Retirement

(Lord’s day). Up, and with Sir W. Batten and [Sir] W. Pen to White Hall, and there to Sir W. Coventry’s chamber, and there staid till he was ready, talking, and among other things of the Prince’s being trepanned, which was in doing just as we passed through the Stone Gallery, we asking at the door of his lodgings, and were told so. We are all full of wishes for the good success; though I dare say but few do really concern ourselves for him in our hearts. Up to the Duke of York, and with him did our business we come about, and among other things resolve upon a meeting at the office to-morrow morning, Sir W. Coventry to be there to determine of all things necessary for the setting of Sir W. Pen to work in his Victualling business. This did awake in me some thoughts of what might in discourse fall out touching my imployment, and did give me some apprehension of trouble. Having done here, and after our laying our necessities for money open to the Duke of York, but nothing obtained concerning it, we parted, and I with others into the House, and there hear that the work is done to the Prince in a few minutes without any pain at all to him, he not knowing when it was done. It was performed by Moulins. Having cut the outward table, as they call it, they find the inner all corrupted, so as it come out without any force; and their fear is, that the whole inside of his head is corrupted like that, which do yet make them afeard of him; but no ill accident appeared in the doing of the thing, but all with all imaginable success, as Sir Alexander Frazier did tell me himself, I asking him, who is very kind to me. I to the Chapel a little, but hearing nothing did take a turn into the Park, and then back to Chapel and heard a very good Anthem to my heart’s delight, and then to Sir G. Carteret’s to dinner, and before dinner did walk with him alone a good while, and from him hear our case likely for all these acts to be bad for money, which troubles me, the year speeding so fast, and he tells me that he believes the Duke of York will go to sea with the fleete, which I am sorry for in respect to his person, but yet there is no person in condition to command the fleete, now the Captains are grown so great, but him, it being impossible for anybody else but him to command any order or discipline among them. He tells me there is nothing at all in the late discourse about my Lord Sandwich and the French Embassador meeting and contending for the way, which I wonder at, to see the confidence of report without any ground. By and by to dinner, where very good company. Among other discourse, we talked much of Nostradamus his prophecy of these times, and the burning of the City of London, some of whose verses are put into Booker’s Almanack this year; and Sir G. Carteret did tell a story, how at his death he did make the town swear that he should never be dug up, or his tomb opened, after he was buried; but they did after sixty years do it, and upon his breast they found a plate of brasse, saying what a wicked and unfaithful people the people of that place were, who after so many vows should disturb and open him such a day and year and hour; which, if true, is very strange. Then we fell to talking of the burning of the City; and my Lady Carteret herself did tell us how abundance of pieces of burnt papers were cast by the wind as far as Cranborne; and among others she took up one, or had one brought her to see, which was a little bit of paper that had been printed, whereon there remained no more nor less than these words: “Time is, it is done.” After dinner I went and took a turn into the Park, and then took boat and away home, and there to my chamber and to read, but did receive some letters from Sir W. Coventry, touching the want of victuals to Kempthorne’s fleete going to the Streights and now in the Downes: which did trouble me, he saying that this disappointment might prove fatal; and the more, because Sir W. Coventry do intend to come to the office upon business to-morrow morning, and I shall not know what answer to give him. This did mightily trouble my mind; however, I fell to read a little in Hakewill’s Apology, and did satisfy myself mighty fair in the truth of the saying that the world do not grow old at all, but is in as good condition in all respects as ever it was as to nature. I continued reading this book with great pleasure till supper, and then to bed sooner than ordinary, for rising betimes in the morning to-morrow. So after reading my usual vows to bed, my mind full of trouble against to-morrow, and did not sleep any good time of the night for thoughts of to-morrow morning’s trouble.

we pass through stone
asking for things to touch

employment done
our work is on the wing

the hole inside is like a tomb
opened after years of faith

and there remained no more
than these words

let me not grow old


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 3 February 1667.

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