Collection No. 48: The Diversions of the Morning, by Samuel Foote

Publication Details | Synopsis | Secondary Commentary |Varieties & Dialects | Other

Publication details

Author: Foote, Samuel
Author dates: 1720 - 1777
Title: The Diversions of the Morning (alt. titles: A Cup of Tea, A Dish of Chocolate)

First played: 1747 (“Tragedy-a-la-Mode” added in 1760)
First published: 1795 by Tate Wilkinson. Printed for Wilson, Spence and Mawman. 4v.

C18th availability (1795):
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, in Tate Wilkinson’s The Wandering Patentee, or A History of the Yorkshire Theatres.
Call number: B-12 00476

Modern availability: Second act (“Tragedy a-la-mode”) available online from LION (1996):

Genre: Comedy / Burlesque

Trend(s): Popularity; Contemporary Satire

Character types: Classical

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This play satirizes fashionable trends in theatre productions.

Tragedy a la mode:

Prompter and Project, both affiliated with the theatre, satirize actors’ caprices and the effect these have on the theatre: Juliet is visibly pregnant, and one actress has given advance notice of a future illness. Fustian (Foote) arrives and presents his new play to Manly, “the ablest critic of his time” (289) and Townly, “the most fashionable man of the age” (289). Fustian’s fifteen-minute “Tragedy-a-la-mode” has been tailored to the (imaginary) audience’s desires. The conventions of tragedy constrain the playwright, just as he constrains the actors. Stripping his tragedy to the bare bones of its conventions, he likewise reduces the actors to caricatures of themselves in an effort to punish them for their problematic whims.  Only the hero is acted by a real person; the other characters are pasteboard cutouts. The “Tragedy” concludes with a spoken moral:  “Let cruel parents learn from woes like these, To wed their daughters where those daughters please” (298). Fustian and the others go for a drink.

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Secondary commentary

A) Dircks, Phyllis T. ‘Foote, Samuel (bap. 1721, d. 1777)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 26 May 2008.

"His first entertainment was The Diversions of the Morning, or, A Dish of Chocolate on 22 April. To conform to the Licensing Act, the performance was given gratis, following a concert. To avoid conflict with the patent theatres Foote soon scheduled performances for 12 noon. Diversions met with immediate success and was acted thirty-five times, drawing great crowds through its exaggerated imitations of popular performers such as James Quin, Dennis Delane, Lacy Ryan, Peg Woffington, Charles Macklin, and David Garrick. On 1 June Foote retitled his work Tea, more appropriate for his new performance time of 6 p.m."

B)Howard, Douglas. ‘Samuel Foote: January, 1721-October 21, 1777.’ Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 89: Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Dramatists, Third Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Paula R. Backscheider, University of Rochester. The Gale Group, 1989. LiteratureResourceCenter. 26 May 2008.

"The second version of act 2 of Diversions, also printed by Wilkinson, was called Tragedy a-la-Mode; or Lindamira in Tears and was acted at the Haymarket in 1763."

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Varieties & Dialects

Overview of varieties / dialects

Fustian’s elevated classical diction distinguishes him from the other characters.

Varieties / dialects

Variety: Fustian

a. Sample of dialect
[page 289]
Fustian. You speak my very thoughts, Mr. Project---these are the men I wish to please, the Primores Populi ; a fig for the Populum Tributum ---Your voices outweigh a theatre.
Townly. Extremely polite.

[page 290]

Manly.  But what is your plan?
Fustian. Sir, I have many; and most of them calculated to punish that insolent, self-sufficient race of people, called players; who, tho' but the midwives of the Muses, have the arrogance to elbow and jostle us poets, the heirs apparent of Parnassus, the genuine offspring of Apollo.

b.1 Orthography
b.2 Grammar
b.3 Vocabulary: classical allusions: Parnassus, Apollo; Primores Populi; Populum Tributum
c. Nationality: English
d. Character profile: playwright
e. Consistency of representation: consistent

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Narrative comments on varieties and dialects


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Other points of interest


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©2008 Arden Hegele