A great deal that I saw was very dreadful and unchristian. Many of the persons resembled hogs and monkeys more than human beings; and a great deal of what passed for wit and merriment was nothing other than pure evil. Virtue was very little reckoned of; or, rather reckoned only as giving additional zest to its own corruption. I do not mean that there were no virtuous people at all—(there were virtuous people in Sodom and Gomorrah themselves)—but they were unusual, and were looked upon as a little freakish or mad. Yet, for all that, side by side with the evil, there went on a great deal of seemliness and religion: sermons were preached before the Court every Sunday; and His Majesty, who by his own life was greatly responsible for the wickedness around him, went to morning-prayers at least three or four times in the week; though I cannot say that his behaviour there accorded very well with the business he was engaged upon. Some blamed the Bishops and other ministers for their laxity and the flattery that they shewed to His Majesty: but I do not think that charge is a fair one; for they were very bold indeed upon occasion. Dr. Ken, who preached pretty often, was as outspoken as a preacher well could be, denouncing the sins of the Court in unmeasured language, even in His Majesty’s presence: and a certain Bishop, whose name I forget, observing on one occasion during sermon-time that the King was fast asleep, turned and rebuked in a loud voice some other gentleman who was asleep too.
“You snore so loudly, sir,” he cried, “that you will awake His Majesty, if you do not have a care.”
I went sometimes to the chapel, with the crowd, to hear the anthem, as the custom was; for the music was extraordinary good, and no expense spared; and I heard there some very fine motets, the most of which were adapted from the old Catholic music and set to new words taken from the Protestant Scripture.
* * * * *
I went one night in August to the Duke’s Theatre, as it was called, to see a play of Sir Charles Sedley, called The Mulberry Garden.
This extraordinary man, with whom I had already talked on more than one occasion, was, according to one account, the loosest man that ever lived; and indeed the tales related of him are such that I could not even hint at them in such a work as this. But he was now about forty-five years old; and a thought steadier. It chanced that he and my Lord Dorset—(who was of the same reputation, but had fought too both by land and sea)—were present with ladies, of whom the Duchess of Cleveland was one, in one of the boxes that looked upon the stage; and I was astonished at the behaviour of them all. Sedley himself, who appeared pretty drunk, was the noisiest person in the house; he laughed loudly at any of his own lines that took his fancy, and conversed equally loudly with his friends when they did not. As for the play it was of a very poor kind, and gave me no pleasure