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merry.” She seems to have been of an April nature; alternating between smiles and tears.
Thenceforward the name of Mrs. Knipp turns up constantly in the wonderful Diary. One day at Lord Brouncker's he meets his “ dear Mrs. Knipp,” and sings with her, and hears her sing, admiring particularly her little Scotch song of “Barbara Allen.". Next day he receives a letter from her to which she has subscribed “Rarbary Allen” as her name ; and he sends an answer to it, signing himself “ Dapper Dicky.” On another occasion comes Mrs. Knipp to speak with him privately, “complaining how like a devil her husband treats her”-a strange confidence for a wife to repose in the ears of her husband's friend !
A curious illustration of the manners of the time comes out in the entry for January 18th, 1666 :-“ To Captain Cocke’s, where Mrs. Williams was, and Mrs. Knipp. I was not heartily merry, though a glass of wine did a little cheer me. After dinner to the office [at the Admiralty]. Anon comes to me thither my Lord Brouncker, Mrs. Williams, and Mrs. Knipp. I brought down my wife in her night-gown, she not being indeed very well, to the office to them. My wife and I anon and Mercer, by coach, to Pierce's, when mighty merry, and sing and dance with great pleasure; and I danced, who never did in company in my life.” This was at a time when the Plague was gathering up its last harvest of victims in the Metropolis, “the deaths being now but 79” (in the week). says Pepys.
We pass on to February 23rd :-" Comes Mrs. Knipp, to see my wife, and I spent all the night talking with this. baggage, and teaching her my song of Beauty, retire,
which she sings and makes go most rarely, and a very fine song it seems to be. She also entertained me with repeating many of her own and others' parts of the playhouse, which she do most excellently; and tells me the whole practices of the play-house and players, and is in every respect most excellent company."
Mrs. Knipp, indeed, can no more be kept out of Mr. Pepys's written confidences, than “the head of King Charles I.” out of the speeches of Mr. Dick. On the 20th, Mrs. Knipp dines with Mr. and Mrs. Pepys, and mighty pleasant company she is, so that the careful Pepys actually gives his wife 20s. “to lay out on Knipp." She is the fortunate recipient of six pairs of gloves on Valentine's Day. On the 9th of March he and Mrs. Pierce and the charming actress set out to dine at Chelsea, but are frightened back by a report that the inn there was “shut up of the plague.” On the 9th of May he accompanies them to Cornhill; on his return finds his wife “ mightily vexed at his being abroad with other women” (as she had some right to be), so that when they were gone she called them names, which offended Mr. Pepys' sense of propriety. On the 6th of August we have further evidence of Mrs. Pepys' not unreasonable displeasure :“ After dinner, in comes Mrs. Knipp, and I sat and talked with her. . . I very pleasant to her ; but perceive my wife hath no great pleasure in her being here. However, we talked and sang, and were very pleasant. By and by comes Mr. Pierce and his wife. . . Knipp and I sang, and then I offered to carry them home, and to take my wife with me, but she would not go ; so I with them leaving my wife in a very ill humour. However, I would not be removed from my civility to them, but sent for a coach, and went with them; and in our way, Knipp saying that she came out of doors without a dinner to us, I took them to Old Fish Street, to the very house and woman where I kept my wedding dinner, where I never was since, and then I did give them a jole of salmon, and what else was to be had. And here we talked of the ill-humour of my wife, which I did excuse as much as I could, and they seemed to admit of it, but did both confess they wondered at it. . .. I set them both at home, Knipp at her house, her husband being at the door; and glad she was to be found to have stayed out so long with me and Mrs. Pierce, and none else. Home, and then find my wife mightily out of order, and reproaching Mrs. Pierce and Knipp as wenches, and I know not what. But I did give her no words to offend her, and quietly let all pass."
Mrs. Knipp does not reappear in the Diary until October 25th, when Pepys notes that he met her at Mrs. Williams's, and “ was glad to see the jade." His wife's “ill-humour,” no doubt, had something to do with her long absence. We may assume, however, that by this time Mrs. Pepys had got over it, since she accompanied Knipp and Mr. and Mrs. Pierce to the new playhouse at Whitehall. In November Mr Pepys goes to “ Knipp's lodgings, whom I find,” he says, “not ready to go home with me, and then staid reading of Waller's verses while she finished dressing, her husband being by. Her lodging very mean, and the condition she lives in; yet makes a show without doors, God bless us ! ”
One of the saddest stories in Count Grammont's “Memoirs ”-a book which, from the moralist's point of view, is full of melancholy stories—is that of which Mrs. Davenport, the “ Roxalana” of Sir William Davenant's “ Siege of Rhodes” was the heroine. Count Hamilton tells it with more feeling than he exhibits on any other occasion :
“The Earl of Oxford (Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl, and the last of his house who held the title) fell in love with a handsome, graceful actress belonging to the Duke's Theatre, who performed to perfection, particularly the part of Roxana, in a very fashionable new play, inasmuch that she ever after retained that name: this creature being both very virtuous, and very modest, or, if you please, wonderfully obstinate, proudly rejected his addresses and presents. This resistance influenced his passion; he had recourse to invectives, and even to spells ; but all in vain. This disappointment had such effect upon him that he could neither eat nor drink; this did not signify to him; but his passion at length became so violent that he could neither play nor smoke. In this extremity love had recourse to Hymen : the Earl of Oxford, one of the first peers of the realm, is, you know, a very handsome man; he is of the order of the Garter, which greatly adds to an air naturally noble. In short, from his outward appearance, you would suppose he was really possessed of some sense ; but as soon as ever you hear him speak you are perfectly convinced of the contrary. This passionate lover presented her with a promise of marriage, in due form, signed with his own hand ; she would not, however, rely upon this ; but the next day she thought there could be no danger, when she and himself came to her lodgings, attended by a clergyman, and another man for a witness: the marriage was accordingly solemnized with all due ceremonies in the presence of one of her fellow-players, who attended as a witness on
her part. You will suppose, perhaps, that the new countess had nothing to do but to appear at court according to her rank, and to display the Earl's arms upon her carriage. This was far from being the case. When examination was made concerning the inarriage it was found to be a mere deception : it appeared that the pretended priest was one of my Earl's trumpeters, and the witness his kettledrummer. The parson and his companion never appeared after the ceremony was over; and as for the other witness, they endeavoured to persuade her that the Sultana Roxana might have supposed, in some part or other of a play, that she was really married. It was all to no purpose that the poor creature claimed the protection of the laws of God and man, both which were violated and abused, as well as herself, by this infamous imposition ; in vain did she throw herself at the King's feet to demand justice; she had only to rise up again without redress; and happy might she think herself to receive an annuity of one thousand crowns, and to resume the name of Roxana instead of Countess of Oxford.”
It seems, however, to have been through the King's interposition that “ Lord Oxford's Miss," as Evelyn calls her, obtained her annuity (£300). In due time she recovered her spirits, and Pepys records that at the play he saw “the old Roxalan in the chief box, in a velvet gown, as the fashion is, and very handsome, at which I was glad.”
Mary Davis, or Davies, reported to be the natural daughter of Charles Howard, second Earl of Berkshire, though some authorities claim for her a more honourable origin as the lawful daughter of a blacksmith, appeared at the Duke's Theatre early in 1667, and by her good looks,