Thursday 7 November 1667

Up, and at the office hard all the morning, and at noon resolved with Sir W. Pen to go see “The Tempest,” an old play of Shakespeare’s, acted, I hear, the first day; and so my wife, and girl, and W. Hewer by themselves, and Sir W. Pen and I afterwards by ourselves; and forced to sit in the side balcone over against the musique-room at the Duke’s house, close by my Lady Dorset and a great many great ones. The house mighty full; the King and Court there and the most innocent play that ever I saw; and a curious piece of musique in an echo of half sentences, the echo repeating the former half, while the man goes on to the latter; which is mighty pretty. The play [has] no great wit, but yet good, above ordinary plays. Thence home with [Sir] W. Pen, and there all mightily pleased with the play; and so to supper and to bed, after having done at the office.

16 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Royal Society today at Arundel House — from the Hooke Folio Online

Nou: 7. 1667. Dr. Lower tying Iugular) The curator speaking againe of this Expt. of passing the blood of an animall from one side to another wthout passing through the Lungs & shewing his contriuance for performing was orderd to try it first in priuate and Least there should fall too much air vpon the blood mouing openly into the porrenger from one side to the other it was suggester that a kind of couer should be prepared for the porrenger to regulate the quantity of the air

(the minerall paper of colepresse [ 'An Account of some minerall Observations about the Mines of Devon and Cornewall Brought in by Mr Oldenburg as it was sent him from Mr Samuel Colepress out of Devonshire' ]
(Colins discript of double horiz [… ]) some sheets of quad: prsent)

It was orderd that a descr being moued that a scheme & Description of mr. Townlys astr: Instrument should be brought in by mr Hooke and entred answer was made that both were ready & in the hands of the Secretary who promised to produce it next day

The Curator being called vpon for the scheme or module of the new cyder making Instrument & not hauing it Ready was desired to haue it next meeting)

(Dr Ball helmet & eagle stone [… ].) D[r. Lower sayd he would shortly giue an account of his Expts. by the presse) Sr. Theod. Deuaux paper of salt making.) -…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Henry Howard [ apparently… ] to Sandwich
Written from: Whitehall
Date: 7 November 1667

Wishes, very heartily, for his Lordship's return. All advantages are taken [ at Court ] for turning things to the Earl's prejudice.

Describes the course of proceeding taken against the Chancellor. The Commons desire to have liberty to impeach him, "upon common fame"; the Lords, after impeachment, are then to examine upon oath. Upon this question, adds the writer, depends the fate of my Lord Chancellor, "and of many more".

Mentions some inquiries in Parliament concerning the late miscarriages at Chatham.

It is acknowledged, even by the Earl's enemies, here, that he has done the King and Kingdom eminent service in his Embassy.…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."

Can't quite agree with Sam on this one, I love Prospero and his "Tempest". But of course he may have not received the play in the form we know.

Carl in Boston  •  Link

Sweet Bard of Avon, you bet. I like As You Like It best, but this Tempest is mighty good too, and worth cribbing a few good phrases from (for research).

Paul Chapin  •  Link

No great wit. Well, I suppose The Tempest isn't a barrel of laughs, if that's what Sam means by "wit", but surely it has given us some of the most beautiful, meaningful lines ever written in the English language, as well as the most profound early consideration of the encounter between Europeans and the native inhabitants of the new world.

The passage Robert quotes is perhaps the greatest; here is another that I love.

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them,--ding-dong, bell.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

SP seems to have admired less the text than the musique and the staging's effects.

"Sir William Davenant’s Duke’s Company had the rights to perform The Tempest.[48] In 1667 Davenant and John Dryden made heavy cuts and adapted it as The Tempest or, The Enchanted Island. They tried to appeal to upper-class audiences by emphasising royalist political and social ideals: monarchy is the natural form of government; patriarchal authority decisive in education and marriage; and patrilineality preeminent in inheritance and ownership of property.[47] They also added characters and plotlines: Miranda has a sister, named Dorinda; and Caliban a sister, also named Sycorax. As a parallel to Shakespeare’s Miranda/Ferdinand plot, Prospero has a foster-son, Hippolito, who has never set eyes on a woman.[49] Hippolito was a popular breeches role, a man played by a woman, popular with Restoration theatre management for the opportunity to reveal actresses’ legs.[50] Scholar Michael Dobson has described Enchanted Island as “the most frequently revived play of the entire Restoration” and as establishing the importance of enhanced and additional roles for women.[51]"…

Michael Robinson  •  Link

".... to go see “The Tempest,” an old play of Shakespeare’s, acted, ...."

Spoiler. Text of the Dryden-Davenant 'Tempest,' though performed today it was not available 'in print' till 1670.…

The tempest, or The enchanted island. A comedy. As it is now acted at his Highness the Duke of York’s Theatre.
London : printed by J.M. for Henry Herringman at the Blew Anchor in the Lower-walk of the New-Exchange, MDCLXX. [1670]
4to., [8], 82, [2] p. Preface signed 'John Driden' (sic).
Wing (CD-Rom, 1996), S2944. Macdonald, H. Dryden, 73a

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... and a curious piece of musique in an echo of half sentences, the echo repeating the former half, while the man goes on to the latter; which is mighty pretty."

L&M footnote "This was Ferdinand's song (echoed by Ariel) 'Go the Way' (III, 3) and was composed by John Banister. [the elder]
(…… )

Copies BM , G. 109(2) pp 3-4; and in some issues of 'Choice ayres & dialogues ...' (1675) pp 79-80. This production contained spectacular musical turns and later became a semi-opera"

language hat  •  Link

It's fascinating to me to see these reactions to Shakespeare before he was The All-Time Unquestioned Best Ever but just another playwright, a little old-fashioned but still worth putting on from time to time. For Pepys, "good, above ordinary plays" is high praise, and makes me think well of his critical faculties.

Daniel Jones  •  Link

I was having similar thoughts as language hat and was, therefore, most suprised and impressed by the Enchanted Island prologue:

But Shakespear's Magick could not copy'd be,
Within that Circle none durst walk but he.
I must confess 'twas bold, nor would you now,
That liberty to vulgar Wits allow,
Which works by Magick supernatural things:
But Shakespear's pow'r is sacred as a King's.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

A fun old article from the English Literary Renaissance, a journal I used to work for back in college, "The Tempest and The Machivellian Playwright" by Richard Abrams back in '78 suggested Shakespeare was using Prospero to snipe a bit at some of his contemporaries whom he felt were grafting his grand late style to their "more modern" courtly pageant approach. But "Shakespear's Magick could not copy'd be..." Of course it was nothing Shakespeare hadn't done in grafting on Marlowe, etc, but interesting to see that he'd been coping with such things right from the start.

And of course it never stopped the shrewd and practical Will from making a buck writing a couple of his last collaborative plays with these guys.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"“The Tempest,” an old play of Shakespeare’s"

Pepys' account of this performance of what L&M note was of 'the Tempest alter'd by Sir Willuan Davenant and Mr. Dryden before 'twas made into an Opera' (Downes, p.33)…
It has been described as both a wretched travesty and the most popular of the Restoration alterations od Shakespeare. This is one of the earlier recxords of a performance.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Sir W. Pen and I afterwards by ourselves; and forced to sit in the side balcone over against the musique-room"

A small gallery above the proscenium arch; so the 'side Balcone' was probably a box on the same level as the upper gallery, i.e. part of the third tier of seats.
(L&M note)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"a curious piece of musique in an echo of half sentences, the echo repeating the former half, while the man goes on to the latter; which is mighty pretty."

This was Ferdinand's song (echoed by Ariel) 'Go thy way' (III.3) music by John Bannister. Pepys so loved this song and the play, that next May 11 he reports:
"I to the Duke of York’s playhouse, and there saw “The Tempest,” and between two acts, I went out to Mr. Harris, and got him to repeat to me the words of the Echo, while I writ them down, having tried in the play to have wrote them; but, when I had done it, having done it without looking upon my paper, I find I could not read the blacklead. But now I have got the words clear,"…

Harry R  •  Link

As often happens even the briefest of Sam's diary entries leads to the most interesting and insightful annotations. The link is to a performance of the Echo Duet.…

Mary K  •  Link

Harry R, thank you for the delightful link.

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