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skin, a sheath, a bowcase, and a tuck. There is, in several incidents of the conversation between them, the jest still kept up upon the person. Great tenderness and sensibility in this point is one of the greatest weaknesses of self-love. For my own part, I am a little unhappy in the mould of my face, which is not quite so long as it is broad. Whether this might not partly arise from my opening my mouth much seldomer than other people, and by consequence not so much lengthening the fibres of my visage, I am not at leisure to determine. However it be, I have been often put out of countenance by the shortness of my face, and was formerly at great pains in concealing it by wearing a periwig with an high fore-top, and letting my beard grow. But now I have thoroughly gotover this delicacy, and could be contented with a much shorter, provided it might qualify me for a member of the merry club, which the following letter gives me an account of. I have received it from Oxford, and as it abounds with the spirit of mirth and good humour, which is natural to that place, I shall set it down word for word as it came to me.
“ Most PROFOUND SIR, "Having been very well entertained, in the last of your speculations that I have yet seen, by your specimen upon clubs, which I therefore hope you will continue, I shall take the liberty to furnish you with a brief account of such a one as, perhaps, you have not seen in all your travels, unless it was your fortune to touch upon some of the woody parts of the African continent, in your voyage to or from Grand Cairo. There have arose in this university (long since you left us without saying any thing) several of these inferior hebdomadal societies, as the Punning Club, the Witty Club, and amongst the rest, the Handsome Club; as a burlesque upon which, a certain merry species, that seem to have come into the world in masquerade, for some years last passed have asso ciated themselves together, and assumed the name of the Ugly Club. This ill-favoured fraternity consists of a president and twelve fellows; the choice of which is not confined by patent to any particular foundation (as St. John's men would have the world believe, and have therefore erected a separate society within themselves), but liberty is left to elect from any school in Great Britain, provided the candidates be within the rules of the club, as set forth in a table, intituled, The Act of Deformity: a clause or two of which I shall transmit to you.
." 1. That no person whatsoever shall be admitted without a visible queerity in his aspect, or peculiar cast of countenance; of which the president and officers for the time being are to determine, and the president to have the casting voice.
“2. That a singular regard be had upon examination, to the gibbosity of the gentlemen that offer themselves as founder's kinsmen; or to the obliquity of their figure, in what sort soever.
"3. That if the quantity of any man's nose be eminently miscalculated, whether as to length or breadth, he shall have a just pretence to be elected.
“ Lastly. That if there shall be two or more competitors for the same vacancy, cæteris paribus, he that has the thickest skin to have the preference.
Every fresh member, upon his first night, is to entertain the company with a dish of cod fish, and a speech in praise of Æsop; whose portraiture they have in full proportion, or rather disproportion, over the chimney; and their design is, as soon as their funds are sufficient, to purchase the heads of Thersites, Duns Scotus, Scarron, Hudibras, and the old gentleman in Oldham, with all the celebrated ill faces of antiquity, as furniture for the club-room.
“ As they have always been professed admirers of the other sex, so they unanimously declare that they will give all possible en: couragement to such as will take the benefit of the statute, though none yet have appeared to do it.
The worthy president, who is their most devoted champion, has lately shewn me two copies of verses composed by a gentleman of this society; the first, a congratulatory ode, inscribed to Mrs.
Touchwood, upon the loss of her two foreteeth ; the other, a pane gyric upon Mrs. Andiron's left shoulder. Mrs. Vizard (he says), since the small-pox, is grown tolerably ugly, and a top toast in the club; but I never heard him so lavish of his fine things, as upon old Nell Trot, who constantly officiates at their table; her he even adores and extols as the very counterpart of Mother Shipton; in short, Nell (says he) is one of the extraordinary works of nature; but as for complexion, shape, and features, so valued by others, they are all mere outside and symmetry, which is his aversion. Give me leave to add, that the president is a facetious pleasant gentleman, and never more so, than when he has got (as he calls them) bis dear mummers about him; and he often protests it does him good to meet a fellow with a right genuine grimace in his air (which is so agreeable in the generality of the French nation); and as an instance of his sincerity in this par ticular, he gave me a sight of a list in bis pocket-book of all this class, who for these five years have fallen under his observation; with himself at the head of them, and in the rear (as one of a promising and improving aspect),
“Sir, your obliged and ble servant, "Oxford, March 12, 1710."
No 18. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21, 1710-11.
Equitis quoque jam migravit ab aure voluptas
HOR. 2. EP. i. 187.
CREECH. Ir is my design in this paper to deliver down to posterity a faithful account of the Italian opera, and of the gradual progress which it has made upon the English stage; for there is no question bat our great grandchildren will be very curious to know the reason why their forefathers used to sit together like an audience of foreigners in their own country, and to hear whole plays acted before them, in a tongue which they did not understand.
Arsinoe was the first opera that gave us a taste of Italian Dosie. The great success this opera met with produced some attempts of forming pieces upon Italian plans, which should give a more natural and reasonable entertainment than what can be met with in the elaborate trifles of that nation. This alarmed the poetasters and fiddlers of the town, who were used to deal in a more ordinary kind of ware; and therefore laid down an established rule, which is received as such to this day, “That nothing is capable of being well set to music, that is not nonsense.”
This maxim was no sooner received, but we immediately fell to translating the Italian operas; and as there was no great danger of hurting the sense of those extraordinary pieces, our authors would often make words of their own which were entirely foreign to the meaning of the passages they pretended to transl
; their ehief care being to make the numbers of the English verse answer to those of the Italian, that both of them might go to the same tune. Thus the famous song in Camilla
“ Barbara si ť intendo, &c.”
“ Barbarous woman, yes, I know your meaning.” which expresses the resentments of an angry lover, was translated into that English lamentation
“Frail are a lover's hopes, &c." And it was pleasant enough to see the most refined persons of the British nation dying away and languishing to notes that were filled with a spirit of rage and indignation. It happened also
very frequently, where the sense was rightly translated, the necessary transposition of words, which were drawn out of the phrase of one tongue into that of another, made the music appear very absurd in one tongue that was very natural in the other. I remember an Italian verse that runs thus, word for word
“And turn'd my rage into pity;" which the English for rhyme sake translated,
“And into pity turn'd my rage." By this means the soft notes that were adapted to pity in the Italian, fell upon the word rage in the English ; and the angry sounds that were turned to rage in the original, were made to express pity in the translation. It oftentimes happened likewise, that the finest notes in the air fell upon the most insignificant words in the sentence. I have known the word " and” pursued through the whole gamut, have been entertained with many a melodious “the," and have heard the most beautiful graces, quavers, and divisions bestowed upon “then, for, and from;" to the eternal honour of our English particles.
The next step to our refinement, was the introducing of Italian actors into our opera, who sung their parts in their own language, at the same time that our countrymen performed theirs in our native tongue. The king or hero of the play generally spoke in Italian, and bis slaves answered him in English. The lover frequently made his court, and gained the heart of his princess, in a language which she did not understand. One would have thought it very difficult to have carried on dialogues after this manner without an interpreter between the persons that conversed together; but this was the state of the English stage for about three years.
At length the audience grew tired of understanding half the opera; and therefore, to ease themselves entirely of the fatigue of thinking, have so ordered it at present, that the whole opera is performed in an unknown tongue. We no longer understand the language of our own stage; insomuch that I have often been afraid, when I have seen our Italian performers chattering in the vehemence of action, that they have been calling us names, and abusing us among themselves; but I hope, since we do put such an entire confidence in them, they will not talk against us before our faces, though they may do it with the same safety as if it were behind our backs. In the mean time, I cannot forbear thinking how naturally an historian who writes two or three hundred years bence, and does not know the taste of his wise forefathers, will make the following reflection :-“In the beginning of the
eighteenth century, the Italian tongue was so well understood in England, that operas were acted on the public stage in that language."
One scarce knows how to be serious in the confutation of an absurdity that shows itself at the first sight. It does not want any great measure of sense to see the ridicule of this monstrous practice; but what makes it the more astonishing, it is not the taste of the rabble, but of persons of the greatest politeness, which has established it.
If the Italians have a genius for music above the English, the English have a genius for other performances of a much higher Dature, and capable of giving the mind a much nobler entertainment. Would one think it was possible (at a time when an author lived that was able to write the Phædra and Hippolitus) for a people to be so stupidly fond of the Italian opera, as scarce to give a third day's hearing to that admirable tragedy? Music is certainly a very agreeable entertainment; but if it would take the entire possession of our ears, if it would make us incapable of bearing sense, if it would exclude arts that have a much greater tendency to the refinement of human nature; I must confess I Fould allow it no better quarter than Plato has done, who banishes it out of his commonwealth.
At present our notions of music are so very uncertain, that we do not know what it is we like; only in general, we are transported with any thing that is not English: so if it be of a foreign growth, let it be Italian, French, or High Dutch, it is the same thing. In short, our English music is quite rooted out, and nothing yet planted in its stead.
When a royal palace is burnt to the ground, every man is at liberty to present his plan for a new one; and though it be but indifferently put together, it may furnish several hints that may be of use to a good architect. I shall take the same liberty in a following paper, of giving my opinion upon the subject of music; which I shall lay down only in a problematical manner, to be considered by those who are masters in the art. ADDISON.
No. 19. THURSDAY, MARCH, 22, 1710-11.
Di bene fece nt, inopis me quod pusilli
HOR. 1. sat. iv, 17.