Sunday 13 November 1664

(Lord’s day). This morning to church, where mighty sport, to hear our clerke sing out of tune, though his master sits by him that begins and keeps the tune aloud for the parish.

Dined at home very well, and spent all the afternoon with my wife within doors, and getting a speech out of Hamlett, “To bee or not to bee,” without book.

In the evening to sing psalms, and in come Mr. Hill to see me, and then he and I and the boy finely to sing, and so anon broke up after much pleasure, he gone I to supper, and so prayers and to bed.

19 Annotations

First Reading

jeannine  •  Link

To be or not to be....(so you can read along with Sam!)

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

jeannine  •  Link

To bee or not to bee

To bee or not to be
But what bee did he see?
Ortographizing bee?
A bungling buzzing bee?
A Castlemainish bee?
A sweetly loving bee?

No none of these you see
No not a spelling bee
Nor ev’n a bumblebee
Not a diva queen bee
But Bess his honey bee…..

Bunce  •  Link

You dispell
The Bee
is captured in the
of the sting of deaths
sweet dreams,
life is sometimes
not what it seems.
Nancy "B"

Robert Gertz  •  Link

But Sam did it without book...

Of course in these heroic warring times I'd've gone for Hal V's "Once more onto the breech, dear friends..."

Actually a little tragedy for Bard buffs that he didn't give us just a bit more so as to give us a feel for how Betterton's stage version went...Perhaps it was leaning more towards the original gore and guts revenge Hamlet.

"Hamlet! Revenge!"

"Sam'l? Must I keep saying that? Sounds ridiculous repeated over and over."

"Bess. In the original, Shakespeare wasn't too proud to do it."

"But I like the updated version...I could do Ophelia. Or you could her..." grin "...and I'll do Hamlet."

"Am I forever to be cursed by one bad casting?...Besides the updated one's nice but the lad's a temporizing bore after you've heard it a few times. This older one gets right down to the good stuff. Like 'Adventure of Five Hours'."

Australian Susan  •  Link

" hear our clerke sing out of tune, ..." so now we have it confirmed that Sam was used to listening to a sung or chanted liturgy. Or maybe this was just the psalm. Shows too, that Sam had a good ear - and was not above indulging in some schoolboy sniggering in the gallery.

Terry F  •  Link

L&M explain that since 1644 St. Olave's -- how to say this without ... -- had been without an organ; what was needed was a song-leader with a good ear.

Mary  •  Link

"getting ..... without book"

i.e. learning it by heart.

Bradford  •  Link

And no rhymes to grab onto as mnemonics, with so many run-ons and sentences long as your tongue---did Pepys count the syllables off on his fingers?

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

If I remember correctly Sam has seldom been appreciative of Shakespeare's plays. Apparently the soliloque from Hamlet was even then a famous one and well-known enough for Sam to learn it by heart.
I did the same here on the secondary school and often parts of it return on various occasions.

Ruben  •  Link

Today's 3 sentences are wonderful. You do not have to be an English expert to feel that each word is exactly in the right and necessary place.
I liked specially "...,he gone I to supper,..." What an economy! Coming from the Spanish prodigality with words, I just admire the phrasing.

JWB  •  Link

Shakespeare appreciation

Perhaps it's the run-up to war. A Shakespeare theme, in the history plays, is a call to civil harmony. We recently witnessed Sam's like-mindedness on the 12th, in Jeannine's annotation, where he stands up for Taylor v. sectarian division.

jeannine  •  Link


Sometimes the Diary will hit something that is so pertinent to ‘life’ that it causes a smile. Sam’s entry today with ‘to bee or not to bee” hit that note for me. Last night my daughter’s spelling homework was to learn and differentiate the uses of different homonyms, and I am the at home quiz master. After 15 minutes of creating nonsense sentences such as “I went TO get toe shoes and bought TWO tutus TOO”, Sam’s use of “BEE” as opposed to “BE” was a delight to see!…

Carl in Boston  •  Link

Then came Donald Duck the aspiring actor, who declaimed:
Who would fardels bear, and sink into the quagmire?

Patrick Swazey did this speech, I think, and went:
To die (slow down)
to sleep (drowsily)
to sleep (sleepily)
(starting suddenly and speaking hastily) perchance to dream
(pointing with alertness) ay, there's the rub
etc, etc.

Patrick Swazey does my favorite Ebenezer Scrooge,
declaiming before the Ghost of the Future
Why show me these things if there is no hope of change?
(quick point upwards at the Ghost, aha, I've got you on that point)
etc, etc.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Duke's "Soliloquy," spoken by the King in "Huck Finn":

"To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane,
But that the fear of something after death
Murders the innocent sleep,
Great nature's second course,
And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune
Than fly to others that we know not of.
There's the respect must give us pause:
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The law's delay, and the quietus which his pangs might take,
In the dead waste and middle of the night, when churchyards yawn
In customary suits of solemn black,
But that the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns,
Breathes forth contagion on the world,
And thus the native hue of resolution, like the poor cat i' the adage,
Is sicklied o'er with care,
And all the clouds that lowered o'er our housetops,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
But soft you, the fair Ophelia:
Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws,
But get thee to a nunnery -- go!"

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"getting a speech out of Hamlett, “To bee or not to bee,”’ without book."

Pepys greatly admired Betterton's interpretation of Hamlet, and refers to the soliloquy at 15 August 1665.… Morelli, Pepys's domestic musician, set it as a recitative song c. 1680. PL 2591.
(L&M footnote)

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ' . . getting a speech out of Hamlett, “To bee or not to bee,” without book.'

'book, n. < Germanic.
. . P2. a. without (†one's) book : without the aid of a book, from memory, by rote; . .
. . a1616   Shakespeare Twelfth Night (1623) i. iii. 25   He..speaks three or four languages word for word without booke . . '


Bill  •  Link

Pepys had "To be or not to be" set to music, and it will be found in his collection of "Songs and other Compositions" (No. 2591), in the volume devoted to "Compositions, Grave."
--- Wheatley. Diary, 1904.

Liz  •  Link

“Without book”. I believe it is “off book” nowadays - when actors have learnt their lines.

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