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caft of countenance; of which the president and offi
cers for the time being are to determine, and the pre' fident to have the casting voice.
• II. That a singular regard be had upon examination, to the gibbosity of the gentlemen that offer
themselves, as founders kinsmen; or to the obliquity • of their figure, in what sort soever.
• III. That if the quantity of any man's nose be eminently miscalculated, whether as to length or 'breadth, he shall have a just pretence to be elected.
Lastly, That if there shall be two or more competitors for the same vacancy cæteris paribus, he that has the thickest skin to have the preference.
Every fresh member, upon his first night, is to entertain the conipany
with a dish of cod-fith, and a speech in praise of Æjop; whose portraiture they have • in full proportion, or rather disproportion, over the
chimney ; and their design is, as soon as their funds • are sufficient, to purchase the heads of Therftes, Duns
Scotus, Scarron, Hudibras, and the old gentleman ' in Oldham, with all the celebrated ill faces of antiquity, as furniture for the club-room.
As they have always been profeffed admirers of the ' other sex, so they unanimously declare that they will
give all possible encouragement to such as will take the benefit of the statute, though none yet
apo peared to do it.
The worthy president, who is their most devoted champion, has lately shewn me two copies of verses composed by a gentleman of his fociety; the first, a congratulatory ode inscribed to Mrs. Touch-wood, upon the loss of her two fore-teeth ; the other, a panegyric upon Mrs. Andiron's left shoulder. Mrs. Vizard (he says) since the small-pox, is grown tolerable ugly, and
toast in the club; but I never heard him lo lavish of his fine things, as upon old Nell Trot, who constantly ' officiates at their table; her he even adores and extols as the
very counterpart of mother Shipton ; in short, Nell (says he) is one of the extraordinary works of
nature ; but as for complexion, shape, and features, 'so valued by others, they are all mere outside and
fymmetry, which is his aversion. Give me leave to
add, that the president is a facetious pleasant gentleman, and
never more so, than when he has got (as • he calls them) his dear mummers about him ; and he * often protests it does him good to meet a fellow ' with a right genuine grimace in his air, (which is so
agreeable in the generality of the French nation ;)
and, as an instance of his sincerity in this particular, ' he gave me a sight of a lift in his pocket-book of ali
this class, who for these five years have fallen under • his observation, with himself at the head of them, * and in the rear (as one of a promising and improving aspect)
your obliged and March 12, 1710.
bumble servant, R.
Wednesday, March 21.
Equitis, quoque jam migravit ab aure voluptas
Hor. Ep. 1. 1. 2. ver. 187.
It is my design in this paper to deliver down to pof
terity a faithful account of the Italian opera, and of
gave us a taste of Italiin music. The great success this
met with produced some attempts of forming pieces upon Italian
plans, which should give a more natural and reasonable entertainment than what can be met with in the elaborate trifles of that nation. This alarmed the poetasters and fiddlers of the town, who were used to deal in a more ordinary kind of ware; and therefore laid down an established rule, which is received as such to this day, That nothing is capable of being well set to music, tbat is not nonfense.
This maxim was no sooner received, but we immediately fell to translating the Italian operas; and as there was no great danger of hurting the sense of those extraordinary pieces, our authors would often make words of their own which were entirely foreign to the meaning of the passages they pretended to translate ; their chief care being to make the numbers of the English verse answer to those of the Italian, that both of them might go to the same tune. Thus the famous song in Camilla,
Barbara fi t'intendo, &c.
Barbarous woman, yes, I know your meaning, which expresses the refentments of an angry lover, was translated into that English lamentation,
Frail are a lover's hopes, &c. And it was pleasant enough to see the most refined perfons of the British nation dying away and languishing to notes that were filled with a spirit of rage and indignation. It happened also very frequently, where the Sense was rightly transated, the necessary transposition of words, which were drawn out of the phrase of one tongue into that of another, made the music appear very absurd in one tongue that was very natural in the other. I remember an Italian verse that ran thus word for word,
And turn'd my rage into pity ; which the English for rhyme fake translatod,
And into pity turn'd my rage. By this means the soft notes that were adapted to pity in the Italian, fell upon the word rage in the English; and the angry sounds that were turned to rage in the original, were made to express pity in the translation. It oftentimes happened likewise, that the finest notes in the air fell upon the most insignificant words in the sentence. I have known the word and pursued through the whole gamut, have been entertained with many a melodious the, and have heard the most beautiful graces, uavers, and divisions bestowed upon then, for, and from ; to the eternal honour of our English particles.
The next step to our refinement, was the introducing of Italian actors into our opera ; who sung their parts in their own language, at the same time that our countrymen performed theirs in our native tongue. The king or hero of the play generally spoke in Italian, and his flaves answered him in English : the lover frequently made his court, and gained the heart of his princess, in a language which the did not understand. One would have thought it very difficult to have carried on dialogues after this manner, without an interpreter between the perfons that conversed together, but this was the state of the English stage for about three years.
At length the audience grew tired of unde. Atanding half the opera ; and therefore to ease themselves entirely of the fatigue of thinking, have so ordered it at present, that the whole opera is performed in an unknown tongue. We no longer understand the language of our own stage; infomuch that I have often been afraid, when I have seen our Italian performers chattering in the vehemence of action, that they have been calling us names, and abusing us among themselves; but I hope, since we do put such an entire confidence in them, they will not talk against us before our faces, though they may do it with the same safety as if it were behind our backs. In the mean time, I cannot forbear thinking how naturally an historian who writes two or three hundred years hence, and does not know the taste of his wise forefathers, will make the following reflection, In the beginning of the eighteenth century the Italian tongue was yo well understood in England, that operas were acted on the public stage in tbat language.
One scarce knows how to be serious in the confutation of an absurdity that shews itself at the first sight. It does not want any great measure of sense to see the ridicule of this monstrous practice; but what makes it the more aftonishing, it is not the taste of the rabble, but of persons of the greatest politeness, which has established it.
If the Italians have a genius for music above the English, the English have a genius for other performances of a much higher nature, and capable of giving the mind a much nobler entertainment.. Would one think it was possible (at a time when an author lived that was able to write the Phedra and Hippolitus) for a people to be so stupidly fond of the Italian opera, as scarce to give a third day's hearing to that admirable tragedy? Music is certainly a very. agreeable entertainment : but if it would take the entire poffeßion of our ears, if it would make us incapable of hearing fenfe, if it would exclude arts that have a much greater tendency to the refinement of human nature ; I must confess I would allow it no better quarter than Plato has done, who banishes it out of his commonwealth.
At present our notions of music are so very uncertain, that we do not know what it is we like ; only, in general, we are transported with any thing that is not English. So it be of a foreign growth, let it be Italian, French, or High-Dutch, it is the fame thing. In short, our English music is quite rooted out, and nothing yet planted in its stead.
When a royal palace is burnt to the ground, every man is at liberty to present his plan for a new one ; and though it be but indifferently put together, it may furnish several hints that may be of use to a good architect. I shall take the same liberty in a following paper, of giving my opinion upon the subject of music which I shall lay down only in a problematical manner, to be considered by those who are: matters in the art.