On retreat

To Westminster Hall, where it was full term. Here all the morning, and at noon to my Lord Crew’s, where one Mr. Templer (an ingenious man and a person of honour he seems to be) dined; and, discoursing of the nature of serpents, he told us some that in the waste places of Lancashire do grow to a great bigness, and that do feed upon larks, which they take thus: They observe when the lark is soared to the highest, and do crawl till they come to be just underneath them; and there they place themselves with their mouths uppermost, and there, as is conceived, they do eject poyson up to the bird; for the bird do suddenly come down again in its course of a circle, and falls directly into the mouth of the serpent; which is very strange. He is a great traveller; and, speaking of the tarantula, he says that all the harvest long (about which times they are most busy) there are fidlers go up and down the fields every where, in expectation of being hired by those that are stung.
Thence to the office, where late, and so to my chamber and then to bed, my mind a little troubled how to put things in order to my advantage in the office in readiness to the Duke’s orders lately sent to us, and of which we are to treat at the office to-morrow morning. This afternoon, going into the office, one met me and did serve a subpoena upon me for one Field, whom we did commit to prison the other day for some ill words he did give the office. The like he had for others, but we shall scour him for it.

Serpents in waste places
feed on larks, they say.
Fiddlers go up
and down the fields
in my mind. How to put
things to order in
this prison for ill words?
I shall scour it.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 4 February 1661/62.

Leave a Reply