Pepys Diary erasure project

Since January 1, 2013, a daily exercise in erasure poetry based on the 17th-century Diary of Samuel Pepys.

(Lord’s day). Up, after some talk with my wife, soberly, upon yesterday’s difference, and made good friends, and to church to hear Mr. Mills, and so home, and Mr. Moore and my brother Tom dined with me. My wife not being well to-day did not rise. In the afternoon to church again, and heard drowsy Mr. Graves, and so to see Sir W. Pen, who continues ill in bed, but grows better and better every day. Thence to Sir W. Batten’s, and there staid awhile and heard how Sir R. Ford’s daughter is married to a fellow without friends’ consent, and the match carried on and made up at Will Griffin’s, our doorkeeper’s. So to my office and did a little business, and so home and to bed.
I talked to my brother to-day, who desires me to give him leave to look after his mistress still; and he will not have me put to any trouble or obligation in it, which I did give him leave to do.
I hear to-day how old rich Audley is lately dead, and left a very great estate, and made a great many poor familys rich, not all to one. Among others, one Davis, my old schoolfellow at Paul’s, and since a bookseller in Paul’s Church Yard: and it seems do forgive one man 60,000l. which he had wronged him of, but names not his name; but it is well known to be the scrivener in Fleet Street, at whose house he lodged. There is also this week dead a poulterer, in Gracious Street, which was thought rich, but not so rich, that hath left 800l. per annum, taken in other men’s names, and 40,000 Jacobs in gold.

sober graves grow up
into desires
to look still
to leave a great family
among the wrong names

the riven street is rich
in other men’s gold

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 23 November 1662.

In the morning called out to carry 20l. to Mr. Downing, which I did and came back, and finding Mr. Pierce, the surgeon, I took him to the Axe and gave him his morning draft. Thence to my office and there did nothing but make up my balance. Came home and found my wife dressing of the girl’s head, by which she was made to look very pretty. I went out and paid Wilkinson what I did owe him, and brought a piece of beef home for dinner. Thence I went out and paid Waters, the vintner, and went to see Mrs. Jem, where I found my Lady Wright, but Scott was so drunk that he could not be seen. Here I staid and made up Mrs. Ann’s bills, and played a game or two at cards, and thence to Westminster Hall, it being very dark. I paid Mrs. Michell, my bookseller, and back to Whitehall, and in the garden, going through to the Stone Gallery I fell into a ditch, it being very dark. At the Clerk’s chamber I met with Simons and Luellin, and went with them to Mr. Mount’s chamber at the Cock Pit, where we had some rare pot venison, and ale to abundance till almost twelve at night, and after a song round we went home. This day the Parliament sat late, and resolved of the declaration to be printed for the people’s satisfaction, promising them a great many good things.

down came the axe and found my head
which made pretty beef

I stayed and played a white stone
being round and great

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 23 January 1659/60. (See the original erasure.)

This morning, from some difference between my wife and Sarah, her maid, my wife and I fell out cruelly, to my great discontent. But I do see her set so against the wench, whom I take to be a most extraordinary good servant, that I was forced for the wench’s sake to bid her get her another place, which shall cost some trouble to my wife, however, before I suffer to be.
Thence to the office, where I sat all the morning, then dined; Mr. Moore with me, at home, my wife busy putting her furniture in order. Then he and I out, and he home and I to my cozen Roger Pepys to advise about treating with my uncle Thomas, and thence called at the Wardrobe on Mr. Moore again, and so home, and after doing much business at my office I went home and caused a new fashion knocker to be put on my door, and did other things to the putting my house in order, and getting my outward door painted, and the arch.
This day I bought the book of country dances against my wife’s woman Gosnell comes, who dances finely; and there meeting Mr. Playford he did give me his Latin songs of Mr. Deering’s, which he lately printed.
This day Mr. Moore told me that for certain the Queen-Mother is married to my Lord St. Albans, and he is like to be made Lord Treasurer.
Newes that Sir J. Lawson hath made up a peace now with Tunis and Tripoli, as well as Argiers, by which he will come home very highly honoured.

this cruel discontent
we take to be a good servant

forced for the sake of wardrobe and fashion
to put on other things

getting my war paint
and the arch book of dances

the play of bans like news
made up well

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 22 November 1662.

I went in the morning to Mr. Messum’s, where I met with W. Thurburn and sat with him in his pew. A very eloquent sermon about the duty of all to give good example in our lives and conversation, which I fear he himself was most guilty of not doing. After sermon, at the door by appointment my wife met me, and so to my father’s to dinner, where we had not been to my shame in a fortnight before. After dinner my father shewed me a letter from Mr. Widdrington, of Christ’s College, in Cambridge, wherein he do express very great kindness for my brother, and my father intends that my brother shall go to him.
To church in the afternoon to Mr. Herring, where a lazy poor sermon. And so home with Mrs. Turner and sitting with her a while we went to my father’s where we supt very merry, and so home. This day I began to put on buckles to my shoes, which I have bought yesterday of Mr. Wotton.

eloquent lives I fear:
the door to a college
the herring poor
my father’s buckle

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 22 January 1659/60. (See the original erasure.)

Up early in finishing my accounts and writing to my Lord and from thence to my Lord’s and took leave of Mr. Sheply and possession of all the keys and the house. Thence to my office for some money to pay Mr. Sheply and sent it him by the old man. I then went to Mr. Downing who chid me because I did not give him notice of some of his guests failed him but I told him that I sent our porter to tell him and he was not within, but he told me that he was within till past twelve o’clock. So the porter or he lied. Thence to my office where nothing to do. Then with Mr. Hawly, he and I went to Mr. Crew’s and dined there. Thence into London, to Mr. Vernon’s and I received my 25l. due by bill for my troopers’ pay. Then back again to Steadman’s at the Mitre, in Fleet-street, in our way calling on Mr. Fage, who told me how the City have some hopes of Monk. Thence to the Mitre, where I drank a pint of wine, the house being in fitting for Banister to come hither from Paget’s. Thence to Mrs. Jem and gave her 5l.. So home and left my money and to Whitehall where Luellin and I drank and talked together an hour at Marsh’s and so up to the clerks’ room, where poor Mr. Cook, a black man, that is like to be put out of his clerks place, came and railed at me for endeavouring to put him out and get myself in, when I was already in a good condition. But I satisfied him and after I had wrote a letter there to my Lord, wherein I gave him an account how this day Lenthall took his chair again, and resolved a declaration to be brought in on Monday next to satisfy the world what they intend to do. So home and to bed.

early on
all the keys failed

but tell me that a lock lied
or to have some hope

and talk together an hour
like clerks on a Monday

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 21 January 1659/60. (See the original erasure.)

Within all day long, helping to put up my hangings in my house in my wife’s chamber, to my great content. In the afternoon I went to speak to Sir J. Minnes at his lodgings, where I found many great ladies, and his lodgings made very fine indeed.
At night to supper and to bed: this night having first put up a spitting sheet, which I find very convenient. This day come the King’s pleasure-boats from Calais, with the Dunkirk money, being 400,000 pistols.

a great peak
at night is a pit

I find pleasure in pistols

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 21 November 1662.

In the morning I went to Mr. Downing’s bedside and gave him an account what I had done as to his guests, and I went thence to my Lord Widdrington who I met in the street, going to seal the patents for the judges to-day, and so could not come to dinner. I called upon Mr. Calthrop about the money due to my Lord. Here I met with Mr. Woodfine and drank with him at the Sun in Chancery Lane and so to Westminster Hall, where at the lobby I spoke with the rest of my guests and so to my office. At noon went by water with Mr. Maylard and Hales to the Swan in Fish Street at our Goal Feast, where we were very merry at our Jole of Ling, and from thence after a great and good dinner Mr. Falconberge would go drink a cup of ale at a place where I had like to have shot at a scholar that lay over the house of office.
Thence calling on Mr. Stephens and Wootton (with whom I drank) about business of my Lord’s I went to the Coffee Club where there was nothing done but choosing of a Committee for orders. Thence to Westminster Hall where Mrs. Lane and the rest of the maids had their white scarfs, all having been at the burial of a young bookseller in the Hall. Thence to Mr. Sheply’s and took him to my house and drank with him in order to his going to-morrow. So parted and I sat up late making up my accounts before he go.
This day three citizens of London went to meet Monk from the Common Council.

going with the sun
into the street

I drink like a scholar
at the burial of a book

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 20 January 1659/60. (See the original erasure.)

All the morning sitting at the office, at noon with Mr. Coventry to the Temple to advise about Field’s, but our lawyers not being in the way we went to St. James’s, and there at his chamber dined, and I am still in love more and more with him for his real worth. I broke to him my desire for my wife’s brother to send him to sea as a midshipman, which he is willing to agree to, and will do it when I desire it. After dinner to the Temple, to Mr. Thurland; and thence to my Lord Chief Baron, Sir Edward Hale’s, and back with Mr. Thurland to his chamber, where he told us that Field will have the better of us; and that we must study to make up the business as well as we can, which do much vex and trouble us: but I am glad the Duke is concerned in it. Thence by coach homewards, calling at a tavern in the way (being guided by the messenger in whose custody Field lies), and spoke with Mr. Smith our messenger about the business, and so home, where I found that my wife had finished very neatly my study with the former hangings of the diningroom, which will upon occasion serve for a fine withdrawing room. So a little to my office and so home, and spent the evening upon my house, and so to supper and to bed.

a field is in love with the sea
as a ship is with land

where will we make war
guided by lies

where finish the hanging
or withdraw

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 20 November 1662.

At home all the morning, putting some of my goods in order in my house; and after dinner, the like in the afternoon. And in the evening to my office, and there till 11 a-clock at night upon my Lord Treasurer’s letter again, and so home to bed.

morning, put me in order
like the afternoon
or a letter home

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 19 November 1662.

This morning I was sent for to Mr. Downing, and at his bed side he told me, that he had a kindness for me, and that he thought that he had done me one; and that was, that he had got me to be one of the Clerks of the Council; at which I was a little stumbled, and could not tell what to do, whether to thank him or no; but by and by I did; but not very heartily, for I feared that his doing of it was but only to ease himself of the salary which he gives me.
After that Mr. Sheply staying below all this time for me we went thence and met Mr. Pierce, so at the Harp and Ball drank our morning draft and so to Whitehall where I met with Sir Ant. Cooper and did give him some answer from my Lord and he did give us leave to keep the lodgings still. And so we did determine thereupon that Mr. Sheply might now go into the country and would do so to-morrow.
Back I went by Mr. Downing’s order and staid there till twelve o’clock in expectation of one to come to read some writings, but he came not, so I staid all alone reading the answer of the Dutch Ambassador to our State, in answer to the reasons of my Lord’s coming home, which he gave for his coming, and did labour herein to contradict my Lord’s arguments for his coming home. Thence to my office and so with Mr. Sheply and Moore, to dine upon a turkey with Mrs. Jem, and after that Mr. Moore and I went to the French Ordinary, where Mr. Downing this day feasted Sir Arth. Haselrigge, and a great many more of the Parliament, and did stay to put him in mind of me. Here he gave me a note to go and invite some other members to dinner tomorrow. So I went to White Hall, and did stay at Marsh’s, with Simons, Luellin, and all the rest of the Clerks of the Council, who I hear are all turned out, only the two Leighs, and they do all tell me that my name was mentioned the last night, but that nothing was done in it.
Hence I went and did leave some of my notes at the lodgings of the members and so home. To bed.

in the heart of the country
we expect no ambassador

coming here is coming home to ore
and the ordinary feast

I am put in mind of a marsh with all
the all they name nothing in it

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 19 January 1659/60. (See the original erasure.)