Border patrol

Up and by coach with Sir W. Pen to Charing Cross, and there I ‘light, and to Sir Phillip Warwick to visit him and discourse with him about navy business, which I did at large and he most largely with me, not only about the navy but about the general Revenue of England, above two hours, I think, many staying all the while without, but he seemed to take pains to let me either understand the affairs of the Revenue or else to be a witness of his pains and care in stating it.
He showed me indeed many excellent collections of the State of the Revenue in former Kings and the late times, and the present. He showed me how the very Assessments between 1643 and 1659, which were taxes (besides Excise, Customes, Sequestrations, Decimations, King and Queene’s and Church Lands, or any thing else but just the Assessments), come to above fifteen millions. He showed me a discourse of his concerning the Revenues of this and foreign States. How that of Spayne was great, but divided with his kingdoms, and so came to little. How that of France did, and do much exceed ours before for quantity; and that it is at the will of the Prince to tax what he will upon his people; which is not here. That the Hollanders have the best manner of tax, which is only upon the expence of provisions, by an excise; and do conclude that no other tax is proper for England but a pound-rate, or excise upon the expence of provisions.
He showed me every particular sort of payment away of money, since the King’s coming in, to this day; and told me, from one to one, how little he hath received of profit from most of them; and I believe him truly. That the 1,200,000l. which the Parliament with so much ado did first vote to give the King, and since hath been reexamined by several committees of the present Parliament, is yet above 300,000l. short of making up really to the King the 1,200,000l., as by particulars he showed me.1 And in my Lord Treasurer’s excellent letter to the King upon this subject, he tells the King how it was the spending more than the revenue that did give the first occasion of his father’s ruine, and did since to the rebels; who, he says, just like Henry the Eighth, had great and sudden increase of wealth, but yet, by overspending, both died poor; and further tells the King how much of this 1,200,000l. depends upon the life of the Prince, and so must be renewed by Parliament again to his successor; which is seldom done without parting with some of the prerogatives of the Crowne; or if denied and he persists to take it of the people, it gives occasion to a civill war, which may, as it did in the late business of tonnage and poundage, prove fatal to the Crowne.
He showed me how many ways the Lord Treasurer did take before he moved the King to farme the Customes in the manner he do, and the reasons that moved him to do it.
He showed me a very excellent argument to prove, that our importing lesse than we export, do not impoverish the kingdom, according to the received opinion: which, though it be a paradox, and that I do not remember the argument, yet methought there was a great deale in what he said. And upon the whole I find him a most exact and methodicall man, and of great industry: and very glad that he thought fit to show me all this; though I cannot easily guess the reason why he should do it to me, unless from the plainness that he sees I use to him in telling him how much the King may suffer for our want of understanding the case of our Treasury.
Thence to White Hall (where my Lord Sandwich was, and gave me a good countenance, I thought), and before the Duke did our usual business, and so I about several businesses in the house, and then out to the Mewes with Sir W. Pen. But in my way first did meet with W. Howe, who did of himself advise me to appear more free with my Lord and to come to him, for my own strangeness he tells me he thinks do make my Lord the worse. At the Mewes Sir W. Pen and Mr. Baxter did shew me several good horses, but Pen, which Sir W. Pen did give the Duke of York, was given away by the Duke the other day to a Frenchman, which Baxter is cruelly vexed at, saying that he was the best horse that he expects a great while to have to do with.
Thence I to the ‘Change, and thence to a Coffee-house with Sir W. Warren, and did talk much about his and Wood’s business, and thence homewards, and in my way did stay to look upon a fire in an Inneyard in Lumbard Streete. But, Lord! how the mercers and merchants who had warehouses there did carry away their cloths and silks. But at last it was quenched, and I home to dinner, and after dinner carried my wife and set her and her two mayds in Fleete Streete to buy things, and I to White Hall to little purpose, and so to Westminster Hall, and there talked with Mrs. Lane and Howlett, but the match with Hawly I perceive will not take, and so I am resolved wholly to avoid occasion of further ill with her.
Thence by water to Salsbury Court, and found my wife, by agreement, at Mrs. Turner’s, and after a little stay and chat set her and young Armiger down in Cheapside, and so my wife and I home. Got home before our mayds, who by and by came with a great cry and fright that they had like to have been killed by a coach; but, Lord! to see how Jane did tell the story like a foole and a dissembling fanatique, like her grandmother, but so like a changeling, would make a man laugh to death almost, and yet be vexed to hear her.
By and by to the office to make up my monthly accounts, which I make up to-night, and to my great content find myself worth eight hundred and ninety and odd pounds, the greatest sum I ever yet knew, and so with a heart at great ease to bed.

hours without a witness
how the state and Customs
assess the foreign

how divide and excise
part by part

like the prerogative of the crow
to take any sandwich
with a cheap cry and fright

they kill a story
like a dissembling fanatic

laugh to hear pound
the greatest heart


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 29 February 1663/64.

Color Theme

This week when a man shouts Get out
of my country
and opens fire on two brown

men sharing beers on the patio of a restaurant-
bar, it is not a dream. Today when a software

engineer returning to New York from Lagos
is given a test by border officials to prove

his tech credentials, it is not a dream.
When the foreign-born gallery owner

who is a legal resident is detained for more
than nine hours before being deported to Argentina,

it is not a dream. When a child traveling with his mother
is separated from her and taken alone to a holding cell,

it is not a dream. When the insolent border guard
shouts Arabic? Arabic? repeatedly at a grandmother

in a wheelchair who does not speak English but Farsi,
it is not a dream. All of this is happening

right now wherever the real agents of hate
and terror are drawing heavy lines and putting up

barriers in the common soil. That’s where we
need to insist on language: for every dark wound.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Hawk.

Hawk

(Lord’s day). Up and walked to Paul’s; and by chance it was an extraordinary day for the Readers of the Inns of Court and all the Students to come to church, it being an old ceremony not used these twenty-five years, upon the first Sunday in Lent. Abundance there was of Students, more than there was room to seat but upon forms, and the Church mighty full. One Hawkins preached, an Oxford man. A good sermon upon these words: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable.”
Both before and after sermon I was most impatiently troubled at the Quire, the worst that ever I heard. But what was extraordinary, the Bishop of London, who sat there in a pew, made a purpose for him by the pulpitt, do give the last blessing to the congregation; which was, he being a comely old man, a very decent thing, methought.
The Lieutenant of the Tower, Sir J. Robinson, would needs have me by coach home with him, and sending word home to my house I did go and dine with him, his ordinary table being very good, and his lady a very high-carriaged but comely big woman; I was mightily pleased with her. His officers of his regiment dined with him. No discourse at table to any purpose, only after dinner my Lady would needs see a boy which was represented to her to be an innocent country boy brought up to towne a day or two ago, and left here to the wide world, and he losing his way fell into the Tower, which my Lady believes, and takes pity on him, and will keep him; but though a little boy and but young, yet he tells his tale so readily and answers all questions so wittily, that for certain he is an arch rogue, and bred in this towne; but my Lady will not believe it, but ordered victuals to be given him, and I think will keep him as a footboy for their eldest son.
After dinner to chappell in the Tower with the Lieutenant, with the keyes carried before us, and the Warders and Gentleman-porter going before us. And I sat with the Lieutenant in his pew, in great state, but slept all the sermon. None, it seems, of the prisoners in the Tower that are there now, though they may, will come to prayers there.
Church being done, I back to Sir John’s house and there left him and home, and by and by to Sir W. Pen, and staid a while talking with him about Sir J. Minnes his folly in his office, of which I am sicke and weary to speak of it, and how the King is abused in it, though Pen, I know, offers the discourse only like a rogue to get it out of me, but I am very free to tell my mind to him, in that case being not unwilling he should tell him again if he will or any body else.
Thence home, and walked in the garden by brave moonshine with my wife above two hours, till past 8 o’clock, then to supper, and after prayers to bed.

one hawk above
is pure peace

his table is an innocent world
with no prisoners in it
like a body by moonshine


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 28 February 1663/64.

Vanessa Bell in Winter

The Tub 1917 by Vanessa Bell 1879-1961

The Tub 1917 by Vanessa Bell 1879-1961

Today’s word is raw, said the weather forecaster,
and you flinched, soft skin flayed by wind and sleet,
soft heart by unremitting news of inhumanity.
So embrace this respite, stuff your stiff winter coat
into a locker, stretch and let your sore soul touch
the curves and colours of the pictures, slow-dance
with the fading shapes and figures frescoed on every wall.
You know the artist too was flayed, continued painting
through the worst of times, death and betrayal, two long wars…
Her work outlasted all of it, is here to wrap your fear,
your sorrow in warm flesh, bathe you in earth-green light.

 

Vanessa Bell at Dulwich Picture Gallery
The Tub, 1917 (Tate Modern)