Thursday 3 January 1660/61

Early in the morning to the Exchequer, where I told over what money I had of my Lord’s and my own there, which I found to be 970l.. Thence to Will’s, where Spicer and I eat our dinner of a roasted leg of pork which Will did give us, and after that to the Theatre, where was acted “Beggars’ Bush,” it being very well done; and here the first time that ever I saw women come upon the stage.1 From thence to my father’s, where I found my mother gone by Bird, the carrier, to Brampton, upon my uncle’s great desire, my aunt being now in despair of life. So home.

13 Annotations

First Reading

Paul Miller  •  Link

"to the Theatre, where was acted "Beggars' Bush," it being very well done”

Beggar’s Bush (1622)
a comedy by Fletcher & Massinger

Set in and around Bruges (Belgium). Florenz is heir to Flanders but does not know it; he is living as a rich merchant in Bruges. He loves Bertha; she is heiress of Brabant but does not know it; she has been stolen away and placed with the mayor of Bruges. Florenz’s father, Gerrard, the earl of Flanders, has been driven from his lands by Wolfort and is living as the leader of a band of beggars near Bruges, while he watches over Florenz. Wolfort wants to marry Bertha in order to gain Brabant. He sends a nobleman, Hubert, to get Bertha for him; Hubert loves Jacqueline, Gerrard’s daughter, who is living with her father among the beggars. He joins the beggars, helps Gerrard capture Wolfort, and all is well. Florenz and Bertha marry.

Pauline  •  Link

The Beggars Bush (?1622); John Fletcher, Beaumont (?), Philip Massinger

" is worth reading for its “version of pastoral,” which genially persuades the audience that it is better to be a country beggar than a tyrannical king."…

The geniality noted seems to have brought the title down through the ages as a name for houses/estates and suburban neighborhoods.

Emilio  •  Link

"here the first time that ever I saw women come upon the stage"

We hit a major turning point in Sam's theatre-going career. L&M have a lengthy footnote on the introduction of women to the English stage, which I've posted here:…

Today isn't the first appearance of a woman on the English stage, but it certainly hasn't happened many times before now.

vincent  •  Link

Nix did annot :Tuesday 20 November 1660: our Man did see it then :
"...where the play of "Beggar's Bush" was newly begun; and so we went in and saw it, it was well acted: and here I saw the first time one Moone, who is said to be the best actor in the world, lately come over with the King, and indeed it is the finest play-house, I believe, that ever was in England….”

Mary  •  Link

Bird the carrier.

According to L&M Companion, Bird/Beard arrived at his London terminus, an inn in Cripplegate, every Wednesday and returned to Huntingdon the following morning. During the period of the diary there were between 200 and 300 carrier services operating to and from London. Mostly they carried goods and letters, but also took passengers when need arose. Probably not a very comfortable journey for Mrs. Pepys Senior.

Lawrence  •  Link

Where I found my mother gone by bird, the carrier, to Brampton, "I suppose she made these arrangements at the last minute?" so would that mean she was lucky to make the journey with Bird?, I mean it is towards a university town, so presumably others would be to-ing and fro-ing there all the time, and you could rely on him not to get you lost.

Mary  •  Link

Last minute arrangements.

Bird would probably have made room for Mrs. Pepys Sr. even if hers was a last-minute request. He gets quite a lot of business from both Pepys and Sandwich, carrying goods and mail between London and Huntingdon on their behalf, and would certainly have tried to oblige Sam's mother if at all possible.

Gar Foyer  •  Link

It's amusing to see contemporary annotators think of this partcular theatre-going milestone moment of Pepys's as a sign of the slowness of progress...when his diary commences Sam is dizzy with the heady perfume of newfound cultural freedom whereas months before plays had been still officially banned although the ban had not been generally enforced since the apogee of Puritan rule.

Mere months from now the debauchery of the Stuart court will help populate English theatres with actresses whose very attraction is their reputation for lasciviousness and bawdy behaviour:

Think of a a name still synonmous with the actress-mistress duality--Nell Gwyn..."'pretty, witty Nell', as Pepys called her, charmed not only the King but his subjects - who cordially disliked most of his other mistresses, in particular the Catholic Frenchwoman Louise de Keroualle. When crowds booed Nell's carriage, thinking she was Louise, she leaned out of the window and called 'I am the Protestant whore!' "

Lawrence  •  Link

Thanks Mary, I see nothing changes with time, Most small business' would certainly accommodate Mrs Pepys snr, with that amount of business in mind.

vincent  •  Link

The waggon left wednesday [and this being a thurs day? ] and saturday for Huntington, from Co. Red Lion, Aldersgatestreet, w. s. Wag. ditto, m.…

Mary  •  Link

Coaching timetable

Nice site, Vincent; though it does show the arrangements for 1722, rather than 1660, so perhaps not an exact guide to what Pepys could count on.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Downes does not give the cast of this play. After the Restoration the acting of female characters by women became common. The first English professional actress was Mrs. Coleman, who acted Ianthe in Davenant’s “Siege of Rhodes,” at Rutland House in 1656. "

Roscius Anglicanus by Downes, John, fl. 1661-1719 (1708)…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Siege of Rhodes

The Siege of Rhodes is an opera written to a text by the impresario William Davenant.[1] The score is by five composers, the vocal music by Henry Lawes, Matthew Locke, and Captain Henry Cooke, and the instrumental music by Charles Coleman and George Hudson.[2] It is considered to be the first English opera.

Special permit
Part 1 of The Siege of Rhodes was first performed in a small private theatre constructed at Davenant's home, Rutland House, in 1656. Special permission had to be obtained from the Puritan government of Oliver Cromwell, as dramatic performances were outlawed and all public theatres closed. Davenant managed to obtain this by calling the production "recitative music", music being still permissible within the law. When published in 1656, it was under the equivocating title The siege of Rhodes made a representation by the art of prospective in scenes, and the story sung in recitative musick, at the back part of Rutland-House in the upper end of Aldersgate-Street, London. The 1659 reprinting gives the location at the Cock-pit in Drury Lane, a well-known theatre frequented by Samuel Pepys after the Restoration (1660). Pepys himself later read the text and commented in his Diary that it was "certainly (the more I read it the more I think so) the best poem that ever was wrote."[3]…

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