Snow swan

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Early came Mr. Vanly to me for his half-year’s rent, which I had not in the house, but took his man to the office and there paid him. Then I went down into the Hall and to Will’s, where Hawly brought a piece of his Cheshire cheese, and we were merry with it. Then into the Hall again, where I met with the Clerk and Quarter Master of my Lord’s troop, and took them to the Swan and gave them their morning’s draft, they being just come to town. Mr. Jenkins shewed me two bills of exchange for money to receive upon my Lord’s and my pay. It snowed hard all this morning, and was very cold, and my nose was much swelled with cold. Strange the difference of men’s talk! Some say that Lambert must of necessity yield up; others, that he is very strong, and that the Fifth-monarchy-men [will] stick to him, if he declares for a free Parliament. Chillington was sent yesterday to him with the vote of pardon and indemnity from the Parliament.
From the Hall I came home, where I found letters from Hinchingbroke and news of Mr. Sheply’s going thither the next week. I dined at home, and from thence went to Will’s to Shaw, who promised me to go along with me to Atkinson’s about some money, but I found him at cards with Spicer and D. Vines, and could not get him along with me. I was vext at this, and went and walked in the Hall, where I heard that the Parliament spent this day in fasting and prayer; and in the afternoon came letters from the North, that brought certain news that my Lord Lambert his forces were all forsaking him, and that he was left with only fifty horse, and that he did now declare for the Parliament himself; and that my Lord Fairfax did also rest satisfied, and had laid down his arms, and that what he had done was only to secure the country against my Lord Lambert his raising of money, and free quarter.
I went to Will’s again, where I found them still at cards, and Spicer had won 14s. of Shaw and Vines.
Then I spent a little time with G. Vines and Maylard at Vines’s at our viols.
So home, and from thence to Mr. Hunt’s, and sat with them and Mr. Hawly at cards till ten at night, and was much made of by them.
Home and so to bed, but much troubled with my nose, which was much swelled.

swan in the snow
nose as cold as news
from the north

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 4 January 1669.

Card players

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I went out in the morning, it being a great frost, and walked to Mrs. Turner’s to stop her from coming to see me to-day, because of Mrs. Jem’s coming, thence I went to the Temple to speak with Mr. Calthrop, and walked in his chamber an hour, but could not see him, so went to Westminster, where I found soldiers in my office to receive money, and paid it them. At noon went home, where Mrs. Jem, her maid, Mr. Sheply, Hawly, and Moore dined with me on a piece of beef and cabbage, and a collar of brawn. We then fell to cards till dark, and then I went home with Mrs. Jem, and meeting Mr. Hawly got him to bear me company to Chancery Lane, where I spoke with Mr. Calthrop, he told me that Sir James Calthrop was lately dead, but that he would write to his Lady, that the money may be speedily paid. Thence back to White Hall, where I understood that the Parliament had passed the act for indemnity to the soldiers and officers that would come in, in so many days, and that my Lord Lambert should have benefit of the said act. They had also voted that all vacancies in the House, by the death of any of the old members, shall be filled up; but those that are living shall not be called in. Thence I went home, and there found Mr. Hunt and his wife, and Mr. Hawly, who sat with me till ten at night at cards, and so broke up and to bed.

o great frost
turn us into ice
dark and old as soldiers

so many days
have vacancies
that are not in the cards

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 3 January 1669.

Unhoused

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Up, at the office all the morning, and at noon home to dinner, where I find my cabinet come home, and paid for it, and it pleases me and my wife well. So after dinner busy late at the office, and so home and to bed.

no home where
I find my home

and a well
of ice

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 2 January 1669.

Moonshine

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and presented from Captain Beckford with a noble silver warming-pan, which I am doubtful whether to take or no. Up, and with W. Hewer to the New Exchange, and then he and I to the cabinet-shops, to look out, and did agree, for a cabinet to give my wife for a New-year’s gift; and I did buy one cost me 11l., which is very pretty, of walnutt-tree, and will come home to-morrow. So back to the old Exchange, and there met my uncle Wight; and there walked, and met with the Houblons, and talked with them — gentlemen whom I honour mightily: and so to my uncle’s, and met my wife; and there, with W. Hewer, we dined with our family, and had a very good dinner, and pretty merry and after dinner, my wife and I with our coach to the King’s playhouse, and there in a box saw “The Mayden Queene.” Knepp looked upon us, but I durst not shew her any countenance; and, as well as I could carry myself, I found my wife uneasy there, poor wretch! therefore, I shall avoid that house as much as I can. So back to my aunt’s, and there supped and talked, and staid pretty late, it being dry and moonshine, and so walked home, and to bed in very good humour.

silver in a tree

the old men look upon an uneasy void

that dry moonshine

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 1 January 1669.

Free eBook: The Hidden Poems of Samuel Pepys, 1668

Samuel Pepys' bookplate

Download and enjoy.

As with the other volumes in this series, I ignored the ambiguity in Pepys’ day about when the year actually began due to the messy, slow conversion to the modern calendar. 1668 sees major political shake-ups in the Naval Office with Pepys gaining in power at the expense of the aristocratic deadwood (including his neighbor William Penn). At the same time, his philandering finally catches up with him, and Elizabeth uses his fear of a public denunciation and separation to bring him very much to heel. And he complains more and more about eye strain, which will lead him to abandon the diary part way through the next year.

Which doesn’t necessarily mean that the erasure project will conclude in 2022, because I still need to go back and re-do the first year and half, which was pretty inconsistent at best, and then gather the first four years into eBook collections. When all that’s done, it might finally be time for a “best of” selection with a proper publisher. (If any editors are interested, do reach out.)

If you missed any of the previous eBooks, they’re all linked at the top of the erasure project page.

Dave leaning on a bust of Samuel Pepys
Sam I am?

The last shall be first

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and at the Office all the morning. At noon Capt. Ferrers and Mr. Sheres come to me to dinner, who did, and pretty pleased with their talk of Spayne; but my wife did not come down, I suppose because she would not, Captain Ferrers being there, to oblige me by it. They gone, after dinner, I to the office, and then in the evening home, being the last day of the year, to endeavour to pay all bills and servants’ wages, &c., which I did almost to 5l. that I know that I owe in the world, but to the publique; and so with great pleasure to supper and to bed, and, blessed be God! the year ends, after some late very great sorrow with my wife by my folly, yet ends, I say, with great mutual peace and content, and likely to last so by my care, who am resolved to enjoy the sweet of it, which I now possess, by never giving her like cause of trouble. My greatest trouble is now from the backwardness of my accounts, which I have not seen the bottom of now near these two years, so that I know not in what condition I am in the world, but by the grace of God, as far as my eyes will give me leave, I will do it.

suppose one evening
the world ends

like a sweet
which I now possess

from the backwardness
of I know not what god

as far as my eyes
will give me leave

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 31 December 1668.

Autotoxicity

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and vexed a little to be forced to pay 40s. for a glass of my coach, which was broke the other day, nobody knows how, within the door, while it was down; but I do doubt that I did break it myself with my knees. After dinner, my wife and I to the Duke’s playhouse, and there did see King Harry the Eighth; and was mightily pleased, better than I ever expected, with the history and shows of it. We happened to sit by Mr. Andrews, our neighbour, and his wife, who talked so fondly to his little boy. Thence my wife and I to the ’Change; but, in going, our neere horse did fling himself, kicking of the coachbox over the pole; and a great deal of trouble it was to get him right again, and we forced to ’light, and in great fear of spoiling the horse, but there was no hurt. So to the ’Change, and then home, and there spent the evening talking, and so to supper and to bed.

I broke the other
within myself

the expected
story of a boy

a near horse
a fear horse

but there was no hurt
in talking

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 30 December 1668.

Noise cancelling

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and at the Office all the morning, and at noon to dinner, and there, by a pleasant mistake, find my uncle and aunt Wight, and three more of their company, come to dine with me to-day, thinking that they had been invited, which they were not; but yet we did give them a pretty good dinner, and mighty merry at the mistake. They sat most of the afternoon with us, and then parted, and my wife and I out, thinking to have gone to a play, but it was too far begun, and so to the ’Change, and there she and I bought several things, and so home, with much pleasure talking, and then to reading, and so to supper and to bed.

the morning din
is lean company

with the mist gone
too far
to change things

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 29 December 1668.

Diminuendo

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, called up by drums and trumpets; these things and boxes having cost me much money this Christmas already, and will do more. My wife down by water to see her mother, and I with W. Hewer all day together in my closet making some advance in the settling of my accounts, which have been so long unevened that it troubles me how to set them right, having not the use of my eyes to help me. My wife at night home, and tells me how much her mother prays for me and is troubled for my eyes; and I am glad to have friendship with them, and believe they are truly glad to see their daughter come to live so well as she do. So spent the night in talking, and so to supper and to bed.

drums and trumpets
all together in my closet
settling in for
the night

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 28 December 1668.

Bodies

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Walked to White Hall and there saw the King at chapel; but staid not to hear anything, but went to walk in the Park, with W. Hewer, who was with me; and there, among others, met with Sir G. Downing, and walked with him an hour, talking of business, and how the late war was managed, there being nobody to take care of it, and telling how, when he was in Holland, what he offered the King to do, if he might have power, and they would give him power, and then, upon the least word, perhaps of a woman, to the King, he was contradicted again, and particularly to the loss of all that we lost in Guinny. He told me that he had so good spies, that he hath had the keys taken out of De Witt’s pocket when he was a-bed, and his closet opened, and papers brought to him, and left in his hands for an hour, and carried back and laid in the place again, and keys put into his pocket again. He says that he hath always had their most private debates, that have been but between two or three of the chief of them, brought to him in an hour after, and an hour after that, hath sent word thereof to the King, but nobody here regarded them. But he tells me the sad news, that he is out of all expectations that ever the debts of the Navy will be paid, if the Parliament do not enable the King to do it by money; all they can hope for to do out of the King’s revenue being but to keep our wheels a-going on present services, and, if they can, to cut off the growing interest: which is a sad story, and grieves me to the heart.
So home, my coach coming for me, and there find Balty and Mr. How, who dined with me; and there my wife and I fell out a little about the foulness of the linen of the table, but were friends presently, but she cried, poor heart! which I was troubled for, though I did not give her one hard word.
Dinner done, she to church, and W. How and I all the afternoon talking together about my Lord Sandwich’s suffering his business of the prizes to be managed by Sir R. Cuttance, who is so deep in the business, more than my Lord knows of, and such a loggerhead, and under such prejudice, that he will, we doubt, do my Lord much wrong. In the evening, he gone, my wife to read to me and talk, and spent the evening with much pleasure, and so to supper and to bed.

body of land
lost as a hand
in a pocket

body of debt
able to keep wheels going
in the heart

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 27 December 1668.