Saturday 1 March 1661/62

This morning I paid Sir W. Batten 40l., which I have owed him this half year, having borrowed it of him. Then to the office all the morning, so dined at home, and after dinner comes my uncle Thomas, with whom I had some high words of difference, but ended quietly, though I fear I shall do no good by fair means upon him. Thence my wife and I by coach, first to see my little picture that is a drawing, and thence to the Opera, and there saw “Romeo and Juliet,” the first time it was ever acted; but it is a play of itself the worst that ever I heard in my life, and the worst acted that ever I saw these people do, and I am resolved to go no more to see the first time of acting, for they were all of them out more or less. Thence home, and after supper and wrote by the post, I settled to what I had long intended, to cast up my accounts with myself, and after much pains to do it and great fear, I do find that I am 500l. in money beforehand in the world, which I was afraid I was not, but I find that I had spent above 250l. this last half year, which troubles me much, but by God’s blessing I am resolved to take up, having furnished myself with all things for a great while, and to-morrow to think upon some rules and obligations upon myself to walk by. So with my mind eased of a great deal of trouble, though with no great content to find myself above 100l. worse now than I was half a year ago, I went to bed.

24 Annotations

Mary   Link to this

"the first time it ever was acted"

i.e the first time since the post-Restoration reopening of the theatres.

Wim van der Meij   Link to this

At the Opera: Betterton played Romeo and his wife Juliet.

Wim van der Meij   Link to this

The above is in Warrington's edition. A different story about Romeo & Juliet is told here: http://www.rsc.org.uk/romeo/about/stage.html

LCrichton   Link to this

I settled to what I had long intended, to cast up my accounts with myself, and after much pains to do it and great fear

It's wonderful to see how we still act in the same way that Sam did - it's always hard to settle down to working out your money situation and I often experience 'much pains and great fear' to do it
Yet how true is the moral of the story , once its done, even if the result isn't great, you find your 'mind eased of a great deal of trouble'. Its better to know the worst, rather than fear it!

daniel   Link to this

"for they were all of them out more or less"

In today's terminology, we call this the dress rehearsal, or le premier; something that the press can get a feeling for the production from but not yet fit for paying audiences.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

re: "I am resolved to go no more to see the first time of acting, for they were all of them out more or less."

Sounds like Sam's had some bad opening-night experiences...

It also sounds as if theater companies may have had less-stringent quality standards for an opening? As Daniel implies, this sounds more like a pre-Broadway opening on the road than a polished premiere.

Stolzi   Link to this

"my little picture that is a drawing"

That is, in the process: like "trouble is a-brewing."

mary mcintyre   Link to this

"... it is a play of itself the worst that ever I heard in my life"

Is this Sam's general dislike of Shakespeare? Or is this R&J a lesser, later writer's paraphrase/redo?

Mary   Link to this

a different cast list

is proferred in the L&M notes; Harris as Romeo, Betterton as Mercutio, Mrs. Saunderson as Juliet and Price as Paris.

No suggestion that the play might be anything other than the Shakespeare tragedy.

Martin   Link to this

His miniature being painted
Here's a nice section of the V&A Museum site on British miniature through Pepys's time:
http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/paintings/mini...

vicenzo   Link to this

I'm surprised that Sam failed to use his two groat catcall, or would that be reserved for when he be a standing in the pit with the mob.
"...bought a catcall there, it cost me two groats.
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/03/07/
I guess the performance upset his new musical knowledge, now that he has the rules down pat.
"...thence to the Opera, and there saw 'Romeo and Juliet,'…”

Ann   Link to this

I've got to agree with Sammy here -- I saw R&J several years ago (my hubby took me on Valentine's of all days!). Thought it was horrible and depressing. In Will's defense, it was a touring company, and they spent a lot of time chewing on the scenery. But still, I really didn't like the play at all, and I've seen a lot of Will's other works that I do like.

vicenzo   Link to this

Watch the pennies, the quids will be fine. At least, he still has some little sacks of coin, and not facing a spell in St Brides. [Pecuniae imperare oportet, non servire.]"...So with my mind eased of a great deal of trouble, though with no great content to find myself above 100l. worse now than I was half a year ago..."
He still does tell us where the extra under the counter income is a coming from. Man does live by wage alone? A little fee helps.
250 L in 26 weeks, even in 1940 that was more than a schoolmaster be a making. One can see his life style is beyond the ordinary. According to Eliza Picard, Sam be in the top 0.5% of spenders/earners in the land of 1.3 Mil. families. Extracted from page 250. Restoration London.
Syrus, Maxims . in Saxon 'money is your slave not you its'

ellen   Link to this

"casting up my acccounts"

I belive this expression was slang used to describe regurgitation, particularly after drinking too much, during the late Georgian era.

Jesse   Link to this

"thence to the Opera, and there saw 'Romeo and Juliet,'”

Exactly what I did a couple weeks ago - almost http://www.losangelesopera.com/production/index... . Of course back then it was just another play “the worst that ever I heard in my life” and not the de facto classic it’s become.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Sam and Shakepeare
He doesn't really like WS does he? Much more a fan of Beaumont & Fletcher. Wonder if that is to do with the productions? I have seen Ian McKellan (in the 70s) with Francesca Annis at the RSC in R & J and Ian Holm (in the 60s) with Estelle Kohler (also RSC). Scenes from both these productions stay in my mind still: they were exceptional, but then the RSC are are an exceptional company.
The BBC has done documentaries with dramatised sequences of both Henry Purcell's life and the Great Fire (but, after checking the site, neither seem to be available to purchase from the BBC shop. Very remiss)

Mark Ynys-Mon   Link to this

But Romeo and Juliet *isn't* a particularly good play. Sam's quite right.

It has some good poetry in it, but that's not the same as a good plot etc.

Josh   Link to this

Certainly not a patch on anything by Beaumont and Fletcher!

Pauline   Link to this

"...thence to the Opera, and there saw 'Romeo and Juliet'
Vincenzo, “Opera” appears to just mean the building, the Opera in Lincoln’s Inn field. From our knowledge of R&J and from the links provided above, it doesn’t sound like this was a singing version of the play. See today’s annotation at:
http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/992/

vicenzo   Link to this

Opera be a word to mean a singing play.
Extracted by lawers of the times in order to have people prance around on a stage evoking [as by chanting magical words] words to a play. Now that it be legal to say the words and not chant them, now that sin be viable and fit for humans, they then could save money by dropping the orchestra.
In order to make it legal to have play watching, they built the opera house.
Opera [ from Lat. opus work.. It was never Opera seria

steve h   Link to this

Quality

Restoration theater companies must have had over 60 plays in the repertory, so it's no surprise that premieres might not be in the best of shape. And since the older plays were essentially new plays for the actors after the Restoration, the performances must have been very uneven and raw at this time. The Fletcher plays, with simpler language and characters, were easier to "get up" and easier to follow.

Phil Gyford   Link to this

I've moved the dicussion about films set in Pepys' time to a new Background Info page: http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/3944/

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Gotta get my vote in for Juliet, one of Shakespeare's great characters... But we in Atlanta do have a couple of wonderful permanent Shakespeare companies and they do a terrific job with R&J.

Wonder how Beth liked the play. She likes her French romances so she may have found the plot congenial even if technically it was a poor showing...

Mary   Link to this

"casting up my accounts"

This usage of 'cast up' is first recorded in 1539.

The 'vomit up' sense of the verb is first recorded in 1484 (Caxton).

Humorous use of the whole phrase 'to cast up one's accounts' meaning 'to vomit' is first recorded in 1808 in Anderson's Cumberland Ballads.

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