Saturday 2 March 1666/67

Up, and to the office, where sitting all the morning, and among other things did agree upon a distribution of 30,000l. and odd, which is the only sum we hear of like to come out of all the Poll Bill for the use of this office for buying of goods. I did herein some few courtesies for particular friends I wished well to, and for the King’s service also, and was therefore well pleased with what was done. Sir W. Pen this day did bring an order from the Duke of York for our receiving from him a small vessel for a fireship, and taking away a better of the King’s for it, it being expressed for his great service to the King. This I am glad of, not for his sake, but that it will give me a better ground, I believe, to ask something for myself of this kind, which I was fearful to begin. This do make Sir W. Pen the most kind to me that can be. I suppose it is this, lest it should find any opposition from me, but I will not oppose, but promote it. After dinner, with my wife, to the King’s house to see “The Mayden Queene,” a new play of Dryden’s, mightily commended for the regularity of it, and the strain and wit; and, the truth is, there is a comical part done by Nell,1 which is Florimell, that I never can hope ever to see the like done again, by man or woman. The King and Duke of York were at the play. But so great performance of a comical part was never, I believe, in the world before as Nell do this, both as a mad girle, then most and best of all when she comes in like a young gallant; and hath the notions and carriage of a spark the most that ever I saw any man have. It makes me, I confess, admire her. Thence home and to the office, where busy a while, and then home to read the lives of Henry 5th and 6th, very fine, in Speede, and to bed. This day I did pay a bill of 50l. from my father, being so much out of my own purse gone to pay my uncle Robert’s legacy to my aunt Perkins’s child.

  1. “Her skill increasing with her years, other poets sought to obtain recommendations of her wit and beauty to the success of their writings. I have said that Dryden was one of the principal supporters of the King’s house, and ere long in one of his new plays a principal character was set apart for the popular comedian. The drama was a tragi-comedy called ‘Secret Love, or the Maiden Queen,’ and an additional interest was attached to its production from the king having suggested the plot to its author, and calling it `his play.’” — Cunningham’s Story of Nell Gwyn, ed: 1892, pp. 38,39.

11 Annotations

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Nell's so glad we had this time together...Just to have a laugh or sing a song...

Bradford   Link to this

A 1725 edition of Dryden's "Secret Love" is available from Google Books (with a URL as long as your arm). This notable passage, though not spoken by Nell G.'s character, gives a contemporary example of being "friends" in the sense Pepys often uses after a quarrel with Elizabeth, and well conveys the spirit of the play. Olinda is describing her current affair to Melissa, who asks, "But does he love you seriously?"

"Seriously!" Olinda repeats. "I know not that; if he did, perhaps I should not love him. But we sit and talk, and wrangle, and are Friends; when we are together, we never hold our tongues; and then we always have a noise of Fiddles at our heels; he hunts me merrily as the Hound does the Hare; and either this is Love, or I know it not."

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"I did herein some few courtesies for particular friends I wished well to..."

Corruption never put so elegantly. Still, the ultimate problem is Parliament's failure to cough up funds.

Tony Eldridge   Link to this

"that I never can hope ever to see the like done again, by man or woman".
"the most that ever I saw any man have".
How often does Sam write of "the finest ..... ever I have seen in my life"? It gives a clue to the enthusiam of his everyday speech which must have made him such popular company.

cape henry   Link to this

"...the enthusiasm of his everyday speech which must have made him such popular company."What a terrific light bulb moment, TE.Now we can all "hear" those moments ourselves.

Geoff Hallett   Link to this

I know it is not usual in this modern age, but at least many of us in the North of England, still have breakfast, dinner at dinner time (a lunch), a dinner at tea time, but no supper. Sam never mentions breakfast, always home for a dinner, never has tea and sometimes supper. What was the usual pattern for those that could afford all three in those times?

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Pepys hasn't mention a "morning draught" in a long while.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Supper at midnight for Sam recently, which must be a bit unusual for the average citizen who must mind his candles and firewood.

Gillian Bagwell   Link to this

Dryden wrote the part of Florimel for Nell and her lover/mentor Charles Hart, the leading actor of the King's Company, who with Michael Mohun and John Lacy also handled the daily management of the company.

The part took advantage of her most endearing qualities and made her a superstar. Dryden also gave us a good picture of Nell in Celadon's description of her: "Such an oval face, clear skin, hazel eyes, thick brown eye-brows, and hair as you have, for all the world... A turned up nose, that gives an air to your face...a full nether lip, an out-mouth, that makes mine water at it; the bottom of your cheeks a little blub, and two dimples when you smile: For your stature, 'tis well; and for your wit, 'twas given you by one that knew it had been thrown away upon an ill face.-- Come, you're handsome, there's no denying it."

Nell and Hart brought down the house at the end of the show as they negotiated the terms of their marriage:

“‘As for the first year,’” Hart led off, “‘According to the laudable custom of new-married people, we shall follow one another up into chambers, and down into gardens, and think we shall never have enough of one another.’”
“‘But after that, when we begin to live like husband and wife, and never come near one another – what then, sir?’” Nell asked.
“‘Why, then, our only happiness must be to have one mind, and one will, Florimel. One thing let us be sure to agree on, that is, never to be jealous.’”
“‘No; but e'en love one another as long as we can; and confess the truth when we can love no longer.’”
“‘When I have been at play, you shall never ask me what money I have lost.’”
“‘When I have been abroad, you shall never enquire who treated me.’”
“‘Item, I will have the liberty to sleep all night, without your interrupting my repose for any evil design whatsoever.’”
“‘Item, then you shall bid me goodnight before you sleep.’”
“‘Provided always, that whatever liberties we take with other people, we continue very honest to one another.’”
“‘As far as will consist with a pleasant life.’”

Their on-stage partnership as the battling sparked a new genre of "gay couple" comedies, somewhwat like Beatrice and Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing," making them the William Powell and Myrna Loy of Restoration London.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...somewhwat like Beatrice and Benedick in “Much Ado About Nothing,” making them the William Powell and Myrna Loy of Restoration London."

Hmmn, Sam and Bess have had a little black dog...And they give the best parties in town.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Brodrick to Ormond
Written from: [London]
Date: 2 March 1667

Has given to the writer's brother [Commissioner] Cooke an account of the plantations at Cornbury, in order to preserve his Grace, & Lord Arran, from "an error of overgrown trees", into which Hugh May led my Lord Chancellor there. ...

Mentions negotiations between the East-India Companies of England and Holland - "mutually fearing the French trade" in the Indies - treaties private, & "insignificant at present ... but as introduction to future Articles." ...

The Duke of Buckingham has been "casting the King's nativity with his own, by one of the most insignificant rascals that ever pretended to Astrology" ... one who made the art "ridiculous, since he prognosticated the hanging of old Oliver, to his son, Richard Cromwell." ...

http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects...

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