On retreat

Up, and so in my chamber staid all the morning doing something toward my Tangier accounts, for the stating of them, and also comes up my landlady, Mrs. Clerke, to make an agreement for the time to come; and I, for the having room enough, and to keepe out strangers, and to have a place to retreat to for my wife, if the sicknesse should come to Woolwich, am contented to pay dear; so for three rooms and a dining-room, and for linen and bread and beer and butter, at nights and mornings, I am to give her 5l. 10s. per month, and I wrote and we signed to an agreement. By and by comes Cocke to tell me that Fisher and his fellow were last night mightily satisfied and promised all friendship, but this morning he finds them to have new tricks and shall be troubled with them. So he being to go down to Erith with them this afternoon about giving security, I advised him to let them go by land, and so he and I (having eat something at his house) by water to Erith, but they got thither before us, and there we met Mr. Seymour, one of the Commissioners for Prizes, and a Parliament-man, and he was mighty high, and had now seized our goods on their behalf; and he mighty imperiously would have all forfeited, and I know not what. I thought I was in the right in a thing I said and spoke somewhat earnestly, so we took up one another very smartly, for which I was sorry afterwards, shewing thereby myself too much concerned, but nothing passed that I valued at all. But I could not but think [it odd] that a Parliament-man, in a serious discourse before such persons as we and my Lord Bruncker, and Sir John Minnes, should quote Hudibras, as being the book I doubt he hath read most. They I doubt will stand hard for high security, and Cocke would have had me bound with him for his appearing, but I did stagger at it, besides Seymour do stop the doing it at all till he has been with the Duke of Albemarle. So there will be another demurre. It growing late, and I having something to do at home, took my leave alone, leaving Cocke there for all night, and so against tide and in the darke and very cold weather to Woolwich, where we had appointed to keepe the night merrily; and so, by Captain Cocke’s coach, had brought a very pretty child, a daughter of one Mrs. Tooker’s, next door to my lodging, and so she, and a daughter and kinsman of Mrs. Pett’s made up a fine company at my lodgings at Woolwich, where my wife and Mercer, and Mrs. Barbara danced, and mighty merry we were, but especially at Mercer’s dancing a jigg, which she does the best I ever did see, having the most natural way of it, and keeps time the most perfectly I ever did see. This night is kept in lieu of yesterday, for my wedding day of ten years; for which God be praised! being now in an extreme good condition of health and estate and honour, and a way of getting more money, though at this houre under some discomposure, rather than damage, about some prize goods that I have bought off the fleete, in partnership with Captain Cocke; and for the discourse about the world concerning my Lord Sandwich, that he hath done a thing so bad; and indeed it must needs have been a very rash act; and the rather because of a Parliament now newly met to give money, and will have some account of what hath already been spent, besides the precedent for a General to take what prizes he pleases, and the giving a pretence to take away much more than he intended, and all will lie upon him; and not giving to all the Commanders, as well as the Flaggs, he displeases all them, and offends even some of them, thinking others to be better served than themselves; and lastly, puts himself out of a power of begging anything again a great while of the King. Having danced with my people as long as I saw fit to sit up, I to bed and left them to do what they would. I forgot that we had W. Hewer there, and Tom, and Golding, my barber at Greenwich, for our fiddler, to whom I did give 10s.

having room enough to retreat
my wife finds a new now
and I know nothing

as I ink my book of dark weather
and do my mad dance

but she does the best
most natural way
keeps time rather than some rash flag


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 11 October 1665.

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