Monday 28 October 1661

At the office all the morning, and dined at home, and so to Paul’s Churchyard to Hunt’s, and there found my Theorbo done, which pleases me very well, and costs me 26s. to the altering. But now he tells me it is as good a lute as any is in England, and is worth well 10l. Hither I sent for Captain Ferrers to me, who comes with a friend of his, and they and I to the Theatre, and there saw “Argalus and Parthenia,” where a woman acted Parthenia, and came afterwards on the stage in men’s clothes, and had the best legs that ever I saw, and I was very well pleased with it. Thence to the Ringo alehouse, and thither sent for a belt-maker, and bought of him a handsome belt for second mourning, which cost me 24s., and is very neat.

26 Annotations

First Reading

Bob T  •  Link

where a woman acted Parthenia, and came afterwards on the stage in men's clothes, and had the best legs that ever I saw,

This is a bit weird isn’t it? Was she just putting on a show to drum up future business? How did Sam get to be an expert on female legs? Lot of questions in this entry.

I ain’t touching the Ringo bit; it’s too easy.

Nix  •  Link

"a handsome belt for second mourning" --

Does anyone know what sort of belt this would be? Our modern conception -- a buckled, narrow leather strap to hold up one's trousers? Or something different?

And what would "second" mourning refer to?

moon_custafer  •  Link

The belt might be for Liz. He was complaining in the previous entry that her mourning outfit was so old he was ashamed to be seen with her.

As several people have said, if Sam/Liz are still in mourning for his Uncle Robert it's about time to go into a more toned-down stage of mourning now, which is probably the "second mourning" he's referring to.

daniel  •  Link

well, well, well

now we truly know why Sam is such a fan of the theatre!

Tom  •  Link

"…where a woman acted Parthenia, and came afterwards on the stage in men's clothes, and had the best legs that ever I saw,"

Don't forget, this is the Restoration and the first time women have been allowed to appear on stage.

"In olden days a glimpse of stocking…"

dirk  •  Link


Victorian Mourning Customs from Collier's Cyclopedia published in 1901…
"Widow's first mourning lasts for a year and a day. Second mourning cap left off, less crape and silk for nine months (some curtail it to six), remaining three months of second year plain black without crape, and jet ornaments. At the end of the second year the mourning can be put off entirely; but it is better taste to wear half mourning for at least six months longer; and, as we have before mentioned, many widows never wear colors any more, unless for some solitary event, such as the wedding of a child, when they would probably put it off for the day."
(For less close relatives, the periods of first and second mourning were shorter. For children vs parents for instance -either way- periods of mourning were halved.)

Closer to Sam's time, from…
"September 1730
Notice is given to all Peers, Peeresses and Privy-Counsellors, that the Court goes into Second Mourning, for her Highness Benedicta Henrietta, Dutchess Dowager of Brunswick and Lunenburg, to-morrow, for three weeks.
The ladies to wear black silk, laced linnen, jewels, coloured fans and gloves. The men to wear laced linnen, coloured swords and buckles. (London Journal)"

Bob T  •  Link

Second Mourning
I agree that the belt is for some type of toned down mourning. I beleive that the Victorians were into this sort of thing. Deep morning for a given period, that depended on the family status of the dearly departed. And then a second mourning that was set by the same rule. Morbid lot the Victorians.

Bradford  •  Link

Yes, "second mourning" refers to a modified version of full mourning dress. Victorian London had clothes "warehouses" to accommodate all levels, from (said one satiric publication) the deepest grief up through every profound nuance of slightest regret.

"In olden days a glimpse of stocking / was looked on as something shocking," as Cole Porter sang, and the chances for such sights were much, much rarer in 1661 than we can readily imagine nowadays. So these may have been the best women's legs in tights Sam has seen, but what's his likely basis of comparison?

As for women being allowed on the stage during this era, surely many readers of this site have already seen the admittedly sexed-up, so to speak, treatment of the subject in "Stage Beauty," the new film starring Billy Crudup as renowned female actor Ned Kynaston, who finds Charles II's rescindment of the ban on female actors (and ban on men playing women) turns his former female dresser into his replacement? Whee!

Josh  •  Link

C'mon, grampaw, tell us the story of Argalus and Parthenia.

vicente  •  Link

Quarle [1592-1644] developed Sidney"s Arcadia, Argalus and Parthenia 1629…

Hos Ego versiculos
Like to the damaske rose you see,
or like the blossome on the tree,.......…

Love and Heroism are tightly woven themes in Sir Philip Sydney's ARCADIA…

plot summary
In the country of Laconia (=Arcadia), two shepherds,
Strephon and Claius lament over their lost love, Urania, who
has moved away, when they spy a naked man, Musidorus, in a boat. Upon
reviving him, Musidorus cries "Pyrocles" and attempts to kill himself by
throwing himself back into the sea. Strephon and Claius restrain him,
provide him with a fisherman's extra set of clothes

vicente  •  Link

The first pantomine? "...where a woman acted Parthenia, and came afterwards on the stage in men's clothes, and had the best legs that ever I saw…” Oh! prince in Cinderella ye always will have nice pair of gamms.

vicente  •  Link

3rd visit to play:Argalus and Parthenia, a pastoral, by
[Henry Glapthorn, taken from Sydney's Arcadia.]
"...Here we saw Argalus and Parthenia, which I lately saw, but though pleasant for the dancing and singing, I do not find good for any wit or design therein..."…
"...there sat in the pit among the company of fine ladys, &c.; and the house was exceeding full, to see Argalus and Parthenia, the first time that it hath been acted..."…

JWB  •  Link

"...came afterwards on the stage..."
A Parthenian Parthian shot.

Mary  •  Link

Sam's views on legs.

Given that working women and girls often needed to hitch up their long skirts when engaged in daily tasks (you try washing a floor in a full-length skirt, let alone helping with harvest, walking through deep mud, doing the periodic grand wash on a floor sloppy with water) Sam has probably seen quite a lot of female legs, at least as high as the knee. Why shouldn't he be a decent judge of a well-turned ankle and calf?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Hmmn...a total of 50s in one day on new belt (I'd bet for him as he doesn't mention it being for her) and repairing the ole therbo. And Beth in mourning so old he's embarrassed to be seen in church with her...

Wonder if he described the wonderous legs to Beth on his return. "You should've seen her, Bess... "Sam'l! What about your vow to take me?!"

"But darling, you're in mourning so old I could hardly risk my position being seen with you in public at the Theater."

"Nice belt, prick-louse tailor's boy!"

E  •  Link

In our mourning calculations we have been overlooking Aunt Kite, who died 12th September. She was the remarried widow of Samuel's mother's brother -- what would the mourning experts compute for that? This does point up the fact that long periods of mourning would frequently overlap in a world of low life expectancy.

If the mourning has been long-running since the summer, I wonder if Elizabeth's shabbiness is encouraging a change to half-mourning, or whether our man wanted to change and picked up the shabbiness as an excuse? (Am I being unfair?)

Lorry  •  Link

This shows that Sam, even though a happily married man, is still alive and definitely a "Leg Man".

David A. Smith  •  Link

"costs me 26s. ... now he tells me it ... is worth well £10”
It’s not an indulgence, it’s an *investment.*
When you’re born poor, and your wealth is both recent and ephemeral (dependent on patronage), you part hesistantly with money, glancing over your shoulder at each new extravagance and always recounting your pennies, shillings, and pounds.
In times of stress, a fat bank balance will give cold winter comfort.

Bushman  •  Link

Whatever the belt was for, I think 24 shillings was an enormous sum in those days. Must have been made with gold threads.

vicente  •  Link

"I think 24 shillings was an enormous sum in those days" I doth think ye be rite, you could keep a wench as your under maid for 20 weeks scrubbing the floors,washing yer dirty undies and removing the lice from ones goldy locks for that kind of money. Of course yer need a good strap to keep the hired help in line.
An Aside, the value of quids.
Back in the 50's I took a temporary job to survey a soap product in London town, to test which colour and shape of bottle that would get the woman[man] on the street to pay most money. The Leader of this merry band, sends moi to get 'im a box [20] of Castros best, the money would have paid my 2 months wages. So payment is in the eyes of the payee or payer,never equivalent .

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Argalus and Parthenia"
In the country of Laconia(> laconic:did not talk much:country bumpkins)two sheperds lament their lost love Urania(> uranism)who has moved away,when they spy a naked man.
Surely an X-rated play

DonB  •  Link

"Morbid lot the Victorians." The diary is actually about 200 years before the Victorian age. Stuart seems to be the correct term for the period 1603 to 1688. "The Restoration", is also valid. defines The Restoration for the period between 1660 and 1668 but OED doesn't define a cutoff year - could still be going on!

vicente  •  Link

Thank ye A. De Araujo for insite into the terse and heavenly yokels. To day if them there plays were put on the boards to day, as dun in the original interpretation, they would be exjected.

Scav  •  Link

However, a good deal of the *evidence* cited concerning mourning was properly speaking Victorian because, morbid (if often racy) lot that they were, they practiced the custom with great gusto and systemization (so the sources litter the ground).

Second Reading

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

'second mourning n. Obs. a style of dress allowed by etiquette to be worn when strict mourning is discarded; also attrib.

1693 London Gaz. No. 2843/4, A dark Grey Second-Mourning Surtoot-Coat.
1712 T. Tickell Spectator No. 410. ⁋1 She was an agreeable Second-Mourning.
1814 Sailor's Return i. iv, in J. Galt New Brit. Theatre II. 322 Enter Lady Growl and Lucy Delves, in conversation—Lucy in second mourning.'

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"a handsome belt for second mourning" "

It was some three months since Pepys's Uncle Robert had died. (L&M note) The acceleration of fashion changes was a feature of Restoration England.

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