Friday 28 December 1666

Up, and Creed and I walked (a very fine walk in the frost) to my Lord Bellasses, but missing him did find him at White Hall, and there spoke with him about some Tangier business. That done, we to Creed’s lodgings, which are very pretty, but he is going from them. So we to Lincoln’s Inne Fields, he to Ned Pickering’s, who it seems lives there, keeping a good house, and I to my Lord Crew’s, where I dined, and hear the newes how my Lord’s brother, Mr. Nathaniel Crew, hath an estate of 6 or 700l. per annum, left him by the death of an old acquaintance of his, but not akin to him at all. And this man is dead without will, but had, above ten years since, made over his estate to this Mr. Crew, to him and his heirs for ever, and given Mr. Crew the keeping of the deeds in his own hand all this time; by which, if he would, he might have taken present possession of the estate, for he knew what they were. This is as great an act of confident friendship as this latter age, I believe, can shew. From hence to the Duke’s house, and there saw “Macbeth” most excellently acted, and a most excellent play for variety. I had sent for my wife to meet me there, who did come, and after the play was done, I out so soon to meet her at the other door that I left my cloake in the playhouse, and while I returned to get it, she was gone out and missed me, and with W. Hewer away home. I not sorry for it much did go to White Hall, and got my Lord Bellasses to get me into the playhouse; and there, after all staying above an hour for the players, the King and all waiting, which was absurd, saw “Henry the Fifth” well done by the Duke’s people, and in most excellent habits, all new vests, being put on but this night. But I sat so high and far off, that I missed most of the words, and sat with a wind coming into my back and neck, which did much trouble me. The play continued till twelve at night; and then up, and a most horrid cold night it was, and frosty, and moonshine. But the worst was, I had left my cloak at Sir G. Carteret’s, and they being abed I was forced to go home without it. So by chance got a coach and to the Golden Lion Taverne in the Strand, and there drank some mulled sack, and so home, where find my poor wife staying for me, and then to bed mighty cold.

16 Annotations

Bradford  •  Link

How one wishes Pepys had described the deportment of the Witches in "Macbeth," who certainly add to the "variety" of the drama. Is this not the first time he gives Shakespeare a favorable review---not just once, but twice?---despite his poor seat for "Henry V." Could the actors' new vests be those Charles decreed? It's also a pleasure to see sack back, and if you haven't read the extensive Annotations upon it, give yourself a holiday treat.

cape henry  •  Link

An entry cloaked in mystery. Did Pepys "leave" his cloak in the playhouse in order to have an excuse for missing his wife at the door? Was it actually at Carteret's the whole time? How, in cold weather, could one forget one's cloak - twice? - anyway? Odd.

cape henry  •  Link

"...and sat with a wind coming into my back and neck, which did much trouble me." Sounds like a college baseball game in March.

Mary  •  Link


L&M speculate that this was probably Davenant's "development" of the Shakespearean play, which was much more to Restoration taste.

See the informative annotations via the link.

It's also probable the this Henry V is not the Shakespeare play, but another written by Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery.

John in Newcastle  •  Link

"The play continued till twelve at night"

How was the stage illuminated? According to Wikipedia limelight wasn't invented until 1820. And Elizabethan theatres like the Globe were open to the skies because they needed daylight.

Mary  •  Link

Since this play was being staged at Whitehall, one presumes that the court ran to vast supplies of candles

David Vaeth  •  Link

it's easy to forget when reading history that the protagonists have no idea how things will turn out, even though of course, we do. Sam's use of "this latter age" reminded me of a twist on the above: everyone alive at any given time, is living in modernity.

JWB  •  Link

"Flecknoe was particularly mindful of lighting on the stage and on May 12, 1669 after a visit to
the Lincoln's Inn Field Theatre, where he apparently sat in the second gallery, he complained
that the candlelight in the performance nearly ruined his eyesight as the smoke rising from the
cheap tallow candles was extremely irritating!"…

Australian Susan  •  Link

Tallow candles would smell dreadful too.

Only Churches and the very rich had beeswax.

And the poor had rush lights - or nothing.

CGS  •  Link

OED mentions not the rush light until 1710 rush candle 1591

1. a. = RUSH-CANDLE.
1710 Lond. Gaz. No. 4673/2 Small Rush Lights once dipped or drawn through Grease, or Kitchin Stuff.

a1764 LLOYD Tale Poet. Wks.

1774 I. 78 As rushlights in a spacious room, Just burn enough to form a gloom.

b. Without article: The light of a rush-candle.

A candle of feeble power made by dipping the pith of a rush in tallow or other grease; a rushlight.
1591 NASHE Pref. to Sidney’s Astr. & Stella, Put out your rush candles, you Poets and Rymers.
1634 MILTON Comus 338 A rush Candle from the wicker hole Of som clay habitation.
1677 A. HORNECK Gt. Law Consid. vi. (1704) 321 What is all the light our eyes behold, but a rush-candle to him that is the father of lights? 1753

Cactus Wren  •  Link

And even the foul-smelling tallow dips weren't cheap. Light cost money: hence the question of whether the game is worth the candle.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"'Yet I do fear thy nature...'...Wait...I don't talk like that."

"Bess...It's just for the play."

"You sure Sir William wouldn't mind us talking about killing him?"

"The play, Bess...You should be honored to play Lady MacPepys..."

"So now you wrote it?"


"I'd rather play...Henry...'Once more onto the breech, dear friends...Once more...!'"


"I was the one in the long cloak, black hat below you...We figured you'd head for the other play."

"You very...?"

"Not as angry as I'd be if I'd found you there with Knipp or someone else... 'Or close up the walls with our English dead...' You can do Lady MacPepys."

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"This is as great an act of confident friendship as this latter age, I believe, can shew."

L&M: When Crew died, he was possessed of land in four counties, but his will (1693) does not reveal anything of this transaction.

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