Friday 24 May 1667

Up, and to the office, where, by and by, by appointment, we met upon Sir W. Warren’s accounts, wherein I do appear in every thing as much as I can his enemy, though not so far but upon good conditions from him I may return to be his friend, but I do think it necessary to do what I do at present. We broke off at noon without doing much, and then home, where my wife not well, but yet engaged by invitation to go with Sir W. Pen. I got her to go with him by coach to Islington to the old house, where his lady and Madam Lowther, with her exceeding fine coach and mean horses, and her mother-in-law, did meet us, and two of Mr. Lowther’s brothers, and here dined upon nothing but pigeon-pyes, which was such a thing for him to invite all the company to, that I was ashamed of it. But after dinner was all our sport, when there come in a juggler, who, indeed, did shew us so good tricks as I have never seen in my life, I think, of legerdemaine, and such as my wife hath since seriously said that she would not believe but that he did them by the help of the devil. Here, after a bad dinner, and but ordinary company, saving that I discern good parts in one of the sons, who, methought, did take me up very prettily in one or two things that I said, and I was so sensible of it as to be a caution to me hereafter how I do venture to speak more than is necessary in any company, though, as I did now, I do think them incapable to censure me. We broke up, they back to Walthamstow, and only my wife and I and Sir W. Pen to the King’s playhouse, and there saw “The Mayden Queene,” which, though I have often seen, yet pleases me infinitely, it being impossible, I think, ever to have the Queen’s part, which is very good and passionate, and Florimel’s part, which is the most comicall that ever was made for woman, ever done better than they two are by young Marshall and Nelly. Home, where I spent the evening with my father and wife, and late at night some flagillette with my wife, and then to supper and to bed.

8 Annotations

Australian Susan  •  Link

"...her exceeding fine coach and mean horses, ...."

It really riles Sam to see such people with their own coach when he has (not yet) got one, so he contents himself with sneering at the nouveaux richenesse of it all and has become an instant judge of horseflesh - I am assuming that "mean" here means poor quality, not bad tempered. So Sam thinks they have splashed out on the coach, but can't afford the horses to match it.

And then, Sam being Sam, he is fascinated by something new - the clever juggler. Wonder if he was there by chance, engaged by the host or part of the House's establishment. Hope Sam tipped him well, but as he doesn't comment, maybe not.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I wonder at what point Warren will decide Sam's had his fun and it's time to cut his little CoA's throat.

cum salis grano  •  Link

interesting word:
some meanings
mean OED
3. Of a thing, an animal, etc.

a. Poor in quality or condition; of little value; inferior; (of weather) unpleasant, disagreeable (chiefly N. Amer.)....

1630 in R. S. France Thieveley Lead Mines (1951) 67 Yt hath cost him much money, and his estate is very meane to support it. 1669 J. WORLIDGE Systema Agric. (1681) 260 Although the Bream be esteem'd as a mean Fish. ....

b. Petty, insignificant, unimportant; inconsiderable. Now rare.
c. Undignified, low. Of literary style, etc.: lacking in elevation or adornment; unambitious (not always with depreciative connotations). Now rare.

d. Unimposing or shabby; characterized by poverty; humble. Used esp. of a building, place of habitation, etc.
5. a. Of a person, a person's character, etc.: lacking moral dignity, ignoble; small-minded. Now rare or passing into sense 6.
1665 R. BOYLE Occas. Refl. IV. xii. sig. Ff2, The Sublimity of such a Condition would make any Soul, that is not very mean, despise many mean things.

b. U.S. colloq. Of a horse, etc.: vicious or hard to control. Sometimes also in extended use, of a person when drunk: uncontrollable, violent.
...... noun ....
once meant
1/: Intercourse, fellowship; spec. sexual intercourse.
a lament/complaint
2/ I. An intermediary agent or instrument.

3/: 1. a. A person (as a saint, priest, etc.) who mediates or who acts as a channel of communication between God and mankind. Obs.
Occas. used of Christ viewed as such a mediator.

3/1 b. A person who acts as mediator, intermediary, negotiator, or ambassador between others; a person who intercedes for another or uses influence in order to bring about a desired result.

(a) In sing. and pl. Obs.
3/ 2. a. An instrument, agency, method, or course of action employed to attain some object or bring about some result. Often used predicatively (of persons as well as things), in to be the means (occas. also mean) of. Freq. in phrases with end (see END n. 14a); means to an end: any action, behaviour, or object considered in terms of its results rather than in terms of its value, ethicality, etc., in and of itself; (also) the method by which any specific object is attained....1512

3/ 2b. to make means: to take steps or make efforts (obs.). to find means [compare Middle French trouver moyen de (a1473)]: to find a way, contrive, manage (with infinitive as object; formerly also with {dag}of); also to find the means (also {dag}mean) (with infinitive as object; formerly also with for or that-clause).
c1395 CHAUCER Franklin's Tale 883

3/2c. Trickery; a trick, contrivance, bribe, etc. Obs.

3/ 2 d. Theol. In pl. In full means of grace. The sacraments and other ceremonial forms viewed as the agency by which divine grace is imparted to the soul, or by which growth in grace is promoted; (in Evangelical use) public worship regarded in this way; (with sing. concord) an agency conducive to spiritual improvement. under the means of grace (formerly often {dag}under means): subject to the operation of the means of grace.
3 /8. Music.

a. Originally: the middle part in three-part polyphonic music. Subsequently: the alto part in any polyphonic music, or (more generally) any intermediate part. Also: a person performing such a part, or the instrument on which it is played. Also fig. Now chiefly hist.

4 [quite modern]
A mean person; = MEANIE n.
1938 E. BOWEN Death of Heart II. iv. 241 You are a mean, Dickie!

adj: I. Held commonly or jointly.

1. Common to two or more persons or things; possessed jointly. in mean: in common. to go mean: to act as partners, to share. Now rare (Sc. and Eng. regional) (north.).
is in mean, it is then marked off from the rest by meerstones..or by reans.

II. Inferior in rank or quality; unpleasant.

2. Of a person or body of people, a person's condition, etc. (In early use freq. in the comparative.)

a. Of low social status; spec. not of the nobility or gentry. Cf. COMMON adj.

12. Now rare exc. in the superlative (chiefly hyperbolically), as the meanest .
b. Inferior in ability, learning, perception, etc. Now chiefly in the superlative and as in sense 4.

b. Inferior in ability, learning, perception, etc. Now chiefly in the superlative and as in sense 4.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Hope poor Bess didn't get dragged around all day ill. In fairness, Sam is usually considerate of her illnesses and he may have felt she'd do better getting out in this case. She did seem to take some thrill at the juggler and was well enough not to beg off flageolet practice.

Surreal, such a day ending with the sweet image of Sam and Bess at practice together, coming after yesterday's rather sordid goings-on...

Geoff Hallett  •  Link

Certainly in the north of England, Susan, 'mean' horses would signify good quality. From the description from the King's Head, he must have been a 'mean' juggler.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"but that he did them by the help of the devil"
The whole Diary ,Bess seemed such an intelligent and enlightened woman and now this.

Jesse  •  Link

"my wife hath since seriously said ..."

I think Elizabeth was only half serious in that "help of the devil" was as good as any other explanation.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"it being impossible, I think, ever to have the Queen’s part, which is very good and passionate, and Florimel’s part, which is the most comicall that ever was made for woman, ever done better than they two are by young Marshall and Nelly."

L&M clarify: The role of the Queen of Sicily was taken by Rebecca, the younger siser of Anna Marshall, who also acted at the Theatre Royal.

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