Whitehall and its glory

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The King's procession entered the city by London Bridge. Twenty-eight years later, his brother and successor crossed the Thames in a boat with few attendants, driven into exile by his outraged subjects.

What a sequel to the joy which hailed the restoration of the dynasty; like the Bourbons, the Stuarts had learnt nothing and had forgotten nothing.

Charles was no sooner at Whitehall than the old stairs and steps of this river-side palace swarmed again with life and animation, and the royal barges were constantly to be seen leaving the stairs to go up stream to Hampton Court and Windsor, or dropping down the river and through the Bridge to the Tower or to Greenwich, or to visit the fleet at Gravesend and Woolwich.

The entries of these river excursions in Pepys' diary are many, often in a boat with Creed or Captain Cocke. Sometimes with his wife and Mercer, he drops down the river to Deptford. "By water to Whitehall" also crops up time after time.

Many of these brief notes about his life on the water are detailed and curious. "Whence by water to the office, through Bridge, being carried by him in oares that the other day rowed in a scull faster than my oares to the Tower, and I did give him 6d", the legal fare, unless Pepys gave him 6d for himself.

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