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ful purpose of life, what I would propose should be, that we imitated those wise nations wherein every man learns some handicraft-work.-Would it not employ a beau, prettily enough, if, instead of eternally playing with a snuff-box, he spent some part of his time in making one? Such a method as this would very much conduce to the public emolument, by making every man living good for something; for there would then be no one member of human society, but would have some little pretension for some degree in it; like him who came to Will's coffee-house, upon the merit of having writ a posy of a ring. R.
No.44.] Friday, April 20, 1711.
Tu quid ego, et populus mecum desideret, audi.
AMONG the several artifices which are put in practice by the poets to fill the minds of an audience with terror, the first place is due to thunder and lightning, which are often made use of at the descending of a god, or the rising of a ghost, at the vanishing of a devil, or at the death of a tyrant. I have known a bell introduced into several tragedies with good effect; and have seen the whole assembly in a very great alarm all the while it has been ringing. But there is nothing which delights and terrifies our English theatre so much as a ghost, especially when he appears in a bloody shirt. A spectre has very often saved a play, though he has done nothing but stalked across the stage, or rose through a cleft of it, and sunk again without speaking one word. There may be a proper season for these several terrors; and when they only come in as aids and assistances to the poet, they are not only to be excused, but to be applauded. Thus the sounding of the clock in Venice Preserved, makes the hearts of the whole audience quake; and conveys a stronger terror to the mind than it is possible for words to do. The appearance of the ghost in Hamlet is a master-piece in its kind, and wrought up with all the circumstances that can create either attention or horror. The mind of the reader is wonderfully prepared for his reception by the discourses that precede it. His dumb behaviour at his first entrance, strikes the imagination very strongly; but every time he enters, he is still more terrifying. Who can read the speech with which young Hamlet accosts him, without trembling.
Hor. Look, my lord, it comes!
'Ham. Angels and ministers of grace defend us! Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd;
Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
I do not therefore find fault with the artifices above mentioned, when they are introduced with skill, and accompanied by proportionable sentiment and expressions in the writing.
For the moving of pity, our principle machine is the handkerchief: and indeed in our common tragedies, we should not know very often that the persons are in distress by any thing they say, if they did not from time to time apply their handkerchiefs to their eyes. Far be it from me to think of banishing this instrument of sorrow from the stage; I know a tragedy could not subsist without it: all that I would contend for, is to keep it from being misapplied. In a word, I would have the actor's tongue sympathize with his eyes.
A disconsolate mother, with a child in her hand, has frequently drawn compassion from the audience, and has therefore gained a place in several tragedies. A modern writer, that observed how this had took in other plays, being resolved to double the distress, and melt his audience twice as much as those before him had done, brought a princess upon the stage with a little boy in one hand, and a girl in the other. This too had a very good effect. A third poet being resolved to outwrite all his predecessors, a few years ago introduced three children with great success: and, as I am informed, a young gentleman, who is fully determined to break the most obdurate hearts, has a tragedy by him, where the first person that appears upon the stage is an afflicted widow in her mourning weeds, with half a dozen fatherless children attending her, like those that usually hang about the figure of Charity. Thus several incidents that are beautiful in a good writer, become ridiculous by falling into the hands of a bad one.
But among all our methods of moving pity or terror, there is none so absurd and barbarous, and what more exposes us to the contempt and ridicule of our neighbours, than that dreadful butchering of one another, which is very frequent upon the English stage. To delight in seeing men stabbed, poisoned, racked, or impaled, is certainly the sign of a cruel temper: and as this is often practised before the British audience, several French critics, who think these are grateful spectacles to us, take occasion from them to represent us a people that delight in blood. It is indeed very odd to see our stage strewed with carcases
Bring with thee airs from heav'n, or blasts from hell; in the last scenes of a tragedy; and to ob
Be thy intents wicked or charitable;
Thou com'st in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee. I'll call thee Hamlet,
King, Father, Royal Dane.-Oh! answer me.
Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell
serve in the wardrobe of the playhouse several daggers, poniards, wheels, bowls for poison, and many other instruments of
palace where he had slain his father, whose murder he would revenge in the very same place where it was committed. By this means the poet observes that decency, which Horace afterwards establish
'Nec pueros coram populo Medea trucidet.'
Let not Medea draw her murd'ring knife,
death. Murders and executions are always | before he would despatch him, and by ortransacted behind the scenes in the French dering him to retire into that part of the theatre; which in general is very agreeable to the manners of a polite and civilized people: but as there are no exceptions to this rule on the French stage, it leads them into absurdities almost as ridiculous as that which falls under our present censure. Ied by a rule, of forbearing to commit parremember in the famous play of Corneille, ricides or unnatural murders before the written upon the subject of the Horatii audience. and Curiatii; the fierce young hero who had overcome the Curiatii one after another, (instead of being congratulated by his sister for his victory, being upbraided by her for having slain her lover) in the height of his passion and resentment kills her. If The French have, therefore, refined too any thing could extenuate so brutal an ac- much upon Horace's rule, who never detion, it would be the doing of it on a sudden, signed to banish all kinds of death from the before the sentiments of nature, reason, or stage: but only such as had too much hormanhood could take place in him. How-ror in them, and which would have a better ever, to avoid public bloodshed, as soon as effect upon the audience when transacted his passion is wrought to its height, he behind the scenes. I would therefore refollows his sister to the whole length of the commend to my countrymen the practice of stage, and forbears killing her till they are the ancient poets, who were very sparing of both withdrawn behind the scenes. I must their public executions, and rather chose to confess, had he murdered her before the perform them behind the scenes, if it could audience, the indecency might have been be done with as great an effect upon the augreater; but as it is, it appears very unna-dience. At the same time I must observe, tural, and looks like killing in cold blood. To give my opinion upon this case, the fact ought not to have been represented, but to have been told, if there was any occasion for it.
that though the devoted persons of the
Nec pueros coram populo Medea trucidet;
It may not be unacceptable to the reader to see how Sophocles has conducted a tragedy under the like delicate circumstances. Orestes was in the same condition with Hamlet in Shakspeare, his mother having murdered his father, and taken possession of his kingdom in conspiracy with her adulterer. That young prince, therefore, being determined to revenge his father's death upon those who filled his throne, conveys himself by a beautiful stratagem into his mother's apartment, with a resolution to kill ker. But because such a spectacle would I hate to see, and never can believe.”—Roscommon. have been too shocking to the audience, this dreadful resolution is executed behind the I have now gone through the several scenes: the mother is heard calling out to of by the ignorant poets to supply the place dramatic inventions which are made use her son for mercy; and the son answering
Medea must not draw her murd'ring knife,
ker, that she showed no mercy to his fa- of tragedy, and by the skilful to improve ther; after which she shrieks out she is it; some of which I could wish entirely rewounded, and by what follows we find that jected, and the rest to be used with caushe is slain. I do not remember that in tion. It would be an endless task to conany of our plays there are speeches made sider comedy in the same light, and to behind the scenes, though there are other mention the innumerable shifts that small instances of this nature to be met with in lock in a short coat, and Norris in a long wits put in practice to raise a laugh. Bulthose of the ancients: and I believe my reader will agree with me, that there is one, seldom fail of this effect. In ordinary something infinitely more affecting in this comedies, a broad and a narrow brimmed hat are different characters. Sometimes dreadful dialogue between the mother and her son behind the scenes, than could have the wit of the scene lies in a shoulder belt, been in any thing transacted before the audience. Orestes immediately after meets the usurper at the entrance of his palace; and by a very happy thought of the poet avoids killing him before the audience, by telling him that he should live some time in his present bitterness of soul
and sometimes in a pair of whiskers. A lover running about the stage, with his head peeping out of a barrel, was thought a very good jest in King Charles the Second's time; and invented by one of the
The comedy of The Comical Revenge, or Love in a Tub, by Sir George Etheridge.
first wits of that age. But because ridicule | which looks immodest in the fair sex, that is not so delicate as compassion, and be- I could not forbear taking off my eye from cause the objects that make us laugh are infinitely more numerous than those that make us weep, there is a much greater latitude for comic than tragic artifices, and by consequence a much greater indulgence to be allowed them. C.
The nation is a company of players. THERE is nothing which I desire more than a safe and honourable peace, though at the same time I am very apprehensive of many ill consequences that may attend it. I do not mean in regard to our politics, but to our manners. What an inundation of ribands and brocades will break in upon us? What peals of laughter and impertinence shall we be exposed to? For the prevention of those great evils, I could heartily wish that there was an act of parliament for prohibiting the importation of French fopperies.
The female inhabitants of our island have already received very strong impressions from this ludicrous nation, though by the length of the war (as there is no evil which has not some good attending it) they are pretty well worn out and forgotten. I remember the time when some of our wellbred country-women kept their valet de chambre; because, forsooth, a man was much more handy about them than one of their own sex. I myself have seen one of these male Abigails tripping about the room with a looking-glass in his hand, and combing his lady's hair a whole morning together. Whether or no there was any truth in the story of a lady's being got with child by one of these her hand-maids, I cannot tell; but I think at present the whole race of them is extinct in our own country. About the time that several of our sex were taken into this kind of service, the ladies likewise brought up the fashion of receiving visits in their beds. It was then looked upon as a piece of ill-breeding for a woman to refuse to see a man because she was not stirring; and a porter would have been thought unfit for his place, that could have made so awkward an excuse. As I love to see every thing that is new, I once prevailed upon my friend Will Honeycomb to carry me along with him to one of these travelled ladies, desiring him at the same time to present me as a foreigner who could not speak English, that so I might not be obliged to bear a part in the discourse. The lady, though willing to appear undrest, had put on her best looks, and painted herself for our reception. Her hair appeared in a very nice disorder, as the night-gown which was thrown upon her shoulders was ruffled with great care. For my part, I am so shocked with every thing
her when she moved in bed, and was in the greatest confusion imaginable every time she stirred a leg, or an arm. As the coquettes who introduced this custom grew old, they left it off by degrees; well knowing that a woman of threescore may kick and tumble her heart out, without making any impression.
Sempronia is at present the most professed admirer of the French nation, but is so I modest as to admit her visitants no further than her toilet. It is a very odd sight that beautiful creature makes, when she is talking politics, with her tresses flowing about her shoulders, and examining that face in the glass, which does such execution upon all the male standers-by. How prettily does she divide her discourse between her women and her visitants! What sprightly transitions does she make from an opera or a sermon, to an ivory comb or a pin-cushion! How have I been pleased to see her interrupted in an account of her travels, by a message to her footman; and holding her tongue in the midst of a moral reflection, by applying the tip of it to a patch.
There is nothing which exposes a woman to greater dangers, than that gayety and airiness of temper, which are natural to most of the sex. It should be therefore the concern of every wise and virtuous woman to keep this sprightliness from degenerating into levity. On the contrary, the whole discourse and behaviour of the French is to make the sex more fantastical, or (as they are pleased to term it) more awakened, than is consistent either with virtue or discretion. To speak loud in public assemblies, to let every one hear you talk of things that should only be mentioned in private, or in whisper, are looked upon as parts of a refined education. At the same time, a blush is unfashionable, and silence more ill-bred than any thing that can be spoken. In short, discretion and modesty, which in all other ages and countries have been regarded as the greatest ornaments of the fair sex, are considered as the ingredients of narrow conversation, and family behaviour.
Some years ago I was at the tragedy of Macbeth, and unfortunately placed myself under a woman of quality that is since dead; who as I found by the noise she made was newly returned from France. A little before the rising of the curtain, she broke out into a loud soliloquy, 'When will the dear witches enter?' and immediately upon their first appearance, asked a lady that sat three boxes from her on her right hand, if those witches were not charming creatures. A little after, as Betterton was in one of the finest speeches of the play, she shook her fan at another lady, who sat as far on her left hand, and told her with a whisper that might be heard all over the pit, 'We must not expect to see Balloon to-night.' Not
long after, calling out to a young baronet confusion, raving and inconsistency. In by his name, who sat three seats before short, they are my speculations in the me, she asked him whether Macbeth's wife first principles, that (like the world in its was still alive; and before he could give an chaos) are void of all light, distinction, and answer, fell a talking of the ghost of Ban- order. quo. She had by this time formed a little audience to herself, and fixed the attention of all about her. But as I had a mind to hear the play, I got out of the sphere of her impertinence, and planted myself in one of the remotest corners of the pit.
About a week since there happened to me a very odd accident, by reason of one of these my papers of minutes which I had accidentally dropped at Lloyd's coffee-house, where the auctions are usually kept. Before I missed it, there were a cluster of people who had found it, and were diverting themselves with it at one end of the coffee-house. It had raised so much laughter among them before I had observed what they were about, that I had not the courage to own it. The boy of the coffee-house, when they had done with it, carried it about in his hand, asking every body if they had dropped a written paper; but nobody chal
This pretty childishness of behaviour is one of the most refined parts of coquetry, and is not to be attained in perfection by ladies that do not travel for their improvement. A natural and unconstrained behaviour has something in it so agreeable, that it is no wonder to see people endeavouring after it. But at the same time it is so very hard to hit, when it is not born with us, that people often make themselves ridicu-lenging it, he was ordered by those merry lous in attempting it.
A very ingenious French author tells us, that the ladies of the court of France, in his time, thought it ill-breeding, and a kind of female pedantry, to pronounce a hard word right: for which reason they took frequent occasion to use hard words, that they might show a politeness in murdering them. He further adds, that a lady of some quality at court having accidently made use of a hard werd in a proper place, and pronounced it right, the whole assembly was out of countenance for her.
I must however be so just as to own that there are many ladies who have travelled several thousands of miles without being the worse for it, and have brought home with them all the modesty, discretion, and good sense, that they went abroad with. As on the contrary, there are great numbers of travelled ladies who have lived all their days within the smoke of London. I have known a woman that never was out of the parish of St. James's betray as many foreign fopperies in her carriage, as she could have gleaned up in half the countries of Europe. C.
gentlemen who had perused it, to get up into the auction pulpit, and read it to the whole room, that if any one would own it, they might. The boy accordingly mounted the pulpit, and with a very audible voice read as follows:
Sir Roger de Coverley's country-seatYes, for I hate long speeches-Query, if a good Christian may be a conjurer-Childermas-day, saltseller, house-dog, screechowl, cricket-Mr. Thomas Inkle of London, in the good ship called the Achilles Yarico Egrescitque medendo-Ghosts The Lady's Library-Lion by trade a tailor-Dromedary called Bucephalus-Equipage the lady's summum bonum-Charles Lillie to be taken notice of Short face a relief to envy-Redundancies in the three professions-King Latinus a recruit-Jew devouring a ham of bacon-Westminsterabbey-Grand Cairo-Procrastination— April fools-Blue boars, red lions, hogs in armour-Enter a King and two Fiddlers salus-Admission into the Ugly ClubBeauty how improveable-Families of true and false humour-The parrot's schoolmistress-Face half Pict half British-No man to be a hero of a tragedy under six feet-Club of sighers-Letters from flowerpots, elbow-chairs, tapestry, figures, lion, thunder-The bell rings to the puppetThe jarring seeds of ill-concerted things. show-Old woman with a beard married WHEN I want materials for this paper, to a smock-faced boy-My next coat to be it is my custom to go abroad in quest of turned up with blue-Fable of tengs and game; and when I meet any proper sub- gridiron Flower dyers--The Soldier's jert, I take the first opportunity of setting prayer-Thank ye for nothing, says the down a hint upon paper. At the same galley-pot-Pactolus in stockings with goltime I look into the letters of my corres- den clocks to them-Bamboos, cudgels, pondents, and if I find any thing suggested drum-sticks-Slip of my lady's eldest in them that may afford matter of specula- daughter-The black mare with a star in tion, I likewise enter a minute of it in my her forehead-The barber's pole-Will collection of materials. By this means I Honeycomb's coat-pocket-Casar's behafrequently carry about me a whole sheet-viour and my own in parallel circumstances ful of hints, that would look like a rhap--Poein in patch-work—Nulli gravis est sody of nonsense to any body but myself. percussus Achilles-The female conventi There is nothing in them but obscurity and cler-The ogle-master.
No.46.] Monday, April 23, 1711.
Non bene junctarum discordia semina rerum.
sermon pop-gun, repeating and discharg ing texts, proofs, and applications, so perpetually, that however weary I may go to bed, the noise in my head will not let me sleep till towards morning. The misery of my case, and great numbers of such sufferers, plead your pity and speedy relief; otherwise must expect, in a little time, to be lectured, preached, and prayed into want, unless the happiness of being sooner talked to death prevent it. I am, &c.
The second letter, relating to the oglingmaster, runs thus:
The reading of this paper made the ner, unless when the preacher is to be at it. whole coffee-house very merry; some of With him come a tribe, all brothers and them concluded it was written by a mad-sisters it seems; while others really such, man; and others by somebody that had been are deemed no relations. If at any time I taking notes out of the Spectator. One have her company alone, she is a mere who had the appearance of a very substantial citizen, told us, with several political winks and nods, that he wished there was no more in the paper than was expressed in it: that for his part, he looked upon the dromedary, the gridiron, and the barber's pole to signify something more than what was usually meant by those words: and that he thought the coffee-man could not do better than to carry the paper to one of the secretaries of state. He further added, that he did not like the name of the outlandish man with the golden clock in his stockings. A young Oxford scholar, who chanced to be with his uncle at the coffeehouse, discovered to us who this Pactolus was; and by that means turned the whole scheme of this worthy citizen into ridicule. While they were making their several conjectures upon this innocent paper, I reached out my arm to the boy as he was coming out of the pulpit, to give it me; which he did accordingly. This drew the eyes of the whole company upon me; but after having cast a cursory glance over it, and shook my head twice or thrice at the reading of it, I twisted it into a kind of match, and lighted my pipe with it. My profound silence, together with the steadiness of my countenance, and the gravity of my behaviour during this whole transaction, raised a very loud laugh on all sides of me; but as I had escaped all suspicion of being the author, I was very well satisfied, and applying myself to my pipe and the Postman, took no further notice of any thing that had passed about me.
'MR. SPECTATOR, ---I am an Irish gentleman that have travelled many years for my improvement; during which time I have accomplished myself in the whole art of ogling, as it is at present_practised in the polite nations of Europe. Being thus qualified, I intend, by the advice of my friends, to set up for an ogling-master. I the play-house ogle by candle-light. teach the church-ogle in the morning, and have also brought over with me a new flying ogle fit for the ring; which I teach in the dusk of the evening, or in any hour of I have a manuscript by me called The the day, by darkening one of my windows. Complete Ogler, which I shall be ready to beg you will publish the substance of this show you on any occasion. In the mean time letter in an advertisement, and you will very much oblige, Yours, &c.'
My reader will find, that I have already No. 47.] Tuesday, April 24, 1711. made use of above half the contents of the Ride si sapisforegoing paper: and will easily suppose, Laugh, if you are wise. that those subjects which are yet untouchMR. HOBBS,* in his Discourse of Human ed, were such provisions as I had made for Nature, which, in my humble opinion, is his future entertainment. But as I have much the best of all his works, after some been unluckily prevented by this accident, very curious observations upon laughter, I shall only give him the letters which re- concludes thus: "The passion of laughter lated to the two last hints. The first of is nothing else but sudden glory arising them I should not have published, were I from some sudden conception of some eminot informed that there is many a hus-nency in ourselves, by comparison with band who suffers very much in his private the infirmity of others, or with our own affairs by the indiscreet zeal of such a part- formerly; for men laugh at the follies of ner as is hereafter mentioned; to whom I may apply the barbarous inscription quoted by the Bishop of Salisbury in his travels; Dum nimis pia est facta est impia :'--Through too much piety she became impious.'
themselves past, when they come suddenly to remembrance, except they bring with them any present dishonour.'
According to this author, therefore, when we hear a man laugh excessively, instead of saying he is very merry, we ought to tell him he is very proud. And indeed, if we
*Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury. "He is commonly
'SIR,---I am one of those unhappy men that are plagued with a gospel-gossip, represented," says Granger, "as a sceptic in religion, so common among dissenters (especially and a dogmatist in philosophy; but he was a dog. friends.) Lectures in the morning, church-matist in both. The main principles of his Leviathan meetings at noon, and preparation sermons are as little founded in moral or evangelical truth, as at night, take up so much of her time, it is the rules he has laid down for squaring the circle are in mathematical demonstration." He died in 1679, at very rare she knows what we have for din- the advanced age of 92.