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Chamberlain, to give him all the Aid, and Power, necessary to the bringing what he desired, to Perfection. The Scheme was, to have but one Theatre for Plays, and another for Operas, under separate Interests. And this the generality of Spectators, as well as the most approv'd Actors, had been some time calling for, as the only Expedient to recover the Credit of the Stage, and the valuable Interests of its Mer* nagcrs.
As the Condition of the Comedians at this time, is taken notice of in my Dedication of the Wife's Resentment, to the Marquis (now Duke) of Kent, and then Lord-Chamberlain, which was publifh'd above thirty Years ago, when I had no thought of ever troubling the World, with this Theatrical History, I fee no Reason, why it may not pass, as a Voucher of the Facts I am now speaking of; I shall therefore give them, in the very Light I then faw them. After some Acknowledgment for his Lordship's Protection of our (Hay-Market) Theatre, it is further faid ,
"The Stage has, for many Years, 'till of "late, groan'd under the greatest Discourage"ments, which have been very much, if not "wholly owing to the Mismenagement of "those, that have aukwardly govern'd it. "Great Sums have been ventur'd upon empty "Projects, and Hopes of immoderate Gains; "and when those Hopes have fait'd, the Loss "has been tyrannically deducted out of the "Actors Sallary. And if your Lordihip had
"not rcdeem'd them — Ibis is meant of our be
"*ng suffer'd i0 come over to Swiney — they
"were very near being wholly laid aside, or, "at least, the Use of their Labour was to be "swallow'd up, in the pretended Merit of "Singing, and Dancing."
What follows, relates to the Difficulties in dealing with the then impracticable Menager, viz.
"— And though your Lordship's Tender"ness of oppressing, is so very just, that you "have rather staid to convince a Man of your 4t good Intentions to him, than to do him even "a Service against his Will; yet since your "Lordship has so happily begun the Establish<c ment of the separate Diversions, we live in 41 hope, that the fame Justice, and Resolution, "will still persuade you; to go as successfully "through with it. But while any Manissuf** fer'd to confound the Industry, and Use of *f them, by acting publickly, in opposition, to 'f your Lordship's equal Intentions, under a "false, and intricate Pretence of not being a4< ble to comply with them; the Town is like"ly to be more entertain'd with the private "Dissensions, than the publiclc Performance of •* either, and the Actors, in a perpetual Fear, "and Necessity of petitioning your Lordship ". every Season, for new Relief."
Such was the State of the Stage, immediately preceding the time of Mr. Brett's being admitted a joint Patentee, who, as he saw, with clearer Eyes, what was ics evident Interest, left
not no ptoper Measures unattempted, to make this, so long despair'd-of, Union practicable. .Thg . most apparent Difficulty to be got over, in this Affair, was, what could be done for Swiney, in consideration of his being oblig'd to give up those Actors, whom the' Power and Choice of the Lord-Chamberlain, had the Year before, set him at the Head of, and by whose Menagement, those Actors had found themselves, in a prosperous Condition. But an Accident, at this time, happily contributed, to make that Matter easy. The Inclination of our People of Quality for foreign Operas, had now reach'd the Ears of Italy, and the Credit of their Taste had drawn over from thence, without any more particular Invitation, one of their capital Singers, the famous Signior Cavaliero NicoJini: From whose Arrival, and the Impatience of the* Town, to hear him, it was concluded, that Operas, being, now, so completely provided, could not fail of Success; and that, by making Swiney sole Director of them, the Profits must be an ample Compenfation, for his Resignation of the Actors. This Matter being thus adjusted, by Swiney's Acceptance of the Opera only to be perform'd at the HayMarket House; the Actors were all order'd to return to Drury-Lane, there to remain (under the Patentees) her Majesty's only Company of Comedians.
A short View of the Opera, when first divided from the Comedy. Plays recover their Credit. The old Patentee uneasy at their Suecess. Why. The Occasion of Colonel Brett's throwing up his Share in the Patent. The Consequences of it. Anecdotes of Goodman the Aclor. The Rate of favourite Actors, in his Time. The Patentees, by endeavouring to reduce their Price, lose them all a second time. The principal Comedians return to the HayMarket in Shares with Swiney. They alter that Theatre. The original and present Form of the Theatre in Drury-Lane, compard. Operas fall off. The Occasion. of it. Farther Observations upon them. The Patentee dispossess d of Drury-Lane Theatre. Mr. Collier, with a new License, heads the Remains of that Company.
LAYS, and Operas, being thus establiih'd, upon separate Interests, they were now left, to make the best of their way, into Favour, by their different Merit. Although the Opera is not a Plant of our Native Growth, nor what our plainer Appetites are fond of, and is of so dedicate a Nature, that without excessive Charge, it cannot live long ambng us; especially while the nicest Connoisseurs in Mustek fall into such various Heresies in Taste, every Sect pretending to be the true one: Yet, as it is call'd a Theatrical Entertainment., and by its Alliance, or Neutrality, has more, or less affected our Domestick Theatre, a short View of its Progress may be allow'd a Place in our History.
After this new Regulation, the first Opera that appear'd, was Pyrrhus. Subscriptions, at that time were not extended, as of late, to the whole Season, but were limited to the first Six Days only of a new Opera. The chief Performers, in this, were Nicolini.. Valentini, an Mrs. Tofts; and for the inferior Parts, t1 best that were then to be found. Whatever Praises may have been given to the most famous Voices, that have been heard since Nicolini; upon the whole, I cannot but come into the Opinion, that still prevails among several Persons of Condition, who are able to give a Reason for their liking, that no Singer, since his Time, has so justly, and gracefully acquitted himself, in whatever Character he appear'd, as Nicolini. At most, the Differencd between him, and the greatest Favourite of the Ladies, EarinellL amounted but to this, that he nsight iomeumes more exquisitely surprize us, but Nicolini (by pleasing the Eye, as well as the Ear) fill'd us with a more various, and rational Delight. Whether in this Excellence, he has since had any Competitor, perhaps, will be better judg'd, by what the Critical Censor of Great Britain says of him in his 115th Tatler, viss. J "Nico