The book-lover’s blues

Up, and all the morning at the office. At noon to the ‘Change, where I took occasion to break the business of my Lord Chancellor’s timber to Mr. Coventry in the best manner I could. He professed to me, that, till, Sir G. Carteret did speake of it at the table, after our officers were gone to survey it, he did not know that my Lord Chancellor had any thing to do with it; but now he says that he had been told by the Duke that Sir G. Carteret had spoke to him about it, and that he had told the Duke that, were he in my Lord Chancellor’s case, if he were his father, he would rather fling away the gains of two or 3,000l., than have it said that the timber, which should have been the King’s, if it had continued the Duke of Albemarle’s, was concealed by us in favour of my Lord Chancellor; for, says he, he is a great man, and all such as he, and he himself particularly, have a great many enemies that would be glad of such an advantage against him.
When I told him it was strange that Sir J. Minnes and Sir G. Carteret, that knew my Lord Chancellor’s concernment therein, should not at first inform us, he answered me that for Sir J. Minnes, he is looked upon to be an old good companion, but by nobody at the other end of the towne as any man of business, and that my Lord Chancellor, he dares say, never did tell him of it, only Sir G. Carteret, he do believe, must needs know it, for he and Sir J. Shaw are the greatest confidants he hath in the world.
So for himself, he said, he would not mince the matter, but was resolved to do what was fit, and stand upon his owne legs therein, and that he would speak to the Duke, that he and Sir G. Carteret might be appointed to attend my Lord Chancellor in it.
All this disturbs me mightily. I know not what to say to it, nor how to carry myself therein; for a compliance will discommend me to Mr. Coventry, and a discompliance to my Lord Chancellor. But I think to let it alone, or at least meddle in it as little more as I can.
From thence walked toward Westminster, and being in an idle and wanton humour, walked through Fleet Alley, and there stood a most pretty wench at one of the doors, so I took a turn or two, but what by sense of honour and conscience I would not go in, but much against my will took coach and away, and away to Westminster Hall, and there ‘light of Mrs. Lane, and plotted with her to go over the water. So met at White’s stairs in Chanel Row, and over to the old house at Lambeth Marsh, and there eat and drank, and had my pleasure of her twice, she being the strangest woman in talk of love to her husband sometimes, and sometimes again she do not care for him, and yet willing enough to allow me a liberty of doing what I would with her. So spending 5s. or 6s. upon her, I could do what I would, and after an hour’s stay and more back again and set her ashore there again, and I forward to Fleet Street, and called at Fleet Alley, not knowing how to command myself, and went in and there saw what formerly I have been acquainted with, the wickedness of these houses, and the forcing a man to present expense. The woman indeed is a most lovely woman, but I had no courage to meddle with her for fear of her not being wholesome, and so counterfeiting that I had not money enough, it was pretty to see how cunning she was, would not suffer me to have to do in any manner with her after she saw I had no money, but told me then I would not come again, but she now was sure I would come again, but I hope in God I shall not, for though she be one of the prettiest women I ever saw, yet I fear her abusing me.
So desiring God to forgive me for this vanity, I went home, taking some books from my bookseller, and taking his lad home with me, to whom I paid 10l. for books I have laid up money for, and laid out within these three weeks, and shall do no more a great while I hope.
So to my office writing letters, and then home and to bed, weary of the pleasure I have had to-day, and ashamed to think of it.

chance is a good companion
but needs are the greatest confidants

I love sometimes
and sometimes I do not care

a woman is lovely but I suffer
God forgive me for my books


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 23 July 1664.

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