Up and to my office, whither by and by came John Noble, my father’s old servant, to speake with me. I smelling the business, took him home; and there, all alone, he told me how he had been serviceable to my brother Tom, in the business of his getting his servant, an ugly jade, Margaret, with child. She was brought to bed in St. Sepulchre’s parish of two children; one is dead, the other is alive; her name Elizabeth, and goes by the name of Taylor, daughter to John Taylor. It seems Tom did a great while trust one Crawly with the business, who daily got money of him; and at last, finding himself abused, he broke the matter to J. Noble, upon a vowe of secresy. Tom’s first plott was to go on the other side the water and give a beggar woman something to take the child. They did once go, but did nothing, J. Noble saying that seven years hence the mother might come to demand the child and force him to produce it, or to be suspected of murder. Then I think it was that they consulted, and got one Cave, a poor pensioner in St. Bride’s parish to take it, giving him 5l., he thereby promising to keepe it for ever without more charge to them. The parish hereupon indite the man Cave for bringing this child upon the parish, and by Sir Richard Browne he is sent to the Counter. Cave thence writes to Tom to get him out. Tom answers him in a letter of his owne hand, which J. Noble shewed me, but not signed by him, wherein he speaks of freeing him and getting security for him, but nothing as to the business of the child, or anything like it: so that forasmuch as I could guess, there is nothing therein to my brother’s prejudice as to the main point, and therefore I did not labour to tear or take away the paper.
Cave being released, demands 5l. more to secure my brother for ever against the child; and he was forced to give it him and took bond of Cave in 100l., made at a scrivener’s, one Hudson, I think, in the Old Bayly, to secure John Taylor, and his assigns, &c. (in consideration of 10l. paid him), from all trouble, or charge of meat, drink, clothes, and breeding of Elizabeth Taylor; and it seems, in the doing of it, J. Noble was looked upon as the assignee of this John Taylor. Noble says that he furnished Tom with this money, and is also bound by another bond to pay him 20s. more this next Easter Monday; but nothing for either sum appears under Tom’s hand. I told him how I am like to lose a great sum by his death, and would not pay any more myself, but I would speake to my father about it against the afternoon. So away he went, and I all the morning in my office busy, and at noon home to dinner mightily oppressed with wind, and after dinner took coach and to Paternoster Row, and there bought a pretty silke for a petticoate for my wife, and thence set her down at the New Exchange, and I leaving the coat at Unthanke’s, went to White Hall, but the Councell meeting at Worcester House I went thither, and there delivered to the Duke of Albemarle a paper touching some Tangier business, and thence to the ‘Change for my wife, and walked to my father’s, who was packing up some things for the country. I took him up and told him this business of Tom, at which the poor wretch was much troubled, and desired me that I would speak with J. Noble, and do what I could and thought fit in it without concerning him in it. So I went to Noble, and saw the bond that Cave did give and also Tom’s letter that I mentioned above, and upon the whole I think some shame may come, but that it will be hard from any thing I see there to prove the child to be his. Thence to my father and told what I had done, and how I had quieted Noble by telling him that, though we are resolved to part with no more money out of our own purses, yet if he can make it appear a true debt that it may be justifiable for us to pay it, we will do our part to get it paid, and said that I would have it paid before my own debt.
So my father and I both a little satisfied, though vexed to think what a rogue my brother was in all respects. I took my wife by coach home, and to my office, where late with Sir W. Warren, and so home to supper and to bed.
I heard to-day that the Dutch have begun with us by granting letters of marke against us; but I believe it not.

I smell ugly money
on the other side of murder

they promising security
secure a cave made by hand

like wind in a paper country
this business of war


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 6 April 1664.

The doctor explains the machine
which tracks the breath in sleep,
how it measures the levels of oxygen
delivered to the brain— For instance,
there is the moon above the treetops,
a tufted dandelion head in the grass.
Each silver spindle wants nothing
more than to float to the moon
but the cushion holds it tight,
requires a longer exhalation
or a sudden gust for release.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Up very betimes, and walked to my cozen Anthony Joyce’s, and thence with him to his brother Will, in Tuttle Street, where I find him pretty cheery over [what] he was yesterday (like a coxcomb), his wife being come to him, and having had his boy with him last night. Here I staid an hour or two and wrote over a fresh petition, that which was drawn by their solicitor not pleasing me, and thence to the Painted chamber, and by and by away by coach to my Lord Peterborough’s, and there delivered the petition into his hand, which he promised most readily to deliver to the House today. Thence back, and there spoke to several Lords, and so did his solicitor (one that W. Joyce hath promised 5l. to if he be released). Lord Peterborough presented a petition to the House from W. Joyce: and a great dispute, we hear, there was in the House for and against it. At last it was carried that he should be bayled till the House meets again after Easter, he giving bond for his appearance. This was not so good as we hoped, but as good as we could well expect.
Anon comes the King and passed the Bill for repealing the Triennial Act, and another about Writs of Errour. I crowded in and heard the King’s speech to them; but he speaks the worst that ever I heard man in my life worse than if he read it all, and he had it in writing in his hand.
Thence, after the House was up, and I inquired what the order of the House was, I to W. Joyce, with his brother, and told them all. Here was Kate come, and is a comely fat woman. I would not stay dinner, thinking to go home to dinner, and did go by water as far as the bridge, but thinking that they would take it kindly my being there, to be bayled for him if there was need, I returned, but finding them gone out to look after it, only Will and his wife and sister left and some friends that came to visit him, I to Westminster Hall, and by and by by agreement to Mrs. Lane’s lodging, whither I sent for a lobster, and with Mr. Swayne and his wife eat it, and argued before them mightily for Hawly, but all would not do, although I made her angry by calling her old, and making her know what herself is. Her body was out of temper for any dalliance, and so after staying there 3 or 4 hours, but yet taking care to have my oath safe of not staying a quarter of an hour together with her, I went to W. Joyce, where I find the order come, and bayle (his father and brother) given; and he paying his fees, which come to above 2l., besides 5l. he is to give one man, and his charges of eating and drinking here, and 10s. a-day as many days as he stands under bayle: which, I hope, will teach him hereafter to hold his tongue better than he used to do. Thence with Anth. Joyce’s wife alone home talking of Will’s folly, and having set her down, home myself, where I find my wife dressed as if she had been abroad, but I think she was not, but she answering me some way that I did not like I pulled her by the nose, indeed to offend her, though afterwards to appease her I denied it, but only it was done in haste. The poor wretch took it mighty ill, and I believe besides wringing her nose she did feel pain, and so cried a great while, but by and by I made her friends, and so after supper to my office a while, and then home to bed.
This day great numbers of merchants came to a Grand Committee of the House to bring in their claims against the Dutch. I pray God guide the issue to our good!

street pretty
as a painted crow
that life all I need to look at

but her old body
dressed as if
she had been a road

thin answer
to the poor
in their claims against God


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 5 April 1664.

The streets are labyrinth
and filled with blood, red

strings you could trace from one
shanty to another. In its tower,

you never see the bull;
you only hear its rabid

bellowing, its orders
not to maim but kill. You see

under a street lamp’s glow
dark sentinels pause

on motorbikes to check
the magazines of pistols.

Who can sleep in the heat
and humid darkness, knowing

the shapes of funeral birds dangle
from every doorknob, looking in?

Up, and walked to my Lord Sandwich’s; and there spoke with him about W. Joyce, who told me he would do what was fit in so tender a point. I can yet discern a coldness in him to admit me to any discourse with him. Thence to Westminster, to the Painted Chamber, and there met the two Joyces. Will in a very melancholy taking. After a little discourse I to the Lords’ House before they sat; and stood within it a good while, while the Duke of York came to me and spoke to me a good while about the new ship at Woolwich. Afterwards I spoke with my Lord Barkeley and my Lord Peterborough about it. And so staid without a good while, and saw my Lady Peters, an impudent jade, soliciting all the Lords on her behalf. And at last W. Joyce was called in; and by the consequences, and what my Lord Peterborough told me, I find that he did speak all he said to his disadvantage, and so was committed to the Black Rod: which is very hard, he doing what he did by the advice of my Lord Peters’ own steward. But the Sergeant of the Black Rod did direct one of his messengers to take him in custody, and so he was peaceably conducted to the Swan with two Necks, in Tuttle Street, to a handsome dining-room; and there was most civilly used, my uncle Fenner, and his brother Anthony, and some other friends being with him. But who would have thought that the fellow that I should have sworn could have spoken before all the world should in this be so daunted, as not to know what he said, and now to cry like a child. I protest, it is very strange to observe.
I left them providing for his stay there to-night and getting a petition against tomorrow, and so away to Westminster Hall, and meeting Mr. Coventry, he took me to his chamber, with Sir William Hickeman, a member of their House, and a very civill gentleman. Here we dined very plentifully, and thence to White Hall to the Duke’s, where we all met, and after some discourse of the condition of the Fleete, in order to a Dutch warr, for that, I perceive, the Duke hath a mind it should come to, we away to the office, where we sat, and I took care to rise betimes, and so by water to Halfway House, talking all the way good discourse with Mr. Wayth, and there found my wife, who was gone with her mayd Besse to have a walk. But, Lord! how my jealous mind did make me suspect that she might have some appointment to meet somebody. But I found the poor souls coming away thence, so I took them back, and eat and drank, and then home, and after at the office a while, I home to supper and to bed. It was a sad sight, me thought, to-day to see my Lord Peters coming out of the House fall out with his lady (from whom he is parted) about this business; saying that she disgraced him. But she hath been a handsome woman, and is, it seems, not only a lewd woman, but very high-spirited.

so tender and melancholy
they cry like a child

on meeting with civil discourse
at the halfway house

but the poor souls at supper
fall out about saying grace


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 4 April 1664.

(Lord’s day). Being weary last night lay long, and called up by W. Joyce. So I rose, and his business was to ask advice of me, he being summonsed to the House of Lords to-morrow, for endeavouring to arrest my Lady Peters for a debt. I did give him advice, and will assist him. He staid all the morning, but would not dine with me. So to my office and did business. At noon home to dinner, and being set with my wife in the kitchen my father comes and sat down there and dined with us. After dinner gives me an account of what he had done in his business of his house and goods, which is almost finished, and he the next week expects to be going down to Brampton again, which I am glad of because I fear the children of my Lord that are there for fear of any discontent.
He being gone I to my office, and there very busy setting papers in order till late at night, only in the afternoon my wife sent for me home, to see her new laced gowne, that is her gown that is new laced; and indeed it becomes her very nobly, and is well made. I am much pleased with it.
At night to supper, prayers, and to bed.

joy is a summons
to dine on fat

I fear the children of discontent
busy setting papers in order till late
night new-laced with night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 3 April 1664.

How can I sign cards now with The world
is your oyster
or The future is yours

when by all accounts the world is daily going
and gone to the dogs, i.e. the one per cent

who own most of it all anyway but are bent
on squeezing every last resource into their vaults?

We got a catalog in the mail once, addressed
to the former resident: glossy page spreads

of smoked fish, pearls of black caviar. Who
eats this way? For whom are such price tags

a trifle, nothing? The grit lining the shell
grows lustrous. We dredge the bottom swells.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Response to Descartes.

Up and to my office, and afterwards sat, where great contest with Sir W. Batten and Mr. Wood, and that doating fool Sir J. Minnes, that says whatever Sir W. Batten says, though never minding whether to the King’s profit or not. At noon to the Coffee-house, where excellent discourse with Sir W. Petty, who proposed it as a thing that is truly questionable, whether there really be any difference between waking and dreaming, that it is hard not only to tell how we know when we do a thing really or in a dream, but also to know what the difference [is] between one and the other.
Thence to the ‘Change, but having at this discourse long afterwards with Sir Thomas Chamberlin, who tells me what I heard from others, that the complaints of most Companies were yesterday presented to the Committee of Parliament against the Dutch, excepting that of the East India, which he tells me was because they would not be said to be the first and only cause of a warr with Holland, and that it is very probable, as well as most necessary, that we fall out with that people. I went to the ‘Change, and there found most people gone, and so home to dinner, and thence to Sir W. Warren’s, and with him past the whole afternoon, first looking over two ships of Captain Taylor’s and Phin. Pett’s now in building, and am resolved to learn something of the art, for I find it is not hard and very usefull, and thence to Woolwich, and after seeing Mr. Falconer, who is very ill, I to the yard, and there heard Mr. Pett tell me several things of Sir W. Batten’s ill managements, and so with Sir W. Warren walked to Greenwich, having good discourse, and thence by water, it being now moonshine and 9 or 10 o’clock at night, and landed at Wapping, and by him and his man safely brought to my door, and so he home, having spent the day with him very well. So home and eat something, and then to my office a while, and so home to prayers and to bed.

the difference between waking
and dreaming is the difference
between having a falcon
and having the moon at my door


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 2 April 1664.

Up and to my office, where busy till noon, and then to the ‘Change, where I found all the merchants concerned with the presenting their complaints to the Committee of Parliament appointed to receive them this afternoon against the Dutch. So home to dinner, and thence by coach, setting my wife down at the New Exchange, I to White Hall; and coming too soon for the Tangier Committee walked to Mr. Blagrave for a song. I left long ago there, and here I spoke with his kinswoman, he not being within, but did not hear her sing, being not enough acquainted with her, but would be glad to have her, to come and be at my house a week now and then.
Back to White Hall, and in the Gallery met the Duke of Yorke (I also saw the Queene going to the Parke, and her Mayds of Honour: she herself looks ill, and methinks Mrs. Stewart is grown fatter, and not so fair as she was); and he called me to him, and discoursed a good while with me; and after he was gone, twice or thrice staid and called me again to him, the whole length of the house: and at last talked of the Dutch; and I perceive do much wish that the Parliament will find reason to fall out with them. He gone, I by and by found that the Committee of Tangier met at the Duke of Albemarle’s, and so I have lost my labour. So with Creed to the ‘Change, and there took up my wife and left him, and we two home, and I to walk in the garden with W. Howe, whom we took up, he having been to see us, he tells me how Creed has been questioned before the Council about a letter that has been met with, wherein he is mentioned by some fanatiques as a serviceable friend to them, but he says he acquitted himself well in it, but, however, something sticks against him, he says, with my Lord, at which I am not very sorry, for I believe he is a false fellow. I walked with him to Paul’s, he telling me how my Lord is little at home, minds his carding and little else, takes little notice of any body; but that he do not think he is displeased, as I fear, with me, but is strange to all, which makes me the less troubled. So walked back home, and late at the office. So home and to bed. This day Mrs. Turner did lend me, as a rarity, a manuscript of one Mr. Wells, writ long ago, teaching the method of building a ship, which pleases me mightily. I was at it to-night, but durst not stay long at it, I being come to have a great pain and water in my eyes after candle-light.

her grave lost in the garden
has been a serviceable friend
a false teaching which eases pain
water in my eyes


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 1 April 1664.