4. "the weather being extreme
and without hope"
our new work
of our past lives
In response to Via Negativa: Microcosm.
Up, and by water to Sir G. Downing’s, there to discourse with him about the reliefe of the prisoners in Holland; which I did, and we do resolve of the manner of sending them some. So I away by coach to St. James’s, and there hear that the Duchesse is lately brought to bed of a boy. By and by called to wait on the Duke, the King being present; and there agreed, among other things, of the places to build the ten new great ships ordered to be built, and as to the relief of prisoners in Holland. And then about several stories of the basenesse of the King of Spayne’s being served with officers: they in Flanders having as good common men as any Prince in the world, but the veriest cowards for the officers, nay for the generall officers, as the Generall and Lieutenant-generall, in the whole world. But, above all things, the King did speake most in contempt of the ceremoniousnesse of the King of Spayne, that he do nothing but under some ridiculous form or other, and will not piss but another must hold the chamber-pot.
Thence to Westminster Hall and there staid a while, and then to the Swan and kissed Sarah, and so home to dinner, and after dinner out again to Sir Robert Viner, and there did agree with him to accommodate some business of tallys so as I shall get in near 2000l. into my own hands, which is in the King’s, upon tallys; which will be a pleasure to me, and satisfaction to have a good sum in my own hands, whatever evil disturbances should be in the State; though it troubles me to lose so great a profit as the King’s interest of ten per cent. for that money.
Thence to Westminster, doing several things by the way, and there failed of meeting Mrs. Lane, and so by coach took up my wife at her sister’s, and so away to Islington, she and I alone, and so through Hackney, and home late, our discourse being about laying up of some money safe in prevention to the troubles I am afeard we may have in the state, and so sleepy (for want of sleep the last night, going to bed late and rising betimes in the morning) home, but when I come to the office, I there met with a command from my Lord Arlington, to go down to a galliott at Greenwich, by the King’s particular command, that is going to carry the Savoy Envoye over, and we fear there may be many Frenchmen there on board; and so I have a power and command to search for and seize all that have not passes from one of the Secretarys of State, and to bring them and their papers and everything else in custody some whither. So I to the Tower, and got a couple of musquetiers with me, and Griffen and my boy Tom and so down; and, being come, found none on board but two or three servants, looking to horses and doggs, there on board, and, seeing no more, I staid not long there, but away and on shore at Greenwich, the night being late and the tide against us; so, having sent before, to Mrs. Clerke’s and there I had a good bed, and well received, the whole people rising to see me, and among the rest young Mrs. Daniel, whom I kissed again and again alone, and so by and by to bed and slept pretty well…
our prison is built on war
contempt and piss
it accommodates whatever disturbance
the state troubles to eat
in my sleep I see
the whole people rising
see you whom I kissed
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 11 July 1666.
3. "on the tree of my finger"
on my desires
at the end
In response to Via Negativa: Microcosm.
Up, and to the office, where busy all the morning, sitting, and there presented Sir W. Coventry with my little book made up of Lovett’s varnished paper, which he and the whole board liked very well. At noon home to dinner and then to the office; the yarde being very full of women (I believe above three hundred) coming to get money for their husbands and friends that are prisoners in Holland; and they lay clamouring and swearing and cursing us, that my wife and I were afeard to send a venison-pasty that we have for supper to-night to the cook’s to be baked, for fear of their offering violence to it: but it went, and no hurt done. Then I took an opportunity, when they were all gone into the foreyarde, and slipt into the office and there busy all the afternoon, but by and by the women got into the garden, and come all to my closett window, and there tormented me, and I confess their cries were so sad for money, and laying down the condition of their families and their husbands, and what they have done and suffered for the King, and how ill they are used by us, and how well the Dutch are used here by the allowance of their masters, and what their husbands are offered to serve the Dutch abroad, that I do most heartily pity them, and was ready to cry to hear them, but cannot helpe them. However, when the rest were gone, I did call one to me that I heard complaine only and pity her husband and did give her some money, and she blessed me and went away.
Anon my business at the office being done I to the Tower to speak with Sir John Robinson about business, principally the bad condition of the pressed men for want of clothes, so it is represented from the fleete, and so to provide them shirts and stockings and drawers. Having done with him about that, I home and there find my wife and the two Mrs. Bateliers walking in the garden. I with them till almost 9 at night, and then they and we and Mrs. Mercer, the mother, and her daughter Anne, and our Mercer, to supper to a good venison-pasty and other good things, and had a good supper, and very merry, Mistresses Bateliers being both very good-humoured. We sang and talked, and then led them home, and there they made us drink; and, among other things, did show us, in cages, some birds brought from about Bourdeaux, that are all fat, and, examining one of them, they are so, almost all fat. Their name is [Ortolans], which are brought over to the King for him to eat, and indeed are excellent things.
We parted from them and so home to bed, it being very late, and to bed.
in the varnished yard of the prison
to the lip and the window
tormented by bad clothes
walking at night to our cages
birds that are all fat
mining for home
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 10 July 1666.
2. "two gardens one garden no garden"
i am waiting
for the shadows under the tree
to fold themselves into shapes
In response to Via Negativa: Microcosm.
Up betimes, and with Sir W. Pen in his coach to Westminster to Sir G. Downing’s, but missed of him, and so we parted, I by water home, where busy all the morning, at noon dined at home, and after Book of Bai Zedinner to my office, where busy till come to by Lovett and his wife, who have brought me some sheets of paper varnished on one side, which lies very white and smooth and, I think, will do our business most exactly, and will come up to the use that I intended them for, and I am apt to believe will be an invention that will take in the world. I have made up a little book of it to give Sir W. Coventry to-morrow, and am very well pleased with it.
Home with them, and there find my aunt Wight with my wife come to take her leave of her, being going for the summer into the country; and there was also Mrs. Mary Batelier and her sister, newly come out of France, a black, very black woman, but mighty good-natured people both, as ever I saw. Here I made the black one sing a French song, which she did mighty innocently; and then Mrs. Lovett play on the lute, which she do very well; and then Mercer and I sang; and so, with great pleasure, I left them, having shewed them my chamber, and 1000l. in gold, which they wondered at, and given them sweetmeats, and shewn my aunt Wight my father’s picture, which she admires.
So I left them and to the office, where Mr. Moore come to me and talking of my Lord’s family business tells me that Mr. Sheply is ignorantly, we all believe, mistaken in his accounts above 700l. more than he can discharge himself of, which is a mighty misfortune, poor man, and may undo him, and yet every body believes that he do it most honestly. I am troubled for him very much.
He gone, I hard at the office till night, then home to supper and to bed.
I miss home
where the sheets lie white and smooth
in the little book
of my bed
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 9 July 1666.
1. "the labyrinth within me
is a bomb"
how can it be
that this morning,
the crepe myrtle
is bursting with
In response to Via Negativa: Microcosm.
(Lord’s day). Up, and pretty well of my pain, so that it did not trouble me at all, and I do clearly find that my pain in my back was nothing but only accompanied my bruise in my stones.
To church, wife and Mercer and I, in expectation of hearing some mighty preacher to-day, Mrs. Mary Batelier sending us word so; but it proved our ordinary silly lecturer, which made me merry, and she laughed upon us to see her mistake.
At noon W. Hewer dined with us, and a good dinner, and I expected to have had newes sent me of Knipp’s christening to-day; but, hearing nothing of it, I did not go, though I fear it is but their forgetfulness and so I may disappoint them.
To church, after dinner, again, a thing I have not done a good while before, go twice in one day.
After church with my wife and Mercer and Tom by water through bridge to the Spring Garden at Fox Hall, and thence down to Deptford and there did a little business, and so back home and to bed.
my find was nothing but a stone
nothing but forgetfulness
and so to church to own
a little sin
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 8 July 1666.
Midway through summer, when crepe myrtle
blossoms are most profuse before they fall—
In the center of the house, there's no window from which
to view the torrent that unpins them before their fall.
Rain compounds its sums on the roof: brittle hail of
asterisks fragmenting at the core before their fall.
That's how we come into the world and also how we leave:
bright blush, loud cry, one last kiss before the fall.
Will you ease my coverlet, will you brush my hair
and fill my jars again with copper before I fall?
At the office all the morning, at noon dined at home and Creed with me, and after dinner he and I two or three hours in my chamber discoursing of the fittest way for a man to do that hath money, and find all he offers of turning some into gold and leaving some in a friend’s hand is nothing more than what I thought of myself, but is doubtful, as well as I, what is best to be done of all these or other ways to be thought on.
He tells me he finds all things mighty dull at Court; and that they now begin to lie long in bed; it being, as we suppose, not seemly for them to be found playing and gaming as they used to be; nor that their minds are at ease enough to follow those sports, and yet not knowing how to employ themselves (though there be work enough for their thoughts and councils and pains), they keep long in bed. But he thinks with me, that there is nothing in the world can helpe us but the King’s personal looking after his business and his officers, and that with that we may yet do well; but otherwise must be undone: nobody at this day taking care of any thing, nor hath any body to call him to account for it.
Thence left him and to my office all the afternoon busy, and in some pain in my back by some bruise or other I have given myself in my right testicle this morning, and the pain lies there and hath done, and in my back thereupon all this day.
At night into the garden to my wife and Lady Pen and Pegg, and Creed, who staid with them till to at night. My Lady Pen did give us a tarte and other things, and so broke up late and I to bed.
It proved the hottest night that ever I was in in my life, and thundered and lightened all night long and rained hard. But, Lord! to see in what fears I lay a good while, hearing of a little noise of somebody walking in the house: so rung the bell, and it was my mayds going to bed about one o’clock in the morning. But the fear of being robbed, having so much money in the house, was very great, and is still so, and do much disquiet me.
noon turning into a bruise
I have given myself
thin as thunder
or the fear of so much quiet
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 7 July 1666.