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A vehicle for music! The expression will be found to have its fource in the apothecary's thop, where the førup, of other sweet and pleasant liquid in which a medicine is taken, is called its vehicle. Were there any propriety, therefore, in the comparison, we must conelude that music is a nauseous preparation, which must be sweetened to make it go down; and how sweetened? Here, indeed the fimile halts ; for a vehicle muft be very disagreeable indeed, when the patient would prefer taking the medicine without it.

The truth is, Mr. Editor, the music is the vehicle (and I am sorry it is só employed) for the dialogue and the poetry, which could not exist without it. Music, indeed, in this country, is a plea for all kinds of distress, for blindness, deformity, and every species of lameness; and why not for the disjećti membra poetæ ? But ftil I can see no reason why our theatres, originally deditated to the produktions of genius, should be converted into begging stands, and that we fiould be obliged to pay a band of music to drown the clamours of a poor Helpless créatures, who have no other means of getting their bread."

Bit remonftrances on these subjects, I am afraid, come too late. The business of the stage is now all mechanism. The carpenter or the painter write the play, as much as the acknowledged author, and the eye is the only sense which is thought worthy of atten. tion. Even where music is employed, the band and fingers are lo conscious of tic degrading alliance, that they have in fact invented'those overpowering accompaniments which' keep the words entirely out of hearing I once thought that music night have been independent; but it now is thought to require the discord of fooliftz dialogue as a component part; and the mufician thinks thic“ audience will be glad of a song of any merit as a happy' relief from a conversation which has The escape is indeed fortunate ; but mufical composers

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VOL. VI.

98

ACCOUNT OF THE TARANTULANIA. who form affociations of this kind, must not be offended if they fuffer the evils of bad company, and if, even where a temporary success, seems to apologize for their want of taste, it should be thought they are more attentive to money than reputation.

Yours,

P.P.

SOME ACCOUNT OF THE TARANTULANIA,
A DREADFUL EPIDEMIC, WHICH NOW RAGES. IN THIS

METROPOLIS.
[From the Oracle.)

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Mufie can foften pain to ease,
And make despair and madness please. "POPE.

HOW tranfitory are all human enjoyments ! At the

very moment when we felicitate each other on the suspension of hostilities and the delightful prospect of peace, a disease of the most terrible nature has infected numbers of our fellow-citizens. Its effects have hitherto been chiefly confined to the higher classes, and it seems to be occafioned by a species of spider called the tarantula, the bite of which is only curable by music.

Some malignant persons fcruple not to insinuate that Mrs. Billington imported a trunk-full of these noxious creatures from the continent, that she might profit by their depredations on the human species; nay, some people declare that she brought a pocketful of tarantulas to Covent Garden Theatre the other night, and occasionally threw them into the pit and the boxes. These calumnies, however, are too ridiculous to require refutation; and it is more probable that the tarantulas were carried away from the Opera House in the clothes of our nobility and gentry last winter

By

By whatever means they have been introduced to " the rich and perfumed chambers of the great," certain it is that they have affected the auricular nerves of the whole community, with a degree of irritation which nothing less than vocal and instrumental mufic can remove. For this purpose the managers of the winter theatres, inspired with the most lively sympathy, like true patriots, engaged Mrs. Billington to sing, for the comfort and alleviation of the public ! Her first efforts have been uncommonly successful, and have given temporary relief, which, however, it is feared, will only be like an opiate.

Meanwhile the tarantulas are not idle, and about a thousand of them, which have crawled in different directions, have withiw thefe few nights done more to discompose the wives and daughters of our tradesmen and mechanics, than the united efforts of a million of bugs were able to effect during the summer.

A tailor in Oxford Street, who used to beat his wife and apprentices, has, by the magic influence of sweet sounds, become as meek as a dove to his rib, and so full af benignity to his apprentices, that they consider the fair physician as their benefactress.

A petit-maitre man-milliner, who had forsaken a mantua-maker to whom he formerly made love, caught the infection from Lady Languish the other morning. A huge tarantula, at least as big as a walnut, crept from her Ladyship’s wig to the hair of the poor young man, and bit his ear, exciting a most un. pleasant titillation. He hastened to the theatre, and felt his pain much mitigated by mufic. Next morning he visited his charmer, whom he found at her harpsichord, playing " Crazy Jane." Overcome by the united powers of love and melody, he threw himself on a seat, whining out, “ If music be the food of love, play on:" and he was fo transported F 2

with

100 PARALLEL BETWEEN ST. VITUS'S DANCE with her skill, that he led her to the hymeneal altar the same day.

How long this populous city will be distressed with this disease is uncertain, as it is not yet come to a crisis. It is universally agreed, however, ihat there are but two remedies for the tarantulania-either Mrs. Billington's voice, or an empty purse.

SATYRICUS.

PARALLEL BETWEEN ST. VITUS'S DANCE AND A MODERN MASKED BALL.

(From the same.] DISEASES of the mind, like those of the body, are

fometimes communicated to the people of a particular district, and in some instances the contagious virus has been known to infect a whole people.

Such was St. Vitus's Dance, a mental malady, which prevailed in Germany in the seventeenth century, and is thus described by an English writer of that period “ The dance of St. Vitus was a species of madnefs which raged in Germany, and with which persons of all ranks, especially the common people, were seized. Shoemakers, tailors, and country follows, throwing afide their tools, being seized with a horrid fury, on meeting together, would dance till their breath failed. Sometimes they danced on precipices and rocks till they fell and broke their necks, and sometimes on the banks of the Rhine and other rivers, into which they would precipitate and drown themselves. They would run hooting about, bawling and dancing with geminated clamours, truculent aspect, and foaming mouths, that their friends were fain to lay high forms in their way, on purpose for them to leap over. Pregnant women did not escape this fury, but ran about, up and down in the dance, without any inconvenience. The magiftrates were faia to appoint muficians and drum. mers, and the stoutest fellows they could get, to alift them in their dances, out of the public treasury, till their furious fits expired. They betook themfelves to prayer to St. Vitus (John Baptist), in hopes of recovering their health".

From the above aecount it is evident, that the German malady has attaeked the people of England ; but in this country its malignancy feems eonfined to the higher claffes. The frantic orgies, called marked halls, are only a more refined fpecies of St. Vitus's Dance; and the unhappy wights who labour under its influence, are fo well convinced of its being ridiculous, that they conceal their faces during the pafoxyfm.

It is somewhat fingular that this difeafe flionld, like gaming, or any other fashionable evil, attack it's vidims only during the night; and their case is the more pitiable, as the fit commonly begins about the time when the regular part of the community retire to rest.

Only let a person of sensibility reflect on the deplorable scene exhibited in that fashionable hospital off incurables, where hundreds of elegant human beings of both sexes meet in difguise, absurdly personating the moft grotesque and ridiculous characters, while their converfation, mirth, and dancing, are exactly such as we might expect to witness in Bedlam.

The patients, however, feldom go to such extremes as dancing on rocks; but they fearlessly gambol on the edge of that most tremendous precipice Eternity! while they waste the prime of their days in folly and excefs. In fome inftances, they employ “ ftout fellows,” commonly called police officers, who may be considered as masters of the ceremonies at a malked ball. But instead of being entertained with music at the public expenfe, they lavish away their own treafure, on thefe occasions, with a profufion that com F 3

monly

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