Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

sorrow.

Othello, &c. King Lear is an admirable | very often raise himself a loud clap by this tragedy of the same kind, as Shakspeare artifice. The poets that were acquainted wrote it; but as it is reformed, according with this secret, have given frequent octo the chimerical notion of poetical justice, casion for such emotions in the actor, by in my humble opinion it has lost half its adding vehemence to words where there beauty. At the same time I must allow, was no passion, or inflaming a real passion that there are very noble tragedies, which into fustian. This hath filled the mouths have been framed upon the other plan, and of our heroes with bombast; and given have ended happily; as indeed most of the them such sentiments, as proceed rather good tragedies, which have been written from a swelling than a greatness of mind. since the starting of the above criticism, Unnatural exclamations, curses, vows, have taken this turn; as The Mourning blasphemies, a defiance of mankind, and Bride; Tamerlane, Ulysses, Phædra and an outraging of the gods, frequently pass Hippolitus, with most of Mr. Dryden's. I upon the audience for towering thoughts, must also allow that many of Shakspeare's, and have accordingly met with infinite apand several of the celebrated tragedies of plause. antiquity, are cast in the same form. I do I shall here add a remark, which I am not therefore dispute against this way of afraid our tragic writers may make an ill writing tragedies, but against the criticism use of. As our heroes are generally lovers, that would establish this as the only me their swelling and blustering upon the thod; and by that means would very stage very much recommends them to the much cramp the English tragedy, and fair part of their audience. The ladies are perhaps give a wrong bent to the genius of wonderfully pleased to see a man insulting our writers.

kings, or affronting the gods in one scene, The tragi-comedy, which is the product and throwing himself at the feet of his of the English theatre, is one of the most mistress in another. Let him behave himmonstrous inventions that ever entered into self insolently towards the men, and aba poet's thoughts. An author might as jectly towards the fair one, and it is ten to well think of weaving the adventures of one but he proves a favourite with the Æneas and Hudibras into one poem, as of boxes. Dryden and Lee, in several of writing such a motley piece of mirth and their tragedies, have practised this secret

But the absurdity of these per- with good success. formances is so very visible, that I shall not But to show how a rant pleases beyond insist upon it.

the most just and natural thought that is The same objections which are made to not pronounced with vehemence, I would tragi-comedy, may in some measure be ap- desire the reader when he sees the tragedy plied to all tragedies that have a double of (Edipus, to observe how quietly the hero plot in them; which are likewise more fre- is dismissed at the end of the third act, quent upon the English stage, than upon after having pronounced the following lines, any other; for though the grief of the au- in which the thought is very natural, and dience, in such performances, be not apt to move compassion: changed into another passion, as in tragi- "To you good gods, I make my last appeal.' comedies; it is diverted upon another ob- Or clear my virtues, or my crimes revcal. ject, which weakens their concern for the

If in the maze of fate I blindly run,

And backward tread those paths I sought to shun; principal action, and breaks the tide of sor- Impute my errors to your own decree: row, by throwing it into different channels. My hands are guilty, but my heart is free.' This inconvenience, however, may, in a Let us then observe with what thunder great measure be cured, if not wholly re- claps of applause he leaves the stage, after moved, by the skilful choice of an under- the impieties and execrations at the end of plot, which may bear such a near relation the fourth act; and you will wonder to see to the principal design as to contribute to an audience so cursed and so pleased at the wards the completion of it, and be con- same time. cluded by the same catastrophe.

"O that, as oft I have at Athens seen, There is also another particular, which may be reckoned among the blemishes, or

[Where by the way, there was 70 stage rather the false beauties of our English tra

till many years after Edipus. ] gedy: I mean those particular speeches

The stage arise, and the big clouds descend;

So now in very deed, I might behold which are commonly known by the name, This pond'rous globe, and all yon marble roof, of rants. The warm and passionate parts

Meet, like the hands of Jove, and crush mankind:

For all the elements,' &c. of a tragedy, are always the most taking with the audience; for which reason we

ADVERTISEMENT. often see the players pronouncing, in all Having spoken of Mr. Powell, as sometimes raising the violence of action, several parts of the himself applause from the ill taste of an audience, I tragedy which the author writ with great must do him the justice to own, that he is excellently temper, and designed that they should fortunately, however, in his latter days, the love of the have been so acted. I have seen Powell* bottle weaned him from his attachment to the stage,

and he declined greatly from that reputation which he Mr. George Powell, though moving in the same had acquired. He was author of five Plays, all of sphere with Betterton, Booth, Wilkes, &c. maintained which he brought on the stage with good success. He no inconsiderable rank in the public estimation : un. I died in 1714.

C.

formed for a tragedian, and, when he pleases, deserves of the lady will do for this injured gentlewill in the Conquest of Mexico, which is acted for his man, but must allow he has very much jusown benetit, to-morrow night.

tice on his side. I have indeed very long observed this evil, and distinguished those

of our women who wear their own, from No. 41.] Tuesday, April 17, 1711. those in borrowed complexions, by the Tu non inventa reperta es.

Picts and the British. There does not need Ovid. Met. i. 654.

any great discernment to judge which are So found, is worse than lost. Addison. which. The British have a lively animated COMPASSION for the gentleman who aspect; the Picts, though never so beautiful, writes the following letter, should not pre- have dead uninformed countenances. The vail upon me to fall upon the fair-sex, if it muscles of a real face sometimes swell with were not that I find they are frequently soft passion, sudden surprise, and are flushfairer than they ought to be. Such impos- ed with agreeable confusions, according as tures are not to be tolerated in civil society, the objects before them, or the ideas preand I think his misfortune ought to be made sented to them, affect their imagination. public, as a warning for other men always But the Picts behold all things with the to examine into what they admire. same air, whether they are joyful or sad; “SIR,Supposing you to be a person of all occasions. A Pict, though she takes all

the same fixed insensibility appears upon general knowledge, I'make my application to you on a very particular occasion. I have that pains to invite the approach of lovers, a great mind to be rid of my wife, and is obliged to keep them at a certain dishope, when you consider my case, you will tance; a sigh in a languishing lover, if be of opinion I have very just pretensions fetched too near her, would dissolve a feato a divorce. I am a mere man of the town, ture; and a kiss snatched by a forward one, and have very little improvement, but what might transfer the complexion of the misI have got from plays. I remember in The tress to the admirer. It is hard to speak of Silent Woman, the learned Dr. Cutberd, these false fair ones, without saying someor Dr. Otter, (I forget whith) makes one commend to them to consider how

they like

thing uncomplaisant, but I would only reof the causes of separation to be Error Personæ, when a man marries a woman, coming into a room new painted; they may and finds her not to be the same woman

assure themselves the near approach of a whom he intended to

lady who uses this practice is much more but another.

marry, If that be law, it is, I presume, exactly my

offensive. case. For you are to know, Mr. Spectator,

Will Honeycomb told us, one

day, an adthat there are women who do not let their venture he once had with a Pict. This husbands see their faces till they are mar- lady had wit, as well as beauty, at will; and ried.

made it her business to gain hearts, for no • Not to keep you in suspense, I mean

other reason but to rally the torments of

her lovers. She would make great adplainly that part of the sex who paint.

They are some of them so exquisitely' skil- vances to ensnare men, but without any ful this way, that give them but a tolerable manner of scruple break off when there was pair of eyes to set up with, and they will no provocation. Her ill nature and vanity make bosom, lips, cheeks, and eye-brows, made my friend very easily proof against by their own industry. As for my dear, the charms of her wit and conversation; but never was a man so enamoured as I was of her beauteous form, instead of being blemher fair forehead, neck, and arms, as well

ished by her falsehood and inconstancy, great astonishment, I find they were all the When she observed Will irrevocably her as the bright jet of her hair; but, to my every day increased upon him, and she had

new attractions every time he saw her. effect of art. Her skin is so tarnished with this practice, that when she first wakes in slave, she began to use him as such, and

after a morning, she scarce seems young enough

many steps towards such a cruelty, to be the mother of her whom I carried to she at last utterly banished him. The unbed the night before. I shall take the happy lover strove in vain, by servile episliberty to part with her by the first oppor. was forced to the last refuge, a round sum

tles, to revoke his doom, till at length he tunity, unless her father will make her portion suitable to her real, not her assumed

of money to her maid.

This corrupt atcountenance. This I thought fit to let him tendant placed him early in the morning and her know by your means. I am, Sir, behind the hangings in her mistress's dressyour most obedient, humble servant.'

ing-room. He stood very conveniently to

observe, without being seen. The Pict beI cannot tell what the law, or the parents gins the face she designed to wear that day,

and I have heard him protest she had * Epicæne, or The Silent Woman, a comedy by Ben worked a full half hour before he knew her Jonson. It is much

to be regretted

that this fine comedy to be the same woman. As soon as he saw gers of our theatres. Unless the public taste has greatly the dawn of that complexion for which he declined from what it was, this excellent performance had so long languished, he thought fit to would certainly be more acceptable than the flippant break from his concealment, repeating that vplgar nonsense with which we are so often annoyed from the pens of some of our modern dramatists. verse of Cowley:

9

• Th' adorning thee with so much art,

Such is the shout, the long applauding note,
Is but a barbarous skill;

At Quin's high plume, or Oldtield's petticoat: "Tis like the pois'ning of a dart,

Or when from court a birth-day suit bestow'd
Too apt before to kill.'

Sinks the lost actor in the lawdry load.
The Pict stood before him in the utmost

Booth enters-hark! the universal peal!

But has he spoken-Not a syllable confusion with the prettiest smirk imagina- What shook the stage, and made the people stare ? ble on the finished side of her face, pale as Cato's long wig, flowr'd gown, and lacker'd chair. ashes on the other. Honeycomb seized all

Pope. her galley-pots and washes, and carried off

AristoTLE has observed, that ordinary his handkerchief full of brushes, scraps of writers in tragedy endeavour to raise terror Spanish wool, and phials of unguents. The and pity in their audience, not by proper lady went into the country: the lover was sentiments and expressions, but by the cured.

dresses and decorations of the stage. There It is certain no faith ought to be kept

is something of this kind very ridiculous in with cheats, and an oath made to a Pict is the English theatre. When the author has of itself void. I would therefore exhort all a mind to terrify us, it thunders; when he the British ladies to single them out, nor do would make us melancholy, the stage is I know any but Lindamira who should be darkened. But among all our tragic artiexempt from discovery; for her own com

fices, I am the most offended at those which plexion is so delicate that she ought to be are made use of to inspire us with magnifiallowed the covering it with paint, as a cent ideas of the persons that speak. The punishment for choosing to be the worst ordinary method of making a hero, is to piece of art extant, instead of the master-clap, a huge plume of feathers upon his piece of nature. As for my part, who

have head, which rises so very high, that there no expectations from women, and consider is often a greater length from his chin to them only as they are part of the species, I the top of his head, than to the sole of his do not half so much fear offending a beauty foot. One would believe, that we thought a as a woman of sense; I shall therefore pro- great man and a tall man the same thing. duce several faces which have been in pub- who is forced to hold his neck extremely

very much embarrasses the actor, lic these many years, and never appeared. It will be a very pretty entertainment in the stiff and steady all the while he speaks; and playhouse, (when I have abolished this cus- notwithstanding any anxieties which he tom) to see so many ladies, when they first pretends for his mistress, his country, or lay it down, incog. in their own faces.

his friends, one may see by his action, that In the mean time, as a pattern for im- his greatest care and concern is to keep the proving their charms, let the sex study the plume of feathers from falling off his head. agreeable Statira. Her features are en

For my own part, when I see a man utterlivened with the cheerfulness of her mind, ing his complaints under such a mountain and good humour gives an alacrity to her of feathers, I am apt to look upon him raeyes. She is graceful without affecting an ther as an unfortunate lunatic than a disair, and unconcerned without appearing tressed hero. As these superfluous ornacareless. Her having no manner of art in ments upon the head make a great man, a her mind, makes her want none in her princess generally receives her grandeur person.

from those additional incumbrances that fall How like is this lady, and how unlike is into her tail; I mean the broad sweeping a Pict, to that description Dr. Donne gives train that follows her in all her motions, of his mistress?

and finds constant employment for a boy -Her pure and eloquent blood

who stands behind her to open and spread Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought, it to advantage. I do not know how others That one would almost say her body thought.' are affected at this sight, but I must conADVERTISEMENT.

fess, my eyes are wholly taken up with the A young gentlewoman of about nineteen years of age

page's part; and as for the queen, I am not ceased) who paints the finest flesh-colour, wants a place, the right adjusting of her train, lest it should (bred in the family of a person of quality, lately de- so attentive to any thing she speaks, as to and is to be heard of at the house of Mynheer Grotesque, chance to trip up her heels, or incommode

N. B. She is also well skilled in the drapery part, and her, as she walks to and fro upon the stage.
puts on hoods, and mixes ribands so as to suit the co- It is, in my opinion, a very odd spectacle,
lours of the face with great art and success.

to see a queen venting her passion in a dis
ordered motion, and a little boy taking care

all the while that they do not ruffle the tail No. 42.) Wednesday, April 18, 1711. of her gown. The parts that the two per

sons act on the stage at the same time are Garganum mugire putes nemus, aut mare Tuscum; Tanto cum strepitu ludi spectantur, et artes,

very different.

The princess is afraid lest Divitiæque peregrinæ; quibus oblitus actor she should incur the displeasure of the king Cum stetit in scena, concurrit dextera lævæ. Dixit adhuc aliquid ? Nil sane. Quid placet ergo?

her father, or lose the hero her lover, Lana Tarentino violas imitata veneno.

whilst her attendant is only concerned lest Hor. Lib. 2. Ep. i. 202. she should entangle her feet in her petticoat. IMITATED.

We are told, that an ancient tragic poet, Loud as the wolveg, on Orca's stormy steep,

to move the pity of his audience for his Howl to the roarings of the northern deep:

exiled kings and distressed heroes, used to

R.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Non tamen intus

Hor. Ars Poct. ver. 182.

make the actors represent them in dresses A good poet will give the reader a more and clothes that were thread-bare and de- lively idea of an army or a battle in a decayed. This artifice for moving pity, seems scription, than if he actually saw them as ill-contrived as that we have been speak- drawn up in squadrons and battalions, or ing of, to inspire us with a great idea of the engaged in the confusion of a fight. Our persons introduced upon the stage. In short, minds should be opened to great concepI would have our conceptions raised by the tions, and inflamed with glorious sentiments dignity of thought and sublimity of expres- by what the actor speaks more than by sion, rather than by a train of robes or a what he appears. Can all the trappings plume of feathers

or equipage of a king or hero, give Brutus Another mechanical method of making half that pomp and majesty which he regreat men, and adding dignity to kings and ceives from a few lines in Shakspeare? queens, is to accompany them with halberds

C. and battle-axes. Two or three shifters of scenes, with the two candle-snuffers, make up a complete body of guards upon the En-No. 43.] Thursday, April 19, 1711. glish stage; and by the addition of a few Hæ tibi erunt artes: pacisque imponere morem, porters dressed in red coats, can represent Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos. above a dozen legions. I have sometimes

Virg. Æn. vi. 853. seen a couple of armies drawn up together

Be these thy arts, to bid contention cease,

Chain up stern war, and give the nations peace; upon the stage, when the poet has been dis

O'er subject lands extend thy gentle sway, posed to do honour to his generals. It is And teach with iron rod the haughty to obey. impossible for the reader's imagination to THERE are crowds of men whose great multiply twenty men into such prodigious misfortune it is that they were not bound multitudes, or to fancy that two or three to mechanic arts or trades; it being absohundred thousand soldiers are fighting in a lutely necessary for them to be led by some room of forty or fifty yards in compass. In- contínual task or employment. These are cidents of such a nature should be told, not such as we commonly call dull fellows; represented.

persons, who for want of something to do,

out of a certain vacancy of thought, rather Digna geri promes in scenam: multaque tolles than curiosity, are ever meddling with Ex oculis, quæ mox narret facundia præsens.'

things for which they are unfit. I cannot Yet there are things improper for a scene,

give you a notion of them better, than by Which men of judgment only will relate.' presenting you with a letter from a gentle

man, who belongs to a society of this order I should, therefore, in this particular, re- of men, residing at Oxford. commend to my countrymen the example of the French stage, where the kings and “Oxford, April 13, 1711, 4 o'clock in queens always appear unattended, and

the morning. leave their guards behind the scenes.

I SIR,-In some of your late speculations, should likewise be glad if we imitated the I find some sketches towards a history of French in banishing from our stage the clubs; but you seem to me to show them in noise of drums, trumpets, and huzzas; somewhat too ludicrous a light. I have which is sometimes so very great, that well weighed that matter, and think, that when there is a battle in the Haymarket the most important negociations may best theatre, one may hear it as far as Charing- be carried on in such assemblies. I shall, cross.

therefore, for the good of mankind (which I have here only touched upon those par- I trust you and I are equally concerned for) ticulars which are made use of to raise and propose an institution of that nature for exaggrandize the persons of a tragedy; and ample sake. shall show, in another paper, the several • I must confess that the design and transexpedients which are practised by authors actions of too many clubs are trifling, and of a vulgar genius to move terror, pity, or manifestly of no consequence to the nation admiration, in their hearers.

or public weal. Those I will give you up. The tailor and the painter often contri- But you must do me then the justice to own, bute to the success of a tragedy more than that nothing can be more useful or laudathe poet. Scenes affect ordinary minds as ble, than the scheme we go upon. To much as speeches; and our actors are very avoid nicknames and witticisms, we call sensible, that a well-dressed play has some ourselves the Hebdomadal Meeting. Our times brought them as full audiences as a president continues for a year at least, and well-written one. The Italians have a very sometimes four or five; we are all grave, good phrase to express this art of imposing serious, designing men, in our way: we upon the spectators by appearances; they think it our duty, as far as in us lies, to call it the Fourberia'della scena.' The take care the constitution receives no harm knavery or trickish part of the drama.' But –Ne quid detrimenti res capiat publica.however the show and outside of the tragedy To censure doctrines or facts, persons or may work upon the vulgar, the more un- things, which we do not like; to settle the derstanding part of the audience immedi- nation at home, and carry on the war ately see through it, and despise it. labroad, where and in what manner we see

Roscommon.

fit. If other people are not of our opinion, to their inquiries, which dull fellows do not we cannot help that. It were better they make for information, but for exercise. I were. Moreover, we now and then con- do not know but this may be a very good descend to direct, in some measure, the way of accounting for what we frequently little affairs of our own university.

see, to wit, that dull fellows prove very Verily, Mr. Spectator, we are much good men of business. Business relieves offended at the act for importing French them from their own natural heaviness, by wines. A bottle or two of good solid edi- furnishing them with what to do; whereas fying port at honest George's, made a night business to mercurial men, is an interrupcheerful, and threw off reserve. But this tion from their real existence and happiplaguy French claret will not only cost us ness. Though the dull part of mankind are more money, but do us less good. Had we harmless in their amusements, it were to been aware of it before it had gone too far, be wished they had no vacant time, because I must tell you, we would have petitioned they usually undertake something that to be heard upon that subject. But let that makes their wants conspicuous, by their pass.

manner of supplying them. You shall sel•I must let you know likewise, good sir, dom find a dull fellow of good education, that we look upon a certain northern prince's but if he happens to have any leisure upon march, in conjunction with infidels, to be his hands, will turn his head to one of those palpably against our good-will and liking; two amusements for all fools of eminence, and, for all monsieur Palmquist, a most politics or poetry. The former of these dangerous innovation: and we are by no arts is the study of all dull people in genemeans yet sure, that some people are not ral; but when dulness is lodged in a perat the bottom of it. At least my own pri- son of a quick animal life, it generally exvate letters leave room for a politician, well erts itself in poetry. One might here versed in matters of this nature, to suspect mention a few military writers, who give as much, as a penetrating friend of mine great entertainment to the age, by reason tells me.

that the stupidity of their heads is quickened •We think we have at least done the bu- by the alacrity of their hearts. This consiness with the malcontents in Hungary, stitution in a dull fellow, gives vigour to and shall clap up a peace there.

nonsense, and makes the puddle boil, which •What the neutrality army is to do, or would otherwise stagnate. The British what the army in Flanders, and what two Prince, that celebrated poem, which was or three other princes, is not yet fully de- written in the reign of King Charles the termined among us; and we wait impa- Second, and deservedly called by the wits tiently for the coming in of the next Dyer, of that age incomparable, was the effect of who you must know is our authentic intel- such a happy genius as we are speaking of. ligence, our Aristotle in politics. And, From among many other distichs no less to indeed, it is but fit there should be some be quoted on this account, I cannot but redernier resort, the absoluto decider of all cite the two following lines: controversies.

• A painted vest Prince Voltager had on, •We were lately informed that the gal- Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won.'* lant trained-bands had patrolled all night long about the streets of London. We in- as well as stupid, he could not, in the

Here, if the poet had not been vivacious, deed could not imagine any occasion for it, warmth and hurry of nonsense, have been we guessed not a tittle on it aforehand, we capable of forgetting that neither Prince were in nothing of the secret; and that city Voltager, nor his grandfather, could strip tradesmen, or their apprentices, should do a naked man of his doublet; but a fool of a duty or work through the holidays, we colder constitution would have stayed to thought absolutely impossible. But Dyer have fayed the Pict, and made bufʻof his being positive in it, and some letters from skin, for the wearing of the conqueror. other people, who had talked with some

To bring these observations to some usewho had it from those who should know, giving some countenance to it, the chairman

* Absurd as these lines are, they found an apologist reported from the committee appointed to in the late Edward King, esq. who, in his Munimenta examine into that affair, that it was possi- Antiqua, after alluding to the practice of tattooing beble there might be something in it. I have ing prevalent amongst the Britons, Picts, and other much more to say to you,

but my two good ed, however, were as indelible as they were honourable; friends and neighbours, Dominic and Sly- and they were even badges of their clueftains; inso boots, are just come in, and the coffee is much that it is not quite impossible to make sense of ready. I am, in the meantime, Mr. Spec- their burlesque nonsense :

those lines, so elegantly censured in the Spectator, for tator, your admirer and humble servant, *ABRAHAM FROTH.”

"A painted vest Prince Voltager had on,

Which from a naked Pict his grandsite uon.' You may observe the turn of their minds For amongst a people, such as the ancient Britons, who tends only to novelty, and not satisfaction the skulls of their enemies an ornament to their borsein any thing. It would be disappointment trappings, it is not absolutely impossible to suppose that to them, to come to certainty in any thing, Wolf, might be worn as a trophy!". for that would gravel them, and put an end

Munimenta Antiqua, vol. i. p. 186.

« ZurückWeiter »