Tuesday 2 January 1665/66

Up by candlelight again, and wrote the greatest part of my business fair, and then to the office, and so home to dinner, and after dinner up and made an end of my fair writing it, and that being done, set two entering while to my Lord Bruncker’s, and there find Sir J. Minnes and all his company, and Mr. Boreman and Mrs. Turner, but, above all, my dear Mrs. Knipp, with whom I sang, and in perfect pleasure I was to hear her sing, and especially her little Scotch song of “Barbary Allen;” and to make our mirthe the completer, Sir J. Minnes was in the highest pitch of mirthe, and his mimicall tricks, that ever I saw, and most excellent pleasant company he is, and the best mimique that ever I saw, and certainly would have made an excellent actor, and now would be an excellent teacher of actors. Thence, it being post night, against my will took leave, but before I come to my office, longing for more of her company, I returned and met them coming home in coaches, so I got into the coach where Mrs. Knipp was and got her upon my knee (the coach being full) and played with her breasts and sung, and at last set her at her house and so good night. So home to my lodgings and there endeavoured to have finished the examining my papers of Pursers’ business to have sent away to-night, but I was so sleepy with my late early risings and late goings to bed that I could not do it, but was forced to go to bed and leave it to send away to-morrow by an Expresse.

27 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"set [?my clerks] to entering" (transcribe L&M)

A.Hamilton  •  Link

Barbary Allen

First mentioned in this diary entry.

Collected and transcribed by Francis James Child in the last decade of the 19th Century and since known as a Child Ballad.

The version I learned in the North Carolina mountains at the age of about 14 began,

"In the town where I was born,
There was a fair maid dwellin',
Made all the lads cry lack-a-day
Her name was Barb'ry Allen.

Sung by many folk singers, including Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, to a variety of verses. Here's a brief section sung by Jean Ritchie:


A.Hamilton  •  Link

Mrs. Knipp

Known hereafter to Pepys's tavern friends as the Red-Breasted Warbler.

Margaret  •  Link

Do I understand correctly that Sam is copping a feel while in a crowded coach? Perhaps it was too dark for anyone else to notice what was happening (some modern analogs come to mind). I wonder who else was in the coach.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Barbara Allen

Made famous cinematically by being sung by children in the movie The Piano.

Child published 3 versions of Barbara Allen, all from early 18th century publications. (Child, Vol II,Part 3, 1885, p. 276)and he quotes Sam as above in his notes as the earliest written reference to this ballad. So he must have had access to Brightwell's (?) transliteration. Our version (Wheatley) did not come out until 1892. Presumably, Child did not have access to the episode in the coach with the fair singer......

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Barbary Allen

L&M note "there is no evidence that the modern tune was that used in the 17th century." I note there is evidence that there is more than one modern tune linked here, of which the most often covered is the lovely one sung by Jean Ritchie (for which, thanks, A.Hamilton).

Australian Susan  •  Link

Child is usually silent about the tunes, but he does have this to say in his notes about B.A. He quotes Oliver Goldsmith (3rd essay, 1765, p. 14)as saying "The music of the finest singer is dissonance to what I felt when an old dairymaid sung me into tears with 'The Cruelty of Barbara Allen.'". Most ballads, when published, used to have "to the tune of...." written at the top, which is not always helpful in tracking down the music. The recordings I have are all from the definitive collection : The Folk Songs of Great Britain, recorded between 1945 and 1960. There are 6 versions of Barbara Allen from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland all more or less to the same tune, which is different from the version AH has provided a link for.(which is more reflective) This is the 2nd most popular traditional ballad recorded in the field. Three interesting points: it has no European analogues, it is remarkably consistent in all versions and the North American variants are more common and more complex. For American readers interested in reading more, try the classic The British Traditional Ballad in North America, Philadelphia, 1950 by Tristram P. Coffin.(which you can get 2ndhand from Amazon Marketplace http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss…)

Australian Susan  •  Link

Have just read the Wikipedia article which PG has helpfully appended (thanks!). But have to say that the article has the wrong date for first publication: this was in 1740 in Ramsey's Miscellany. (FJC).

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"and played with her breasts"
Methinks Sam is not being totally transparent here;she probably said NO to further advances.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Many thanks, Susan. Your have drunk deep of the Pieirian spring, where I took only a sip.

language hat  •  Link

"Perhaps it was too dark for anyone else to notice what was happening"

I'm afraid such behavior was customary and taken for granted, much as jovially slapping women's bottoms was in the 1950s. Thank goodness for feminism.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I take Chris Knipp was nowhere about, given his tendency to be less than Bagwellian in his spousal generosity. Poor Knipp...Between Chris' morose bullying and Sam's charming selfishness one can see why she might take any attention from a reasonably cultured, well-positioned fellow like Sam as better than none.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

John Evelyn's Diary (in lieu of Dirk van de Putte)

2 I supped in None-such house (whither the Office of the Exchequer was transferrd, during the Plague) at my good friends Mr. Packer: & tooke an exact view of the Plaster Statues & Bass-relievos inserted twixt the timbers & poincons ["puncheons"] of the outside walles of the Court, which must needes have ben the work of some excellent Italian: admire I did how much it had lasted so well & intire as since the time of Hen: 8, exposd, as they are to the aire, & pitty it is they are not taken out, & [preserved] in some dry place, a gallerie would become them: there are some Mezzo relievi as big as the life [sc. life-sized], & the story is of the heathen Gods, Emblems, Compartiments, &c:

The Palace consists of two Courts, of which the first is of stone Castle like, by the Lord Lumlies (of whom ’twas purchas’d) the other of Timber a Gotique fabric, but these walls incomparably beautified: I also observed that the appearing timber punchions, entretices &c were all so covered with Scales of Slate, that it seemed carved in the Wood, & painted, the Slat fastned on the timber in pretty figures, that has preserved it from rotting like a coate of armour: There stand in the Garden two handsome stone Pyramids, & the avenue planted with rows of faire Elmes, but the rest of those goodly Trees both of this & of Worcester-Park adjoyning were fell’d by those destructive & avaritious Rebells in the late Warr, which defac’d one of the stateliest seates his Majestie had.1

The Court was now in deep mourning for the French Queen-Mother.
[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne… ]

1 [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nons… Nonsuch Palace was inherited in 1580 from his father-in-law by John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John… It returned to royal hands in the 1590s. ] In 1670 Charles II gave Nonsuch to the Duchess of Cleveland who sold it for demolition in 1682 to George, Lord Berkeley, for £1,800 when ’several large Squares of Historical Relieve ... upon the Demolition of that Royal Fabrick, I hear, have been translated, and ornamently plac’d ... at his delicious Villa Durden’s in Surry, not far from Nonsuch’ (E’s An Account of Architects and Architecture, 1697, 54.)

Australian Susan  •  Link

I'm a real anorak on the subject of ballads, also Antarctic exploration, but there is not the chance to talk about that in this forum, for which you are probably all thankful.

Brian  •  Link

Barbara Allan, as sung by Porky Pig (Friar Tuck) to Daffy Duck (Robin Hood), in the Looney Tunes cartoon "Robin Hood Daffy." (at the 5:10 mark)


tonyt  •  Link

'The Court was now in deep mourning for the French Queen-Mother'. Intriguing if correct for January 2nd. Anne of Austria did not die until January 10th/20th 1666 though she had received the last sacraments and made a solemn farewell to her family some time earlier.

Peter  •  Link

Tonyt... probably the answer to the discrepancy you raise lies in who is, and who isn't, using the Gregorian calendar.....

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Per Brian on 4 Jan 2009 [updated Link ]

Barbara Allan [beginning], as sung by Porky Pig (Friar Tuck) to Daffy Duck (Robin Hood), in the Looney Tunes cartoon "Robin Hood Daffy." (at the 5:10 mark)


Terry Foreman  •  Link

Time correction: Porky Pig (Friar Tuck) starts to sing "Barbara Allen " in the Looney Tunes cartoon "Robin Hood Daffy" (posted above) at the 1:50 mark.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Barbara Allen" (Child 84, Roud 54) is a traditional Scottish ballad; it later travelled to America both orally and in print, where it became a popular folk song. Ethnomusicologists Steve Roud and Julia Bishop described it as "far and away the most widely collected song in the English language — equally popular in England, Scotland and Ireland, and with hundreds of versions collected over the years in North America." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar…
Notable contemporary performances: With links to recordings from 1907 on.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Just as well Monck cancelled the Christmas break ... Pepys is wearing out all the scribes cranking out that monster proposal.

MarkS  •  Link

Here's an exceptionally beautiful version of Barbary Allen, sung by Jean Redpath in a simple traditional way.

This must be something like the version sung by an old dairymaid that moved Oliver Goldsmith to tears.


Gerald Berg  •  Link

Au contraire SD Sarah. I believe Tooker took the dictation whilst Sam has been writing the copy fair all these candlelit hours. Tooker yesterday was reading his own writing back to Sam. Perhaps Sam has taken a few kicks since to achieve fair copy?

Aye, aye, eyes, Sam!

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