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N° 258. WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1711.
Divide et impera.
Divide and rule.
PLEASURE and recreation of one absolutely necessary to relieve our minds and bodies from too constant attention and labour: where therefore public diversions are tolerated, it behoves persons of distinction, with their
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 music. My own private opinion, with relation to such recreations, I have heretofore give 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 dramatic poetry, and the other comes from three persons, who, as soon as named, will be thought capable of advancing the present state of music.
• MR. SPECTATOR,
• 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 public coffeehouses, there is but one that seems to carry any
weight with it, riz. 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 a comptroller should fail me, I have since formed another project, which being grounded on the dividing of a present monopoly, I hope will give the public 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 dramatic 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 into an union with the set of actors now in being, I do further propose to constitute for my
de puty my near kinsman and adventurer, KitCrotchet,* whose long experience and improvements in those affairs need no recommendation. It was 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 arrived at the art of making his army fight without pay or provisions. I must confess it is 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 active body, though he has not a quick conception; for the imitation therefore of such 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-masters 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 aloud 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 coudition, have the insolence to owe no tradesmen a farthing at the end of the week. Sir, all I propose is the public 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 week's papers, and desire when my house opens you will accept the liberty of it for the trouble you have received from,
P.S. I have assurances that the trunk maker will declare for us.'
* MR. SPECTATOR,
you the properest person to signify what we have to offer the town in behalf of ourselves and the art which we profess, music. 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 music only valuable, as it is agreeable to, and heightens the purpose of poetry, we consent that it is not only the true way of relishing that pleasure, but also that without it a composure of music is the same thing as a poem, where all the rules of poetical numbers are observed, though the words have no sense or meaning; to say it shorter, mere musical sounds in our art are no other than nonsense verses are in poetry. Music therefore is to aggravate what is intended by poetry; it must always have some passion or sentiment to express, or else violins, voices, any
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 music 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 paper, that the town may know we have all three joined together to make entertain. ments of music for the future at Mr. Clayton's 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 music 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 music; but lest
should think so dry a thing as an account of our proposal should be a matter unworthy of
your paper, which generally contains something of public use; give us leave to say, the 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 music, at 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 ourselves have done, and not to be so insolent as to expect a whole nation, a refined and learned pation, should submit to learn theirs. In a word, Mr. Spectator, with all deference and humility, we hope to behave ourselves in this undertaking in such a manner, that all Englishmen who have any
skill in music 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