Dead letter

To Westminster with Mr. Moore, and there, after several walks up and down to hear news, I met with Lany, the Frenchman, who told me that he had a letter from France last night, that tells him that my Lord Hinchingbroke is dead, and that he did die yesterday was se’nnight, which do surprise me exceedingly (though we know that he hath been sick these two months), so I hardly ever was in my life; but being fearfull that my Lady should come to hear it too suddenly, he and I went up to my Lord Crew’s, and there I dined with him, and after dinner we told him, and the whole family is much disturbed by it: so we consulted what to do to tell my Lady of it; and at last we thought of my going first to Mr. George Montagu’s to hear whether he had any news of it, which I did, and there found all his house in great heaviness for the death of his son, Mr. George Montagu, who did go with our young gentlemen into France, and that they hear nothing at all of our young Lord; so believing that thence comes the mistake, I returned to my Lord Crew (in my way in the Piazza seeing a house on fire, and all the streets full of people to quench it), and told them of it, which they are much glad of, and conclude, and so I hope, that my Lord is well; and so I went to my Lady Sandwich, and told her all, and after much talk I parted thence with my wife, who had been there all the day, and so home to my musique, and then to bed.

After several walks
up and down, I met
with the dead.
Night is now too sudden—
an old hole.
What news of death?
They hear nothing at all,
believing that a house on fire
is home to music.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 17 January 1661/62.

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