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sions, 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.
Wretch that thou art! put off this monstrous shape.
I WAS reflecting this morning upon the spirit and humour of the public diversions five-and-twenty years ago, and those of the present time; and lament. ed 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 his humble service to you, and desired me, 66 to give this into your own hands."
From my Den in the Hay-Market, March 15.
"I HAVE read all your papers, and have stifled my resentment against your reflections upon operas, til that of this day, wherein you plainly insinuate,
that Signior Grimaldi and myself have a correspon"dence more friendly than is consistent with the va
lour of his character, or the fierceness of mine. I I desire you would, for your own sake, forbear such • intimations 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 fabie of the Lion and Man, but am so equally concerned in that matter, that I
shall not be offended to whichsoever of the animals & the superiority is given. You have misrepresented Ime, in saying that I am a country gentleman who " act only for my diversion; whereas, had I still the ! same woods to range in which I once had when I
was a fox hunter, I should not resign my manhood • for a maintenance; and assure 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 b bread but a lion.
I had no sooner ended this, than one of my land. lady's children brought me in several others; with some of which I shall make up in my present paper, they all having a tendency to the same subject, viz. the elegance of our present diversions.
Covent-Garden, March 15. SIR,
I HAVE been for twenty years Under-Sexton r of this parish of St. Paul, Covent-Garden, and have s not missed tolling in to prayers six times in all those * years; which office I have performed to my great
satisfaction till 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 1 set forth by one Powell, under the Piazzas. By this 6 means, I have not only lost my two customers, whom
I used to place for six pence a-piece over-against Mrs. Rachel Eyebright, but Mrs. Rachel herself (is gone thither also. There now appear among us "none but a few ordinary people, who come to church i only to say their prayers; so that I have no work 5 worth speaking of but on Sundays. I have placed s my son at the Piazzas, to acquaint the ladies that The bell rings for church, and that it stands on the 6 other side of the garden; but they only laugh at
"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 cano.
nical. 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 o. oblige,
• Sir, Yours, &c.
The following epistle, I find is from the undertaker of the Masquerade.
SIR, "IHAVE observe the rules of my masque so care"fully in not enquiring into persons, that I canrot tell whether you were one of the company or not last 1 Tuesday; but if you were not, and still design to
come, I desire you would, for your own entertain. $ment, 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 6 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 6 are fit for. There is not a girl in the town, 6 but let her have her will in going to a masque, and s she shall dress as a shepherdess. But let me beg 6 of them to read the Arcadia, or some other good
romance, before they appear in any such character 6 at my house. The last day we presented, every 6 body was so'rashly habited, that when they came ś to speak to each other, a nymph with a crook had
not a word to say but in the pert stile 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 6 a judge that danced a minuet with a quaker for his 6 partner while half a dozen harlequins stood by as o spectators; a Turk drank me off two bottles of wine, " and a Jew eat me up half a ham of bacon. If I can < bring my design to bear, and make the masquers
preserve their characters in my assemblies, I hope
you will allow there is a foundation for more elegant 6 and improving gallantries than any the town at pre* sent affords; and consequently that you will give < your approbation to the endeavours of,
• Sir, Your most obedient
i humble servant.
I am very glad the following epistle obliges me to mention Mr. Powell a second time in the same paper; for indeed there cannot be too great encouragement given to his skill in motions, provided he is under restrictions.
" THE opera at the Hay-Market, and that un(der 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 Ar('mida, my curiosity led me the beginning of last 1 week to view both these performances, and make E my observations upon them.
. First, therefore, I cannot but observe that Mr. i Powell, wisely forbearing to give his company a bill
of fare beforehand, every scene is new and unexpec(ted; whereas it is certain, that the undertakers of " the Hay-Market, having raised too great an expec
tation in their printed opera, very much disappoint o the audience on the stage.
"The king of Jerusalem is obliged to come from • the city on foot, instead of being drawn in a tri• umphant chariot by white horses, as my opera-book ( had promised me; and thus while I expected ArI mida's dragons should rush forward towards Ar• gantes, I found the hero was obliged to go to Armi- . I da, and hand her out of her coach. We had also but a very short allowance 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 most excellent player. ·