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was more of pleasantry in the conceit, of seeing how an ass would eat a macaroon than of benevolence in giving
him one, which presided in the act.
When the ass had eaten his macaroon, I prcss'd him to come in—the poor beast was heavy loaded—his legs seem'd to tremble under him—he hung rather backwards, and, as I pull'd at his halter, it broke short in my hand—he ]ook'd up pensive in my face—" Don't thrash me with it—but if you will, vou may'-—If I do, said I, I'll be d d.
The word wai bac one half of it pronounced, like the abbess of Aridoiiillet's —(so there was no sin in it)—when a person coming in, let fall a thundering bastinado upon the poor devil's crupper, which put an end to the ceremony.
Out upon it!
cried I- but the interjection was
equivocal and, I think, wrong
placed too—for the end of an osier, which had started out from the contexture of the ass's pannier, had ca-ught hold of my breeches pocket as he rushed by me, and rent it in the most disastrous direction you can imagine—so that the Out upon it! in my opinion, should have come in here.
§75. Players, in a Country Town, described.
The pliyers, you must know, finding this a good town, had taken a lease the last summer os an old synagogue deserted by the Jews ; but the mayor, being a presoyterian, refused to licence their exhibitions: however, when they were in the utmost despair, the ladies of the place joined in a petition to Mrs. Mayoress, who prevailed on her husband to wink at their performances. The company immediately opened their synagogue theatre with the Merchant of Venice; and finding a quack doctor's zany, a droll fellow, they decoyed him into their service; and he has since performed the part of the Mock Doctor with universal applause. Upon his revolt the doctor himself sound it absolutely necessary to en ter os the company j and, having a talent for tragedy,
has performed with great success the Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet.
The performers at our rustic theatre are far beyond those paltry strollers, who run about the country, and exhibit in a barn ora cow-house: for (as their bills declare) they are a company of Comedians from the Theatre Royal; and I assure you they are as much applauded by our country critics, as any of your capital actors. The shops of our tradesmen have been almost deserU ed, and a croud of weavers and hardwaremen have elbowed each other twa hours before the opening of the doors, when the bills have informed us, in, enormous red letters, that the part of George Barn well was to be performed by Mr. , at the particular desire of several ladies of distinction. 'Til true, indeed, that our principal actors have most of them had their education at Covent-garden. or Drury-lane; but they have been employed in the business of the drama in a degree but just above a scene-ihifier. An heroine, to whom your managers in town (in envy to her rising merit) scarce allotted the humble part of a confidante, now blubbers out Andromache orBelvidera; the attendants on a monarch strut monarchs themselves, mutes find their voices, and message-bearers rise into heroes. The humour of our best comedian confiiis in shrug; and grimaces; he jokes in a wry mouth, and repartees in a grin; in (hort, he practises on Congrcve and Vanbrugh all those distortions which gained him so much applause from the galleries, in the drubs wbJch he was condemned to undergo in pantomimes. I was vastly diverted at seeing a fellow in the character of Sir Harry Wildair, whose chief action was a continual pressing together of the thumb and fore-finger, which, had he lifted them to his nose, I should have thought he designed as an imitation of taking snuff: but I could easily account for the cause of this single gesture, when I discovered that Sir Harry was no less a person than the dextrous Mr. Clippit the candle-snuffer.
You would laugh to see how strangely the parts of a play are cast. They played Cato: and their Marcia was such,
an old woman, that when Juba came
on with his "Hail! ch-irmirig
maid!" the fellow could not help
laughing. Another night I wa' surprised to hear an eager lover talk of rustling into his mistress's arms, rioting on the nectar of her lips, and defiring (in the tragedy rapture) to " hug her thus, and thus, forever ;" though he always took care to stand at a molt ceremonious distance. But I was afterwards very much diverted at the cause of this extraordinary respect, when 1 was tnld that the lady laboured under the misfortune of an ulcer in her leg, which occasioned such a disagreeable stench, that the performers were obliged to keep her at arms length. The entertainment was Lethe; and the part of the Frenchman was performed by a South Briton ; who, as he could not pronounce a word of the French language, supplied its place by gabbling in his native Welsh.
The decorations, or (in the theatrical dialect) the property of our company are as extraordinary as the performers. Othello raves about a checked handkerchief; the ghost in Hamlet stalks in a postilion's leathern-jacket for a coat of mail ; and Cupid enters with a fiddle-case (lung over his shoulders for a quiver. The apothecary of the to'vn is free of the house, for lending them a pestle and mortar to serve as the bell in Venice Preserved: and a barb-r-surgeon has the fame privilege, for furnishing them with basons of blood to besmear the daggers in Macbeth. Macbeth himself carries a rolling-pin in his hand for a truncheon ; and, as the breaking of glasses would be very expensive, he dashes down a pewter pintpot at the fight of Banquo's ghoit.
A fray happened here the other night, which was no small diversion to the audience. It seems there had been a great contest between two of those mimic heroes, which was the fittest to play Richard the third. One of them was reckoned to have the better person, as he was very round-shouldered, and one of his legs was shorter than the otrftr; but his antagonist carried the part, because he started best in the tent scene. However, when the curtain
drew up, they both rushed in npon the stage at orite; and, bawling out toge-' ther '* Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths," they both went through the whole speech without stopping. Connoistcur.
§ 76. Players often mistake one tffea for another.
The French have distinguished the artifices made use of on the stage to deceive the audience, by the expression of Jeude Theatre, which we may transtate, ** the juggle of the theatre." When these little arts are exercised merely to assist nature, and set her off to the best advantage, none can be so criticallynice as to object to them; but when tragedy by these means is lifted into rant, and comedy distorted into buffoonery, though the deceit may succeed with the multitude, men of sense will always be offended at it. This conduct, whether of the poet or the player, resembles in some sort the poor contrivance of the ancient?, who mounted their heroes upon stilts, and expressed the manners of their characters by the grotesque figures of their masks. Ibid.
S 77« True Pleasure defined. We are effected with delightful sensations, when we fee the inanim-te p3rts of the creation, the meadows, flowers, and trees, in a flourishing slate. There mult be some rooted melancholy at the heart, when all nature appears smiling about us, to hinder us from corresponding with the rest of the creation, and. joining in the universal chorus of joy. But if meadows and trees in their chearful verdure, if flowers in their bloom, and all the vegetable parts of the creation in their most advantageous dress, can inspire gladness into the hear'', and drive away nil sadness but despair; to see the rational creation h.ippy and flourishing, ought to give us a pleasure as much superior, as the latter is to the former in the scale of beings. But the pleasure is still heightened, if we ourselves have been instrumental in contributing to the happiness of our fellow-creatures, if we have helped to raise an heart drooping beneath the weight of grief, and revived that bar3 A 2 ten Ten and dry land, where no water was, with refreshing showers of love and kindness. Seed's Sermons.
§ 78. Hew Politeness is manifested. To correct such gross vices as lead us to commit a real injury to others, is the part of morals, and the object of '.he roost ordinary education. Where that is not attended to, in some degree, no human society can subsist. But in order to render conversation and the intercourse of minds more easy andagreeable, good manners have beeji invented, and have carried the matter somewhat farther. Wherever nature has given the mind a propensity to any vice, or to any passion disagreeable to others, refined breeding has taught men to throw the bias on the opposite side, and to preserve, in all their behaviour, the appearance of sentiments contrary to those which they naturally incline to. Thus, as we are naturally proud and selfish, and apt to assume the preference above others, a polite man is taught to behave with deference towards those with whom he converses, and to yield up the superiority to them in all the common incidents of society. In like manner, wherever a person's situation may naturally beget any disagreeable suspicion in him, 'tis thepart of good-manners to prevent it, by a studied display of sentiments directly contrary to those of which he is apt to be jealous. Thus old men know their infirmities, and naturallydreadcontemptf'rom youth: hence, well-educated youth redouble their instances of respect and deference to their ciders. Strangers and foreigners are without protection: hence, in all polite countries, they receive the highest civilities, and are entitled to the first place in every company. A man is lord in his own family, and his guests are, in a manner, subject to his authority : hence, he is always the lowest person in the companv; attentive to the wanes of everyone; aud giving himself all the trouble, in order to please, which may rot betray too visible an affectation, cr impose too much constraint on his guests. Gallantry is nothing but an in. stance of the fame generous and refined attention. As nature has given man
the superiority above woman, by endowing him with greater strength both of mind and body, * tis his part to alleviate that superiority, as much as possible, by the generosity os his behaviour, and by a studied deference and complaisance forall her inclinations and opinions. Barbarous nations display this superiority, by reducing their females to the most abject slavery; by confining them, by beating them, by selling them, by killing them. But the male sex, amorig a polite people, discover their authority in a more generous, though not a less evident, manner; by civility, by respect, by complaisance, and, in a word, by gallantry. In good company, you need not ask, who is master of the feast? The man who sits in the lowest: place, and who is always industrious in helping every one, is most certainly the person. We must either condemn all such instances of generosity, as foppisn and affected, or admit os gallantry among the rest. The ancient Moscovites wedded their wives with a whip instead of a wedding ring. The fame people, in their cwn houses, took always the precedency above foreigners, even foreign ambassadors. These two instances of their generosity and politeness are much of a piece. Hume's Essays.
§ 79. The Business and Qualifications of a Poet described.
"Wherever I went, I found that poetry was considered as the highest learning, and regarded with a veneration somewhat approaching to that which man would pay to the angelic nature. And it yet sills me with wonder, that, in almost all countries, the most ancient poets are considered as the best: whether it be that every other kind of knowledge is an acquisition gradually attained, and poetry is a gift conferred at once; or that the first poe;ry of every nation surprised them as a novelty, and retained the ciedit by consent which it received by accident at first: or whether, as the province of poetry is to describe nature and passion, which are always the fame, the first writers took possession of the most striking objects for description, and • the
the most probable occurrences Tor sic
tion, and left nothing to those that followed them, but transcriptions of the fame events, and new combinations of the fame images. Whatever be the reason, it is commonly observed that tlft early writers are in possession of nature, and their followers of art: that the first excel in strength and invention, and the latter in elegance and refinement.
"I was desirous to add my name to this illustrious fraternity. I read all the poets of Persia and Arabia, and was able to repeat by memory the volumes that are suspended in the mosque of Mecca. Eut 1 soon found that no man was ever great by imitation. My desire of excellence impelled me to transfer my attention to nature and to Use. Nature was to be my subject, and men to be my auditors: I could never describe what I had not seen: I could not hope to move those with delight or terror, whose interests and opinions I did not understand.
"Being now resolved to be a poet, I saw every thing with a new purpose;
"All the appearances of nature I was therefore careful to study, and every country which I have -surveyed has contributed something to my poetical powers."
"In so wide a survey," said the prince, "you must surely have le/t much unobserved. I have lived, till now, within the circuit of these mountains, and yet cannot walk abroad without the sight of something which I never beheld before, or never heeded."
"The liusinessosa poet," said Iml.ic, "is to examine, not ihe individual, but the species; to remark genera! properties and la>ge appearances: he does not number the streaks of the tulip, or describe the different (hades in the verdure of the forest. He is to exhibit in his portraits of nature such prominent and striking features, as recal the original to every mind; and must neglect the minuter discriminations, which one may have remarked, and another have neglected, for those characteristics which are alike obvious to vigilance and carelessness.
But the knowledge of nature is
my sphere of attention was suddenly only half the tafle of a poet ; he must be
magnified: no kind of knowledge was acquainted likewise with all the modes
'of life. His character requires that he
estimate the happiness and misery of
to be overlooked. I ranged mountains and deserts for images and resemblances, and pictured upon my mind every tree of the forest and slower of the valley. I observed with equal care the crags of the rock and the pinnacles of the palace. Sometimes I wandered along the mazes of the rivulet, and sometimes watched the changes of the summer clouds. To a poet nothing can be useless. Whatever is beautiful, and whatever is dreadful, must be familiar to his imagination: he must be convers.int with all th.it is awfully vast or elegantly little. The plants of the garden, the animals of the wood, the minerals of theearth, and meteors of the iky, must all concur to store his mind with inexhaustible variety: for every idea is useful for the enforcement or decoration of moral or religious truth; and he, who knows most, will have most power of diversifying his scenes, and of gratifying his reader with remote allusions and unexpected instruction.
"His labour is not yet at an end: he must know many languages and many sciences; and, that his style may be worthy of his thoughts, must by incessant practice familiarize to himself every delicacy of speech and grace of harmony." Johnson's Rajselas.
§ 80. Remarks on some of the best Poets, both ancient and modern.
'Tis manifest, that some particular ages have been more happy than others, in the production of great men, and all forts of arts and sciences; as that of Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and the rest, for stage poetry, amongst the Greeks; that of Augustus for heroic, lyric, dramatic, elegiac, and indeed all sorts of poetry, in the persons of Virgil, Horace, Varius, Ovid, and many others; especially if we take into that century the latter end of the commonwealth, wherein we find VarTo, Lucretius, and Catullus: and at the fame time lived Cicero, Sallust, and Cæsar. A famous age in modern times, for learning in every kind, was that of Lorenzo dc Medici and his son Leo X. wherein painting was revived, oetry flourished, and the Greek language was restored.
Examples in all these are obvious: but what 1 would infer is this, That in such an age, 'tis possible some great genius may arise to equal any of the ancients, abating only for the language; for great contemporaries whet and cultivate each other; and mutual borrowing, and commerce, makes the common riches of learning, as it does of civil government.
But suppose that Homer and Virgil were the only poets of their species, and that nature was so much worn out in producing them, that the is never able to bear the like again ; yet the example only holds in heroic poetry. In tragedy and satire, I offer myself to maintain, ..-gainst some of our modern critics, that this age and the last, particularly in England, have excelled the ancients in both these kinds.
Thus I might lately confine myself to my native country: but if I would c:r"'y cross the seas, I might find in
France a living Horace and a Juvenal, in the person of the admirable Boileau, whose numbers are excellent, whole expressions are nob'.e, whose thoughts are just, whose Lnguage is pure, whose satire is pointed, and whose sense is close. What he borrows from the ancients, he repays with usury of his own, in coin as good, and almost as univerially valuable; for, setting prejudice and partiality apart, though he is our enemy, the stamp of a Louis, the patron of arts, is not much inferior to the medal of an Augustus Cæsar. Let this be laid without entering into the interests of factions and parties, and re. lating only .the bounty of that king to men of learning and merit: a praise so just, that even we, who are his enemies, cannot refuse it to him.
Now, if it may be permitted me to go back again to the consideration of epic poetry, I have confessed that no man hitherto has reached, or so much as approached to the excellencies of Homer or Virgil; I must farther add, that Statius, the best versisicator next Virgil, knew not how to design after him, though he had the model in his eyes; that Lucan is wanting both in design and subject, and is besides too full of heat and affection; that among the moderns, Ariosto neither designed justly, nor observed any unity of action or com pals of time, or moderation in the vastness of his draught: his style is luxurious, without majesty or decency; and his adventures without the compals of nature and possibility. Tasso, whose design was regular, and who observed the rules of unity in time and place more closely than Virgil, yet was not so happy in his action ; he confesses himself to have been too lyrical, that if, to have written beneath the dignity of heroic verse, in his episodes of Sophronia, Erminia, and Armida; his story is not so pleasing as Ariosto's; he is too flatulent sometimes, and sometimes too.dry; many times unequal, and almost always forced ; and besides, is full of conceptions, points of epigram, and witticisms; all which are not only below the dignity of heroic verse, but contrary to its nature. Virgil and Homer have not one of them: