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White's Chocolate-house, April 7.
THE deplorable condition of a very pretty gentleman, who walks here at the hours when men of quality first appear, is what is very much lamented. His history is, That on the ninth of September 1705, being in his one-and-twentieth year, he was washing his teeth at a tavern window in Pall-mall, when a fine equipage passed by, and in it a young lady who looked up at him; away goes the coach, and the young gentleman pulled off his night-cap, and instead of rubbing his gums, as he ought to do, out of the window until about four of the clock, sits him down and spoke not a word until twelve at night; after which he began to inquire if any body knew the lady? -The company asked what lady?' but he said no more, until they broke up at six in the morning. All the ensuing winter he went from church to church every Sunday, and from playhouse to playhouse every night in the week; but could never find the original of the picture which dwelt in his bosom. In a word, his attention to any thing but his passion was utterly gone. He has lost all the money he ever played for, and been confuted in every argument he has entered upon, since the moment he first saw her. He is of a noble family, has naturally a very good air, and is of a frank honest temper: but this passion has so extremely mauled him, that his features are set and uninformed, and his whole visage is deadened, by a long absence of thought. He never appears in any alacrity, but when raised by wine; at which time he is sure to come hither, and throw away a great deal of wit on fellows who have no sense farther than just to observe, that our poor lover has most understand
ing when he is drunk, and is least in his senses when he is sober7.
The reader is desired to take notice of the article from this place from time to time, for I design to be very exact in the progress this unhappy gentleman makes, which may be of great instruction to all who actually are, or who ever shall be, in love.
Will's Coffee-house, April 8.
ON Thursday last was acted, for the benefit of Mr. Betterton, the celebrated comedy called Love for Love'. Those excellent players, Mrs. Barry 10, Mrs. Bracegirdle, and Mr. Dogget, though not at present concerned in the house, acted on that occasion. There has not been known so great a concourse of persons of distinction as at that time; the stage itself was covered with gentlemen and ladies, and when
7 This character is said to have been drawn for Edward lord viscount Hinchinbroke, mentioned afterwards under the name of Cynthio. He died Oct. 3, 1722. See No 5, 22, 35, and 85.
8 Colley Cibber acknowledges, that Steele did the stage very considerable service, by the influence of his Tatlers. Sir Richard had no share in the management of the playhouse in Drury-lane for some years after this time. His patent is dated Jan. 19, 1714-15.
9 By Congreve. 4to. 1695. The character of Foresight in this play was then no uncommon one. Dryden calculated nativities; Cromwell and king William had their lucky days; and Shaftesbury himself, though he had no religion, is said to have regarded predictions.
10 Mrs. Barry spoke an epilogue on the occasion written by Rowe.
the curtain was drawn, it discovered even there a very splendid audience. This unusual encouragement, which was given to a play for the advantage of so great an actor, gives an undeniable instance, that the true relish for manly entertainments and rational pleasures is not wholly lost. All the parts were acted to perfection: the actors were careful of their carriage, and no one was guilty of the affectation to insert' witticisms of his own; but a due respect was had to the audience, for encouraging this accomplished player. It is not now doubted but plays will revive, and take their usual place in the opinion of persons of wit and merit, notwithstanding their late apostacy in favour of dress and sound. This place is very much altered since Mr. Dryden frequented it; where you used to see songs, epigrams, and satires, in the hands of every man you met, you have now only a pack of cards; and instead of the cavils about the turn of the expression, the elegance of the style, and the like, the learned now dispute only about the truth of the game. But however the company is altered, all have shewn a great respect for Mr. Betterton: and the very gaming part of this house have been so touched with a sense of the uncertainty of human affairs (which alter with themselves every moment) that in this gentleman they pitied Mark Antony of Rome, Hamlet of Denmark, Mithridates of Pontus, Theodosius of Greece, and Henry the Eighth of England. It is well known, he has been in the condition of each of those illustrious personages for several hours together, and behaved himself in those high stations, in all the changes of the scene, with suitable dignity. For these reasons, we intend to repeat this late favour to him on a proper occasion, lest he, who can instruct us so well
in personating feigned sorrows, should be lost to us by suffering under real ones". The town is at present in very great expectation of seeing a comedy now in rehearsal 12, which is the twenty-fifth production of
"Thomas Betterton (the Roscius of his time) was born in Tothill-street, Westminster, in 1635. His father (who was under-cook to King Charles the first) bound him apprentice to a bookseller, but nature had formed him for the stage, and he made his first appearance on it in 1656, at the opera-house in Charter-house-yard, under the direction of Sir William D'Avenant. If he was not the first to introduce moveable scenes into English theatres, he very much improved the decorations of the stage. He went over, at the command of Charles the second to take a view of the French scenery and machinery, and at his return regulated those of the English. He was sober, modest, and friendly; kept the best of company; and was remarkable off the stage for the decent simplicity of his dress. He composed, translated, and altered several dramatic pieces, and, having for many years borne away the palm from all his competitors, died April 28, 1710, and was interred in Westminster-abbey. Mr. Booth, who knew him only in his decline, used to say, that he never saw him, off or on the stage, but he learned something from him; and frequently observed that Betterton was no actor: that he put on his part with his clothes, and was the very man he undertook to be, till the play was over, and nothing more. So exact was he in following nature, that the look of surprise he assumed in the character of Hamlet astonished Booth (when he first personated the ghost) to such a degree, that he was unable to proceed in his part for some moments. See Cibber's Apology, Tatler, No 167, and Davies's Dramatic Miscellanies, for a particular account of this eminent There is a mezzotinto by Williams, which, Cibber says, 'resembled him extremely;' and a fine picture of him by Pope, in the possession of the Earl of Mansfield.
12 The Modern Prophets. 4to, 1709. See N° 11, and 43.
my honoured friend Mr. Thomas D'Urfey; who, besides his great abilities in the dramatic, has a peculiar talent in the lyric way of writing '3, and that with a manner wholly new and unknown to the ancient Greeks and Romans, wherein he is but faintly imitated in the translations of the modern Italian operas.
St. James's Coffee-house, April 11.
LETTERS from the Hague of the sixteenth say, that major general Cadogan was gone to Brussels, with orders to disperse proper instructions for assembling the whole force of the allies in Flanders, in the beginning of the next month. The late offers concerning peace were made in the style of persons who think themselves upon equal terms: but the allies have so just a sense of their present advantages, that they will not admit of a treaty, except France offers what is more suitable to her present condition. At the same time we make preparations, as if we were alarmed by a greater force than that which we are carrying into the field. Thus this point seems now to be argued sword in hand. This was what a great general 14 alluded to, when being asked the names of those who were to be plenipotentiaries for the ensuing peace, he answered with a serious air, There are about an ‹ hundred thousand of us.' Mr. Kidney", who has the ear of the greatest politicians that come hither,
13 D'Urfey acquired his greatest fame by a peculiar talent for writing witty catches, satires, and songs of humour, suited to the spirit of the times, which he sung in a lively and entertaining manner. See Guard. No 29, and 67.
14 The duke of Marlborough.
15 The waiter at St. James's coffee-house.