Oct. 27th, 2010

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From a recent Pepysdiary entry:

Nelly and Beck Marshall, falling out the other day, the latter called the other my Lord Buckhurst’s whore. Nell answered then:

“I was but one man’s whore, though I was brought up in a bawdy-house to fill strong waters to the guests; and you are a whore to three or four, though a Presbyter’s praying daughter!”


Of course, this reminds me of the story-- you know the one, right?-- of when Gwyn's carriage was besieged in an Oxford street by a crowd of zealots who thought the passenger was King Charles's French mistress Louise de Kerouaille. The crowd shoved at the coach, rocking it on its springs, yelling imprecations against the "Catholic whore." Gwyn, realising the mistake, drew the curtains aside, put her head out the door and called:

"Be civil, good people, be civil! I am not she. I am the Protestant whore."

And they let her pass. Gwyn and Kerouaille (anglicised to "Carwell") both appear in Rochester's Satire on Charles II, the poem that got him exiled when he accidentally handed a copy to the King:
Ouch. )
Gwyn is also the subject of one of my favourite portraits in the National Portrait Gallery. Her expression there pretty much defines "come hither."

Nell Gwyn didn't die of the pox. The pox died of Nell Gwyn. Fact.

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