Alternate histories

(Lord’s day). Up, and meeting Tom Willson he asked my pardon again, which I easily did give him, telling him only that it was well I was not a woman with child, for it might have made me miscarry.
With Sir J. Minnes to church, where an indifferent good sermon. Here I saw Mrs. Becky Allen, who hath been married, and is this day churched, after her bearing a child. She is grown tall, but looks very white and thin, and I can find no occasion while I am here to come to have her company, which I desire and expected in my coming, but only coming out of the church I kissed her and her sister and mother-in-law.
So to dinner, Sir J. Minnes, Commissioner Pett, and I, &c., and after dinner walked in the garden, it being a very fine day, the best we have had this great while, if not this whole summer.
To church again, and after that walked through the Rope-ground to the Dock, and there over and over the Dock and grounds about it, and storehouses, &c., with the officers of the Yard, and then to Commissioner Pett’s and had a good sullybub and other good things, and merry. Commissioner Pett showed me alone his bodys as a secrett, which I found afterwards by discourse with Sir J. Minnes that he had shown them him, wherein he seems to suppose great mystery in the nature of Lynes to be hid, but I do not understand it at all.
Thence walked to the Hill-house, being myself much dissatisfied, and more than I thought I should have been with Commissioner Pett, being, by what I saw since I came hither, convinced that he is not able to exercise the command in the Yard over the officers that he ought to do, or somebody else, if ever the service be well looked after there.
Sat up and with Sir J. Minnes talking, and he speaking his mind in slighting of the Commissioner, for which I wish there was not so much reason. For I do see he is but a man of words, though indeed he is the ablest man that we have to do service if he would or durst. Sir J. Minnes being gone to bed, I took Mr. Whitfield, one of the clerks, and walked to the Dock about eleven at night, and there got a boat and a crew, and rowed down to the guard-ships, it being a most pleasant moonshine evening that ever I saw almost. The guard-ships were very ready to hail us, being no doubt commanded thereto by their Captain, who remembers how I surprised them the last time I was here. However, I found him ashore, but the ship in pretty good order, and the arms well fixed, charged, and primed. Thence to the Soveraign, where I found no officers aboard, no arms fixed, nor any powder to prime their few guns, which were charged, without bullet though.
So to the London, where neither officers nor any body awake; I boarded her, and might have done what I would, and at last could find but three little boys.
And so spent the whole night in visiting all the ships, in which I found, for the most part, neither an officer aboard, nor any men so much as awake, which I was grieved to find, specially so soon after a great Larum, as Commissioner Pett brought us word that he [had] provided against, and put all in a posture of defence but a week ago, all which I am resolved to represent to the Duke.

we might have grown
white and thin as rope

over and over the ground
and had other bodies

a secret to be hid
but not under the house

not in the light of
a would-be moon

ships of ice
guns without bullet to grieve


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 12 July 1663.

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