Monday 23 March 1667/68

Up, and after discoursing with my wife about many things touching this day’s dinner, I abroad, and first to the taverne to pay what I owe there, but missed of seeing the mistress of the house, and there bespoke wine for dinner, and so away thence, and to Bishopsgate Streete, thinking to have found a Harpsicon-maker that used to live there before the fire, but he is gone, and I have a mind forthwith to have a little Harpsicon made me to confirm and help me in my musique notions, which my head is now-a-days full of, and I do believe will come to something that is very good. Thence to White Hall, expecting to have heard the Bishop of Lincolne, my friend, preach, for so I understood he would do yesterday, but was mistaken, and therefore away presently back again, and there find everything in good order against dinner, and at noon come Mr. Pierce and she, and Mrs. Manuel, the Jew’s wife, and Mrs. Corbet, and Mrs. Pierces boy and girl. But we are defeated of Knepp, by her being forced to act to-day, and also of Harris, which did trouble me, they being my chief guests. However, I had an extraordinary good dinner, and the better because dressed by my own servants, and were mighty merry; and here was Mr. Pelling by chance come and dined with me; and after sitting long at dinner, I had a barge ready at Tower-wharfe, to take us in, and so we went, all of us, up as high as Barne-Elms, a very fine day, and all the way sang; and Mrs. Manuel sings very finely, and is a mighty discreet, sober-carriaged woman, that both my wife and I are mightily taken with her, and sings well, and without importunity or the contrary. At Barne- Elms we walked round, and then to the barge again, and had much merry talk, and good singing; and come before it was dark to the New Exchange stairs, and there landed, and walked up to Mrs. Pierces, where we sat awhile, and then up to their dining-room. And so, having a violin and theorbo, did fall to dance, here being also Mrs. Floyd come hither, and by and by Mr. Harris. But there being so few of us that could dance, and my wife not being very well, we had not much pleasure in the dancing: there was Knepp also, by which with much pleasure we did sing a little, and so, about ten o’clock, I took coach with my wife and Deb., and so home, and there to bed.

15 Annotations

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Surely there are more Jewish people in London than Mr. Manuel. But Betty and James Pierce continue to impress. I take it Mrs. Manuel's something of a semi-pro singer?

"But there being so few of us that could dance, and my wife not being very well, we had not much pleasure in the dancing..." So the Pembleton lessons paid off and Bess can really cut a rug when in good health?

Interesting...I wonder if any of my friends or family know me as the Jew's husband?

Gay says "Oh, yeah."

Spoiler ahoy...A big one...

I suppose some of us are already monitoring Bess' daily health wondering if there are any coming indications of underlying illness that will play a role in post-Diary time. Of course I refer to anything weakening her, not the actual(you know).

Gus Spier  •  Link

Jews were expelled from England in 1290 by the Act of Expulsion. The act remained in force til 1656. I suspect that any Jew in country at that time would be something of a curiosity. See WikiPedia,

Christopher Squire  •  Link

The Jews were invited to return by Cromwell, I think, but I do not know how many did.

‘bespeak v. . . 5.a. To speak for; to arrange for, engage beforehand; to ‘order’ (goods).
. . 1688    in H. Ellis Orig. Lett. Eng. Hist. ii. 367. IV. 143   The six thousand pair of Shoes which he bispoke at Exeter.’ [OED]

re: ‘to take us in’: this means going upriver on the tide, a long way to Barnes from the City, and then returning on the current of the river. This map gives an idea of the trip:…

Re: Bess: No more spoilers, please. Some of us are reading this Real Time.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Jews in England During Pepys’s lifetime up to now:
1290 -1656 The period between the expulsion of the Jews in 1290 and their readmission in 1656 is generally called ‘The Middle Period’. Although there was no Jewish community during this period, Jews visited Britain from time to time for various reasons and some Marranos established themselves in Britain for periods of time
31 October, 1655 Humble address from Menasseh ben Israel to Oliver Cromwell. A fortnight later on 13 November he submitted a petition for the readmission of Jews to England
December, 1655Whitehall Conference to discuss the petition. Dissolved by Cromwell before it reached a decision
1656 Although no formal agreement on readmission, Jewish residents of London began living openly as Jews
December, 1656 First Synagogue established after Readmission
February, 1657 First Cemetery acquired in Mile End
14 October, 1663 Samuel Pepys visits the Synagogue on Simchat Torah
1664 Bylaws (Ascamot) of new community agreed
22 August, 1664 Jews granted Royal protection
January, 1667 Jews allowed to swear in Court on the Old Testament…

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Another revelation (to me) from this site. I never knew the Jews had been expelled from England for centuries. Slightly lessens my disdain for Ferdinand and Isabella. And it puts a whole new light for me on The Merchant of Venice. Will S. perhaps never met a Jew, and Shylock was totally a creation of his imagination. If he had actually known some, instead of just the stereotypes, maybe the depiction would have been less nasty.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

If Mrs. M was a Christian married to a Jew that actually might have been the curiosity for Sam.

I don't know...Shylock was certainly the first Jewish character in English portrayed as something of a human being rather than the caricature of say, Marlowe's "Jew of Malta". Of course many critics have debated whether Shakespeare's gift for creating human characters and personalities overwhelmed his traditional stock Jew villain, notably Harold Bloom in "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human". One can't say Shylock is a sympathetic portrayal by any means but he is certainly grounded in real human motives and his bitterness and wrath have a basis.

Don McCahill  •  Link

> Will S. perhaps never met a Jew, and Shylock was totally a creation of his imagination

I doubt that. As Terry's note said, in 1656 Jews began living openly in London. I suspect that prior to that time, even back to the late 16th C, there were Jews who feigned Christianity (just as Catholics did during those times).

I know it was nearly 200 years later, but I am reminded of Fagin, from Oliver Twist, living in abandoned buildings and hovels, moving from time to time. I suspect that might have been the life of the average English Jew in the 1550-1650 times.

nix  •  Link

Did Shakespeare ever meet a Jew?

Here are links to some articles considering the question and concluding (or assuming) that he did not:……

As Terry notes, the expulsion may have prohibited Jews from residing in England, but that didn't necessarily mean no Jews set foot on English soil for brief periods -- London was a center for trade and finance, and even royal decrees have a way of yielding to commerce on these points. (Recall apartheid South Africa's treatment of Japanese businessmen as "honorary whites.")

But I don't think I have ever heard of any actual evidence that Shakespeare would have had interactive contact with these visiting businessmen -- it is farfetched to think he would have socialized with them as Samuel does with the Manuels.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"and Mrs Manuel sings very finely"
What could she be singing?the late Victoria de Los Angeles,sephardic songs,come to mind.

Rex Gordon 2  •  Link

There are several recent books about Shakespeare - the one by Michael Wood comes to mind - which argue persuasively that Shakespeare not only knew Jews in London, but they were Venetian Jews and fellow boarders at the house in which he lived. One of them may have been his mistress and the Dark Lady of the sonnets. This was precisely the period in which Merchant of Venice was written. The argument is fascinating and worth reading.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Anthony Burgess's fictionalised "biography" of Shakespeare written in the 60s - Nothing Like the Sun - hints at the Dark Lady as being Jewish and that she gave him syphilis from which he died. Then there is a truly dreadful novel by the otherwise excellent crime writer Faye Kellerman The Quality of Mercy which has the dark lady as a Jew and bearing WS's child.

Doug Quixote  •  Link

The discussion regarding Shylock is given an entirely different slant if Edward De Vere (who went to Italy and Venice in particular for nearly a year) was in fact the Bard. He met and dealt with Jews and those who loved to hate them. The plays set in Italy make a great deal more sense if De Vere the 17th Earl of Oxford was the author.

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