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fome months preceding, but fuch was the rigour of their fate, that by the unufual diet, most of their men were dead, just as they got fight of the Lands-end of England; and having but very few hands to work their veffel, they found that, from the dangers they had been fo long in, a fecond threatened them from the feverity of the late feafon, for, the ice being there in very great flakes, they found themselves drove amidit the fame towards the fhore, from whence they could not difengage the ship; in which time, Carpinger, being a perfon of a voluble tongue, and formerly well bred at Stepney near London, where his father, Captain Carpinger, had long lived, ufed all the confolation he could by words or device, to comfort the defpairing lady, till at length fhe was prevailed to hearken to him, and give her promife to spare all violence on herself, and wait her better fortune; in this cafe they lay for fix days, till all but two perfons befides themselves were dead, and these fo miferably weak they could not leave their cabbins,, fo that being froze in they could not ftir. Carpinger with the lady refolved to venture on the ice, and fet forward towards the fhore; which fhe the rather undertook, for that the hoped thereby to find a grave in those waves on which fhe had loft what fhe loved above her own prefervation; with this refolution Car
Natio comada eft.
F the present talte for private
pinger, taking charge of the lady, got a plank and a long pole in his hand, and with these left the ship, and with great danger and difficulty in fix hours got fafe to fhore, having opportunity only of faving a casket of jewels which he brought off with him, where at my own house the said parties now remain in reasonable health; and confidering the care and kindness of Carpinger, the lady feems much to favour him, and when the time of mourning is over, will undoubtedly make him happy in her embraces.
hions do in this country, we may expect the rifing generation will be, like the Greeks in my motto, one entire nation of actors and actreffes,
Remarks upon the Prefent Tafe for afting Private Plays.By R. Cumberland, fq.
A father of a family may fhortly reckon it among the bleffings of a
vided with a fufficient company for his domeftic ftage, and may caft a play to his own liking without going abroad for his theatrical
rical amufements. Such a fteady troop cannot fail of being under better regulation than a fet of ftrollers, or than any fet whatever, who make ading a vocation. Where a manager has to deal with none but players of his own begetting, every play bids fair to have a ftrong caft, and in the phrafe of the ftage to be well got up. Happy author, who fhall fee his characters thus grouped into a family-piece, firm as the Theban band of friends, where all is zeal and concord, no bickerings nor jealoufies about ftage-precedency, no ladies to fall fick of the spleen, and tofs up their parts in a huff, no heart-burnings about flounced petticoats and filver trimmings, where the mother of the whole company ftands wardrobe-keeper and property-woman, whilft the father takes poft at the fide scene in the capacity of prompter with plenipotentiary controul over P S's and O P's.
I will no longer speak of the difficulty of writing a comedy or tragedy, because that is now done by fo many people without any difficulty at all, that if there ever was any mystery in it, that mystery is thoroughly bottomed and laid open; but the art of acting was, till very lately, thought fo rare and wonderful an excellence, that people began to look upon a perfect actor as a phenomenon in the world, which they were not to expect above once in a century; but now that trade is laid open, this prodigy is to be met at the turn of every street; the nobility and gentry, to their immortal honour, have broken up the monopoly, and new-made players are now as plentiful as new-made peers, Nec tamen Antiocbus, nec erit mirabilis
Aut Stratocles aut cum molli Demetrius
Though the public profeffors of the art are fo completely put down by the private practitioners of it, it is but justice to obferve in mitigation of their defeat, that they meet the comparison under fome difadvantages, which their rivals have not to contend with.
Garrick and Powell would be now no wonder,
Nor Barry's filver note, nor Quin's heroic thunder,
One of thefe is diffidence, which volunteers cannot be fuppofed to feel in the degree they do, who are preffed into the fervice; I never yet faw a public actor come upon the stage on the first night of a new play, who did not feem to be nearly, if not quite, in as great a flraking fit as his author; but as there can be no luxury in a great fright, I cannot believe that people of fashion, who act for their amufement only, would fubject themselves to it; they must certainly have a proper confidence in their own abilities, or they would never step out of a drawing-room, where they are fure to figure, upon a ftage, where they run the risk of expofing themselves. Some gentlemen perhaps who have been mutæ perfone in the fenate, may ftart at the first found of their own voices in a theatre; but graceful action, just elocution, perfect knowledge of their author, elegant deportment, and every advantage that refined manners and courtly addrefs can beftow, is exclufively their own: In all fcenes of high life they are at home; noble fentiments are natural to them; love parts they can play by inftinet; and as for all the cafts of rakes, gamefters, and fine gentlemen, they can fill them to the life. Think only what a violence it must be to the nerve of an humble unpretending actor, to be obliged to play the gal lant gay feducer, and be the cuckold no other object at heart but to go maker of the comedy, when he has to his wife and children, and partiquietly home, when the play is over, cipate with them in the honeft earnings of his vocation: can such a man compete
compete with the Lothario of high life?
And now I mention the cares of a family, I strike upon another difadvantage, which the public performer is fubject to, and the private exempt from. The Andromache of the ftage may have an infant Hector at home, whom the more tenderly feels for than the Hector of the fcene; he may be fick, he may be fupperlefs; there may be none to nurse him, when his mother is out of fight, and the maternal intereft in the divided heart of the actress may preponde, rate over the Heroine's. This is a cafe not within the chances to happen to any lady actress, who of courfe contigns the talk of education to other hands, and keeps her own at leifure for more preffing duties.
Public performers have their memories loaded and distracted with a variety of parts, and oftentimes are compelled to fuch a repetition of the fame part, as cannot fail to quench the spirit of the reprefentation; they must obey the call of duty, be the caft of the character what it may
Cum Thaida fuftinet, aut cum Uxorem comadus aget.
Subject to all the various cafts of life, Now the loofe harlot, now the virtuous
But, what is worfe than all, the veterans of the public ftage will fometimes be appointed to play the old and ugly, as I can inftance in the perfon of a most admirable actress, whom I have often feen, and never without the tribute of applaufe, in the cafts of Juliet's Nurfe, Aunt Deborah, and other venerable damfels in the vale of years, when I am confident there is not a lady of independent rank in England of Mrs Pitt's age, who would not rather struggle for Mifs Jenny or Mifs Hoyden, than ftoop to be the reprefentative of fuch od bags.
Thefe and the fubjection public performers are under to the caprice of the fpectators, and to the attacks of conceited and misjudging critics, are amongst the many difagre ble circumftances, which the most minent muft expect, and the most fortunate cannot escape.
It would be hard indeed if performers of distinction, who use the ftage only as an elegant and moral refource, fhould be subject to any of thefe unplealant conditions; and yet, as a friend to the rifing fame of the domestic drama, I must observe, that there are some precautions neceffary, which its patrons have not yet attended to. There are fo many confequences to be guarded against, as well as provifions to be made, for an establishment of this fort, that it behoves its conductors to take their first ground with great judgment; and above all things to be very careful that an exhibition fo ennobled by its actors, may be caft into fuch a ftile and character, as may keep it clear from any poffible comparison with fpectacles, which it fhould not condefcend to imitate, and cannot hope to equal. This I believe has not been attempted, not even reflected upon and yet if I may speak from information of fpecimens, which I have not been prefent at, there are many reforms needful both in its external as well as internal arrangement.
By external I mean fpectacle, comprehending theatre, ftage, fcene. ry, orchestra, and all things elfe, which fall within the province of the arbiter deliciarum: These should be planned upon a model new, original, and peculiar to themfelves; fo induftriously distinguished from our public play-houses, that they should not trike the eye, as now they do, like a copy in miniature, but as the ind pendent fketch of a mafter who difdains to copy. I can call to mind
many noble halls and ftately apart ments in the great houfes and caftles of our nobility, which would give an artift ample field for fancy, and which with proper help would be difpofed into new and ftriking shapes for fuch a scene of action, as fhould become the dignity of the performers. Halls and faloons, flanked with interior columns and furrounded by galleries, would with the aid of proper draperies of fcenery in the intercolumniations take a rich and elegant appearance, and at the fame time the mufic might be fo difpofed in the gallery, as to produce a moft animating effect. A very fmall elevation of stage fhould be allowed of, and no contraction by fide-fcenes, to huddle the speakers together and embarrass their deportment; no fhift of scene whatever, and no curtain to draw up and drop, as if puppets were to play behind it: the area, appropriated to the performers, fhould be fo dreffed and furnished with all fuitable accommodations, as to afford every poffible opportunity to the performers of varying their actions and postures, whether of fitting, walk. ing, or ftanding, as their fituations in the fcene, or their intereft, in the dialogue may dictate; fo as to familiarize and affimilate their whole conduct and converfation thro' the progrefs of the drama to the manners and habits of well-bred perfons in real life.
petitioners, and players fervants to the public, these condefcenfions muft be made; but where poets are not fuitors, and performers are benefactors, why fhould the free Mufe wear fhackles? for fuch they are, though the fingers of the brave are employed to put them on the limbs of the fair.
Prologues and epilogues in the modern ftile of writing and fpeaking them, I regard as very unbecoming, and I fhould blufh to fee any lady of fashion in that filly and unfeemly fituation: They are the Haft remaining corruptions of the an. cient drama; reliques of fervility; and only are retained in our London theatres as vehicles of humiliation at the introduction of a new play, and traps for falfe wit, extravagant conceits, and female flippancy at the conclufion of it. Where authors are
As I am fatisfied nothing ought to be admitted from beginning to end, which can provoke comparisons, I revolt with indignation from the idea of a lady of fashion being trammelled in the trickery of the stage, and taught her airs and graces, till the is made the mere fac-fimile of a mannerist, where the most she can afpire to is to be the copy of a copyift. Let none fuch be confulted in drefsing or drilling an honorary novitiate in the forms and fashions of the public ftage; it is a course of difcipline, which neither perfon will profit by; fit by; a kind of barter, in which both parties will give and receive falfe airs and falfe conceits: the fine lady will be difqualified by copying the actress, and the actress will become ridiculous by apeing the fine lady.
As for the choice of the drama, which is fo nice and difficult a part of the business, I fcarce believe there is one play upon the lift, which in all its parts and paffages is thoroughly adapted to fuch a caft as i am fpeaking of: Where it has been in public ufe I am fure it is not, for there comparisons are unavoidable. Plays profeffedly wrote for the stage must deal in ftrong character, and ftriking contraft: How can a lady ftand forward in a part contrived to produce ridicule or difguft, or which is founded upon broad humour and vulgar buffoonery?—
Nempe ipfe videtur, Non perjona loqui
'Tis the herself, and not her mask which speaks.' I doube
I doubt if it be altogether feemly for a gentleman to undertake, unless he can reconcile himself to cry out with Laberius
Eques Romanus lare egresses, meo Domum revertam mimus.
Efquire I fign myself at noon,
The drama therefore must be purpofely written for the occafion; and the writer muft not only have local knowledge of every arrangement preparatory for the exhibition, but perfonal knowledge alfo of the performers who are to exhibit it. The play itself, in my conception of it, fhould be part only of the projected entertainment, woven into the device of a grand and splendid fete, given in fome noble country houfe or palace: neither should the fpectators be totally excufed from their fubfcription to the general gala, nor left to dofe upon their benches through the progrefs of five tedious acts, but called upon at intervals by mufic, dance, or refreshment, elegantly contrived, to change the famenefs of the fcene, and relieve the efforts of the more active corps employed upon the drama.
And now let me fay one word to qualify the irony I fet out with, and acquit myself as a moralift.
There are many and great authorities against this fpecies of entertainment, and certainly the danger is great, where theatrical propenfities are too much indulged in young and inexperienced minds. Tertullian fays, (but he is fpeaking of a very licentious theatre) Theatrum facrarium eft Veneris-" A playhouse is the very facrifty of Venus." And Juvenal, who wrote in the times of the groffeft impurity, maintains that no prudent man will take any young lady to wife, who has ever been even within the walls of a theatre
Cuneis an habent spectacula totis Quod fecuras ames, quodque inde excerpere poffis?
• Look round, and say if any man of sense Will dare to fingle out a wife from hence?
Young women of humble rank and fmall pretenfions fhould be particularly cautious how a vain ambition of being noticed by their fuperiors betrays them into an attempt at dif playing their unprotected perfons on a ftage, however dignified and refpectable. If they have talents, and of courfe applause, are their understandings and manners proof against applaufe? If they mistake their talents, and merit no applause, are they fure they will get no contempt for their felf-conceit? If they have both acting talents and attractive charms, I tremble for their danger. Let the foolish parent, whofe itching ears tingled with the plaudits that refounded thro' the theatre, where virgin modefty depofited its blufhes, beware how his aching heart fhall throb with forrow, when the daughter, que pudica ad theatrum accefferet, inde revertetur impudica. (Cyprian. ad Donatum.)
So much by way of caution to the guardians and protectors of innocence; let the offence light where it may, I care not, fo it ferves the caufe for which my heart is pledged. As for my opinion of private plays in general, tho' it is a falhion which hath kings and princes for its nurfing fathers, and queens and princeffes for its nurfing mothers, I think it is a fashion that should be cautioufly indulged, and narrowly confined to certain ranks, ages, and con ditions in the community at large. Grace forbid! that what the author of my motto faid fcoffingly of the Greeks fhould be faid prophetically of this nation. Emulate them in their love of freedom, in their love of