MY DEAR LADY,
I gave you in my last my bold remarks upon a TRAGEDY-The Distressed Mother. I will now give you my shallow notions of a COMEDY—The Tender Husband.
I liked this part of the title; though I was not pleased with the other, explanatory of it; Or—The Accomplished Fools. But when I heard it was written by Sir Richard Steele, and that Mr. Addison had given some hints towards it, if not some characters—“O, dear Sir,” said I, “give us your company to this play; for the authors of the Spectator cannot possibly produce a faulty scene.”
Mr. B. indeed smiled; for I had not then read the play: and the Earl of F., his countess, Miss Darnford, Mr. B. and myself, agreed to meet with a niece of my lord’s in the stage-box, which was taken on purpose.
There seemed to me to be much wit and satire in the play: but, upon my word, I was grievously disappointed as to the morality of it; nor, in some places, is—probability preserved; and there are divers speeches so very free, that I could not have expected to meet with such, from the names I mentioned.
In short the author seems to have forgotten the moral all the way; and being put in mind of it by some kind friend (Mr. Addison, perhaps), was at a loss to draw one from such characters and plots as he had produced; and so put down what came uppermost, for the sake of custom, without much regard to propriety. And truly, I should think, that the play was begun with a design to draw more amiable characters, answerable to the title of The Tender Husband; but that the author, being carried away by the luxuriancy of a genius, which he had not the heart to prune, on a general survey of the whole, distrusting the propriety of that title, added the under one: with an OR, The Accomplished Fools, in justice to his piece, and compliment to his audience. Had he called it The Accomplished Knaves, I would not have been angry at him, because there would have been more propriety in the title.
I wish I could, for the sake of the authors, have praised every scene of this play: I hoped to have reason for it. Judge then, my dear lady, my mortification, not to be able to say I liked above one, the Painter’s scene, which too was out of time, being on the wedding-day; and am forced to disapprove of every character in it, and the views of every one. I am, dear Madam, your most obliged sister and servant,
My Dear Lady,
Although I cannot tell how you received my observations on the tragedy of The Distressed Mother, and the comedy of The Tender Husband, yet will I proceed to give your ladyship my opinion of the opera I was at last night.
But what can I say, after mentioning what you so well know, the fine scenes, the genteel and splendid company, the charming voices, and delightful music?