« EelmineJätka »
whose action gives new majesty to kings, resolution to heroes, and softness to lovers, thus finking from the greatness of his behaviour, and degraded into the character of the London Prentice. I have often wished, that our tragedians would copy after this great master in action. Could they make the same use of their arms and legs, and inform their faces with as significant looks and pailions, how glorious would an English tragedy appear with that action which is capable of giving a dignity to the forced thoughts, cold conceits, and unnatural expressions of an Italian opera. In the mean time, I have related this combat of the lion, to shew what are at present the reigning entertainments of the politer part of Great Britain.
Audiences have often been reproached by writers for the coarseness of their taste ; but our present grievance does not seem to be the want of a good taste, but of common sense.
Friday, March 16.
-Teque his, infelix, exue monstris.
Ovid. Met. l. 4. ver. 590. Wretch that thou art ! put off this monstrous shape.
I was reflecting this morning upon the spirit and hu
mour of the public diversions five and twenty years ago, and those of the present time ; and lamented to myself, that though in those days they neglected their morality, they kept up their good sense ; but that the beau monde, at present, is only grown more childish, not more innocent, than the former. While I was in this train of thought, an odd fellow, whose face I have often seen at the play-house, gave me the following letter with these words, Sir, The Lion presents bis humble service to you, and desired me to give this in10 your own band's.
From my Den in the Hay-Market, March 15. SIR, • I HAVE read all your papers, and have stifled my resentment against your
upon operas, until that of this day, wherein you plainly insinuate, that fignior Grimaldi and myself have a correspondence more friendly than is consistent with the valour of his character, or the fierceness of mine. I desire
you would for your own fake forbear such intima• tions for the future; and must say it is a great piece
of ill-nature in you, to shew so great an esteem for a foreigner, and to discourage a lion that is your own countryman.
I take notice of your fable of the Lion and Man, .but am so equally concerned in that matter, that I • shall not be offended to which soever of the animals
the superiority is given. You have misrepresented me, ' in saying that I am a country-gentleman, who act only for
diversion ; whereas, had I still the farne woods to range in which I once had when I was a • fox-hunter, I should not resign my manhood for a • maintenance; and afsure you, as low as my circum' ftances are at present, I am so much a man of honour ' that I would scorn to be any beast for bread but a
I had no sooner ended this, than one of my
landlady's children brought me in several others, with some of which I ihall make up my present paper; they all having a tendency to the same subject, viz. the elegance of our present diversions.
Covent-Garden, March 13. *I HAVE been for twenty years under-sexton of this • parish of St. Paul's Covent Garden, and have not ' missed tolling in to prayers fix times in all those years;
which office I have performed to my great fatisfaction, ' until this fortnight last past, during which time I
find my congregation take the warning of my bell, morning and evening, to go to a puppet-show set « forth by one Powell under the Piazzas. By this means • I have not only lost my two customers, whom I used
to place for six-pence a-piece over-against Mrs. Rachael « Eye-bright, but Mrs. Rachael herself is gone thither also.
There now appear among us none but a few ordinary
people, who come to church only to say their prayers, • so that I have no work worth speaking of but on Sun
days. I have placed my son at the Piazzas, to ac
quaint the ladies, that the bell rings for church, and • that it stands on the other side of the Garden ; but they only laugh at the child.
I desire you would lay this before all the world, • that I may not be made such a tool for the future, • and that punchinello may choose hours less canonical. • As things are now, Mr. Powell has a full
congregation, while we have a very thin house; which if you • can remedy, you will very much oblige,
The following epistle I find is from the undertaker of the masquerade.
I HAVE observed the rules of my mask fo carefully, (in not inquiring into persons) that I cannot tell • whether you were one of the company or not last
Tuesday; but if you were not, and still design to come, • I desire you would, for your own entertainment, please « to admonish the town, that all persons indifferently,
are not fit for this sort of diversion. I could wish, sir, you could make them understand, that it is a kind of acting to go in masquerade, and a man should be able to say or do things proper for the dress, in which he appears.
We have now and then rakes in the habit • of Roman senators, and grave politicians in the dress • of rakes. The misfortune of the thing is, that people • dress themselves in what they have a mind to be, and
not what they are fit for. There is not a girl in the town, but let her have her will in going to a masky
• and she shall dress as a shepherdess. But let me beg • of them to read the Arcadia, or some other good ro
mance, before they appear in any fuch character at my house. The last day we presented, every body was so rashly habited, that when they came to speak to each other, a nymph with a crook had not a word to say but in the pert style of the pit bawdry; and a
man in the habit of a philosopher was speechless, ' till an occasion offered of expressing himself in the ' refuse of the tyring-rooms. We had a judge that
danced a minuet, with a quaker for his partner, while • half a dozen harlequins stood by as spectators: a Turk • drank me off two bottles of wine, and a few eat me
half a ham of bacon. If I can bring my design to . bear, and make the maskers preserve their characters ' in my assemblies, I hope you will allow there is • foundation laid for inore elegant and improving gal• lantries than any the town at present affords; and
consequently, that you will give your approbation to • the endeavours of,
Your most obedient humble servant. I am very glad the following epiftle obliges me to mention Mr. Powell a fecond time in the same paper ; for indeed there cannot be too great encouragement given to his fkill in motions, provided he is under pro
SIR, " THE opera at the Hay-Market, and that under • the little Piazza in Covent-Garden, being at pre• sent the two leading, diversions of the town, and
Mr. Powell professing in his advertisements to set up Whittington and his Cat against Rinaldo and Armida, my curiosity led me the beginning of last week to • view both these performances, and make my observations upon
them. First, therefore, I cannot but observe that Mr. • Powell wisely forbearing to give his company a bill • of fare beforehand, every scene is new and unex
pected; whereas it is certain, that the undertakers
• of the Hay-Market, having raised too great an ex
pectation in their printed opera, very much disappoint their audience on the stage.
The king of Jerufalem is obliged to come from the city on foot, instead of being drawn in a triumphant
chariot by white horses, as my opera-book had pro'mised me ; and thus while I expected Armida's dra
gons should rush forward towards Argentes, I found
the hero was obliged to go to Armida, and hand her ' out of her coach. We had also but a very short al• lowance of thunder and lightning; though I cannot ' in this place omit doing justice to the boy who had • the direction of the two painted dragons, and made • them spit fire and smoke: he flashed out his rosin in • such just proportions and in such due time, that I • could not forbear conceiving hopes of his being one
day a moft excellent player. I saw indeed but two
things wanting to render his whole action complete, • I mean the keeping his head a little lower, and hiding « his candle.
" I observed that Mr. Powell and the undertakers had 'both the same thought, and I think much about the ' fame time, of introducing animals on their several
ftages, though indeed with very different success. The • sparrows and chaffinches at the Hay-Market fly as yet
very irregularly over the stage ; and instead of perch*ing on the trees, and performing their parts, these
young actors either get into the galleries, or put out • the candles ; whereas Mr. Powell has so well disciplin' ed his pig, that in the first scene he and Punch dance
a minuet together. I am informed however, that Mr. « Powell resolves to excel his adversaries in their own
way; and introduce larks in his next opera of Sufanna, or Innocence betrayed, which will be exhibited next week with a pair of new elders. • The moral of Mr. Powell's drama is violated, I
confefs, by Punch's national reflections on the French, « and king Harry's laying his leg upon the queen's lap in too ludicrous a manner before fo great an affembly.
As to the mechanism and scenery, every thing in• deed was uniform, and of a piece, and the scenes were
managed very dexterously, which calls on me to take