L’esprit d’escalier

This morning Sir W. Pen and I were mounted early, and had very merry discourse all the way, he being very good company.
We came to Sir W. Batten’s, where he lives like a prince, and we were made very welcome. Among other things he showed us my Lady’s closet, where was great store of rarities; as also a chair, which he calls King Harry’s chair, where he that sits down is catched with two irons, that come round about him, which makes good sport. Here dined with us two or three more country gentle men; among the rest Mr. Christmas, my old school-fellow, with whom I had much talk. He did remember that I was a great Roundhead when I was a boy, and I was much afraid that he would have remembered the words that I said the day the King was beheaded (that, were I to preach upon him, my text should be “The memory of the wicked shall rot”); but I found afterwards that he did go away from school before that time.
He did make us good sport in imitating Mr. Case, Ash, and Nye, the ministers, which he did very well, but a deadly drinker he is, and grown exceeding fat. From his house to an ale-house near the church, where we sat and drank and were merry, and so we mounted for London again, Sir W. Batten with us. We called at Bow and drank there, and took leave of Mr. Johnson of Blackwall, who dined with us and rode with us thus far.
So home by moonlight, it being about 9 o’clock before we got home.

I batten like a mad king
on remembered words.
My text should be: “The memory
of the wicked shall rot.”
After I go, I make sport
in imitating the dead,
grown fat on moonlight.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 1 November 1660.

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