Tuesday 12 February 1666/67

Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning, with several things (among others) discoursed relating to our two new assistant controllers, but especially Sir W. Pen, who is mighty troublesome in it. At noon home to dinner, and then to the office again, and there did much business, and by and by comes Mr. Moore, who in discourse did almost convince me that it is necessary for my Lord Sandwich to come home end take his command at sea this year, for that a peace is like to be. Many considerations he did give me hereupon, which were very good both in reference to the publick arid his private condition. By and by with Lord Bruncker by coach to his house, there to hear some Italian musique: and here we met Tom Killigrew, Sir Robert Murray, and the Italian Signor Baptista, who hath composed a play in Italian for the Opera, which T. Killigrew do intend to have up; and here he did sing one of the acts. He himself is the poet as well as the musician; which is very much, and did sing the whole from the words without any musique prickt, and played all along upon a harpsicon most admirably, and the composition most excellent. The words I did not understand, and so know not how they are fitted, but believe very well, and all in the recitativo very fine. But I perceive there is a proper accent in every country’s discourse, and that do reach in their setting of notes to words, which, therefore, cannot be natural to any body else but them; so that I am not so much smitten with it as, it may be, I should be, if I were acquainted with their accent. But the whole composition is certainly most excellent; and the poetry, T. Killigrew and Sir R. Murray, who understood the words, did say was excellent. I confess I was mightily pleased with the musique. He pretends not to voice, though it be good, but not excellent. This done, T. Killigrew and I to talk: and he tells me how the audience at his house is not above half so much as it used to be before the late fire. That Knipp is like to make the best actor that ever come upon the stage, she understanding so well: that they are going to give her 30l. a-year more. That the stage is now by his pains a thousand times better and more glorious than ever heretofore. Now, wax-candles, and many of them; then, not above 3 lbs. of tallow: now, all things civil, no rudeness anywhere; then, as in a bear-garden then, two or three fiddlers; now, nine or ten of the best then, nothing but rushes upon the ground, and every thing else mean; and now, all otherwise: then, the Queen seldom and the King never would come; now, not the King only for state, but all civil people do think they may come as well as any. He tells me that he hath gone several times, eight or ten times, he tells me, hence to Rome to hear good musique; so much he loves it, though he never did sing or play a note. That he hath ever endeavoured in the late King’s time, and in this, to introduce good musique, but he never could do it, there never having been any musique here better than ballads. Nay, says, “Hermitt poore” and “Chevy Chese”1 was all the musique we had; and yet no ordinary fiddlers get so much money as ours do here, which speaks our rudenesse still. That he hath gathered our Italians from several Courts in Christendome, to come to make a concert for the King, which he do give 200l. a-year a-piece to: but badly paid, and do come in the room of keeping four ridiculous gundilows,2 he having got, the King to put them away, and lay out money this way; and indeed I do commend him for it, for I think it is a very noble undertaking. He do intend to have some times of the year these operas to be performed at the two present theatres, since he is defeated in what he intended in Moorefields on purpose for it; and he tells me plainly that the City audience was as good as the Court, but now they are most gone. Baptista tells me that Giacomo Charissimi is still alive at Rome, who was master to Vinnecotio, who is one of the Italians that the King hath here, and the chief composer of them. My great wonder is, how this man do to keep in memory so perfectly the musique of the whole act, both for the voice and the instrument too. I confess I do admire it: but in recitativo the sense much helps him, for there is but one proper way of discoursing and giving the accents. Having done our discourse, we all took coaches, my Lord’s and T. Killigrew’s, and to Mrs. Knipp’s chamber, where this Italian is to teach her to sing her part. And so we all thither, and there she did sing an Italian song or two very fine, while he played the bass upon a harpsicon there; and exceedingly taken I am with her singing, and believe that she will do miracles at that and acting. Her little girl is mighty pretty and witty. After being there an hour, and I mightily pleased with this evening’s work, we all parted, and I took coach and home, where late at my office, and then home to enter my last three days’ Journall; and so to supper and to bed, troubled at nothing, but that these pleasures do hinder me in my business, and the more by reason of our being to dine abroad to-morrow, and then Saturday next is appointed to meet again at my Lord Bruncker’s lodgings, and there to have the whole quire of Italians; but then I do consider that this is all the pleasure I live for in the world, and the greatest I can ever expect in the best of my life, and one thing more, that by hearing this man to-night, and I think Captain Cooke to-morrow, and the quire of Italians on Saturday, I shall be truly able to distinguish which of them pleases me truly best, which I do much desire to know and have good reason and fresh occasion of judging.

  1. “Like hermit poor in pensive place obscure” is found in “The Phoenix Nest,” 1593, and in Harl. MS. No. 6910, written soon after 1596. It was set to music by Alfonso Ferrabosco, and published in his “Ayres,” 1609. The song was a favourite with Izaak Walton, and is alluded to in “Hudibras” (Part I., canto ii., line 1169). See Rimbault’s “Little Book of Songs and Ballads,” 1851, p. 98. Both versions of the famous ballad of “Chevy Chase” are printed in Percy’s “Reliques.”
  2. The gondolas mentioned before, as sent by the Doge of Venice. See September 12th, 1661

15 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Arlington to Ormond
Written from: Whitehall
Date: 12 February 1667

Yesterday morning, an express came from Lord St Alban [ in Paris ], giving an account of the sincere intentions of that Court towards a Peace; promising their effecting it with Holland, if his Majesty would sign, in a letter to the Queen, [and] in his own hand, that he was not yet in, nor would in the space of one whole year to come, make, any league with any prince or potentate to the prejudice of France. .
_____

A News-Letter, addressed to Sir George Lane
Written from: [Whitehall]
Date: 12 February 1667

Lord Ossory, in his journey to Holyhead, received the compliments of the principal gentry, along the road.

Dr Heydon, "who calls himself a Master-in-Astrology", [ http://www.answers.com/topic/john-heydon ] is under close confinement in the Tower of London, for "dangerous writings", intended for the Press.

Other incidents, political and naval, are noticed.
http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects...

cape henry   Link to this

"...discoursed relating to our two new assistant controllers..." And thus, the bureaucracy groweth apace.Soon there will be a Chief Deputy Assistant Controller and then an Assistant Chief Deputy Assistant Controller and then - well, you know.

cum salis grano   Link to this

"...to come home end take his command at sea..."

Problem in pronunciation?

Jesse   Link to this

"there is a proper accent in every country’s discourse, and that do reach in their setting of notes to words"

I'd agree and am glad that (esp. due to supertitles) operas sung in translation are more rare these days.

"there never having been any musique here better than ballads"

Well, Purcell's still only about seven.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

The John Heydon noted in A News-Letter, addressed to Sir George Lane

A Neoplatonist occult philosopher and Rosicrucian. Frances Yates termed him a “strange character…an astrologer, geomancer, alchemist, of a most extreme type.”[2] He was accused of plagiarizing Sir Thomas Browne, Thomas Vaughan, and other writers; his Physician’s Guide of 1662 largely derives from Sir Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis.[3] He was in trouble again in 1667, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for dealing in the treasonous plots of his patron, the Duke of Buckingham.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Heydon

SPOILER: Heydon cast horoscopes on request.

Mary   Link to this

"there never having been any musique here better than ballads"

Well, that's a bit rough on Campion (1567-1620), Byrd (1543-1623) and Dowland (1563-1626). However, nothing approaching the operatic form is going to arise in England until Purcell produces his 'semi-operas' later in the century.

It sounds as if Sam has swallowed Killigrew's sales pitch hook, line and sinker.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

"This done, T. Killigrew and I to talk: and he tells me how the audience at his house is not above half so much as it used to be before the late fire. That Knipp is like to make the best actor that ever come upon the stage, she understanding so well: that they are going to give her 30l. a-year more. That the stage is now by his pains a thousand times better and more glorious than ever heretofore. ... He do intend to have some times of the year these operas to be performed at the two present theatres, ...But the whole composition is certainly most excellent; and the poetry, T. Killigrew and Sir R. Murray, who understood the words, did say was excellent. ..."

Is SP being played as a potential investor in the venture? Given Killigrew's reputation for financial probity and as a theatrical manger perhaps ...

"Don't be stupid, be a smarty
Come and join the Papal Party",

Sean Adams   Link to this

“there never having been any musique here better than ballads”
Pepys later in life made a large collection of street ballads - used in Percy's "Reliques of Ancient English Poetry"(1765). In the late 1600's, Byrd, Dowland and company were not much appreciated - too Catholic for one thing.

J A Gioia   Link to this

I'd like to nominate quire, or choir, to be the collective noun for Italians from this day forward.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"But I perceive there is a proper accent in every country’s discourse, and that do reach in their setting of notes to words, which, therefore, cannot be natural to any body else but them; so that I am not so much smitten with it as, it may be, I should be, if I were acquainted with their accent." And yet, as I think he admits, there is a great charm in hearing the music of any other country when it clicks in the brain and heart, even if it may seem exotic and new. I was discussing this with a few Chinese and Indian and American of various heritages recently and we were noting for example how some Western music is fiercely seized on and devotedly loved in Asia, etc while other pieces just don't appeal and the same being true for Americans at least. I met a brilliant young South American conductor at an Atlanta Symphony reception who is leading a great upsurge in classical music there and he was telling Gay and myself that many of his students hadn't heard classical Western music before and that it radically differed or seemed to from what they'd been exposed to but something hit home when they experienced it and their approach to it has flowered into something very magical. Same seems to be true in Asia, judging from the impact Chinese and other musicians have had in classic music over the last twenty years.

I wonder if here, in this amazing merging of early European musicians of differing backgrounds, we're seeing the start of the sort of fusion that created the grand outpourings of the eighteenth century.

L. K. van Marjenhoff   Link to this

Sam's excitement over "Italian musique" is almost palpable. I love his feelings toward music. They remind me of Schubert's sentiments in "An die Musik" and redeem him, in a sense. After all his grubby, base gropings in dark coaches etc., it is reassuring to hear Sam say of music and now specifically opera, "this is all the pleasure I live for in the world." He would have loved the Metropolitan Opera's new streaming opera subscription service at www.metplayer.org offering over 200 operas instantly available (with a 7-day free trial, btw!).

Robert Gertz   Link to this

With all his faults, it would be a pity if there's no afterlife in which Samuel Pepys can hear the music of the last three centuries as well as his own performed under modern variations in performance and technology. Isn't interesting that one of his tenderest moments of reverie regarding his love for Bess was stimulated by hearing a bit of angelically perfect music. The better angel of his nature as the great Lincoln would likely put it is music.

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"He do intend to have some times of the year these operas to be performed..."
Opera had started approximatelly 60 years before with the Gonzagas in Mantua with the success of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo,still an outstanding work.

Don McCahill   Link to this

> …to come home end take his command at sea…

more likely a missed scan, end for and. Any with L&M to confirm

Mary   Link to this

"and" indeed.

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