Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

• 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 Oldfield'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 tawdry load.
The Pict stood before him in the utmost

Booth enters-hark! the universal peal!

But has he spoken-Not a syllableconfusion 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 dresses and decorations of the stage. There

sentiments and expressions, but by the cured, It is certain no faith ought to be kept the English theatre. When the author has

is something of this kind very ridiculous in with cheats, and an oath made to a Pict is 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 cught 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- This very much embarrasses the actor,

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 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 ít 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

who stands behind her to open and spread -Her and eloquent blood 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

page's part; and as for the queen, I am not A young gentlewoman of about nineteen years of age (bred in the family of a person of quality, lately de- so attentive to any thing she speaks, as to ceased) who paints the finest flesh-colour, wants a place, the right adjusting of her train, sest it should and is to be heard of at the house of Mynbeer 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 disordered 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

her father, or lose the hero her lover, Dixit adhuc aliquid ? Nil sane. Quid placet ergo?

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

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

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

exiled kings and distressed heroes, used to

[ocr errors]

pure

R.

Cum stetit in scena, concurrit dextera lævæ.

Lana Tarentino violas imitata veneno.

IMITATED.

Non tamen intus

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. aná 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.' Hor. Ars Poet. ver. 182.

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,

therefore, for the good of mankind (which I have here only touched upon those par- I trust you and 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. abroad, where and in what manner we see

Roscommon.

cross,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

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 absolute 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 Here, if the poet had not been vivacious, long about the streets of London. We in- as well as stupid, he could not, in the 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 flayed the Pict, and made buff of 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 chieftains; 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 grandsire won.' You observe the turn of their minds were so barbarous that, like the Scythians, they deemed

For amongst a people, such as the ancient Britons, who may tends only to novelty, and not satisfaction the skulls of their enemies an ornament to their horse. in 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.

[ocr errors]

Roscommon.

ful purpose of life, what I would propose Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death, should be, that we imitated those wise na

Have burst their cearments ? Why the sepulchre,

Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn'd, tions wherein every man learns some handi Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws, craft-work.-Would it not employ a beau, To cast thee up again? What may this mean? prettily enough, if, instead of eternally

That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel

Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon, playing with a snuff-box, he spent some Making night hideous ? part of his time in making one? Such a method as this would very much conduce I do not therefore find fault with the artito the public emolument, by making every fices above mentioned, when they are inman living good for something; for there troduced with skill, and accompanied by would then be no one member of human proportionable sentiment and expressions society, but would have some little pre- in the writing. tension for some degree in it; like him For the moving of pity, our principle mawho came to Will's coffee-house, upon the chine is the handkerchief: and indeed 'in merit of having writ a posy of a ring. R. our common tragedies, we should not know

very often that the persons are in distress

by any thing they say, if they did not from No. 44.) Friday, April 20, 1711.

time to time apply their handkerchiefs to

their eyes. Far be it from me to think of Tu quid ego, et populus mecum desideret, audi.

banishing this instrument of sorrow from Hor. Ars Poet. ver. 153. the stage; I know a tragedy could not subNow hear what every auditor expects.

sist without it: all that I would contend for,

is to keep it from being misapplied. In a AMONG the several artifices which are word, I would have the actor's tongue symput in practice by the poets to fill the minds pathize with his eyes. of an audience with terror, the first place A disconsolate mother, with a child in is due to thunder and lightning, which her hand, has frequently drawn compassion are often made use of at the descending from the audience, and has therefore gained of a god, or the rising of a ghost, at the a place in several tragedies. A modern vanishing of a devil, or at the death of a writer, that observed how this had took in tyrant. I have known a bell introduced other plays, being resolved to double the into several tragedies with good effect; and distress, and melt his audience twice as have seen the whole assembly in a very much as those before him had done, great alarm all the while it has been ring- brougḥt a princess upon the stage with a ing. But there is nothing which delights little boy in one hand, and a girl in the and terrifies our English theatre so much other. This too had a very good effect. A as a ghost, especially when he appears in third poet being resolved to outwrite all his a bloody shirt. A spectre has very often predecessors, a few years ago introduced saved a play, though he has done nothing three children with great success: and, as I but stalked across the stage, or rose through am informed, a young gentleman, who is a cleft of it, and sunk again without speak- fully determined to break the most obduing one word. There may be a proper rate hearts, has a tragedy by him, where the season for these several terrors; and when first person that appears upon the stage is they only come in as aids and assistances an afflicted widow in her mourning weeds, to the poet, they are not only to be excused, with half a dozen fatherless children atbut to be applauded. Thus the sounding tending her, like those that usually hang of the clock in Venice Preserved, makes about the figure of Charity. Thus several the hearts of the whole audience quake; incidents that are beautiful in a good writer, and conveys a stronger terror to the mind become ridiculous by falling into the hands than it is possible for words to do. The ap- of a bad one. pearance of the ghost in Hamlet is a mas

But among all our methods of moving ter-piece in its kind, and wrought up with pity or terror, there is none so absurd and all the circumstances that can create either barbarous, and what more exposes us to attention or horror. The mind of the rea- the contempt and ridicule of our neighder is wonderfully prepared for his recep-bours, than that dreadful butchering of one tion by the discourses that precede it. His another, which is very frequent upon the dumb' behaviour at his first entrance, English stage. To delight in seeing men strikes the imagination very strongly; but stabbed, poisoned, racked, or impaled, is every time he enters, he is still more ter- certainly the sign of a cruel temper: and as rifying. Who can read the speech with this is often practised before the British which young Hamlet accosts him, without audience, several French critics, who think trembling.

these are grateful spectacles to us, take Hor. Look, my lord, it comes !

occasion from them to represent us a peo'Ham. Angels and ministers of grace defend us !

ple that delight in blood. It is indeed very Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damnd; Bring with thee airs from heav'n, or blasts from hell;

odd to see our stage strewed with carcases Be thy intents wicked or charitable ;

in the last scenes of a tragedy; and to obThou com'st in such a questionable shape

serve in the wardrobe of the playhouse seThat I will speak to thee. I'll call thee Hamlet, King, Father, Royal Dane.-Oh! answer me.

veral daggers, poniards, wheels, bowls for Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell

poison, and many other instruments of

Ars Poet. ver. 185.

Roscommon.

death. Murders and executions are always before he would despatch him, and by ortransacted behind the scenes in the French dering him to retire into that part of the theatre; which in general is very agree- palace where he had slain his father, able to the manners of a polite and civilized whose murder he would revenge in the people: but as there are no exceptions to very same place where it was committed. this rule on the French stage, it leads them By this means the poet observes that deinto absurdities almost as ridiculous as that cency, which Horace afterwards establishwhich falls under our present censure. I ed by a rule, of forbearing to commit parremember in the famous play of Corneille, ricides or unnatural murders before the written upon the subject of the Horatii audience. and Curiatii; the fierce young hero who * Nec pueros coram populo Medea trucidet.' had overcome the Curiatii one after another, (instead of being congratulated by his • Let not Medea draw her murd'ring knife, sister for his victory, being upbraided by

And spill her children's blood upon the stage.' her for having slain her lover) in the height of his passion and resentment kills her. If The French have, therefore, refined too any thing could extenuate so brutal an ac- much upon Horace's rule, who never detion, it would be the doing of it on a sudden, signed to banish all kinds of death from the before the sentiments of nature, reason, or stage: but only such as had too much hormanhood could take place in him. How-ror in them, and which would have a better ever, to avoid public bloodshed, as soon as effect upon the audience when transacted his passion is wrought to its height, he behind the scenes. I would therefore refollows his sister to the whole length of the commend to my countrymen the practice of stage, and forbears killing her till they are the ancient poets, who were very sparing of both withdrawn behind the scenes. I must their public executions, and rather chose to confess, had he murdered her before the perform them behind the scenes, if it could audience, the indecency might have been be done with as great an effect upon the augreater; but as it is, it appears very unna- dience. At the same time I must observe, tural, and looks like killing in cold blood. that though the devoted persons of the To give my opinion upon this case, the fact tragedy were seldom slain before the auought not to have been represented, but to dience, which has generally something ridihave been told, if there was any occasion culous in it, their bodies were often profor it.

duced after their death, which has always It may not be unacceptable to the reader in it something melancholy or terrifying; to see how Sophocles has conducted a tra- so that the killing on the stage does not gedy under the like delicate circumstances. seem to have been avoided only

as an indeOrestes was in the same condition with cency, but also as an improbability. Hamlet in Shakspeare, his mother having Nec pueros coram populo Medea trucidet ; murdered his father, and taken possession

Aut bumana palam coquat exta nefarius Atreus ;

Ant in avem Progne vertatur, Cadmus in anguem, of his kingdom in conspiracy with her adul

Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulis odi. terer. That young prince, therefore, being determined to revenge his father's death

•Medea must not draw her murd'ring knife, upon those who filled his throne, conveys Nor Atreus there his horrid feast prepare : himself by a beautiful stratagem into his

Cadmus and Progne's metamorphoses, mother's apartment, with a resolution to kill

(She to a swallow turn’d, he to a snake ;)

And whatsoever contradicts my sense, her. But because such a spectacle would I hate to see, and never can believe.'- Roscommon. have been too shocking to the audience, this dreadful resolution is executed behind the

I have now gone through the several scenes: the mother is heard calling out to of by the ignorant poets to supply the place

dramatic inventions which are made use her son for mercy; and the son answering her, that she showed no mercy to his fa- of tragedy, and by the skilful to improve ther; after which she shrieks out she is it; some of which I could wish entirely rewounded, and by what follows we find that jected, and the rest to be used with caushe is slain. I do not remember that in tion. It would be an endless task to conany of our plays there are speeches made sider comedy, in the same light, and to behind the scenes, though there are other mention the innumerable shifts that small instances of this nature to be met with in lock in a short coat, and Norris in a long

wits put in practice to raise a laugh. Bulthose of the ancients: and I believe my one, seldom fail of this effect. In ordinary reader will agree with me, that there is something infinitely more affecting in this comedies, a broad and a narrow brimmed dreadful dialogue between the mother and

hat are different characters. Sometimes her son behind the

scenes, than could have the wit of the scene lies in a shoulder-belt, been in any thing transacted before the lover running about the stage, with his

and sometimes in a pair of whiskers. А audience. Orestes immediately after meets head peeping out of a barrel,

* was thought lace; and by a very happy thought of a very good jest in King Charles the Sethe poet avoids killing him before the au

cond's time; and invented by one of the dience, by telling him that he should live some time in his present bitterness of soul | Tub, by Sir George Etheridge.

* The comedy of The Comical Revenge, or Love in a

Hor. Ars Poet.

« AnteriorContinuar »