No. 14. Friday, March 16, 1711. Steele.

... Teque his, Infelix, exue monstris.Ovid.

I was reflecting this Morning upon the Spirit and Humour of the publick Diversions Five and twenty Years ago, and those of the present Time; and lamented to my self, that though in those Days they neglected their Morality, they kept up their Good Sense; but that the beau Monde, at present, is only grown more childish, not more innocent, than the former. While I was in this Train of Thought, an odd Fellow, whose Face I have often seen at the Play-house, gave me the following Letter with these words, Sir, The Lyon presents his humble Service to you, and desired me to give this into your own Hands.

From my Den in the Hay-market, March 15.

SIR

'I have read all your Papers, and have stifled my Resentment against your Reflections upon Operas, till that of this Day, wherein you plainly insinuate, that Signior Grimaldi and my self have a Correspondence more friendly than is consistent with the Valour of his Character, or the Fierceness of mine. I desire you would, for your own Sake, forbear such Intimations for the future; and must say it is a great Piece of Ill-nature in you, to show so great an Esteem for a Foreigner, and to discourage a Lyon that is your own Country-man.

I take notice of your Fable of the Lyon and Man, but am so equally concerned in that Matter, that I shall not be offended to which soever of the Animals the Superiority is given. You have misrepresented me, in saying that I am a Country-Gentleman, who act only for my Diversion; whereas, had I still the same Woods to range in which I once had when I was a Fox-hunter, I should not resign my Manhood for a Maintenance; and assure you, as low as my Circumstances are at present, I am so much a Man of Honour, that I would scorn to be any Beast for Bread but a Lyon.

Yours, &c.

I had no sooner ended this, than one of my Land-lady's Children brought me in several others, with some of which I shall make up my present Paper, they all having a Tendency to the same Subject, viz. the Elegance of our present Diversions.

Covent Garden, March 13.

SIR,

'I Have been for twenty Years Under-Sexton of this Parish of St. Paul's, Covent-Garden, and have not missed tolling in to Prayers six times in all those Years; which Office I have performed to my great Satisfaction, till this Fortnight last past, during which Time I find my Congregation take the Warning of my Bell, Morning and Evening, to go to a Puppett-show set forth by one Powell, under the Piazzas. By this Means, I have not only lost my two Customers, whom I used to place for six Pence a Piece over against Mrs Rachel Eyebright, but Mrs Rachel herself is gone thither also. There now appear among us none but a few ordinary People, who come to Church only to say their Prayers, so that I have no Work worth speaking of but on Sundays. I have placed my Son at the Piazzas, to acquaint the Ladies that the Bell rings for Church, and that it stands on the other side of the Garden; but they only laugh at the Child.

I desire you would lay this before all the World, that I may not be made such a Tool for the Future, and that Punchinello may chuse Hours less canonical. As things are now, Mr Powell has a full Congregation, while we have a very thin House; which if you can Remedy, you will very much oblige,

Sir, Yours, &c.'

The following Epistle I find is from the Undertaker of the Masquerade. [1]

SIR,

'I Have observed the Rules of my Masque so carefully (in not enquiring into Persons), that I cannot tell whether you were one of the Company or not last Tuesday; but if you were not and still design to come, I desire you would, for your own Entertainment, please to admonish the Town, that all Persons indifferently are not fit for this Sort of Diversion. I could wish, Sir, you could make them understand, that it is a kind of acting to go in Masquerade, and a Man should be able to say or do things proper for the Dress in which he appears. We have now and then Rakes in the Habit of Roman Senators, and grave Politicians in the Dress of Rakes. The Misfortune of the thing is, that People dress themselves in what they have a Mind to be, and not what they are fit for. There is not a Girl in the Town, but let her have her Will in going to a Masque, and she shall dress as a Shepherdess. But let me beg of them to read the Arcadia, or some other good Romance, before they appear in any such Character at my House. The last Day we presented, every Body was so rashly habited, that when they came to speak to each other, a Nymph with a Crook had not a Word to say but in the pert Stile of the Pit Bawdry; and a Man in the Habit of a Philosopher was speechless, till an occasion offered of expressing himself in the Refuse of the Tyring-Rooms. We had a Judge that danced a Minuet, with a Quaker for his Partner, while half a dozen Harlequins stood by as Spectators: A Turk drank me off two Bottles of Wine, and a Jew eat me up half a Ham of Bacon. If I can bring my Design to bear, and make the Maskers preserve their Characters in my Assemblies, I hope you will allow there is a Foundation laid for more elegant and improving Gallantries than any the Town at present affords; and consequently that you will give your Approbation to the Endeavours of,

Sir, Your most obedient humble servant.'

I am very glad the following Epistle obliges me to mention Mr Powell a second Time in the same Paper; for indeed there cannot be too great Encouragement given to his Skill in Motions, provided he is under proper Restrictions.

SIR,

'The Opera at the Hay-Market, and that under the little Piazza in Covent-Garden, being at present the Two leading Diversions of the Town; and Mr Powell professing in his Advertisements to set up Whittington and his Cat against Rinaldo and Armida, my Curiosity led me the Beginning of last Week to view both these Performances, and make my Observations upon them.

First therefore, I cannot but observe that Mr Powell wisely forbearing to give his Company a Bill of Fare before-hand, every Scene is new and unexpected; whereas it is certain, that the Undertakers of the Hay-Market, having raised too great an Expectation in their printed Opera, very much disappointed their Audience on the Stage.

The King of Jerusalem is obliged to come from the City on foot, instead of being drawn in a triumphant Chariot by white Horses, as my Opera-Book had promised me; and thus, while I expected Armida's Dragons should rush forward towards Argantes, I found the Hero was obliged to go to Armida, and hand her out of her Coach. We had also but a very short Allowance of Thunder and Lightning; tho' I cannot in this Place omit doing Justice to the Boy who had the Direction of the Two painted Dragons, and made them spit Fire and Smoke: He flash'd out his Rosin in such just Proportions, and in such due Time, that I could not forbear conceiving Hopes of his being one Day a most excellent Player. I saw, indeed, but Two things wanting to render his whole Action compleat, I mean the keeping his Head a little lower, and hiding his Candle.

I observe that Mr Powell and the Undertakers had both the same Thought, and I think, much about the same time, of introducing Animals on their several Stages, though indeed with very different Success. The Sparrows and Chaffinches at the Hay-Market fly as yet very irregularly over the Stage; and instead of perching on the Trees and performing their Parts, these young Actors either get into the Galleries or put out the Candles; whereas Mr Powell has so well disciplined his Pig, that in the first Scene he and Punch dance a Minuet together. I am informed however, that Mr Powell resolves to excell his Adversaries in their own Way; and introduce Larks in his next Opera of Susanna, or Innocence betrayed, which will be exhibited next Week with a Pair of new Elders.' [2]

The Moral of Mr Powell's Drama is violated I confess by Punch's national Reflections on the French, and King Harry's laying his Leg upon his Queen's Lap in too ludicrous a manner before so great an Assembly.

As to the Mechanism and Scenary, every thing, indeed, was uniform, and of a Piece, and the Scenes were managed very dexterously; which calls on me to take Notice, that at the Hay-Market the Undertakers forgetting to change their Side-Scenes, we were presented with a Prospect of the Ocean in the midst of a delightful Grove; and tho' the Gentlemen on the Stage had very much contributed to the Beauty of the Grove, by walking up and down between the Trees, I must own I was not a little astonished to see a well-dressed young Fellow in a full-bottomed Wigg, appear in the Midst of the Sea, and without any visible Concern taking Snuff.

I shall only observe one thing further, in which both Dramas agree; which is, that by the Squeak of their Voices the Heroes of each are Eunuchs; and as the Wit in both Pieces are equal, I must prefer the Performance of Mr Powell, because it is in our own Language.

I am, &c.'

[Footnote 1: Masquerades took rank as a leading pleasure of the town under the management of John James Heidegger, son of a Zurich clergyman, who came to England in 1708, at the age of 50, as a Swiss negotiator. He entered as a private in the Guards, and attached himself to the service of the fashionable world, which called him 'the Swiss Count,' and readily accepted him as leader. In 1709 he made five hundred guineas by furnishing the spectacle for Motteux's opera of 'Tomyris, Queen of Scythia'. When these papers were written he was thriving upon the Masquerades, which he brought into fashion and made so much a rage of the town that moralists and satirists protested, and the clergy preached against them. A sermon preached against them by the Bishop of London, January 6th, 1724, led to an order that no more should take place than the six subscribed for at the beginning of the month. Nevertheless they held their ground afterwards by connivance of the government. In 1728, Heidegger was called in to nurse the Opera, which throve by his bold puffing. He died, in 1749, at the age of 90, claiming chief honour to the Swiss for ingenuity.

'I was born,' he said, 'a Swiss, and came to England without a farthing, where I have found means to gain, £5000 a-year,--and to spend it. Now I defy the ablest Englishman to go to Switzerland and either gain that income or spend it there.']

[Footnote 2: The 'History of Susanna' had been an established puppet play for more than two generations. An old copy of verses on Bartholomew Fair in the year 1665, describing the penny and twopenny puppet plays, or, as they had been called in and since Queen Elizabeth's time, 'motions,' says

"Their Sights are so rich, is able to bewitch The heart of a very fine man-a; Here's 'Patient Grisel' here, and 'Fair Rosamond' there, And 'the History of Susanna.'"

Pepys tells of the crowd waiting, in 1667, to see Lady Castlemaine come out from the puppet play of 'Patient Grisel.'

The Powell mentioned in this essay was a deformed cripple whose Puppet-Show, called Punch's Theatre, owed its pre-eminence to his own power of satire. This he delivered chiefly through Punch, the clown of the puppets, who appeared in all plays with so little respect to dramatic rule that Steele in the Tatler (for May 17, 1709) represents a correspondent at Bath, telling how, of two ladies, Prudentia and Florimel, who would lead the fashion, Prudentia caused Eve in the Puppet-Show of 'the Creation of the World' to be

'made the most like Florimel that ever was seen,'

and

'when we came to Noah's Flood in the show, Punch and his wife were introduced dancing in the ark.'

Of the fanatics called French Prophets, who used to assemble in Moorfields in Queen Anne's reign, Lord Chesterfield remembered that

'the then Ministry, who loved a little persecution well enough, was, however, so wise as not to disturb their madness, and only ordered one Powell, the master of a famous Puppet-Show, to make Punch turn Prophet; which he did so well, that it soon put an end to the prophets and their prophecies. The obscure Dr Sacheverell's fortune was made by a parliamentary prosecution' (from Feb. 27 to March 23, 1709-10) 'much about the same time the French Prophets were totally extinguished by a Puppet-Show'

(Misc. Works, ed. Maty., Vol. II, p. 523, 555).

This was the Powell who played in Covent Garden during the time of week-day evening service, and who, taking up Addison's joke against the opera from No. 5 of the 'Spectator', produced 'Whittington and his Cat' as a rival to 'Rinaldo and Armida'. [See also a note to No. 31.]]

ADVERTISEMENT.
On the first of April will be performed at the Play-house in the
Hay-market, an Opera call'd 'The Cruelty of Atreus'.
N.B. The Scene wherein Thyestes eats his own Children, is to be
performed by the famous Mr Psalmanazar, [1] lately
arrived from Formosa; The whole Supper
being set to Kettle-drums.
R.

[Footnote 1: George Psalmanazar, who never told his real name and precise birthplace, was an impostor from Languedoc, and 31 years old in 1711. He had been educated in a Jesuit college, where he heard stories of the Jesuit missions in Japan and Formosa, which suggested to him how he might thrive abroad as an interesting native. He enlisted as a soldier, and had in his character of Japanese only a small notoriety until, at Sluys, a dishonest young chaplain of Brigadier Lauder's Scotch regiment, saw through the trick and favoured it, that he might recommend himself to the Bishop of London for promotion. He professed to have converted Psalmanazar, baptized him, with the Brigadier for godfather, got his discharge from the regiment, and launched him upon London under the patronage of Bishop Compton. Here Psalmanazar, who on his arrival was between nineteen and twenty years old, became famous in the religious world. He supported his fraud by invention of a language and letters, and of a Formosan religion. To oblige the Bishop he translated the church catechism into 'Formosan,' and he published in 1704 'an historical and geographical Description of Formosa,' of which a second edition appeared in the following year. It contained numerous plates of imaginary scenes and persons. His gross and puerile absurdities in print and conversation--such as his statements that the Formosans sacrificed eighteen thousand male infants every year, and that the Japanese studied Greek as a learned tongue,--excited a distrust that would have been fatal to the success of his fraud, even with the credulous, if he had not forced himself to give colour to his story by acting the savage in men's eyes. But he must really, it was thought, be a savage who fed upon roots, herbs, and raw flesh. He made, however, so little by the imposture, that he at last confessed himself a cheat, and got his living as a well-conducted bookseller's hack for many years before his death, in 1763, aged 84. In 1711, when this jest was penned, he had not yet publicly eaten his own children, i.e. swallowed his words and declared his writings forgeries. In 1716 there was a subscription of £20 or £30 a year raised for him as a Formosan convert. It was in 1728 that he began to write that formal confession of his fraud, which he left for publication after his death, and whereby he made his great public appearance as Thyestes.

This jest against Psalmanazar was expunged from the first reprint of the Spectator in 1712, and did not reappear in the lifetime of Steele or Addison, or until long after it had been amply justified.]

Translation of motto:
OVID, Met. iv. 590.
'Wretch that thou art! put off this monstrous shape.'