Radical openness

Up by five o’clock; and, blessed be God! find all well, and by water to Paul’s Wharfe. Walked thence, and saw, all the towne burned, and a miserable sight of Paul’s church; with all the roofs fallen, and the body of the quire fallen into St. Fayth’s; Paul’s school also, Ludgate, and Fleet-street, my father’s house, and the church, and a good part of the Temple the like. So to Creed’s lodging, near the New Exchange, and there find him laid down upon a bed; the house all unfurnished, there being fears of the fire’s coming to them. There borrowed a shirt of him, and washed. To Sir W. Coventry, at St. James’s, who lay without curtains, having removed all his goods; as the King at White Hall, and every body had done, and was doing. He hopes we shall have no publique distractions upon this fire, which is what every body fears, because of the talke of the French having a hand in it. And it is a proper time for discontents; but all men’s minds are full of care to protect themselves, and save their goods: the militia is in armes every where. Our fleetes, he tells me, have been in sight one of another, and most unhappily by fowle weather were parted, to our great losse, as in reason they do conclude; the Dutch being come out only to make a shew, and please their people; but in very bad condition as to stores; victuals, and men. They are at Bullen; and our fleete come to St. Ellen’s. We have got nothing, but have lost one ship, but he knows not what.
Thence to the Swan, and there drank: and so home, and find all well. My Lord Bruncker, at Sir W. Batten’s, and tells us the Generall is sent for up, to come to advise with the King about business at this juncture, and to keep all quiet; which is great honour to him, but I am sure is but a piece of dissimulation. So home, and did give orders for my house to be made clean; and then down to Woolwich, and there find all well. Dined, and Mrs. Markham come to see my wife. So I up again, and calling at Deptford for some things of W. Hewer’s, he being with me, and then home and spent the evening with Sir R. Ford, Mr. Knightly, and Sir W. Pen at Sir W. Batten’s. This day our Merchants first met at Gresham College, which, by proclamation, is to be their Exchange. Strange to hear what is bid for houses all up and down here; a friend of Sir W. Rider’s: having 150l. for what he used to let for 40l. per annum. Much dispute where the Custome-house shall be thereby the growth of the City again to be foreseen. My Lord Treasurer, they say, and others; would have it at the other end of the towne. I home late to Sir W. Pen’s, who did give me a bed; but without curtains or hangings, all being down. So here I went the first time into a naked bed, only my drawers on; and did sleep pretty well: but still hath sleeping and waking had a fear of fire in my heart, that I took little rest. People do all the world over cry out of the simplicity of my Lord Mayor in generall; and more particularly in this business of the fire, laying it all upon him. A proclamation1 is come out for markets to be kept at Leadenhall and Mileendgreene, and several other places about the towne; and Tower-hill, and all churches to be set open to receive poor people.

roof fallen in
like a borrowed hope

the owl only knows
what this quiet is for

and what to let grow
in a naked bed


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 7 September 1666.

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