Sheriff

Up by four o’clock in the morning and upon business at my office. Then we sat down to business, and about 11 o’clock, having a room got ready for us, we all went out to the Tower-hill; and there, over against the scaffold, made on purpose this day, saw Sir Henry Vane brought. A very great press of people. He made a long speech, many times interrupted by the Sheriff and others there; and they would have taken his paper out of his hand, but he would not let it go. But they caused all the books of those that writ after him to be given the Sheriff; and the trumpets were brought under the scaffold that he might not be heard.
Then he prayed, and so fitted himself, and received the blow; but the scaffold was so crowded that we could not see it done. But Boreman, who had been upon the scaffold, came to us and told us, that first he began to speak of the irregular proceeding against him; that he was, against Magna Charta, denied to have his exceptions against the indictment allowed; and that there he was stopped by the Sheriff. Then he drew out his, paper of notes, and begun to tell them first his life; that he was born a gentleman, that he was bred up and had the quality of a gentleman, and to make him in the opinion of the world more a gentleman, he had been, till he was seventeen years old, a good fellow, but then it pleased God to lay a foundation of grace in his heart, by which he was persuaded, against his worldly interest, to leave all preferment and go abroad, where he might serve God with more freedom. Then he was called home, and made a member of the Long Parliament; where he never did, to this day, any thing against his conscience, but all for the glory of God. Here he would have given them an account of the proceedings of the Long Parliament, but they so often interrupted him, that at last he was forced to give over: and so fell into prayer for England in generall, then for the churches in England, and then for the City of London: and so fitted himself for the block, and received the blow. He had a blister, or issue, upon his neck, which he desired them not hurt: he changed not his colour or speech to the last, but died justifying himself and the cause he had stood for; and spoke very confidently of his being presently at the right hand of Christ; and in all, things appeared the most resolved man that ever died in that manner, and showed more of heat than cowardize, but yet with all humility and gravity. One asked him why he did not pray for the King. He answered, “Nay,” says he, “you shall see I can pray for the King: I pray God bless him!”
The King had given his body to his friends; and, therefore, he told them that he hoped they would be civil to his body when dead; and desired they would let him die like a gentleman and a Christian, and not crowded and pressed as he was.
So to the office a little, and so to the Trinity-house all of us to dinner; and then to the office again all the afternoon till night. So home and to bed. This day, I hear, my Lord Peterborough is come unexpected from Tangier, to give the King an account of the place, which, we fear, is in none of the best condition. We had also certain news to-day that the Spaniard is before Lisbon with thirteen sail; six Dutch, and the rest his own ships; which will, I fear, be ill for Portugall.
I writ a letter of all this day’s proceedings to my Lord, at Hinchingbroke, who, I hear, is very well pleased with the work there.

The sheriff is scaffold and crowd,
a born gentleman with never
anything against his conscience
and a city of desire.

The right hand of Christ
appeared on his body
like night on a sail.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 14 June 1662.

2 Comments


    1. Cool, thanks! I was so exhausted when I cranked this out, I couldn’t tell if it worked or not.

      Reply

Leave a Reply