Thursday 27 February 1667/68

All the morning at the office, and at noon home to dinner, and thence with my wife and Deb. to the King’s House, to see “The Virgin Martyr,” the first time it hath been acted a great while: and it is mighty pleasant; not that the play is worth much, but it is finely acted by Becke Marshall. But that which did please me beyond any thing in the whole world was the wind-musique when the angel comes down, which is so sweet that it ravished me, and indeed, in a word, did wrap up my soul so that it made me really sick, just as I have formerly been when in love with my wife; that neither then, nor all the evening going home, and at home, I was able to think of any thing, but remained all night transported, so as I could not believe that ever any musick hath that real command over the soul of a man as this did upon me: and makes me resolve to practice wind-musique, and to make my wife do the like.

20 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

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

Feb: 27. Count De la garde [… ] present, also Falconieri & magalotti
[… ].

mr Smethwick optick & burning glasses of a figure not sphericall, 1 a tescope of 4 foot wth 3 eyeglasses not sphericall. Obiect glasses common. which compared wth another of 4 inches longer twas found that Smethwicks exceeded by bigger angle & more exactness and bearing greater aperture wthout colours. 2 Reading glasse not sphericall better than sphericall - 3.2 burning concaues. of new figure. 1.6 inches diameter its focus 3 inches. the 2 of 6 inches & focus 10 inches these warmd the faces by a candle. and burnd gloues at a yard distance from fire - Entred -

(Dr. Allen of Lost brain paper.) Dr. Brown. bone. Double eggs & spungy sack bottle).

Gregorys book de quadratura Circuli & hyper:
[… ] by Ld Brounker. pronounced Ingenious & conteining a new method of conuerging series. also calculating Logarithms from number. &c vice versa.) Du Laurences book)

Dr. Palmer Letter about soluing all aequations by Regula falsi [… ]) Colepresse letter from beyond sea.)

Dr. Allen. of Sr. Th: Adams stone 25 3/4 [ounce] weight it had a gutter through it) There was the expt. of compressing air vpon a shining fish which did succeed according to Expectation the light of the fish appearing more viuid after compression than before.) (The compression of the artery descending of a dog made by Dr Lower. differd from Steno) to be tryd as Steno had done & Dr. Clark Dr Crone & mr Hooke to assist in the Expt.) mr Packer mouing for cyder engine. mr Hook was desired to gett one made not exeeding 40sh.

The curator produced an exacter contriuance of scales for weighing bodys both in air & water. orderd that these expts. be prosecuted next Day. vessells for contracting wind also.…

Rex Gordon 2  •  Link

Has any writer ever captured the magic of the theatre ... or the emotional impact of a piece of music ... better than our Sam in this entry?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Can anyone explain exactly what Sam means by "wind music" here? Thanks in advance.

(Such a strange placement of a comma -- "But that which did please me beyond any thing in, the whole world" -- I know the punctuation was added later by whomever was editing the Diary, but why would anyone put a comma there? Is it a scanning error, or did at least L&M remove it?)

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"in a word,did wrap up my soul"
Well, I felt like that when I first heard Handel's Halleluja!

Carl in Boston  •  Link

the "wind music" was probably woodwinds: recorders - shawms - early stages on the way to the clarinet. It would have been quite extraordinary to hear compared to the usual lute, theorbo, violin, triangle/haprsichord of "Early Musique". In ballet music there is quite a contrast when the violins play (a la Tchaikovsky) and then the modern woodwinds come in: one or two clarinets, a flute or two, an oboe, a bassoon, and that's it. There are only 5 or 6 woodwind players in an orchestra, but they pack a powerful punch when the rest of the orchestra steps aside and lets them play alone.

Arthur Perry  •  Link

Sam has been studying the Flageolet, a wind instrument.…

This entry touched me to the point I had to read it to my whole family.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

L&M note the angel was probably played by Nell Gwyn. 'Spectacular descents in Restoration theatres were managed by means of ropes and pulleys. Pepys is probably referring to the episode in V, i, in which Angelo appears to Theophilus. As in Elizabethan theatre, the descent of a supernatural being was usually accompanied by music,...on this occasion...presumably on recorders."

"Pepys started to learn the recorder on 16 April."…

Kate Bunting  •  Link

Actually, Carl, the shawm was a precursor of the oboe, not the clarinet (it has a double reed). They were very much outdoor instruments, but by Pepys's time were beginning to be "tamed" and to sound more like the modern oboe.
There were all sorts of Renaissance woodwind instruments around up to the early 17th century, so music for wind ensemble wouldn't be all that new.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I've been waiting for this one, one of my favorite Diary entries...

Spoiler...All the more heart-breaking, given what's ahead. Imagine old Sam's grief/joy reading this years from now. One hopes he did in some way convey this feeling to Bess in time.

Gary J. Bivin  •  Link

"optick & burning glasses of a figure not sphericall"

I wonder if Mr. Smethwick had discovered how to grind a parabolic surface. In optics, a parabola focuses light better than a spherical surface, preventing what is known as "spherical aberration". The difference isn't very great, especially in lenses or mirrors with long focal lengths, but greatly improves the quality of the image.

JWB  •  Link

Led me to my collection of Lucia Popp recordings, dead some 20 years now.

Carl in Boston  •  Link

I have an oboe, was my sister's. It is an impossible instrument. I recently tried an Egyptian Musette, and a bagpipe chanter, both double reeds, both impossible. What a relief to play a modern instrument like a (single reed) clarinet. I'm playing organ tonight, one stop I like very much is the krummhorn, and sounds on an organ much like a medieval krummhorn, definitely on the way to the promised land: the modern clarinet. Back to Pepys, I suppose the band played recorders and other tootly instruments as the goddess descended to the stage.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"not that the play is worth much, but it is finely acted by Becke Marshall."

L&M: She played the part of St Dorothea. The play was a tragedy by Dekker and Massinger.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I could not believe that ever any musick hath that real command over the soul of a man as this did upon me: and makes me resolve to practice wind-musique, and to make my wife do the like."

L&M: Pepys started to learn the recorder on 16 April."… and his wife resumed lessons on the flageolet on 13 August:…
Pepys had Mr Greeting, the flageolet instructor, bringing some duets by Matthew Locke, presumably so he and his wife can make spiritual music together. Poignant in prospect indeed!

Arthur Perry  •  Link

Well after 10 years I reread this entry and was so touched I read it to my wife. Then I read my comment from 10 years ago. History repeats itself.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Meanwhile, while Sam was drifting on the wind music's wings, it's been a busy day in the Spithead, the channel between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, where the instrument of choice was fifes, if not percussions. Two (and possibly more) dispatches, written in near-real time and sent at a gallop from Portsmouth to Joseph Williamson (and preserved at…), relate that Sir Thomas Allin, last heard a few days ago exchanging gunfire with Captain De la Roche, has made contact "and commanded him aboard, where he now remains; he is stayed for having Capt. Skelton and 200 or 300 English sailors aboard him". We know not this Capt. Skelton (who may in fact be an Army lieutenant-colonel). The meeting on Allin's flagship (presumably the Monmouth, whence he's been writing lately) is said to have been cordial and gentlemanly (full of "great civility and favor" is how later dispatches will put it) and Sir Thomas himself wasn't so busy that he didn't also take time to send to London (though perhaps earlier in the day) an order for "small nails" and other supplies.

However we doubt if M. De la Roche much enjoyed being "commanded aboard". Once the tea and sconces had run out he returned to his ship full of English mercenaries, only, to his dismay no doubt, to be forced back to the coast within 2 hours by contrary winds ("palsambleu" is the least he would have said), and there to be relieved by Allin (no doubt giving thanks for the weather) of 103 of his Englishmen, and of the St. Mary, the Ostend privateer he had lately captured. The latter is described as "small", and was known to be full of holes, but De la Roche had worked hard to get it and so far it's been his only trophy in the Ostend compartment of his mission, so he must be miffed. That not all Englishmen came out suggests that their extraction was not all "great civility and favor". It's a good thing M. De la Roche did not have a radio at his disposal to tell Versailles what a bad day he's had, but a miffed French admiral (more or less his rank) is still a dangerous thing, given how delicately balanced the situation is in the Channel. We also expect this to cause quite a hoo-hah when the news reach London in the next couple days.

Lisa Liss  •  Link

Beautiful entry. How I wish I knew the tune which gave Sam his out-of-body experience that day.
Marcel Proust is truly the master of describing the power of music to evoke such experiences.

Harry R  •  Link

It is indeed a touching moment in the diary and another example of how much the briefest of entries can tell us about Sam. It's perhaps remiss of him not to identify the music but Terry in his 29/09/19 post takes us forward in the diary to 13/08/1668 and to Matthew Locke. It's surely no coincidence that Locke is court composer to Charles II and wrote music for the stage, and that Sam wants to learn to play his music, examples of which are on YouTube

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... did wrap up my soul so that it made me really sick, just as I have formerly been when in love with my wife;"

Ah Pepys, you mistake lust and infatuation for love.

Just you wait.

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