20 June, in the Year of Our Lord 2020
Waked at a half past four o-clock by the cat, a great mewing and with a shrew in [my] bed chamber, so I scolded him and he dropped it somewhere and ran off without it, which made me not to go back to sleep, for along with that disturbance it is the longest Day so sparrowfart was very betimes and it light. After breakfast to tidy up. The other day I did pick bilberrys with Mr. Jones but they are tiny fruits and it breaks the back to do it, so not many, and I have put them on ice, though Mr. Jones knows where there are better and bigger with more juice, though the juice turns everything purple when you pick them. I discovered the shrew under the bed, where I did clean and it seems not the first time Banjo has been there, for a dried viscus or two adhered to the carpet.
The afternoon the weather better than yesterday, which was wet again from start to finish, so that I did distribute my chores between my leisures to make them last, which now I am practised at; but Lord, it doth amaze me that this weeke of Lock Up is the Thirteenthe! the length of it stretched from Equinoxe to Solstice, which I did never think would come to pass. When the sky is grey my affectation is in that direction too, so I set to think of what I have achieved these weeks — viz. that my garden looks as prettie a thing as ever it did in all the time I have lived here; that I have learn’d to make a pastrie and fruit in it to make a pie with it, and to prepare new dishes from a book of Recipes which has excellent good instructions for fine food and the making of it, but tho’ the book is called Simple and it says the ingredientes are readilie available, I still cannot find saffron picked at dawn on the shore of the Caspian Sea anywhere in Liddle; that I can mend the stove and its apparatus for extracting the Smoke it puts out and the steam too, and also the lights that go with it and I know now where is the Fewse; that I have witnessed a Scholar in a magic window the like of which I never thought to see; and that there has come rekindled a passion wherein I am much contented, which is to read of the Musick of the past and listen to it and am reminded that Understanding and Enjoyment are bedfellowes, and that the depth of one increases the depth of the other. I also know that within my house, its walls and garden, reside both safety from contagion and a Securitie of the soul; but that outside these walls — beyond the Physician, the barber, the Apothecary and the urchin — a plague of ill Proportion has wreaked its devastation, and the number dead now excedes by double the amount of the worst expected at the start of it, whether for virulence of the plague or for mismanagement or incompetence or for all of them, and it cannot be hid by the dishonest adding up of it. Yet a fatigue of the mind has set in in me for the daily news of the toll of deaths and of the horrible miscarriage of it all, my interest diminished to knowing that my parents are well and my friends also.
To survive these days, I think the matter is to invent a Purpose. In the Year of Our Lord 1669 I forbore from writing my Diarie for fear of my sight, yet I have come to feel again the solace of the task, for whereas a thought is an evanescent thing and a memorie a fickle friend, a word on a page is a steadfast mark and its permanence an Authority; and it matters not what the Purpose means to others: what matters is its meaning to one’s selfe, and a Diarie is a fine example, and the marks we make as fumbling punctuations of the commonplace are companions in our solitude.
After supper, it gloomy and a heavy rain shutting in the longest day. I am reminded that on Thursday another scholar was on the magick screen, he saying that the bilberrie is a Physick for the sight for it mends the crystalline humour and the retina, which is behind the eye and sends globules of colour like Sapphire Salute and Hessian to the brain so it can make a picture, so I think to pick more but entend to buy two things, one being a bilberrie Scrabbler which is like a big comb for small plants, so I may save money and use my beard trimmer for it, and the other vodka, which will dissolve the bilberries and make a fine liquor with some sugar too, and I hope to be mightily pleased with it. And so to bed, contented for another new Purpose.