Pepys Diary erasure project

Up and by coach to my Lord Peterborough’s, where anon my Lord Ashly and Sir Thomas Ingram met, and Povy about his accounts, who is one of the most unhappy accountants that ever I knew in all my life, and one that if I were clear in reference to my bill of 117l. he should be hanged before I would ever have to do with him, and as he understands nothing of his business himself, so he hath not one about him that do.
Here late till I was weary, having business elsewhere, and thence home by coach, and after dinner did several businesses and very late at my office, and so home to supper and to bed.

up and to my ash
the unhappy
ever new in my life

if I were clear
I would understand nothing
so I do a weary
elsewhere business at home


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 8 February 1665.

Up and to my office, where busy all the morning, and at home to dinner. It being Shrove Tuesday, had some very good fritters. All the afternoon and evening at the office, and at night home to supper and to bed.
This day, Sir W. Batten, who hath been sicke four or five days, is now very bad, so as people begin to fear his death; and I am at a loss whether it will be better for me to have him die, because he is a bad man, or live, for fear a worse should come.

busy all morning being me
good afternoon Sir Death

I am better to have alive
for fear a worse should come


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 7 February 1665.

Up and with Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Pen to St. James’s, but the Duke is gone abroad. So to White Hall to him, and there I spoke with him, and so to Westminster, did a little business, and then home to the ‘Change, where also I did some business, and went off and ended my contract with the “Kingfisher” I hired for Tangier, and I hope to get something by it.
Thence home to dinner, and visited Sir W. Batten, who is sick again, worse than he was, and I am apt to think is very ill.
So to my office, and among other things with Sir W. Warren 4 hours or more till very late, talking of one thing or another, and have concluded a firm league with him in all just ways to serve him and myself all I can, and I think he will be a most usefull and thankfull man to me. So home to supper and to bed.
This being one of the coldest days, all say, they ever felt in England; and I this day, under great apprehensions of getting an ague from my putting a suit on that hath lain by without ayring a great while, and I pray God it do not do me hurte.

the road home
went off and ended

a kingfisher is my other self
in an old felt suit
I eat and go


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 6 February 1665.

(Lord’s day). Lay in bed most of the morning, then up and down to my chamber, among my new books, which is now a pleasant sight to me to see my whole study almost of one binding. So to dinner, and all the afternoon with W. Hewer at my office endorsing of papers there, my business having got before me much of late. In the evening comes to see me Mr. Sheply, lately come out of the country, who goes away again to-morrow, a good and a very kind man to me. There come also Mr. Andrews and Hill, and we sang very pleasantly; and so, they being gone, I and my wife to supper, and to prayers and bed.

in amber I see
my whole study
of one binding business

before the evening
comes to try
man and ant


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 5 February 1665.

Lay long in bed discoursing with my wife about her mayds, which by Jane’s going away in discontent and against my opinion do make some trouble between my wife and me. But these are but foolish troubles and so not to be set to heart, yet it do disturb me mightily these things.
To my office, and there all the morning. At noon being invited, I to the Sun behind the ‘Change, to dinner to my Lord Belasses, where a great deal of discourse with him, and some good, among others at table he told us a very handsome passage of the King’s sending him his message about holding out the town of Newarke, of which he was then governor for the King. This message he sent in a sluggbullet, being writ in cypher, and wrapped up in lead and swallowed. So the messenger come to my Lord and told him he had a message from the King, but it was yet in his belly; so they did give him some physique, and out it come. This was a month before the King’s flying to the Scotts; and therein he told him that at such a day, being the 3d or 6th of May, he should hear of his being come to the Scotts, being assured by the King of France that in coming to them he should be used with all the liberty, honour, and safety, that could be desired. And at the just day he did come to the Scotts.
He told us another odd passage: how the King having newly put out Prince Rupert of his generallshipp, upon some miscarriage at Bristoll, and Sir Richard Willis of his governorship of Newarke, at the entreaty of the gentry of the County, and put in my Lord Bellasses, the great officers of the King’s army mutinyed, and come in that manner with swords drawn, into the market-place of the towne where the King was; which the King hearing, says, “I must to horse.” And there himself personally, when every body expected they should have been opposed, the King come, and cried to the head of the mutineers, which was Prince Rupert, “Nephew, I command you to be gone.” So the Prince, in all his fury and discontent, withdrew, and his company scattered, which they say was the greatest piece of mutiny in the world.
Thence after dinner home to my office, and in the evening was sent to by Jane that I would give her her wages. So I sent for my wife to my office, and told her that rather than be talked on I would give her all her wages for this Quarter coming on, though two months is behind, which vexed my wife, and we begun to be angry, but I took myself up and sent her away, but was cruelly vexed in my mind that all my trouble in this world almost should arise from my disorders in my family and the indiscretion of a wife that brings me nothing almost (besides a comely person) but only trouble and discontent.
She gone I late at my business, and then home to supper and to bed.

in the heart of noon
the sun on a swallow
flying over the marketplace

where a horse head is
the greatest piece of the world
to a rat


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 4 February 1665.

Up, and walked with my boy (whom, because of my wife’s making him idle, I dare not leave at home) walked first to Salsbury court, there to excuse my not being at home at dinner to Mrs. Turner, who I perceive is vexed, because I do not serve her in something against the great feasting for her husband’s Reading in helping her to some good penn’eths, but I care not. She was dressing herself by the fire in her chamber, and there took occasion to show me her leg, which indeed is the finest I ever saw, and she not a little proud of it.
Thence to my Lord Bellasses; thence to Mr. Povy’s, and so up and down at that end of the town about several businesses, it being a brave frosty day and good walking. So back again on foot to the ‘Change, in my way taking my books from binding from my bookseller’s. My bill for the rebinding of some old books to make them suit with my study, cost me, besides other new books in the same bill, 3l.; but it will be very handsome. At the ‘Change did several businesses, and here I hear that newes is come from Deale, that the same day my Lord Sandwich sailed thence with the fleete, that evening some Dutch men of warr were seen on the back side of the Goodwin, and, by all conjecture, must be seen by my Lord’s fleete; which, if so, they must engage.
Thence, being invited, to my uncle Wight’s, where the Wights all dined; and, among the others, pretty Mrs. Margaret, who indeed is a very pretty lady; and though by my vowe it costs me 12d. a kiss after the first, yet I did adventure upon a couple.
So home, and among other letters found one from Jane, that is newly gone, telling me how her mistresse won’t pay her her Quarter’s wages, and withal tells me how her mistress will have the boy sit 3 or 4 hours together in the dark telling of stories, but speaks of nothing but only her indiscretion in undervaluing herself to do it, but I will remedy that, but am vexed she should get some body to write so much because of making it publique. Then took coach and to visit my Lady Sandwich, where she discoursed largely to me her opinion of a match, if it could be thought fit by my Lord, for my Lady Jemimah, with Sir G. Carteret’s eldest son; but I doubt he hath yet no settled estate in land. But I will inform myself, and give her my opinion. Then Mrs. Pickering (after private discourse ended, we going into the other room) did, at my Lady’s command, tell me the manner of a masquerade before the King and Court the other day. Where six women (my Lady Castlemayne and Duchesse of Monmouth being two of them) and six men (the Duke of Monmouth and Lord Arran and Monsieur Blanfort, being three of them) in vizards, but most rich and antique dresses, did dance admirably and most gloriously. God give us cause to continue the mirthe!
So home, and after awhile at my office to supper and to bed.

who is against fire
besides books

it is sand on the back
a kiss in the dark

nothing but the opinion
of a match

or a masquerade
where antique dresses dance


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 3 February 1665.

Then up and to my office, where till noon and then to the ‘Change, and at the Coffee-house with Gifford, Hubland, the Master of the ship, and I read over and approved a charter-party for carrying goods for Tangier, wherein I hope to get some money. Thence home, my head akeing for want of rest and too much business. So to the office. At night comes, Povy, and he and I to Mrs. Bland’s to discourse about my serving her to helpe her to a good passage for Tangier. Here I heard her kinswoman sing 3 or 4 very fine songs and in good manner, and then home and to supper. My cook mayd Jane and her mistresse parted, and she went away this day. I vexed to myself, but was resolved to have no more trouble, and so after supper to my office and then to bed.

coffee for her headache
night comes for the cook

and her art is no more
after supper


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 2 February 1665.

Lay long in bed, which made me, going by coach to St. James’s by appointment to have attended the Duke of Yorke and my Lord Bellasses, lose the hopes of my getting something by the hire of a ship to carry men to Tangier. But, however, according to the order of the Duke this morning, I did go to the ‘Change, and there after great pains did light of a business with Mr. Gifford and Hubland for bringing me as much as I hoped for, which I have at large expressed in my stating the case of the “King’s Fisher,” which is the ship that I have hired, and got the Duke of Yorke’s agreement this afternoon after much pains and not eating a bit of bread till about 4 o’clock. Going home I put in to an ordinary by Temple Barr and there with my boy Tom eat a pullet, and thence home to the office, being still angry with my wife for yesterday’s foolery. After a good while at the office, I with the boy to the Sun behind the Exchange, by agreement with Mr. Young the flag-maker, and there was met by Mr. Hill, Andrews, and Mr. Hubland, a pretty serious man. Here two very pretty savoury dishes and good discourse. After supper a song, or three or four (I having to that purpose carried Lawes’s book), and staying here till 12 o’clock got the watch to light me home, and in a continued discontent to bed. After being in bed, my people come and say there is a great stinke of burning, but no smoake. We called up Sir J. Minnes’s and Sir W. Batten’s people, and Griffin, and the people at the madhouse, but nothing could be found to give occasion to it. At this trouble we were till past three o’clock, and then the stinke ceasing, I to sleep, and my people to bed, and lay very long in the morning.

after great pain
eating a bit of bread in the sun

behind me the savory discourse
of people at the madhouse


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 1 February 1665.

Up and with Sir W. Batten to Westminster, where to speak at the House with my Lord Bellasses, and am cruelly vexed to see myself put upon businesses so uncertainly about getting ships for Tangier being ordered, a servile thing, almost every day.
So to the ‘Change, back by coach with Sir W. Batten, and thence to the Crowne, a taverne hard by, with Sir W. Rider and Cutler, where we alone, a very good dinner. Thence home to the office, and there all the afternoon late. The office being up, my wife sent for me, and what was it but to tell me how Jane carries herself, and I must put her away presently. But I did hear both sides and find my wife much in fault, and the grounds of all the difference is my wife’s fondness of Tom, to the being displeased with all the house beside to defend the boy, which vexes me, but I will cure it. Many high words between my wife and I, but the wench shall go, but I will take a course with the boy, for I fear I have spoiled him already.
Thence to the office, to my accounts, and there at once to ease my mind I have made myself debtor to Mr. Povy for the 117l. 5s. got with so much joy the last month, but seeing that it is not like to be kept without some trouble and question, I do even discharge my mind of it, and so if I come now to refund it, as I fear I shall, I shall now be ne’er a whit the poorer for it, though yet it is some trouble to me to be poorer by such a sum than I thought myself a month since. But, however, a quiet mind and to be sure of my owne is worth all. The Lord be praised for what I have, which is this month come down to 1257l.. I staid up about my accounts till almost two in the morning.

getting high I fear
I have made myself
debtor to joy

like some question I discharge
into the quiet


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 31 January 1665.

This is solemnly kept as a Fast all over the City, but I kept my house, putting my closett to rights again, having lately put it out of order in removing my books and things in order to being made clean. At this all day, and at night to my office, there to do some business, and being late at it, comes Mercer to me, to tell me that my wife was in bed, and desired me to come home; for they hear, and have, night after night, lately heard noises over their head upon the leads. Now it is strange to think how, knowing that I have a great sum of money in my house, this puts me into a most mighty affright, that for more than two hours, I could not almost tell what to do or say, but feared this and that, and remembered that this evening I saw a woman and two men stand suspiciously in the entry, in the darke; I calling to them, they made me only this answer, the woman said that the men came to see her; but who she was I could not tell. The truth is, my house is mighty dangerous, having so many ways to be come to; and at my windows, over the stairs, to see who goes up and down; but, if I escape to-night, I will remedy it. God preserve us this night safe! So at almost two o’clock, I home to my house, and, in great fear, to bed, thinking every running of a mouse really a thiefe; and so to sleep, very brokenly, all night long, and found all safe in the morning.

this fast city made of lead
is not the only answer

the truth is dangerous
having so many windows

if I escape I will be a thief
and sleep brokenly in the morning


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 30 January 1665.