網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

faw him leap upon the stage, and act his part with very great applause. It has been observed by several, that the lion has changed his manner of acting twice or thrice fince his first appearance ; which will not seein strange, when I acquaint my reader that the lion has been changed upon the audience three several times. The first lion was a candle-snuffer, who, being a fellow of a testy choleric temper, overdid his part, and would not fufter himselt to be killed so easily as he ought to have done; besides, it was observed of him, that he grew more furly every time he came out of the lion ; and having dropt some words in ordinary conversation, as if he had not fought his best, and that he suffered himself to be thrown upon his back in tile fcuifle, and that he would wrestle with Mr. Nicolini for what he plealed, out of his lion's skin, it was thought proper to discard him; and it is verily believed, to this day, that had he been brought upon the stage another time, he would certainly have done mischief. Besides, it was obsjected against the first lion, that he reared himself to high upon his hinler paws, and walked in fo erect a posture, that he looked more like an old man than a lion.

The second lion was a tailor by trade, who belonged to the play..house, and had the character of a mild and peaceable man in his profe linn. If the former was too furious, this was too sheepish for his part; infomuch that after a short mocent walk upon the stage, he would fall at the first touch of Hydafpes, without grappling with him, and giving him an opportunity of thewing his variety of Italian trips. It is said indeed, that he once gave him a rip in his flesh-coloured doublet; but this was only to male work for himself, in his private character of a tailor. I must not omit that it was this second lion who treated me with so much humanity behind the scenes.

The acting lion at present is, as I am inforined, a country-gentleman, who does it for his diversion, but desires his name may be concealed. He says very handfoinely, in his own excuse, that he does not act for gain;

that

F 3

that he indulges an innocent pleasure in it; and that it is better to pats away an evening in this manner than in gaming and drinking; but at the same time favs, with a very agreeable raillery upon himtelf, that if his name hould be known, the ill-natured wo ld might call him The Ass in the Lion's fkin. This gentleman's temper is made of such a happy mixture of the mild and the choleric, that he outdoes both his predeceilors, and has diawn together greater audiences than have been known in the memory of inan.

I must not conclude my narrative without taking notice of a groundless report that has been raised to a gentleman's diladvan age, of whom I must declare myJelf an admirer : namely, that Signior Nicolini and the lion have been seen fitting peaceably by one another, and smoking a pipe together behind the scenes ; by which their cominon enemies would infinuate, that it is but a tham combat which they represent upon the stage; but upon enquiry I find, that if any such corretjondence has patied between them, it was not till the combat was over, when the lion was to be looked upon as dead, according to the received rules of the Drama. Belides, this is what is practised every day in Wesiminfier-Hall, where nothing is more usual than to see a couple of lawyers, who have been tearing each other to pieces in the court, embracing one another as soon as they are out of it.

I would not be thought, in any part of this relation, to reficct upon Signior Nicolini, who in acting this part only complies with the wretched taste of his audience; he knows very well that the lion has many more ad. mirers than himself; as thev fav of the famous equeftrian ftatue on the Pont-Neuf at Paris, that more people go to see the horse, than the King who sits upon it. On the contrary, it gives me a jutt indignation to see a perfon whose action gives new majesty to kinys, refolution to heroes, and fofiness to lovers, thus finking from the g catues of his behaviour, and degraded into the chasaáter of the Loudon 'Prentice. I have often wished, that our t agedians would copy after this great master in

action.

action. Could they make the same use of their arms and legs, and inform their faces with as fignificant looks and pallions, how glorious would an Engliih 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 thew what are at prefent 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.

с

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

No. XIV. FRIDAY, MARCH 16.

-Teque his, infelix, exue monfiris.

Ovid.
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 fenle; but that the beare 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 his humble service “ to you, and dcfired me to give this into your own “ hands."

· From my Den in the Hay-Market, March 15.

* Sir,

)

Have read all your papers, and have ftified my re

sentment against your refle&tions upon operas, till • that of this day, wherein you plainly infinuate, that

Signior

6

[ocr errors]

Signior G:imaldi and myself have a correspondence * more friendly than is confitent with the valour of his • character, or the fierceness of mine. I desire you would • for your own fake forbear such intimations for the fu. ture; and must say, it is a great piece of ill-nature in you to thew to great an elteem for a foreigner, and to discourage a lion that is your own countryman.

• I take notice of your fable of the Lion and Man, buc am so equally concerned in that matter, that I thall not • be offeniled to whichsoever of the animals the fuperio

rity is given. You have misrepresented me, in saying that I am a country-gentleman who act only for ov dio ( verfion; whercas, had I still the same woods to range ' in which I once had when I was a fox-hunter, I should not resign iny manhood for a maintenance; and aliure

you, as low as my circumstances are at present, I am • so much a man of honour, that I would scorn to be any • beast for bread but a Libn.

"Yours, &c.'

I had no sooner ended this, than one of my landlady's children brought mein several others; with fome of which I shall inake up my present paper, they all having a tendency to the faine subject, viz. the elegance of our prefent diverfions.

[ocr errors]

6

6

Sir,

Covent-Garden, March 13. I

Have been for twenty years Under-Sexton of this

parish of St. Paul, Covent-Garden, and have not 6 missed tolling in to prayers fix times in all thole years; • which office I have performed to my great fatisfaction

till this fortnight last paft, during which time I find my congregation take the warning of my bell, morning ' and evening, to go to a puppet-thow, set forth by one • Powell, under the Piazzas. By this means, I have not (only lost my two cultomers, whom I used to place for

sixpence

fixpence a-piece over-against Mrs. Rachel Eye-bright, .but Mrs. Rachel herself is gone thither also. There

now appear among us none but a few ordinary people, • who come to church oniy to say their prayers; so that • I have no work worth speaking of but on Sundays. I

have placed my fon at the Piazzas, to acquaint the la• dies that the bell rings for church, and that it stands

on the other side of che 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 noiv, Mr. Powell has a full congregation, while
we have a very thin house; which if you can reinedy,
will
very
much oblige,

Sir,

1

6

you

[ocr errors]

• Yours, &c.'

The following epistle, I find is from the Undertaker of the Masquerade.

3

6

3

[ocr errors]

1

Sir, I Have observed the rules of my mafquc 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 defire 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 with, Sir, you could make thein 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 6 of Roman senators, and grave politicians in the dress of • rakes. The inisfortune 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,

6

3

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]
« 上一頁繼續 »