In 1618 Abraham Cowley Poet 1618-1667 was born to [his father] Father Cowley.
Diary of Samuel Pepys 16 December 1661. 16 Dec 1661. And so back again to Westminster Hall, and thence to my Lord Sandwich's (36) lodging, where I met my wife (who had been to see Mrs. Hunt who was brought to bed the other day of a boy), and got a joint of meat thither from the Cook's, and she and I and Sarah dined together, and after dinner to the Opera, where there was a new play ("Cutter of Coleman Street")1, made in the year 1658, with reflections much upon the late times; and it being the first time, the pay was doubled, and so to save money, my wife and I went up into the gallery, and there sat and saw very well; and a very good play it is. It seems of Cowly's (43) making. From thence by coach home, and to bed.
1. Cutter, an old word for a rough swaggerer: hence the title of Cowley's (43) play. It was originally called "The Guardian", when acted before Prince Charles at Trinity College, Cambridge, on March 12th, 1641.
Diary of Samuel Pepys 02 September 1663. 02 Sep 1663. Up betimes and to my office, and thence with Sir J. Minnes (64) by coach to White Hall, where met us Sir W. Batten (62), and there staid by the Council Chamber till the Lords called us in, being appointed four days ago to attend them with an account of the riott among the seamen the other day, when Sir J. Minnes (64) did as like a coxcomb as ever I saw any man speak in my life, and so we were dismissed, they making nothing almost of the matter.
We staid long without, till by and by my Lord Mayor (48) comes, who also was commanded to be there, and he having, we not being within with him, an admonition from the Lords to take better care of preserving the peace, we joyned with him, and the Lords having commanded Sir J. Minnes (64) to prosecute the fellows for the riott, we rode along with my Lord Mayor (48) in his coach to the Sessions House in the Old Bayley, where the Sessions are now sitting. Here I heard two or three ordinary tryalls, among others one (which, they say, is very common now-a-days, and therefore in my now taking of mayds I resolve to look to have some body to answer for them) a woman that went and was indicted by four names for entering herself a cookemayde to a gentleman that prosecuted her there, and after 3 days run away with a silver tankard, a porringer of silver, and a couple of spoons, and being now found is found guilty, and likely will be hanged.
By and by up to dinner with my Lord Mayor and the Aldermen, and a very great dinner and most excellent venison, but it almost made me sick by not daring to drink wine.
After dinner into a withdrawing room; and there we talked, among other things, of the Lord Mayor's sword. They tell me this sword, they believe, is at least a hundred or two hundred years old; and another that he hath, which is called the Black Sword, which the Lord Mayor wears when he mournes, but properly is their Lenten sword to wear upon Good Friday and other Lent days, is older than that.
Thence I, leaving Sir J. Minnes (64) to look after his indictment drawing up, I home by water, and there found my wife mightily pleased with a present of shells, fine shells given her by Captain Hickes, and so she and I up and look them over, and indeed they are very pleasant ones.
By and by in comes Mr. Lewellin, lately come from Ireland, to see me, and he tells me how the English interest falls mightily there, the Irish party being too great, so that most of the old rebells are found innocent, and their lands, which were forfeited and bought or given to the English, are restored to them; which gives great discontent there among the English.
He being gone, I to my office, where late, putting things in order, and so home to supper and to bed. Going through the City, my Lord Mayor (48) told me how the piller set up by Exeter House is only to show where the pipes of water run to the City; and observed that this City is as well watered as any city in the world, and that the bringing the water to the City hath cost it first and last above £300,000; but by the new building, and the building of St. James's by my Lord St. Albans (58)1, which is now about (and which the City stomach I perceive highly, but dare not oppose it), were it now to be done, it would not be done for a million of money.
1. It was at this time that the Earl of St. Albans (58) planned St. James's Square, which was first styled "The Piazza". The "Warrant for a grant to Baptist May and Abraham Cowley (45) on nomination of the Earl of St. Albans of several parcels of ground in Pall Mall described, on rental of £80, for building thereon a square of 13 or 14 great and good houses", was dated September 24th, 1664.
Diary of Samuel Pepys 18 November 1663. 18 Nov 1663. Up, and after being ready, and done a little business at the office, I and Mr. Hater by water to Redriffe, and so walked to Deptford, where I have not been a very great, while, and there paid off the Milford in very good order, and all respect showed me in the office as much as there used to be to any of the rest or the whole board. That done at noon I took Captain Terne, and there coming in by chance Captain Berkeley, him also to dinner with me to the Globe. Captain Berkeley, who was lately come from Algier, did give us a good account of the place, and how the Basha there do live like a prisoner, being at the mercy of the soldiers and officers, so that there is nothing but a great confusion there.
After dinner came Sir W. Batten (62), and I left him to pay off another ship, and I walked home again reading of a little book of new poems of Cowley's (45), given me by his brother. Abraham do lie, it seems, very sicke, still, but like to recover.
At my office till late, and then came Mr. Hollyard (54) so full of discourse and Latin that I think he hath got a cupp, but I do not know; but full of talke he is in defence of Calvin and Luther. He begun this night the fomentation to my wife, and I hope it will do well with her.
He gone, I to the office again a little, and so to bed. This morning I sent Will with my great letter of reproof to my Lord Sandwich (38), who did give it into his owne hand. I pray God give a blessing to it, but confess I am afeard what the consequence may be to me of good or bad, which is according to the ingenuity that he do receive it with. However, I am satisfied that it will do him good, and that he needs it: MY LORD, I do verily hope that neither the manner nor matter of this advice will be condemned by your Lordship, when for my defence in the first I shall allege my double attempt, since your return from Hinchinbroke, of doing it personally, in both of which your Lordship's occasions, no doubtfulnesse of mine, prevented me, and that being now fearful of a sudden summons to Portsmouth, for the discharge of some ships there, I judge it very unbecoming the duty which every bit of bread I eat tells me I owe to your Lordship to expose the safety of your honour to the uncertainty of my return. For the matter, my Lord, it is such as could I in any measure think safe to conceal from, or likely to be discovered to you by any other hand, I should not have dared so far to owne what from my heart I believe is false, as to make myself but the relater of other's discourse; but, sir, your Lordship's honour being such as I ought to value it to be, and finding both in city and court that discourses pass to your prejudice, too generally for mine or any man's controllings but your Lordship's, I shall, my Lord, without the least greatening or lessening the matter, do my duty in laying it shortly before you. People of all conditions, my Lord, raise matter of wonder from your Lordship's so little appearance at Court: some concluding thence their disfavour thereby, to which purpose I have had questions asked me, and endeavouring to put off such insinuations by asserting the contrary, they have replied, that your Lordship's living so beneath your quality, out of the way, and declining of Court attendance, hath been more than once discoursed about the King (33). Others, my Lord, when the chief ministers of State, and those most active of the Council have been reckoned up, wherein your Lordship never used to want an eminent place, have said, touching your Lordship, that now your turn was served, and the King (33) had given you a good estate, you left him to stand or fall as he would, and, particularly in that of the Navy, have enlarged upon your letting fall all service there. Another sort, and those the most, insist upon the bad report of the house wherein your Lordship, now observed in perfect health again, continues to sojourne, and by name have charged one of the daughters for a common courtizan, alleging both places and persons where and with whom she hath been too well known, and how much her wantonnesse occasions, though unjustly, scandal to your Lordship, and that as well to gratifying of some enemies as to the wounding of more friends I am not able to tell. Lastly, my Lord, I find a general coldness in all persons towards your Lordship, such as, from my first dependance on you, I never yet knew, wherein I shall not offer to interpose any thoughts or advice of mine, well knowing your Lordship needs not any. But with a most faithful assurance that no person nor papers under Heaven is privy to what I here write, besides myself and this, which I shall be careful to have put into your owne hands, I rest confident of your Lordship's just construction of my dutifull intents herein, and in all humility take leave, may it please your Lordship, Your Lordship's most obedient Servant, S. P.
The foregoing letter was sealed up, and enclosed in this that follows MY LORD, If this finds your Lordship either not alone, or not at leisure, I beg the suspending your opening of the enclosed till you shall have both, the matter very well bearing such a delay, and in all humility remain, may it please your Lordship, Your Lordship's most obedient Servant, S. P. November 17, 1663. My servant hath my directions to put this into your Lordship's owne hand, but not to stay for any answer.
Diary of Samuel Pepys 09 August 1665. 09 Aug 1665. Up betimes to my office, where Tom Hater to the writing of letters with me, which have for a good while been in arreare, and we close at it all day till night, only made a little step out for half an houre in the morning to the Exchequer about striking of tallys, but no good done therein, people being most out of towne.
At noon T. Hater dined with me, and so at it all the afternoon. At night home and supped, and after reading a little in Cowley's (47) poems, my head being disturbed with overmuch business to-day, I to bed.
Diary of Samuel Pepys 08 December 1666. 08 Dec 1666. Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and at noon home to dinner, and there find Mr. Pierce and his wife and Betty, a pretty girle, who in discourse at table told me the great Proviso passed the House of Parliament yesterday; which makes the King (36) and Court mad, the King (36) having given order to my Lord Chamberlain (64) to send to the playhouses and bawdy houses, to bid all the Parliament-men that were there to go to the Parliament presently. This is true, it seems; but it was carried against the Court by thirty or forty voices. It is a Proviso to the Poll Bill, that there shall be a Committee of nine persons that shall have the inspection upon oath, and power of giving others, of all the accounts of the money given and spent for this warr. This hath a most sad face, and will breed very ill blood. He tells me, brought in by Sir Robert Howard (40), who is one of the King's servants, at least hath a great office, and hath got, they say, £20,000 since the King (36) come in.
Mr. Pierce did also tell me as a great truth, as being told it by Mr. Cowly (48), who was by, and heard it, that Tom Killigrew (54) should publiquely tell the King (36) that his matters were coming into a very ill state; but that yet there was a way to help all, which is, says he, "There is a good, honest, able man, that I could name, that if your Majesty would employ, and command to see all things well executed, all things would soon be mended; and this is one Charles Stuart (36), who now spends his time in employing his lips [Note. Another version includes 'and his prick'] .... about the Court, and hath no other employment; but if you would give him this employment, he were the fittest man in the world to perform it". This, he says, is most true; but the King (36) do not profit by any of this, but lays all aside, and remembers nothing, but to his pleasures again; which is a sorrowful consideration.
Very good company we were at dinner, and merry, and after dinner, he being gone about business, my wife and I and Mrs. Pierce and Betty and Balty (26), who come to see us to-day very sick, and went home not well, together out, and our coach broke the wheel off upon Ludgate Hill. So we were fain to part ourselves and get room in other people's coaches, and Mrs. Pierce and I in one, and I carried her home and set her down, and myself to the King's playhouse, which troubles me since, and hath cost me a forfeit of 10s., which I have paid, and there did see a good part of "The English Monsiuer", which is a mighty pretty play, very witty and pleasant. And the women do very well; but, above all, little Nelly (16); that I am mightily pleased with the play, and much with the House, more than ever I expected, the women doing better than ever I expected, and very fine women. Here I was in pain to be seen, and hid myself; but, as God would have it, Sir John Chichly (26) come, and sat just by me.
Thence to Mrs. Pierce's, and there took up my wife and away home, and to the office and Sir W. Batten's (65), of whom I hear that this Proviso in Parliament is mightily ill taken by all the Court party as a mortal blow, and that, that strikes deep into the King's prerogative, which troubles me mightily.
Home, and set some papers right in my chamber, and then to supper and to bed, we being in much fear of ill news of our colliers. A fleete of two hundred sail, and fourteen Dutch men-of-war between them and us and they coming home with small convoy; and the City in great want, coals being at £3 3s. per chaldron, as I am told. I saw smoke in the ruines this very day.
Around 1667 Peter Lely Painter 1618-1680 (48). Portrait of Abraham Cowley Poet 1618-1667 (49).
On 28 Jul 1667 Abraham Cowley Poet 1618-1667 (49) died in Porch House. He was buried in Westminster Abbey where John Sheffield 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normandby 1648-1721 (19) subsequently commissioned a monument.
John Evelyn's Diary 01 August 1667. 01 Aug 1667. I received the sad news of Abraham Cowley's (49) death, that incomparable poet and virtuous man, my very dear friend, and was greatly deplored.
John Evelyn's Diary 03 August 1667. 03 Aug 1667. Went to Mr. Cowley's (49) funeral, whose corpse lay at Wallingford House, and was thence conveyed to Westminster Abbey in a hearse with six horses and all funeral decency, near a hundred coaches of noblemen and persons of quality following; among these, all the wits of the town, divers bishops and clergymen. He was interred next Geoffry Chaucer, and near Spenser. A goodly. Monument is since erected to his memory.
Now did his Majesty (37) again dine in the presence, in ancient state, with music and all the court ceremonies, which had been interrupted since the late war.
Diary of Samuel Pepys 10 August 1667. 10 Aug 1667. Up, and to the Office, and there finished the letter about Carcasse, and sent it away, I think well writ, though it troubles me we should be put to trouble by this rogue so much. At the office all the morning, and at noon home to dinner, where I sang and piped with my wife with great pleasure, and did hire a coach to carry us to Barnett to-morrow.
After dinner I to the office, and there wrote as long as my eyes would give me leave, and then abroad and to the New Exchange, to the bookseller's there, where I hear of several new books coming out—Mr. Spratt's History of the Royal Society, and Mrs. Phillips's' poems. Sir John Denham's (52) poems are going to be all printed together; and, among others, some new things; and among them he showed me a copy of verses of his upon Sir John Minnes's (68) going heretofore to Bullogne to eat a pig1. Cowley (49), he tells me, is dead; who, it seems, was a mighty civil, serious man; which I did not know before. Several good plays are likely to be abroad soon, as Mustapha and Henry the 5th. Here having staid and divertised myself a good while, I home again and to finish my letters by the post, and so home, and betimes to bed with my wife because of rising betimes to-morrow.
1. The collected edition of Denham's (52) poems is dated 1668. The verses referred to are inscribed "To Sir John Mennis being invited from Calice to Bologne to eat a pig", and two of the lines run "Little Admiral John To Bologne is gone"..
Diary of Samuel Pepys 12 August 1667. 12 Aug 1667. My wife waked betimes to call up her maids to washing, and so to bed again, whom I then hugged, it being cold now in the mornings.... [Missing text: "and then did la otra cosa con her, which I had not done con ella for these tres meses past, which I do believe is a great matter towards the making of her of late so indifferent towards me, and with good reason; but now she had much pleasure, and so to sleep again."]
Up by and by, and with Mr. Gawden by coach to St. James's, where we find the Duke (33) gone a-hunting with the King (37), but found Sir W. Coventry (39) within, with whom we discoursed, and he did largely discourse with us about our speedy falling upon considering of retrenchments in the expense of the Navy, which I will put forward as much as I can.
So having done there I to Westminster Hall to Burges, and then walked to the New Exchange, and there to my bookseller's, and did buy Scott's Discourse of Witches; and do hear Mr. Cowley (49) mightily lamented his death, by Dr. Ward, the Bishop of Winchester (50), and Dr. Bates, who were standing there, as the best poet of our nation, and as good a man.
Thence I to the printseller's, over against the Exchange towards Covent Garden, and there bought a few more prints of cittys, and so home with them, and my wife and maids being gone over the water to the whitster's1 with their clothes, this being the first time of her trying this way of washing her linen, I dined at Sir W. Batten's (66), and after dinner, all alone to the King's playhouse, and there did happen to sit just before Mrs. Pierce, and Mrs. Knepp, who pulled me by the hair; and so I addressed myself to them, and talked to them all the intervals of the play, and did give them fruit. The play is "Brenoralt", which I do find but little in, for my part. Here was many fine ladies-among others, the German Baron, with his lady, who is envoye from the Emperour, and their fine daughter, which hath travelled all Europe over with them, it seems; and is accordingly accomplished, and indeed, is a wonderful pretty woman. Here Sir Philip Frowde, who sat next to me, did tell me how Sir H. Belasses (28) is dead, and that the quarrel between him and Tom Porter, who is fled, did arise in the ridiculous fashion that I was first told it, which is a strange thing between two so good friends.
The play being done, I took the women, and Mrs. Corbett, who was with them, by coach, it raining, to Mrs. Manuel's, the Jew's wife, formerly a player, who we heard sing with one of the Italians that was there; and, indeed, she sings mightily well; and just after the Italian manner, but yet do not please me like one of Mrs. Knepp's songs, to a good English tune, the manner of their ayre not pleasing me so well as the fashion of our own, nor so natural. Here I sat a little and then left them, and then by coach home, and my wife not come home, so the office a little and then home, and my wife come; and so, saying nothing where I had been, we to supper and pipe, and so to bed.
1. A bleacher of linen. "The whitsters of Datchet Mead" are referred to by Mrs. Ford ("Merry Wives of Windsor", act iii., sc. 3).
Diary of Samuel Pepys 21 May 1668. 21 May 1668. Up, and busy to send some things into the country, and then to the Office, where meets me Sir Richard Ford (54), who among other things congratulates me, as one or two did yesterday, [on] my great purchase; and he advises me rather to forbear, if it be not done, as a thing that the world will envy me in: and what is it but my cozen Tom Pepys's buying of Martin Abbey, in Surry! which is a mistake I am sorry for, and yet do fear that it may spread in the world to my prejudice. All the morning at the office, and at noon my clerks dined with me, and there do hear from them how all the town is full of the talk of a meteor, or some fire, that did on Saturday last fly over the City at night, which do put me in mind that, being then walking in the dark an hour or more myself in the garden, after I had done writing, I did see a light before me come from behind me, which made me turn back my head; and I did see a sudden fire or light running in the sky, as it were towards Cheapside ward, and it vanished very quick, which did make me bethink myself what holyday it was, and took it for some rocket, though it was much brighter than any rocket, and so thought no more of it, but it seems Mr. Hater and Gibson going home that night did meet with many clusters of people talking of it, and many people of the towns about the city did see it, and the world do make much discourse of it, their apprehensions being mighty full of the rest of the City to be burned, and the Papists to cut our throats. Which God prevent! Thence after dinner I by coach to the Temple, and there bought a new book of songs set to musique by one Smith of Oxford, some songs of Mr. Cowley's (50), and so to Westminster, and there to walk a little in the Hall, and so to Mrs. Martin's, and there did hazer cet que je voudrai mit her, and drank and sat most of the afternoon with her and her sister, and here she promises me her fine starling, which was the King's, and speaks finely, which I shall be glad of, and so walked to the Temple, meeting in the street with my cozen Alcocke, the young man, that is a good sober youth, I have not seen these four or five years, newly come to town to look for employment: but I cannot serve him, though I think he deserves well, and so I took coach and home to my business, and in the evening took Mrs. Turner (45) and Mercer out to Mile End and drank, and then home, and sang; and eat a dish of greene pease, the first I have seen this year, given me by Mr. Gibson, extraordinary young and pretty, and so saw them at home, and so home to bed. Sir W. Pen (47) continues ill of the gout.
John Evelyn's Diary 23 September 1680. 23 Sep 1680. Came to my house some German strangers and Signor Pietro, a famous musician, who had been long in Sweden in Queen Christina's (53) Court; he sung admirably to a guitar, and had a perfect good tenor and bass, and had set to Italian composure many of Abraham Cowley's (62) pieces which showed extremely well. He told me that in Sweden the heat in some part of summer was as excessive as the cold in winter; so cold, he affirmed, that the streets of all the towns are desolate, no creatures stirring in them for many months, all the inhabitants retiring to their stoves. He spoke high things of that romantic Queen's learning and skill in languages, the Majesty (50) of her behavior, her exceeding wit, and that the histories she had read of other countries, especially of Italy and Rome, had made her despise her own. That the real occasion of her resigning her crown was the nobleman's importuning her to marry, and the promise which the Pope had made her of procuring her to be Queen of Naples, which also caused her to change her religion; but she was cheated by his crafty Holiness,43 working on her ambition; that the reason of her killing her secretary at Fontainebleau, was, his revealing that intrigue with the Pope. But, after all this, I rather believe it was her mad prodigality and extreme vanity, which had consumed those vast treasures the great Adolphus (85), her father, had brought out of Germany during his [campaigns] there and wonderful successes; and that, if she had not voluntarily resigned, as foreseeing the event, the Estates of her kingdom would have compelled her to do so.
John Evelyn's Diary Editor's Introduction. As to his answer to Sir George Mackenzie's panegyric on Solitude, in which Mr. Evelyn takes the opposite part and urges the preference to which public employment and an active life is entitled,—it may be considered as the playful essay of one who, for the sake of argument, would controvert another's position, though in reality agreeing with his own opinion; if we think him serious in two letters to Mr. Abraham Cowley, dated 12th March and 24th August 1666, in the former of which he writes: You had reason to be astonished at the presumption, not to name it affront, that I, who have so highly celebrated recess, and envied it in others, should become an advocate for the enemy, which of all others it abhors and flies from. I conjure you to believe that I am still of the same mind, and that there is no person alive who does more honor and breathe after the life and repose you so happily cultivate and advance by your example; but, as those who praised dirt, a flea, and the gout, so have I public employment in that trifling Essay, and that in so weak a style compared with my antagonist's, as by that alone it will appear I neither was nor could be serious, and I hope you believe I speak my very soul to you.
sunt enim Musis sua ludicra mista Camœnis.
In the other, he says, "I pronounce it to you from my heart as oft as I consider it, that I look on your fruitions with inexpressible emulation, and should think myself more happy than crowned heads, were I, as you, the arbiter of mine own life, and could break from those gilded toys to taste your well-described joys with such a wife and such a friend, whose conversation exceeds all that the mistaken world calls happiness". But, in truth, Mr. Evelyn's mind was too active to admit of solitude at all times, however desirable it might appear to him in theory.