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have orders to send all the ships we can possible to the Downes, every day bringing us news of new mutinies among the seamen; so that our condition is like to be very miserable. Mr. George Montagu tells me of the King displeasing the House of Commons by evading their Bill for examining Accounts, and putting it into a Commission, though therein he hath left out Coventry and — , and named all the rest the Parliament named, and all country Lords, not one Courtier: this do not please them. He finds the enmity almost over for my Lord Sandwich. Up to the Painted Chamber, and there heard a conference between the House of Lords and Commons about the Wine Patent; which I was exceeding glad to be at, because of my hearing exceeding good discourses, but especially from the Commons; among others, Mr. Swinfen, and a young man, one Sir Thomas Meres:2 and do outdo the Lords infinitely. Alone to the King's House, and there saw “ The Custom of the Country," the second time of its being acted, wherein Knipp does the Widow well ; but, of all the plays that ever I did see, the worsthaving neither plot, language, nor any thing in the earth that is acceptable ; only Knipp sings a song admirably.
3rd. By invitation to dinner to Sir W. Pen’s, where my Lord Brouncker, Sir W. Batten, and his lady, myself, and wife, Sir J. Minnes, and Mr. Turner. Indifferent merry, to which I contributed the most, but a mean dinner, and in a mean manner. This day, I hear,
1 A blank in the MS.
2 M.P. for Lincoln, made a Commissioner of the Admiralty, 1679.
hath been a conference between the two Houses about the Bill for examining Accounts, wherein the House of Lords their proceedings in petitioning the King for doing it by Commission are, in great heat, voted by the Commons, after the conference, unparliamentary.
4th. Comes our company to dinner; my Lord Brouncker, Sir W. Pen, his lady, and Pegg, and her servant, Mr. Lowther. I had good room for ten, and no more would my table have held well, had Sir J. Minnes, who had fallen lame, and his sister, and niece, and Sir W. Batten come, which was a great content to me to be without them. I did make them all gaze to see themselves served so nobly in plate, and a neat dinner, indeed, though but of seven dishes. My Lady Batten home, her ague-fit coming on her at table. At night to sup, and then to cards; and, last of all, to have a flaggon of ale and apples, drunk out of a wood cup, as a Christmas draught, which made all merry; and they full of admiration at my plate. Mr. Lowther a pretty gentleman, too good for Peg. Sir W. Pen was much troubled to hear the song I sung, “ The New Droll”—it touching him home.
5th. With my wife to the Duke's house, and there saw “ Mustapha," a most excellent play.
6th. (Lord's day.) To church, where a dull doctor, a stranger, made a dull sermon. Young Michell and I, it being an excellent frosty day, did walk out. He shewed me the baker's house in Pudding Lane, where the late great fire begun: and thence all along Thames Street, where I did view several places, and so up by London Wall, by Blackfriars, to Ludgate; and thence to Bridewell, which I find to have been heretofore an extraordinary good house, and a fine coming to it, before the house by the bridge was built; and so to look about St. Bride's church and my father's house, and so walked home.
7th. Lord Brouncker tells me that my Lady Denham is at last dead. Some suspect her poisoned, but it will be best known when her body is opened to-day, she dying yesterday morning. The Duke of York is troubled for her; but hath declared he will never have another public mistress again ; which I shall be glad of, and would the King would do the like. He tells me how the Parliament is grown so jealous of the King's being unfayre to them in the business of the Bill for examining Accounts, Irish Bill, and the business of the Papists, that they will not pass the business for money till they see themselves secure that those Bills will pass; which they do observe the Court to keep off till all the Bills come together, that the King may accept what he pleases, and what he pleases to object to. He tells me how Mr. Henry Howard, of Norfolke, hath given our Royal Society all his grandfather's library: which noble gift they value at £1,000; and gives them accommodation to meet in at his house, Arundell House, they being now disturbed at Gresham College. To the Duke's house, and saw “Macbeth,” which, though I saw it lately, yet appears a most excellent play in all respects, but especially in divertisement, though it be a deep tragedy; which is a strange perfection in a tragedy, it being most proper here, and suitable.
8th. My uncle Thomas with me to receive his quarterage. He tells me his son Thomas is set up in
Smithfield, where he hath a shop—I suppose, a booth. Saw the catalogue of my books, which my brother hath wrote out, now perfectly alphabeticall.
9th. In a hackney-coach to White Hall, the way being most horribly bad upon the breaking up of the frost, so as not to be passed almost. I do hear, by my Lord Brouncker, that for certain Sir W. Coventry hath resigned his place of Commissioner; which I believe he hath done upon good grounds of security to himself, from all the blame which must attend our office this next year; but I fear the King will suffer by it. Thence to Westminster Hall, and there to the conference of the Houses about the word “ Nuisance," which the Commons would have, and the Lords will not, in the Irish Bill. The Commons do it professedly to prevent the King's dispensing with it; which Sir Robert Howard and others did expressly repeat often: viz., “that no King ever could do any thing which was hurtful to his people.” Now the Lords did argue, that it was an ill precedent, and that which will ever hereafter be used as a way of preventing the King's dispensation with acts; and therefore rather advise to pass the Bill without that word, and let it go accompanied with a petition to the King, that he will not dispense with it; this being a more civil way to the King. They answered well, that this do imply that the King should pass their Bill, and yet with design to dispense with it; which is to suppose the King guilty of abusing them. And more, they produce precedents for it; namely, that against new buildings, and about leather, where the word “ Nuisance” is used to the purpose : and further, that they do not rob the King of any right he ever had, for he never had a power to do hurt to his people, nor would exercise it; and therefore there is no danger, in the passing this Bill, of imposing on his prerogative; and concluded, that they think they ought to do this, so as the people may really have the benefit of it when it is passed, for never any people could expect so reasonably to be indulged something from a King, they having already given him so much money, and are likely to give more. Thus they broke up, both adhering to their opinions; but the Commons seemed much more full of judgment and reason than the Lords. Then the Commons made their Report to the Lords of their vote, that their Lordships' proceedings in the Bill for examining Accounts were unparliamentary ; they having, while a Bill was sent up to them from the Commons about the business, petitioned his Majesty that he would do the same thing by his Commission. They did give their reasons: viz., that it had no precedent; that the King ought not to be informed of any thing passing in the Houses till it comes to a Bill; that it will wholly break off all correspondence between the two Houses, and in the issue wholly infringe the very use and being of Parliaments. Thence to Faythorne, and bought a head or two; one of them my Lord of Ormond's, the best I ever saw. To Arundell House, where first the Royal Society meet, by the favour of Mr. Harry Howard, who was there. And here was a great meeting of worthy noble persons; but my Lord Brouncker, who pretended to make a congratulatory speech upon their coming hither, and great thanks to Mr. Howard, did do it in the worst manner in the world.