« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
as upon old Nell Trot, who constantly offi-
Your obliged and humble servant, 'ALEXANDER CARBUNCLE. 'Oxford, March 12, 1710.'
No. 18.] Wednesday, March 21, 1710-11.
-Equitis quoque jam migravit ab aure voluptas Omnis ad incertos oculos, et gaudia vana.
Hor. Lib. 2. Ep. i. 187.
-But now our nobles too are fops and vain, Neglect the sense, but love the painted scene.
make words of their own, which were entirely foreign to the meaning of the passages they pretended to translate; their chief 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:
cess 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 these extraordinary pieces, our authors would often
'Barbara si t' intendo, &c.
'Barbarous woman, yes, I know your meaning;'
which expresses the resentments of an angry lover, was translated into that English lamentation:
'And into pity turn'd my rage;"
By this means the soft notes that were
It 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;
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
for there is no question but our great grand-translation. It oftentimes happened, likechildren will be very curious to know the wise, that the finest notes in the air fell reason why their forefathers used to sit upon the most insignificant words in the together like an audience of foreigners in sentence. I have known the word And acted before them in a tongue which they The, and have heard the most beautiful their own country, and to hear whole plays pursued through the whole gamut, have been entertained with many a melodicus graces, quavers, and divisions, bestowed
did not understand.
* Arsinoe, queen of Cyprus, an opera, after the Italian manner, by Thomas Clayton. It was first performed
at the Royal, in 1707.
'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 ran thus, word for word:
'And turn'd my rage into pity;"
which the English for rhyme sake translated,
Arsinoe was the first opera that gave us
a taste of Italian music.* The great suc-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 cur 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 his slaves answered him in English. The lover frequently made his in a language which she did not understand. court, and gained the heart of his princess, One would have thought it very difficult to have carried on dialogues after this manner without an interpreter between the perthe state of the English stage for about three sons that conversed together; but this was years.
At length the audience grew tired of unto ease themselves entirely of the fatigue derstanding half the opera; and therefore 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 No. 19.] Thursday, March 22, 1710–11. 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 a historian who writes two or three hundred years hence, 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.
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 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.
opinion upon the subject of music; which I
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
The envious man is in pain upon all oc
If the Italians have a genius for music above the English, the English have a genius for other performances of a much higher nature, 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 hear-casions which ought to give him pleasure. ing sense, if it would exclude arts that The relish of his life is inverted; and the have a much greater tendency to the re-objects which administer the highest satisfinement of human nature; I must confess faction to those who are exempt from this I would allow it no better quarter than passion, give the quickest pangs to persons Plato has done, who banishes it out of his who are subject to it. All the perfections commonwealth. of their fellow-creatures are odious. Youth, beauty, valour, and wisdom are provocations of their displeasure. What a wretched and apostate state is this! to be offended with excellence, and to hate a man because we approve him! The condition of the envious man is the most emphatically miserable; he is not only incapable of rejoicing in another's merit or success, but lives in a world wherein all mankind are in a plot against his quiet, by studying their own happiness and advantage. Will Prosper is an honest tale-bearer, he makes it his business to join in conversation with envious men. He points to such a handsome young fellow, and whispers that he is secretly married to a great fortune. When they doubt, he adds circumstances to prove it; and never fails to aggravate their distress, by assuring them, that to his knowledge,
* Phædra and Hippolitus, a tragedy, by Edmund
Smith, first acted in 1707.
Di bene fecerunt, inopis me quodque pusilli
OBSERVING one person behold another, who was an utter stranger to him, with a cast of his eye which, methought, expressed an emotion of heart very different from what could be raised by an object so agreeable as the gentleman he looked at, I began to consider, not without some secret sorrow, the condition of an envious man. Some have fancied that envy has a certain magical force in it, and that the eyes of the envious have by their fascination blasted the enjoyments of the happy. Sir Francis Bacon says, some have been so curicus as to remark the times and seasons when the stroke of an envious eye is most effectually pernicious, and have observed that it has been when the person envied has been in any circumstance of glory and triumph. At such a time the mind of the prosperous man goes, as it were, abroad, among things without him, and is more exposed to the malignity. But I shall not dwell upon speculations so abstracted as this, or repeat the many excellent things which one might collect out of authors upon this miserable affection; but, keeping the common road of life, consider the envious man with relation to these three heads, his pains, his reliefs, and his happiness.
ne has an uncle will leave him some thou- | am not mistaken in myself, I think I have
-Κωνος ομματ' έχων.
The reliefs of the envious man are those beauty. This, I hope, may give some ease little blemishes and imperfections that dis- to those unhappy gentlemen who do me the cover themselves in an illustrious charac-honour to torment themselves upon the acter. It is a matter of great consolation to an count of this my paper. As their case is envious person, when a man of known honour very deplorable, and deserves compassion, does a thing unworthy himself, or when any I shall sometimes be dull, in pity to them, action which was well executed, upon bet- and will, from time to time, administer ter information appears so altered in its cir- consolations to them by further discoveries cumstances, that the fame of it is divided of my person. In the meanwhile, if any among many, instead of being attributed to one says the Spectator has wit, it may be one. This is a secret satisfaction to these some relief to them to think that he does malignants; for the person whom they be- not show it in company. And if any one fore could not but admire, they fancy is praises_his_morality, they may comfort nearer their own condition as soon as his themselves by considering that his face is merit is shared among others. I remember none of the longest. R. some years ago there came out an excellent poem without the name of the author. The little wits, who were incapable of writing No. 20.] Friday, March 23, 1710-11. it, began to pull in pieces the supposed writer. When that would not do, they took great pains to suppress the opinion that it was his. That again failed. The next refuge was to say it was overlooked by one man, and many pages wholly written by another. An honest fellow, who sat amongst a cluster of them in debate on this subject, cried out, Gentlemen, if you are sure none of you yourselves had a hand in it, you are but where you were, whoever writ it.' But the most usual succour to the envious, in cases of nameless merit in this kind, is to keep the property, if possible, unfixed, and by that means to hinder the reputation of it from falling upon any particular person. You see an envious man clear up his countenance, if in the relation of any man's great happiness in one point, you mention his uneasiness in another. When he hears such a one is very rich he turns pale, but recovers when you add that he has many children. In a word, the only sure way to an envious man's favour, is not to deserve it.
Hom. Il. i. 225.
Having thoroughly considered the nature of this passion, I have made it my study how to avoid the envy that may accrue to me from these my speculations; and if I
Thou dog in forehead!
AMONG the other hardy undertakings
'There never was (I believe) an acceptable man but had some awkward imitators. Ever since the Spectator appeared, have I remarked a kind of men, whom I choose to call Starers; that without any regard to
But if we consider the envious man in delight, it is like reading of the seat of a giant in a romance; the magnificence of his house consists in the many limbs of men whom he has slain. If any who promised themselves success in any uncommon un-time, place, or modesty, disturb a large dertaking miscarry in the attempt, or he company with their impertinent eyes. Specthat aimed at what would have been useful tators make up a proper assembly for a and laudable, meets with contempt and de- puppet-show or a bear-garden; but devout rision, the envious man, under the colour supplicants and attentive hearers are the of hating vainglory, can smile with an in- audience one ought to expect in churches. ward wantonness of heart at the ill effect it I am, sir, member of a small pious congremay have upon an honest ambition for the gation near one of the north gates of this future. city; much the greater part of us indeed are females, and used to behave ourselves in a regular and attentive manner, till very lately one whole aisle has been disturbed by one of these monstrous Starers; he is
the head taller than any one in the church; but for the greater advantage of exposing himself, stands upon a hassock, and commands the whole congregation, to the great annoyance of the devoutest part of the auditory; for what with blushing, confusion, and vexation, we can neither mind the prayers or sermon. Your animadversion upon this insolence would be a great favour to, Sir,
outlaw in good breeding, and therefore
I cannot tell how to account for it, but these people have usually the preference to our own fools, in the opinion of the sillier part of womankind. Perhaps it is that an English coxcomb is seldom so obsequious as an Irish one; and when the design of pleasing is visible, an absurdity in the way toward it is easily forgiven.
But those who are downright impudent, and go on without reflection that they are such, are more to be tolerated, than a set of fellows among us who profess impudence with an air of humour, and think to carry off the most inexcusable of all faults in the world, with no other apology than saying in a gay tone, I put an impudent face upon the matter.' No; no man shall be allowed the advantages of impudence, who is conscious that he is such. If he knows he is impudent, he may as well be otherwise; and it shall be expected that he blush, when he sees he makes another do it. For nothing can atone for the want of modesty: without which beauty is ungraceful, and wit detestable.
Your most humble servant, 'S. C.' I have frequently seen of this sort of fellows, and do think there cannot be a greater aggravation of an offence, than that it is committed where the criminal is protected by the sacredness of the place which he violates. Many reflections of this sort might be very justly made upon this kind of behaviour, but a Starer is not usually a person to be convinced by the reason of the thing; and a fellow that is capable of showing an impudent front before a whole congregation, and can bear being a public spectacle, is not so easily rebuked as to amend by admonitions. If, therefore, my correspondent does not inform me that within seven days after this date the barbarian does at least stand upon his own legs only, without an eminence, my friend Will Prosper has promised to take a hassock opposite to him, and stare against him in defence of the ladies. I have given him directions, according to the most exact rules of optics, to place himself in such a manner, that he shall meet his eyes wherever he throws them. I have hopes that when Will confronts him, and all the ladies, in whose behalf he engages him, cast kind looks and wishes of success at their champion, he will have some shame, and feel a fittle of the pain he has so often put others to, of being out of countenance.
It has, indeed, been time out of mind generally remarked, and as often lamented, that this family of Starers have infested public assemblies. I know no other way to obviate so great an evil, except, in the case of fixing their eyes upon women, some male friend will take the part of such as are under the oppression of impudence, and encounter the eyes of the Starers wherever they meet them. While we suffer our women to be thus impudently attacked, they have no defence, but in the end to cast yielding glances at the Starers. In this case, a man who has no sense of shame, has the same advantage over his mistress, as he who has no regard for his own life has over his adversary. While the generality of the world are fettered by rules, and move by proper and just methods; he, who has no respect to any of them, carries away the reward due to that propriety of behaviour, with no other merit, but that of having neglected it.
I take an impudent fellow to be a sort of
* See Spect. No. 19.
No. 21.] Saturday, March 24, 1710-11.
-Locus est et pluribus umbris. Hor. Lib. 1. Ep. v. 28. There's room enough, and each may bring his friend. Creech. I AM Sometimes very much troubled, when I reflect upon the three great profes
sions of divinity, law, and physic; how they are each of them overburdened with practitioners, and filled with multitudes of ingenious gentlemen that starve one another. We may divide the clergy into generals, field officers, and subalterns. Among the first we may reckon bishops, deans, and archdeacons Among the second are doctors of divinity, prebendaries, and all that wear scarfs. The rest are comprehended under the subalterns. As for the first class, our constitution preserves it from any redundancy of incumbents, notwithstanding competitors are numberless. Upon a strict calculation, it is found that there has been a great exceeding of late years in the second division, several brevets have been granted for the converting of subalterns into scarfofficers; insomuch, that within my memory the price of lutestring is raised above twopence in a yard. As for the subalterns, they are not to be numbered. Should our clergy once enter into the corrupt practice of the laity, by the splitting of their freeholds, they would be able to carry most of the elections in England.
The body of the law is no less incumbered with superfluous members, that are like Virgil's army, which he tells us was so crowded, many of them had not room to use their weapons. This prodigious society of men may be divided into the litigious and peaceable. Under the first are comprehended all those who are carried down in coachfuls to Westminster-hall, every morning in term time. Martial's description of this species of lawyers is full of humour:
⚫ Iras et verba locant.'
house more than Westminster-hall, and are seen in all public assemblies, except in a court of justice. I shall say nothing of those silent and busy multitudes that are employed within doors in the drawing up of writings and conveyances; nor of those greater numbers that palliate their want of business with a pretence to such chamber practice.
The peaceable lawyers are, in the first place, many of the benchers of the several inns of court, who seem to be the dignitaries of the law, and are endowed with those qualifications of mind that accomplish a man rather for a ruler than a pleader. These men live peaceably in their habitations, eating once a day, and dancing once a year, for the honour of their respective
'Men that hire out their words and anger:' that are more or less passionate according as they are paid for it, and allow their client a quantity of wrath proportionable to the fee which they receive from him. I must, however, observe to the reader, that above three parts of those whom I reckon among the litigious are such as are only quarrelsome in their hearts, and have no opportunity of showing their passion at the bar. Nevertheless, as they do not know what strifes may arise, they appear at the When I consider how each of these prohall every day, that they may show them-fessions are crowded with multitudes that selves in a readiness to enter the lists, when-seek their livelihood in them, and how ever there shall be occasion for them. many men of merit there are in each of them, who may be rather said to be of the science, than the profession, I very much wonder at the humour of parents, who will not rather choose to place their sons in a way of life where an honest industry cannot but thrive, than in stations where the greatest probity, learning, and good sense may miscarry. How many men are country curates, that might have made themselves aldermen of London, by a right improvement of a smaller sum of money than what is usually laid out upon a learned education? A sober, frugal person, of slender parts, and a slow apprehension, might have thrived in trade, though he starves upon physic; as a man would be well enough pleased to buy
Another numberless branch of peaceable lawyers are those young men who, being placed at the inns of court in order to study the laws of their country, frequent the play
* See Dugdale's Origines Juridiciales.
If, in the third place, we look into the profession of physic, we shall find a most formidable body of men. The sight of them is encugh to make a man serious, for we may lay it down as a maxim, that when a nation abounds in physicians, it grows thin of people. Sir William Temple is very much puzzled to find out a reason why the Northern Hive, as he calls it, does not send out such prodigious swarms, and over-run the world with Geths and Vandals, as it did formerly; but had that excellent author observed that there were no students in physic among the subjects of Thor and Woden, and that this science very much flourishes in the north at present, he might have found a better solution for this difficulty than any of those he has made use of. This body of men in our own country may be described like the British army in Cæsar's time. Some of them slay in chariots, and some on foot. If the infantry do less execution than the charioteers, it is because they cannot be carried so soon into all quarters of the town, and despatch so much business in so short a time. Besides this body of regular troops, there are stragglers, who without being duly listed and enrolled, do infinite mischief to those who are so unlucky as to fall into their hands.
There are, besides the above-mentioned, innumerable retainers to physic, who, for want of other patients, amuse themselves with the stifling of cats in an air-pump, cutting up dogs alive, or impaling of insects upon the point of a needle for microscopical observations; besides those that are employed in the gathering of weeds, and the chase of butterflies: not to mention the cockleshell-merchants and spider-catchers.