Do you know what you are about?
Proving our late
THEATRICAL SQUABBLE, a
Type of the present Contest for the
CROWN of POLAND; and that
the Division between Handel and
Senesino, has more in it than we imagine.
That the latter is no Eunuch, but a Jesuit in
Disguise; with other Particulars of the
God save his Church, our King, and Realm,
And send us Peace, and Trade, Amen.
Printed for J. ROBERTS, at the Oxford Arms in
Warwick Lane. 1733. Price 6 d.
I Hereby exhort and admonish, nay, entreat and conjure our Nobility, Gentry, and others, whom it may concern, That before they subscribe, or at least pay any of their Money to H--d-l, or S---n---o, they take especial Care to be satisfied, that the Singers are true Protestants, and well affected to the present Government. Those who are not so, to conform and take the Oaths: To encourage which Good Work, the Salaries of those who shall so conform, should be doubled. But above all things, let Care be taken that there be no Prevarication, Equivocation, Mental Reservation, no Jesuitical Quibbles, or other Papistical Legerdemain; but that all be acted fair, square, and above-board: This done, let it be particularly covenanted, that they [page] sing not in an unknown Tongue, which is contrary to the Statute made and provided for that Purpose; nay, to Reason its self; for who knows, but under Colour of an Opera, they may sing Mass as they have done before; witness, A Hymn to the Virgin, written by Cardinal Coscia, and sung by Signora Catsoni to a Harp, &c. in the Opera of Julius Caesar, the Words are these,
Le vostre faville
Son Grato nel Sen.
Pietoso vi brama
Il mesto mio Core
Ch’ogn’ora vi chiama
L’amato suo ben.
In English thus, I worship thee, O Holy Virgin, Perfection of Divine Love, [page] thy Sacred Influence fills my Soul with Comfort. My contrite Heart piously burns with fervent Desire towards thee, while my glad Tongue is ever singing forth thy Praise: O lovely and beloved Virgin, Author and Centre of my Happiness.
The Responses were sung by Priests, who stook behind the Machine, fill’d with Images, Crosses, * and other Popish Trinkums, and was purposely plac’d at the very farthest End of the Stage, and at the greatest Distance possible from the Audience: These Priests sang inwardly to themselves, (just as they do when they mumble Mass,) cover’d by a great Number of Instruments, who play’d what they call forte fortissimo, to prevent the Villainy being discover’d; so that the whole appear’d to the Audience, (that is to say, the Protestant Part of ’em) no more than [page] a fine Opera Song, with full Symphonies and Accompanyments.
Here was an Eclat de Bronze, Impudence in Perfection, an Insolence which I hope will never be repeated. ’Tis therefore my strict and positive Order, they sing in the Vulgar Tongue, and to be understood, for if they are not understood, they may play their Popish Tricks in spite of our Teeth, and laugh in our Faces at the same time.
IN these tumultuous and distracted Days,
When Players Hostile Troops ’gainst Players raise,
When under the Command of Captain Thee.
The Free-born Actor braves the Patentee:
When Handel wages War with Senesino,
And Punch defiance gives to Harlequino:
When Discord ev’ry where in Pomp appears,
And all the World’s together by the Ears:
When such a Bustle’s for a King of Poland,
That many wish there were a King in No-land.
I laugh at all Disputes, and with Derision,
Behold the frantic Scene, the motley Vision;
And find the real Cause of all this Heat,
Self-Int’rest, blended with dear Self-Conceit.
Let Monarchs then fall out and Players Squabble;
Tell diff’rent Stories and cajole the Rabble;
The War will take off many idle Fellows,
Who otherwise must morrice to the Gallows: [page]
The Playhouses maintain some merry Blades,
Who are too Comical to live by Trades;
So let the Soldier Fight, the Actor Play,
The Motive is the same, ’tis all for Pay.
God bless this Land and George our Faith’s Defender,
And keep us from * Pope, Devil, and Pretender.
Do you know what you are about?
TOTUS Mundus agit Histrionem; is a most sage and prophetical Apothegm! [sic] which before I construe and interpret, I must, and do hereby most humbly ask Pardon of the Gentlemen Actors in the four respective Theatres, viz, Goodman’s Fields, Drury Lane, Covent-Garden, and the Hay-market; for translating the Word Histrio, according to its original Meaning, that is to say, it signifies a Jester, a Merry Andrew, a Fool; and why, because a Fool is generally the Top Part of the Play, and requires a Man of most Sense to act it: This being granted, makes my Text run thus in the vulgar Tongue.
All the World is playing the Fool. 
Now you must know there are three Ways of playing the Fool.
First, For Profit,
Secondly, For Diversion.
Thirdly, For Mischief.
1.. The Actor plays the Fool for Profit; in this Sense you must observe, That Histrio is Latin for a Wise Man, Ergo, he’s more Knave than Fool.
2. The Auditor plays the Fool (i. e., spends his Time and Money for Diversion[)]: Here Note, That the Word Histrio is to be taken in Heterogeneous Sense, and signifies Knave or Fool, or both.
Ergo, all Audiences are composed of Knaves and Fools, and ’tis all one to the Actor which is the Majority, so that there be but a full House.
The whole World, that is to say, the several Potentates thereof, who are now all at Loggerheads, play the Fool,  (i. e.) hazard their Dominions, spend their Subjects Money, and set a parcel of poor Souls to Knock one another’s Brains out, and all for what? mere Mischief. Ergo, they are the worst Sort of Fools.
Now my Subject being revers’d, runs thus,
Histriones agunt Totum Mundum.
The Players are Acting all the World.
Go to a Playhouse, and there, Veluti in Speculium, you see the Representations of past, present and future Ages; the Differe[n]t Passions and Actions of Mankind, from publick States to private Families; from the Emperor to the Shooe-black Boy; The Players have a power of raising the Dead. Would you see Alexander, Caesar, Scipio, or Hanibal, &c. in their Wars or Amours, it is but speaking to the Players, and they produce ’em on the Stage before your Eyes; so that ’tis a kind of post Immortaly [sic], and the same Thing as if you had lived so many Ages ago; [... 6 ...] But to proceed,
Histriones agunt totum Mundum,
Players mimic the whole World;
And Vice versa, who knows not, that as the late Mrs. Oldfield imitated Queens and Peeresses, in her Action, so they imitated her in Dress, and if she was not what she appear’d to be, she very often appear’d what they ought to be: The same might be said of some of our Men Players, but ’tis needless to compliment the Dead, or put the Living to the Blush, so wave we this Digression, and return to our Subject.
After the Death of Mr. Wilks, Co-Monarch of Drury-Lane Theatre, there arose an universal Discontent among the  great Men of the Empire of Drury; our Laureat foreseeing nothing but War and Bloodshed, wisely slip’d his Neck out of the Collar, sold out his Share, pocketed the Pence, and left ’em to fight it out among themselves. Thus divided, Ancient Pistol heads the Malecontents, and leads his Troops cross the Plains of Covent-Garden, over the Fields of Leicester, and at last encamps himself in the Hay-market, where he gives defiance to the Patentees, who keep in their intrenchments and defend themselves with equal Bravery. This Battle may be very well compared to two Heroes, who stand at two Ends of a Street, parryng and attacking, without Approaching each other; so of our Theatrick Armies, they fight not with Fire and Sword, but with Tongue and Pen. Railing and Scolding at each other, not only Viva voce, in telling Fibs and calling Names, in Prologues and Epilogues address’d to the Town, but Calamiacu by dint of Pen, in filling our publick Papers with Complaints, Answers, and Replies, Advertisement  clashing against Advertisement, and Cases on both Sides printed and given Gratis; Is not this a direct Type of the Foreign Powers; who began first with a Paper War, publishing Declarations, Manifesto’s, &c.? Which we find were but Preleminaries [sic] to Blows, and more we must soon expect, if not mitigated by the Mediation of some Ballancing Power. Therefore it must be confess’d, that this Division among the Players, was a direct Type or Fore-runner of this Bloody War now on the Carpet; to assert the Truth of which, I can produce the Testimonials of above Two hundred thousand substantial House-keepers, in and about the Cities of London and Westminster, That in the beginning of May last, I foretold all that has since happened, and more which shall happen hereafter. Nay more, the Moment I heard of Mr. Wilks’s Death, I publickly foretold the the [sic] Demise of the late King of Poland, and the Struggles that would ensue on a new Election; and this is so well known  that I believe no Soul living will undertake to confute it.
Now as we see by Players, the Revolution of States, so in States, may we read the Fate of Playhouses. Theatres have been Types of Kingdoms, Kingdoms now condescend to be Types of Theatres; for mark my Prediction, my dear Countrymen, they both will Squabble and Fight, till they beggar each other, and then be glad to sit down quietly by their Loss, according to Word of Command, as you were. And Reason good, the discordant Potentates will be at vast Expence, to carry on a War, when after the strongest Alliances to aid each other, I’ll lay my Head to a Dish of Chocolate, if a Place of the least Importance is taken, they’ll play the Fool and fall out who shall have it. Thus of the Theatres, each Acts at a great Expence, such a multiplicity of Houses divide the Taste of the Town, and some of ’em must now and then be thin; so tho’ the Money which the Publick  spends in Pleasure, be a very good Bone, there are too many Curs snarling about it.
One Observation I have made by the bye, which is, they have separately made large Promises to encourage Authors, and entertain the Town with something New, when in Fact, not one House has introduced any new Piece this Season. Old Colley was formerly thought to be the Malus Genius of Authors in general, but for ought I can see the Case is not a whit mended, nay much worse; for he brought on now and then a good Piece of his own, nor was he so great an Opposer of other Mens Works, as has been given out, when he saw a Thing had any Merit in it; but these Men neither write themselves, or encourage others to divert the Publick. To excuse which they plead, that Genius is quite extinct among us, and Fancy exhausted, that we neither have, or ever shall have, a Person capable of writing any thing worthy publick Notice. Had this Notion prevailed in former Ages, many excellent Pieces which now adorn the  Stage, had never seen the Light: This has damp’d the Spirit of Authors, and stopp’d the Current of Dramatic Poesy, dwindled us into Farce, Ballad and Pantomime, and made a mere Puppet-show of the Stage: The Beggar’s Opera, so deservedly famous among us, and which has brought more Money into the Stage-Master’s Coffers, than any one Piece exhibited in this Age, was brought, I may venture to say forc’d, on the Stage, not without great Difficulty and Solicitation, even of Persons of the first Quality, while the very Man who was the greatest Gainer by it spoke the Lightest of it in all Companies, ’till the Taste of the Town grew too strong for his private Prejudice. Nay, the late Mr. Gay its Author, had much ado to prevail on the Actors to take their Parts, and had not Mr. Walker, out of mere Compassion and Good-nature to a Gentleman he saw ill-treated, undertaken the Part of Mackheath, even after it had been refus’d by others, I question if the Beggar’s Opera had ever appear’d on the  Stage to this Day. Let us condemn nothing unheard, but give every Man of Genius a fair Hearing, damn what is Stupid and encourage what is Good: This may create an emulation in Authors, who by the Town’s Approbation or Dislike, will be the better enabled to conduct their Performances. And if one Piece in several prove agreeable, it will answer the Player’s purpose, as well as add to the Diversion of the Town. For why may not we have new Plays as well as new Actors, since so long as new Scenes in Life arise, so long have Poets Subjects to work on, and so long ought Actors and Managers to do ’em Justice, and not withold [sic] any thing from the Publick, calculated for its Entertainment. In short, there ought to be an intermediate Power or set of Directors, composed of Gentlemen of Taste and Fortune, who should arbitrate between Managers, Actors and Authors, and see Justice done on all Sides; that is to say, the Manager should allow the Actor according to his Merit, as the  Majority of Directors should think fit: Those Authors who have any new Pieces to offer, should have ’em debated by the Committee aforesaid, either to be brought on or dismiss’d according to their Merit; in all which Particulars the Entertainment of the Publick ought to be the principal Guide, and bear more weight than Interest, Pique, Vanity, or any other pretence whatever.
And now methinks I hear some mighty unriddler of Mysteries draw wrong Inferences from this Proposal; and cry damn it, this Fellow is certainly some angry Critic or disappointed Author, who is vex’d he can’t obstrude some stupid Piece of his on the Stage.
To which I answer, that I never wrote a Play, or ever will, were my Abilities never so great; no, I turn my Genius another way, forewarn’d by the ill-treatment of many Gentlemen of Merit, for whom I have the highest Esteem, who have been bamboozled in the most  idle, and scandalous Manner imaginable.
It is not that I can’t write, but that I won’t, being deterr’d by the Reasons aforesaid.
Faelix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum.
I have began Hundreds of Comedies, Tragedies, Operas, and Farces, and never could get over the second Scene.
Let us now have done with the Playhouses, and turn our Eyes to the Opera’s; there we see Harmony perverted, and Discord predominant, even without Preparation or Resolution, Senesino and Handel are playing at Dog and Bear, exactly like the Two Kings of Poland, contending for the Empire of Doremifa.
Strange that such Difference should be,
’Twixt Tweedledum, and Tweedle Dee!
Were singing and fidling the only matters in Contest, I should leave them to fight it out among themselves; but they are too bare-fac’d, and any one may see with half an Eye, that Religion is  more their Business than Musick: He must be ignorant indeed who knows not that C-rb-t, under the disguise of a Fiddler, has for many Years past acted the Spy and shamm’d the Madman, to hide the Cunning Fellow, for he is no Fool I assure you.
Upon what Motive could he quit a very considerable Business, leave a Place, where he was in Eminence and Respect, to go a Strolling into a Country where he was sure of finding so many superiors in his Profession: It may be objected, he did it for Improvement; to which I Answer, he is so far from being improv’d, that he has almost forgot what he was then Master of; besides, how could he support himself? not by his Fiddle, ’tis very well known, he gets nothing by that in Italy. In short my Conjecture is so probable, there is no need for any body to draw other Conclusions, the Thing explains itself.
We have another Gentleman of the same String and Kidney, lately imported from Paris: All the World  shall never perswade me that G----ni a [sic] is not private Intelligence to a near Neighbour of ours.
But hush and catch a Mouse; as we have found out the Mission of these two Gentlemen, let us next visit Mr. Se--si-o, and we shall find him neither better or worse than a Jesuit in disguise, and an immediate Emissary of the Whore of Babylon; his singing alas! is but a mere Pretence to blind us; he is as cunning as the Devil, and no more an Eunuch than Sir Robert Walpole; nay I am told, there are no less than four of the waiting Girls at the Opera now pregnant by him.
Hinc ille Lachrymae!
This was the beginning of all Mischief, for one of the Wenches being a Favourite of Heidegger’s, his Adonis-ship grew Jealous, and sent a Challenge to S-[-]esi-o, which was the first Symptom of this Rupture.
Add to this our Jesuit’s implacable hatred to Handel, for making him sing in the English Oratorio’s, whereby he incurr’d  the Pope’s Displeasure; but he has since so well work’d out his Redemption, that I am credibly informed, his Holiness has promised him the first Cardinal’s Hat that falls; and then, Who but S----no?
That this is no new Scheme for Princes and Potentates to make use of Musicians, Singers, and other Artists, in the most secret Negotiations, we need but look back to Sir Peter Paul Rubens, who, while he was Painting King James I, turning the Discourse on Matters of State, in which he so well acquitted himself, that the King was surpriz’d to find a Painter so well vers’d in the deepest Points of Politicks; and, to add to his Amazement, Rubens taking hold on this Opportunity, produc’d Credentials, which constituted him Plenipotentiary.
Here was a Coup de Maitre! here was a Man fit to be trusted with a Secret, and let into Matters of the highest Consequence! The ill-natur’d and ill-manner’d part of our Nation, may speak as contemptibly as they please of Virtuosi, but I hold ’em in the highest Respect, and  never see any of ’em, but I think of an Ambassador, a Spy, or a Plenipotentiary, Eunuchs especially. This Piece of Policy the Europeans have learn’d of the Asians, but with this difference, That in Turkey they are real, in Italy, only nominal Eunuchs; and here the Word Eunuchus, is to be translated a Plenipotentiary, Prime Minister, or Ambassador; for who are held in greater Veneration among us, than Eunuchs. Shall any one make me believe, that all this Homage to S——no, is for his Singing only: No, no, those who are in the Interest of the Whore of Babylon, know how deep this Eunuch is in her Ladyship’s Favour; that makes ’em cringe, that induces ’em to untie their Purse-Strings, and under Colour of making a Present to a Singer, they contribute to the Building and Support of Mass Houses and Monasteries abroad.
Here’s a piece of Popish Policy. Oh! this Whore, this Whore of Babylon, is a cunning B——ch; but how can she be otherwise, when the Devil is her Major Domo, and the Pretender her Gentleman-  Usher. In short, infinite are the Instances of her Subtlety: Did not she send one Porta, a Benedictine Monk, who under the Direction of a certain Wax-Chandler, and Pretence of composing an Italian Opera, carried on a most damnable Negociation [sic]; nay, so Impudent was he, that he began his Opera with this ambiguous and equivocating Piece of Jesuitism,
Torni ò Sole in questo Orrore,
Ma non so se il tuo Splendore
Mi tormenta ò mi Conforta:
I dare not translate it, and have no Patience to proceed; we may see by a little what a great deal means, so leave we Signor Porta, and call upon Mr. Attilio, known publickly to be a Popish Priest; but as he is dead, requiescat in Pace; would his mischievous Negociations could sleep with him, but their ill Effects still subsist.
’Tis ungenerous to rake up the Ashes of the Dead; but every one remembers the Famous Small-Coal Man of Clerken-well, at what prodigious Expence he  liv’d, what a curious costly Library he had, how fine and large a Collection of Musical Instruments, and what vast Imports of the freshest and most celebrated Compositions from Italy, what Entertainments and Consorts he gave, what a Concourse of Nobility and Gentry, crouded his Hovel; and yet this Man carry’d a Small-Coal Sack instead of a Hat, and wore a Blue Frock instead of a Surplice: Nevertheless this pass’d upon the World, and tho’ he was a perfect Master of all the Learned, and most of the living Languages, liv’d respected, and died unsuspected.
That he liv’d respected is no wonder, but Justice, considering his great Learning, and excellent Qualifications: I never knew a finer behav’d Man, or one of greater and more universal Understanding, Pity but he had been a Protestant; but alas! his wonderful Talents were employ’d in a wrong Cause.
I could swell this Pamphlet to the bigness of a Church Bible, were I to tell all, nay half what I know; for though  I say it, no Man sees or foresees deeper into a Plot than myself. I could mention Mis---b---n, the famous Pill-monger, G-mb-r-ni, the Picture-monger, and innumerable other Instances, but will not protract what is plain as a Pike-Staff, to proceed to my last and most material Discovery.
* Signora Catsoni, the famous Woman Singer, has done more Mischief to Protestantism, than all the forementioned ro [sic] hinted put together.
This Lady was here some time ago  on an important Embassy, for you must know the Pope, whom I call the Whore of Babylon, has his Female as well as Male Agents; to prove which, I could mention Madam Maintenon, and many others: This Lady, I say, play’d her Cards so well that she was thought worthy of a Second Charge, and she was to be Co-Legate with S----no, but I hope I have put a Spoke in her Wheel, for I appriz’d a very neat Relation of a certain great Man’s Valet de Chambre’s Gentleman, of the Danger, and if I guess right, there is an Embargo to prevent her coming; which Embargo is certainly owing to my Notice aforesaid, and for which I think my Country can never make me sufficient Amends.
Thus, Gentle Reader, have I made thee as wise as myself; may’st thou improve and prosper, and so I bid thee Farewell in the Words of our Friend Gay,
Beware of Papishes, and learn to Knit. *
Written and Intended to be spoken by the
Bell-man of St. Andrew Undershaft, last
GOD bless the Prince of Orange, and his Wife,
And send them both to lead a Happy Life,
May they live long and lovingly together,
And cuddle close this Cold and Frosty Weather,
Get many Sons, and to each Son a Daughter
To keep their Names and Mem’ry up hereafter:
And when at God’s appointed Time they die,
May they go hence to Heav’n, Amen say I
* N. B. Catsoni had two Crosses that Night, one in her Lap, and another round her Neck; nay, she was Cross all over, for somebody had set her little Back up, and put her out of Temper; however she sung like an Angel.
* N. B. by Pope is not meant Mr. Pope of Twickenham, but the Pope of Rome, for the Time being.
* Catsoni, so call’d from Catso, a delicious Fruit which grows in several Parts of Italy, and of which this Lady is extremely fond, even to Voracity: It affords a Balsamick and Nutritive Juice, is of excellent Use in all Hysteric Cases, and gives great Relief in the Green Sickness: It is highly esteem’d in most Courts of Europe, and taken to be the most elegant and fashionable Dainty you can treat a Lady withal: There are several Sizes of this Fruit, from one Pugil, to three, but the middling sort are generally the best: they must not be gathered too Green, or hang too long on the Tree, in both which Extreams, they are insipid: The crisp Sort are by much the best: If eaten immoderately, they cause a Swelling not unlike the Dropsy, which if tenderly treated, will abate of itself: There is a wild rank, and unwholesome Sort, which are very pernicious, and ought carefully to be avoided; to know which see Mirandolo’s Pandectum, Lib. IV. Cap. 25. in his Section of Catso’s[.]
* N. B. By the word Knit in this Place, is meant, be Industrious, or mind your Business.
 advertised, The London Evening-Post, no. 936, Saturday 17 – Tuesday 20 November 1733, ; The Daily Journal, no. 4010, Friday 23 November 1733, .