Rough sleepers

Up and to the office along with Mr. Childe, whom I sent for to discourse about the victualling business, who will not come into partnership (no more will Captain Beckford ), but I do find him a mighty understanding man, and one I will keep a knowledge of. Did business, though not much, at the office; because of the horrible crowd and lamentable moan of the poor seamen that lie starving in the streets for lack of money. Which do trouble and perplex me to the heart; and more at noon when we were to go through them, for then a whole hundred of them followed us; some cursing, some swearing, and some praying to us.
And that that made me more troubled was a letter come this afternoon from the Duke of Albemarle, signifying the Dutch to be in sight, with 80 sayle, yesterday morning, off of Solebay, coming right into the bay. God knows what they will and may do to us, we having no force abroad able to oppose them, but to be sacrificed to them. Here come Sir W. Rider to me, whom I sent for about the victualling business also, but he neither will not come into partnership, but desires to be of the Commission if there be one. Thence back the back way to my office, where very late, very busy. But most of all when at night come two waggons from Rochester with more goods from Captain Cocke; and in houseing them at Mr. Tooker’s lodgings come two of the Custome-house to seize them, and did seize them but I showed them my ‘Transire’. However, after some hot and angry words, we locked them up, and sealed up the key, and did give it to the constable to keep till Monday, and so parted. But, Lord! to think how the poor constable come to me in the dark going home; “Sir,” says he, “I have the key, and if you would have me do any service for you, send for me betimes to-morrow morning, and I will do what you would have me.” Whether the fellow do this out of kindness or knavery, I cannot tell; but it is pretty to observe.
Talking with him in the high way, come close by the bearers with a dead corpse of the plague; but, Lord! to see what custom is, that I am come almost to think nothing of it.
So to my lodging, and there, with Mr. Hater and Will, ending a business of the state of the last six months’ charge of the Navy, which we bring to 1,000,000l. and above, and I think we do not enlarge much in it if anything. So to bed.

the lament of men that lie in the streets
some cursing
some praying

hot words locked up
the key is kindness

but close by a corpse I am come
almost to think nothing of it


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 7 October 1665.

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