In praise of fire

Up, and walked with my boy (whom, because of my wife’s making him idle, I dare not leave at home) walked first to Salsbury court, there to excuse my not being at home at dinner to Mrs. Turner, who I perceive is vexed, because I do not serve her in something against the great feasting for her husband’s Reading in helping her to some good penn’eths, but I care not. She was dressing herself by the fire in her chamber, and there took occasion to show me her leg, which indeed is the finest I ever saw, and she not a little proud of it.
Thence to my Lord Bellasses; thence to Mr. Povy’s, and so up and down at that end of the town about several businesses, it being a brave frosty day and good walking. So back again on foot to the ‘Change, in my way taking my books from binding from my bookseller’s. My bill for the rebinding of some old books to make them suit with my study, cost me, besides other new books in the same bill, 3l.; but it will be very handsome. At the ‘Change did several businesses, and here I hear that newes is come from Deale, that the same day my Lord Sandwich sailed thence with the fleete, that evening some Dutch men of warr were seen on the back side of the Goodwin, and, by all conjecture, must be seen by my Lord’s fleete; which, if so, they must engage.
Thence, being invited, to my uncle Wight’s, where the Wights all dined; and, among the others, pretty Mrs. Margaret, who indeed is a very pretty lady; and though by my vowe it costs me 12d. a kiss after the first, yet I did adventure upon a couple.
So home, and among other letters found one from Jane, that is newly gone, telling me how her mistresse won’t pay her her Quarter’s wages, and withal tells me how her mistress will have the boy sit 3 or 4 hours together in the dark telling of stories, but speaks of nothing but only her indiscretion in undervaluing herself to do it, but I will remedy that, but am vexed she should get some body to write so much because of making it publique. Then took coach and to visit my Lady Sandwich, where she discoursed largely to me her opinion of a match, if it could be thought fit by my Lord, for my Lady Jemimah, with Sir G. Carteret’s eldest son; but I doubt he hath yet no settled estate in land. But I will inform myself, and give her my opinion. Then Mrs. Pickering (after private discourse ended, we going into the other room) did, at my Lady’s command, tell me the manner of a masquerade before the King and Court the other day. Where six women (my Lady Castlemayne and Duchesse of Monmouth being two of them) and six men (the Duke of Monmouth and Lord Arran and Monsieur Blanfort, being three of them) in vizards, but most rich and antique dresses, did dance admirably and most gloriously. God give us cause to continue the mirthe!
So home, and after awhile at my office to supper and to bed.

who is against fire
besides books

it is sand on the back
a kiss in the dark

nothing but the opinion
of a match

or a masquerade
where antique dresses dance


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 3 February 1665.

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