No. 258. Wednesday, December 26, 1711. Steele.

Divide et Impera.

Pleasure and Recreation of one Kind or other are absolutely necessary to relieve our Minds and Bodies from too constant Attention and Labour: Where therefore publick Diversions are tolerated, it behoves Persons of Distinction, with their Power and Example, to preside over them in such a Manner as to check any thing that tends to the Corruption of Manners, or which is too mean or trivial for the Entertainment of reasonable Creatures. As to the Diversions of this Kind in this Town, we owe them to the Arts of Poetry and Musick: My own private Opinion, with Relation to such Recreations, I have heretofore given with all the Frankness imaginable; what concerns those Arts at present the Reader shall have from my Correspondents. The first of the Letters with which I acquit myself for this Day, is written by one who proposes to improve our Entertainments of Dramatick Poetry, and the other comes from three Persons, who, as soon as named, will be thought capable of advancing the present State of Musick.


I am considerably obliged to you for your speedy Publication of my last in yours of the 18th Instant, and am in no small Hopes of being settled in the Post of Comptroller of the Cries. Of all the Objections I have hearkened after in publick Coffee-houses there is but one that seems to carry any Weight with it, viz. That such a Post would come too near the Nature of a Monopoly. Now, Sir, because I would have all Sorts of People made easy, and being willing to have more Strings than one to my Bow; in case that of Comptroller should fail me, I have since formed another Project, which, being grounded on the dividing a present Monopoly, I hope will give the Publick an Equivalent to their full Content. You know, Sir, it is allowed that the Business of the Stage is, as the Latin has it, Jucunda et Idonea dicere Vitæ. Now there being but one Dramatick Theatre licensed for the Delight and Profit of this extensive Metropolis, I do humbly propose, for the Convenience of such of its Inhabitants as are too distant from Covent-Garden, that another Theatre of Ease may be erected in some spacious Part of the City; and that the Direction thereof may be made a Franchise in Fee to me, and my Heirs for ever. And that the Town may have no Jealousy of my ever coming to an Union with the Set of Actors now in being, I do further propose to constitute for my Deputy my near Kinsman and Adventurer, Kit Crotchet, [1] whose long Experience and Improvements in those Affairs need no Recommendation. Twas obvious to every Spectator what a quite different Foot the Stage was upon during his Government; and had he not been bolted out of his Trap-Doors, his Garrison might have held out for ever, he having by long Pains and Perseverance arriv'd at the Art of making his Army fight without Pay or Provisions. I must confess it, with a melancholy Amazement, I see so wonderful a Genius laid aside, and the late Slaves of the Stage now become its Masters, Dunces that will be sure to suppress all Theatrical Entertainments and Activities that they are not able themselves to shine in!

Every Man that goes to a Play is not obliged to have either Wit or Understanding; and I insist upon it, that all who go there should see something which may improve them in a Way of which they are capable. In short, Sir, I would have something done as well as said on the Stage. A Man may have an active Body, though he has not a quick Conception; for the Imitation therefore of such as are, as I may so speak, corporeal Wits or nimble Fellows, I would fain ask any of the present Mismanagers, Why should not Rope-dancers, Vaulters, Tumblers, Ladder-walkers, and Posture-makers appear again on our Stage? After such a Representation, a Five-bar Gate would be leaped with a better Grace next Time any of the Audience went a Hunting. Sir, these Things cry loud for Reformation and fall properly under the Province of SPECTATOR General; but how indeed should it be otherwise, while Fellows (that for Twenty Years together were never paid but as their Master was in the Humour) now presume to pay others more than ever they had in their Lives; and in Contempt of the Practice of Persons of Condition, have the Insolence to owe no Tradesman a Farthing at the End of the Week. Sir, all I propose is the publick Good; for no one can imagine I shall ever get a private Shilling by it: Therefore I hope you will recommend this Matter in one of your this Weeks Papers, and desire when my House opens you will accept the Liberty of it for the Trouble you have receiv'd from, SIR, Your Humble Servant, Ralph Crotchet.

P.S. I have Assurances that the Trunk-maker will declare for us.


We whose Names are subscribed, [2] think you the properest Person to signify what we have to offer the Town in Behalf of our selves, and the Art which we profess, Musick. We conceive Hopes of your Favour from the Speculations on the Mistakes which the Town run into with Regard to their Pleasure of this Kind; and believing your Method of judging is, that you consider Musick only valuable, as it is agreeable to, and heightens the Purpose of Poetry, we consent that That is not only the true Way of relishing that Pleasure, but also, that without it a Composure of Musick is the same thing as a Poem, where all the Rules of Poetical Numbers are observed, tho the Words have no Sense or Meaning; to say it shorter, meer musical Sounds are in our Art no other than nonsense Verses are in Poetry. Musick therefore is to aggravate what is intended by Poetry; it must always have some Passion or Sentiment to express, or else Violins, Voices, or any other Organs of Sound, afford an Entertainment very little above the Rattles of Children. It was from this Opinion of the Matter, that when Mr. Clayton had finished his Studies in Italy, and brought over the Opera of Arsinoe, that Mr. Haym and Mr. Dieupart, who had the Honour to be well known and received among the Nobility and Gentry, were zealously inclined to assist, by their Solicitations, in introducing so elegant an Entertainment as the Italian Musick grafted upon English Poetry. For this End Mr. Dieupart and Mr. Haym, according to their several Opportunities, promoted the Introduction of Arsinoe, and did it to the best Advantage so great a Novelty would allow. It is not proper to trouble you with Particulars of the just Complaints we all of us have to make; but so it is, that without Regard to our obliging Pains, we are all equally set aside in the present Opera. Our Application therefore to you is only to insert this Letter, in your Papers, that the Town may know we have all Three joined together to make Entertainments of Musick for the future at Mr. Claytons House in York-buildings. What we promise ourselves, is, to make a Subscription of two Guineas, for eight Times; and that the Entertainment, with the Names of the Authors of the Poetry, may be printed, to be sold in the House, with an Account of the several Authors of the Vocal as well as the Instrumental Musick for each Night; the Money to be paid at the Receipt of the Tickets, at Mr. Charles Lillie's. It will, we hope, Sir, be easily allowed, that we are capable of undertaking to exhibit by our joint Force and different Qualifications all that can be done in Musick; but lest you should think so dry a thing as an Account of our Proposal should be a Matter unworthy your Paper, which generally contains something of publick Use; give us leave to say, that favouring our Design is no less than reviving an Art, which runs to ruin by the utmost Barbarism under an Affectation of Knowledge. We aim at establishing some settled Notion of what is Musick, as recovering from Neglect and Want very many Families who depend upon it, at making all Foreigners who pretend to succeed in England to learn the Language of it as we our selves have done, and not be so insolent as to expect a whole Nation, a refined and learned Nation, should submit to learn them. In a word, Mr. SPECTATOR, with all Deference and Humility, we hope to behave ourselves in this Undertaking in such a Manner, that all English Men who have any Skill in Musick may be furthered in it for their Profit or Diversion by what new Things we shall produce; never pretending to surpass others, or asserting that any Thing which is a Science is not attainable by all Men of all Nations who have proper Genius for it: We say, Sir, what we hope for is not expected will arrive to us by contemning others, but through the utmost Diligence recommending ourselves. We are, SIR, Your most humble Servants, Thomas Clayton, Nicolino Haym, Charles Dieupart.

[Footnote 1: Christopher Rich, of whom Steele wrote in No. 12 of the Tatler as Divito, who

has a perfect art in being unintelligible in discourse and uncomeatable in business. But he, having no understanding in his polite way, brought in upon us, to get in his money, ladder-dancers, rope-dancers, jugglers, and mountebanks, to strut in the place of Shakespeare's heroes and Jonson's humorists.]

[Footnote 2: Thomas Clayton (see note on p. 72) had set Dryden's Alexanders Feast to music at the request of Steele and John Hughes; but its performance at his house in York Buildings was a failure. Clayton had adapted English words to Italian airs in the drama written for him by Motteux, of Arsinoe, Queen of Cyprus, and called it his own opera. Steele and Addison were taken by his desire to nationalize the opera, and put native music to words that were English and had literature in them. After Camilla at Drury Lane, produced under the superintendence of Nicolino Haym, Addison's Rosamond was produced, with music by Clayton and Mrs. Tofts in the part of Queen Eleanor. The music killed the piece on the third night of performance. The coming of Handel and his opera of Rinaldo set Mr. Clayton aside, but the friendship of Steele and Addison abided with him, and Steele seems to have had a share in his enterprises at York Buildings. Of his colleagues who join in the signing of this letter, Nicola Francesco Haym was by birth a Roman, and resident in London as a professor of music. He published two good operas of sonatas for two violins and a bass, and joined Clayton and Dieupart in the service of the opera, until Handel's success superseded them. Haym was also a man of letters, who published two quartos upon Medals, a notice of rare Italian Books, an edition of Tasso's Gerusalemme, and two tragedies of his own. He wrote a History of Music in Italian, and issued proposals for its publication in English, but had no success. Finally he turned picture collector, and was employed in that quality by Dr. Mead and Sir Robert Walpole.

Charles Dieupart, a Frenchman, was a fine performer on the violin and harpsichord. At the representation of Arsinoe and the other earliest operas, he played the harpsichord and Haym the violoncello. Dieupart, after the small success of the design set forth in this letter, taught the harpsichord in families of distinction, but wanted self-respect enough to save him from declining into a player at obscure ale-houses, where he executed for the pleasure of dull ears solos of Corelli with the nicety of taste that never left him. He died old and poor in 1740.]

Translation of motto:
Divide and rule.'