Venice: October 1652

Pages 289-302

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 28, 1647-1652. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1927.

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October 1652

Oct. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
670. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The loss of Dunkirk may be entirely attributed to the English fleet. Under the command of Blach it not only prevented vessels of any kind from entering by placing itself in battle array before the port, but with more open hostility, it engaged the squadron of French ships under Neusesser, which was proceeding to succour the place, capturing four vessels and a fire ship, and compelling the rest to withdraw hurriedly in order to escape from its clutches. According to report the French lost eight ships, but letters written me from Flanders by one who was on the spot and bound if anything to magnify the victories of the Spaniards, confirm the number given above.
Although circumstances oblige them to dissimulate here, they feel the blow dealt them by the loss of the place and what amounts to a declaration of war on the part of the English.
This action of the English is attributed not only to the reasons which I gave in my last, but as a measure of precaution. They foresee that when France is less distracted and more at liberty she will give more support to the king of England, who depends upon the encouragement and assistance which he may receive from this quarter, and so they made up their minds to forestall the French by striking them at a time when they are most divided and feeble. There is suspicion not only of a union with the Spaniards but of an even closer alliance, with an obligation of mutual assistance in their undertakings, and it is feared that the English have their eyes on Calais and that the Spaniards will support the operation.
They are contemplating here a union with the Dutch. There will be no difficulty, as their objects and interests are identical. They persuaded them that the war between Holland and England was originally generated in Spain, who makes use of others to ruin and enfeeble those Provinces. By exciting such suspicions they try to persuade the Dutch to break with the Spaniards and attack them by land in Flanders.
These considerations would make a stronger impression upon the Dutch if France was more vigorous and if her internal disturbances did not render her persuasion more languid and less efficacious.
San Lis, the 1st October, 1652.
Oct. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
671. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
At last their repeated assurances have been realised by my presenting the ducal missive yesterday afternoon. First of all a person of distinction came and told me to get ready, and though they could not treat me as a fully qualified Resident, I should receive every mark of esteem possible. Three gentlemen, members of the Council of State had been deputed by parliament to receive the letter and hear my statement. (fn. 2) I said I claimed no honour beyond what was due to the expressions of my sovereign. At the appointed hour of 5 p.m. I went to the former royal palace, now only inhabited in the part where the Council of State holds its sittings. I was ushered into a richly furnished apartment, when the three gentlemen made their appearance attended by Sir [Oliver] Fleming, the Master of the Ceremonies. He told me they had been appointed by parliament to hear me. Standing and uncovered like themselves I said that the republic of Venice had honoured me with commissions to present credentials and ask for permission to obtain levies and ships to help in the struggle against the Turk. These credentials had been sent after me in the conviction that they would obtain favour for my mission and at the same time serve to institute a good understand. Venice hoped for the reciprocation of the cordial feelings of regard which she had always felt towards the English nation, in the struggle in which she was engaged against Ottoman barbarism, in which she had been left to fight single handed by all the princes of Christendom. In recompense for any help afforded the Almighty would shower blessings on this country and victories over its enemies. I concluded by praying for the prosperity of the parliament.
The senior Councillor expressed their appreciation, saying he would report what I said to the Council of State and I should have an answer speedily. I urged despatch, as the reply had been waited for a long time, and, as usual with the foreign ministers, I left a written note in English and Italian. So at last I have executed my commissions.
I have spoken about the English ships to Fleming, who promised his help. Although I could not make any statement to a full meeting of the Levant Company, I went on purpose to their board room and conferred with some of the chief members, notably three owners of ships in the Venetian service. I spoke of the loss to Christendom, trade and all liberty if the ships were withdrawn, and said the republic had charged me to thank them for their service and hoped they would continue. They said the act recalled all sailors now abroad, owing to the lack of hands. Although the ships would have to return in consequence they hoped an exception would be made in favour of Venice. They would co-operate with me to obtain a declaration to this effect from the Commonwealth. (fn. 3) They told me, however, that even without the act all the ship owners had contemplated recalling their vessels because of the bad treatment they receive and because they were not paid. Some of them, to maintain themselves, had been obliged to give rather than to sell their credits while others surrendered them at a loss of one half. Yet for the sake of the Christian religion they would allow them to remain on condition that they received at least part payment ; otherwise they would appeal to the government. I said they need not think of such violent remedies. The republic always had paid and always would. Allowance should be made for her distance from the scene of action and for the burden of a great war. The fault was possibly due to the bad faith of their agents, who sometimes take advantage of such opportunities. The republic could not be more sincere especially with the English for whom she professes especial esteem. With these compliments I took leave of them, but shall return at the first general meeting of the Company, and I hope the public service will not suffer on this account. But I would add that it would be advisable to do all that is possible in favour of the ships assisting the state, as owing to this Dutch war it must prove difficult if not impossible to obtain ships elsewhere. God grant that the need be soon remedied by peace and with the glory due to Venice alone.
Since the junction of the squadrons of Blach, and Arcus it is not known that any engagement has taken place, but the fleet had captured 16 Dutchmen freighted with various merchandise, bound for Holland, and which were sailing in company. The Dutch, on their side, have captured 12 vessels bound from Ireland to London, with salt fish, meat and other provisions. So the war may be said to be kept alive by these mutual reprisals, which grievously affect both the public and private interests of the United Provinces. It is confirmed that opinions there are divided, both on account of the losses incurred by the people through this war, and also owing to the dissensions caused by the party of the Prince of Orange, whom some seek to exalt to the uttermost, while others are equally anxious for his complete abasement.
The season is a source of anxiety to the Dutch fleet, and in case of a storm it can only secure shelter by seizing some island to the north or elsewhere, belonging to this country, as all the ports of England are well defended. It is understood that the Dutch are about to attempt something of this sort, and it is expected here that all the ports of France, of Brittany especially, will be open to them. The rulers here, by guarding what is their own, expect to wax in strength while rendering their enemies constantly weaker by captures and embarrassments.
The Spanish ambassador has had a special audience about the coming of the one from Portugal, to stop it if possible or to contrive that this reception shall be less stately than parliament intended. But he got little as the parliamentarians said they meant to give a good welcome to all who come in fitting guise to this government, and they will be friends with all who seek their friendship. If claims and disputes exist between Spain and Portugal, the republic of England would adjust them whenever they pleased.
The report gains ground here that the government here intends to send a squadron into the Mediterranean at an early date, as their reputation and interest compel them to consider the step seriously. The Dutch are already there, strengthening themselves and capturing all the British ships they meet. The new ambassador for Constantinople will probably avail himself of this opportunity for his passage. I will not fail to report any developments.
I hope to receive the answer of parliament to the ducal missive next week, if not this.
Hopes to receive a supply of money, in the mean time is living on credit.
London, the 4th October, 1652.
Oct. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
672. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
General Vangalen has made known to a fellow countryman in his confidence that he holds powers from the Lords States to press into his service all the ships which are in the ports of the Mediterranean. But he has declared that once he has brought his squadron up to the number of 30 powerful ships he will consider himself strong enough. He calculates that he will have this squadron all ready very soon, with the arrival of three ships which he is expecting from Malamocco, two from Genoa, two English ones recently captured and ten laden with merchandise for Italy, convoyed by three warships, which he is expecting from Amsterdam in the coming week to be under his command. He stated further that if he was hard pressed and needed to make further provision he would have recourse first to the nearest, since there were ships at Genoa, Leghorn and other ports without employment, and even if he sent for those in the service of your Serenity he could not have them at his disposal very soon. He has also remarked that this number of thirty ships is for fighting and it was not likely it would need to be increased seeing that he did not believe that England would be sending greater forces into these waters. Although parliament was superior to Holland in pride it was much inferior in ships and just now, when the new government was beginning to settle down he did not believe they would send their naval forces so far away, especially as the Dutch have divided out their fleet into several squadrons. Besides this one in the Mediterranean they have appointed another of many sail to cruise in the English channel, another to sail along their coasts and another for the mouth of the Thames. In addition to this the Dutch have now sent for the king of England and have offered him a powerful army which he can take with him for the recovery of his kingdom, while with the naval forces indicated above the Dutch will be harassing the parliamentary forces at sea.
Florence, the 5th October, 1652.
Oct. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
673. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I hear from Flanders that after the capture of Dunkirk Admiral Blach landed to pay his respects to the Archduke, who offered him a gold chain and a present of 50,000 crowns. The admiral refused the money but accepted the chain as a tribute to his valour and an appreciation from the king of Spain.
San Lis, the 8th October, 1652.
Oct. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
674. To the Ambassador in France.
Pauluzzi must not leave London without previously announcing the fact. That is required by the conditions of the service and by the reasons of state which led to his being sent on this mission. We therefore direct you to admonish him not to take such leave any more but to remain definitely established in that city until further order from the state. As he has been there so long without having succeeded in presenting the letter directed to parliament you will instruct him to endeavour tactfully to find out the real reason for so perplexing a result. It should be easy to do so through Salvetti, Sir [Oliver] Flemin, or some other confidant. He will send a full and particular account of everything to us afterwards. Meanwhile the instructions you sent him to enable him to defend the interests of the state in the overtures which have been made to him for recalling the English ships in our pay, are such as the importance of the affair requires.
Ayes, 100. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
Oct. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
675. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
I learn that the ducal missive is to be resealed and delivered to the Speaker, to be presented to parliament in due form. This punctiliousness arises from the belief that my credentials rather diminish my grade. I hope to have a reply directly, but as the government is new, its forms are defective in many respects, and foreign ministers must have patience. I shall approach the Council of State for an exception in favour of the ships serving Venice. I hope the government will protect the justice of a cause which is generally popular here.
No news of consequence has come from the fleet as it has not fallen in with the enemy, although eager for a fight, either because the Dutch shun an encounter, fearing that the English may outnumber them, or perhaps awaiting a more favourable opportunity, which the season, as it advances, may easily afford them. Besides they may be expecting a good general pacification in France, as it is known that the Dutch ambassador there is working energetically for this. The English pay little attention to the affair and are solely intent on pursuing the war more vigorously than ever. Both sides continue reprisals and take whatever they meet ; but the Dutch are always the greatest losers, as with their trade extending in every direction, their merchantmen arrive from all parts and fall an easy prey to the cruisers of this Commonwealth. It is said that the Dutch propose to send 20 large ships in the direction of the Strait to seize everything under the English flag thereabouts, and so the two nations strive to repair their losses, rendering the war more and more burdensome to their subjects. But the Dutch are the greatest sufferers and they begin to complain loudly. They hope here that the differences between the various Provinces, which increase and multiply, may serve to weaken them considerably.
An act of parliament absolutely forbids the people here under severe penalties, to hold any intercourse soever with the Dutch. By another act of the Admiralty, drawn up but not yet promulgated, they propose to sell all the ships captured up to the present, and first of all the more perishable commodities, with a reservation in favour of such property as shall be definitely proved to belong to the subjects of friendly powers, that is to say the Commonwealth will be responsible for the value of the goods sold, though it is probable there will always be a difficulty in obtaining the money from the treasury.
General Blach has been with the fleet in the Downs off Dover castle, where it arrived recently, and he is said to have sailed in order to try to prevent the Dutch from taking ten English ships which left the ports of Poland and Denmark some while ago, and which are expected here with supplies of hemp, rope and other marine stores, the want of which is felt increasingly.
A messenger arrived lately from M. de Vendôme, Admiral of France, requesting parliament to restore the French ships taken on their way to relieve Dunkirk but he got scant satisfaction, for they told the envoy that they did not know who M. de Vendôme was. His partisans here say that the address of the letter was not respectful enough, and the messenger has gone to get this altered ; but if he returns with the same demands he will go away disappointed, as they mean here to keep the ships as an indemnity for the losses the English have suffered from the French corsairs.
The Portuguese ambassador made his public entry into this city last Monday evening, in the parliament coaches, attended by two members. 60 other coaches followed, forming a fine show. It was particularly remarked that 20 of his own footmen in rich liveries preceded him on horseback, as well as three of his coaches, one of which had its roof let down to show the plates of silver gilt with which it was lined. The coachmen wore velvet with passment lace of silver. His luggage followed on 12 pack horses, with his arms in silver in front, and all under rich coverings of crimson velvet. This is the first ambassador who has arrived here in state, and consequently the first to be observed. It is correspondingly popular and the parliamentarians show him all possible honour, to the increasing vexation and jealousy of the Catholic ambassador. To-morrow he will go in state to parliament, having been defrayed for three days at the public cost. His negotiations will excite close attention and great curiosity.
I have only just received your letters of the 2nd, as the Calais mail arrived two days late. I shall answer as instructed if anything is said to me about the English ship which reached Candia and pretends to have cause for complaint against the most serene republic. If nothing is said I shall consign the whole to silence.
Acknowledges receipt of 500 livres Tournois for the expenses of the past month.
London, the 12th October, 1652.
Oct. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
676. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
General Vangalen continues to keep station at his usual posts. The commander of the English ships, a man of great courage, wanted to sail out these last days in order to try conclusions once more and fight. He had persuaded the other captains as well but the merchants of his nation trading at Leghorn and interested in that rich cargo, would not give their consent. They have indeed sent to him the other commander of the five English ships which unladed at the Lazaretto to take counsel as to what can be done, seeing that the succours from London cannot arrive before January, even if they come at all. They are afraid that in the interval the crews of both squadrons, whose pay is in arrear for several months, will gradually melt away. It will be impossible to make them up again owing to the detestation of these same English, which seems to be universal. The Dutch, on the other hand, obtain recruits of sailors and soldiers for their ships with ease, especially among the French, who gladly take service under their flag, and so they grow in strength with every day that passes. Thus only the day before yesterday Vangalen sent a ship to Toulon on purpose to recruit soldiers, as he already has a sufficiency of sailors. In the mean time both sides are having a quantity of war material made for them in the workshops of Leghorn, to be used in the first battle that takes place. Meanwhile the Dutch are expecting the ships from the port of Venice which they are informed will be very well armed.
Florence, the 12th October, 1652.
Oct. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
677. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 4)
I cannot be sure of receiving the parliament's reply this evening, as the late sea fight has suddenly suspended all other business. On Saturday evening, the 16th, the Council of State received letters from General Blach with particulars of the engagement between his fleet and the Dutch, who advanced so far that they compelled him to give battle. The news led to an extraordinary sitting on the next day, a Sunday, which leads clear sighted men to imagine more evil than good, though the reason given was to inform the whole Council of what had taken place in the Downs, rather more than a day's sail from Dover. The Dutch General Vuahit, with 70 ships, almost all men of war, sailed towards the parliament fleet, whereupon General Blach, with an equal or even a superior force, went to meet him. So the action began on Tuesday and lasted for two consecutive days with almost equal determination, power and fortune on both sides, when at last, according to the newspapers which are in part corroborated by the facts, the Dutch fleet took advantage of a fair wind to sheer off, exhausted and badly mauled. They continued their fire on the English, who although they claim that they have not lost a single man of war, admit that the killed and wounded on both sides were very numerous, while the fleet is much shattered and weakened. The ship of the Dutch Vice Admiral, mounting 50 guns, was taken. That of the Rear Admiral, mounting 50 guns, and a large 60 gun ship, were sunk, and two other medium sized vessels were also taken. With this advantage and encouraged by seeing the enemy making off, Blach pursued them as far as Flushing, and thus won advantage, honour and the mastery of the sea, though he is obliged to refit, his fleet being much battered. He must certainly have lost some ships, according to general report, although nothing is yet announced officially. The public announcements represent the engagement as great and sanguinary, but favourable to the Commonwealth. These details have been confirmed by several men of war which have arrived in the river from the fleet, being rendered unserviceable by the Dutch shot. They have also landed a number of wounded.
Both the fleets being thus weakened, it is probable that they will not again give battle until they have effected their repairs. This will be easy for the Dutch, while the English will accomplish them by diligence and exertion. They are fitting out six of the largest Dutch prizes, while parliament has passed an act (fn. 5) for the construction of 30 frigates of 36 to 40 guns each, to be completed forthwith as a reinforcement, and to take the place of the merchantmen now serving, which, though punctually paid, fight unwillingly from fear for their own interests. So they mean to prosecute the war here and by an increasing display of force and determination expect to give the Dutch additional cause for anxiety. These will be always the most affected in the essential matters of trade and business, which are what the English chiefly try to damage, only giving battle when compelled, as in the present instance. Yet inconvenience and some loss are felt here also, though less in proportion, and there is a tendency to take advantage of any overtures for an adjustment, which they firmly believe the enemy to desire even more. I have been told in confidence that the leading preachers are carrying on secret negotiations for peace, induced by religious zeal at seeing two nations of the same creed shedding so much blood, to the satisfaction of the Papists. Such sentiments are already reciprocated by many in Holland, and as a reconciliation would be in the interest of both parties, it is possible that these efforts may meet with approval, especially as this war disconcerts the government here considerably.
As the rulers here are divided in opinion, matters of the first importance do not proceed so smoothly as they should. Those of religion are in particular confusion. Last Sunday in a public preaching place the minister was insulted and made to come down from the pulpit, swords being drawn on him for the mere punctilio of religion. A serious disturbance broke out at once and two of the ringleaders were arrested. They are expected to escape punishment on religious considerations, there being so much business in hand that the government dares not punish any sect for fear of adding to the mischief, instead of remedying it. Your Excellency will understand the delicacy of the matter, which incessantly preoccupied the government and especially Cromwell ; but as present circumstances do not admit of this burden being taken up now, it is put aside until a more suitable moment.
News has arrived from Scotland of the appointment of 24 commissioners who are coming to parliament with full instructions on the most important affairs of that country, and, it is believed, for the purpose of supporting the petition presented by the military for a new parliament, or for a junta to the present one. They will soon be arriving, and a residence has already been prepared for them by order of parliament.
The Portuguese ambassador had his first audience of parliament recently. He confessed the utmost regard and esteem for the Commonwealth on the part of his king, and the best disposition towards friendship and mutual understanding. This may possibly be established as there is a leaning that way here, unless it is prevented by the Portuguese claims against the English for reprisals and those of the Commonwealth for the cost of fitting out fleets because of the shelter and favour afforded to Prince Rupert. The Spanish ambassador says little but is very observant and will guide his conduct according to the result of these negotiations. If they end in a defensive and offensive alliance between England and Portugal, which is not considered likely, he has already muttered his intention to leave this country at once. But it is unlikely that they will give him cause for such an extreme step, as the present state of affairs here requires them to court rather than to alienate the Spaniards, who, despite the war with the Dutch, have made no sign nor any offer through their ambassador.
I have discussed the matter of the English ships in Venetian service with a member of the Council of State. He told me that considering the circumstances an exception would always be made in their favour, and he hoped the republic would suffer no hurt on this score. I have presented a second memorial to the Council of State in the hope of obtaining an express declaration to this effect. Even if I am unsuccessful I hope some preference will be given them over all other vessels. A member of the Council of State asked me if the owners were content to let them remain, I answered, Yes, and have conferred with several of them on the subject. One of these days I hope to do so with the whole Company when they are together, and I trust that the state will confirm my assurances about their outstanding claims being satisfied, in which case I have been promised that the ships will remain.
London, the 19th October, 1652.
Oct. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
678. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
A friend of Vangalen at Leghorn has told me that the Dutch commander has not the remotest intention of recalling the ships which are in the service of your Serenity, since only these last days he has refused the offer of six very powerful ones of his nation which are between Leghorn and Genoa and desired to place themselves under his command. If matters should turn out otherwise I can always appeal to the Grand Duke, who is very intimate with this Vangalen. This very week he has sent that commander a present of refreshments which both in quantity and in quality went beyond what is usual.
The agent in London of the Levant Company, which is interested in three ships here, one taking refuge in Leghorn, one blockaded at Porto Longone and the third at Naples, writes that he has urged parliament several times to be pleased to send a good squadron of war ships to their relief and they told him that they will send one, but without specifying either the time or the number of vessels. He says that some argue that they will be unwilling to weaken the parliamentary fleet of the Ocean, others that they will send a squadron of some kind with secret orders so that it may arrive unexpectedly in these waters. But if they do not come, Vangalen will have no need to increase his forces beyond their present numbers and if the English do arrive unexpectedly in strength Vangalen will be unable to recall the ships from the Levant in time. Similarly if he has intelligence in advance it will be easy for him to provide himself with other craft nearer at hand. Moreover it is probable that the States would send a strong fleet after the English one.
Florence, the 19th October, 1652.
Oct. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
679. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The news of the welcome given in England to the ambassador of Portugal has caused great satisfaction here. They argue from this that the union between the Spaniards and the English is not so close as appearances indicated, and that if the Spaniards possessed the influence which they pretend to exercise, they would have prevented his reception, as in fact they tried to do, without success. Similarly it is hoped that now all is over at Dunkirk the hostilities of England against this country will be brought to an end, through the practice of dissimulation and a certain amount of calculated insensibility, with a pretence that they know nothing of the origin or the cause of this public declaration to the prejudice of the interests of France.
The Dutch ambassador has been seen in close conference with the king of England. It is supposed from this that their discussions concern the war with the English. The Dutch are trying to persuade his Majesty to proceed to Ireland in order to attack the parliament from that quarter with the assistance of the States and of the king of Denmark. Without that his Majesty could not hope to achieve anything as almost the whole of Ireland is subjugated by the parliament's forces.
Meulan, the 22nd October, 1652.
Oct. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
680. To the Ambassador in France.
From Pauluzzi's letters it appears that he has no hope of an audience, and we await the issue with curiosity. If it does not take place we shall at least have some light on the causes of the delay. We shall expect them to be clear and patent, so that we may be able to adopt the measures which are most opportune.
With regard to the offer of a levy by the Sieur de Revan you will inform Pauluzzi that he must commit himself to nothing and that he must keep everything in suspense until he has received the terms, so that we may be able to consider the matter.
Ayes, 105. Noes, 0. Neutral, 11.
Oct. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
681. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
I had audience of his Highness yesterday. In discussing events we talked first of a fleet of 13 ships arrived from Amsterdam this week, eleven of them merchantmen, but very powerful, and two war ships, as well as two more Dutch ones with grain from Apulia. These render Vangalen extremely strong and he may be called the master of the Mediterranean. The Grand Duke said that the States had written to him most cordially several times because of his courtesy to their ships and the need they may have of the port of Leghorn.
Florence, the 26th October, 1652.
Oct. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
682. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 6)
The Levant Company met the day before yesterday to discuss the sending of the ambassador appointed to Constantinople, whom they mean to despatch as soon as possible with a squadron which they definitely intend to send into the Mediterranean. I spoke to the shareholders about the ships serving Venice, having been admitted immediately after the ambassador left. I spoke of the satisfactory service rendered by these ships and hoped they would continue to earn the glory of defending Christendom against the common enemy. I would approach the Signory to see that they were well paid and received the best treatment. They thanked me for the compliment. The matter of the ships depended largely on the Council of State, owing to the act recalling them all. They could only acquaint them with the demand, in the assurance that special consideration would be given to the republic's interests. The owners said they would allow their ships to remain, but on condition that they were better treated than heretofore, and somewhat better paid. The captains reported that from not having received their pay they had been compelled to sell their considerable credits and all but the ships themselves, at a low price, for their bare subsistence. I contradicted this and satisfied the Company. (fn. 7) When I left some of them asked me to acquaint his Serenity with their most just demands for payment of their credits, in part, if not the whole. I hope the state will perceive the drift of this and the means of retaining the ships. I have also repeated my demands to the Council of State on this very important subject and they give me hope that an exception will be made in favour of the Signory.
Since the last engagement the fleet has remained in the Downs and neighbouring harbours for repairs, and nothing more has been heard of it. The Council of State appointed three commissioners, who departed instantly, to inspect it. (fn. 8) On their return authentic information is expected, to enable the government to take such measures as are necessary. Some assert that besides inspecting the fleet the commissioners are charged to enquire secretly and warily into the conduct of General Blach, as it appears he has in some way given cause for suspicion, and dissatisfaction. The greatest delicacy will be used to avoid offending him, as his nautical experience is valued, and the chief force of the parliament is at present under his control.
The newspapers state that since the last battle the Dutch have shown themselves in force in the Downs, so possibly the last attack, which they made with an inferior force, was merely intended to weaken and damage the English fleet, without risking a general action, as they know the difficulty here of effecting repairs, whereas the abundance of the ships of the United Provinces enables them to come out of port again immediately in force, and determined on a fresh effort.
It is more and more confirmed that the Dutch have considerable naval forces at the two important sea passes, the Strait and the Sound, to prevent the English passing and to capture such ships as come. So parliament has sent 16 men of war towards Denmark to the Sound, to convoy 12 merchantmen expected from those parts with naval stores. These have been awaited with impatience for some time, and if they do not arrive safely the reinforcement of the fleet will be rendered more difficult. So news is expected daily of a brisk action in that quarter. The Dutch are also said to have sent a good number of their ships to the East Indies, to seize everything under the English flag and treat them with the utmost severity, a decision induced by their rage at the rich prizes taken and at what is still going on, to the increasing wrath of the enemy. But the abundant ships of the latter will enable them to occupy beforehand the most important passages of the sea, unless the season now approaching prevents and gives the advantage to this side. I imagine that here they intend to take advantage of their privileged position, keeping the fleet as strong as possible under the harbour batteries and running out to capture all such ships as pass these seas, but without intending to risk a fresh battle.
From Ireland has come the welcome news of the safe arrival there of Lieutenant General Fliout with the funds reported, which will at once satisfy the troops and infuse vigour into the government, as well as check the foe, who still remains in force in that island.
The Scottish commissioners have begun to arrive here to take part in the nomination of the new parliament, which is to be on the 3rd of next month, the old one having now sat for nearly 12 years, to the surprise of everyone and not without some murmurs. But perhaps the present state of affairs may induce some delay as the best informed persons cannot believe in a total dissolution at such a crisis. Even if it should happen many of the old members are likely to be included in the new assembly, or else, to satisfy the public as well as private individuals, a junta of new members will be added to the present body.
I have been told that the absence from London for a few hours of one of the councillors who received the ducal missive has prevented me from receiving the promised answer to-day. So I must adapt myself to the slowness and irresolution of these gentlemen. Nothing avails to make them change their pace, as I have experienced in this case.
London, the 26th October, 1652.
Postscript : I have just heard that the Danish ambassador has received an express order from his king to leave this city immediately and that some Danish ships have arrived to fetch him away. The truth will be known in a few hours with particulars about the intentions of that monarch, who has possibly been moved to favour the Dutch.


  • 1. Forwarded by Sagredo on the 22nd October.
  • 2. Messrs. Challoner, Neville and Martin were appointed on the 27th September to confer with the Italian Secretary, receive what he had to offer, and report. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1651-2, page 406. Salvetti, writing on the 4th October, says that it was not considered an audience and Paulucci was not recognised as a public minister. Brit, Mus. Add. MSS., 27962N.
  • 3. At the Court held on the 24th September, O.S., it was resolved to petition the Council of State to call home the English ships remaining in the Venetian service against the Turks and to prohibit all English ships from engaging in that service. Levant Co. Court Book, fol. 165. S.P. For. Archives, Vol. 151. A petition to that effect was presented and read on the 4/14 October. Levant Co. Register Book, fol. 94. S.P. For. Archives, Vol. 144.
  • 4. Forwarded by Sagredo on the 29th October.
  • 5. On the 28th Sept., O.S. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. VII, page 186.
  • 6. Forwarded by Sagredo on the 5th November.
  • 7. At the Court held on the 12/22 October it was decided to suspend further progress in the matter of sending the ambassador until the state accounted it reasonable. The answer given to Pauluzzi as recorded on the same day was "That what he propounded from the state of Venice was a thing which did not at all concern the Company, who were not (as a body) the owners of any ships, but only particular members thereof, or rather the state, whom a matter of this nature concerns ; unto whom he was desired to apply himself." Levant Co. Court Book, fol. 168. S.P. For. Archives, Vol. 151.
  • 8. Sir Henry Vane, Col. John Dixwell and John Lisle, appointed on the 5/15 October. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1651-2, page 430. But they were excused two days later, Id., page 432.