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No. 031 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 31.
Thursday, April 5, 1711. Addison.

‘Sit mihi fas audita loqui!’


Last Night, upon my going into a Coffee-House not far from the Hay-Market Theatre, I diverted my self for above half an Hour with overhearing the Discourse of one, who, by the Shabbiness of his Dress, the Extravagance of his Conceptions, and the Hurry of his Speech, I discovered to be of that Species who are generally distinguished by the Title of Projectors. This Gentleman, for I found he was treated as such by his Audience, was entertaining a whole Table of Listners with the Project of an Opera, which he told us had not cost him above two or three Mornings in the Contrivance, and which he was ready to put in Execution, provided he might find his Account in it. He said, that he had observed the great Trouble and Inconvenience which Ladies were at, in travelling up and down to the several Shows that are exhibited in different Quarters of the Town. The dancing Monkies are in one place; the Puppet-Show in another; the Opera in a third; not to mention the Lions, that are almost a whole Day’s Journey from the Politer Part of the Town. By this means People of Figure are forced to lose half the Winter after their coming to Town, before they have seen all the strange Sights about it. In order to remedy this great Inconvenience, our Projector drew out of his Pocket the Scheme of an Opera, Entitled, The Expedition of Alexander the Great; in which he had disposed of all the remarkable Shows about Town, among the Scenes and Decorations of his Piece. The Thought, he confessed, was not originally his own, but that he had taken the Hint of it from several Performances which he had seen upon our Stage: In one of which there was a Rary-Show; in another, a Ladder-dance; and in others a Posture-man, a moving Picture, with many Curiosities of the like nature.

This Expedition of Alexander opens with his consulting the oracle at Delphos, in which the dumb Conjuror, who has been visited by so many Persons of Quality of late Years, is to be introduced as telling him his Fortune; At the same time Clench of Barnet is represented in another Corner of the Temple, as ringing the Bells of Delphos, for joy of his arrival. The Tent of Darius is to be Peopled by the Ingenious Mrs. Salmon, [1] where Alexander is to fall in Love with a Piece of Wax-Work, that represents the beautiful Statira. When Alexander comes into that Country, in which Quintus Curtius tells us the Dogs were so exceeding fierce that they would not loose their hold, tho’ they were cut to pieces Limb by Limb, and that they would hang upon their Prey by their Teeth when they had nothing but a Mouth left, there is to be a scene of Hockley in the Hole, [2] in which is to be represented all the Diversions of that Place, the Bull-baiting only excepted, which cannot possibly be exhibited in the Theatre, by Reason of the Lowness of the Roof. The several Woods in Asia, which Alexander must be supposed to pass through, will give the Audience a Sight of Monkies dancing upon Ropes, with many other Pleasantries of that ludicrous Species. At the same time, if there chance to be any Strange Animals in Town, whether Birds or Beasts, they may be either let loose among the Woods, or driven across the Stage by some of the Country People of Asia. In the last great Battel, Pinkethman [3] is to personate King Porus upon an Elephant, and is to be encountered by Powell [4] representing Alexander the Great upon a Dromedary, which nevertheless Mr. Powell is desired to call by the Name of Bucephalus. Upon the Close of this great decisive Battel, when the two Kings are thoroughly reconciled, to shew the mutual Friendship and good Correspondence that reigns between them, they both of them go together to a Puppet-Show, in which the ingenious Mr. Powell, junior [5] may have an Opportunity of displaying his whole Art of Machinery, for the Diversion of the two Monarchs. Some at the Table urged that a Puppet-Show was not a suitable Entertainment for Alexander the Great; and that it might be introduced more properly, if we suppose the Conqueror touched upon that part of India which is said to be inhabited by the Pigmies. But this Objection was looked upon as frivolous, and the Proposal immediately over-ruled. Our Projector further added, that after the Reconciliation of these two Kings they might invite one another to Dinner, and either of them entertain his Guest with the German Artist, Mr. Pinkethman’s Heathen Gods, [6] or any of the like Diversions, which shall then chance to be in vogue.