Mother crow

Up, and after giving order to the plasterer now to set upon the finishing of my house, then by water to wait upon the Duke, and walking in the matted Gallery, by and by comes Mr. Coventry and Sir John Minnes, and then to the Duke, and after he was ready, to his closet, where I did give him my usual account of matters, and afterwards, upon Sir J. Minnes’ desire to have one to assist him in his employment, Sir W. Pen is appointed to be his, and Mr. Pett to be the Surveyor’s assistant. Mr. Coventry did desire to be excused, and so I hope (at least it is my present opinion) to have none joined with me, but only Mr. Coventry do desire that I would find work for one of his clerks, which I did not deny, but however I will think of it, whether without prejudice to mine I can do it.
Thence to my Lord Sandwich, who now-a-days calls me into his chamber, and alone did discourse with me about the jealousy that the Court have of people’s rising; wherein he do much dislike my Lord Monk’s being so eager against a company of poor wretches, dragging them up and down the street; but would have him rather to take some of the greatest ringleaders of them, and punish them; whereas this do but tell the world the King’s fears and doubts. For Dunkirk; he wonders any wise people should be so troubled thereat, and scorns all their talk against it, for that he says it was not Dunkirk, but the other places, that did and would annoy us, though we had that, as much as if we had it not. He also took notice of the new Ministers of State, Sir H. Bennet and Sir Charles Barkeley, their bringing in, and the high game that my Lady Castlemaine plays at Court (which I took occasion to mention as that that the people do take great notice of), all which he confessed. Afterwards he told me of poor Mr. Spong, that being with other people examined before the King and Council (they being laid up as suspected persons; and it seems Spong is so far thought guilty as that they intend to pitch upon him to put to the wracke or some other torture), he do take knowledge of my Lord Sandwich, and said that he was well known to Mr. Pepys. But my Lord knows, and I told him, that it was only in matter of musique and pipes, but that I thought him to be a very innocent fellow; and indeed I am very sorry for him. After my Lord and I had done in private, we went out, and with Captain Cuttance and Bunn did look over their draught of a bridge for Tangier, which will be brought by my desire to our office by them to-morrow.
Thence to Westminster Hall, and there walked long with Mr. Creed, and then to the great half-a-crown ordinary, at the King’s Head, near Charing Cross, where we had a most excellent neat dinner and very high company, and in a noble manner.
After dinner he and I into another room over a pot of ale and talked. He showed me our commission, wherein the Duke of York, Prince Rupert, Duke of Albemarle, Lord Peterborough, Lord Sandwich, Sir G. Carteret, Sir William Compton, Mr. Coventry, Sir R. Ford, Sir William Rider, Mr. Cholmley, Mr. Povy, myself, and Captain Cuttance, in this order are joyned for the carrying on the service of Tangier, which I take for a great honour to me.
He told me what great faction there is at Court; and above all, what is whispered, that young Crofts is lawful son to the King, the King being married to his mother. How true this is, God knows; but I believe the Duke of York will not be fooled in this of three crowns.
Thence to White Hall, and walked long in the galleries till (as they are commanded to all strange persons), one come to tell us, we not being known, and being observed to walk there four or five hours (which was not true, unless they count my walking there in the morning), he was commanded to ask who we were; which being told, he excused his question, and was satisfied. These things speak great fear and jealousys. Here we staid some time, thinking to stay out the play before the King to-night, but it being “The Villaine,” and my wife not being there, I had no mind.
So walk to the Exchange, and there took many turns with him; among other things, observing one very pretty Exchange lass, with her face full of black patches, which was a strange sight. So bid him good-night and away by coach to Mr. Moore, with whom I staid an hour, and found him pretty well and intends to go abroad tomorrow, and so it raining hard by coach home, and having visited both Sir Williams, who are both sick, but like to be well again, I to my office, and there did some business, and so home and to bed.
At Sir W. Batten’s I met with Mr. Mills, who tells me that he could get nothing out of the maid hard by (that did poyson herself) before she died, but that she did it because she did not like herself, nor had not liked herself, nor anything she did a great while. It seems she was well-favoured enough, but crooked, and this was all she could be got to say, which is very strange.

without prejudice to mine
who would the great leaders punish
fear is a game

poor people examined
as suspected persons
that they pitch upon to torture

our mother crow
in a strange hour
commanded to ask who we were

her face full
of black rain
like poison for a rook


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 27 October 1662.

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