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.

15 Annotations

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.

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.

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!

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