Fireworks over the Thames

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On the night after the Queen's state entry there were fireworks on the river in front of Whitehall, but Pepys was disappointed; waking up with his head muddied from the previous night's drink, he goes out with Creed to drink his morning draft, "which he did give me in chocolate to settle my stomach"; then he goes home to enter up his diary, which he has not done for three days.

At night, while he is still occupied with it, he hears the noise of the chambers going off and the fireworks which were then playing before the King on the Thames, and he wishes him is there and is sorry not to see them.

Our forefathers were fond of noise, and these chambers or guns with blank charges were let off on every possible occasion. The discharge of rockets and the floating dragons vomiting showers of sparks must have been a pretty sight on the dark water of the river, with the picturesque buildings of the old Palace of Whitehall as a background, with all its riverfront windows illuminated.

Evelyn has no such distractions when he describes this same spectacle, and he gives a much better and more detailed account:

"I was a spectator of that most magnificent triumph that ever floated on the Thames, considering the innumerable boats and vessels dressed and adorned with all imaginable pomp, but above all, the thrones, arches, pageants, and other representations, stately barges of the Lord Mayor and Companies, with various inventions, music and peales of ordnance, both from the vessels and from the shore, going to meet and conduct the new Queen from Hampton Court to Whitehall at the first time of her coming to Town.

In my opinion it far exceeded all the Venetian 'Bucentoras,' &c., on the Ascension when they go to espouse the Adriatic.

His Majesty and the Queen came in an antique-shaped open vessel covered with a state or canopy of cloth of gold made in form of a cupola supported with high Corinthian pillars wreathed with flowers, festoons, and garlands. I was in our new-built vessel sailing among them."

Evelyn had visited Venice and seen the show to which he refers, and was able to make the comparison. This must have been one of the most glorious pageants ever seen upon the Thames.

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