Thursday 4 July 1661

At home all the morning; in the afternoon I went to the Theatre, and there I saw “Claracilla” (the first time I ever saw it), well acted. But strange to see this house, that used to be so thronged, now empty since the Opera begun; and so will continue for a while, I believe. Called at my father’s, and there I heard that my uncle Robert continues to have his fits of stupefaction every day for 10 or 12 hours together.

From thence to the Exchange at night, and then went with my uncle Wight to the Mitre and were merry, but he takes it very ill that my father would go out of town to Brampton on this occasion and would not tell him of it, which I endeavoured to remove but could not.

Here Mr. Batersby the apothecary was, who told me that if my uncle had the emerods1 (which I think he had) and that now they are stopped, he will lay his life that bleeding behind by leeches will cure him, but I am resolved not to meddle in it.

Home and to bed.

24 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"he will lay his life that bleeding behind by leeches will cure him" it could cure the hemorrhoids if they were thrombosed,but not the stroke.
Beware of free advice

daniel  •  Link


spotted fever to my ear has a bit of nostalgic ring to it, though I am sure it wasn't for those afflicted. but hemorrhoids and leeches... my XXIst century squeemishness kicks in. sometimes Sam brings his world a bit too vividly to life!

dirk  •  Link


By Thomas Killigrew

"In 1641 he published two tragi-comedies, The Prisoners and Claracilla, both of which had probably been produced before 1636. (...) In 1664 his plays were published as "Comedies and Tragedies", written by Thomas Killigrew. They are Claracilla; The Princess, or Love at First Sight; The Parson's Wedding; The Pilgrim; Cicilia and Clorinda, or Love in Arms; Thomaso, or the Wanderer; and Bellamira, her Dream, or Love of Shadows."

dirk  •  Link

"strange to see this house, that used to be so thronged, now empty since the Opera begun"

Remarkable, as it was noted yesterday that operatic theatre never really become popular in Britain. Possible explantion might be that new things (and new theatres) always attract people in the beginning - though interest may well weaken afterwards.

dirk  •  Link


Daniel, I can understand your squeemishness, but I can assure you that treatment with leeches (even on very sensitive parts of the body) is painless. Also it doesn't normally cause infections either (something to do with the "saliva" of the leeches) or damage anything under the skin. The only obvious disadvantage is of course the loss of blood - but that was thought to be the essence of the cure at the time.

dirk  •  Link

leeches - cont'd

Very recent article on the use of leeches in *modern* medicine. It seems they are useful little animals after all...…

Josh  •  Link

Here in the States, the FDA has just formally approved the use of leeches as "a medical device." But as for the wisdom of bleeding an ill person so that their already taxed system must create new blood . . . let the Informed take up the discussion from this point.

vicente  •  Link

The Opera appears not to be very popular or money making "...But strange to see this house, that used to be so thronged, now empty since the Opera begun; and so will continue for a while..."
Thomas KILLIGREW, the elder (M: 1612 Feb 7 - 1683 Mar 19) The Parson's Wedding [d|1664] The Prisoners [d|?] Claracilla [d|?] The Princess [d|?] Cecilia And Clorinda [d|?]

adam w  •  Link

Fits of stupefaction
This confirms the meaning of 'stupid' from 2nd July.
Doesn't sound like a stroke to me - he has a fluctuating level of consciousness, sometimes lucid, sometimes near-comatose, sometimes agitated ('like a man that is drunk' - 2nd July). This is delirium, and could be casued by any severe illness in an elderly man. Leeches on his bottom wouldn't help I fear, unless as euthanasia by dehydration.

Xjy  •  Link

'Here in the States, the FDA has just formally approved the use of leeches as "a medical device." ‘
Similarly, there’s nothing like maggots for cleaning up gangrenous sores and not touching the living flesh.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"since the Opera begun" How about Handel Dirk?

vicente  •  Link

Pic of the leeche:Now the US Food and Drug Administration has approved an application from French firm Ricarimpex SAS to market leeches for medicinal purposes.
These hungry little Draculas have been used in medicine for centuries and were first employed in Egypt about 2,500 years ago.
Later, they were applied to treat all kinds of ailments from headaches to gout.
Through bloodletting, it was thought that leeches would drain "impure blood" from the body, thereby curing illness.…

language hat  •  Link

"...but I am resolved not to meddle in it."

A wise decision -- I'd have made the very same resolve!

But what is the referent of "which" in "...which I endeavoured to remove but could not"?

daniel  •  Link

"since the Opera begun"

as i cited yesterday, "siege of Rhodes" is England's first foray into all-sung drama. other attempts were made, henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" and John Blow's "Venus and Adonis" are both great examples but were intended originally for private performances. Public opera productions of note had to wait for yet another generation when the Hanoverians encouraged Italian opera to flourish in the hands' of such composers as Mr. Haendel and Giovanni Bononcini. Pepys would see none of this. England's spoken theater tradition seemed to be strong enough to resist this incoming musical force. One can see this inclination in the Spanish view on opera in the seventeenth century also.

dirk  •  Link

what is the referent of "which" - re language hat

I take it the referent is "but he takes it very ill" one line higher up. Sam hasn't been able to take uncle Wight's ill feeling away.

Jesse  •  Link

"had the emerods ... bleeding behind by leeches will cure him, but I am resolved not to meddle in it"

No sh-t. Sorry couldn't be helped. I'm a day late w/this so maybe nobody'll notice :)

vicente  •  Link

Sam miss this one at the House of Lords.
Ly. Dacres not allowed Priviledge, having married a Commoner [Cor luver ducks, she ain't no lady any more?]…

Ruben  •  Link

Not so fast! 5 years later the mess is still on the Parliament's diet.
and for more about the Lady look for her at…
The British Library catalogue states: recipe collection of Mary, Lady Dacres, for cookery and domestic medicine; 1666-1696.
see also…
"Of these, the long, curved mound of Brandsburton, called the Barff, is one of the most singular, and in it have been found the remains of the mammoth. At the beginning of the 17th century the manor belonged to Lady Dacres, and was given by her to the lord mayor and aldermen of London in trust for Emanuel Hospital, Westminster, which was founded by her..."
But look now at…
"In 1680, William Howard, Earl of Stafford and grandson of Philip and Ann, gave his life on Tower Hill in heroic witness to the Catholic faith. Like his grandfather he was a married man and a convert to the Old Faith. Maliciously William was netted into the so-called Catholic plot, falsely conjured up by that notorious liar, Titus Oates. The Church now reveres him as Blessed William Howard."
Ann was Lady Ann Dacres, most probably from the same Catholic aristocratic family as Mary's.
All ressumes to Land & Power & Faith...

vicente  •  Link

Ruben a great find. Politics as usual , how to get even. Theres a novel [historic] there. To morrow Their Lordships will try to get more lands, indirectly of course['tis the old magician, con man, politics, talk of one thing and empty the pocket with the other hand], 'Tis the olde lucre trail [philphey money].

Nigel Pond  •  Link

Medicinal use of leeches

As I understand it, the benefit of using leeches in modern medicine is that their saliva has vasodialator, anticoagulant, and clot-dissolving properties. They are used, inter alia, in reattachment surgery where blood flow needs to be re-established quickly -- their saliva prevents clots and keeps blood flowing.

Second Reading

arby  •  Link

Older people with cardiovascular disease are being encouraged to donate blood precisely because it does remove old blood cells, which the body replaces with new ones. Older blood cells are stiff and sticky, contributing to clots, stroke and heart attack.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"But strange to see this house, that used to be so thronged, now empty since the Opera begun; and so will continue for a while, I believe."

This isn't opera. What's operatic about the Duke House at Lincoln's Inn Fields were the production means employed by Sir William Davenant -- the first movable scenery and the first proscenium arch L&M note Killigrew did not use painted scenery at the Theatre Royal, and the novelty of it at the 'Opera'
(… ) was evidently a strong counter-attraction.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The earliest English opera (opera teachers now say this)

About 1683, John Blow composed Venus and Adonis, often thought of as the first true English-language opera. Blow's immediate successor was the better known Henry Purcell. Despite the success of his masterwork Dido and Aeneas (1689), in which the action is furthered by the use of Italian-style recitative, much of Purcell's best work was not involved in the composing of typical opera, but instead he usually worked within the constraints of the semi-opera format, where isolated scenes and masques are contained within the structure of a spoken play, such as Shakespeare in Purcell's The Fairy-Queen (1692) and Beaumont and Fletcher in The Prophetess (1690) and Bonduca (1696). The main characters of the play tend not to be involved in the musical scenes, which means that Purcell was rarely able to develop his characters through song.…

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