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REIGN OF CHARLES II.
489
Deal, Mr. North, son of Sir Dudley North, came on board, and " did play his part exceeding well at first sight."
Pepys' household included a maid to wait upon his wife, and a boy to attend upon him. In the course of the Diary, which extends over about nine years and a half, four maids are mentioned, and all possessed of some skill in music. Of the first he says (Nov. 17,1662), " After dinner, talking with my wife, and making Mrs. Gosnell sing. . . I am mightily pleased with her humour and singing." And again, Dec. 5, " she sings exceeding well." Within a few months, Gosnell was succeeded by Mary Ash well, who had been brought up at Chelsea school, and he tells us in March, " I heard Ashwell play first upon the harpsichon, and I find she do play pretty well. Then home by coach, buying at the Temple the printed virginall book for her." Of the third, Mary Mercer, " a pretty, modest, quiet maid," he says, on Sep. 9, 1664, " After dinner, my wife and Mercer, Tom (the boy) and I, sat till eleven at night, singing and fiddling, and a great joy it is to see me master of so much pleasure in my house. The girle (Mercer) plays pretty well upon the harpsichon, but only ordinary tunes, but hath a good hand: sings a little, but hath a good voyce and eare. My boy, a brave boy, sings finely, and is the most pleasant boy at present, while his ignorant boy's tricks last, that ever I saw." Again, May 5, 1666, " It being a very fine moonshine, my wife and Mercer came into the garden, and my business being done, we sang till about twelve at night, with mighty pleasure to ourselves and neighbours by their casements opening."
After some time, Mercer went out to see her mother, and Mrs. Pepys, finding her absent without having asked permission, followed her to the house and beat her in her mother's presence. It was the custom of ladies to beat their servants in those days. The mother having urged that her daughter was " not a common prentice girl," Mrs. Pepys construed it into a question of her right to inflict corporeal chastisement, and therefore, when Mary Mercer returned home, she was dismissed.
In October, 1666, says Pepys, " My wife came home, and hath brought her new girle I have helped her to, of Mr. Falconbridge's. She is wretched poor and but ordinary favoured, and we fain to lay out seven or eight pounds' worth of clothes upon her back, which, methinks, do go against my heart: and do not think I can ever esteem her as I could have done another, that had come fine and handsome; and which is more, her voice, for want of use, is so furred that it do not at present please me; but her manner of singing is such that I shall, I think, take great pleasure in it."
Within a short time, Mercer was taken back, and we hear constantly of trips by water to Greenwich, &c, and then of singing on the water, especially when returning by moonlight. The hoy, Tom Edwards, was usually of the party. Of him, Pepys says (Oct. 25,1664), " My boy could not sleep, but wakes about four o'clock in the morning, and in bed laying playing on his lute till daylight, and it seems did the like last night till twelve o'clock." And again, Dec. 26, 1668,







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III