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.
- “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. ↩