Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

bryo; and receives impressions so forcible, that week, I saw her dressed for a ball, and in a they are as hard to be removed by reason, as shroud. How ill did the habit of death become any mark with which a child is born is to be the pretty trifer? I still behold the smiling taken away by any future application. Hence earth-A large train of disasters were coming it is, that good nature in me is no merit ; but on to my memory, when my servant kpocked having been so frequently overwhelmed with at my closet-dour, and interrupted me with a her tears before I knew the cause of any afflic-letter, attended with a hamper of wine, of the tion, or could draw defences from my own same sort with that which is to be put to sale udgment, I imbibed commiseration, remorse, on Thursday next, at Garraway's coffee-house. and an unmaply gentleness of mind, which has Upon the receipt of it, I sent for three of my since insnared me into ten thousand calamities; friends. We are so intimate, that we can be from whence I can reap no advantage, except company in whatever state of mind we meet, it be, that, in such a humour as I am uow in, and can entertain each other without expecting I can the better indulge myself in the softnesses always to rejoice. The wine we found to be of humanity, and enjoy that sweet anxiety generous and warming, but with such a heat wbich arises from the memory of past afflictions. as moved us rather to be cheerful than frolick

We, that are very old, are better able to re. some. It revived the spirits, without firing member things which befell us in our distant the blood. We commended it until two of the youth, than the passages of later days. For clock this morning; and having to-day met a this reason it is, that the companions of my little before dinner, we found, that though we strong and vigorous years present themselves drank two bottles a man, we had much more more immediately to me in this office of sorrow. reason to recollect thau forget what had passed Untimely and unhappy deaths are what we the night before. are most apt to lament; so little are we able to make it indifferent when a thing happens, though we know it must happen. Thus we No. 182.] Thursday, June 8, 1710. gruan under life, and bewail those who are relieved from it. Every object that returns to

Spectaret populum ludis attentiùs ipsis.

Hor. 1 Ep. ii. 197. our imagination raises different passions, according to the circumstance of their departure.

The crowd would inore delight the laughing sage, Who can bave lived in an army, and in a se

Than all the farce, and follies of the stage.

Francis. rivus bour reflect upon the many gay and agreeable men that might long have Avurished

Sheer-lane, June 7. in the arts of peace, and not join with the im- The town grows so very empty, that the precations of the fatherless and widow on the greater number of my gay characters are fled tyrant to whose ambition they fell sacrifices ? out of my sight into the country. My beaux But gallant men, who are cut off by the sword, are now shepherds, and my belles wood-nymphs. mive rather our veneration than our pity; and They are lolling over rivulets, and covered we gather relief enough from their own con

with shades, while we who remain in town, tempt of death, to make that no evil, which burry through the dust about impertinencies, was approached with so much cheerfulness, without koowing the happiness of leisure and attended with so much honour. But when and retirement. To add to this calamity, even we turn our thoughts from the great parts of the actors are going to desert us for a season, file on such occasions, and instead of lamenting and we shall not shortly have so much as those who stood ready to give death to those a landscape or a forest scene to refresh ourfrom whom they had the fortune to receive it; selves with in the midst of our fatigues. This I say, when we let our thoughts wander from may pot, perhaps, be so sensible a luss to any buch noble objects, and consider the havock other as to me ; for I confess it is one of my which is made among the tender and the in- greatest delights to sit unobserved and unknown nocent, pity enters with an unmixed softness, in the gallery, and entertain myself either with and possesses all our souls at once.

what is personated on the stage, or observe Here (were there words to express such sen- what appearances present themselves in the timents with proper tenderness) I should re- audience. If there were no other good con. cord the beauty, innocence, and untimely death, sequences in a playbouse, than that so many of the first object my eyes ever beheld with persons of different ranks and conditions are love. The beauteous virgin! how ignorantly placed there in their most pleasing aspects, did she charm, how carelessly excel? Ob Death: that prospect only would be very far from being thou hast right to the bold, to the ambitious, below the pleasures of a wise man. There is to the high, and to the haughty; but why this not one person you can see, in whom, if you cruelty to the humble, to the meek, to the look with an inclination to be pleased, you may undiscerning, to the thoughtless ? Nor age, not behold something worthy or agreeable. nor business, nor distress, can erase the dear image from my imagination. In the same i

• homocitud

Our thoughts are in our features; and the ment upon toe capacities of the players would visage of those in whom love, rage, anger, very much improve the delight that way, and jealousy, or envy, have their frequent mansions, impart it to those who otherwise have no sense carries the traces of those passions wherever of it. the amorous, the choleric, tbe jealous, or the The first of the present stage are Wilks and envious, are pleased to make their appearance. Cibber, perfect actors in their different kinds. However, the assembly at a play is usually made Wilks bas a singular talent in representing the up of such as have a sense of some elegance in graces of nature; Cibber the deformity in the pleasure; hy which means the audience is gene- affectation of them. Were I a writer of plays, rally composed of those who have gentle affec-I should never employ either of them in parts tions, or at least of such, as at that time, are which had not their bent this way. This is in the best humour you can ever find them, seen in the inimitable strain and run of good This has insensibly a good effect upon our humour which is kept up in the character of spirits; and the musical airs which are played Wildair, and in the nice and delicate abuse of to us, put the whole company into a partici-understanding in that of Sir Novelty. Cibber, pation of the same pleasure, and by conse. in another light, hits exquisitely the flat civiquence, for that time, equal in humour, in lity of an affected gentleman-usber, and Wilks fortune, and in quality. Thus far we gain only the easy frankness of a gentleman. by coming into an audience; but if we find, If you would observe the force of the same added to this, the beauties of proper action, the capacities in higher life, can any thing be more force of eloquence, and the gayety of well-placed ingenuous than the behaviour of prince Harry, lights and scenes, it is being happy, and seeing when his father checks him ? any tbing more others happy, for two hours: a duration of bliss exasperating than that of Richard, when he in. not at all to be slighted by so short-lived a sults bis superiors ? To beseech gracefully, to creature as man. Why then should not the approach respectfully, to pity, to mourn, to love, duty of the player be had in much more esteem are the places wherein Wilks may be made to than it is at present ? If the merit of a perfor- shine with the utmost beauty. To rally pleamance is to be valued according to the talents santly, to scorn artfully, to flatter, to ridicule, which are necessary to it, the qualifications of a and to neglect, are what Cibber would perform player should raise him much above the arts with no less excellence. and ways of life which we call mercenary or When actors are considered with a view to mechanic. When we look round a full house, their talents, it is not only the pleasure of that and behuld so few that can, though they set hour of action, which the spectators gain from themselves out to show as much as the persons their performance ; but the opposition of right on the stage do, come up to what they would and wrong on the stage, would have its force appear even in dumb show; how much does in the assistance of our judgments on other the actor deserve our approbation, who adds to occasions. I have at present under my tutelage the advantage of looks and motions, the tune a young poet, wbo, I design, shall entertain the of voice, the diguity, the humility, the sorrow, town the ensuing winter. And as he does me and the triumph, suitable to the character he the bonour to let me see his comedy as he personates?

writes it, I shall endeavour to make the parts It may possibly be imagined by severe men, fit the geniuses of the several actors, as exactly that I am too frequent in tre mention of the as the x habits can their bodies. And because theatrical representations; but who is not the two I have mentioned are to periorm the excessive in the discourse of wbat he extremely principal parts, I have prevailed with the house likes? Eugenio can lead you to a gallery of to let the · Careless Husband' be acted on fine pictures, which collection he is always in Tuesday next, that my young author may have creasing. Crassus, through woods and forests, a view of the play, which is acted to perfection to which he designs to add the neighbouring both by them and all concerned in it; as being counties. These are great and noble instances born within the walls of the theatre, and writof their magnificence. The players are my ten with an exact knowledge of the abilities of pictures, and their scenes iny territories. By the performers. Mr. Wilks will do his best in communicating the pleasure I take in them, this play, because it is for his own benefit; and it may in some measure add to men's gratiti. Mr. Cibber, because he writ it. Besides which, cation this way; as viewing the choice and all the great beauties we have left in town, or wealth of Eugenio and Crassus augments the within call of it, will be present, because it is enjoyments of tbose whom they entertain, with the last play this season. This opportunity a prospect of such possessions as would not will, I hope, inflame my pupil with such gene. otherwise fall within the reach of their for- rous notions, from seeing so fair an assembly as tunes.

will be then present, that his play may be It is a very good office one man dues another, composed of sentiments and characters proper when he tells him the inanner of his being to be presented to such an audience. His pleasell; and I have often thought, that a com- drama at present has only the outlines drawn.

There are, I find, to be in it all the reverend seems intent upon glorious achievements, a offices of life ( such as regard to parents, hus- knight-errant The ridicule among us runs bands, and honourable lovers) preserved with strong against laudable actions ; pay, in the the utmost care ; and, at the same time, that a- ordinary course of things, and the common greeableness of bebaviour, with the intermixture regards of life, negligence of the public is an of pleasing passions which arise from innocence epidemic vice. The brewer in his excise, the and virtue, interspersed in such a manner, as merchant in his customs, and, for aught we that to be charming and agreeable, shall appear know, the soldier in his muster-rolls, think the natural consequence of being virtuou never the worse of themselves for being guilty This great end is one of those I propose to do of their respective frauds towards the public. in my censorship; but if I find a thin house on This evil is come to such a fantastical height, an occasion when such a work is to be promoted, that he is a man of a public spirit, and heroimy pupil shall return to his commons at Oxford, cally atfected to his country, who can go so far and Sheer-lane and the theatres be no longer as even to turn usurer with all he has in her correspondents.

funds. There is not a citizen in whose imagination such a-one does not appear in the same

light of glory, as Codrus, Scævola, or any other No. 183.] Saturday, June 10, 1710.

great name in old Rome. Were it not for the

heroes of so much per cent. as have regard Foit hæc sapientia quondam

enough for themselves and their nation to trade Pablica privatis secernere.

with her with their wealth, the very notion of Hor. Ars Poet, ver. 396.

public love would long before now have vanished Our sage forefathers wisely onderstood

from among us. But however general custom To sep'rate public from the private good.

may hurry us away in the stream of a common

error, there is no evil, no crime, so great as From my own Apartment, June 9.

that of being cold in matters which relate to When men look into their own bosoms, and the common good. This is in nothing more consider the generous seeds which are there conspicuous than in a certain willingness to planted, that might, if rightly cultivated, receive any thing that tends to the diminution epnoble their lives, and make their virtue of such as have been conspicuous iostruments venerable to futurity; how can they, without in our service. Such inclinations proceed from tears, reflect on the universal degeneracy from the most low and vile corruption, of which the that public spirit, which ought to be the first soul of man is capable. This effaces not only and principal motive of all their actions ?' In the practice, but the very approbation of honour the Grecian and Roman nations, they were and virtue: and has had such an effect, that, wise enough to keep up this great incentive, to speak freely, the very sense of public good and it was impossible to be in the fashion with has no longer a part even of our conversations. out being a patriot. All gallantry had its first can then the most generous motive of life, source from bence; and to want a warmth for the good of others, be so easily banished the the public welfare, was a defect so scandalous, breast of man? Is it possible to draw all our that he who was guilty of it had no pretence to passions inward? Shall the boiling heat of youth honour or manbood. What makes the depra- be sunk in pleasures, the ambition of manhood vity among us in this behalf the more vexa. in selfish intrigues ? Shall all that is glorious, tious and irksome to reflect upon, is, that the all that is worth the pursuit of great minds, be contempt of life is carried as far amongst us, as so easily rooted out? When the universal bent it could be in those memorable people; and we of a people seems diverted from the sense of want only a proper application of the qualities their common good and common glory, it looks which are frequent among us, to be as worthy like a fatality, and crisis of impending misforas they. There is hardly a man to be found tune. who will not fight upon any occasion, which he The generous nations we just now mentioned thinks may taint his own honour. Were this understood this so very well, that there was motive as strong in every thing that regards hardly an oration ever made, which did not the public, as it is in this our private case, no turn upon this general sense, ' That the love man would pass bis life away without having of their country was the first and most essendistinguished himself by some gallant instance tial quality in an honest mind.' Demosthenes, of bis zeal towards it in the respective incidents in a cause wherein his fame, reputation, and of his life and profession. But it is so far other fortune, were embarked, puts his all upon this wise, that there cannot at present be a more issue; “Let the Athenians,' says te, ' be beneridiculous animal, tban one who seems to volent to me, as they think I have been zealous regard the good of others. He, in civil life, for them.' This great and discerning orator whose thoughts turn upon schemes which may knew, there was nothing else in nature could be of general benefit, without further reflection, bear bim up açoninst his adversaries, but this is called a projector: and the man whose mind one quality of having shown himself willing or

!

Hor. 11 Od, iii. 33,

able to serve his country. This certainly is a man, after the fatigue of business in a court the test of merit; and the first foundation for or a city, retires to the next village for the deserving good-will is having it yourself. The air. adversary of this orator at that time was Æschines, a man of wily arts and skill in the world, who could, as occasion served, fall in with No. 184.] Tuesday, June 13, 1710. a national start of passion, or sullenness of humour; which a whole nation is sometimes Una de multis face nuptiali taken with as well as a private man, and by

Dignathat means divert them from their common

Yet worthy of the nnptial flamesense, into an aversion for receiving any thing of many, one untainted maid. Francis. in its true light. But when Demosthenes had awakened his audience with that one hint of

From my own Apartment, June 12. judging by the general tenor of his life towards There are certain occasions of life which them, his services bore down bis opponent give propitious omens of the future good conbefore him, who fled to the covert of his mean duct of it, as well as others which explain our arts, until some more favourable occasion present inward state, according to our behashould offer agaiust the superior merit of De- viour in them. Of the latter sort are funerals; mosthenes.

of the former, weddings. The mander of our It were to be wished, that love of their coun-carriage when we lose a friend, shows very try were the first principle of action in men of much our temper, in the humility of our words business, even for their own sakes; for, when and actions, and a general sense of our destitute the world begins to examine into their conduct, condition, which runs through all our deportthe generality, who have no share in, or hopes ment. This gives a solenn testimony of the of any part in power or riches, but what is the generous affection we bore our friends, when effect of their own labour or property, will we seem to disrelish every thing now we can judge of them by no other method, than that no more enjoy them, or see them partake in of how profitable their administration has been our enjoyments. It is very proper and humane to the whole? They who are out of the influ- to put ourselves, as it were, in their livery ence of men's fortune or favour, will let them after their decease, and wear a habit unsuitable stand or fall by this one only rule; and men to prosperity, while those we loved and howho can hear being tried by it, are always noured are mouldering in the grave, As tbis popular in their fall. Those, who cannot suffer is laudable on the sorrowful side, so on the such a scrutiny, are contemptible in their ad- other, incidents of success may no less justly vancement.

be represented and acknowledged in our outBut I am here running into shreds of maxims ward figure and carriage. Of all such occasions, from reading Tacitus this morning, that has that great change of a single life into marriage drived me from my recommendation of public is the most important; as it is the source of spirit, which was the intended purpose of this all relations, and from whence all other friendlucubration. There is not a more glorious ship and commerce do principally arise. The instance of it, than in the character of Regulus. general intent of both sexes is to dispose of This same Regulus was taken prisoner by the themselves happily and honourably in this Carthaginians, and was sent by them to Rome, state ; and, as all the good qalities we have in order to demand some Punic noblemen, who are exerted to make our way into it, so the were prisoners, in exchange for himself; and best appearance, with regard to their minds, was bound by an oath, that he would return their persons, and their fortunes, at the first 11) Carthage if he failed iu bis commission. entrance into it, is a due to each other in the He proposes this to the sepate, who were in married pair, as well as a compliment to the suspense upon it, which Regulus observing, rest of the world. It was an instruction of a without having the least notion of putting the wise law-giver, that unmarried women should care of his own life in competition with the wear such loose habits, which, in the flowing public good, desired them to consider, that he of their garb, should incite their beholders to a was old, and almost useless; that those de desire of their persons; and that the ordinary manded in exchange were men of daring tem. motion of their bodies might display the figure pers, and great merit in military affairs ; and and shape of their limbs in such a manner, as wondered they would make any doubt of per- at once to preserve the strictest decency, and mitting him to go back to the short tortures raise the warmest inclinations. prepared for him at Carthage, where he should This was the economy of the legislature for have the advantage of ending a long life both the increase of people, and at the same time gloriously and usefully. This generous advice for the preservation of the genial bed. She was consented to; and he took his leave of his who was the admiration of all who beheld her country and his weeping friends, to go to cer- wbile unmarried, was to bid adieu to the pleatain death, with that cheerful composure, as sure of shining in the eyes of many, as soon as she took upon her the wedded condition. How- y or to scorn ; but if one considers with how ever, there was a festival of life allowed the great affectation they utter their frigid conceits, new-married, a sort of intermediate state be- commiseration immediately changes itself into tween celibacy and matrimony, which conti- contempt. pued certain days. During that time, enter- A Wag is the last order even of pretenders tainments, equipages, and other circumstances to wit and good humour. He has generally of rejoicing, were encouraged; and they were his mind prepared to receive some occasion of permitted to exceed the common mode of merriment, but is of himself tov empty to draw living, that the bride and bridegroom might any out of his own set of thoughts; and therelearn from such freedoms of conversation, to fore laughs at the next thing he meets, not run into a general conduct to each other, because it is ridiculous, but because he is un. inade out of their past and future state, so to der a necessity of laughing. A Wag is one temper the cares of the man and the wife with that never in its life saw a beautiful object; the gayeties of the lover and the mistress. but sees, what it does see, in the most low,

In those wise ages the diguity of life was and most inconsiderable light it can be placed. kept up, and on the celebration of such solem- There is a certain ability necessary to behold nities there were no impertinent wbispers, and what is amiable and worthy of our approba. senseless interpretarions put upon the unas- tion, which little minds want, and attempt to fected cheerfulness or accidental seriousness hide by a general disregard to every thing they of the bride ; but men turned their thoughts behold above what they are able to relish. upon the general reflections, on what issue. Hence it is, that a Wag in an assembly is ever might probably be expected from such a couple guessing, how well such a lady slept last night, in the succeeding course of their life, and felici- and how much such a young fellow is pleased tated them accordingly upon such prospects. with himself. The Wag's gayety consists in a

I must confess, I cannot, from any ancient certain professed ill-breeding, as if it were an manuscripts, sculptures, or medals, deduce excuse for committing a fault, that a man the rise of our celebrated custom of throwing knows he does so. Though all public places the stocking; but have a faint memory of an are full of persons of this order; yet, because account a friend gave me of an original picture I will not allow impertinence and affectation to in the palace of Aldobrandini in Rome. This get the better of native innocence and simpliseems to show a sense of this affair very diffe- city of manners, I have, in spite of such little rent from what is usual among us. It is a disturbers of public entertainments, persuaded Grecian wedding; and the figures represented my brother Tranquillus, and his wife my sister are a person offering sacrifice, a beautiful Jenny, in favour of Mr. Wilks, to be at the damsel dancing, and another playing on the play to-morrow evening. barp. The bride is placed in her bed, the They, as they have so much good sense as to bridegroom sits at the foot of it, with an aspect act naturally, without regard to the observawhich intimates, his thoughts were not only tou of others, will not, I hope, be discomposed, entertained with the joys with which he was if any of the fry of Wags should take upon surrounded; but also with a noble gratitude, them to make themselves merry upon the ocaud divine pleasure in the offering, which was casion of their coming, as they intend, in their then made to the gods to invoke their influence wedding-clothes. My brother is a plain, woron his new condition. There appears in the thy, and honest man; and as it is natural for face of the woman a mixture of fear, hope, men of that turn to be mightily taken with and modesty; in the bridgroom a well-governed sprightly and airy women, my sister has a virapture. As you see in great spirits, grief, vacity which may perhaps give hopes to imwhich discovers itself the more by furbearing pertinents, but will be esteemed the effect of tears and complaints, you may observe also innocence among wise men. They design to the highest joy is too big for utterance; the sit with me in the box, which the house have tongue being of all the organs the least capable been so complaisant as to offer me whenever of expressing such a circumstance. The nuptial|I think fit to come thither in my public cha. turch, the bower, the marriage song, are all racter. particulars which we meet with in the allusions I do not in the least doubt, but the true of the ancient writers; and in every one of figure of conjugal affection will appear in their them something is to be observed, which de looks and gestures. My sister does not affect notes their industry to aggrandize and adorn to be gorgeous in her dress ; and thinks the this occasion above all others.

happiness of a wife is more visible in a cheerful With us all order and decency in this point look than a gay apparel. It is a hard task to is perverted, by the insipid mirth of certain speak of persons so nearly related to one with animals we usually call Wags. These are a decency; but I may say, all wbu shall be at the species of all wen the most insupportable. play will allow him to have the mien of a One caonot without some reflection say, whe-worthy English gentleman; ber, that of a nota. ther their fat mirth provokes us more to pity | ble and deserving wife.

« AnteriorContinua »