Light verses

(Lord’s day). Up by candle-light and on foote to White Hall, where by appointment I met Lord Bruncker at Sir W. Coventry’s chamber, and there I read over my great letter, and they approved it: and as I do do our business in defence of the Board, so I think it is as good a letter in the manner, and believe it is the worst in the matter of it, as ever come from any office to a Prince.
Back home in my Lord Bruncker’s coach, and there W. Hewer and I to write it over fair; dined at noon, and Mercer with us, and mighty merry, and then to finish my letter; and it being three o’clock ere we had done, when I come to Sir W. Batten; he was in a huffe, which I made light of, but he signed the letter, though he would not go, and liked the letter well. Sir W. Pen, it seems, he would not stay for it: so, making slight of Sir W. Pen’s putting so much weight upon his hand to Sir W. Batten, I down to the Tower Wharf, and there got a sculler, and to White Hall, and there met Lord Bruncker, and he signed it, and so I delivered it to Mr. Cheving, and he to Sir W. Coventry, in the cabinet, the King and councill being sitting, where I leave it to its fortune, and I by water home again, and to my chamber, to even my Journall; and then comes Captain Cocke to me, and he and I a great deal of melancholy discourse of the times, giving all over for gone, though now the Parliament will soon finish the Bill for money. But we fear, if we had it, as matters are now managed, we shall never make the best of it, but consume it all to no purpose or a bad one. He being gone, I again to my Journall and finished it, and so to supper and to bed.

light on a fence
I believe in the clock

light on the wharf
we consume to no purpose


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 18 November 1666.

Cloistered

Up, and to the office, where all the morning. At noon home to dinner, and in the afternoon shut myself in my chamber, and there till twelve at night finishing my great letter to the Duke of York, which do lay the ill condition of the Navy so open to him, that it is impossible if the King and he minds any thing of their business, but it will operate upon them to set all matters right, and get money to carry on the war, before it be too late, or else lay out for a peace upon any termes. It was a great convenience to-night that what I had writ foule in short hand, I could read to W. Hewer, and he take it fair in short hand, so as I can read it to-morrow to Sir W. Coventry, and then come home, and Hewer read it to me while I take it in long-hand to present, which saves me much time. So to bed.

where I shut myself in
the night lay open
that impossible hand

I read and read and read


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 17 November 1666.

Turkey day

Up again betimes to attend the examination of Mr. Gawden’s accounts, where we all met, but I did little but fit myself for the drawing my great letter to the Duke of York of the state of the Navy for want of money. At noon to the ‘Change, and thence back to the new taverne come by us; the Three Tuns, where D. Gawden did feast us all with a chine of beef and other good things, and an infinite dish of fowl, but all spoiled in the dressing.
This noon I met with Mr. Hooke, and he tells me the dog which was filled with another dog’s blood, at the College the other day, is very well, and like to be so as ever, and doubts not its being found of great use to men; and so do Dr. Whistler, who dined with us at the taverne. Thence home in the evening, and I to my preparing my letter, and did go a pretty way in it, staying late upon it, and then home to supper and to bed, the weather being on a sudden set in to be very cold.

I fit myself
for the wing of want

an infinite fowl
filled with blood and whistle

who dined with us at home
ate to be eaten


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 16 November 1666.

Post-natal

This come Mr. Shepley (newly out of the country) to see me; after a little discourse with him, I to the office, where we sat all the morning, and at noon home, and there dined, Shepley with me, and after dinner I did pay him 70l., which he had paid my father for my use in the country. He being gone, I took coach and to Mrs. Pierce’s, where I find her as fine as possible, and himself going to the ball at night at Court, it being the Queen’s birth-day, and so I carried them in my coach, and having set them into the house, and gotten Mr. Pierce to undertake the carrying in my wife, I to Unthanke’s, where she appointed to be, and there told her, and back again about business to White Hall, while Pierce went and fetched her and carried her in. I, after I had met with Sir W. Coventry and given him some account of matters, I also to the ball, and with much ado got up to the loft, where with much trouble I could see very well. Anon the house grew full, and the candles light, and the King and Queen and all the ladies set: and it was, indeed, a glorious sight to see Mrs. Stewart in black and white lace, and her head and shoulders dressed with dyamonds, and the like a great many great ladies more, only the Queen none; and the King in his rich vest of some rich silke and silver trimming, as the Duke of York and all the dancers were, some of cloth of silver, and others of other sorts, exceeding rich. Presently after the King was come in, he took the Queene, and about fourteen more couple there was, and began the Bransles. As many of the men as I can remember presently, were, the King, Duke of York, Prince Rupert, Duke of Monmouth, Duke of Buckingham, Lord Douglas, Mr. Hamilton, Colonell Russell, Mr. Griffith, Lord Ossory, Lord Rochester; and of the ladies, the Queene, Duchess of York, Mrs. Stewart, Duchess of Monmouth, Lady Essex Howard, Mrs. Temples, Swedes Embassadress, Lady Arlington; Lord George Barkeley’s daughter, and many others I remember not; but all most excellently dressed in rich petticoats and gowns, and dyamonds, and pearls.
After the Bransles, then to a Corant, and now and then a French dance; but that so rare that the Corants grew tiresome, that I wished it done. Only Mrs. Stewart danced mighty finely, and many French dances, specially one the King called the New Dance, which was very pretty; but upon the whole matter, the business of the dancing of itself was not extraordinary pleasing. But the clothes and sight of the persons was indeed very pleasing, and worth my coming, being never likely to see more gallantry while I live, if I should come twenty times.
About twelve at night it broke up, and I to hire a coach with much difficulty, but Pierce had hired a chair for my wife, and so she being gone to his house, he and I, taking up Barker at Unthanke’s, to his house, whither his wife was come home a good while ago and gone to bed. So away home with my wife, between displeased with the dull dancing, and satisfied at the clothes and persons. My Lady Castlemayne, without whom all is nothing, being there, very rich, though not dancing. And so after supper, it being very cold, to bed.

at my birth a ball of light
like some sort of pearl
danced in the hole of itself

I live with difficulty
it is dull without dancing
and so cold


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 15 November 1666.

High crimes

Up, and by water to White Hall, and thence to Westminster, where I bought several things, as a hone, ribbon, gloves, books, and then took coach and to Knipp’s lodging, whom I find not ready to go home with me. So I away to do a little business, among others to call upon Mr. Osborne for my Tangier warrant for the last quarter, and so to the Exchange for some things for my wife, and then to Knipp’s again, and there staid reading of Waller’s verses, while she finished dressing, her husband being by. I had no other pastime. Her lodging very mean, and the condition she lives in; yet makes a shew without doors, God bless us! I carried him along with us into the City, and set him down in Bishopsgate Street, and then home with her. She tells me how Smith, of the Duke’s house, hath killed a man upon a quarrel in play; which makes every body sorry, he being a good actor, and, they say, a good man, however this happens. The ladies of the Court do much bemoan him, she says. Here she and we alone at dinner to some good victuals, that we could not put off, that was intended for the great dinner of my Lord Hinchingbroke’s, if he had come. After dinner I to teach her my new recitative of “It is decreed,” of which she learnt a good part, and I do well like it and believe shall be well pleased when she hath it all, and that it will be found an agreeable thing. Then carried her home, and my wife and I intended to have seen my Lady Jemimah at White Hall, but the Exchange Streete was so full of coaches, every body, as they say, going thither to make themselves fine against tomorrow night, that, after half an hour’s stay, we could not do any [thing], only my wife to see her brother, and I to go speak one word with Sir G. Carteret about office business, and talk of the general complexion of matters, which he looks upon, as I do, with horrour, and gives us all for an undone people. That there is no such thing as a peace in hand, nor possibility of any without our begging it, they being as high, or higher, in their terms than ever, and tells me that, just now, my Lord Hollis had been with him, and wept to think in what a condition we are fallen. He shewed me my Lord Sandwich’s letter to him, complaining of the lack of money, which Sir G. Carteret is at a loss how in the world to get the King to supply him with, and wishes him, for that reason, here; for that he fears he will be brought to disgrace there, for want of supplies. He says the House is yet in a bad humour; and desiring to know whence it is that the King stirs not, he says he minds it not, nor will be brought to it, and that his servants of the House do, instead of making the Parliament better, rather play the rogue one with another, and will put all in fire. So that, upon the whole, we are in a wretched condition, and I went from him in full apprehensions of it. So took up my wife, her brother being yet very bad, and doubtful whether he will recover or no, and so to St. Ellen’s, and there sent my wife home, and myself to the Pope’s Head, where all the Houblons were, and Dr. Croone, and by and by to an exceeding pretty supper, excellent discourse of all sorts, and indeed are a set of the finest gentlemen that ever I met withal in my life. Here Dr. Croone told me, that, at the meeting at Gresham College to-night, which, it seems, they now have every Wednesday again, there was a pretty experiment of the blood of one dogg let out, till he died, into the body of another on one side, while all his own run out on the other side. The first died upon the place, and the other very well, and likely to do well. This did give occasion to many pretty wishes, as of the blood of a Quaker to be let into an Archbishop, and such like; but, as Dr. Croone says, may, if it takes, be of mighty use to man’s health, for the amending of bad blood by borrowing from a better body.
After supper, James Houblon and another brother took me aside and to talk of some businesses of their owne, where I am to serve them, and will, and then to talk of publique matters, and I do find that they and all merchants else do give over trade and the nation for lost, nothing being done with care or foresight, no convoys granted, nor any thing done to satisfaction; but do think that the Dutch and French will master us the next yeare, do what we can: and so do I, unless necessity makes the King to mind his business, which might yet save all.
Here we sat talking till past one in the morning, and then home, where my people sat up for me, my wife and all, and so to bed.

I bought love and took it
while she finished dressing
her husband being mean

God carried in a moan
like an undone possibility

without being high
how in the world do we croon

pretty discourse
pretty experiment

on the blood of the blood
from another brother
that they give over for lost


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 14 November 1666.

Remodeling

At the office all the morning, at noon home to dinner, and out to Bishopsgate Street, and there bought some drinking-glasses, a case of knives, and other things, against tomorrow, in expectation of my Lord Hinchingbroke’s coming to dine with me. So home, and having set some things in the way of doing, also against to-morrow, I to my office, there to dispatch business, and do here receive notice from my Lord Hinchingbroke that he is not well, and so not in condition to come to dine with me to-morrow, which I am not in much trouble for, because of the disorder my house is in, by the bricklayers coming to mend the chimney in my dining-room for smoking, which they were upon almost till midnight, and have now made it very pretty, and do carry smoke exceeding well.
This evening come all the Houblons to me, to invite me to sup with them to-morrow night.
I did take them home, and there we sat and talked a good while, and a glass of wine, and then parted till to-morrow night.
So at night, well satisfied in the alteration of my chimney, to bed.

drinking in
the disorder the bricklayers have made

to it to them a glass
of alteration


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 13 November 1666.

For what it’s worth, this is Via Negativa’s 10,000th published post.

Mob rule

Lay long in bed, and then up, and Mr. Carcasse brought me near 500 tickets to sign, which I did, and by discourse find him a cunning, confident, shrewd man, but one that I do doubt hath by his discourse of the ill will he hath got with my Lord Marquess of Dorchester (with whom he lived), he hath had cunning practices in his time, and would not now spare to use the same to his profit. That done I to the office; whither by and by comes Creed to me, and he and I walked in the garden a little, talking of the present ill condition of things, which is the common subject of all men’s discourse and fears now-a-days, and particularly of my Lady Denham, whom everybody says is poisoned, and he tells me she hath said it to the Duke of York; but is upon the mending hand, though the town says she is dead this morning. He and I to the ‘Change. There I had several little errands, and going to Sir R. Viner’s, I did get such a splash and spots of dirt upon my new vest, that I was out of countenance to be seen in the street. This day I received 450 pieces of gold more of Mr. Stokes, but cost me 22 1/2d. change; but I am well contented with it, — I having now near 2800l. in gold, and will not rest till I get full 3000l., and then will venture my fortune for the saving that and the rest.
Home to dinner, though Sir R. Viner would have staid us to dine with him, he being sheriffe; but, poor man, was so out of countenance that he had no wine ready to drink to us, his butler being out of the way, though we know him to be a very liberal man. And after dinner I took my wife out, intending to have gone and have seen my Lady Jemimah, at White Hall, but so great a stop there was at the New Exchange, that we could not pass in half an houre, and therefore ‘light and bought a little matter at the Exchange, and then home, and then at the office awhile, and then home to my chamber, and after my wife and all the mayds abed but Jane, whom I put confidence in — she and I, and my brother, and Tom, and W. Hewer, did bring up all the remainder of my money, and my plate-chest, out of the cellar, and placed the money in my study, with the rest, and the plate in my dressing-room; but indeed I am in great pain to think how to dispose of my money, it being wholly unsafe to keep it all in coin in one place. But now I have it all at my hand, I shall remember it better to think of disposing of it. This done, by one in the morning to bed.
This afternoon going towards Westminster, Creed and I did stop, the Duke of York being just going away from seeing of it, at Paul’s, and in the Convocation House Yard did there see the body of Robert Braybrooke, Bishop of London, that died 1404: He fell down in his tomb out of the great church into St. Fayth’s this late fire, and is here seen his skeleton with the flesh on; but all tough and dry like a spongy dry leather, or touchwood all upon his bones. His head turned aside. A great man in his time, and Lord Chancellor; and his skeletons now exposed to be handled and derided by some, though admired for its duration by others. Many flocking to see it.

the carcass
I live and walk in
is common as dirt

and poor
out of wine
out of the way
out of money
out of hand

I think of disposing of it
stop seeing it
this fire and flesh

but the bones turn
and expose me
for a flock


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 12 November 1666.

Deacon

(Lord’s day). Up, and to church, myself and wife, where the old dunce Meriton, brother to the known Meriton; of St. Martin’s, Westminster, did make a very good sermon, beyond my expectation. Home to dinner, and we carried in Pegg Pen, and there also come to us little Michell and his wife, and dined very pleasantly. Anon to church, my wife and I and Betty Michell, her husband being gone to Westminster. Here at church (God forgive me), my mind did courir upon Betty Michell, so that I do hazer con mi cosa in la eglisa meme. After church home, and I to my chamber, and there did finish the putting time to my song of “It is decreed,” and do please myself at last and think it will be thought a good song. By and by little Michell comes and takes away his wife home, and my wife and brother and I to my uncle Wight’s, where my aunt is grown so ugly and their entertainment so bad that I am in pain to be there; nor will go thither again a good while, if sent for, for we were sent for to-night, we had not gone else. Wooly’s wife, a silly woman, and not very handsome, but no spirit in her at all; and their discourse mean, and the fear of the troubles of the times hath made them not to bring their plate to town, since it was carried out upon the business of the fire, so that they drink in earth and a wooden can, which I do not like. So home, and my people to bed. I late to finish my song, and then to bed also, and the business of the firing of the city, and the fears we have of new troubles and violences, and the fear of fire among ourselves, did keep me awake a good while, considering the sad condition I and my family should be in. So at last to sleep.

brother to the known God
mind a haze of creed and ease

I grow ugly
in pain for some spirit
to drink

and wooden like the ears
we have in sleep


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 11 November 1666.

Signs of the times

Up and to the office, where Sir W. Coventry come to tell us that the Parliament did fall foul of our accounts again yesterday; and we must arme to have them examined, which I am sorry for: it will bring great trouble to me, and shame upon the office. My head full this morning how to carry on Captain Cocke’s bargain of hemp, which I think I shall by my dexterity do, and to the King’s advantage as well as my own. At noon with my Lord Bruncker and Sir Thomas Harvy, to Cocke’s house, and there Mrs. Williams and other company, and an excellent dinner. Mr. Temple’s wife; after dinner, fell to play on the harpsicon, till she tired everybody, that I left the house without taking leave, and no creature left standing by her to hear her. Thence I home and to the office, where late doing of business, and then home. Read an hour, to make an end of Potter’s Discourse of the Number 666, which I like all along, but his close is most excellent; and, whether it be right or wrong, is mighty ingenious. Then to supper and to bed.
This is the fatal day that every body hath discoursed for a long time to be the day that the Papists, or I know not who, had designed to commit a massacre upon; but, however, I trust in God we shall rise to-morrow morning as well as ever.
This afternoon Creed comes to me, and by him, as, also my Lady Pen, I hear that my Lady Denham is exceeding sick, even to death, and that she says, and every body else discourses, that she is poysoned; and Creed tells me, that it is said that there hath been a design to poison the King. What the meaning of all these sad signs is, the Lord knows; but every day things look worse and worse. God fit us for the worst!

I fall on the ice
at house number 666

the wrong bed is ours
for a long rust

tomorrow comes to me
and says that she is poison

that a sign is the meaning
of a sad god


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 10 November 1666.

Life cycle

Up and to the office, where did a good deale of business, and then at noon to the Exchange and to my little goldsmith’s, whose wife is very pretty and modest, that ever I saw any. Upon the ‘Change, where I seldom have of late been, I find all people mightily at a losse what to expect, but confusion and fears in every man’s head and heart. Whether war or peace, all fear the event will be bad. Thence home and with my brother to dinner, my wife being dressing herself against night; after dinner I to my closett all the afternoon, till the porter brought my vest back from the taylor’s, and then to dress myself very fine, about 4 or 5 o’clock, and by that time comes Mr. Batelier and Mercer, and away by coach to Mrs. Pierce’s, by appointment, where we find good company: a fair lady, my Lady Prettyman, Mrs. Corbet, Knipp; and for men, Captain Downing, Mr. Lloyd, Sir W. Coventry’s clerk, and one Mr. Tripp, who dances well. After some trifling discourse, we to dancing, and very good sport, and mightily pleased I was with the company. After our first bout of dancing, Knipp and I to sing, and Mercer and Captain Downing (who loves and understands musique) would by all means have my song of “Beauty, retire.” which Knipp had spread abroad; and he extols it above any thing he ever heard, and, without flattery, I know it is good in its kind. This being done and going to dance again, comes news that White Hall was on fire; and presently more particulars, that the Horse-guard was on fire; and so we run up to the garret, and find it so; a horrid great fire; and by and by we saw and heard part of it blown up with powder. The ladies begun presently to be afeard: one fell into fits. The whole town in an alarme. Drums beat and trumpets, and the guards every where spread, running up and down in the street. And I begun to have mighty apprehensions how things might be at home, and so was in mighty pain to get home, and that that encreased all is that we are in expectation, from common fame, this night, or to-morrow, to have a massacre, by the having so many fires one after another, as that in the City, and at same time begun in Westminster, by the Palace, but put out; and since in Southwarke, to the burning down some houses; and now this do make all people conclude there is something extraordinary in it; but nobody knows what. By and by comes news that the fire has slackened; so then we were a little cheered up again, and to supper, and pretty merry. But, above all, there comes in the dumb boy that I knew in Oliver’s time, who is mightily acquainted here, and with Downing; and he made strange signs of the fire, and how the King was abroad, and many things they understood, but I could not, which I wondering at, and discoursing with Downing about it, “Why,” says he, “it is only a little use, and you will understand him, and make him understand you with as much ease as may be.” So I prayed him to tell him that I was afeard that my coach would be gone, and that he should go down and steal one of the seats out of the coach and keep it, and that would make the coachman to stay. He did this, so that the dumb boy did go down, and, like a cunning rogue, went into the coach, pretending to sleep; and, by and by, fell to his work, but finds the seats nailed to the coach. So he did all he could, but could not do it; however, stayed there, and stayed the coach till the coachman’s patience was quite spent, and beat the dumb boy by force, and so went away. So the dumb boy come up and told him all the story, which they below did see all that passed, and knew it to be true. After supper, another dance or two, and then newes that the fire is as great as ever, which put us all to our wit’s-end; and I mightily [anxious] to go home, but the coach being gone, and it being about ten at night, and rainy dirty weather, I knew not what to do; but to walk out with Mr. Batelier, myself resolving to go home on foot, and leave the women there. And so did; but at the Savoy got a coach, and come back and took up the women; and so, having, by people come from the fire, understood that the fire was overcome, and all well, we merrily parted, and home. Stopped by several guards and constables quite through the town, round the wall, as we went, all being in armes. We got well home; and in the way I did con mi mano tocar la jambe de Mercer sa chair. Elle retirait sa jambe modestement, but I did tocar sa peau with my naked hand. And the truth is, la fille hath something that is assez jolie. Being come home, we to cards, till two in the morning, and drinking lamb’s-wool. So to bed.

a fire on fire
blown up into uncommon fame

fire in the people
something nobody knows

fire under our own seats
pretending to sleep

fire gone out on foot
naked and thin


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 9 November 1666.