Pepys Diary erasure project

Up and walked to Deptford, where after doing something at the yard I walked, without being observed, with Bagwell home to his house, and there was very kindly used, and the poor people did get a dinner for me in their fashion, of which I also eat very well. After dinner I found occasion of sending him abroad, and then alone ‘avec elle je tentais a faire ce que je voudrais et contre sa force je le faisais biens que passe a mon contentment’. By and by he coming back again I took leave and walked home, and then there to dinner, where Dr. Fayrebrother come to see me and Luellin. We dined, and I to the office, leaving them, where we sat all the afternoon, and I late at the office. To supper and to the office again very late, then home to bed.

walk thin
without being observed

bag people get ash
and air for dinner

brother see me
leaving here again


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 20 December 1664.

Going to bed betimes last night we waked betimes, and from our people’s being forced to take the key to go out to light a candle, I was very angry and begun to find fault with my wife for not commanding her servants as she ought. Thereupon she giving me some cross answer I did strike her over her left eye such a blow as the poor wretch did cry out and was in great pain, but yet her spirit was such as to endeavour to bite and scratch me. But I cogging with her made her leave crying, and sent for butter and parsley, and friends presently one with another, and I up, vexed at my heart to think what I had done, for she was forced to lay a poultice or something to her eye all day, and is black, and the people of the house observed it.
But I was forced to rise, and up and with Sir J. Minnes to White Hall, and there we waited on the Duke. And among other things Mr. Coventry took occasion to vindicate himself before the Duke and us, being all there, about the choosing of Taylor for Harwich. Upon which the Duke did clear him, and did tell us that he did expect, that, after he had named a man, none of us shall then oppose or find fault with the man; but if we had anything to say, we ought to say it before he had chose him. Sir G. Carteret thought himself concerned, and endeavoured to clear himself: and by and by Sir W. Batten did speak, knowing himself guilty, and did confess, that being pressed by the Council he did say what he did, that he was accounted a fanatique; but did not know that at that time he had been appointed by his Royal Highness. To which the Duke [replied] that it was impossible but he must know that he had appointed him; and so it did appear that the Duke did mean all this while Sir W. Batten. So by and by we parted, and Mr. Coventry did privately tell me that he did this day take this occasion to mention the business to give the Duke an opportunity of speaking his mind to Sir W. Batten in this business, of which I was heartily glad.
Thence home, and not finding Bagwell’s wife as I expected, I to the ‘Change and there walked up and down, and then home, and she being come I bid her go and stay at Mooregate for me, and after going up to my wife (whose eye is very bad, but she is in very good temper to me), and after dinner I to the place and walked round the fields again and again, but not finding her I to the ‘Change, and there found her waiting for me and took her away, and to an alehouse, and there I made much of her, and then away thence and to another and endeavoured to caress her, but ‘elle ne voulait pas’, which did vex me, but I think it was chiefly not having a good easy place to do it upon. So we broke up and parted and I to the office, where we sat hiring of ships an hour or two, and then to my office, and thence (with Captain Taylor home to my house) to give him instructions and some notice of what to his great satisfaction had happened to-day. Which I do because I hope his coming into this office will a little cross Sir W. Batten and may do me good. He gone, I to supper with my wife, very pleasant, and then a little to my office and to bed. My mind, God forgive me, too much running upon what I can ‘ferais avec la femme de Bagwell demain’, having promised to go to Deptford and ‘a aller a sa maison avec son mari’ when I come thither.

we go out on strike
left eye as poor as a cog
heart forced to sing an impossible part
ear a well for the mad
the no-good hips

what faction lit up the mind


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 19 December 1664.

(Lord’s day). To church, where, God forgive me! I spent most of my time in looking my new Morena at the other side of the church, an acquaintance of Pegg Pen’s. So home to dinner, and then to my chamber to read Ben Johnson’s Cataline, a very excellent piece, and so to church again, and thence we met at the office to hire ships, being in great haste and having sent for several masters of ships to come to us. Then home, and there Mr. Andrews and Hill come and we sung finely, and by and by Mr. Fuller, the Parson, and supped with me, he and a friend of his, but my musique friends would not stay supper. At and after supper Mr. Fuller and I told many storys of apparitions and delusions thereby, and I out with my storys of Tom Mallard. He gone, I a little to my office, and then to prayers and to bed.

Lord here I am
in a cell

having sung a fuller music
of delusions

I out my stories:
all gone to prayers


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 18 December 1664.

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon I to the ‘Change, and there, among others, had my first meeting with Mr. L’Estrange, who hath endeavoured several times to speak with me. It is to get, now and then, some newes of me, which I shall, as I see cause, give him. He is a man of fine conversation, I think, but I am sure most courtly and full of compliments.
Thence home to dinner, and then come the looking-glass man to set up the looking-glass I bought yesterday, in my dining-room, and very handsome it is.
So abroad by coach to White Hall, and there to the Committee of Tangier, and then the Fishing.
Mr. Povy did in discourse give me a rub about my late bill for money that I did get of him, which vexed me and stuck in my mind all this evening, though I know very well how to cleare myself at the worst.
So home and to my office, where late, and then home to bed.
Mighty talke there is of this Comet that is seen a’nights; and the King and Queene did sit up last night to see it, and did, it seems. And to-night I thought to have done so too; but it is cloudy, and so no stars appear. But I will endeavour it.
Mr. Gray did tell me to-night, for certain, that the Dutch, as high as they seem, do begin to buckle; and that one man in this Kingdom did tell the King that he is offered 40,000l. to make a peace, and others have been offered money also. It seems the taking of their Bourdeaux fleete thus, arose from a printed Gazette of the Dutch’s boasting of fighting, and having beaten the English: in confidence whereof (it coming to Bourdeaux), all the fleete comes out, and so falls into our hands.

change and strange times
cause conversation full of glass

some committee is stuck
in my mind all evening

how to clear myself
of late nights

the stars as high as they seem
sting our hands


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 17 December 1664.

Up, and by water to Deptford, thinking to have met ‘la femme de’ Bagwell, but failed, and having done some business at the yard, I back again, it being a fine fresh morning to walk. Back again, Mr. Wayth walking with me to Half-Way House talking about Mr. Castle’s fine knees lately delivered in. In which I am well informed that they are not as they should be to make them knees, and I hope shall make good use of it to the King’s service.
Thence home, and having dressed myself, to the ‘Change, and thence home to dinner, and so abroad by coach with my wife, and bought a looking glasse by the Old Exchange, which costs me 5l. 5s. and 6s. for the hooks. A very fair glasse.
So toward my cozen Scott’s, but meeting my Lady Sandwich’s coach, my wife turned back to follow them, thinking they might, as they did, go to visit her, and I ‘light and to Mrs. Harman, and there staid and talked in her shop with her, and much pleased I am with her. We talked about Anthony Joyce’s giving over trade and that he intends to live in lodgings, which is a very mad, foolish thing. She tells me she hears and believes it is because he, being now begun to be called on offices, resolves not to take the new oathe, he having formerly taken the Covenant or Engagement, but I think he do very simply and will endeavour for his wife’s sake to advise him therein.
Thence to my cozen Scott’s, and there met my cozen Roger Pepys, and Mrs. Turner, and The. and Joyce, and prated all the while, and so with the corps to church and heard a very fine sermon of the Parson of the parish, and so homeward with them in their coach, but finding it too late to go home with me, I took another coach and so home, and after a while at my office, home to supper and to bed.

I half live
in the looking glass
fair as sand
I turn to follow the light
that mad thing
having met my corpse


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 16 December 1664.

Called up very betimes by Mr. Cholmly, and with him a good while about some of his Tangier accounts; and, discoursing of the condition of Tangier, he did give me the whole account of the differences between Fitzgerald and Norwood, which were very high on both sides, but most imperious and base on Fitzgerald’s, and yet through my Lord FitzHarding’s means, the Duke of York is led rather to blame Norwood and to speake that he should be called home, than be sensible of the other. He is a creature of FitzHarding’s, as a fellow that may be done with what he will, and, himself certainly pretending to be Generall of the King’s armies, when Monk dyeth, desires to have as few great or wise men in employment as he can now, but such as he can put in and keep under, which he do this coxcomb Fitzgerald.
It seems, of all mankind there is no man so led by another as the Duke is by Lord Muskerry and this FitzHarding. Insomuch, as when the King would have him to be Privy-Purse, the Duke wept, and said, “But, Sir, I must have your promise, if you will have my dear Charles from me, that if ever you have occasion for an army again, I may have him with me; believing him to be the best commander of an army in the world.” But Mr. Cholmly thinks, as all other men I meet with do, that he is a very ordinary fellow.
It is strange how the Duke also do love naturally, and affect the Irish above the English. He, of the company he carried with him to sea, took above two-thirds Irish and French.
He tells me the King do hate my Lord Chancellor; and that they, that is the King and my Lord FitzHarding, do laugh at him for a dull fellow; and in all this business of the Dutch war do nothing by his advice, hardly consulting him. Only he is a good minister in other respects, and the King cannot be without him; but, above all, being the Duke’s father-in-law, he is kept in; otherwise FitzHarding were able to fling down two of him. This, all the wise and grave lords see, and cannot help it; but yield to it.
But he bemoans what the end of it may be, the King being ruled by these men, as he hath been all along since his coming; to the razing all the strong-holds in Scotland, and giving liberty to the Irish in Ireland, whom Cromwell had settled all in one corner; who are now able, and it is feared everyday a massacre again among them.
He being gone I abroad to the carrier’s, to see some things sent away to my father against Christmas, and thence to Moorfields, and there up and down to several houses to drink to look for a place ‘pour rencontrer la femme de je sais quoi’ against next Monday, but could meet none. So to the Coffeehouse, where great talke of the Comet seen in several places; and among our men at sea, and by my Lord Sandwich, to whom I intend to write about it to-night.
Thence home to dinner, and then to the office, where all the afternoon, and in the evening home to supper, and then to the office late, and so to bed.
This night I begun to burn wax candles in my closett at the office, to try the charge, and to see whether the smoke offends like that of tallow candles.

the whole difference
between a wood and an army
is love

they that laugh and do nothing
only respect the grave

razing all the strongholds
giving the land a massacre in the fields

but none of the men I write about
burn like candles


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 15 December 1664.

Up, and after a while at the office, I abroad in several places, among others to my bookseller’s, and there spoke for several books against New Year’s day, I resolving to lay out about 7l. or 8l., God having given me some profit extraordinary of late; and bespoke also some plate, spoons, and forks. I pray God keep me from too great expenses, though these will still be pretty good money. Then to the ‘Change, and I home to dinner, where Creed and Mr. Caesar, my boy’s lute master, who plays indeed mighty finely, and after dinner I abroad, parting from Creed, and away to and fro, laying out or preparing for laying out more money, but I hope and resolve not to exceed therein, and to-night spoke for some fruit for the country for my father against Christmas, and where should I do it, but at the pretty woman’s, that used to stand at the doore in Fanchurch Streete, I having a mind to know her.
So home, and late at my office, evening reckonings with Shergoll, hoping to get money by the business, and so away home to supper and to bed, not being very well through my taking cold of late, and so troubled with some wind.

the place for a book against plate
spoons and forks
God and Caesar
who lays out fruit
for Father Christmas
and where but at the door to evening
reckoning with cold and wind


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 14 December 1664.

Lay long in bed, then up, and many people to speak with me. Then to my office, and dined at noon at home, then to the office again, where we sat all the afternoon, and then home at night to a little supper, and so after my office again at 12 at night home to bed.

on any peak
the din of ice
no little up and off again


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 13 December 1664.

Up, and with Sir W. Batten by coach to White Hall, where all of us with the Duke; Mr. Coventry privately did tell me the reason of his advice against our pretences to the Prize Office (in his letter from Portsmouth), because he knew that the King and the Duke had resolved to put in some Parliament men that have deserved well, and that would needs be obliged, by putting them in.
Thence homeward, called at my bookseller’s and bespoke some books against the year’s out, and then to the ‘Change, and so home to dinner, and then to the office, where my Lord Brunkard comes and reads over part of our Instructions in the Navy — and I expounded it to him, so he is become my disciple. He gone, comes Cutler to tell us that the King of France hath forbid any canvass to be carried out of his kingdom, and I to examine went with him to the East India house to see a letter, but came too late. So home again, and there late till 12 at night at my office, and then home to supper and to bed.
This day (to see how things are ordered in the world), I had a command from the Earle of Sandwich, at Portsmouth, not to be forward with Mr. Cholmly and Sir J. Lawson about the Mole at Tangier, because that what I do therein will (because of his friendship to me known) redound against him, as if I had done it upon his score. So I wrote to my Lord my mistake, and am contented to promise never to pursue it more, which goes against my mind with all my heart.

I become a disciple
to the night to see
how things are in the world
of the mole
never mind my heart


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 12 December 1664. The title is a quote from John Donne’s “A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day” (which is Dec. 13).

(Lord’s day). Up and to church alone in the morning. Dined at home, mighty pleasantly. In the afternoon I to the French church, where much pleased with the three sisters of the parson, very handsome, especially in their noses, and sing prettily. I heard a good sermon of the old man, touching duty to parents. Here was Sir Samuel Morland and his lady very fine, with two footmen in new liverys (the church taking much notice of them), and going into their coach after sermon with great gazeing. So I home, and my cozen, Mary Pepys’s husband, comes after me, and told me that out of the money he received some months since he did receive 18d. too much, and did now come and give it me, which was very pretty. So home, and there found Mr. Andrews and his lady, a well-bred and a tolerable pretty woman, and by and by Mr. Hill and to singing, and then to supper, then to sing again, and so good night. To prayers and tonight [bed].
It is a little strange how these Psalms of Ravenscroft after 2 or 3 times singing prove but the same again, though good. No diversity appearing at all almost.

three sisters of arson
taking to their hill

I pray to the ravens three times
singing the same thou


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 11 December 1664. Inspired by a photo by Colleen Gara.