Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bartholomew Fayre

'Up, and met at the Office all the morning; and at noon my wife, and Deb., and Mercer, and W. Hewer and I to the Fair, and there, at the old house, did eat a pig, and was pretty merry, but saw no sights, my wife having a mind to see the play “Bartholomew-Fayre,” with puppets. Which we did, and it is an excellent play; the more I see it, the more I love the wit of it; only the business of abusing the Puritans begins to grow stale, and of no use, they being the people that, at last, will be found the wisest...'

Ben Jonson’s comedy “Bartholomew Fayre” opened in 1614.  The play’s setting is Bartholomew Fair, which was a charter fair, and was shown at the Priory of St. Bartholomew every August 24th from 1133 to 1855.  Samuel Pepys, who frequented the theater, saw a production on September 4th, 1668, and recorded the fact in his diary.  Sir Walter Scott was , of course, familiar with Jonson’s works, and employs a few lines from this work as the motto to Chapter two of “Rob Roy”.

  I begin shrewdly to suspect the young man of a terrible
     taint--Poetry; with which idle disease if he be infected,
     there's no hope of him in a state course. Actum est of him
     for a commonwealth's man, if he go to't in rhyme once.
                                        Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair.

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