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). At home all the morning, putting my papers in order against my going to-morrow and doing many things else to that end. Had a good dinner, and Stankes and his wife with us. To my business again in the afternoon, and in the evening came the two Trices, Mr. Greene, and Mr. Philips, and so we began to argue. At last it came to some agreement that for our giving of my aunt 10l. she is to quit the house, and for other matters they are to be left to the law, which do please us all, and so we broke up, pretty well satisfyed.
Then came Mr. Barnwell and J. Bowles and supped with us, and after supper away, and so I having taken leave of them and put things in the best order I could against to-morrow I went to bed.
Old William Luffe having been here this afternoon and paid up his bond of 20l., and I did give him into his hand my uncle’s surrender of Sturtlow to me before Mr. Philips, R. Barnwell, and Mr. Pigott, which he did acknowledge to them my uncle did in his lifetime deliver to him.

In the evening we came to agreement
as a barn owl to a barn.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 21 July 1661.

Up to Huntingdon this morning to Sir Robert Bernard, with whom I met Jaspar Trice. So Sir Robert caused us to sit down together and began discourse very fairly between us, so I drew out the Will and show it him, and [he] spoke between us as well as I could desire, but could come to no issue till Tom Trice comes. Then Sir Robert and I fell to talk about the money due to us upon surrender from Piggott, 164l., which he tells me will go with debts to the heir at law, which breaks my heart on the other side.
Here I staid and dined with Sir Robert Bernard and his lady, my Lady Digby, a very good woman.
After dinner I went into the town and spent the afternoon, sometimes with Mr. Phillips, sometimes with Dr. Symcottes, Mr. Vinter, Robert Ethell, and many more friends, and at last Mr. Davenport, Phillips, Jaspar Trice, myself and others at Mother –— over against the Crown we sat and drank ale and were very merry till 9 at night, and so broke up. I walked home, and there found Tom Trice come, and he and my father gone to Goody Gorum’s, where I found them and Jaspar Trice got before me, and Mr. Greene, and there had some calm discourse, but came to no issue, and so parted. So home and to bed, being now pretty well again of my left hand, which lately was stung and very much swelled.

It is a pig heart I dine with,
sometimes in hell and others
at Mother Rum’s.
Go home and be pretty again,
my left hand.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 20 July 1661.

These four days we spent in putting things in order, letting of the crop upon the ground, agreeing with Stankes to have a care of our business in our absence, and we think ourselves in nothing happy but in lighting upon him to be our bayly; in riding to Offord and Sturtlow, and up and down all our lands, and in the evening walking, my father and I about the fields talking, and had advice from Mr. Moore from London, by my desire, that the three witnesses of the will being all legatees, will not do the will any wrong. To-night Serjeant Bernard, I hear, is come home into the country. To supper and to bed. My aunt continuing in her base, hypocritical tricks, which both Jane Perkin (of whom we make great use), and the maid do tell us every day of.

We put in the ground
our business, our absence, ourselves—
nothing but light
in the evening fields.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 16, 17, 18, 19 July 1661.

Up by three o’clock this morning, and rode to Cambridge, and was there by seven o’clock, where, after I was trimmed, I went to Christ College, and found my brother John at eight o’clock in bed, which vexed me. Then to King’s College chappell, where I found the scholars in their surplices at the service with the organs, which is a strange sight to what it used in my time to be here. Then with Dr. Fairbrother (whom I met there) to the Rose tavern, and called for some wine, and there met fortunately with Mr. Turner of our office, and sent for his wife, and were very merry (they being come to settle their son here), and sent also for Mr. Sanchy, of Magdalen, with whom and other gentlemen, friends of his, we were very merry, and I treated them as well as I could, and so at noon took horse again, having taken leave of my cozen Angier, and rode to Impington, where I found my old uncle sitting all alone, like a man out of the world: he can hardly see; but all things else he do pretty lively. Then with Dr. John Pepys and him, I read over the will, and had their advice therein, who, as to the sufficiency thereof confirmed me, and advised me as to the other parts thereof.
Having done there, I rode to Gravely with much ado to inquire for a surrender of my uncle’s in some of the copyholders’ hands there, but I can hear of none, which puts me into very great trouble of mind, and so with a sad heart rode home to Brampton, but made myself as cheerful as I could to my father, and so to bed.

Clock by clock, a strange time
called me out of the world.
I live in a sufficiency of parts:
old hands, ear,
heart as cheerful as a bed.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 15 July 1661
.

(Lord’s day). At home, and Robert Barnwell with us, and dined, and in the evening my father and I walked round Portholme and viewed all the fields, which was very pleasant. Thence to Hinchingbroke, which is now all in dirt, because of my Lord’s building, which will make it very magnificent. Back to Brampton, and to supper and to bed.

Home and barn in the evening.
I walk the fields, now all in dirt—
a magnificent supper.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 14th July 1661
.

I fell to work, and my father to look over my uncle’s papers and clothes, and continued all this week upon that business, much troubled with my aunt’s base, ugly humours. We had news of Tom Trice’s putting in a caveat against us, in behalf of his mother, to whom my uncle hath not given anything, and for good reason therein expressed, which troubled us also. But above all, our trouble is to find that his estate appears nothing as we expected, and all the world believes; nor his papers so well sorted as I would have had them, but all in confusion, that break my brains to understand them. We missed also the surrenders of his copyhold land, without which the land would not come to us, but to the heir at law, so that what with this, and the badness of the drink and the ill opinion I have of the meat, and the biting of the gnats by night and my disappointment in getting home this week, and the trouble of sorting all the papers, I am almost out of my wits with trouble, only I appear the more contented, because I would not have my father troubled.
The latter end of the week Mr. Philips comes home from London, and so we advised with him and have the best counsel he could give us, but for all that we were not quiet in our minds.

A paper on trouble
troubled us: our trouble
is a paper trouble,
I paper my wits with trouble
because I would not
have trouble.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th July 1661.

(Lord’s day). In the morning my father and I walked in the garden and read the will; where, though he gives me nothing at present till my father’s death, or at least very little, yet I am glad to see that he hath done so well for us, all, and well to the rest of his kindred. After that done, we went about getting things, as ribbands and gloves, ready for the burial. Which in the afternoon was done; where, it being Sunday, all people far and near come in; and in the greatest disorder that ever I saw, we made shift to serve them what we had of wine and other things; and then to carry him to the church, where Mr. Taylor buried him, and Mr. Turners preached a funerall sermon, where he spoke not particularly of him anything, but that he was one so well known for his honesty, that it spoke for itself above all that he could say for it. And so made a very good sermon.
Home with some of the company who supped there, and things being quiet, at night to bed.

The garden gives me
nothing; I am glad.
In love,
in the greatest disorder,
in one nest it made
a home of quiet.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 7 July 1661.

Waked this morning with news, brought me by a messenger on purpose, that my uncle Robert is dead, and died yesterday; so I rose sorry in some respect, glad in my expectations in another respect. So I made myself ready, went and told my uncle Wight, my Lady, and some others thereof, and bought me a pair of boots in St. Martin’s, and got myself ready, and then to the Post House and set out about eleven and twelve o’clock, taking the messenger with me that came to me, and so we rode and got well by nine o’clock to Brampton, where I found my father well. My uncle’s corpse in a coffin standing upon joynt-stools in the chimney in the hall; but it begun to smell, and so I caused it to be set forth in the yard all night, and watched by two men. My aunt I found in bed in a most nasty ugly pickle, made me sick to see it. My father and I lay together tonight, I greedy to see the will, but did not ask to see it till to-morrow.

I made myself a pair:
my clock and I,
my corpse and I
set forth together,
greedy to see.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 6 July 1661.

At home all the morning; in the afternoon I went to the Theatre, and there I saw “Claracilla” (the first time I ever saw it), well acted. But strange to see this house, that used to be so thronged, now empty since the Opera begun; and so will continue for a while, I believe. Called at my father’s, and there I heard that my uncle Robert continues to have his fits of stupefaction every day for 10 or 12 hours together.
From thence to the Exchange at night, and then went with my uncle Wight to the Mitre and were merry, but he takes it very ill that my father would go out of town to Brampton on this occasion and would not tell him of it, which I endeavoured to remove but could not.
Here Mr. Batersby the apothecary was, who told me that if my uncle had the emerods (which I think he had) and that now they are stopped, he will lay his life that bleeding behind by leeches will cure him, but I am resolved not to meddle in it.
Home and to bed.

In the heat and the throng,
the call of stupefaction.
For hours we were out.
I endeavored to move, but not now
that I am in bed.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 4 July 1661.