The ghost of Christmas present

Up, and to the office, where all the morning, and then by coach to Arundel House, to the election of Officers for the next year; where I was near being chosen of the Council, but am glad I was not, for I could not have attended, though, above all things, I could wish it; and do take it as a mighty respect to have been named there. The company great, and the elections long, and then to Cary House, a house now of entertainment, next my Lord Ashly’s; and there, where I have heretofore heard Common Prayer in the time of Dr. Mossum, we after two hours’ stay, sitting at the table with our napkins open, had our dinners brought, but badly done. But here was good company. I choosing to sit next Dr. Wilkins, Sir George Ent, and others whom I value, there talked of several things. Among others Dr. Wilkins, talking of the universal speech, of which he hath a book coming out, did first inform me how man was certainly made for society, he being of all creatures the least armed for defence, and of all creatures in the world the young ones are not able to do anything to help themselves, nor can find the dug without being put to it, but would die if the mother did not help it; and, he says, were it not for speech man would be a very mean creature. Much of this good discourse we had. But here, above all, I was pleased to see the person who had his blood taken out. He speaks well, and did this day give the Society a relation thereof in Latin, saying that he finds himself much better since, and as a new man, but he is cracked a little in his head, though he speaks very reasonably, and very well. He had but 20s. for his suffering it, and is to have the same again tried upon him: the first sound man that ever had it tried on him in England, and but one that we hear of in France, which was a porter hired by the virtuosos. Here all the afternoon till within night. Then I took coach and to the Exchange, where I was to meet my wife, but she was gone home, and so I to Westminster Hall, and there took a turn or two, but meeting with nobody to discourse with, returned to Cary House, and there stayed and saw a pretty deception of the sight by a glass with water poured into it, with a stick standing up with three balls of wax upon it, one distant from the other. How these balls did seem double and disappear one after another, mighty pretty! Here Mr. Carcasse did come to me, and brought first Mr. Colwall, our Treasurer, and then Dr. Wilkins to engage me to be his friend, and himself asking forgiveness and desiring my friendship, saying that the Council have now ordered him to be free to return to the Office to be employed. I promised him my friendship, and am glad of this occasion, having desired it; for there is nobody’s ill tongue that I fear like his, being a malicious and cunning bold fellow. Thence, paying our shot, 6s. apiece, I home, and there to the office and wrote my letters, and then home, my eyes very sore with yesterday’s work, and so home and tried to make a piece by my eare and viall to “I wonder what the grave,” &c., and so to supper and to bed, where frighted a good while and my wife again with noises, and my wife did rise twice, but I think it was Sir John Minnes’s people again late cleaning their house, for it was past 1 o’clock in the morning before we could fall to sleep, and so slept. But I perceive well what the care of money and treasure in a man’s house is to a man that fears to lose it.
My Lord Anglesey told me this day that he did believe the House of Commons would, the next week, yield to the Lords; but, speaking with others this day, they conclude they will not, but that rather the King will accommodate it by committing my Lord Clarendon himself. I remember what Mr. Evelyn said, that he did believe we should soon see ourselves fall into a Commonwealth again. Joseph Williamson I find mighty kind still, but close, not daring to say anything almost that touches upon news or state of affairs.

above all things I wish
to sit at the table with napkins open
talking in the mother tongue of wonder

and so be righted again
with my wife leaning into sleep
and the treasure of touch

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 30 November 1667.

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