John Evelyn's Diary 1666
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 January
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 January. Mr. Packer's, and took an exact view of the plaster statues and bass-relievos inserted between the timbers and puncheons of the outside walls of the Court; which must needs have been the work of some celebrated Italian. I much admired how they had lasted so well and entire since the time of Henry VIII., exposed as they are to the air; and pity it is they are not taken out and preserved in some dry place; a gallery would become them. There are some mezzo-relievos as big as the life; the story is of the Heathen Gods, emblems, compartments, etc. The palace consists of two courts, of which the first is of stone, castle like, by the Lord Lumleys (of whom it was purchased), the other of timber, a Gothic fabric, but these walls incomparably beautiful. I observed that the appearing timber-puncheons, entrelices, etc., were all so covered with scales of slate, that it seemed carved in the wood and painted, the slate fastened on the timber in pretty figures, that has, like a coat of armor, preserved it from rotting. There stand in the garden two handsome stone pyramids, and the avenue planted with rows of fair elms, but the rest of these goodly trees, both of this and of Worcester Park adjoining, were felled by those destructive and avaricious rebels in the late war, which defaced one of the stateliest seats his Majesty had.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 January. 12 Jan 1666. After much, and indeed extraordinary mirth and cheer, all my brothers, our wives, and children, being together, and after much sorrow and trouble during this contagion, which separated our families as well as others, I returned to my house, but my wife (31) went back to Wotton. I, not as yet willing to adventure her, the contagion, though exceedingly abated, not as yet wholly extinguished among us.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 January. 29 Jan 1666. I went to wait on his Majesty (35), now returned from Oxford to Hampton-Court, where the Duke of Albemarle (57) presented me to him; he ran toward me, and in a most gracious manner gave me his hand to kiss, with many thanks for my care and faithfulness in his service in a time of such great danger, when everybody fled their employments; he told me he was much obliged to me, and said he was several times concerned for me, and the peril I underwent, and did receive my service most acceptably (though in truth I did but do my duty, and O that I had performed it as I ought!). After this, his Majesty (35) was pleased to talk with me alone, near an hour, of several particulars of my employment, and ordered me to attend him again on the Thursday following at Whitehall. Then the Duke (57) came toward me, and embraced me with much kindness, telling me if he had thought my danger would have been so great, he would not have suffered his Majesty (35) to employ me in that station. Then came to salute me my Lord of St. Albans (60), Lord Arlington (48), Sir William Coventry (38), and several great persons; after which, I got home, not being very well in health.
The Court was now in deep mourning for the French Queen-Mother.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 February
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 February. 02 Feb 1666. To London; his Majesty (35) now come to Whitehall, where I heard and saw my Lord Mayor (and brethren) make his speech of welcome, and the two Sheriffs were knighted.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 February. 06 Feb 1666. My wife (31) and family returned to me from the country, where they had been since August, by reason of the contagion, now almost universally ceasing. Blessed be God for his infinite mercy in preserving us! I, having gone through so much danger, and lost so many of my poor officers, escaping still myself that I might live to recount and magnify his goodness to me.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 February. 08 Feb 1666. I had another gracious reception by his Majesty (35), who called me into his bed-chamber, to lay before and describe to him my project of an Infirmary, which I read to him, who with great approbation, recommended it to his Royal Highness.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 February. 20 Feb 1666. To the Commissioners of the Navy who, having seen the project of the Infirmary, encouraged the work, and were very earnest it should be set about immediately; but I saw no money, though a very moderate expense would have saved thousands to his Majesty (35), and been much more commodious for the cure and quartering of our sick and wounded, than the dispersing them into private houses, where many more chirurgeons and attendants were necessary, and the people tempted to debauchery.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 February. 21 Feb 1666. Went to my Lord Treasurer (58) for an assignment of £40,000 upon the last two quarters for support of the next year's charge. Next day, to Duke of Albemarle (57) and Secretary of State, to desire them to propose it to the Council.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 March
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 March. 01 Mar 1666. To London, and presented his Majesty (35) my book intitled, "The Pernicious Consequences of the new Heresy of the Jesuits against Kings and States.".
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 March. 15 Mar 1666. My charge now amounted to near £7,000 [weekly].
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 April
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 April. 10 Apr 1666. Visited Sir William D'Oyly (52), surprised with a fit of apoplexy, and in extreme danger.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 April. 11 Apr 1666. Dr. Bathurst (46) preached before the King (35), from "I say unto you all, watch"—a seasonable and most excellent discourse. When his Majesty (35) came from chapel, he called to me in the lobby, and told me he must now have me sworn for a Justice of Peace (having long since made me of the Commission); which I declined as inconsistent with the other service I was engaged in, and humbly desired to be excused. After dinner, waiting on him, I gave him the first notice of the Spaniards referring the umpirage of the peace between them and Portugal to the French King, which came to me in a letter from France before the Secretaries of State had any news of it. After this, his Majesty (35) again asked me if I had found out any able person about our parts that might supply my place of Justice of Peace (the office in the world I had most industriously avoided, in regard of the perpetual trouble thereof in these numerous parishes); on which I nominated one, whom the King (35) commanded me to give immediate notice of to my Lord Chancellor (57), and I should be excused; for which I rendered his Majesty (35) many thanks. From thence, I went to the Royal Society, where I was chosen by twenty-seven voices to be one of their Council for the ensuing year; but, upon my earnest suit in respect of my other affairs, I got to be excused—and so home.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 April. 24 Apr 1666. To London about our Mint-Commission, and sat in the inner Court of Wards.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 May
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 May. 08 May 1666. To Queensborough, where finding the Richmond frigate, I sailed to the buoy of the Nore to my Lord-General (57) and Prince Rupert (46), where was the Rendezvous of the most glorious fleet in the world, now preparing to meet the Hollander. Went to visit my cousin, Hales, at a sweetly-watered place at Chilston, near Bockton. The next morning, to Leeds Castle, once a famous hold, now hired by me of my Lord Culpeper (40) for a prison. Here I flowed the dry moat, made a new drawbridge, brought spring water into the court of the Castle to an old fountain, and took order for the repairs.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 June
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 June. 01 Jun 1666. Being in my garden at 6 o'clock in the evening, and hearing the great guns go thick off, I took horse and rode that night to Rochester; thence next day toward the Downs and seacoast, but meeting the Lieutenant of the Hampshire frigate, who told me what passed, or rather what had not passed, I returned to London, there being no noise, or appearance at Deal, or on that coast of any engagement. Recounting this to his Majesty (36), whom I found at St. James's Park, impatiently expecting, and knowing that Prince Rupert (46) was loose about three at St. Helen's Point at N. of the Isle of Wight, it greatly rejoiced him; but he was astonished when I assured him they heard nothing of the guns in the Downs, nor did the Lieutenant who landed there by five that morning.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 June. 03 Jun 1666. Whitsunday. After sermon came news that the Duke of Albemarle (57) was still in fight, and had been all Saturday, and that Captain Harman's (41) ship (the Henry) was like to be burnt. Then a letter from Mr. Bertie that Prince Rupert (46) was come up with his squadron (according to my former advice of his being loose and in the way), and put new courage into our fleet, now in a manner yielding ground; so that now we were chasing the chasers; that the Duke of Albemarle (57) was slightly wounded, and the rest still in great danger. So, having been much wearied with my journey, I slipped home, the guns still roaring very fiercely.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 June. 06 Jun 1666. Came Sir Daniel Harvey from the General and related the dreadful encounter, on which his Majesty (36) commanded me to dispatch an extraordinary physician and more chirurgeons. It was on the solemn Fast-day when the news came; his Majesty (36) being in the chapel made a sudden stop to hear the relation, which being with much advantage on our side, his Majesty (36) commanded that public thanks should immediately be given as for a victory. The Dean of the chapel going down to give notice of it to the other Dean officiating; and notice was likewise sent to St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey. But this was no sooner over, than news came that our loss was very great both in ships and men; that the Prince frigate was burnt, and as noble a vessel of ninety brass guns lost; and the taking of Sir George Ayscue (50), and exceeding shattering of both fleets; so as both being obstinate, both parted rather for want of ammunition and tackle than courage; our General retreating like a lion; which exceedingly abated of our former joy. There were, however, orders given for bonfires and bells; but, God knows, it was rather a deliverance than a triumph. So much it pleased God to humble our late overconfidence that nothing could withstand the Duke of Albemarle (57), who, in good truth, made too forward a reckoning of his success now, because he had once beaten the Dutch in another quarrel; and being ambitious to outdo the Earl of Sandwich (40), whom he had prejudicated as deficient in courage.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 June. 07 Jun 1666. I sent more chirurgeons, linen, medicaments, etc., to the several ports in my district.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 June. 08 Jun 1666. Dined with me Sir Alexander Fraser (56), prime physician to his Majesty (36); afterward, went on board his Majesty's (36) pleasure-boat, when I saw the London frigate launched, a most stately ship, built by the City to supply that which was burnt by accident some time since; the King (36), Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, being there with great banquet.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 June. 11 Jun 1666. Trinity Monday, after a sermon, applied to the remeeting of the Corporation of the Trinity-House, after the late raging and wasting pestilence: I dined with them in their new room in Deptford, the first time since it was rebuilt.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 June. 15 Jun 1666. I went to Chatham. 16th. In the Jemmy yacht (an incomparable sailer) to sea, arrived by noon at the fleet at the Buoy at the Nore, dined with Prince Rupert (46) and the General (57).
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 June. 17 Jun 1666. Came his Majesty (36), the Duke (57), and many Noblemen. After Council, we went to prayers. My business being dispatched, I returned to Chatham, having lain but one night in the Royal Charles; we had a tempestuous sea. I went on shore at Sheerness, where they were building an arsenal for the fleet, and designing a royal fort with a receptacle for great ships to ride at anchor; but here I beheld the sad spectacle, more than half that gallant bulwark of the Kingdom miserably shattered, hardly a vessel entire, but appearing rather so many wrecks and hulls, so cruelly had the Dutch mangled us. The loss of the Prince, that gallant vessel, had been a loss to be universally deplored, none knowing for what reason we first engaged in this ungrateful war; we lost besides nine or ten more, and near 600 men slain and 1,100 wounded, 2,000 prisoners; to balance which, perhaps we might destroy eighteen or twenty of the enemy's ships, and 700 or 800 poor men.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 June. 18 Jun 1666. Weary of this sad sight, I returned home.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 July
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 July. 02 Jul 1666. Came Sir John Duncomb (44) and Mr. Thomas Chicheley (52), both Privy Councillors and Commissioners of His Majesty's (36) Ordnance, to visit me, and let me know that his Majesty (36) had in Council, nominated me to be one of the Commissioners for regulating the farming and making of saltpetre through the whole kingdom, and that we were to sit in the Tower the next day. When they were gone, came to see me Sir John Cotton (45), heir to the famous antiquary, Sir Robert Cotton: a pretended great Grecian, but had by no means the parts, or genius of his grandfather.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 July. 03 Jul 1666. I went to sit with the Commissioners at the Tower, where our commission being read, we made some progress in business, our Secretary being Sir George Wharton (49), that famous mathematician who wrote the yearly Almanac during his Majesty's (36) troubles. Thence, to Painters' Hall, Queenhithe, to our other commission, and dined at my Lord Mayor's.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 July. 04 Jul 1666. The solemn Fast-day. Dr. Meggot preached an excellent discourse before the King (36) on the terrors of God's judgments. After sermon, I waited on my Lord Archbishop of Canterbury (49) and Bishop of Winchester (47), where the Dean of Westminster (31) spoke to me about putting into my hands the disposal of fifty pounds, which the charitable people of Oxford had sent to be distributed among the sick and wounded seamen since the battle. Hence, I went to the Lord Chancellor's (57) to joy him of his Royal Highness's (32) second son, now born at St. James's; and to desire the use of the Star-chamber for our Commissioners to meet in, Painters' Hall, Queenhithe not being so convenient.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 July. 12 Jul 1666. We sat the first time in the Star-chamber. There was now added to our commission Sir George Downing (41) (one that had been a great ... against his Majesty (36), but now insinuated into his favor; and, from a pedagogue and fanatic preacher, not worth a groat, had become excessively rich), to inspect the hospitals and treat about prisons.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 July. 17 Jul 1666. To London, to prepare for the next engagement of the fleets, now gotten to sea again.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 July. 25 Jul 1666. The fleets engaged. I dined at Lord Berkeley's (38), at St. James's, where dined my Lady Harrietta Hyde (20), Lord Arlington (48), and Sir John Duncomb (44).
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 July. 29 Jul 1666. The pestilence now fresh increasing in our parish, I forbore going to church. In the afternoon came tidings of our victory over the Dutch, sinking some, and driving others aground, and into their ports.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 August
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 August. 01 Aug 1666. I went to Dr. Keffler (71), who married the daughter of the famous chemist, Drebbell, inventor of the bodied scarlet. I went to see his iron ovens, made portable (formerly) for the Prince of Orange's (15) army: supped at the Rhenish Wine-House with divers Scots gentlemen.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 August. 06 Aug 1666. Dined with Mr. Povey (52), and then went with him to see a country house he had bought near Brentford; returning by Kensington; which house stands to a very graceful avenue of trees, but it is an ordinary building, especially one part.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 August. 17 Aug 1666. Dined with the Lord Chancellor (57), whom I entreated to visit the Hospital of the Savoy, and reduce it (after the great abuse that had been continued) to its original institution for the benefit of the poor, which he promised to do.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 August. 25 Aug 1666. Waited on Sir William D'Oyly (52), now recovered, as it were, miraculously. In the afternoon, visited the Savoy Hospital, where I stayed to see the miserably dismembered and wounded men dressed, and gave some necessary orders. Then to my Lord Chancellor (57), who had, with the Bishop of London (74) and others in the commission, chosen me one of the three surveyors of the repairs of Paul's, and to consider of a model for the new building, or, if it might be, repairing of the steeple, which was most decayed.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 August. 27 Aug 1666. I went to St. Paul's church, where, with Dr. Wren (80), Mr. Pratt (46), Mr. May (44), Mr. Thomas Chicheley (52), Mr. Slingsby, the Bishop of London (74), the Dean of St. Paul's, and several expert workmen, we went about to survey the general decays of that ancient and venerable church, and to set down in writing the particulars of what was fit to be done, with the charge thereof, giving our opinion from article to article. Finding the main building to recede outward it was the opinion of Chicheley and Mr. Pratt (46) that it had been so built aborigine for an effect in perspective, in regard of the height; but I was, with Dr. Wren (80), quite of another judgment, and so we entered it; we plumbed the uprights in several places. When we came to the steeple, it was deliberated whether it were not well enough to repair it only on its old foundation, with reservation to the four pillars; this Mr. Chicheley (52) and Mr. Pratt (46) were also for, but we totally rejected it, and persisted that it required a new foundation, not only in regard of the necessity, but for that the shape of what stood was very mean, and we had a mind to build it with a noble cupola, a form of church-building not as yet known in England, but of wonderful grace. For this purpose, we offered to bring in a plan and estimate, which after much contest, was at last assented to, and that we should nominate a committee of able workmen to examine the present foundation. This concluded, we drew all up in writing, and so went with my Lord Bishop to the Dean's.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 August. 28 Aug 1666. Sat at the Star-chamber. Next day, to the Royal Society, where one Mercator, an excellent mathematician, produced his rare clock and new motion to perform the equations, and Mr. Rooke, his new pendulum.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 September
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 September. 03 Sep 1666. I had public prayers at home. The fire continuing, after dinner, I took coach with my wife (31) and son, and went to the Bankside in Southwark, where we beheld that dismal spectacle, the whole city in dreadful flames near the waterside; all the houses from the Bridge, all Thames street, and upward toward Cheapside, down to the Three Cranes, were now consumed; and so returned, exceedingly astonished what would become of the rest.
The fire having continued all this night (if I may call that night which was light as day for ten miles round about, after a dreadful manner), when conspiring with a fierce eastern wind in a very dry season, I went on foot to the same place; and saw the whole south part of the city burning from Cheapside to the Thames, and all along Cornhill (for it likewise kindled back against the wind as well as forward), Tower street, Fenchurch Street, Gracious street, and so along to Baynard's Castle, and was now taking hold of St. Paul's church, to which the scaffolds contributed exceedingly. The conflagration was so universal, and the people so astonished, that, from the beginning, I know not by what despondency, or fate, they hardly stirred to quench it; so that there was nothing heard, or seen, but crying out and lamentation, running about like distracted creatures, without at all attempting to save even their goods; such a strange consternation there was upon them, so as it burned both in breadth and length, the churches, public halls, Exchange, hospitals,. Monuments, and ornaments; leaping after a prodigious manner, from house to house, and street to street, at great distances one from the other. For the heat, with a long set of fair and warm weather, had even ignited the air, and prepared the materials to conceive the fire, which devoured, after an incredible manner, houses, furniture, and every thing. Here, we saw the Thames covered with goods floating, all the barges and boats laden with what some had time and courage to save, as, on the other side, the carts, etc., carrying out to the fields, which for many miles were strewn with movables of all sorts, and tents erecting to shelter both people and what goods they could get away. Oh, the miserable and calamitous spectacle! such as haply the world had not seen since the foundation of it, nor can be outdone till the universal conflagration thereof. All the sky was of a fiery aspect, like the top of a burning oven, and the light seen above forty miles round about for many nights. God grant mine eyes may never behold the like, who now saw above 10,000 houses all in one flame! The noise and cracking and thunder of the impetuous flames, the shrieking of women and children, the hurry of people, the fall of towers, houses, and churches, was like a hideous storm; and the air all about so hot and inflamed, that at the last one was not able to approach it, so that they were forced to stand still, and let the flames burn on, which they did, for near two miles in length and one in breadth. The clouds also of smoke were dismal, and reached, upon computation, near fifty miles in length. Thus, I left it this afternoon burning, a resemblance of Sodom, or the last day. It forcibly called to my mind that passage—"non enim hic habemus stabilem civitatem"; the ruins resembling the picture of Troy. London was, but is no more! Thus, I returned.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 September. 04 Sep 1666. The burning still rages, and it is now gotten as far as the Inner Temple. All Fleet Street, the Old Bailey, Ludgate hill, Warwick lane, Newgate, Paul's chain, Watling street, now flaming, and most of it reduced to ashes; the stones of Paul's flew like grenados, the melting lead running down the streets in a stream, and the very pavements glowing with fiery redness, so as no horse, nor man, was able to tread on them, and the demolition had stopped all the passages, so that no help could be applied. The eastern wind still more impetuously driving the flames forward. Nothing but the Almighty power of God was able to stop them; for vain was the help of man.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 September. 05 Sep 1666. It crossed toward Whitehall; but oh! the confusion there was then at that Court! It pleased his Majesty (36) to command me, among the rest, to look after the quenching of Fetter-lane end, to preserve (if possible) that part of Holborn, while the rest of the gentlemen took their several posts, some at one part, and some at another (for now they began to bestir themselves, and not till now, who hitherto had stood as men intoxicated, with their hands across), and began to consider that nothing was likely to put a stop but the blowing up of so many houses as might make a wider gap than any had yet been made by the ordinary method of pulling them down with engines. This some stout seamen proposed early enough to have saved near the whole city, but this some tenacious and avaricious men, aldermen, etc., would not permit, because their houses must have been of the first. It was, therefore, now commended to be practiced; and my concern being particularly for the Hospital of St. Bartholomew, near Smithfield, where I had many wounded and sick men, made me the more diligent to promote it; nor was my care for the Savoy less. It now pleased God, by abating the wind, and by the industry of the people, when almost all was lost infusing a new spirit into them, that the fury of it began sensibly to abate about noon, so as it came no farther than the Temple westward, nor than the entrance of Smithfield, north: but continued all this day and night so impetuous toward Cripplegate and the Tower, as made us all despair. It also broke out again in the Temple; but the courage of the multitude persisting, and many houses being blown up, such gaps and desolations were soon made, as, with the former three days' consumption, the back fire did not so vehemently urge upon the rest as formerly. There was yet no standing near the burning and glowing ruins by near a furlong's space.
The coal and wood wharfs, and magazines of oil, rosin, etc., did infinite mischief, so as the invective which a little before I had dedicated to his Majesty (36) and published, giving warning what probably might be the issue of suffering those shops to be in the city was looked upon as a prophecy.
The poor inhabitants were dispersed about St. George's Fields, and Moorfields, as far as Highgate, and several miles in circle, some under tents, some under miserable huts and hovels, many without a rag, or any necessary utensils, bed or board, who from delicateness, riches, and easy accommodations in stately and well-furnished houses, were now reduced to extreme misery and poverty.
In this calamitous condition, I returned with a sad heart to my house, blessing and adoring the distinguishing mercy of God to me and mine, who, in the midst of all this ruin, was like Lot, in my little Zoar, safe and sound.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 September. 06 Sep 1666. Thursday. I represented to his Majesty (36) the case of the French prisoners at war in my custody, and besought him that there might be still the same care of watching at all places contiguous to unseized houses. It is not indeed imaginable how extraordinary the vigilance and activity of the King (36) and the Duke (32) was, even laboring in person, and being present to command, order, reward, or encourage workmen; by which he showed his affection to his people, and gained theirs. Having, then, disposed of some under cure at the Savoy, I returned to Whitehall, where I dined at Mr. Offley's [Note. Not clear who Mr Offley is? John Evelyn's (45) brother George Evelyn of Wotton 1617-1699 (49) was married to Mary Offley -1664], the groom-porter, who was my relation.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 September. 07 Sep 1666. I went this morning on foot from Whitehall as far as London Bridge, through the late Fleet Street, Ludgate hill by St. Paul's, Cheapside, Exchange, Bishops-gate, Aldersgate, and out to Moorfields, thence through Cornhill, etc., with extraordinary difficulty, clambering over heaps of yet smoking rubbish, and frequently mistaking where I was; the ground under my feet so hot, that it even burnt the soles of my shoes. In the meantime, his Majesty (36) got to the Tower by water, to demolish the houses about the graff, which, being built entirely about it, had they taken fire and attacked the White Tower, where the magazine of powder lay, would undoubtedly not only have beaten down and destroyed all the bridge, but sunk and torn the vessels in the river, and rendered the demolition beyond all expression for several miles about the country.
At my return, I was infinitely concerned to find that goodly Church, St. Paul's — now a sad ruin, and that beautiful portico (for structure comparable to any in Europe, as not long before repaired by the late King) now rent in pieces, flakes of large stones split asunder, and nothing remaining entire but the inscription in the architrave showing by whom it was built, which had not one letter of it defaced! It was astonishing to see what immense stones the heat had in a manner calcined, so that all the ornaments, columns, friezes, capitals, and projectures of massy Portland stone, flew off, even to the very roof, where a sheet of lead covering a great space (no less than six acres by measure) was totally melted. The ruins of the vaulted roof falling, broke into St. Faith's, which being filled with the magazines of books belonging to the Stationers, and carried thither for safety, they were all consumed, burning for a week following. It is also observable that the lead over the altar at the east end was untouched, and among the divers. Monuments the body of one bishop remained entire. Thus lay in ashes that most venerable church, one of the most ancient pieces of early piety in the Christian world, besides near one hundred more. The lead, ironwork, bells, plate, etc., melted, the exquisitely wrought Mercers' Chapel, the sumptuous Exchange, the august fabric of Christ Church, all the rest of the Companies' Halls, splendid buildings, arches, entries, all in dust; the fountains dried up and ruined, while the very waters remained boiling; the voragos of subterranean cellars, wells, and dungeons, formerly warehouses, still burning in stench and dark clouds of smoke; so that in five or six miles traversing about I did not see one load of timber unconsumed, nor many stones but what were calcined white as snow.
The people, who now walked about the ruins, appeared like men in some dismal desert, or rather, in some great city laid waste by a cruel enemy; to which was added the stench that came from some poor creatures' bodies, beds, and other combustible goods. Sir Thomas Gresham's statue, though fallen from its niche in the Royal Exchange, remained entire, when all those of the King (36)s since the Conquest were broken to pieces. Also the standard in Cornhill, and Queen Elizabeth's effigies, with some arms on Ludgate, continued with but little detriment, while the vast iron chains of the city streets, hinges, bars, and gates of prisons, were many of them melted and reduced to cinders by the vehement heat. Nor was I yet able to pass through any of the narrow streets, but kept the widest; the ground and air, smoke and fiery vapor, continued so intense, that my hair was almost singed, and my feet insufferably surbated. The by-lanes and narrow streets were quite filled up with rubbish; nor could one have possibly known where he was, but by the ruins of some Church, or Hall, that had some remarkable tower, or pinnacle remaining.
I then went towards Islington and Highgate, where one might have seen 200,000 people of all ranks and degrees dispersed, and lying along by their heaps of what they could save from the fire, deploring their loss; and, though ready to perish for hunger and destitution, yet not asking one penny for relief, which to me appeared a stranger sight than any I had yet beheld. His Majesty (36) and Council indeed took all imaginable care for their relief, by proclamation for the country to come in, and refresh them with provisions.
In the midst of all this calamity and confusion, there was, I know not how, an alarm begun that the French and Dutch, with whom we were now in hostility, were not only landed, but even entering the city. There was, in truth, some days before, great suspicion of those two nations joining; and now that they had been the occasion of firing the town. This report did so terrify, that on a sudden there was such an uproar and tumult that they ran from their goods, and, taking what weapons they could come at, they could not be stopped from falling on some of those nations whom they casually met, without sense or reason. The clamor and peril grew so excessive, that it made the whole Court amazed, and they did with infinite pains and great difficulty, reduce and appease the people, sending troops of soldiers and guards, to cause them to retire into the fields again, where they were watched all this night. I left them pretty quiet, and came home sufficiently weary and broken. Their spirits thus a little calmed, and the affright abated, they now began to repair into the suburbs about the city, where such as had friends, or opportunity, got shelter for the present to which his Majesty's (36) proclamation also invited them.
Still, the plague continuing in our parish, I could not, without danger, adventure to our church.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 September. 10 Sep 1666. I went again to the ruins; for it was now no longer a city.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 September. 13 Sep 1666. I presented his Majesty (36) with a survey of the ruins, and a plot for a new city, with a discourse on it; whereupon, after dinner, his Majesty (36) sent for me into the Queen's (27) bed-chamber, her Majesty (27) and the Duke (32) only being present. They examined each particular, and discoursed on them for near an hour, seeming to be extremely pleased with what I had so early thought on. The Queen (27) was now in her cavalier riding-habit, hat and feather, and horseman's coat, going to take the air.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 September. 16 Sep 1666. I went to Greenwich Church, where Mr. Plume (36) preached very well from this text: "Seeing, then, all these things shall be dissolved," etc.: taking occasion from the late unparalleled conflagration to remind us how we ought to walk more holy in all manner of conversation.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 September. 27 Sep 1666. Dined at Sir William D'Oyly's (52), with that worthy gentleman, Sir John Holland, of Suffolk.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 October
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 October. 10 Oct 1666. This day was ordered a general Fast through the Nation, to humble us on the late dreadful conflagration, added to the plague and war, the most dismal judgments that could be inflicted; but which indeed we highly deserved for our prodigious ingratitude, burning lusts, dissolute court, profane and abominable lives, under such dispensations of God's continued favor in restoring Church, Prince, and People from our late intestine calamities, of which we were altogether unmindful, even to astonishment. This made me resolve to go to our parish assembly, where our Doctor preached on Luke xix. 41: piously applying it to the occasion. After which, was a collection for the distressed losers in the late fire.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 October. 18 Oct 1666. To Court. It being the first time his Majesty (36) put himself solemnly into the Eastern fashion of vest, changing doublet, stiff collar, bands and cloak, into a comely dress, after the Persian mode, with girdles or straps, and shoestrings and garters into buckles, of which some were set with precious stones resolving never to alter it, and to leave the French mode, which had hitherto obtained to our great expense and reproach. Upon which, divers courtiers and gentlemen gave his Majesty (36) gold by way of wager that he would not persist in this resolution. I had sometime before presented an invective against that unconstancy, and our so much affecting the French fashion, to his Majesty (36); in which I took occasion to describe the comeliness and usefulness of the Persian clothing, in the very same manner his Majesty (36) now clad himself. This pamphlet I entitled "Tyrannus, or the Mode," and gave it to the King (36) to read. I do not impute to this discourse the change which soon happened, but it was an identity that I could not but take notice of.
This night was acted my Lord Broghill's (45) tragedy, called "Mustapha," before their Majesties (36) [Note. and Catherine of Braganza Queen Consort England 1638-1705 (27)] at Court, at which I was present; very seldom going to the public theatres for many reasons now, as they were abused to an atheistical liberty; foul and indecent women now (and never till now) permitted to appear and act, who inflaming several young noblemen and gallants, became their misses, and to some, their wives. Witness the Earl of Oxford (39), Sir R. Howard (40), Prince Rupert (46), the Earl of Dorset (44), and another greater person than any of them, who fell into their snares, to the reproach of their noble families, and ruin of both body and soul. I was invited by my Lord Chamberlain (21) to see this tragedy, exceedingly well written, though in my mind I did not approve of any such pastime in a time of such judgments and calamities.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 October. 21 Oct 1666. This season, after so long and extraordinary a drought in August and September, as if preparatory for the dreadful fire, was so very wet and rainy as many feared an ensuing famine.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 October. 30 Oct 1666. To London to our office, and now had I on the vest and surcoat, or tunic, as it was called, after his Majesty (36) had brought the whole court to it. It was a comely and manly habit, too good to hold, it being impossible for us in good earnest to leave the Monsieurs' vanities long.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 October. 31 Oct 1666. I heard the signal cause of my Lord Cleveland (75) pleaded before the House of Lords; and was this day forty-six years of age, wonderfully protected by the mercies of God, for which I render him immortal thanks.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 November
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 November. 16 Nov 1666. I mustered the prisoners, being about 600 Dutch and French, ordered their proportion of bread to be augmented and provided clothes and fuel. Monsieur Colbert (41), Ambassador at the Court of England, this day sent money from his master, the French King, to every prisoner of that nation under my guard.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 November. 17 Nov 1666. I returned to Chatham, my chariot overturning on the steep of Bexley Hill, wounded me in two places on the head; my son, Jack (11), 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.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 November. 19 Nov 1666. Returned home.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 November. 23 Nov 1666. 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 (40), where, after the lawyers had pleaded and the witnesses been examined, such foul and dishonorable things were produced against his Lordship (40), 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 (40), who was my special friend, and husband of the most virtuous lady (34) 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 confused 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.
Note. John Mordaunt 1st Viscount Mordaunt 1626-1675 (40) was accused by William Taylor, Surveyor of Windsor Castle, of having imprisoned him and raped his daughter. He was subsequently pardoned by Charles II King England Scotland and Ireland 1630-1685 (36) and left the country.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 November. 27 Nov 1666. Sir Hugh Pollard (63), Comptroller of the Household, died at Whitehall, and his Majesty (36) conferred the white staff on my brother Commissioner for sick and wounded, Sir Thomas Clifford (36), a bold young gentleman, of a small fortune in Devon, but advanced by Lord Arlington (48), Secretary of State, to the great astonishment of all the Court. This gentleman (36) 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.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 November. 28 Nov 1666. 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. After this, I waited on the Lord Chancellor (57), who was now at Berkshire House, since the burning of London.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 December
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 December. 02 Dec 1666. Dined with me Monsieur Kiviet (39), a Dutch gentleman-pensioner of Rotterdam, who came over for protection, being of the Prince of Orange's (16) party, now not welcome in Holland. The King (36) knighted him for some merit in the Prince's (16) 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 (33), secretary to Lord Arlington (48); M. Kiviet (39) 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.