Saturday 2 March 1660/61

Early with Mr. Moore about Sir Paul Neale’s business with my uncle and other things all the morning.

Dined with him at Mr. Crew’s, and after dinner I went to the Theatre, where I found so few people (which is strange, and the reason I did not know) that I went out again, and so to Salsbury Court, where the house as full as could be; and it seems it was a new play, “The Queen’s Maske,” wherein there are some good humours: among others, a good jeer to the old story of the Siege of Troy, making it to be a common country tale. But above all it was strange to see so little a boy as that was to act Cupid, which is one of the greatest parts in it. Then home and to bed.

22 Annotations

First Reading

Emilio  •  Link

"Sir Paul Neale's business with my uncle"

A speculation from L&M: "Neile (son of Richard Neile, late Archbishop of York) was a land-hungry courtier; he may have been negotiating for Robert Pepys's lands in Brampton, the manor of which was held by the Queen Mother in reversion. If so, nothing appears to have come of it."

This is also, as far as I can tell, the last mention L&M make of the Queen Mother's interest in Brampton, so nothing seems to have come of that either.

Bradford  •  Link

Courtesy of… :

. . . it seems it was a new play, "The Queen's Maske," ["Love's Mistress, or The Queen's Masque," by T Heywood.] wherein there are some good humours: . . .

Heywood lived from 1575-1650; in a list of his plays this comes last, 1634. Can some other seeker find us a synopsis?
Intriguingly, and no doubt of interest to Pepys as musician:

"The term ‘still music’ is employed for the last time in 1634 when recorders are called for to accompany Cupid in Thomas Heywood’s Love’s Mistress."

—-from a site about the instrument,…

Josh  •  Link

Slight corrections, Bradford: several sources give Heywood's dates as c.1574-August 1641, and his play "The Royal King and the Loyal Subject" premiered in 1637.
As the subtitle indicates, "Love's Mistress" was a court masque, akin to those of Ben Jonson & co., and in its original form would have included not only music but wondrous scenic effects.
The testimony about the recorders' "still music" accompanying Cupid fits Pepys's remark about it being a principal role; is Sam simply in error calling it a "new play"? L&M to the rescue, somebody?

vincent  •  Link

1609 Maske of Queens, Ben Jonson…
Heywood, T.: Loves Mistresse: or The Queenes Masque (1640)
different spellings
Jonson: The Masqve of Queenes.
Masques [masqves, mask, maske] were quite the thing in C I's day. Tastes change, had been seduced by Versaille influence to the Gallic style.

Giovanna  •  Link

"Old story of the Seige of Troy" - still convinced that it never existed. Hopes for Atlantis then?

The Bishop  •  Link

This is not the same as Ben Jonson's Masque of Queens.

I doubt very much that Heywood's play was a court masque, because a court masque was not something that could be produced on a public stage. A court masque was primarily composed of a sequence of dances, which the audience took part in. The text was very brief, and if you took the text and performed it by itself, it would only take about 30 to 45 minutes. A normal play ran for around two hours.

It's more likely that this is a regular play, and that the plot has something to do with the performance of a masque. Jacobean playwrights frequently used masques as dramatic devices: The Changeling (Middleton/Rowley) and Women Beware Women (Middleton) both climax with the characters murdering each other while performing a masque.

Emilio  •  Link


L&M agree with The Bishop that it was not a masque, and with all the postings above that it wasn't new. They also give a small taste of what the play was like:

"Love's Mistress, or The Queen's masque, was an allegorical drama by Thomas Heywood, first acted in 1634, and published in 1636. In Act II, sc. i, there is a dialogue between the Clown and certain swains in which Troy is described as a village of 'some twenty houses', Agamemnon as 'high Cunstable of the hundred', Ajax as a butcher, and Hector as a baker."

Coincidentally Milton's masque, generally known as Comus, was also first performed in 1634, on Sept. 29 for the Earl of Bridgewater's election as Lord President of Wales. Who knew there ever was a Lord President of Wales?

mlee  •  Link

"Old story of the Seige of Troy" — I read this differently. Old story meaning well-known story, not untrue story.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"a good jeer to the old story of the Siege of Troy"
Yes, this is simply a parody, pastiche, or revisionist farce. Plays were the movies of this period, intended for rough entertainment (and probably always struggling to find enough new and politically safe material).

Rex Gordon  •  Link

"...making Troy a common country tale ..."
We see this kind of thing today in movies like "Clueless" and "Ten Things I Hate About You", where Jane Austen or Shakespeare plots are set in contemporary high schools and translated to teenspeak. People's humor remains pretty constant over the centuries.

Susan  •  Link

Although the Earl of Bridgwater was made Lord President of Wales, he was installed at Ludlow Castle safely over the border in Shropshire. This was partly because of the parlous state of Welsh roads at that time (alomost non-existent - as in Cornwall), but also because it was feared the Welsh might not take kindly to their new English Lord President. There also used to be a Lord President of the North - Lord Strafford (executed under Charles I)was a recent famous holder of that position. Comus was a very play-like masque. As a student, I acted in a performance.

Josh  •  Link

Agree quite that a full-fledged Inigo Jones-production masque couldn't be reproduced on a public stage; but nonetheless more than one source calls "Love's Mistress" a court masque, so go figure.
As for Heywood's correct dates, one recalls a good piece of advice for editors: "Before you say someone is dead, get a second opinion."

The Bishop  •  Link

Reconsidering, it's possible that some of those 1630s masques were more literary than the earlier ones, and that there may have been enough text to adapt for the public stage. Milton's Comus is not exactly a fully-developed drama, but it is much more of a play than the earlier masques by Ben Jonson. It's possible that Heywood's play was extensively rewritten for the public stage, as Shakespeare's plays are going to be.…

"Finally, the latest of Heywood' plays in date of production is, probably, Loves Maistresse: Or, The Queens Masque, performed in 1633, and again in the following year at Denmark house on the king' birthday, and printed in 1636. This dramatic entertainment, into which Fleay has read the signs of a theatrical quarrel between Apuleius (Heywood) and Midas (Christopher Beeston), cannot have given much pleasure even to the instructed except in some pretty passages, especially in the earlier scenes dealing with the story of Cupid and Psyche; to the uninstructed, it must have seemed a shapeless jumble of mythological learning. Heywood lacked the lyrical gift needed to animate an effort of this nature; and Midas, who repeatedly declines to see out the play, may be pardoned for finding consolation in the dances.”

Bradford  •  Link

No, to a discussion in the annotations to March 1---see Tony Scarsdale's remarks there.
For those now curious about what a court masque might be like, hie thee to a library which still has a copy of Stephen Orgel's 1970 edition of Ben Jonson's "Selected Masques," in the Yale Ben Jonson. Excellent information on the interplay of performers and royalty, dancing and music, masque and anti-masque, &c. Several have had modern recordings of the existing scores---cf. the "Masque of Oberon," with Philip Pickett and the Musicians of the Globe on Phillips, &c.
No doubt the material of 1636 could provide sufficient stuff for adaptation to the tastes and stagecraft of 1661.

Jason  •  Link

I wonder if anyone could tell me the exact details of the fight between inigo jones and jonson. I know there was one but I can't get reliable information as to what actually went down. thanks

dirk  •  Link

the exact details of the fight between Inigo Jones and Jonson?

Well, it seems nobody really knows. To a large extent it was probably due to Jonson's temperament. One of the most complete accounts of the relationship between these two strong characters, available on the internet, is probably…

Although even this text notes that "The causes of this quarrrel are not clear."

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"a new play, “The Queen’s Maske,” wherein there are some good humours: among others, a good jeer to the old story of the Siege of Troy, making it to be a common country tale."

An allegorical drama first acted in 1635 and acted in 1636. In Act II, sc. i there is a dialogue between the Clown and certain swains in which Troy is described as a village of 'some twenty houses', Agamemnon as 'high Cunstable of the hundred', Ajax as a butcher, and Hector as a baker (L&M note) -- thus the "jeer" (taunt, mockery, scoff).of "the old story of the Siege of Troy" by "making it to be a common country tale". Pepys rightly says the play is the take-down of an epic.

Third Reading

LKvM  •  Link

This is what interests me the most:
"But above all it was strange to see so little a boy as that was to act Cupid, which is one of the greatest parts in it." Whoever the very talented boy was (I picture Leonardo Decaprio in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" or McCauley Caulkin in "Home Alone"), he must not have made it to adulthood, or even adolescence, or Sam would have chanced on him in a play again.

徽柔  •  Link

So child actors were not common in Pepys'age ?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

From one point-of-view, many started out as child actors, don't you think? In 1660, all the actors were starting out. Some were older than others.

In general, poor children had to pay their way at very young ages.
I can see an adult actor volunteering his pretentious son for the part.
There were lots of orphans, cared for by the parish, who would jump at a chance to do something other than be a chimneysweep.
Also the two London cathedrals were attached to schools, so they could educate and develop their choristers. St. Paul's and Westminster Schools exist today, fulfilling the same function. Maybe one of their charges would aspire to acting after his voice broke?

There was talent out there -- parents/guardians would be grateful for (1) the money, and (2) the possibility that the child would have a career or find a sponsor.

Keep reading. Soon there is a further idea/answer, but I'll be chastised for posting spoilers.

RLB  •  Link

Sam may very well have seen this child actor later in life, but simply not have recognised him as the same person. He doesn't give his name and probably didn't know it; and who realises that that strapping lad of 20 with the stylish beard is the same guy as the round-faced boy of 11 you saw once, that many years ago? I saw Carice van Houten live on the stage at the very start of her career, and I knew right there right then that she'd be a star; but I thought she'd be a star of the stage, and if I hadn't remembered her name, I'd never have recognised Melisandre as that teen who stole a Greek tragedy.

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