Audiences have often been reproached by Writers for the Coarseness of their Taste, but our present Grievance does not seem to be the Want of a good Taste, but of Common Sense.
[Footnote 1: The famous Neapolitan actor and singer, Cavalier Nicolino Grimaldi, commonly called Nicolini, had made his first appearance in an opera called ‘Pyrrhus and Demetrius,’ which was the last attempt to combine English with Italian. His voice was a soprano, but afterwards descended into a fine contralto, and he seems to have been the finest actor of his day. Prices of seats at the opera were raised on his coming from 7s. 6d. to 10s. for pit and boxes, and from 10s. 6d. to 15s. for boxes on the stage. When this paper was written he had appeared also in a new opera on ‘Almahide,’ and proceeded to those encounters with the lion in the opera of Hydaspes, by a Roman composer, Francesco Mancini, first produced May 23, 1710, which the Spectator has made memorable. It had been performed 21 times in 1710, and was now reproduced and repeated four times. Nicolini, as Hydaspes in this opera, thrown naked into an amphitheatre to be devoured by a lion, is so inspired with courage by the presence of his mistress among the spectators that (says Mr Sutherland Edwards in his ‘History of the Opera’)
’after appealing to the monster
in a minor key, and telling him that
he may tear his bosom, but cannot touch his heart, he attacks him in
the relative major, and strangles him.’]
[Footnote 2: that]
* * * * *
No. 14. Friday, March 16, 1711. Steele.
... Teque his, Infelix, exue monstris.
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.
’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