Waking in the morning, my wife I found also awake, and begun to speak to me with great trouble and tears, and by degrees from one discourse to another at last it appears that Sarah has told somebody that has told my wife of my meeting her at my brother’s and making her sit down by me while she told me stories of my wife, about her giving her scallop to her brother, and other things, which I am much vexed at, for I am sure I never spoke any thing of it, nor could any body tell her but by Sarah’s own words. I endeavoured to excuse my silence herein hitherto by not believing any thing she told me, only that of the scallop which she herself told me of. At last we pretty good friends, and my wife begun to speak again of the necessity of her keeping somebody to bear her company; for her familiarity with her other servants is it that spoils them all, and other company she hath none, which is too true, and called for Jane to reach her out of her trunk, giving her the keys to that purpose, a bundle of papers, and pulls out a paper, a copy of what, a pretty while since, she had wrote in a discontent to me, which I would not read, but burnt. She now read it, and it was so piquant, and wrote in English, and most of it true, of the retiredness of her life, and how unpleasant it was; that being wrote in English, and so in danger of being met with and read by others, I was vexed at it, and desired her and then commanded her to tear it. When she desired to be excused it, I forced it from her, and tore it, and withal took her other bundle of papers from her, and leapt out of the bed and in my shirt clapped them into the pocket of my breeches, that she might not get them from me, and having got on my stockings and breeches and gown, I pulled them out one by one and tore them all before her face, though it went against my heart to do it, she crying and desiring me not to do it, but such was my passion and trouble to see the letters of my love to her, and my Will wherein I had given her all I have in the world, when I went to sea with my Lord Sandwich, to be joyned with a paper of so much disgrace to me and dishonour, if it should have been found by any body. Having torn them all, saving a bond of my uncle Robert’s, which she hath long had in her hands, and our marriage license, and the first letter that ever I sent her when I was her servant, I took up the pieces and carried them into my chamber, and there, after many disputes with myself whether I should burn them or no, and having picked up, the pieces of the paper she read to-day, and of my Will which I tore, I burnt all the rest, and so went out to my office troubled in mind.
Hither comes Major Tolhurst, one of my old acquaintance in Cromwell’s time, and sometimes of our clubb, to see me, and I could do no less than carry him to the Mitre, and having sent for Mr. Beane, a merchant, a neighbour of mine, we sat and talked, Tolhurst telling me the manner of their collierys in the north. We broke up, and I home to dinner.
And to see my folly, as discontented as I am, when my wife came I could not forbear smiling all dinner till she began to speak bad words again, and then I began to be angry again, and so to my office.
Mr. Bland came in the evening to me hither, and sat talking to me about many things of merchandise, and I should be very happy in his discourse, durst I confess my ignorance to him, which is not so fit for me to do.
There coming a letter to me from Mr. Pierce, the surgeon, by my desire appointing his and Dr. Clerke’s coming to dine with me next Monday, I went to my wife and agreed upon matters, and at last for my honour am forced to make her presently a new Moyre gown to be seen by Mrs. Clerke, which troubles me to part with so much money, but, however, it sets my wife and I to friends again, though I and she never were so heartily angry in our lives as to-day almost, and I doubt the heartburning will not [be] soon over, and the truth is I am sorry for the tearing of so many poor loving letters of mine from sea and elsewhere to her.
So to my office again, and there the Scrivener brought me the end of the manuscript which I am going to get together of things of the Navy, which pleases me much. So home, and mighty friends with my wife again, and so to bed.
I wake to her silence
tired of being read by others
her other face
against my heart
her body in my hands
as bland as a letter from sea
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 9 January 1662/63.
Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).