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But to show how a rant pleases beyond the most just and natural thought that is not pronounced with vehemence, I would desire the reader, when he sees the tragedy of Oedipus, to observe how quietly the hero is dismissed at the end of the third act, after having pronounced the following lines, in which the thought is very natural, and apt to move compassion:
wonderfully pleased to see a man insulting kings, her not to be the same woman whom he intended or affronting the gods, in one scene, and throwing to marry, but another. If that be law, it is, I prehimself at the feet of his mistress in another. Let sume, exactly my case. For you are to know, Mr. him behave himself insolently towards the men, and Spectator, that there are women who do not let abjectly towards the fair one, and it is ten to one their husbands see their faces till they are married. but he proves a favourite of the boxes. Dryden 'Not to keep you in suspense, I mean plainly that and Lee, in several of their tragedies, have prac-part of the sex who paint. They are some of them tised this secret with good success. so exquisitely skilful this way, that give them but a tolerable pair of eyes to set up with, and they will make bosom, lips, cheeks, and eye-brows, by their own industry. As for my dear, never was man so enamoured as I was of her fair forehead, neck, and arms, as well as the bright jet of her hair; but to my great astonishment I find they were all the effect of art. Her skin is so tarnished with this practice, that when she first wakes in a morning, she scarce seems young enough to be the mother of her whom I carried to bed the night before. I shall take the liberty to part with her by the first opportunity, unless her father will make her portion suitable to her real, not her assumed countenance. This I thought fit to let him and her know by your means.
" To you, good gods, I make my last appeal; Or clear my virtues, or my crimes reveal.
If in the maze of fate I blindly run,
And backward tread those paths I sought to shun;
Let us then observe with what thunder-claps of applause he leaves the stage, after the impieties and execrations at the end of the fourth act; and you will wonder to see an audience so cursed and so pleased at the same time.
"O that, as oft I have at Athens seen,
I cannot tell what the law, or the parents of the lady will do for this injured gentleman, but must allow he has very much justice on his side. I
Where, by the way, there was no stage till many have indeed very long observed this evil, and dis
tinguished those of our women who wear their own, from those in borrowed complexions, by the Picts and the British. There does not need any great discernment to judge which are which. The British have a lively animated aspect; the Picts, though never so beautiful, have dead uninformed countenances. The muscles of a real face sometimes swell with soft passion, sudden surprise, and are flushed with agreeable confusions, according as the objects before them, or the ideas presented to them, affect their imagination. But the Picts behold all things with the same air, whether they are joyful or sad; the same fixed insensibility appears upon all occasions. A Pict, though she takes all that pains to invite the approach of lovers, is obliged to keep them at a certain distance; a sigh in a languishing lover, if fetched too near her, would dissolve a feature; and a kiss snatched by a forward one, might transfer the complexion of the mistress to the admirer. It is hard to speak of these false fair ones, without say. ing something uncomplaisant, but I would only recommend to them to consider how they like coming into a room new painted; they may assure themselves, the near approach of a lady who uses this practice is much more offensive.
Will Honeycomb, told us one day an adventure he once had with a Pict. This lady had wit, as well as beauty, at will; and made it her business to gain hearts, for no other reason but to rally the torments of her lovers. She would make great advances to insnare men, but without any manner of scruple break off when there was no provoca tion. Her ill-nature and vanity made my friend very easily proof against the charms of her wit and
SUPPOSING you to be a person of general knowledge, I make my application to you on a very particular occasion. I have a great mind to be rid of conversation: but her beauteous form, instead of my wife, and hope, when you consider my case, being blemished by her falsehood and inconstancy, you will be of opinion I have very just pretensions every day increased upon him, and she had new to a divorce. I am a mere man of the town, and attractions every time he saw her. When she obhave very little improvement, but what I have got served Will irrevocably her slave, she began to from plays. I remember in the Silent Woman, the use him as such, and after many steps towards such learned Dr. Cutberd, or Dr. Otter, (I forget which) a cruelty, she at last utterly banished him. The makes one of the causes of separation to be Error unhappy lover strove in vain, by servile epistles, Persone, when a man marries a woman, and finds to revoke his doom; till at length he was forced
years after Oedipus.]
This pond': ous globe, and all yon marble roof,
Having spoken of Mr. Powell, as sometimes raising himself applause from the ill taste of an audience; must do him the justice to own, that he is excellently formed for a tragedian, and when he pleases, deserves the admiration of the best judges; as I doubt not but he will in the Conquest of Mexico, which is acted for his own benefit to-morrow night.
No 41. TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 1711.
Tu non inventa reperta es.
COMPASSION for the gentleman who writes the following letter, should not prevail upon me to fall upon the fair sex, if it were not that I find they are frequently fairer than they ought to be. Such impostures are not to be tolerated in civil society, and I think his misfortune ought to be made public, as a warning for other men always to examine into what they admire.
'I am, SIR,
'Your most obedient, humble servant.'
to the last refuge, a round sum of money to her maid. This corrupt attendant placed him early in the morning behind the hangings in his mistress's dressing-room. He stood very conveniently to observe, without being seen. The Pict begins the fice she designed to wear that day, and I have heard him protest she had worked a full half-hour before he knew her to be the same woman. As soon as he saw the dawn of that complexion for which he so long languished, he thought fit to break from his concealment, repeating that of Cowley:
Th' adorning thee with so much art,
'Tis like the pois'ning of a dart,
Her pure and eloquent blood
Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought,
N° 42. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 1791.
gentlewoman of about mineteen years of age in the family of a person of quality, lately de who paints the finest flesh-colour, wants a place, to be heard of at the house of Mynheer Grotesque, painter, in Barbican.
The Pict stood before him in the utmost confusien, with the prettiest smirk imaginable on the frished side of her face, pale as ashes on the other. Honeycomb seized all her gallypots and washes, and carried off his handkerchief full of brushes, scraps of Spanish wool, and phials of unguents. ARISTOTLE has observed, that ordinary writers in The lady went into the country, the lover was tragedy endeavour to raise terror and pity in their cured. audience, not by proper sentiments and expressions, It is certain no faith ought to be kept with but by the dresses and decorations of the stage. cheats, and an oath made to a Pict is of itself There is something of this kind very ridiculous in . I would therefore exhort all the British la-the English theatre. When the author has a mind es to single them out, nor do I know any but to terrify us, it thunders; when he would make us damira who should be exempt from discovery; melancholy, the stage is darkened. But among all her own complexion is so delicate, that she our tragic artifices, I am the most offended at those ght to be allowed the covering it with paint, as which are made use of to inspire us with magnifipranishment for choosing to be the worse piece cent ideas of the persons that speak. The ordinary fart extant, instead of the masterpiece of nature. method of making an hero, is to clap a huge plume sfor my part, who have no expectations from of feathers upon his head, which rises so very high, nen, and consider them only as they are part that there is often a greater length from his chin to f the species, I do not half so much fear offending the top of his head, than to the sole of his foot. canty, as a woman of sense; I shall therefore One would believe, that we thought a great man luce several faces which have been in public and a tall man the same thing. This very much ese many years, and never appeared. It will be embarrasses the actor, who is forced to hold his Very pretty entertainment in the playhouse, neck extremely stiff and steady all the while he en I have abolished this custom) to see so many speaks; and notwithstanding any anxieties which es, when they first lay it down, incog. in their he pretends for his mistress, his country, or his friends, one may see by his action, that his greatest the mean time, as a pattern for improving care and concern is to keep the plume of feathers ir charms, let the sex study the agreeable Statira from falling off his head. For my own part, when features are enlivened with the cheerfulness I see a man uttering his complaints under such a er mind, and good-humour gives an alacrity to mountain of feathers, I am apt to look upon him eyes. She is graceful without affecting an air, rather as an unfortunate lunatic, than a distressed unconcerned without appearing careless. Her hero. As these superfluous ornaments upon the ng no manner of art in her mind, makes her head make a great man, a princess generally renone in her person. ceives her grandeur from those additional encumbrances that fall into her tail: I mean the broad mis-sweeping train that follows her in all her motions, and finds constant employment for a boy who stands behind her to open and spread it to advantage. I do not know how others are affected at this sight, but I must confess my eyes are wholly taken up with the page's part; and, as for the queen, I am not so attentive to any thing she speaks, as to the right adjusting of her train, lest it should chance to trip up her heels, or incommode her, as she walks to and fro upon the stage. It is, in my opinion, a very odd spectacle, to see a queen venting her passion in a disordered motion, and a little boy taking care all the while that they do.
w like is this lady, and how unlike is a Pict, at description Dr. Donne gives of his
B. She is also well-skilled in the drapery part,
its on hoods and mixes ribbons so as to suit the not ruffle the tail of her gown. The parts that the
of the face with great art and success.
two persons act on the stage at the same time are
Loud as the wolves on Orea's stormy steep
very different. The princess is afraid lest she should incur the displeasure of the king her father,
is is not the fact. The verses were written on Miss Eliza. or lose the hero her lover, whilst her attendant is
y daughter of Donne's patron, Sir Robert D. at whose only concerned lest she should entangle her feet Drury-lane Donne and his family had apartments. This in her petticoat. young lady (who was said to have been the intended King James's eldest son Prince Henry) died in 1610, in her
We are told that an ancient tragic poet, to move the pity of his audience for his exiled kings
and distressed heroes,used to make the actors represent them in dresses and clothes that were threadbare and decayed. This artifice for moving pity, seems as ill contrived as that we have been speaking of to inspire us with a great idea of the persons introduced upon the stage. In short, I would have our conceptions raised by the dignity of thought and sublimity of expression, rather than by a train of robes or a plume of feathers.
Non tamen intus
Digna geri promes in scenam: multaque tolles
N° 43. THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 1711
Hæ tibi erunt artes; pacisque imponere morem,
Be these thy arts; to bid contention cease,
Another mechanical method of making great men, and adding dignity to kings and queens, is to accompany them with halberts and battle-axes. THERE are crowds of men, whose great misfortune Two or three shifters of scenes, with the two can. it is that they were not bound to mechanic arts or dle-snuffers, make up a complete body of guards trades; it being absolutely necessary for them to upon the English stage; and by the addition of a be led by some continual task or employment. few porters dressed in red coats, can represent These are such as we commonly call dull fellows; above a dozen legions. I have sometimes seen a persons, who, for want of something to do, out of a couple of armies drawn up together upon the stage, certain vacancy of thought, rather than curiosity, when the poet has been disposed to do honour to are ever meddling with things for which they are his generals. It is impossible for the reader's ima-unfit. I cannot give you a notion of them better, gination to multiply twenty men into such prodi- than by presenting you with a letter from a gen gious multitudes, or to fancy that two or three tleman, who belongs to a society of this order of. hundred thousand soldiers are fighting in a room men, residing at Oxford. of forty or fifty yards in compass. Incidents of such a nature should be told, not represented.
Yet there are things improper for a scene, Which men of judgment only will relate.' ROSCOMMON.
'Oxford, April 13, 1711. Four o'clock in the morning.
IN some of your late speculations, I found some sketches towards an history of clubs: but you seem to me to show them in somewhat too ludicrous a light. I have well weighed that matter, and think, that the most important negotiations may be best carried on in such assemblies. I shall therefore, for the good of mankind, (which, I trust, you and I are equally concerned for) propose an institution
I should, therefore, in this particular, recommend
* Capp 125
to my countrymen the example of the French of that nature for example sake. stage, where the kings and queens always appear 'I must confess the design and transactions of unattended, and leave their guards behind the too many clubs are trifling, and manifestly of no scenes. I should likewise be glad if we imitated consequence to the nation or public weal. Those I the French in banishing from our stage the noise will give you up. But you must do me then the of drums, trumpets, and huzzas; which is somejustice to own, that nothing can be more useful or times so very great, that when there is a battle in laudable, than the scheme we go upon. To avoid the Haymarket theatre, one may hear it as far as nicknames and witticisms, we call ourselves The Charing-cross. Hebdomadal Meeting Our president continues for a year at least, and sometimes four or five; we are all grave, serious, designing men in our way, we think it our duty, as far as in us lies, to take care menti res capiat publica-To censure doctrines or the constitution receives no harm-Ne quid detri
I have here only touched upon those particulars which are made use of to raise and aggrandize the persons of a tragedy; and shall show in another paper the several expedients which are practised
The tailor and the painter often contribute to the success of a tragedy more than the poet Scenes affect ordinary minds as much as speeches;
by authors of a vulgar genius to move terror, pity, facts, persons or things, which we do not like; to
and our actors are very sensible, that a well-dress-help that. It were better they were.
ed play has sometimes brought them as full au-
A good poet will give the reader a more lively idea of an army or a battle in a description, than if he actually saw them drawn up in squadrons and
battalions, or engaged in the confusion of a fight. conjunction with infidels, to be palpably against
Our minds should be opened to great conceptions,
"I must let you know likewise, good sir, that we
"We think that we have at last done the business with the malcontents in Hungary, and shall clap up a peace there.
Here, if the poet had not been vivacious, as well as stupid, he could not, in the warmth and hurry of nonsense, have been capable of forgetting What the neutrality army is to do, or what the that neither Prince Voltager, nor his grandfather, army in Flanders, and what two or three other could strip a naked man of his doublet; but a fool princes, is not yet fully determined among us; and of a colder constitution would have staid to have we wait impatiently for the coming in of the next flead the Pict, and made buff of his skin, for the Dyer's, who you must know is our authentic intel-wearing of the conqueror. ligence, our Aristotle in politics. And indeed it is To bring these observations to some useful purbat fit there should be some dernier resort, the pose of life, what I would propose should be, that absolute decider of all controversies. we imitated those wise nations, wherein every man 'We were lately informed that the gallant train- learns some handicraft-work. Would it not emed-bands had patrolled all night long about the ploy a beau prettily enough, if, instead of eterstreets of London. We indeed could not imagine nally playing with a snuff-box, he spent some part ay occasion for it, we guessed not a tittle on it of his time in making one? Such a method as this forehand, we were in nothing of the secret; and would very much conduce to the public emolutat city tradesmen, or their apprentices, should ment, by making every man living good for somedo duty or work during the holidays, we thought thing; for there would then be no one member of solutely impossible. But Dyer being positive in human society, but would have some little preten, and some letters from other people, who had sion for some degree in it; like him who came to alked with some who had it from those who should Will's coffee-house, upon the merit of having writ cow, giving some countenance to it, the chairman (a posy of a ring. ported from the committee appointed to examine to that affair, that it was possible there might be mething in it. I have much more to say to you, my two good friends and neighbours, Dominic slyboots, are just come in, and the coffee is dy. I am, in the mean time,
• Your admirer and humble servant,
A painted vest Prince Voltager had on, Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won."
See Nos. 222 and 469.
No 44. FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 1711.
Tu, quid ego et populus mecum decideret, audi.
You may observe the turn of their minds tends AMONG the several artifices which are put in pracy to novelty, and not satisfaction in any thing tice by the poets to fill the minds of an audience would be disappointment to them, to come to with terror, the first place is due to thunder and tainty in any thing, for that would gravel them put an end to their inquiries, which dull fel-lightning, which are often made use of at the des do not make for information, but for exercise. scending 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
not know but this may be a very good way of unting for what we frequently see, to wit, that fellows prove very good men of business.* ness relieves them from their own natural viness, by furnishing them with what to do reas business to mercurial men, is an interrup-ghost, especially when he appears in a bloody from their real existence and happiness. shirt. A spectre has very often saved a play, gh the dull part of mankind are harmless in amusements, it were to be wished they had though he has done nothing but stalked across the arant time, because they usually undertake stage, or rose through a cleft of it, and sunk again without speaking one word. There may be a prothing that makes their wants conspicuous, by manner of supplying them. You shall seldom per season for these several terrors; and when they only come in as aids and assistances to the dull fellow of good education, but, if he hapto have any leisure upon his hands, will turn poet, they are not only to be excused, but to be ead to one of those two amusements for all Venice Preserved, makes the hearts of the whole applauded. Thus the sounding of the clock in of eminence, politics or poetry. The former audience quake; and conveys a stronger terror to se arts is the study of all dull people in ge-the mind than it is possible for words to do. The but when dulness is lodged in a person of
ck animal life, it generally exerts itself in appearance of the ghost in Hamlet is a masterOne might here mention a few military piece in its kind, and wrought up with all the circumstances that can create either attention or hor8, who give great entertainment to the age, The mind of the reader is wonderfully preson that the stupidity of their heads is quick-pared for his reception by the discourses that preby the alacrity of their hearts. This consti- cede it. His dumb behaviour at his first entrance in a dull fellow, gives vigour to nonsense, strikes the imagination very strongly but every akes the puddle boil, which would otherwise time he enters, he is still more terrifying. Who ite. The British Prince, that celebrated which was written in the reign of King costs him, without trembling? can read the speech with which young Hamlet acas the Second, and deservedly called by the f that age incomparable, was the effect of n happy genius as we are speaking of. From many other distichs no less to be quoted on count, I cannot but recite the two following
Hor. Look, my Lord, it comes!
Ham. Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
*The Hon. Edward Howard. See Tat. No. 21,
Advents; comings or visits."
King, Father, Royal Dane. Oh! answer me.
To cast thee up again? What may this mean?
height of his passion and resentment kills her. If
I do not therefore find fault with the artifices above
For the moving of pity, our principal 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 It may not be unacceptable to the reader to see they did not from time to time apply their hand-how Sophocles has conducted a tragedy under the kerchiefs to their eyes. Far be it from me to think like delicate circumstances. Orestes was in the of banishing this instrument of sorrow from the same condition with Hamlet in Shakspeare, his stage; I know a tragedy could not subsist without mother having murdered his father, and taken. it: all that I would contend for, is to keep it from possession of his kingdom in conspiracy with her being misapplied. In a word, I would have the adulterer. That young prince therefore, being de actor's tongue sympathize with his eyes. termined to revenge his father's death upon those A disconsolate mother, with a child in her hand, who filled his throne, conveys himself by a beauti has frequently drawn compassion from the audi-ful stratagem into his mother's apartment, with a ence, and has therefore gained a place in several resolution to kill her. But because such a spectacle tragedies. A modern writer, that observed how would have been too shocking to the audience, this this had took in other plays, being resolved to dreadful resolution is executed behind the scenes: double the distress, and melt his audience twice the mother is heard calling out to her son for as much as those before him had done, brought a mercy; and the son answering her that she showprincess upon the stage with a little boy in one ed no mercy to his father; after which she shrieks hand, and a girl in the other. This too had a very out that she is wounded, and by what follows we good effect. A third poet being resolved to out- find that she is slain. I do not remember that in write all his predecessors, a few years ago intro-any of our plays there are speeches made behind duced three children with great success: and, as I the scenes, though there are other instances of this am informed, a young gentleman who is fully de-nature to be met with in those of the ancients: termined to break the most obdurate hearts, has a and I believe my reader will agree with me, that tragedy by him, where the first person that appears there is something infinitely more affecting in this upon the stage is an afflicted widow in her mourn- dreadful dialogue between the mother and her ing weeds, with half a dozen fatherless children son behind the scenes, than could have been in any attending her, like those that usually hang about thing transacted before the audience. Orestes the figure of Charity. Thus several incidents that immediately after meets the usurper at the enare beautiful in a good writer, become ridiculous trance of his palace; and by a very happy thought by falling into the hands of a bad one. of the poet avoids killing him before the audience, But among all our methods of moving pity or by telling him that he should live some time in his terror, there is none so absurd and barbarous, and present bitterness of soul before he would dispatch what more exposes us to the contempt and ridicule him, and by ordering him to retire into that part of our neighbours, than that dreadful butchering of the palace where he had slain his father, whose of one another, which is very frequent upon the murder he would revenge in the very same place English stage. To delight in seeing men stabbed, where it was committed. By this means the poet poisoned, racked, or impaled, is certainly the sign observes that decency, which Horace afterwards of a cruel temper: and as this is often practised established as a rule, of forbearing to commit par- real before the British audience, several French cri- ricides or unnatural murders before the audience. tics, who think these are grateful spectacles to us, take occasion from them to represent us as a people that delight in blood. It is indeed very odd, to see our stage strewed with carcasses in the last scenes of a tragedy; and to observe in the wardrobe of the playhouse several daggers, poniards, The French have therefore refined too much upon wheels, bowls for poison, and many other instru- Horace's rule, who never designed to banish all ments of death. Murders and executions are al- kinds of death from the stage; but only such as ways transacted behind the scenes in the French had too much horror in them, and which would theatre; which in general is very agreeable to the have a better effect upon the audience when transmanners of a polite and civilized people: but as acted behind the scenes. I would therefore recomthere are no exceptions to this rule on the French mend to my countrymen the practice of the an stage, it leads them into absurdities almost as ridi- cient poets, who were very sparing of their public culous as that which falls under our present cen-executions, and rather chose to perform them besure. I remember in the famous play of Corneille, hind the scenes, if it could be done with as great written upon the subject of the Horatii and Curi- an effect upon the audience. At the same time, atii; the fierce young hero, who had overcome the must observe, that though the devoted persons of Curiatii one after another (instead of being con- the tragedy were seldom slain before the audience, gratulated by his sister for his victory, being up- which has generally something ridiculous in it, braided by her for having slain her lover), in the their bodies were often produced after their death,
⚫ Nec coram populo natos Medea trucidet.
Ars Poet. ver. 185.