Pepys Diary erasure project

Up, and being mightily pleased with my night’s lodging, drank a cup of beer, and went out to my office, and there did some business, and so took boat and down to Woolwich (having first made a visit to Madam Williams, who is going down to my Lord Bruncker) and there dined, and then fitted my papers and money and every thing else for a journey to Nonsuch to-morrow. That being done I walked to Greenwich, and there to the office pretty late expecting Captain Cocke’s coming, which he did, and so with me to my new lodging (and there I chose rather to lie because of my interest in the goods that we have brought there to lie), but the people were abed, so we knocked them up, and so I to bed, and in the night was mightily troubled with a looseness (I suppose from some fresh damp linen that I put on this night), and feeling for a chamber-pott, there was none, I having called the mayde up out of her bed, she had forgot I suppose to put one there; so I was forced in this strange house to rise and shit in the chimney twice; and so to bed and was very well again, and…

I drank a beer and went off
on everything

no one expecting me
to lie to the people

I was loose
I put on feeling

called up for this strange use
to shit in the well


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 28 September 1665.

Up, and saw and admired my wife’s picture of our Saviour, now finished, which is very pretty. So by water to Greenwich, where with Creed and Lord Rutherford, and there my Lord told me that he would give me 100l. for my pains, which pleased me well, though Creed, like a cunning rogue, hath got a promise of half of it from me. We to the King’s Head, the great musique house, the first time I was ever there, and had a good breakfast, and thence parted, I being much troubled to hear from Creed, that he was told at Salsbury that I am come to be a great swearer and drinker, though I know the contrary; but, Lord! to see how my late little drinking of wine is taken notice of by envious men to my disadvantage. I thence to Captain Cocke’s, [and] (he not yet come from town) to Mr. Evelyn’s, where much company; and thence in his coach with him to the Duke of Albemarle by Lambeth, who was in a mighty pleasant humour; there the Duke tells us that the Dutch do stay abroad, and our fleet must go out again, or to be ready to do so. Here we got several things ordered as we desired for the relief of the prisoners, and sick and wounded men. Here I saw this week’s Bill of Mortality, wherein, blessed be God! there is above 1800 decrease, being the first considerable decrease we have had.
Back again the same way and had most excellent discourse of Mr. Evelyn touching all manner of learning; wherein I find him a very fine gentleman, and particularly of paynting, in which he tells me the beautifull Mrs. Middleton is rare, and his own wife do brave things. He brought me to the office, whither comes unexpectedly Captain Cocke, who hath brought one parcel of our goods by waggons, and at first resolved to have lodged them at our office; but then the thoughts of its being the King’s house altered our resolution, and so put them at his friend’s, Mr. Glanvill’s, and there they are safe. Would the rest of them were so too! In discourse, we come to mention my profit, and he offers me 500l. clear, and I demand 600l. for my certain profit. We part to-night, and I lie there at Mr. Glanvill’s house, there being none there but a maydeservant and a young man; being in some pain, partly from not knowing what to do in this business, having a mind to be at a certainty in my profit, and partly through his having Jacke sicke still, and his blackemore now also fallen sicke. So he being gone, I to bed.

no creed
pleased me like music

though my own road
is a wound

I saw mortality touching all things
but the night

not knowing is an art—
a black one


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 27 September 1665.

Up by five o’clock and got post horses and so set out for Greenwich, calling and drinking at Dartford. Being come to Greenwich and shifting myself I to the office, from whence by and by my Lord Bruncker and Sir J. Minnes set out toward Erith to take charge of the two East India shipps, which I had a hand in contriving for the King’s service and may do myself a good office too thereby. I to dinner with Mr. Wright to his father-in-law in Greenwich, one of the most silly, harmless, prating old men that ever I heard in my life. Creed dined with me, and among other discourses got of me a promise of half that he could get my Lord Rutherford to give me upon clearing his business, which should not be less, he says, than 50l. for my half, which is a good thing, though cunningly got of him. By and by Luellin comes, and I hope to get something of Deering shortly. They being gone, Mr. Wright and I went into the garden to discourse with much trouble for fear of losing all the profit and principal of what we have laid out in buying of prize goods, and therefore puts me upon thoughts of flinging up my interest, but yet I shall take good advice first. Thence to the office, and after some letters down to Woolwich, where I have not lain with my wife these eight days I think, or more. After supper, and telling her my mind in my trouble in what I have done as to buying of these goods, we to bed.

green ink at the office

life should not be less
than half hope

deer in the garden

a letter to my wife
telling her my mind


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 26 September 1665.

Found ourselves come to the fleete, and so aboard the Prince; and there, after a good while in discourse, we did agree a bargain of 5,000l. with Sir Roger Cuttance for my Lord Sandwich for silk, cinnamon, nutmeggs, and indigo. And I was near signing to an undertaking for the payment of the whole sum; but I did by chance escape it; having since, upon second thoughts, great cause to be glad of it, reflecting upon the craft and not good condition, it may be, of Captain Cocke.
I could get no trifles for my wife. Anon to dinner and thence in great haste to make a short visit to Sir W. Pen, where I found them and his lady and daughter and many commanders at dinner. Among others Sir G. Askue, of whom whatever the matter is, the world is silent altogether. But a very pretty dinner there was, and after dinner Sir W. Pen made a bargain with Cocke for ten bales of silke, at 16s. per lb., which, as Cocke says, will be a good pennyworth, and so away to the Prince and presently comes my Lord on board from Greenwich, with whom, after a little discourse about his trusting of Cocke, we parted and to our yacht; but it being calme, we to make haste, took our wherry toward Chatham; but, it growing darke, we were put to great difficultys, our simple, yet confident waterman, not knowing a step of the way; and we found ourselves to go backward and forward, which, in the darke night and a wild place, did vex us mightily. At last we got a fisher boy by chance, and took him into the boat, and being an odde kind of boy, did vex us too; for he would not answer us aloud when we spoke to him, but did carry us safe thither, though with a mistake or two; but I wonder they were not more. In our way I was [surprised] and so were we all, at the strange nature of the sea-water in a darke night, that it seemed like fire upon every stroke of the oare, and, they say, is a sign of winde. We went to the Crowne Inne, at Rochester, and there to supper, and made ourselves merry with our poor fisher-boy, who told us he had not been in a bed in the whole seven years since he came to ‘prentice, and hath two or three more years to serve. After eating something, we in our clothes to bed.

found ourselves in eggs
silent together

we were simple
not knowing the way

found ourselves to go backward and forward
wild as the sea

it seemed like fire
upon every stroke

the crow made us
whole


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 25 September 1665.

(Lord’s day). Waked, and up and drank, and then to discourse; and then being about Grayes, and a very calme, curious morning, we took our wherry, and to the fishermen, and bought a great deal of fine fish, and to Gravesend to White’s, and had part of it dressed; and, in the meantime, we to walk about a mile from the towne, and so back again; and there, after breakfast, one of our watermen told us he had heard of a bargain of cloves for us, and we went to a blind alehouse at the further end wretched dirty seamen, who, of the towne to a couple of poor wretches, had got together about 37 lb. of cloves and to 10 of nutmeggs, and we bought them of them, the first at 5s. 6d. per lb. and the latter at 4s.; and paid them in gold; but, Lord! to see how silly these men are in the selling of it, and easily to be persuaded almost to anything, offering a bag to us to pass as 20 lbs. of cloves, which upon weighing proved 25 lbs. But it would never have been allowed by my conscience to have wronged the poor wretches, who told us how dangerously they had got some, and dearly paid for the rest of these goods.
This being done we with great content herein on board again and there Captain Cocke and I to discourse of our business, but he will not yet be open to me, nor am I to him till I hear what he will say and do with Sir Roger Cuttance. However, this discourse did do me good, and got me a copy of the agreement made the other day on board for the parcel of Mr. Pierce and Sir Roger Cuttance, but this great parcel is of my Lord Sandwich’s.
By and by to dinner about 3 o’clock and then I in the cabbin to writing down my journall for these last seven days to my great content, it having pleased God that in this sad time of the plague every thing else has conspired to my happiness and pleasure more for these last three months than in all my life before in so little time. God long preserve it and make me thankful for it! After finishing my Journal), then to discourse and to read, and then to supper and to bed, my mind not being at full ease, having not fully satisfied myself how Captain Cocke will deal with me as to the share of the profits.

fine fish
from a wretched dirty sea

we bought four
easily persuaded almost to anything

offer us love
but never science

wrong the poor but make me thankful
for being at ease


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 24 September 1665.

Up, and to my Lord Sandwich, who did advise alone with me how far he might trust Captain Cocke in the business of the prize-goods, my Lord telling me that he hath taken into his hands 2 or 3000l. value of them: it being a good way, he says, to get money, and afterwards to get the King’s allowance thereof, it being easier, he observes, to keepe money when got of the King than to get it when it is too late. I advised him not to trust Cocke too far, and did therefore offer him ready money for a 1000l. or two, which he listens to and do agree to, which is great joy to me, hoping thereby to get something!
Thence by coach to Lambeth, his Lordship, and all our office, and Mr. Evelyn, to the Duke of Albemarle, where, after the compliment with my Lord very kind, we sat down to consult of the disposing and supporting of the fleete with victuals and money, and for the sicke men and prisoners; and I did propose the taking out some goods out of the prizes, to the value of 10,000l., which was accorded to, and an order, drawn up and signed by the Duke and my Lord, done in the best manner I can, and referred to my Lord Bruncker and Sir J. Minnes, but what inconveniences may arise from it I do not yet see, but fear there may be many.
Here we dined, and I did hear my Lord Craven whisper, as he is mightily possessed with a good opinion of me, much to my advantage, which my good Lord did second, and anon my Lord Craven did speak publiquely of me to the Duke, in the hearing of all the rest; and the Duke did say something of the like advantage to me; I believe, not much to the satisfaction of my brethren; but I was mightily joyed at it.
Thence took leave, leaving my Lord Sandwich to go visit the Bishop of Canterbury, and I and Sir W. Batten down to the Tower, where he went further by water, and I home, and among other things took out all my gold to carry along with me to-night with Captain Cocke downe to the fleete, being 180l. and more, hoping to lay out that and a great deal more to good advantage.
Thence down to Greenwich to the office, and there wrote several letters, and so to my Lord Sandwich, and mighty merry and he mighty kind to me in the face of all, saying much in my favour, and after supper I took leave and with Captain Cocke set out in the yacht about ten o’clock at night, and after some discourse, and drinking a little, my mind full of what we are going about and jealous of Cocke’s outdoing me. So to sleep upon beds brought by Cocke on board mighty handsome, and never slept better than upon this bed upon the floor in the Cabbin.

who to trust or listen to
where to consult
prisoners whisper publicly
like water in the night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 23 September 1665.

Up betimes and to the office, meaning to have entered my last 5 or 6 days’ Journall, but was called away by my Lord Bruncker and Sir J. Minnes, and to Blackwall, there to look after the storehouses in order to the laying of goods out of the East India ships when they shall be unloaden. That being done, we into Johnson’s house, and were much made of, eating and drinking. But here it is observable what he tells us, that in digging his late Docke, he did 12 foot under ground find perfect trees over-covered with earth. Nut trees, with the branches and the very nuts upon them; some of whose nuts he showed us. Their shells black with age, and their kernell, upon opening, decayed, but their shell perfectly hard as ever. And a yew tree he showed us (upon which, he says, the very ivy was taken up whole about it), which upon cutting with an addes, we found to be rather harder than the living tree usually is. They say, very much, but I do not know how hard a yew tree naturally is. The armes, they say, were taken up at first whole, about the body, which is very strange.
Thence away by water, and I walked with my Lord Bruncker home, and there at dinner comes a letter from my Lord Sandwich to tell me that he would this day be at Woolwich, and desired me to meet him. Which fearing might have lain in Sir J. Minnes’ pocket a while, he sending it me, did give my Lord Bruncker, his mistress, and I occasion to talk of him as the most unfit man for business in the world. Though at last afterwards I found that he was not in this faulty, but hereby I have got a clear evidence of my Lord Bruncker’s opinion of him. My Lord Bruncker presently ordered his coach to be ready and we to Woolwich, and my Lord Sandwich not being come, we took a boat and about a mile off met him in his Catch, and boarded him, and come up with him; and, after making a little halt at my house, which I ordered, to have my wife see him, we all together by coach to Mr. Boreman’s, where Sir J. Minnes did receive him very handsomely, and there he is to lie; and Sir J. Minnes did give him on the sudden, a very handsome supper and brave discourse, my Lord Bruncker, and Captain Cocke, and Captain Herbert being there, with myself.
Here my Lord did witness great respect to me, and very kind expressions, and by other occasions, from one thing to another did take notice how I was overjoyed at first to see the King’s letter to his Lordship, and told them how I did kiss it, and that, whatever he was, I did always love the King. This my Lord Bruncker did take such notice [of] as that he could not forbear kissing me before my Lord, professing his finding occasion every day more and more to love me, and Captain Cocke has since of himself taken notice of that speech of my Lord then concerning me, and may be of good use to me.
Among other discourse concerning long life, Sir J. Minnes saying that his great-grandfather was alive in Edward the Vth’s time; my Lord Sandwich did tell us how few there have been of his family since King Harry the VIIIth; that is to say, the then Chiefe Justice, and his son the Lord Montagu, who was father to Sir Sidney, who was his father. And yet, what is more wonderfull, he did assure us from the mouth of my Lord Montagu himself, that in King James’s time (had a mind to get the King to cut off the entayle of some land which was given in Harry the VIIIth’s time to the family, with the remainder in the Crowne); he did answer the King in showing how unlikely it was that ever it could revert to the Crown, but that it would be a present convenience to him; and did show that at that time there were 4,000 persons derived from the very body of the Chiefe Justice. It seems the number of daughters in the family having been very great, and they too had most of them many children, and grandchildren, and great- grandchildren. This he tells as a most known and certain truth.
After supper, my Lord Bruncker took his leave, and I also did mine, taking Captain Herbert home to my lodging to lie with me, who did mighty seriously inquire after who was that in the black dress with my wife yesterday, and would not believe that it was my wife’s mayde, Mercer, but it was she.

my last days
shall be underground

trees covered with earth
branches of black water

in my pocket
sand

and sudden hands
over every mouth


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 22 September 1665.

Up between five and six o’clock; and by the time I was ready, my Lord’s coach comes for me; and taking Will Hewer with me, who is all in mourning for his father, who is lately dead of the plague, as my boy Tom’s is also, I set out, and took about 100l. with me to pay the fees there, and so rode in some fear of robbing. When I come thither, I find only Mr. Ward, who led me to Burgess’s bedside, and Spicer’s, who, watching of the house, as it is their turns every night, did lie long in bed to-day, and I find nothing at all done in my business, which vexed me. But not seeing how to helpe it I did walk up and down with Mr. Ward to see the house; and by and by Spicer and Mr. Falconbrige come to me and he and I to a towne near by, Yowell, there drink and set up my horses and also bespoke a dinner, and while that is dressing went with Spicer and walked up and down the house and park; and a fine place it hath heretofore been, and a fine prospect about the house. A great walk of an elme and a walnutt set one after another in order. And all the house on the outside filled with figures of stories, and good painting of Rubens’ or Holben’s doing. And one great thing is, that most of the house is covered, I mean the posts, and quarters in the walls; covered with lead, and gilded. I walked into the ruined garden, and there found a plain little girle, kinswoman of Mr. Falconbridge, to sing very finely by the eare only, but a fine way of singing, and if I come ever to lacke a girle again I shall think of getting her.
Thence to the towne, and there Spicer, Woodruffe, and W. Bowyer and I dined together and a friend of Spicer’s; and a good dinner I had for them. Falconbrige dined somewhere else, by appointment. Strange to see how young W. Bowyer looks at 41 years; one would not take him for 24 or more, and is one of the greatest wonders I ever did see.
After dinner, about 4 of the clock we broke up, and I took coach and home (in fear for the money I had with me, but that this friend of Spicer’s, one of the Duke’s guard did ride along the best part of the way with us). I got to my Lord Bruncker’s before night, and there I sat and supped with him and his mistresse, and Cocke whose boy is yet ill.
Thence, after losing a crowne betting at Tables, we walked home, Cocke seeing me at my new lodging, where I went to bed. All my worke this day in the coach going and coming was to refresh myself in my musique scale, which I would fain have perfecter than ever I had yet.

who is in mourning
who with an ear is not

but not seeing how to help it
I walk to the park
to the great elm
and walnut filled with stories

and in a ruined garden
a little girl singing


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 21 September 1665.

Called up by Captain Cocke (who was last night put into great trouble upon his boy’s being rather worse than better, upon which he removed him out of his house to his stable), who told me that to my comfort his boy was now as well as ever he was in his life.
So I up, and after being trimmed, the first time I have been touched by a barber these twelvemonths, I think, and more, went to Sir J. Minnes’s, where I find all out of order still, they having not seen one another till by and by Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten met, to go into my Lord Bruncker’s coach, and so we four to Lambeth, and thence to the Duke of Albemarle, to inform him what we have done as to the fleete, which is very little, and to receive his direction. But, Lord! what a sad time it is to see no boats upon the River; and grass grows all up and down White Hall court, and nobody but poor wretches in the streets! And, which is worst of all, the Duke showed us the number of the plague this week, brought in the last night from the Lord Mayor; that it is encreased about 600 more than the last, which is quite contrary to all our hopes and expectations, from the coldness of the late season. For the whole general number is 8,297, and of them the plague 7,165; which is more in the whole by above 50, than the biggest Bill yet; which is very grievous to us all.
I find here a design in my Lord Bruncker and Captain Cocke to have had my Lord Bruncker chosen as one of us to have been sent aboard one of the East Indiamen, and Captain Cocke as a merchant to be joined with him, and Sir J. Minnes for the other, and Sir G. Smith to be joined with him. But I did order it so that my Lord Bruncker and Sir J. Minnes were ordered, but I did stop the merchants to be added, which would have been a most pernicious thing to the King I am sure. In this I did, I think, a very good office, though I cannot acquit myself from some envy of mine in the business to have the profitable business done by another hand while I lay wholly imployed in the trouble of the office.
Thence back again by my Lord’s coach to my Lord Bruncker’s house, where I find my Lady Batten, who is become very great with Mrs. Williams (my Lord Bruncker’s whore), and there we dined and were mighty merry.
After dinner I to the office there to write letters, to fit myself for a journey to-morrow to Nonsuch to the Exchequer by appointment.
That being done I to Sir J. Minnes where I find Sir W. Batten and his Lady gone home to Walthamstow in great snuffe as to Sir J. Minnes, but yet with some necessity, hearing that a mayde-servant of theirs is taken ill. Here I staid and resolved of my going in my Lord Bruncker’s coach which he would have me to take, though himself cannot go with me as he intended, and so to my last night’s lodging to bed very weary.

I have been touched in a coach
on a boat
in the street

how numb I am to it
that pernicious hand

the whore fit for no one
that he would have me be


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 20 September 1665.

About 4 or 5 of the clock we come to Greenwich, and, having first set down my Lord Bruncker, Cocke and I went to his house, it being light, and there to our great trouble, we being sleepy and cold, we met with the ill newes that his boy Jacke was gone to bed sicke, which put Captain Cocke and me also into much trouble, the boy, as they told us, complaining of his head most, which is a bad sign it seems. So they presently betook themselves to consult whither and how to remove him. However I thought it not fit for me to discover too much fear to go away, nor had I any place to go to. So to bed I went and slept till 10 of the clock and then comes Captain Cocke to wake me and tell me that his boy was well again. With great joy I heard the newes and he told it, so I up and to the office where we did a little, and but a little business.
At noon by invitation to my Lord Bruncker’s where we staid till four of the clock for my Lady Batten and she not then coming we to dinner and pretty merry but disordered by her making us stay so long.
After dinner I to the office, and there wrote letters and did business till night and then to Sir J. Minnes’s, where I find my Lady Batten come, and she and my Lord Bruncker and his mistresse, and the whole house-full there at cards. But by and by my Lord Bruncker goes away and others of the company, and when I expected Sir J. Minnes and his sister should have staid to have made Sir W. Batten and Lady sup, I find they go up in snuffe to bed without taking any manner of leave of them, but left them with Mr. Boreman. The reason of this I could not presently learn, but anon I hear it is that Sir J. Minnes did expect and intend them a supper, but they without respect to him did first apply themselves to Boreman, which makes all this great feude. However I staid and there supped, all of us being in great disorder from this, and more from Cocke’s boy’s being ill, where my Lady Batten and Sir W. Batten did come to town with an intent to lodge, and I was forced to go seek a lodging which my W. Hewer did get me, viz., his own chamber in the towne, whither I went and found it a very fine room, and there lay most excellently.

sleep is as much trouble
as any place to go to

pretty but disordered
making us stay so long

a hole full of company
they bore and bore

which makes me lodge
in my own amber


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 19 September 1665.