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as a melancholy man left his lodgings on Thursday last, in the afternoon, and was afterwards seen going towards Islington: if any one can give notice of him to R. B. fishmonger in the Strand, he shall be very well rewarded for his Fo As I am the best man in the world to keep my own counsel, and my landlord, the fishmonger, not knowing my name, this accident of my life was never discovered to this very day. I am now settled with a widow woman, who has a great many children, and complies with my humour in every thing. I do not remember that we have exchanged a word together these five years; my coffee comes into my chamber every morning without asking for it: if I wo I point to my chimney, if water to my basin, upon which my landlady nods, as much as to say she takes my meaning, and immediately obeys my signals. She has likewise modelled her family so well, that when her little boy offers to pull me by the coat, or prattle in my face, his eldest sister immediately calls him off, and bids him not disturb the gentleman. At my first entering into the family, I was troubled with the civility of their rising up to me every time I came into the room; but my landlady observing that upon these occasions I always cried Pish, and went out again, has forbidden any such ceremony to be used in the house; so that at present I walk into the kitchen or parlour, without being taken notice of, or giving any interruption to the business or discourse of the family. The maid will ask her mistress (though I am by) whether the gentleman is ready to go to dinner, as the mistress (who is indeed an excellent housewife) scolds at the servants as heartily before my face, as behind my back. In short, I move up and down the house, and enter into all companies with the same liberty as a cat, or any other domestic animal, and am as little suspected of telling any thing that I hear or see. I remember last winter there were several young girls of the neighbourhood sitting about the fire with my landlady’s daughters, and telling stories of spirits and apparitions. Upon my opening the door the young women broke off their discourse, but my landlady's daughters telling them that it was nobody but the gentleman (for that is the name which I go by in the neighbourhood, as well as in the family) they went on without minding me. I seated myself by the candle that stood on a table at one end of the room; and pretending to read a book that I took out of my pocket, heard several dreadful stories of ghosts, as pale as ashes, that had stood at the feet of a bed, or walked over a church-yard by moon-light; and of others that had been conjured into the Redsea, for disturbing people’s rest, and drawing their curtains at midnight, with many other old women’s fables of the like nature. As one o: raised another, I observed, that at the end of every story the whole
company closed their ranks, and crowded about the fire. I took notice in particular of a little boy, who was so attentive to every story, that I am mistaken if he ventures to go to bed by himself this twelvemonth. Indeed they talked so long, that the imaginations of the whole assembly were manifestly crazed, and, I am sure, will be the worse for it as long as they live. I heard one of the girls, that had looked upon me over her shoulder, asking the company how long. I had been in the room, and whether I did not look paler than I used to do. This put me under some apprehensions that I should be forced to explain myself, if I did not retire; for which reason I took the candle into my hand, and went up into my chamber, not without wondering at this unaccountable weakness in reasonable creatures, that they should love to astonish and terrify one another. Were I a father, I should take a articular care to preserve my children rom these little horrors of imagination, which they are apt to contract when they are young, and are not able to shake off when they are in years. . I have known a soldier that has entered a breach, affrighted at his own shadow, and look pale upon a little scratching at his door, who the day before had marched up against a battery of cannon. There are instances of persons, who have been terrified even to distraction at the figure of a tree, or the shaking of a bulrush. The truth of it is, I look upon a sound imagination as the greatest blessin of life, next to a clear judgment, and a g conscience. In the mean time, since there are very few whose minds are not more or less subject to these dreadful thoughts and apprehensions, we ought to arm ourselves against them by the dictates of reason and religion, “to pull the old woman out of our hearts,” (as Persius expresses it in the motto of my paper,) and extinguish those impertinent notions which we imbibed at a time that we were not able to judge of their absurdity. , Or, if we believe, as many wise and good men have done, that there are such phantoms and po as those I have been speaking of, let us endeavour to establish to ourselves an interest in Him, who holds the reins of the whole creation in his hands, and moderates them after such a manner, that it is impossible for one being to break loose upon another without his knowledge and permission. For my own part, I am apt to join in the opinion with those who believe that all the regions of nature swarm with spirits; and that we have multitudes of spectators on all our actions, when we think ourselves most alone; but instead of terrifying myself with such a notion, I am wonderfully pleased to think that I am always engaged with such an innumerable society in searching out the
wonders of the creation, and joining in the
same concert of praise and adoration. Milton has finely described this mixed communion of men and spirits in paradise;
and had doubtless his eye upon a verse in old Hesiod, which is almost word for word the same with his third line in the followIng passage:
Northink, though men were none, That heav'n would want spectators, God want praise; Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep; All these with ceaseless praise his works behol Both day and night. How often from the steep Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard Celestial voices to the midnight air, Sole, or responsive each to other's note, Singing their great Creator? Oft in bands, While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk, With heav'nly touch of instrumental sounds, In full harmonic number join'd, their songs Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to heav'n. Paradise Lost.
No. 13.] Thursday, March 15, 1710-11.
Dic mihi, si fueris tu leo, qualis eris? JMart.
Were you a lion, how would you behave 7
THERE is nothing that of late years has afforded matter of greater amusement to the town than Signior Nicolini’s combat with a lion in the Haymarket, which has been very often exhibited to the general satisfaction of most of the nobility and gentry in the kingdom of Great Britain. É. the first rumour of this intended combat it was confidently affirmed, and is still believed, by many in both galleries, that there would be a tame lion sent from the tower, every opera night, in order to be killed b Hydaspes; this report, though altogether groundless, so universally prevailed in the upper regions of the playhouse, that some the most refined politicians in those parts of the audience, gave it out in whisper, that the lion was a cousin-german of the tiger who made his appearance in King William's days, and that the stage would be supplied with lions at the public expense, during the whole session. Many likewise were the conjectures of the treatment which this lion was to meet with from the hands of Signior Nicolini; some supposed that he was to subdue him in recitativo, as Orpheus used to serve the wild beasts in his time, and afterwards to knock him on the head; some fancied that the lion would not pretend to lay his paws upon the hero, by reason of the received opinion, that a lion will not hurt a virgin. Several, who pretended to have seen the opera in Italy, had informed their friends, that the lion was to act a part in high Dutch, and roar twice or thrice to a thorough bass, before he fell at the feet of Hydaspes. To clear up a matter that was so variously reported, I have made it my business to examine whether this pretended lion is really the savage he appears to be, or only a counterfeit. But before I communicate my discoveries, I must o the reader, that upon my walking behind the scenes last winter, as I
Was o on something else, I accidentally justled against a monstrous animal that extremely startled me, and upon my nearer survey of it, appeared to be a lion rampant. he lion seeing me very much surprised, told me, in a gentle voice, that I might come by him, if I pleased: “For,” says he, “I do not intend to hurt any body.” I thanked him very kindly, and ...; him: and in a little time after saw him leap upon the stage, and act his part with very great applause. It has been observed by several that the lion has changed his manner of acting twice or thrice since his first appearance; which will not seem strange, when I acquaint my reader that the lion has been changed upon the audience three several times. The first lion was a candle snuffer, who being a fellow of a testy choleric temper, overdid his part, and would not suffer himself to be killed so easily as he ought to have done; besides, it was observed of him, that he grew more surly every time that he came out of the lion; and having dropt some words in ordina
conversation, as if he had not fought his best, and that he suffered himself to be thrown upon his back in the scuffle, and that he would wrestle with Mr. Nicolini for what he pleased, out of his lion's skin, it was thought proper to discard him; and it is verily believed, to this day, that had he been brought upon the stage another time, he would certainly have done mischief. Besides, it was objected against the first lion, that he reared himself so high
y upon his hinder paws, and walked in so
erect a posture, that he looked more like an old man than a lion. The second lion was a tailor by trade, who belonged to the playhouse, and had the character of a mild and peaceable man in his profession. If the former was too furious, this was too sheepish for his part; insomuch, that after a short modest walk upon the stage, he would fall at the first touch of Hydaspes, without grappling with him, and giving him an opportunity of showing his variety of Italian trips. It is said, indeed, that he once gave him a rip in his flesh-colour doublet; but this was only to make work for himself, in his private character of a tailor. I must not omit, that it was this second lion who treated me with so much humanity behind the scenes. The acting lion at present is, as I am informed, a country gentleman, who does it for his diversion, but desires his name may be concealed. He says, very handsomely, in his own excuse, that he does not act for in, that he indulges an innocent pleasure in it; and that it is better to pass away an evening in this manner, than in gaming and drinking: but at the same time says, with a very agreeable raillery upon himself, that if his name should be known, the ill-natured world might call him, “The ass in the lion's skin.” This gentleman's temper is made out of such a happy mixture of the mild and the choleric, that he outdoes both his predecessors, and has drawn together greater audiences than have been known in the memory of man.
I must not conclude my narrative, without taking notice of a groundless report that has been raised to a gentleman's disadvantage, of whom I must declare myself an admirer; namely, that Signior Nicolini and the lion have been sitting peaceably by one another, and smoking a pipe, together behind the scenes; by which their common enemies would insinuate, that it is but a sham combat which they represent upon the stage: but upon inquiry I find, that if any such correspondence has passed between them, it was not till the combat was over, when the lion was to be looked upon as dead, according to the received rules of the drama. Besides, this is what is practised every day in Westminster-hall, where nothing is more usual than to see a couple of lawyers,who have been tearing each other to pieces in the court, embracing one another as soon as they are out of it.
I would not be thought in any part of this relation, to reflect upon Signior Nicolini, who in acting this part only complies with the wretched taste of his audience; he knows very well, that the lion has many more admirers than himself; as they say of the famous equestrian statue on the Pont Neuf at Paris, that more people go to see the horse, than the king who sits upon it. On the contrary, it gives me a just indignation to see a person whose action gives new majesty to kings, resolution to heroes, and softness to lovers, thus sinking from the greatness of his behaviour, and degraded into the character of the London Prentice. I have often wished, that our tragedians would copy after this great master of action. Could they make the same use of their arms and legs, and inform their faces with as significant looks and passions, how glorious would an English tragedy appear with that action, which is capable of giving dignity to the forced thoughts, cold conceits, and unnatural expressions of an Italian
ra! In the mean time, I have related
this combat of the lion, to show what are at present the reigning entertainments of the politer part of Great Britain.
Audiences have often been reproached by writers for the coarseness of their taste: but our present grievance does not seem to be the want of a good taste, but of common sense.
present time; and lamented to myself, that though in those days they neglected their morality, they kept up their good sense; but that the beau monde, at present, is only grown more childish, not more innocent than the former. While I was in this train of thought, an odd fellow, whose face I have often seen at the playhouse, gave me the following letter with these words: “Sir, the Lion presents his humble service to you, and desired me to give this into your own hands.”
“From my denin the Haymarket,
“SIR, March 15.
‘I have read all your papers, and have stifled my resentment against your reflections upon operas, until that of this day, wherein you plainly insinuate, that Signior Nicolini and myself have a correspondence more friendly than is consistent with the valour of his character, or the fierceness of mine. . I desire you would, for your own sake, forbear such intimations for the future; and must say it is a great piece of ill nature in you, to show so great an esteem for a foreigner, and to discourage a Lion that is your own countryman.
“I take notice of your fable of the lion and man, but am so equally concerned in the matter, that I shall not be offended to which soever of the animals the superiority is given. You have misrepresented me, in saying that I am a country gentleman, who act only for my diversion; whereas, had I still the same woods to range in which I once had when I was a fox-hunter, I should not resign my manhood for a maintenance; and assure you, as low as my circumstances are at present, I am so much a man of honour, that I would scorn to be any beast for bread, but a lion.
• Yours, &c.”
I had no sooner ended this, than one of my landlady's children brought me in several others, with some of which I shall make up my present paper, they all having a tendency to the same subject, viz. the elegance of our present diversions.
“SIR, Covent-Garden, March 13.
‘I have been for twenty years under-sexton of this parish of St. Paul's Coventgarden, and o: not missed tolling in to prayers six times in all those years; which office I have performed to my great satisfaction, until this fortnight last past, during which time I find my congregation take the warning of my bell, morning and evening, to go to a puppet-show set forth by one Powell under the piazzas. By this méans I have not only lost my two customers, whom I used to place for sixpence a piece over against Mrs. Rachel Eyebright, but Mrs. Rachel herself is gone thither also. There now appear among us none but a few ordinary people, who come to church only to say their prayers, so that I have no work worth speaking of but on Sundays. I have placed my son at the piazzas, to acquaint the ladies that the bell rings for church, and that it stands on the other side of the garden; but they only laugh at the child. ‘I desire you § lay this before all the world, that I may not be made such a tool for the future, and that punchinello may choose hours less canonical. As things are now, Mr. Powell has a full congregation, while we have a very thin house; which if you can remedy, you will very much oblige, ‘Sir, Yours, &c. The following epistle I find is from the undertaker of the masquerade. ‘SIR, ‘I have observed the rules of my mask so carefully (in not inquiring into persons) that I cannot tell whether vou were one of the company or not, last Tuesday; but if you were not, and still design to come, I desire you would, for your own entertainment, please to admonish the town, that all persons indifferently are not fit for this sort of diversion. I could wish, sir, you could make them understand that it is a kind of acting to go in masquerade, and a man should be able to say or do things proper for the dress in which he appears. We have now and then rakes in the habit of Roman senators, and grave politicians in the dress of rakes. The misfortune of the thing is, that people dress themselves in what they have a mind to be, and not what they are fit for. There is not a girl in the town, but let her have her will in going to a mask, and she shall dress as a shepherdess. But let me beg of them to read the Arcadia, or some other good romance, before they apear in any such character at my house. he last day we presented, every body was so rashly habited, that when they came to speak to each other, a nymph with a crook had not a word to say but in the pert style of the pit bawdry; and a man in the habit of a philosopher was speechless, till an occasion offered of expressing himself in the refuse of the tiring rooms. We had a judge that danced a minuet, with a quaker for his o while half a dozen harlequins stood y as spectators: a Turk drank me off two bottles of wine, and a Jew eat me up half a ham of bacon. If I can bring my design to bear, and make the maskers preserve their characters in my assemblies, I hope you will allow there is a foundation laid for more elegant and improving gallantries than any the town at present affords, and consequently that you will give your approbation to the endeavours of, Sir, “Your most obedient humble servant.” I am very glad the following epistle obliges me to mention Mr. Powell a second time in the same paper; for indeed there cannot be too great encouragement given to his skill in motions, provided he is under proper restrictions. ‘SIR, “THE opera at the Haymarket, and that under the little Piazza in Covent garden,
being at present the two leading diversions of the town, and Mr. Powell R. in his advertisements to set up Whittington and his Cat against Rinaldo and Armida, my curiosity led me the beginning of last week to view both these performances, and make my observations upon them. ‘First, therefore, I cannot but observe that Mr. Powell wisely forbearing to give his company a bill of fare before-hand, every scene is new and unexpected; whereas it is certain, that the undertakers of the Haymarket, having raised too great an expectation in their printed opera, very much disappoint their audience on the stage. “The king of Jerusalem is obliged to come from the city on foot, instead of being drawn in a triumphant chariot by white horses, as my opera-book had promised me; and thus, while I expected Armida's dragons should rush forward towards Argentes, I found the hero was obliged to go to Armida, and hand her out of her coach. We had also but a very short allowance of thunder and lightning; though I cannot in this place omit doing justice to the boy who had the direction of the two painted dragons, and made them spit fire and smoke. He flashed out his rosin in such just proportions, and in such due time, that I could not forbear conceiving hopes of his being one day a most excellent player. I saw indeed, but two things wanting to render his whole action complete, I mean the keeping his head a little lower, and hiding his candle. • I observed that Mr. Powell and the undertakers of the opera had both the same thought, and I think much about the same time, of introducing animals on their several stages, though indeed with very different success. The sparrows and chaffinches at the Haymarket fly as yet very irregularly over the stage; and instead of perching on the trees, and performing their parts, these young actors either get into the galleries, or put out the candles; whereas Mr. Powell has so well disciplined his pig, that in the first scene he and Punch dance a minuet together. I am informed, however, that Mr. Powell resolves to excel his adversaries in their own way; and introduce larks in his next opera of Susannah, or Innocence Betrayed, which will be exhibited next week, with a pair of new Flders. • The moral of Mr. Powell’s drama is violated, I confess, by Punch's national reflections on the French, and King Harry’s laying his leg upon the Queen's lap, in too ludicrous a manner, before so great an assembly. • As to the mechanism and scenery, every thing, indeed, was uniform, and of a piece, and the scenes were managed very dexterously; which calls on me to take notice, that at the Haymarket, the undertakers forgetting to change the side-scenes, we were presented with a prospect of the ocean in the midst of a delightful grove; and though the gentlemen on the stage had very much contributed to the beauty of the grove, by walking up and down between the trees, I must own I was not a little astonished to see a well-dressed young fellow, in a full-bottomed wig, appear in the midst of the sea, and without any visible concern taking snuff.
“I shall only observe one thing further, in which both dramas agree; which is, that by the squeak of their voices the heroes of each are eunuchs; and as the wit in both pieces is equal, I must prefer the performance of Mr. Powell, because it is in our own language.
*I am, &c.”
No. 15.] Saturday, March, 17, 1710-11.
Parva leves capiunt animos
Ovid, Ars Am. i. 159. Light minds are pleased with trifles.
WHEN I was in France, I used to gaze with great astonishment at the splendid equipages, and party-coloured habits, of that fantastic nation. I was one day in particular contemplating a lady that sat in a coach adorned with gilded Cupids, and finely painted with the loves of Venus and Adonis. The coach was drawn by six milkwhite horses, and loaded behind with the same number of powdered footmen. Just before the lady were a couple of beautiful jo. that were stuck o: the harness, and by their gay dresses and smiling features, looked like the elder brothers of the little boys that were carved and painted in every corner of the coach.
The lady was the unfortunate Cleanthe, who afterwards gave an occasion to a pretty melancholy novel. She had, for several years, received the addresses of a gentleman, whom, after a long and intimate acquaintance, she forsook, upon the account of this shining equipage, which had been offered to her by one of great riches, but a crazy constitution. The circumstances in which I saw her, were, it seems, the disguises only of a broken heart, and a kind of pageantry to cover distress, for in two months after, she was carried to her grave with the same pomp and magnificence, being sent thither partly by the loss of one lover, and partly by the possession of another.
I have often reflected with myself on this unaccountable humour in womankind, of being smitten with everything that is sho and superficial; and on the numberless evils that befal the sex, from this light fantastical disposition. I myself remember a young lady that was very warmly solicited by a couple of importunate rivals, who for several months together, did all they could to recommend themselves, by complacency of behaviour, and agreeableness of conversation. At length when the competition was doubtful, and the lady undetermined in her
choice, one of the young lovers very luckily bethought himself of adding a supernumerary lace to his liveries, which had so good an effect, that he married her the very week after. The usual conversation of ordinary wo— men very much cherishes this natural weakness §§. taken with outside and appearance. Talk of a new-married couple, and you immediately hear whether they keep their coach and six, or eat in plate. Mention the name of an absent lady, and it is ten to one but you learn something of her gown and petticoat: . A ball is a great help to discourse, and a birth-day furnishes conversation for a twelvemonth after. A furbelow of precious stones, a hat buttoned with a diamond, a brocade waistcoat or petticoat, are standing topics. In short, they consider only the drapery of the species, and never cast away a thought on those ornaments of the mind that make persons illustrious in themselves, and useful to others. When women are thus perpetually dazzling one another's imaginations, and filling their heads with nothing but colours, it is no wonder that they are more attentive to the superficial parts of life, than the solid and substantial blessings of it. A girl, who has been trained up in this kind of conversation, is in danger of every embroidered coat that comes in her way. A pair of fringed gloves may be her ruin. In a word, lace and ribands, silver and gold galloons, with the like glittering gewgaws, are so many lures to women of weak minds and low educations, and when artificially displayed, are able to fetch, down, the most . coquette from the wildest of her flights and rambles. True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise; it arises, in the first place from the enjoyment of one’s self; and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions; it loves shade and solitude, and naturally haunts groves and fountains, fields and meadows: in short, it feels everything it wants within itself, and receives no addition from multitudes of witnesses and spectators. On the contrary, false happiness loves to be in a crowd, and to draw the eyes of the world upon her. She does not receive any satisfaction from the applauses which she gives herself; but from the admiration which she raises in others. She flourishes in courts and palaces, theatres and assemblies, and has no existence but when she is looked upon. Aurelia, though a woman of great quality, delights in the privacy of a country life, and passes away a great part of her time in her own walks and gardens. Her husband, who is her bosom friend and companion in her solitudes, has been in love with her ever since he knew her. They both abound with good sense, consummate virtue, and a mutual esteem ; and are aF. entertainment to one another. Their family is under