Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Merry Devil of Edmonton

‘August 10…By and by came my father to my house, and so he and I went and found out my uncle Wight at the Coffee House, and there did agree with him to meet the next week with my uncle Thomas and read over the Captain’s will before them both for their satisfaction. Having done with him I went to my Lady’s and dined with her, and after dinner took the two young gentlemen and the two ladies and carried them and Captain Ferrers to the Theatre, and shewed them “The merry Devill of Edmunton,” which is a very merry play, the first time I ever saw it, which pleased me well…’

The Merry Devil of Edmonton is a Shakespearean era play, of unknown authorship.  Samuel Pepys clearly enjoyed seeing a production of it on August 10, 1661, as he records in his diary.  The play was popular, with a reference to it appearing in the notes to Walter Scott’s “Waverley”.  The note aimed to help the reader relate to a point about inn etiquette, and the necessity of joining the host at dinner.

‘There were many elderly gentlemen, in the author's younger days, who still held it part of the amusement of a journey " to parley with mine host," who often resembled, in his quaint humour, mine host of the Garter in the Merry Wives of Windsor; or Blague of the George in the Merry Devil of Edmonton.’

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