What a king is

Here comes my boy to tell me that the Duke of York had sent for all the principal officers, &c., to come to him to-day. So I went by water to Mr. Coventry’s, and there staid and talked a good while with him till all the rest come. We went up and saw the Duke dress himself, and in his night habitt he is a very plain man. Then he sent us to his closett, where we saw among other things two very fine chests, covered with gold and Indian varnish, given him by the East Indy Company of Holland. The Duke comes; and after he had told us that the fleet was designed for Algier (which was kept from us till now), we did advise about many things as to the fitting of the fleet, and so went away. And from thence to the Privy Seal, where little to do, and after that took Mr. Creed and Moore and gave them their morning draught, and after that to my Lord’s, where Sir W. Pen came to me, and dined with my Lord. After dinner he and others that dined there went away, and then my Lord looked upon his pages’ and footmen’s liverys, which are come home to-day, and will be handsome, though not gaudy. Then with my Lady and my Lady Wright to White Hall; and in the Banqueting-house saw the King create my Lord Chancellor and several others, Earls, and Mr. Crew and several others, Barons: the first being led up by Heralds and five old Earls to the King, and there the patent is read, and the King puts on his vest, and sword, and coronet, and gives him the patent. And then he kisseth the King’s hand, and rises and stands covered before the king. And the same for the Barons, only he is led up but by three of the old Barons, and are girt with swords before they go to the King.
That being done (which was very pleasant to see their habits), I carried my Lady back, and I found my Lord angry, for that his page had let my Lord’s new beaver be changed for an old hat.
Then I went away, and with Mr. Creed to the Exchange and bought some things, as gloves and bandstrings, &c. So back to the Cockpitt, and there, by the favour of one Mr. Bowman, he and I got in, and there saw the King and Duke of York and his Duchess (which is a plain woman, and like her mother, my Lady Chancellor).
And so saw “The Humersome Lieutenant” acted before the King, but not very well done. But my pleasure was great to see the manner of it, and so many great beauties, but above all Mrs. Palmer, with whom the King do discover a great deal of familiarity.
So Mr. Creed and I (the play being done) went to Mrs. Harper’s, and there sat and drank, it being about twelve at night. The ways being now so dirty, and stopped up with the rayles which are this day set up in the streets, I would not go home, but went with him to his lodging at Mr. Ware’s, and there lay all night.

Among other things very fine, which thing is a king? The king is a king: a word and net. The king is a cover for the king, girt with words.

The king is a lord changed for an old hat. The king is a plain moth, a chance tenant. The king is a familiar street at night.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 20 April 1661.

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