11 a-clock as they were sailing to the Gunfleet, that they were in sight of the Dutch Fleete and were fitting themselfs to fight them - so that they are, ere this, certainly engaged; besides, several do aver they heard the guns all yesterday in the afternon....
Presently comes orders for our sending away to the fleet a recruite of 200 soldiers.....
... so ... down to Blackewall and there saw the soldiers (who were by this time gotten most of them drunk) shipped off. But Lord, to see how the poor fellows kissed their wifes and sweethearts in that simple manner at their going off, and shouted and let off their guns, was strange sport.

June 3rd Lords Day

Up and by water to Whitehall; and there met with Mr Coventry, who tells me the only news from the fleet is brought by Captain Elliott of the Portland, which, being run on board by the Guernsey, was disabled from staying abroad - so is come in to Albrough [Aldeburgh, Suffolk] That he saw one of the Duch great ships blown up and three on fire. That they begun to fight on Friday. And at his coming in to port, could make another ship of the King's coming in, which he judged to be the Rupert. That he knows of no other hurt to our ships....

A letter is also come this afternoon from Harman in the Henery (which is she was taken by Elliott for the Rupert) that being fallen into the body of the Duch fleet, he made his way through them, was set on by three fire ships, one after another - got two of them off and disabled the third - was set on fire himself; upon which many of his men leaped into the sea and perished; among others, the Parson first - hath lost above 100 men and a good many wounded ... and at last quenched his own fire and got to Albrough - being, as all say, the greatest hazard that ever any ship scaped, and as bravely managed by him. The mast of the third fireship fell into their ship on Fire and hurt Harman's leg, which makes him lame now, but not dangerous.

June 4th

So I down, and who should it be but Mr Daniel, all muffled up, and his face as black as the chimney and covered with dirt, pitch and tar, and powder, and muffled with dirty clouts and his right eye stopped with Okum. He is come last night from the Fleet with a comrade of his that hath endangered another eye. They were set on shore at Harwich this morning at 2 a-clock in a ketch, with about twenty more wounded men from the Royall Charles.

August 14th

And after dinner with my wife and Mercer to the Beare garden, where I have not been I think of many years and saw some good sport of the bull's tossing of the dogs - one into the very boxes. But it is a very rude and nasty pleasure.

September 1st

The Great Fire of London.

October 8th

... the Duke of York and Duke of Albemarle do not agree. The Duke of York is wholly given up to this bitch of Denham. The Duke of Albemarle and Prince Rupert do less agree. So that we are all in pieces, and nobody knows what will be done the next year....

Thence returned in the dark by coach all alone, full of thoughts of the consequeces of this ill complexion of affairs, and how to save myself and the little I have; which if I can do, I have cause to bless God that I am so well, and shall be well contented to retreat to Brampton and spend the rest of my days there.

October 19th

So I home by coach, considering what the consequence of all this must be in a little time - nothing but distraction and confusion - which makes me wish with all my heart that I were well and quietly settled with what little I have got, at Brampton, where I might live peacably and study and pray for the good of the King and my country.

December 25th Christmas Day

Lay pretty long in bed. And then rise, leaving my wife desirous to sleep, having sat up till 4 this morning seeing her maids make mine-pies. I to church, where our parson Mills made a good sermon. Then home, and dined well on some good ribbs of beef roasted and mince pies; only my wife, brother, and Barker, and plenty of good wine of my own; and my heart full of true joy and thanks to God Almighty for the goodness of my condition at this day. After dinner I begun to teach my wife and Barker my song, It Is Decreed - which pleases me mightily, as now I have Mr Hinxton's bass. Then out, and walked alone on foot to Temple, it being a fine frost, thinking to have seen a play all alone; but there missing of any Bills [Posters advertising performances] concluded there was none; and so back home, and there with my brother, reducing the names of all my books to an Alphabet ....

December 31st

Thus ends this year of public wonder and mischief to this nation - and therefore generally wished by all people to have an end. Myself and family well, having four maids and one clerk, Tom, in my house; and my brother now with me, to spend time in order to his preferment. Our healths all well; only, my eyes, with overworking them, are sore as soon as candlelight comes to them, and not else. Public matters in a most sad condition. Seamen discouraged for want of pay, and are become not to be governed. Nor, as matters are now, can any fleet go out next year. Our enemies, French and Duch, great, and grow more, by our poverty. The Parliament backward in raising, because jealous of the spending of the money. The City less and less likely to be built again, everybody settling elsewhere, and nobody encouraged to trade. A sad, vicious, negligent Court, and all sober men there fearful of the ruin of the whole Kingdom this next year - from which, good God deliver us. One thing I reckon remarkable in my own condition is that I am come to abound in good plate, so as at all entertainments to be served wholly with silver plates, haing two dozen and a half.