Romantic chemistry

Up, and to Mr. Povy’s about our business, and thence I to see Sir Ph. Warwicke, but could not meet with him. So to Mr. Coventry, whose profession of love and esteem for me to myself was so large and free that I never could expect or wish for more, nor could have it from any man in England, that I should value it more. Thence to Mr. Povy’s, and with Creed to the ‘Change and to my house, but, it being washing day, dined not at home, but took him (I being invited) to Mr. Hubland’s, the merchant, where Sir William Petty, and abundance of most ingenious men, owners and freighters of “The Experiment,” now going with her two bodies to sea. Most excellent discourse. Among others, Sir William Petty did tell me that in good earnest he hath in his will left such parts of his estate to him that could invent such and such things. As among others, that could discover truly the way of milk coming into the breasts of a woman; and he that could invent proper characters to express to another the mixture of relishes and tastes. And says, that to him that invents gold, he gives nothing for the philosopher’s stone; for (says he) they that find out that, will be able to pay themselves. But, says he, by this means it is better than to give to a lecture; for here my executors, that must part with this, will be sure to be well convinced of the invention before they do part with their money.
After dinner Mr. Hill took me with Mrs. Hubland, who is a fine gentlewoman, into another room, and there made her sing, which she do very well, to my great content.
Then to Gresham College, and there did see a kitling killed almost quite, but that we could not quite kill her, with such a way; the ayre out of a receiver, wherein she was put, and then the ayre being let in upon her revives her immediately; nay, and this ayre is to be made by putting together a liquor and some body that ferments, the steam of that do do the work.
Thence home, and thence to White Hall, where the house full of the Duke’s going to-morrow, and thence to St. James’s, wherein these things fell out:
1. I saw the Duke, kissed his hand, and had his most kind expressions of his value and opinion of me, which comforted me above all things in the world.
2. The like from Mr. Coventry most heartily and affectionately.
3. Saw, among other fine ladies, Mrs. Middleton, a very great beauty I never knew or heard of before.
4. I saw Waller the poet, whom I never saw before.
So, very late, by coach home with W. Pen, who was there. To supper and to bed, with my heart at rest, and my head very busy thinking of my several matters now on foot, the new comfort of my old navy business, and the new one of my employment on Tangier.

love could experiment
with her two bodies

could discover the way of milk
coming into the breasts

could invent tastes
or find a way to ferment a kiss

like a poet who never saw
a heart at rest


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 22 March 1665.

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