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

This Project was receiv’d with very great Applause by the whole Table. Upon which the Undertaker told us, that he had not yet communicated to us above half his Design; for that Alexander being a Greek, it was his Intention that the whole Opera should be acted in that Language, which was a Tongue he was sure would wonderfully please the Ladies, especially when it was a little raised and rounded by the Ionick Dialect; and could not but be [acceptable [8]] to the whole Audience, because there are fewer of them who understand Greek than Italian. The only Difficulty that remained, was, how to get Performers, unless we could persuade some Gentlemen of the Universities to learn to sing, in order to qualify themselves for the Stage; but this Objection soon vanished, when the Projector informed us that the Greeks were at present the only Musicians in the Turkish Empire, and that it would be very easy for our Factory at Smyrna to furnish us every Year with a Colony of Musicians, by the Opportunity of the Turkey Fleet; besides, says he, if we want any single Voice for any lower Part in the Opera, Lawrence can learn to speak Greek, as well as he does Italian, in a Fortnight’s time.

The Projector having thus settled Matters, to the good liking of all that heard him, he left his Seat at the Table, and planted himself before the Fire, where I had unluckily taken my Stand for the Convenience of over-hearing what he said. Whether he had observed me to be more attentive than ordinary, I cannot tell, but he had not stood by me above a Quarter of a Minute, but he turned short upon me on a sudden, and catching me by a Button of my Coat, attacked me very abruptly after the following manner.

Besides, Sir, I have heard of a very extraordinary Genius for Musick that lives in Switzerland, who has so strong a Spring in his Fingers, that he can make the Board of an Organ sound like a Drum, and if I could but procure a Subscription of about Ten Thousand Pound every Winter, I would undertake to fetch him over, and oblige him by Articles to set every thing that should be sung upon the English Stage.

After this he looked full in my Face, expecting I would make an Answer, when by good Luck, a Gentleman that had entered the Coffee-house since the Projector applied himself to me, hearing him talk of his Swiss Compositions, cry’d out with a kind of Laugh,

Is our Musick then to receive further Improvements from Switzerland! [8]

This alarmed the Projector, who immediately let go my Button, and turned about to answer him. I took the Opportunity of the Diversion, which seemed to be made in favour of me, and laying down my Penny upon the Bar, retired with some Precipitation.


[Footnote 1: An advertisement of Mrs. Salmon’s wax-work in the ‘Tatler’ for Nov. 30, 1710, specifies among other attractions the Turkish Seraglio in wax-work, the Fatal Sisters that spin, reel, and cut the thread of man’s life, ‘an Old Woman flying from Time, who shakes his head and hour-glass with sorrow at seeing age so unwilling to die. Nothing but life can exceed the motions of the heads, hands, eyes, etc., of these figures, etc.’]

[Footnote 2: Hockley-in-the-Hole, memorable for its Bear Garden, was on the outskirt of the town, by Clerkenwell Green; with Mutton Lane on the East and the fields on the West. By Town’s End Lane (called Coppice Row since the levelling of the coppice-crowned knoll over which it ran) through Pickled-Egg Walk (now Crawford’s Passage) one came to Hockley-in-the-Hole or Hockley Hole, now Ray Street. The leveller has been at work upon the eminences that surrounded it. In Hockley Hole, dealers in rags and old iron congregated. This gave it the name of Rag Street, euphonized into Ray Street since 1774. In the Spectator’s time its Bear Garden, upon the site of which there are now metal works, was a famous resort of the lowest classes. ‘You must go to Hockley-in-the-Hole, child, to learn valour,’ says Mr. Peachum to Filch in the Beggar’s Opera.]