No. 22. Monday, March 26, 1711. Steele.

Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic incredulus odi.'

The word Spectator being most usually understood as one of the Audience at Publick Representations in our Theatres, I seldom fail of many Letters relating to Plays and Operas. But, indeed, there are such monstrous things done in both, that if one had not been an Eye-witness of them, one could not believe that such Matters had really been exhibited. There is very little which concerns human Life, or is a Picture of Nature, that is regarded by the greater Part of the Company. The Understanding is dismissed from our Entertainments. Our Mirth is the Laughter of Fools, and our Admiration the Wonder of Idiots; else such improbable, monstrous, and incoherent Dreams could not go off as they do, not only without the utmost Scorn and Contempt, but even with the loudest Applause and Approbation. But the Letters of my Correspondents will represent this Affair in a more lively Manner than any Discourse of my own; I [shall therefore [1] ] give them to my Reader with only this Preparation, that they all come from Players, [and that the business of Playing is now so managed that you are not to be surprised when I say] one or two of [them [2]] are rational, others sensitive and vegetative Actors, and others wholly inanimate. I shall not place these as I have named them, but as they have Precedence in the Opinion of their Audiences.


Your having been so humble as to take Notice of the Epistles of other Animals, emboldens me, who am the wild Boar that was killed by Mrs. Tofts, [3] to represent to you, That I think I was hardly used in not having the Part of the Lion in 'Hydaspes' given to me. It would have been but a natural Step for me to have personated that noble Creature, after having behaved my self to Satisfaction in the Part above-mention'd: But that of a Lion, is too great a Character for one that never trod the Stage before but upon two Legs. As for the little Resistance which I made, I hope it may be excused, when it is considered that the Dart was thrown at me by so fair an Hand. I must confess I had but just put on my Brutality; and Camilla's charms were such, that b-holding her erect Mien, hearing her charming Voice, and astonished with her graceful Motion, I could not keep up to my assumed Fierceness, but died like a Man.

I am Sir,

Your most humble Servan.,

Thomas Prone."


This is to let you understand, that the Play-House is a Representation of the World in nothing so much as in this Particular, That no one rises in it according to his Merit. I have acted several Parts of Household-stuff with great Applause for many Years: I am one of the Men in the Hangings in the Emperour of the Moon; [4] I have twice performed the third Chair in an English Opera; and have rehearsed the Pump in the Fortune-Hunters. [5] I am now grown old, and hope you will recommend me so effectually, as that I may say something before I go off the Stage: In which you will do a great Act of Charity to

Your most humble servant,

William Serene."


Understanding that Mr. Serene has writ to you, and desired to be raised from dumb and still Parts; I desire, if you give him Motion or Speech, that you would advance me in my Way, and let me keep on in what I humbly presume I am a Master, to wit, in representing human and still Life together. I have several times acted one of the finest Flower-pots in the same Opera wherein Mr. Serene is a Chair; therefore, upon his promotion, request that I may succeed him in the Hangings, with my Hand in the Orange-Trees.

Your humble servant,

Ralph Simple."

"Drury Lane, March 24, 1710-11.


I saw your Friend the Templar this Evening in the Pit, and thought he looked very little pleased with the Representation of the mad Scene of the Pilgrim. I wish, Sir, you would do us the Favour to animadvert frequently upon the false Taste the Town is in, with Relation to Plays as well as Operas. It certainly requires a Degree of Understanding to play justly; but such is our Condition, that we are to suspend our Reason to perform our Parts. As to Scenes of Madness, you know, Sir, there are noble Instances of this Kind in Shakespear; but then it is the Disturbance of a noble Mind, from generous and humane Resentments: It is like that Grief which we have for the decease of our Friends: It is no Diminution, but a Recommendation of humane Nature, that in such Incidents Passion gets the better of Reason; and all we can think to comfort ourselves, is impotent against half what we feel. I will not mention that we had an Idiot in the Scene, and all the Sense it is represented to have, is that of Lust. As for my self, who have long taken Pains in personating the Passions, I have to Night acted only an Appetite: The part I play'd is Thirst, but it is represented as written rather by a Drayman than a Poet. I come in with a Tub about me, that Tub hung with Quart-pots; with a full Gallon at my Mouth. [6] I am ashamed to tell you that I pleased very much, and this was introduced as a Madness; but sure it was not humane Madness, for a Mule or an [ass [7]] may have been as dry as ever I was in my Life.

I am, Sir,

Your most obedient And humble servant."

"From the Savoy in the Strand.


If you can read it with dry Eyes, I give you this trouble to acquaint you, that I am the unfortunate King Latinus, and believe I am the first Prince that dated from this Palace since John of Gaunt. Such is the Uncertainty of all human Greatness, that I who lately never moved without a Guard, am now pressed as a common Soldier, and am to sail with the first fair Wind against my Brother Lewis of France. It is a very hard thing to put off a Character which one has appeared in with Applause: This I experienced since the Loss of my Diadem; for, upon quarrelling with another Recruit, I spoke my Indignation out of my Part in recitativo:

... Most audacious Slave,Dar'st thou an angry Monarch's Fury brave? [8]

The Words were no sooner out of my Mouth, when a Serjeant knock'd me down, and ask'd me if I had a Mind to Mutiny, in talking things no Body understood. You see, Sir, my unhappy Circumstances; and if by your Mediation you can procure a Subsidy for a Prince (who never failed to make all that beheld him merry at his Appearance) you will merit the Thanks of

Your friend,

The King of Latium."

[Footnote 1: therefore shall]

[Footnote 2: whom]

[Footnote 3: In the opera of 'Camilla':

Camilla: That Dorindas my Name.

Linco: Well, I knowt, Ill take care.

Camilla: And my Life scarce of late--

Linco: You need not repeat.

Prenesto: Help me! oh help me!

[A wild Boar struck by Prenesto.]

Huntsman: Lets try to assist him.

Linco: Ye Gods, what Alarm!

Huntsman: Quick run to his aid.

[Enter Prenesto: The Boar pursuing him.]

Prenesto: O Heavns! who defends me?

Camilla: My Arm.

[She throws a Dart, and kills the Boar.]

Linco: Dorinda of nothing afraid, Shes sprightly and gay, a valiant Maid, And as bright as the Day.

Camilla: Take Courage, Hunter, the Savage is dead.

Katherine Tofts, the daughter of a person in the family of Bishop Burnet, had great natural charms of voice, person, and manner. Playing with Nicolini, singing English to his Italian, she was the first of our 'prime donne' in Italian Opera. Mrs. Tofts had made much money when in 1709 she quitted the stage with disordered intellect; her voice being then unbroken, and her beauty in the height of its bloom. Having recovered health, she married Mr. Joseph Smith, a rich patron of arts and collector of books and engravings, with whom she went to Venice, when he was sent thither as English Consul. Her madness afterwards returned, she lived, therefore, says Sir J. Hawkins,

'sequestered from the world in a remote part of the house, and had a large garden to range in, in which she would frequently walk, singing and giving way to that innocent frenzy which had seized her in the earlier part of her life.'

She identified herself with the great princesses whose loves and sorrows she had represented in her youth, and died about the year 1760.]

[Footnote 4: The 'Emperor of the Moon' is a farce, from the French, by Mrs. Aphra Behn, first acted in London in 1687. It was originally Italian, and had run 80 nights in Paris as 'Harlequin I'Empereur dans le Monde de la Lune'. In Act II. sc. 3,

'The Front of the Scene is only a Curtain or Hangings to be drawn up at Pleasure.'

Various gay masqueraders, interrupted by return of the Doctor, are carried by Scaramouch behind the curtain. The Doctor enters in wrath, vowing he has heard fiddles. Presently the curtain is drawn up and discovers where Scaramouch has

'plac'd them all in the Hanging in which they make the Figures, where they stand without Motion in Postures.'

Scaramouch professes that the noise was made by putting up this piece of Tapestry,

'the best in Italy for the Rareness of the Figures, sir.'

While the Doctor is admiring the new tapestry, said to have been sent him as a gift, Harlequin, who is

'placed on a Tree in the Hangings, hits him on the 'Head with his Truncheon.'

The place of a particular figure in the picture, with a hand on a tree, is that supposed to be aspired to by the 'Spectator's' next correspondent.]

[Footnote 5: 'The Fortune Hunters, or Two Fools Well Met,' a Comedy first produced in 1685, was the only work of James Carlile, a player who quitted the stage to serve King William III. in the Irish Wars, and was killed at the battle of Aghrim. The crowning joke of the second Act of 'the Fortune Hunters' is the return at night of Mr. Spruce, an Exchange man, drunk and musical, to the garden-door of his house, when Mrs. Spruce is just taking leave of young Wealthy. Wealthy hides behind the pump. The drunken husband, who has been in a gutter, goes to the pump to clean himself, and seizes a man's arm instead of a pump-handle. He works it as a pump-handle, and complains that 'the pump's dry;' upon which Young Wealthy empties a bottle of orange-flower water into his face.]

[Footnote 6: In the third act of Fletcher's comedy of the 'Pilgrim', Pedro, the Pilgrim, a noble gentleman, has shown to him the interior of a Spanish mad-house, and discovers in it his mistress Alinda, who, disguised in a boy's dress, was found in the town the night before a little crazed, distracted, and so sent thither. The scene here shows various shapes of madness,

Some of pity
That it would make ye melt to see their passions,
And some as light again.
One is an English madman who cries, 'Give me some drink,'
Fill me a thousand pots and froth 'em, froth 'em!

Upon which a keeper says:

Those English are so malt-mad,
there's no meddling with 'em.
When they've a fruitful year of barley there,
All the whole Island's thus.

We read in the text how they had produced on the stage of Drury Lane that madman on the previous Saturday night; this Essay appearing on the breakfast tables upon Monday morning.]

[Footnote 7: horse]

[Footnote 8: King Latinus to Turnus in Act II., sc. 10, of the opera of 'Camilla'. Posterity will never know in whose person 'Latinus, king of Latium and of the Volscians,' abdicated his crown at the opera to take the Queen of England's shilling. It is the only character to which, in the opera book, no name of a performer is attached. It is a part of sixty or seventy lines in tyrant's vein; but all recitative. The King of Latium was not once called upon for a song.]

For the Good of the Publick.
Within two Doors of the Masquerade
lives an eminent Italian Chirurgeon, arriv'd from the
Carnaval at Venice, of great Experience in private Cures.
Accommodations are provided, and Persons admitted in their masquing Habits.
He has cur'd since his coming thither, in less than a Fortnight,
Four Scaramouches,
a Mountebank Doctor,
Two Turkish Bassas,
Three Nuns,
and a Morris Dancer.
'Venienti occurrite morbo.'
N. B. Any Person may agree by the Great,
and be kept in
Repair by the Year.
The Doctor draws Teeth without pulling off your Mask.
Translation of motto:
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 5.
'--Whatever contradicts my sense
I hate to see, and never can believe.'