Page images
PDF
EPUB

Covent Garden, March 18. “SIR, “ I have been for twenty years under-sexton of this parish of St. Paul's, Corent Garden, and have not missed tolling in to prayers six times in all those years; which office I have performed to my great satisfaction, until this fortnight last past, during which time I find my congregation take the warning of my bell, morning and erening, to go to a puppet-show set forth by one Powell under the Piazzas. By this means, I have not only lost my two customers, whom I used to place for sixpence a piece over against Mrs. Rachael Eye-bright, but Mrs. Rachael herself is gone thither also. There now appear among us none but a few ordinary people, who come to church only to say their prayers; so that I have no work worth speaking of but on Sundays. I have placed my son at the Piazzas, to acquaint the ladies that the bell rings for church, and that it stands on the other side of the 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 now, Mr. Powell has a full congregation, while we have a very thin house; which if you can remedy, you will very much oblige,

“Sir, yours, &c." The following epistle I find is from the undertaker of the masquerade :

"Sir, "I have observed the rules of my mask* so 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 desire 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 wish, Sir, you could make them understand, that it is a kind of acting to go into 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 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 are fit for. There is not a girl in the town, but let her have her will in going to a mask, and she shall dress as a shepherdess. But let me beg of them to read the Arcadia, or some other good romance, before they appear in any such character at my house. The last day we

* See No. 8 and 101 ; Guard. No. 142 and 154.

presented, every body was so rashly habited, that when they came to speak to each other, a nymph with a crook had not a word to say but in the pert style 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 a judge that danced a minuet, with a quaker for his partner, while half a dozen harlequins stood by as 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 maskers preserve their characters in my assemblies I hope you will allow there is a foundation laid for more elegant and improving gallantries than any the town at present affords; and consequently that you will give your approbation to the endeavours of, Sir,

“Your most obedient 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 proper restrictions.

“SIR, "The opera at the Haymarket, and that under the little Piazza in Covent Garden, being at present the two leading diversions of the town, and Mr. Powell professing in his advertisements to set up Whittington and his Cat against Rinaldo and Armida, my curiosity led me, the beginning of last week, to view both these performances, and make

my
observations

upon them. “First, therefore, I cannot but observe, that Mr. Powell wisely forbearing to give his company a bill of fare beforehand, every scene is new and unexpected'; whereas it is certain, that the undertakers of the Haymarket, having raised too great an expectation in their printed opera, very much disappointed their audience on the stage.

“The King of Jerusalem is obliged to come from the city on foot, instead of being drawn in a triumphant chariot by white horses, as my opera-book had promised me; and thus, while I ex. pected Armida's dragons should rush forward towards Argantes, I found the hero was obliged to go to Armida, 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. I

Puppet-shews were formerly so called.

:

sax, indeed, but two things wanting to render his whole action complete, I mean the keeping his head a little lower, and hiding his candle.

" I observe that Mr. Powell and the undertakers of the opera had both the same thought, and I think much about the same time, of introducing animals on their several stages, though in deed with very different success. The sparrows and chaffinches at the Haymarket fly as yet very irregularly over the stage; and instead of perching on the trees, and performing their parts, these young actors either get into the galleries, or put out the candles ; whereas Mr. Powell has so well disciplined his pig, that in the first scene he and Punch dance a minuet together. I am informed, bowever, that Mr. Powell resolves to excel his adversaries in their Own way; and introduce larks in his next opera of Susannah, or Innocence Betrayed, which will be exhibited next week, with a pair of new Elders.

" The moral of Mr. Powell's drama is violated, I confess, by Punch's national reflections on the French, and King Harry's laying his leg upon the

queen's lap, in too ludicrous a manner, before so great an assembly

As to the mechanism and scenery, every thing, indeed, was uniform, and of a piece, and the scenes were managed very dexterously; which calls on me to take notice, that at the Hay, market, the undertakers forgetting to change the side-scenes, we were presented with a prospect of the ocean in the midst of a delightful grove; and though the gentlemen on the stage had very much contributed to the beauty of the grove, by walking up and down between the trees, I must own I was not a little astonished to see a well-dressed young fellow, in a full-bottomed wig, appear in the midst of the sea, and without any visible concern, taking szuff. " I shall only observe one thing further, in which both dramas

which is, that by the squeak of their voices, the heroes of each are eunuchs; and as the wit in both pieces is equal, I must prefer the performance of Mr. Powell, because it is in our lan. guage.

“I am, &c."

agree;

ADVERTISEMENT.

On the first of April will be performed, at the playhouse in the Haymarket

, an opera called " The Cruelty of Atreus.V.B. The scene wherein Thyestes eats his own children is to be performed by the famous Mr. Psalmanazar,* lately arrived from Formosa : the whole supper being set to kettle-drums.

R. For an account of this singular character, see the Gentleman's Magazine,

STEELE.

Fols, xxxiv. XXXV.

No. 15. SATURDAY, MARCH 17, 1710-11,

Parva leves capiunt animos

OVID. ARS. AM, 159.
Light minds are pleased with trifles.

When I was in France, I used to gaze with great astonishment at the splendid equipages and party coloured habits of that fantastic nation. I was one day in particular contemplating a lady that sat in a coach adorned with gilded Cupids, and finely painted with the loves of Venus and Adonis. The coach was drawn by six milk-white horses, and loaded behind with the same number of powdered footmen. Just before the lady were a couple of beautiful pages, that were stuck among the harness, and by their gay dresses and smiling features, looked like the elder brothers of the little boys that were carved and painted in every corner of the coach.

The lady was the unfortunate Cleanthe, who afterwards gave an occasion to a pretty melancholy novel. She had, for several years, received the addresses of a gentleman, whom, after a long and intimate acquaintance, she forsook, upon the account of this shining equipage which had been offered to her by one of great riches, but a crazy constitution. The circumstances in which I saw her were, it seems, the disguises only of a broken heart, aud a kind of pageantry to cover distress ; for in two months after, she was carried to her grave with the same pomp and magnificence; being sent thither partly by the loss of one lover, and partly by the possession of another.

I have often reflected with myself on this unaccountable humour in womankind, of being smitten with everything that is showy and superficial; and on the numberless evils that befal the sex from this light fantastical disposition. I myself remember a young lady that was very warmly solicited by a couple of importunate rivals, who, for several months together, did all they could to recommend themselves, by complacency of behaviour and agreeable ness of conversation. At length, when the competition was doubtful, and the lady undetermined in her choice, one of the young lovers very luckily bethought himself of adding a supernumary lace to his liveries, which had so good an eflect, that he married her the very week after.

The usual conversation of ordinary women, very much cherishes this natural weakness of being taken with outside and appearance. Talk of a new-married couple, and you immediately hear whether they keep their coach and six, or eat in plate. Mention the name

of an absent lady, and it is ten to one but you learn something of her gown and petticoat. A ball is a great help to discourse, and a birth-day furnishes conversation for a twelvemonth after. A furbelow of precious stones, a hat buttoned with a diamond, a brocade waistcoat or petticoat, are standing topics. In short, they consider only the drapery of the species, and never cast away a thought on those ornaments of the mind that make persons illustrious in themselves, and useful to others. When women are thus perpetually dazzling one another's imaginations, and filling their heads with nothing but colours, it is no wonder that they are more attentive to the superficial parts of life, than the solid and substantial blessings of it. A girl, who has been trained up in this kind of conversation, is in danger of every embroidered coat that comes in her way. A pair of fringed gloves may be her ruin. In a word, lace and ribands, silver and gold galloons, with the like glittering gewgaws, are so many lures to women of weak minds and low educations, and when artificially displayed, are able to feteh down the most airy coquette from the wildest of her flights and rambles.

True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise: it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one's self; and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions; it loves shade and solitude, and naturally haunts groves and fountains, fields and meadows; in short, it feels everything it wants within itself, and receives no addition from mulutudes of witnesses and spectators. On the contrary, False Happiness loves to be in a crowd, and to draw the eyes of the world upon her. She does not receive any satisfaction from the applauses which she gives herself, but from the admiration which she raises in others. She fourishes in courts and palaces, theatres and assemblies, and has no existence but when she is looked upon.

Aurelia, though a woman of great quality, delights in the privacy of a country life, and passes away a great part of her time in her own walks and gardens. Her husband, who is her bosom friend and companion in her solitudes, has been in love with her ever since he knew her. They both abound with good sense, consummate virtue, and a mutual esteem; and are a perpetual entertainment to one another. Their family is under so regular an economy in its hours of devotion and repast, employment and diversion, that it looks like a little commonwealth within itself. They often go into company, that they may return with greater delight to one another; and sometimes live in town, not to enjoy it so properly,

s to grow weary of it, that they may renew in. themselves the relish of a country life. By this means they are happy in each

VOL. I.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »