Shapeshifter

(King’s birth-day and Restauration day). Waked with the ringing of the bells all over the towne; so up before five o’clock, and to the office, where we met, and I all the morning with great trouble upon my spirit to think how I should come off in the afternoon when Sir W. Coventry did go to the Victualling office to see the state of matters there, and methinks by his doing of it without speaking to me, and only with Sir W. Pen, it must be of design to find my negligence. However, at noon I did, upon a small invitation of Sir W. Pen’s, go and dine with Sir W. Coventry at his office, where great good cheer and many pleasant stories of Sir W. Coventry; but I had no pleasure in them. However, I had last night and this morning made myself a little able to report how matters were, and did readily go with them after dinner to the Victualling office; and there, beyond belief, did acquit myself very well to full content; so that, beyond expectation, I got over this second rub in this business; and if ever I fall on it again, I deserve to be undone.
Being broke up there, I with a merry heart home to my office, and thither my wife comes to me, to tell me, that if I would see the handsomest woman in England, I shall come home presently; and who should it be but the pretty lady of our parish, that did heretofore sit on the other side of our church, over against our gallery, that is since married; she with Mrs. Anne Jones, one of this parish, that dances finely, and Mrs. … sister did come to see her this afternoon, and so I home and there find Creed also come to me. So there I spent most of the afternoon with them, and indeed she is a pretty black woman, her name Mrs. Horsely. But, Lord! to see how my nature could not refrain from the temptation; but I must invite them to Foxhall, to Spring Gardens, though I had freshly received minutes of a great deale of extraordinary business. However I could not helpe it, but sent them before with Creed, and I did some of my business; and so after them, and find them there, in an arbour, and had met with Mrs. Pierce, and some company with her. So here I spent 20s. upon them, and were pretty merry. Among other things, had a fellow that imitated all manner of birds, and doggs, and hogs, with his voice, which was mighty pleasant. Staid here till night: then set Mrs. Pierce in at the New Exchange; and ourselves took coach, and so set Mrs. Horsely home, and then home ourselves, but with great trouble in the streets by bonefires, it being the King’s birth-day and day of Restauration; but, Lord! to see the difference how many there were on the other side, and so few ours, the City side of the Temple, would make one wonder the difference between the temper of one sort of people and the other: and the difference among all between what they do now, and what it was the night when Monk come into the City. Such a night as that I never think to see again, nor think it can be. After I come home I was till one in the morning with Captain Cocke drawing up a contract with him intended to be offered to the Duke to-morrow, which, if it proceeds, he promises me 500l..

ringing bells speak to me
stories undo me

who could refrain from the temptation
to imitate birds and dogs

to home ourselves
in the bone

and see how many there were
on the other side


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 29 May 1666.

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