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unable to proceed with his part for some moments.
THEATRE OF PUPPETS.
Among other sights in Milan," says a traveller, “ I went to Girolamo's Theatre of Puppets (Les Marionettes), and laughed more than at any exhibition I ever beheld. You may, pero: haps, think this entertainment was childish enough. But you don't know it; nor have you
; ever seen any thing like it, nor any thing so superlatively ridiculous. The puppets were about five feet, or, perhaps, less in height: and Girolamo, the master and owner of the Theatre, was the animating soul and voice of these grotesque images. He had to speak and modulate his voice to the characters of nine or ten different dramatis persone, male and female. He was, of course, invisible.
“ After an overture from a most miserable orchestra, in which there was neither time nor tune, nor any thing like tolerable music, the curtain, on which was a very clever painting, drew up, and a little deformed black, in a suit of
a brown, with scarlet stockings, and an immense cocked hat, moved forward upon the stage, and began a soliloquy, which was interrupted by the
entrance of another strange figure, a female, who entered into a smart dialogue with the little black, whose gestures, grimaces, and contortions of limb, were amazingly absurd, although perfectly in unison, in point of tune and Italian manner, with the recitation, which seemed to proceed from his inflexible lips. Had it not been for a certain awkward rigidity in their sidelong motions, when moving from one part of the stage to another, and for the visibility of the wire attached to their heads, and descending from the roof above the stage, one might have been deceived, for a short time, into a belief of the existence of these strange personages. They walked about very clumsily, to be sure; but then, they bowed and curtsied, and flourished with their arms, and twisted themselves about with as much energy and propriety of effect, as most of those living puppets who infest the stages of the little Theatres in London.
“ There were also two skeletons, who played their parts admirably. They glided about, and accompanied their hollow-voiced speeches with excellent gesticulations, while their fleshless jaws moved quite naturally. Then, to crown all, there was a ballet of about a dozen
of these puppets; and they danced with all the agility of Vestris, and cut much higher than he ever did in his life. They actually did cut extremely well in the air. All the airs and graces of the French opera-dancers, their pirouettes, spinning round with an horizontal leg, &c., were admirably quizzed. One of these dancers, dressed like a Dutchman, stopped short, after a few capers; and, drawing a snuff-box from his pocket, took a pinch; then replaced the box, and set off again with a most exalted example of the entrechat. His partner helped herself, from a pocket pistol, to a dram, and then recommenced her furious exertion !"
The late amiable Mr. T. Warton, being at Winchester, on a visit to his brother, was solicited by a company of comedians, who performed over the butchers' shambles, to write a suitable prologue for the commencement of their theatrical campaign. How well he succeeded, in apt allusion and genuine humour, there can be but one opinion.
« Whoe'er our stage examines, must excuse
Then kindly listen, while the prologue rambles
Divided only by one flight of stairs,
Hard is our lot, who, seldom doom'd to eat,
But would ye to our house in crowds repair, Ye generous captains, and ye blooming fair,
The fate of Tantalus we should not fear,
GARRICK'S READING BEFORE ROYALTY.
In the year 1777, Garrick was desired to read a Play before the King and Queen, at Buckingham House, in the manner of Monsieur Le Texier, who had obtained great reputation by reading them sitting at a table, and acting there as he went on. Garrick fixed
his own Farce of “ Lethe,” in which he introduced, for the occasion, the character of an ungrateful Jew. There were present the King, Queen, Princess Royal, Duchess of Argyle, and one or two more of the Ladies in waiting; but the coldness with which this select party heard him, so opposite to the applause he had always been used to on the stage, had such an effect upon him, as to prevent his exertions, or, to use Mr. G.'s own words in relating the circumstance, “it was (said he) as if they had thrown a wet blanket over me.”
In the dialogue part of one of Dibdin's entertainments, he observes something about fiddlers