England, My England (1995) - full transcript

In 1960s, a British playwright attempts to reconstruct the life of real life 17th century English composer Henry Purcell even though little is known about him. Purcell's life is reenacted and his music performed.

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At the end of Cromwell's time,
in and around the year of our Lord, 1660...

two things miraculous came about
which, as l shall relate...

gave us great hope for the future
ofthis island, this England

The first, the Restoration of Charles Stuart
to his throne of England...

after many long years of exile in Holland -

miraculous for his father, King Charles,
was executed by Cromwell...

only 11 years earlier

And the second, the birth of Henry Purcell,
organist, composer...

his father and his uncle both ofthe Chapel
Royal in the great Abbey at Westminster

From heaven he came

Their lives were drawn together
as if by divine hand

And together they changed
our history for ever

Kind Heaven, make us Englishman again

Any who may show good reason...

why Charles Stuart shall not
be King of England...

let him come forth and speak

Dread Sovereign, I offer no flattering
titles, but speak words of truth

You are the desire ofthree kingdoms...

the strength and stay
of the tribes of the people

Really? Why then did it
take you so long to ask me back'?

Oddsfish, Mr Newton, what's this'?
A wrestling match'?

Mr Newton, why are you upon the floor'?

Well, we're sure never to see
his like again... in this world

'Tis said, we have a pretty, witty King,
whose word no man relies on

He never says a foolish thing,
and never does a wise one

To which His Majesty replied:

"That is very true,
for my words are my own...

my actions are those of my Ministers"



Well, it's a creaky old play

I rather liked it. Howwould you know?
You've never seen it

No, but I've heard it, forweeks

I'm never dry there!

Oh, don't look so sad, sweetheart.
Any of us could have done it

Well, sorry, it ruined the whole scene

It doesn't matter, it didn't ruin anything

Go on, get dressed if you're coming
- I don't think I feel like eating

fill, Ii

Oh, how's the mighty work'?

Stopped, ceased, dead

So, we're writing a play, are we'?
Well it can't be as bad as this one

May I remind you ladies and gentlemen,
the matinee starts tomorrow at five o'clock...

with orwithout an audience

And would the owner ofthe blue
Ford Cortina, BKH 1T...

not park outside the stage door
as this space is reserved...

for the manager ofthe Sloane Square
Underground station

Didn't take you long
- No, never does

Bill was in
- Shit!

Nelly, Nelly, where are you'?

Oh, Bill, he's in the shower,
he didn't know you were in

I didn't know you were in.
Did you know you were going to be'?

Did you notice me dry'? Sorry

Don't apologise to me Nelly Gwyn,
apologise to Charles


When are we coming off'?

I have never seen anything as boring
as tonight. What's the matterwith you'?

Everybody knows it's coming off, Bill

Well I don't know it's coming off
and I'm the fucking producer!

And even if it is coming off,
who's to blame?

We're supposed to be doing a play
of our times here, the golden age

But does it look like it'?
Does it buggery!

It looks like some creaky old piece
by George Bernard Shaw


Ylllili, I'll!!!

I mean we can do anything
as long as it's not boring!

Hello Bill, didn't know you were in


They opened up the theatres again

Science, poetry, Dryden, Milton,
actors and actresses...

Wren, St Paul's, music, Purcell

I mean Purcell...

Ah, Squire Dryden...

All eyes you draw
and with the eyes the heart...

of your own pomp the greatest part

Loud shouts the nation's
happiness proclaim...

and Heaven this day
is feasted with your name

His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest...

his name a great example stands to show...

how strangely high endeavours
may be blessed...

where piety and valourjointly go

I hear tell they have dug up
Master Cromwell and his mother...

both looking as cheerful as any could
in that condition

The boy Purcell was took into
the Chapel Royal School in Westminster...

cleaning and repairing the organ

And sometimes, with his friend Pelham...

being less than helpful to his uncle Thomas,
the King's composer

Butch, the sights and sounds
and smells young Harry must have seen...

while learning his music

- Sir'?

- Sir'?


It's a piece

- II1:ll-".'

- \\


But what is it'? ls it... What is it'?

Blow, boy!

Well, it has a catch

It is not a catch!

No, it is not a catch

Do give it to the King.
He has such a plump bass


...t'will surely catch with him,
and I shall say it which it is...

which is why, in face of brought over...

I say brought over Frenchmen...
Which you do Master Locke!

Smelling as thou dost of popish
superstition, thou brat of Rome

Not one bit of it anywise
other than what it is

Which it is English... English!

I want none of your Vingt Quatres here!

L, Captain Henry Cooke, say it as Master
ofthe Children ofthe Royal Chapel...

you, Harry Purcell, are destined...

do you but stay obedient and compliant
and do betterwith yourviol...

and your fingering

I hate the viol!

Its use is to strengthen a part,
to support the voices

A chest of viols is essential in church
when the people cannot sing in tune

I would always have my people
sing in tune... and rest the voices...

and then use my violins

Fiddles! Too brisk!

What can a fiddle say alongside
a generous heroic viol...

except it should not come among them'?

Fingering... Fingering, Harry!

Fret and finger, orwe shall banish
cornets with voices now we have 'em...

to the Glory of God and the King and to...

I shall say it... to Prosperity!

This is a music factory

But make people feel, Master Purcell

Give them lessons in feeling.
Let 'em think afterwards

Now in some countries this might
be thought a dangerous approach...

But not in England, not today, dear heart


Little danger of people
feeling too much

Not in England, not today...

encircled as we are with
a Cromwellian army of prigs...

and grubby timeservers...

fat delayers of the law


who merely shrug their shoulders...

while their money meters tick merrily away...

whose wealth is a licence for calumny...

whose cupidity passes for concern

To fly from love's sickness
is both foolish and vain

For I am myself
my own fever and pain

What are you talking about'?

I gave it all to her,
Mother bloody Hubbard...

when I left her, you know

So many children,
she didn't know what to do


I'm not in the mood, not anymore.
You brought up money!

Well, if you don't get on
and write the bloody play...

this poor Nelly will definitely starve

If only it were as easy as that

Do you know, last night I had the same
dream I've been having all these years

I'm about to make my entrance on a stage

Behind the flats, the other actors
are performing a play I know nothing about

A play about the short life
and tragic death of Henry Purcell...

Composer in Ordinary to the violins
of King Charles ll

I play the King
- Of course

My entrance is important, that I know

I'm peering through cracks in the scenery,
trying to find out what is going on

Eventually I decide I must
have missed my entrance...

so I grab a door handle and push

Everything rattles... and suddenly
I'm in a world were I can't see anything

Even though I knowthe spotlight is on me
I don't know my moves or my first line...

but I make enormous efforts to speak,
to say... something

I open my mouth and drive all the strength
I can find into my diaphragm...

but I make no sound


I can feel the light... but I cannot see

Dreams won't pay the bloody rent!

Sod you!

Sod you!

How much'?

Eleven pounds, two shillings
and tenpence

The total in the Exchequer, your Majesty

And the national debt...

in excess ofthree million, your Majesty

I cannot pay them

Why they do it, I cannot think...
why they play on...

sing on... but they do

I cannot pay my sailors,
I cannot pay my guard...

but they are rogues, they pay themselves



Bankers were a tribe grew up
in Cromwell's time

Never were heard of before

They are come to stay, I fear

Since when did you smoke a pipe, dear'?
Harold Wilson, is it'?

I've always smoked a pipe.
There's a kind of...

spirituality about a pipe,
rarely found in love...

but occasionally in friendship

You won't find anything on Purcell,
I've searched everywhere

I found that for you in the London Library

I mean, nothing - that's what makes him
an ideal subject for a play

Nobody knows anything about him,
except "Nymphs and Shepherds"

I could play a shepherd
and Nelly could play a nymph

No seriously, Charlie,
you can make it all up...

we'll get George to put it on
and we'll make you a star!

We could even get an Arts Council grant
- Means-test Man!

We can get Guy to play King James,
Vernon can do Spratt...

and Murray can play... thingy...
what's he called'? Salisbury

Shaftesbury, Bill, Shaftesbury

Another five years ensnared by middle-class
pietists... Thank you very much!

He's the only composer to be buried here
apart from John Blow, his teacher...

and, hallelujah! George Frederick

ls this... Vellington'?

Paid for by a lady
- What?

A lady... we don't know who.
There's even a mystery there

Who paid for the inscription next to
Purcelis grave'? Lady Howard, possibly

We know when he died; St Cecilia's Day -
the patron saint of music -

probably of tuberculosis,
possibly of chocolate poisoning

We don't know when
orwhere he was born...

whether his father
was actually his uncle...


One thing we are sure about is that
he owed everything to Charles ll


Yes, you. You wouldn't
even be remembered.

Who remembers tarts unless they
get to screw somebody famous?

"No sleep as sweet as thine"

Isn't he pretty'? Aren't you pretty'?

Vot'? Vellington'?

Well, l'll do my best. Where shall we start'?

The music and the mirth of Kings
are out of tune

Do you know, she picked up this tourist
in Westminster Abbey!

What were you doing there?
You're not a Christian

Yes I am
- Church of England, are we'?

Do you know, Purcell wrote nearly a
thousand pieces of music in just 16 years -

only 15 ofthem actually signed


Everybody thought Charles ll
was Church of England, but he wasn't

Yes... I know all that

l know all that. We must fight the Dutch,
but who will pay for it'?

Where will the money come from'?

I do believe the Devil shits Dutchmen


The judge who sentenced your father
to his death

Must l'? I am weary of hanging

Let it sleep


- ...is that'?

Your future Queen, sire.
From Braganza

She looks like... a bat

My dear...

Such pretty hands and...


A dowry of half a million, Tangiers,
access to Brazil and the East Indies trade

Tea, coffee...

rubber, your Majesty

I shall have to contain myself
with my Lisbon Kate

I shall of course do my duty

Shall I not, my Lady Castlemaine'?

40,000 or so... or so...

Yes, let's say £40,000,
Master Kiffin, is the sum which...

were you to offer in loan would make us
so grateful it should advance ye...

Majesty, uttter honour, sire,
Death, I swear it!

But rather I would give ye this day...

give ye... £10,000, give ye!

And you shall, Master Kiffin...

for Love hath greater power
and less mercy than Fate

Joy! I am saved 30,000

Saved 30,000!

No matter the lack of money

The theatres were flung open,
news-sheets flung up...

poetry written, music heard

I had the occasional success myself

But it was the actresses
which took the King's eye

Most chief among these
was pretty, witty Nell...

with whom I had some dalliance myself
before Charles the King...

but that's another story

Oh, poet. Damned dull poet!

Who could prove so senseless
as to make Nelly die for love'?

Nay, what yet worse, to kill me
in the prime of Easter time...

in tart and cheesecake time!

And a mighty pretty soul she is!

Bloody freezing

Yes, my dear Barbara, you have every right
to ask me to support you

What do you want'?
Money, I suppose

Would be a help

Writing a play, I hear

Well, trying to, you know...

Writers dissemble, you know. Like you

They're not to be trusted. Like you

They look for intellectual respect
and approbation. Like you

They flatter, indulge, and offer false
and easy comfort. Like you

Once, our native language
was refined and free...

like the old liturgy ofthe Anglican Church,
or Pepys, Dryden, Purcell -

each of whom tried to find a vibrant language
in which it was possible only...

to tell the truth

That, I believe, is worthy
and worth our attention

It's for her, I suppose.
The starving Nelly'?

No, it's for me. It's about Purcell

Anything in it for me'?
- I wouldn't think so

It's about genius...

Welcome to Her Majesty's Royal Palace
and fortress, the Tower of London...

and in particular to the Wakefield Tower,
usually known as the Jewel Tower

Here you see in the first case
Her Majesty's Crown Jewels

Here, of course, is St Edward's crown...

used in the Coronation of all our Sovereigns
ever since 1661

when the Crown was made
specifically for King Charles ll

On the right of St Edward's crown,
of course, is the ampula and spoon

The ampula was filled with holy oil...

to anoint our Sovereign
during the Coronation service

The Crown weighs five pounds in gold...

and is encrusted
with over 400 precious stones -

diamonds, emeralds, sapphires,
rubies and what have you

What we'll take you to now is the Imperial
State Crown, which is much smaller

Come on, this way now


Were these paid for'?
- No they were not

Cost me, his goldsmith,
32,000 - mine by rights

Oh, but he was merry

Sank ten fathoms deep
all Parliament's mumping

Pure gold

Sire, you'll stop on
and take the other bottle'?

Upon my soul I do declare...

he hath the best manner of singing
in the world!

Butch, the plague!

It came every year, and fearwith it

1665 was the worst - the hottest
summer in memory, my memory

And mine it is that shrinks from it,
from the numbers dead

Halfthe population of London... gone.
Cut down, like a flower

Even the dogs,
grisly outlaws of nature, killed

40,000 of them

The Dutch brought it, your Majesty,
they had it first!

It come ashore with the Dutch
and now we all dies, your Majesty!


and so many sad stories as I walk

A dying city. All fled who can

Bring out your dead!

In London Fields in Hackney
they buried them

Harry's father among them - in a pit

They say the ravens are beating
at the doors ofthe dying

No boats upon the river

The grass is growing
all up and down Whitehall

None but wretches in the street

Spots... first... do generally appear
in the region ofthe heart and liver

Or the breast or...
- No, no, everywhere

Tokens big is half a crown...

sometimes red with blue within,
on hands, face, neck

Black they go, black from melancholy

Robbery and thievery,
the looting of plunder...

public hangings...

bonfires to purify the stinking air,
everywhere, everywhere...

So short a time...

Since I have so short a time to live...

a little ease to these my torments give

A land of confusion and endless night...

where horror reigns,
where darkness is might

Take up the filth from among us as
ye take our sins from us we do but plead...

and shit from us the plague of popery!

The best remedy, apart from tobacco...

is wash out the mouth with vinegar often...

and rosemary, sorrel, verjuice, marigolds...

all these stuff in the cracks and holes
ofthe body when abroad

All had from a physician before he
decamped to Gloucester, the coward

The king goes to see the wretched sick
and gives a thousand pounds...

Oh, bless him... even though...

Even though he will not pay for music

Even though he loves it

And then the fire destroyed halfthe city

Master Pepys, Master Pepys!


I saw some smoke,
but went back to bed...

for the source being assuredly no more near
than the backside of Marke Lane

Our Lord Mayor neither, I am told,
saw cause for concern

His words: "A maid may piss it out"
Well Jane certainly could not!

There are some buckets being filled
but no fire squirts nor cistern engines

All simply remove themselves

Will it reach up here'?

Jaws clamped shut, singing boys!
Do not expose your throats to the heat!

Breathe not but through stuff!

Pull us away, boatman,
orwe'll burn up on the water!

Muffle boys, muffle!
Your cords are everything!

No sooner are we free of Cromwell
and can have boys sing again...

than the flames of his hell
lick up at us

Such a roaring was never seen
in the city before

Oh, do you see his Majesty?

Jamie, they must pull the houses down
before it. ls it not being done'?

Oh, they will not

They must do it or the fire will never
be stopped. Where is my Lord Mayor'?

Having his daughter piss on it'?

I have fought in his wars,
for his father's righteous cause!

The decree has gone out!

Repent or burn!

Squash another murderous Frenchman
as should never have been born alive!

See his black hands
where he has set light to London

ls the popish villain left his life yet'?

Enough! Enough!
- N0 pOpery, your Majesty!

I see nothing that pertains
to the man's religion

It will suffice that he is French
- Indeed it will, for him

Set to it like no ordinary men
or your city will burn itself to death!

Seize me that bucket.
Ted, toss it to me, man

My Lord Clarendon, these flames quicken

They will not thank him for it...

but blame him and the religion
he is secret supposed to hold!

What he do or not do, he has my loyalty...

in spite ofthe money he owes me

He has not paid his music in six years
which is why no man will bring his child in it

So it need be that the science itself
must die in this nation! Six years!

Six years since you went
to King's crowning!

God save the King!

God save the King!

I promised a liberty
to tender consciences...

and this shall be a cause and reason
for my six new colonies in the Americas

Maryland I name in memory
of my mother, Maria...

New York for my brother James,
Duke of York...

and the Carolinas and Charles Town for me

Why did you make me
go on that... march'?

You're always telling me that Charles ll
had to endure plots and demonstrations...

not to mention fire and plague...

so I thought you ought to see
what a real demo is like!

You're one ofthose militants that exploits
political crises for personal glory

You're both psychopathic
and self-righteous!

Ah, no! My book!

"My Pilgrim's book has travelled sea and land,
yet could l never come to understand...

that it was slighted or turned out of door
by any kingdom, were they rich or poor

In France and Flanders,
where men kill each other...

my Pilgrim is esteemed a friend, a brother

'Tis in New England under such advance
receives there so much loving countenance...

as to be trimmed, new clothed
and decked with gems...

that it might show its features and its limbs"

Who is that'?
As Treasurer, you should know

...goldsmiths and bankers
of Lombard Street...

to whom your Majesty owes £1 ,300,000

That is a very great sum, my lord.

What might we do'?

Prorogue Parliament,
close the Exchequer...

all interest on payments stopped,
all interest due on loans refused


War, pestilence, fire, and now...

Damn me if we ain't ruined!

Was ever a city so afflicted

4,000 streets destroyed, 90 churches,
14,000 houses...

Architecture has its political uses, my lord...


But the cost, your Majesty

What Master Wren has designed
will cost eight million! At least!

It establishes the Nation,
draws People and Commerce...

and makes men love their native country

So he built all ofthis...
- More or less

And why the boat'?

Oh, he and his brother used to love racing
up and down the Thames, just for a bet

He was a fantastic sailor, apparently

He called his boat "The Fubbs"
after the nickname of his mistress -

one of his mistresses,
the Duchess of Portsmouth

She was small and squat
and broad of beam... like you

Cheeky bugger!

How many did he have then'?

- Women

Howwould I know?
- I don't know...

Thought you are looking him up,
writing a play or something

Stop it, keep your hands to yourself
if you're not going to be nice

He was accused of having 39

Even had up before a church court
to answer some pamphlet written about him

"The Poor Whore's Petition", it was called

- It may be, but...

The temper of England may be indifferent
to religion, my Lord Bishop...

but I... lam not!

Is it true, Majesty?

Certainly, my Lord Bishop

One mistress for each Article of Faith

There are 39, are there not'?

Such is my devotion
to our Church of England

Weigh your anchors!

Time and tide admit no delay

l'll silence your mourning with vows of
returning and never intend to visit you more!

What are you going to do today'?

What Charles wanted and what
Purcell wrote about so gloriously...

was a country of tolerance,
irony, kindliness

Not like today, when the modesty of heroes
is dispatched with derision and contempt...

and thus thrown up a generation forwhom
"honour" is a forgotten, meaningless currency

May God rot the tyranny of equality...

streamlining, classlessness...

and above all, absurd,
irrelevant "correctness"

That's just a matter of opinion
and you know it!

Ah, opinions!

Do you knowthat opinion-making is this
country's most virulent growth industry

The market is insatiable

Newspapers, like television,
pour out opinions...

with a frenzy that marked the production
of Spitfires during the war

Phone-ins proliferate, choked with calls from
the semi-literate, the bigoted and the barmy

Opinion polls, the entrails of democracy,
are picked over for prophetic insights

We've become a nation
of babbling backseat cab-drivers

"What are you giving up for Lent?"
I was asked yesterday

"Opinions", I said. "Permanently!"

Ha bloody ha!

Well, to answer your earlier question,
I'm off to the British Library

Want to come'?
You could pick up...

an education!

The London Gazette, October 9th, 1701

"The score ofthe music for the Fairie Queen,
set by the late Mr Henry Purcell...

and belonging to the Theatre Royal
in Covent Garden in London...

being lost by his death...

Whoever brings the said score
to Mr Zachary Baggs...

treasurer of the said theatre,
shall have 2O guineas reward give him!

God, the actual score

Good for Mr Baggs! I hope he paid up

2O guineas for such
a priceless manuscript, eh'?

"The Fairie Queen,
first performed May 2nd, 1692"

Some of it in PurcelPs own hand...
so clear, so beautiful...

What's this'?

"We play loud or soft, according to our fancy,
or the mood ofthe music"

Blank pages!

"Here follows..." But what'?
What on earth did they do'?

"Let kindness be our guide..."

"The irony of love... The tolerance of hope"

"Still and soften the sound
as shades in needlework..."

Give an actor directions like that
and he'll do what he likes

Make it up as he goes along!


From hence you may...

From hence you may look back on Civil Rage
and viewthe ruins of a former age

Here a New World its glories may unfold...

and here be saved the remnants ofthe old

But while your days
on public thoughts are bent...

past ills to heal, and future to prevent...

some vacant hours allow to your delight...

mirth is the pleasing business
of the night

Hush, hush, no more

Be silent

Sweet repose has closed her eyes

Soft as feathered snow does fall

Softly, softly...


Hard by Pall Mall lives a wench called Nell...

King Charles the Second he kept her

She hath got a trick to handle his prick...

but never lays hands on his sceptre!

Where did you get that'?

Said at the time, sweetheart, a lot of
scurrilous poetry about at the time

And dirty ditties too -
Purcell wrote quite a few

Just imagine what
he must have seen growing up...

in that stew of "luxury and
inexpressible profaneness"

By the time he came of age...

young Harry was already
well established at the court

Organist at Westminster Abbey...

Composer in Ordinary
like his uncle before him...

Keeper of the Kings fiddles

Still with his boyhood friend, Pelham

Still a boy himself

I remember, I remember...

You Harry...
- I shall not!

If not you, then I must and I cannot
for I am just married myself...

and not an instant
would I spend away from it

Marriage... Oh do, Harry, what will you learn,
the King commands it!

L-low does he'?
- He commands me and I command you

It's French!
- It is


But not this... "The Marriage of Bacchus"!

Does he hate his brother so much
he would give him this is a wedding gift'?

No, no, no. This rivalry... between
the King's Company and his brother's...

James? Well, he ne'er troubled his head
with too much thinking

If his brotherwants a French play,
then so must Charles

The cost of it!

London is not big enough
for two theatre companies, I tell you

Isn't she wonderful?

Wonderfully large, she certainly is

Isn't she French'?

Much the same as you were,
your first week back from Paris

In the King's service, Harry,
the Secret Service

I remember it well, the complete Monsieur

Monsieur Pefam Umfraise
ofthe Chapel Royal, full of Moliére...

I 'ave eeet - I will 'ave 'er, sir!
- Thought you might, Monsieur

I can't play it, Monsieur, I can't play this!
Too many notes... impossible!

And could he, it would be dreary
and incomprehensible

There may be some merit...
- None, I shall not!

All human things are subject to decay

So when Fate summons,
e'en a Monarch must obey

And yet, a setting sun describes
a track of glory in the skies

The King was grown old

Only his horses at Newmarket
seemed to please him

Did I tell you'? He founded
the great stables at Newmarket

Champion jockey he was,
with his brother, James

James, waiting, watching...


so whistled as he went,
for want of thought


to be the heir, yet always made to wait

What Charles wanted was for
the Crown itself to be extraordinary...

Not like today...

when the monarchy isn't even the tarnished
gold fillings in a mouthful of decay

The rot set in, of course,
with Queen Victoria

That no-neck little widow who spent most
ofthe 6O glorious years of her reign...

skulking behind closed portcullis doors,
leading a life of ineffable dullness...

snapping at her huge family
and foreign relations

Her husband, quite understandably,
thought she was mad

The King still loved the ladies of course.
The latest being Mistress Louise...

the "Duchess" of Portsmouth
whom he had known for some time...

but who was French, Catholic -
and called "Fubbs"

Why'? I was never able to discover

Her son, the "Duke" of Richmond,
also founded a racecourse I'm told...

at Goodwood

Butch, a merry Monarch,
scandalous but poor...

restless he rolled about
from whore to whore

And he still loved his music,
though he did not pay for it

Young Harry was always with him -
and with him...

his new lady, Frances -

to provide a welcome ode or an anthem,
whatever was required

No matter that plot and counterplot...

the scourge of violence lurked everywhere,
t'other side of the hangings

Remember'? Returns it to the memory'?

The great pope-burning processions...
Does the memoryjog'?

Bread and carnivals...
Few took them seriously

The King knew men to a hair
and never let them forget it

Do you see them,
of his loins not one legitimate

He has peopled
the aristocracy of England!

The Queen is barren

He should rid himself of her

lf he will not, he must declare you
Duke of Monmouth and his heir

As first born, bastard or no,
you could be King, young man

The tragedy was that the King
had no children of his own

No legitimate children

His bastard son, Monmouth,
was always plotting against him

He loved his son,
but he was not his heir

He was not the Crown

Nature and Nature's Laws lay hid in night...

'til God said: "Let there be Newton"

And all was... light!

Yes, the honour is...

- No, I am not overwhelmed

I am perfectly capable
of arranging the music...

for the announcement of the wedding
of your niece, the Princess Mary...


and I am...


Your Majesty, may I humbly submit...

Ah, Squire Dryden

"lf love and honour now are higher raised,
'tis not the poet, but the age is praised

Wit's not arrived to a more high degree...

our native language more refined and free"

CUEI-IIQ Dhlfil-

take this man, William,
as your dearly beloved husband'?

And wilt thou, William Henry,
Prince of Orange...

take this woman, Mary,
as your dearly beloved wife'?

With this ring I thee wed,
with my body I thee worship...

and with all my worldly goods I thee endow

I now pronounce ye man and wife,
till death do ye part

Gather it up girl, it is all clear gain

Those whom God hath joined together,
let no man put asunder

You have to get used to my habits!

We may have to live together
for a long while!

Have you told the King'?
- Told the King'?

I don't talk to the King,
unless he talks to me, which...

on the matter of my marriage to Frances,
which we are determined shall...

We are determined


I shall take the sacrament


She, you Frances, are Flanders
and Catholic

Harry here, now he is...
Well, he's not

Dryden is, certainly,
but now we are none of us of...

Ofthe old religion
- Dare not be

The King is... secretly

You must not say that.
That is not true

The nation would be rent were it so again

Up and down the land we would...
Oh, it would be awful, as it was

You may not remember
how we were at throats...

Englishmen at the throats
of other Englishmen

We will be married

We are married in love

Well... I shall not tell the King

Oh, do take care Master Purcell

From this blessed man,
music just seemed to flow

Motets, anthems, songs...

all manner of music
for all manner of occasions

There was no dam,
no stop to his golden flask

He was... unstoppable

What do it say'?
- Vivace

What do it mean'?
- Fast and brisk

Why don't you say so, young man'?
Ain't it French enough for you'?

What do I 'grave down here

Adagio, if you would take
the very great kindness, sir

- K

Oddsfish, do you mean to set that?
- Yes

Oh, how your brothers, Charlie and... Joe'?

Are they still travelling abroad
- They must, they promised the King...

"for he commandeth
and raiseth up the stormy wind...

which lifteth up the waves thereof,
and we near to drowned"

Very good!

You can set that...

as long as you promise to abandon
your detestable viols!

What, and achieve a fiddle?

Oh, Harry, Harry, Harry...

I will travel no more

I resolve that I shall
go abroad no more

It's unimaginable,
who would think it or plot it'?

Some would, some do

But then I am beset by plots,
am I not, my Lord Shaftesbury'?

When I die...
- God save your Majesty!

...l know not what my brother might do

I am much afraid that he may be obliged
to travel again, for his religion...

But I shall take care
to leave my kingdom at peace...

wishing that he may long keep it so

But these are all my fears,
little of my hopes and less of my reason

I tell you...

poets... that one...

my bastard, pretty Prince Perkin...

will be put on the throne
by the Protestants...

by the Whigs, under Shaftesbury -

the loudest bagpipe in the squeaky train

You must fight Shaftesbury for me,
you must fight popery too

I'm so weary

Do excuse me for taking
such a long time a-dying

Doomsday, my Lord Shaftesbury,
we shall see whose arse is blackest

Listen awhile and I'll tell you a tale...

of a little device
called the Protestant flail

This flail is made ofthe finest new wood...

for the splitting of brains
and the shedding of blood

With a thump-a-thump thump,
a thump-a-thump thump...

Come out, you papist whore!

Pray good people, be civil!

The King's whore I may be,
but I'm his Protestant whore!

Among the Loyalist people,
I am your spokesman...

and by the grace of God
nobody will silence me

l, Titus Oates, tell you Lords,
there is a popish plot in the land...

for the destruction
of his Majesty King Charles...

and that man, he, Lord Stafford,
he took from me a commission...

that I was give by Jesuits...

that he should act as Paymaster General
of the Pope's army...

to ravage this land!

...like the prigs and bullies who would now
would have dominion over our daily lives

All ofthis will have to go, you know

No one will put up with all this violence,
not on the telly anyway

No one will put up the money
to make the thing


What about the violence
of threatened profit?

The great English bourgeoisie...

who claim to believe in the virtue
of "leaving things alone"...

but whose objectives narrow down to a
painful sore of human undernourishment'?

Those are the people,
the "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells"...

who are, in reality,
possessed of the real violence...

the greedy desire
to order the lives of all...

especially those who speak out of turn...

the sexually immoral - they think -
like King Charles...

or those who simply
blaze forth their youth...

like Purcell, Newton, Wren,
the whole lot of 'em

Then is the voice of Jeremiah heard
loud and clear in the land...

or at least in the columns
of the Daily Telegraph!

You're just a bloody socialist!
- Socialist? Ha!

To be a socialist today, my dear old Bill...

is like being in the priesthood
in a world without God...

still trying to remember
the Order of Service...

prattling ceaselessly
about the "classless society"...

to a middle class it dare not defy

And what are you doing'?
Trying to tune into God'?

No, the Overseas Service.
We've got a play on, remember?

This is London...

Well, at least the BBC
hasn't forgotten the Empire!

Oh, no. I'm dogged by that bloody tune

They've whistled it, sung it, jeered it
up and down the length ofthe land

Blood will flow from it, l'll warrant,
before we have our quietude again

It's become an incitement,
never an accompaniment...

I can't hold myself responsible

It is believed the man Oates lies

It's not believed
there was any plot at all

I shall use it as a ground
since that requires so littlejudgment

And you would set "Richard ll",
the tale of a usurper

l have renamed it "The Sicilian Usurper".
None shall know

Bejudge yourself, I'll bring it to the test

Which is the basest creature,
man or beast?

Birds feed on birds,
beasts on each other prey...

but savage Man alone does Man betray

The winter which came in 1684
was savage

The Thames froze over

The King became gravely ill

We were all afraid

I'm going blind

I shall write no more

I've written none of my diary for years

This stinking city, very little food neither

Because of the ice...

They've arrested that pygmy,
Shaftesbury, you know

A glittering worm in excrement

I am going blind, you know...

Did you never hear the tale
ofthe starving soldier...

who was fighting in the Holy Crusade'?

He was told by his officer
that if he died in battle...

he would dine in Paradise
with the blessed Jesus

Well, the soldier ran away,
he didn't want to fight

And when he returned after the battle...

the officer asked him why he had run away

"Did you not want to dine with Christ?"
he asked

And the soldier replied,
"No, I'm fasting today...

fretting my pygmy body to decay"

Which body... they strung up

It's my blindness, you know

We smelled death in the air

Harry's firstborn... died


Young Harry worked on, worked on...

Asked to judge which was the best
organ in the land! I ask you!

Oh, what an absurdity at times
does possess us... I ask you!

A most unwarrantable act of hostility!

Since there is only one organ may be played,
perhaps we should play it

The King is dead! Dead!

A Prince of so many virtues...

Gracious on... so many occasions

Oh, hide me, Frances. Hide me

Hide me from the light of day

And with the new King
marched General Disorder

The theatre in confusion -
riots, hangings...

The stink of revolution
once again in the air

Fear stalked the land
in dread of what we thought might come

Men set their door
against the setting sun


- What about'?

You know...

they're arresting those who did...

We have a Catholic King on the throne
- Yes, but will he pay his debts?

They say the Queen's Benedictines
are costing 1,500 a year

I fear this may well be the end
of my church music

I fear it may

Why sleeps the viol and the lute'?

Why hangs untuned the idle lyre'?

They are come for us!
- No, no, there's no need to be afraid

Henry Purcell, Composer in Ordinary
to the King's Music'?

I'm still that'?

Clerk ofthe Cheque Extraordinary
to His Majesty King James...

Colonel Wharton at your service, sir

I shall want a receipt, sir

Monies for repairing the King's instruments
before his Coronation

What is it'?

From the King - out of
the Secret Service money -

34 pounds and 12 shillings...
for erecting an organ!

But life continued, it always does

i_ n

And while others fluttered in the wind...

he stood shoulder to shoulderwith those
he loved and with those who loved him

Tell me, you Gods...

why do vain men pursue with endless toil
each object that is new...

and cast aside that
which they know is true'?

Paid for erecting an organ!

What art thou, what art thou'? Confess!

Giovanni Draghi. At your service, sir

Too many Italians at Court!

There's nothing wrong with being Italian.
Italians are now in favour at Court

I'm very proud to be Italian

And I'm very proud to admit ajust imitation
of your Italian Masters...

who do bring seriousness and gravity
into vogue, nay reputation...

against the levity and balladry
of our neighbours, the French!

None may sing as low as my gosling

He called me his gosling

Oh do fill up my bowl...


For God' s sake, sing us a catch...

We must play
- What?

Blind man's buff!

The 107th Psalm. I set it

Too late. The King, dead, will never hear it

l shall lower it into his grave

Oh, God, I'm drunk!

He was a great King, would set us all...

England too... all... all up

Well, now we have another

His brother

England declined.
King James was Catholic

But then, so too was I

Debts piled, bankers grew fat

Bankruptcy flourished

Poverty and death
dropped on us everywhere

"windy. lnlnuuunn

Yodrejealous, that's all!
- Of yourwork'? Come on!

Jealousy, that poisons passion...
- And despair that dies for love

Yes, I have read the beginning
of your rotten little play, you know

Rotten? Little?

Do you know what this country
has become'?

Once we had a church built upon a rock

Nowthe rock has been bulldozed
and with it our faith

What we're left with
is a crawling underside...

of expediency and dishonour,
beholden to Brussels...

wherein the crooked shall be made straight
and the rough places plain

England, my England, is shuffling about
like an old tramp...

begging for a pair of boots
at the tradesman's entrance of Europe

Europe is the future and you know it!

"Europe" is an adroit piece
of brand-name dropping...

which will turn democracy into a hoax -

a Masonic Lodge of Commerce with a
squalid membership of political mercenaries

The English conscience,
for so many years out for hire or rent...

is now up for outright purchase

The "Common Market"...

is about as drab a name
for such a monumental swindle...

since some bright little German ad-man...

thought of putting wholesale murder
onto the market as National Socialism

And then, another miracle...

Without a blow, James was gone...

prised out by the old aristocracy
which was Protestant...

and would not tolerate him any more...

and went to his daughter, Mary,
and her husband, William of Orange...

who landed at Torbay,
to general acclaim assured

See the flags and streamers curling...

anchors weighing, sails unfurling!

Where is the Queen?
Oh, do hurry up!

It seemed a new
and glorious age had arrived

And for young Harry'?

You are to receive all your monies,
Master Purcell

I am honoured, Majesty

There is great want among the music

There is great want in the Nation,
Master Purcell

For peace and prosperity, Majesty,
there is a great yearning

There is a great yearning, Master Purcell,
for martial music

Oboes and trumpets, Master Purcell

William... will want you
to write martial themes...

such as "Sound the Trumpet",
"Beat the Drums"...

written, I believe, for my father
the late King, James that is...

so lately fled these shores

Oh, you have but to command, Majesty

Oh, but I do command, Master Purcell

I command you to celebrate this...

triumphant day, Master Purcell

These sums of money, Mr Purcell...

taken for admission to the organ loft
for a better sight of the Coronation...

are the right ofthe Abbey
so to accrue, sirrah!

Sirrah me not, Doctor Sprat!

You may be Dean ofthe Abbey
but I am in considerable station myself

You are a minder ofthe instruments, sir
and have no right to collect any monies.


I am Composer in Ordinary! Organist,
Copyist, and person of considerable worth

A musician born to the Chapel Royal
like my father and uncle also...

my life lived here,
my work for this place

You will pay back every penny, sirrah!

I shall not

It is my perquisite as it has been
the perquisite of every organist...

You shall give all the money
to Mr Needham, sir...

or in default you will lose your place,
Master Purcell!

Beware, Saul to Endor comes...

lam being dunned

I am pursued for debt...

damned for my religion!

They say I must pay back the money
I had for letting places in the organ loft

It's always been done. I have the right

I shall not

Though my debts be such
that I shall lose my house

Many do boom and bust, these times...

Nothing at the Court. Not any more

The stage is the thing - for both of us

I knewthat when I saw"Dioclesian"

I said, here is an Englishman
equal to anyone abroad!

Did I not'?

And here I have something...

None need know

"King Arthur",
originally written for King Charles

Too many words, too little action

Illih '

I always thought we should have done that.
Lancelot and Guinevere...

and Merlin - great part for you!

Words are free, Bill.
Conscience is cheaper

It will not serve!

My brother Edward serves -
in TyrconnePs Regiment in Ireland

It has within it subversion and religion...

and mention ofthe King's defeat at Mons,
which is not politic nor is it true

Nor may you say he has a mistress!
- I say none ofthis, I simply set it

It is a work for the theatre... an opera!

Opera is a danger you will do best to avoid!

"King Arthur"... an opera,
written by Mr Dryden...

was excellently adorned
with scenes and machines...

with dances made by Mr Josias Priest,
at a total cost of a mere £3000!

The musical part set by
the famous Mr Purcell...

whose yearly salary was £1 O0...

with Lady Mary Tudor
most excellently undressed as Cupid!

The play and music
pleased the Court and City...

and being well performed,
it was very gainful to the company

It was awful, wife

It was not heard for machinery,
sliding shutters...

roar of cannon, blast of trumpets
and flights of... parrots!

Betterton wants to do "The Fairie Queen".
From Shakespeare.

With text by that oaf, Sedley...

the father ofthe late King's mistress,
Mistress Catherine

What of the Queen'?

What of the Queen'?

She clasped her hands...

and smiled at me with such...
such consideration

Did she though'?

And then she died
- Who'?

The Queen. Mary. Almost overnight

Taken sick and died within a week

A statistical survey ofthe health
ofthe late 17th century...

reveals that from every hundred births...

only one in three
lived beyond the age of six

Queen Anne had 18 children. All died

He cometh up,
and is cut down like a flower

Only one in 1O lived until they were 7O

The most common disease was rickets,
resulting in deformed limbs and scrofula...

while spotted fever, pleurisy, pneumonia
and above all, smallpox...

killed two out of every five ofthe population

The first symptoms of smallpox
are shivering...

followed by red spots on the skin,
a rapid rise in temperature...

vomiting, headaches, intolerance to light,
a swollen tongue...

haemorrhage of the skin,
a tearing pain...

and death

Regular bleeding, by cutting
into the patienfs veins...

is thought to alleviate the suffering,
although only temporarily

Suffer us not at our last hour
from any pains of death to fall from Thee...

I fear I am becoming old...

and infirmities come with age

Where is my husband'?
- Returning from Ireland, your Majesty

I long for rest and peace

A lion has died, you know

At Christmas

A lion died when Charles...

the King...

Remember me...

and may my wrongs
create no trouble in thy breast

No trouble in thy breast

She was only 32

He fleeth as it were a shadow

Thou knowest, Lord,
the secrets of our hearts

Shut not Thy merciful ears
unto our prayers...

but spare us, Lord most holy,
O God most mighty...

Her death broke young Harry.
At least, that is my view

He tried his best to revive his "Dido",
not one of mine, but some say his best

But he had no money, you see,
so he had to play Belinda himself

What irony that was

My girls, Master Purcell!

My girls, my nymphs, my shepherds!
What can be done, Master Purcell?

Cut them out, Mr Priest!

Belinda, the loyal servant
of a Queen, who dies for love

I told you, when we first did this,
some four years back...

although we did it in private,
as we do now... cut them out!

They are a mediocrity!

The King would cut everything out,
especially his musicians!

Ever gentle, ever smiling...

and the cares of life beguiling, Mr Priest.


Our world was disintegrating

We moved as in a dream,
shadows without substance

Thus did our life become.
'Tis all a cheat

Yet, fooled with hope,
men favour the deceit

Trust on, and think tomorrow will repay

Tomorrow is falser than the former day

So when the last and dreadful hour...

this crumbling pageant shall devour...

shall the trumpet still be heard on high'?

No! The dead shall live, the living die...

while music shall untune the sky

No government has ever been
or ever can be...

wherein Timeservers and Blackheads
will not be uppermost

The persons only are changed

The samejuggling in the State,
the same hypocrisy in Religion

The same self-interest
and mismanagement will...

remain... for ever

Suffer us not at our last hour...

from any pains of death to fall from Thee

Harry was inconsolable

His heart screamed for peace,
ifthat is what it was...

and he sought it in a hospital
called Bethlehem...

among the mad of Bedlam

These poor souls, he told me,
had seen the light

What light?

Had they seen those shadows
which we could not see, could only feel

Thou knowest, Lord,
the secrets of our heart

Shut not thy merciful eyes
from our prayers...

but spare us Lord most Holy,
God most mighty

England, my England!
Do you know what this country has become'?

And old tramp shuffling around...

begging for a pair of boots
at the tradesman's entrance of Europe!

Oh, but I do command, Master Purcell

I command you to celebrate
this triumphant day!

Master Purcell...

When we first did this,
although we did it in private as we do now...

I told you then, cut them out!
They are a mediocrity!

Still... mediocrity is a great comforter

You'll see

I will become a grand object
of public unconcern

My Dido'? Not even performed.
At least not in public

Since "Dioclesian", some 5O works
for the stage in only four years

And the result?

Penury. Begging for enough to...

Tell me, is this ugly, cheerless world
in which we live...

supposed to be typical'?

Is this all'?

Well, at least you never assembled
a lot of sloppy fads...

and served them up as innovations

I mourned the unknown,
the loss of what went before...

the deprivation of what, even as a child,
seemed irrevocably my own...

my birthplace... my country...


Have I looked for answers
where there are none'?

Everyone demands answers,
like happiness, as a right

How hopeless! How... ironic

Ah, irony!

That English virtue
that purifies our rowdy passion

No. Hope comes from within, my friend

When hope goes, we freeze

Hope falters, but never fawns or crowds,
never stands in line

Even in dread and noise it strains
for coherence, for a snatch of harmony

An old trumpet,
played upon but not playing -

sounding, but only in my head


coherence conceals as much
as it reveals to the lost, like me...

who contemplate the wreckage


Let me in!

L lived among the hills footmarked here...

rooted here, in ancient English time

Frances, will the King
ever pay our debts'?

Two hundred, isn't it'?

At 2O pence a day, it's little wonder...

"'Tis women make us love,
'tis loving makes us sad...

'tis sadness makes us drunk,
and drinking makes us mad"

ls it not St Cecilia's Day tomorrow?

L shall write a Comical History...

of Don Quixote

Pray for me

He was a Colossus, the boy

It flew up from him

Notes, everything -
they'll not find the half of it

Did he not give to the Englishman
his glorious, unquenchable music?

There'll be none like him

"Remember me"

It's gone up. The notice

Ah, when'?

This is the last week

Good. I'm very tired of it. You'?

And I've got a coffee commercial

Did you get that film'?

"...and forget my fate"

Still, never mind,
there's always your play

That's if you ever finish it, though

There's always the telly...


Only from established authors, I'm told