In this satirical drawing by Robert Cruikshank, a foppish dandy is shown fainting in his private box at the opera. Another dandy administers smelling salts with a long device.
The caricature alludes to an actual incident related to the debut performance of Eliza O'Neill, who made her debut at Covent Garden in 1814. Newspapers of the time recorded that men had been borne fainting from their theater boxes after witnessing her tragic performance. This caricature by Robert Cruikshank satirizes the overly emotional reaction by these foppish gentlemen.
Eliza O'Neill later married a nobleman and retired from the stage. It is an interesting fact that On'Neill was so famous in her day that she was known simply as Eliza, much like today's celebrities are often known by a single name. As someone once said, history does not repeat but it rhymes.
More illustrations by Robert Cruikshank:
A dandy fainting or - an exquisite in fits. Scene a private opera box -. I R Cruikshank invt. & fecit
Time is the best doctor: A group of physicians wrongly diagnosing the case of a pregnant woman. Coloured etching by I. Cruikshank, 1803.