I returned to Chatham, my chariot overturning on the steep of Bexley Hill, wounded me in two places on the head; my son, Jack, being with me, was like to have been worse cut by the glass; but I thank God we both escaped without much hurt, though not without exceeding danger.
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At London, I heard an extraordinary case before a Committee of the whole House of Commons, in the Commons' House of Parliament, between one Captain Taylor and my Lord Viscount Mordaunt, where, after the lawyers had pleaded and the witnesses been examined, such foul and dishonorable things were produced against his Lordship, of tyranny during his government of Windsor Castle, of which he was Constable, incontinence, and suborning witnesses of which last, one Sir Richard Breames was most concerned , that I was exceedingly interested for his Lordship, who was my special friend, and husband of the most virtuous lady in the world.
We sat till near ten at night, and yet but half the counsel had done on behalf of the plaintiff. The question then was put for bringing in of lights to sit longer. This lasted so long before it was determined, and raised such a con [Pg 29] fused noise among the members, that a stranger would have been astonished at it. I admire that there is not a rationale to regulate such trifling accidents, which consume much time, and is a reproach to the gravity of so great an assembly of sober men. Sir Hugh Pollard, Comptroller of the Household, died at Whitehall, and his Majesty conferred the white staff on my brother Commissioner for sick and wounded, Sir Thomas Clifford, a bold young gentleman, of a small fortune in Devon, but advanced by Lord Arlington, Secretary of State, to the great astonishment of all the Court.
This gentleman was somewhat related to me by the marriage of his mother to my nearest kinsman, Gregory Coale, and was ever my noble friend, a valiant and daring person, but by no means fit for a supple and flattering courtier. Went to see Clarendon House, now almost finished, a goodly pile to see, but had many defects as to the architecture, yet placed most gracefully. Dined with me Monsieur Kiviet, a Dutch gentleman-pensioner of Rotterdam, who came over for protection, being of the Prince of Orange's party, now not welcome in Holland. The King knighted him for some merit in the Prince's behalf.
He should, if caught, have been beheaded with Monsieur Buat, and was brother-in-law to Van Tromp, the sea-general.
With him came Mr. Gabriel Sylvius, and Mr. Williamson, secretary to Lord Arlington; M. Kiviet came to examine whether the soil about the river of Thames would be proper to make clinker bricks, and to treat with me about some accommodation in order to it. To the Royal Society, which since the sad conflagration were invited by Mr. Howard to sit at Arundel-House in the Strand, who at my instigation likewise bestowed on the Society that noble library which his grandfather especially, and his ancestors had collected.
This gentleman had so little inclination to books, that it was the preservation of them from embezzlement. Visited my Lord Clarendon, and presented my son, John, to him, now preparing to go to Oxford, of which his Lordship was Chancellor.
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This even [Pg 30] ing I heard rare Italian voices, two eunuchs and one woman, in his Majesty's green chamber, next his cabinet. To London, in order to my son's Oxford journey, who, being very early entered both in Latin and Greek, and prompt to learn beyond most of his age, I was persuaded to trust him under the tutorage of Mr. Bohun, Fellow of New College, who had been his preceptor in my house some years before; but, at Oxford, under the inspection of Dr.
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Bathurst, President of Trinity College, where I placed him, not as yet thirteen years old. He was newly out of long coats. My little book, in answer to Sir George Mackenzie on Solitude, was now published, entitled "Public Employment, and an active Life with its Appanages, preferred to Solitude. I was present at a magnificent ball, or masque, in the theatre at the Court, where their Majesties and all the great lords and ladies danced, infinitely gallant, the men in their richly embroidered, most becoming vests.
I saw a comedy acted at Court. James's Park, before his Majesty, a vast assemblage of lords and other spectators, between the western and northern men, Mr. Secretary Morice and Lord Gerard being the judges. The western men won.
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Many great sums were betted. I proposed to my Lord Chancellor, Monsieur Kiviet's undertaking to wharf the whole river of Thames, or quay, from the Temple to the Tower, as far as the fire destroyed, with brick, without piles, both lasting and ornamental. Saw "The Virgin Queen," 10 a play written by Mr.
Dined at Mr. Secretary Morice's, who showed me his library, which was a well chosen collection.
This afternoon, I had audience of his Majesty, concerning the proposal I had made of building the quay. Sir John Kiviet dined with me. We went to search for brick-earth, in order to a great undertaking. I went to make court to the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, at their house in Clerkenwell, being newly come out of the north. They received me with great kindness, and I was much pleased with the extraordinary fanciful habit, garb, and discourse of the Duchess.
Saw the sumptuous supper in the banqueting-house at Whitehall, on the eve of St. George's day, where were all the companions of the Order of the Garter. In the morning, his Majesty went to chapel with the Knights of the Garter, all in their habits and robes, ushered by the heralds; after the first service, they went in procession, the youngest first, the Sovereign last, with the Prelate of the Order and Dean, who had about his neck the book of the Statutes of the Order; and then the Chancellor of the Order old Sir Henry de Vic , who wore the purse about his neck; then the Heralds and Garter King-at-Arms, Clarencieux, Black Rod.
But before the Prelate and Dean of Windsor went the gentlemen of the chapel and choristers, singing as they marched; behind them two doctors of music in damask robes; this procession was about the courts at Whitehall.
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Then, returning to their stalls and seats in the chapel, placed under each knight's coat-armor and titles, the second [Pg 32] service began. Then, the King offered at the altar, an anthem was sung; then, the rest of the Knights offered, and lastly proceeded to the banqueting-house to a great feast. The King sat on an elevated throne at the upper end at a table alone; the Knights at a table on the right hand, reaching all the length of the room; over against them a cupboard of rich gilded plate; at the lower end, the music; on the balusters above, wind music, trumpets, and kettle-drums.
The King was served by the lords and pensioners who brought up the dishes. About the middle of the dinner, the Knights drank the King's health, then the King, theirs, when the trumpets and music played and sounded, the guns going off at the Tower. At the Banquet, came in the Queen, and stood by the King's left hand, but did not sit.
Then was the banqueting-stuff flung about the room profusely. In truth, the crowd was so great, that though I stayed all the supper the day before, I now stayed no longer than this sport began, for fear of disorder. The cheer was extraordinary, each Knight having forty dishes to his mess, piled up five or six high; the room hung with the richest tapestry.
Visited again the Duke of Newcastle, with whom I had been acquainted long before in France, where the Duchess had obligation to my wife's mother for her marriage there; she was sister to Lord Lucas, and maid of honor then to the Queen-Mother; married in our chapel at Paris. My wife being with me, the Duke and Duchess both would needs bring her to the very Court.
My Lord Chancellor showed me all his newly finished and furnished palace and library; then, we went to take the air in Hyde-Park. I had a great deal of discourse with his Majesty at dinner. In the afternoon, I went again with my wife to the Duchess of Newcastle, who received her in a kind of transport, suitable to her extravagant humor and dress, which was very singular. Henry Jermyn and Sir Henry Capel.
Afterward I went to Arundel House, to salute Mr. Howard's sons, newly returned out of France. To London; dined with the Duke of Newcastle, and sat discoursing with her Grace in her bedchamber after dinner, till my Lord Marquis of Dorchester, with other company came in, when I went away. To London, to wait on the Duchess of Newcastle who was a mighty pretender to learning, poetry, and philosophy, and had in both published divers books to the Royal Society, whither she came in great pomp, and being received by our Lord President at the door of our meeting-room, the mace, etc.
I conducted her Grace to her coach, and returned home. I went to Greenwich, where his Majesty was trying divers grenadoes shot out of cannon at the Castlehill, from the house in the park; they broke not till they hit the mark, the forged ones broke not at all, but the cast ones very well. The inventor was a German there present. At the same time, a ring was shown to the King, pretended to be a projection of mercury, and malleable, and said by the gentlemen to be fixed by the juice of a plant. To London, alarmed by the Dutch, who were fallen on our fleet at Chatham, by a most audacious enterprise, entering the very river with part of their fleet, doing us not only disgrace, but incredible mischief in burning several of our best men-of-war lying at anchor and moored there, and all this through our unaccountable negligence in not setting out our fleet in due time.
This alarm caused me, fearing the enemy might venture up the Thames even to London which they might have done with ease, and fired all the vessels in the river, too , to send away my best goods, plate, etc. The alarm was so great that it put both country and city into fear, panic, and consternation, such as I hope I shall never see more; everybody was flying, none knew why or whither. Now, there were land forces dispatched with the Duke of Albemarle, Lord Middleton, Prince Rupert, and the Duke, to hinder the Dutch coming to Chatham, fortifying Upnor Castle, and laying chains and bombs; but the resolute enemy broke through all, and set fire on our ships, and retreated in spite, stopping up the Thames, the rest of the fleet lying before the mouth of it.
I went to see the work at Woolwich, a battery to prevent them coming up to London, which Prince Rupert commanded, and sunk some ships in the river. This night, about two o'clock, some chips and combustible matter prepared for some fire-ships, taking flame in Deptford-yard, made such a blaze, and caused such an uproar in the Tower it being given out that the Dutch fleet was come up, and had landed their men and fired the Tower , as had liked to have done more mischief before people would be persuaded to the contrary and believe the accident. Everybody went to their arms. These were sad and troublesome times.
The Dutch fleet still continuing to stop up the river, so as nothing could stir out or come in, I was before the Council, and commanded by his Majesty to go with some others and search about the environs of the city, now exceedingly distressed for want of fuel, whether there could be any peat, or turf, found fit for use. The next day, I went and discovered enough, and made my report that there might be found a great deal; but nothing further was done in it. I went to Chatham, and thence to view not only what mischief the Dutch had done; but how triumphantly their whole fleet lay within the very mouth of the Thames, all from the North Foreland, Margate, even to the buoy of the Nore—a dreadful spectacle as ever Englishmen saw, and a dishonor never to be wiped off!
Those who advised his Majesty to prepare no fleet this spring deserved—I know what—but 11 —. Here in the river off Chatham, just before the town, lay the carcase of the "London" now the third time burnt , the "Royal Oak," the "James," etc. Here were yet forces, both of horse and foot, with General Middleton continually expecting the motions of the enemy's fleet. I had much [Pg 35] discourse with him, who was an experienced commander, I told him I wondered the King did not fortify Sheerness 12 and the Ferry; both abandoned.
Called upon my Lord Arlington, as from his Majesty, about the new fuel. The occasion why I was mentioned, was from what I said in my Sylva three years before, about a sort of fuel for a need, which obstructed a patent of Lord Carlingford, who had been seeking for it himself; he was endeavoring to bring me into the project, and proffered me a share.
I met my Lord; and, on the 9th, by an order of Council, went to my Lord Mayor, to be assisting. In the meantime they had made an experiment of my receipt of houllies , which I mention in my book to be made at Maestricht, with a mixture of charcoal dust and loam, and which was tried with success at Gresham College then being the exchange for the meeting of the merchants since the fire for everybody to see. My Lord Brereton and others dined at my house, where I showed them proof of my new fuel, which was very glowing, and without smoke or ill smell.
I went to see Sir Samuel Morland's inventions and machines, arithmetical wheels, quench-fires, and new harp. The master of the mint and his lady, Mr. I went to Gravesend; the Dutch fleet still at anchor before the river, where I saw five of his Majesty's men-at-war encounter above twenty of the Dutch, in the bottom of the Hope, chasing them with many broadsides given and returned toward the buoy of the Nore, where the body of their fleet lay, which lasted till about midnight. One of their ships was fired, supposed by themselves, she being run on ground.