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As for similes and metaphors, they may be found all over the creation ; the most ignorant may gather them, but the difficulty is in applying them. For this advise with your bookseller.
A project for the advancement of the stage. It may be thought that we should not wholly omit the drama, which makes so great and so lucrative a part of poetry. But this province is so well taken care of by the present managers of the theatre, that it is perfectly needless to suggest to them any other methods than they have already practiced for the advancement of the bathos.
Here therefore, in the name of all our brethren, let me return our sincere and humble thanks to the most august Mr. Barton Booth, the most serene Mr. Robert Wilks, and the most undaunted Mr. Colley Cibber; of whom let it be known, when the people of this age shall be ancestors, and to all the succession of our successors, that to this present day they continue to outdo even their own outdoings; and when the inevitable hand of sweeping time shall have brushed off all the works of to-day, may this testimony of a contemporary critick to their fame be extended as far as to-morrow.
Yet if to so wise an administration it be possible any thing can be added, it is that more ample and comprehensive scheme which Mr. Dennis and Mr. Gildon (the two greatest criticks and reformers then
living) made publick in the year 1720, in a project signed with their names, and dated the second of February. I cannot better conclude than by presenting the reader with the substance of it.
1. It is proposed, that the two theatres be incorporated into one company; that the royal academy of musick be added to them as an orchestra ; and that Mr. Figg with his prize-fighters, and Violante with the rope-dancers, be admitted in partnership.
2. That a spacious building be erected at the publick expense, capable of containing at least ten thousand spectators; which is become absolutely necessary by the great addition of children and nurses to the audience, since the new entertainments *. That there be a stage as large as the Athenian, which was near ninety thousand geometrical paces square, and separate divisions for the two houses of parliament, my lords the judges, the honourable the directors of the academy, and the court of aldermen, who shall all have their places frank.
3. If Westminster-hall be not allotted to this service (which by reason of its proximity to the two chambers of parliament above mentioned seems not altogether improper) it is left to the wisdom of the nation whether Somerset-house may not be demolished, and a theatre built upon that site, which lies convenient to receive spectators from the county of Surry, who may be wafted thither by water-carriage, esteemed by all projectors the cheapest whatsoever. To this may be added, that the river Thames may in the readiest manner convey those eminent personages from courts beyond the seas, who may be drawn
Pantomimes were then first cxhibited in England.
either either by curiosity to behold some of our most celebrated pieces, or by affection to see their countrymen, the harlequins and eunuchs ; of which convenient notice may be given, for two or three months before, in the publick prints.
4. That the theatre abovesaid be environed with a fair quadrangle of buildings, fitted for the accommodation of decayed criticks and poets; out of whom six of the most aged (their age to be computed from the year wherein their first work was published) shall be elected to manage the affairs of the society, provided nevertheless that the laureat for the time being may be always one. The head or president over all (to prevent disputes, but too frequent among the learned) shall be the most ancient poet and critick to be found in the whole island.
5. The male-players are to be lodged in the garrets of the said quadrangle, and to attend the persons of the poets dwelling under them, by brushing their apparel, drawing on their shoes, and the like. The actresses are to make their beds and wash their linen.
6. A large room shall be set apart for a library, to consist of all the modern dramatic poems, and all the criticisms extant. In the midst of this room shall be a round table for the council of six to sit and deliberate on the merits of plays. The majority shall determine the dispute : and if it should happen, that three and three should be of each side, the president shall have a casting voice, unless where the contention may run so high as to require a decision by single coinbat.
7. It may be convenient to place the council of six in some conspicuous situation in the theatre, where, after the manner usually practiced by composers in musick, they may give signs (before settled
and agreed upon) of dislike or approbation. In consequence of these signs the whole audience shall be required to clap or hiss, that the town may learn certainly, when and how far they ought to be pleased.
8. It is submitted, whether it would not be proper to distinguish the council of six by some particular habit or gown of an honourable shape and colour, to which may be added a square cap and a white wand.
9. That to prevent unmarried actresses making away with their infants, a competent provision be allowed for the nurture of them, who shall for that reason be deemed the children of the society; and that they may be educated according to the genius of their parents, the said actresses shall declare upon oach (as far as their memory will allow) the true names and qualities of their several fathers. A private gentleman's son shall at the publick expense be brought up a page to attend the council of six : a more ample provision shall be made for the son of a poet; and a greater still for the son of a critick.
10. If it be discovered, that any actress is got with child during the interludes of any play, wherein she hath a part, it shall be reckoned a neglect of her business, and she shall forfeit accordingly. If any actor for the future shall commit murder, except upon the stage, he shall be left to the laws of the land; the like is to be understood of robbery and theft. In all other cases, particularly in those for debt, it is proposed that this, like the other courts of Whitehall and St. James's, may be held a place of privilege. And whereas it has been found, that an obligation to satisfy paltry creditors has been a discouragement to men of letters, if any person of qua
lity lity or others shall send for any poet or critick of this society to any remote quarter of the town, the said poet or critick shall freely pass and repass, without being liable to an arrest.
11. The forementioned scheme, in its several regulations, may be supported by profits arising from every third-night throughout the year. And as it would be hard to suppose, that so many persons could live without any food (though from the former course of their lives a very little will be deemed sufficient) the masters of calculation will, we believe, agree, that out of those profits the said persons might be subsisted in a sober and decent manner. We will venture to affirm farther, that not only the proper magazines of thunder and lightning, but paint, dietdrinks, spitting pots, and all other necessaries of life, may in like manner fairly be provided for.
12. If some of the articles may at first view seem liable to objections, particularly those that give so vast a power to the council of six (which is indeed larger than any entrusted to the great officers of state) this may be obviated by swearing those six persons of his majesty's privy council, and obliging them to pass every thing of moment previously at that most honourable board.