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" In another place you may see persons, who, sensible that the splendid dresses of the theatre are only lent them for a time, disdain, with a sullen ill-judged pride, to put them on at all, and so disgrace the parts that were allotted them for 1 their own advantage.
“ Alas! what a different prompter has that actor got! He was designed to represent a character of generosity, and, for that purpose, furnished with a large treasure of counters, which it was his busi. ness to dispose of in the most graceful manner to those actors engaged in the same scene with him. Instead of this, that old fellow, Interest, who stands at his elbow, has prompted him to put the whole bag into his pocket, as if the counters them. selves were of real value; whereas, the moment he sets his foot off the stage, or is hurried down through some of those trap-doors that are every moment opening round him, these tinsel pieces are no longer current. To conceal, in some measure, the falseness of this behaviour, he is forced to leave out a hundred fine passages, intended to grace his character, and to occasion unnumbered chasms and inconsistencies, which not only make him hissed, but the very scheme of the drama murmured at. Yet still he persists: and, see! just now, when he ought to be gracefully treading the stage with a superior air, he is stooping down to pick up some more counters that happen to be fallen upon the dirty foor, made dirty on purpose for the disgrace of those who choose to grovel there.
“ You can scarce have an idea," added my instructress, “ bow infinitely the harmony of the whole piece is interrupted by the misuse which these wrong-headed actors make of its mere decorations. The part you have to act, child, is a very small one ; but, remember, it is infinitely superior to every such attachment. Fix your attention upon its meaning, not its ornaments : let your manner be just and unaffected; your air cheerful and dis. engaged: never pretend to look beyond the present page : and, above all, trust the great Author of the Drama with his own glorious work; and never think to mend what is above your understanding, by minute criticisms that are below it.
The Danger of Indulgence of the Imagination.
METHOUGHT, as I was sitting at work, a young woman came into the room clothed in a loose green garment : her long hair fell in ringlets upon her shoulders : her head was crowned with roses and myrtles: a prodigious sweetness appeared in her countenance; and notwithstanding the irregularity of her features and a certain wildness in her eyes, she seemed to me the most agreeable person I had ever bebeld.
When she was entered, she presented me with a little green branch, upon which was a small sort of nut enclosed in a hard black shell, which, she said, was both wholesome and delicious; and bade me follow her, and not be afraid, for she was going to make me happy.
I did as she commanded me, and immediately a chariot descended, and took us up : it was made of the richest materials, and drawn by four milk-white turtles. Whilst we were hurried, with a rapid motion, over vast oceans, boundless plains, and barren deserts, she told me that her name was Imagination; that she was carrying me to Parnassus, where she herself lived.
I had scarce time to thank her before we arrived at the top of a very high mountain covered with very thick woods. Here we alighted ; and my guide taking me by the hand, we passed through several beautiful groves of myrtle, bays, and laurel, separated from one another by little green alleys, enamelled with the finest flowers. Nothing was to be heard but the rustling of leaves, the humming of bees, the warbling of birds, and the purling of streams; and, in short, this spot seemed to be a paradise.
After wandering some time in this delightful place, we came to a long grass walk, at the farther end of which, in a bower of jasmines and woodbines strewed with flowers, sat a woman of a middle age, but of a pleasing countenance : her hair was fively braided, and she wore a habit of changeable silk.
When we approached her, she was weaving nets of the finest silk, which she immediately threw down, and embraced me. I was surprised at so much civility from a stranger, which she perceiving, bade me not wonder at the kindness she showed for me at first sight, since, besides my being in the company of that lady, (pointing to Imagination) which was recommendation enough, my own person would entitle me to the favour of all who saw me:
“But,” added she, “ you have had a long walk, and want rest; come and sit down in my bower.”
Though this offer would, at another time, have been very acceptable to me, yet so great was my desire of seeing the Muses, that I begged to be excused, and to have permission to pursue my journey. Being informed by Imagination where we were going, she commended my laudable curiosity, and said she would accompany us. As we went along, she told me her name was Good Will, and that she was a great friend to the Muses and to the lady who brought me hither, whom she had brought up from a child; and had saved her from being carried away by Severity and Ill Humour, her inveterate enemies.
When she had done speaking, we arrived at the happy place I had so much wished to see: it was a little circular opening, at the upper end of which sat, on a throne of the most fragrant flowers, a young man in a flame-coloured garment, of a noble but haughty countenance : he was crowned with laurel, and held a harp in his hand. Round him sat nine beautiful young women, who all played upon musical instruments: these, Imagination told me, were Apollo and the Muses. But, above all the rest, there were three that I most admired, and who seemed fondest of me.
One of these was clothed in a loose and careless manner; she was reposed on a bank of flowers, and sang with a sweeter voice than any of the