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“She speaks, yet she says nothing !” Now is not this good Irish? He then observes “Her ege discourses, I will answer it !” and immediately this poor, brain-sick, love-lorn, sighing swain, begins to discourse with Juliet's eye: (though it must be admitted 'tis only by moonlight, and so dark he can scarcely see her eye !) no matter; a critic, if from the isle of Saint Patrick, or from the neighbourhood of Saint Giles's, might say, by way of a joke and with the true brogue, that Romeo's discourse was “all my eye!” such a phrase might be thought vulgar wit: but, whether so or not, we will change this amatory subject for one of a graver sort. The same author (Shakespeare) tells us that “ Love is merely a madness, and sometimes deserves a horsewhip.”. · I very well remember the first theatrical performance I was taken to witness. The play announced in the bills was “ Love in a Village.” I could not conceive what a play was, and I could neither eat nor sleep, so great was my expectation of the treat that I was to receive. At length the long desired evening came,the company delighted me I was lost in astonishment at the various divisions of boxes, pit and gallery;when the curtain rose, the scenery called forth an exclamation of surprise - the whole drama seemed to me a real spectacle--I sympathized with the lovers and laughed with the happy swains-until I almost deemed the whole the work of enchantment. But an incident occurred there which has served to imprint it more deeply on my memory, and which, from its ludicrons nature, may be worth recording.
The performances of that night were particularly patronized by a Mr. Bradshaw, a gentleman of as much popularity as any in the town. This gentleman bad written a few speeches on some local circumstances that had then recently occurred, which he gave to the actors, and the persons to whom these speeches alluded were invited by Mr. Bradshaw, and by him seated in a very conspicuous situation near the stage doors; the motives for so doing will presently appear. One of the persons so seated was a Mr. Eden, the landlord of the White Horse Inn.
This gentleman was, in many respects, an eccentric character; he frequently administered charms for the cure of the ague, the tooth ache and other maladies : but was most talked of for having hoarded up and kept in his possession, for several years, a considerable quantity of Three-Pound-Twelves ! ” a species of coin well known at that time and greatly admired.
Those valuable pieces of coin Mr. Eden, in his merry moments, often boasted of, and sometimes exhibited to his friends and customers. Some of his waggish companions, by way of joke, once obtained possession of these favourite and valuable pieces! The old geritleman's alarm may be imagined! Having tormented him for several days, the coins were replaced, and he was pacified, resolving within himself to be more careful of them in future. It was reported that he once concealed them amongst some sand, stones and other rubbish, contained in an old box that served as a weight to the cook's roasting jack! These incidents were neatly alluded to by the pen of Mr. Bradshaw and introduced
into the play on that particular evening, in the scene where there is a Statute Fair held for the hiring of servants. The new written scene opened with the Justice complaining of the carelessness of his domesties, and the improper conduct, idle pranks and most provoking propensities of his whole family: a countryman briefly announced tbat the people out of doors were all in a state of alarm, on account of a robbery that had just been committed at a public-house in the market-place.
Here a seryant came in, as if frightened out of her wits, saying that the thief had escaped in disguise : he was rather a young man, with hair of a carotty color, and some thought he had made his way through the erowd and skulked into the play-house: she desired all to take care of themselves and their pockets ; she then went off, peeping about as if in search of the robber. Justice Woodcock now pretended to be dreadfully alarmed, when the same man who had previously sung the song of “Gee ho, Dobbin !" ran in from the stairs, and called another countryman aside, and slyly told him, that if he would help him in the concealment, bie should go halves in the booty of which he had just luckily obtained possession. He then stated that he had been at the Inn, called the White Horse, and understanding that the landlord was from home, he had stolen his Three-Pound-Twelves! and here they are !! In saying this, he produced a large yellow canvass purse, which he shook and rattled, as if full of money: Mr. Eden immediately jumped from his seat, caught the fellow by the collar, and called aloud for constables
to assist him to apprehend the villain who had robbed him ! who had clandestinely plundered his house of the treasure he valued more than life! He then shook the supposed thief and raved like a madman. (The audience laughed); “ Ay, ay” (he cried) “ you may be merry if you like, but not at my expense; it is no laughing matter for me; I insist on having my money again, or I'll tear this rascal to pieces. He then again shook the actor till the beholders were obliged to interfere in his behalf. The old gentleman could not be pacified. He would make oath that the property was his, and he would have it in spite of all who were unfeeling enough to make a jest of his misfortunes. He was told that it was not a proper time or place to speak of. the matter; it ought to be more regularly and thoroughly investigated, before proper persons. That they had a reliance on his character, as an honorable fair-dealing man, and, to satisfy his impatient suspicions, the purse and its contents should be safely sealed up in his presence, and he might leave it in the hands of the constables, or even take it home with him, and let the business be settled the next day. This arrangemeat completely restored the old gentleman to his wonted good humour, and he went home with his supposed treasure under his arm. This scene as may easily be imagined elicited great applause and incessant roars of laughter! When Mr. Eden reached home, his surprise, his astonishment may be conceived, it cannot be expressed.
He found his property safe where he had left it, and the whole affair a Joke, a mere trick that these wags
had played upon him. Well-pleased to find his beloved money in a place of safety, yet somewhat chagrined at having been so made a laughing stock, he ventured not to return to the theatre, but consoled himself as well as he could with an extra glass of his favorite beverage, went to bed and slept till the next morning.
This story stopped not hastily; it became the subject of many a mirthful evening, and will never cease to be talked of as long as any of the parties concerned remain alive. A few words more concerning the theatre. It is not improbable that the events here mentioned might have first sowed the seeds of my future love of theatrical pursuits ! I still retain a slight remembrance of one of the performers in that company. His name was Clayton : more than twenty years afterwards, a daughter of his (Mrs. Pine) was a member of my company, at Salisbury, Dorchester, and other places.
I must now proceed or rather return to my school history. Having left my good old dame, I was sent to the best seminary in the town or neighbourhood, called the Church School. The master of it, Mr. Daniel Stafford, was a very clever, worthy man. He and his son, Mr. John Stafford (still alive), not only conducted their school, but had the chief management of the almanacks, the property of the Stationers' Company in London. This first turned my attention to almanacks and many things that concerned them.
Mr. White, too, the author of the celebrated nautical almanack called “The Ephemeris; or Celestial Atlas,” resided at Bingham.