Castrati

Up, and to the office, where all the morning. Among other things great heat we were all in on one side or other in the examining witnesses against Mr. Carcasse about his buying of tickets, and a cunning knave I do believe he is, and will appear, though I have thought otherwise heretofore. At noon home to dinner, and there find Mr. Andrews, and Pierce and Hollyard, and they dined with us and merry, but we did rise soon for saving of my wife’s seeing a new play this afternoon, and so away by coach, and left her at Mrs. Pierces, myself to the Excise Office about business, and thence to the Temple to walk a little only, and then to Westminster to pass away time till anon, and here I went to Mrs. Martin’s to thank her for her oysters and there yo did hazer tout ce que je would con her, and she grown la plus bold moher of the orbis ­ so that I was almost defessus of the pleasure que ego was used para tener with ella.
Thence away to my Lord Bruncker’s, and there was Sir Robert Murray, whom I never understood so well as now by this opportunity of discourse with him, a most excellent man of reason and learning, and understands the doctrine of musique, and everything else I could discourse of, very finely. Here come Mr. Hooke, Sir George Ent, Dr. Wren, and many others; and by and by the musique, that is to say, Signor Vincentio, who is the master-composer, and six more, whereof two eunuches, so tall, that Sir T. Harvey said well that he believes they do grow large by being gelt as our oxen do, and one woman very well dressed and handsome enough, but would not be kissed, as Mr. Killigrew, who brought the company in, did acquaint us. They sent two harpsicons before; and by and by, after tuning them, they begun; and, I confess, very good musique they made; that is, the composition exceeding good, but yet not at all more pleasing to me than what I have heard in English by Mrs. Knipp, Captain Cooke, and others. Nor do I dote on the eunuches; they sing, indeed, pretty high, and have a mellow kind of sound, but yet I have been as well satisfied with several women’s voices and men also, as Crispe of the Wardrobe. The women sung well, but that which distinguishes all is this, that in singing, the words are to be considered, and how they are fitted with notes, and then the common accent of the country is to be known and understood by the hearer, or he will never be a good judge of the vocal musique of another country. So that I was not taken with this at all, neither understanding the first, nor by practice reconciled to the latter, so that their motions, and risings and fallings, though it may be pleasing to an Italian, or one that understands the tongue, yet to me it did not, but do from my heart believe that I could set words in English, and make musique of them more agreeable to any Englishman’s eare (the most judicious) than any Italian musique set for the voice, and performed before the same man, unless he be acquainted with the Italian accent of speech. The composition as to the musique part was exceeding good, and their justness in keeping time by practice much before any that we have, unless it be a good band of practised fiddlers. So away, here being Captain Cocke, who is stole away, leaving them at it, in his coach, and to Mrs. Pierce’s, where I took up my wife, and there I find Mrs. Pierce’s little girl is my Valentine, she having drawn me; which I was not sorry for, it easing me of something more that I must have given to others. But here I do first observe the fashion of drawing of mottos as well as names; so that Pierce, who drew my wife, did draw also a motto, and this girl drew another for me. What mine was I have forgot; but my wife’s was, “Most virtuous and most fair;” which, as it may be used, or an anagram made upon each name, might be very pretty. Thence with Cocke and my wife, set him at home, and then we home. To the office, and there did a little business, troubled that I have so much been hindered by matters of pleasure from my business, but I shall recover it I hope in a little time. So home and to supper, not at all smitten with the musique to-night, which I did expect should have been so extraordinary, Tom Killigrew crying it up, and so all the world, above all things in the world, and so to bed. One wonder I observed to-day, that there was no musique in the morning to call up our new-married people, which is very mean, methinks, and is as if they had married like dog and bitch.

who would not be kissed
by eunuchs with women’s voices

that which is known and understood
will never be as pleasing

and the tongue is more judicious
than that anagram of dog


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 16 February 1667.

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