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parlour, and was presently asked, who that was over the chimney piece. I pronounced it to be a very striking likeness of my friend, who was drawn bolt upright in a full-bottomed periwig, a laced cravat, with the fringed ends appearing through a buttonhole, a black livery-gown, a snuff-coloured velvet coat with gold buttons, a red velvet waistcoat trimmed with gold, one hand stuck in the bosom of his shirt, and the other holding out a letter with the superscription....To Mr. ........., Common-Council-Man of Farringdon Ward Without. My eyes were then directed to another figure in a scarlet gown, who I was informed was my friend's wife's great great uncle, and had been sheriff and knighted in the reign of King James the First. Madam herself filled up a pannel on the opposite side, in the habit of a shepherdess, seiling to a nosegay, and stroaking a ram with gilt horns.
I was then invited by my friend to see what he was pleased to call his garden, which was nothing more than a yard about thirty feet in length, and contained about a dozen little pots ranged on each side with lillies and coxcombs, supported by some old laths painted green, with bowls of tobacco pipes on their tops. At the end of this garden he made me take notice of a little square building surrounded with filleroy, which an alderman of great taste had turned into a temple, by erecting some battlements and spires of painted wood on the front of it; but concluded with an hint, that I might retire to it upon occasion.
After dinner, when my friend had finished his pipe, he proposed taking a walk, that we might enjoy a little of the country: so I was obliged to trudge along the foot-path by the road-side, while my friend went puffing and blowing, with his hat in his hand, and his wig half off his head. At last I told him it was time for me to return home, when he insisted on go
ing with me as far as the half-way house, to drink a decanter of Stingo before we parted. We here fell into company with a brother livery man of the same ward, and I left them both together in a high dispute about Canning; but not before my friend had made me promise to repeat my visit to his country-house the next Sunday.
As the riches of a country are visible in the number of it's inhabitants and the elegance of their dwellings, we may venture to say, that the present state of England is very flourishing and prosperous: and if the taste for building encreases with our opulence for the next century, we shall be able to boast of finer country-seats belonging to our shop-keepers, artificers, and other plebeians, than the most pompous descrip tions of Italy or Greece have ever recorded. We read, it is true, of country-seats belonging to Pliny, Hortensius, Lucullus, and other Romans. They were patricians of great rank and fortune: there can therefore be no doubt of the excellence of their Villas. But who has ever read of a Chinese-bridge belonging to an Attic tallow-chandler or a Roman pastry, cook? Or could any of their shoemakers or taylors boast a Villa with it's tin cascades, paper statues, and Gothic root-houses? Upon the above principles we may expect, that posterity will perhaps see a cheesemonger's Apiarium at Brentford, a poulterer's Theriotrophium at Chiswick, and an Ornithon in a fishmonger's garden at Putney.
As a patriot and an Englishman I cannot but wish, that each successive century should encrease the opulence of Great Britain: but I should be sorry, that this abundance of wealth should induce our good citizens to turn their thoughts too much upon the country. At present we are deprived of our most eminent tradesmen two days out of six. It is true, the shop-keeper and the travelling part of his family, consisting generally of himself, his wife, and his two
eldest daughters, are seldom sufficiently equipped to take leave of London, until about three o'clock on Saturday in the afternoon; but the whole morning of that day is consumed in papering up cold chickens, bottling brandy-punch, sorting clean shifts, and nightcaps for the children, pinning baskets, and cording trunks; as again is the whole afternoon of the Monday following in unpinning, uncording, locking up foul linnen, and replacing empty bottles in the cellar. I am afraid therefore, if the Villas of our future tradesmen should become so very elegant, that the shop-keepers will scarce ever be visible behind their counters above once in a month.
No. XXXIV. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19,
Quæ gravis Esopus, quæ doctus Roscius egit.
When'er he bellows, who but smiles at Quin,
THE French have distinguished the artifices made use of on the stage to deceive the audience, by the expression of Jeu de Theatre, which we may translate"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 critically nice 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 play.
er, resembles in some sort the poor contrivance of the ancients, who mounted their heroes upon stilts, and expressed the manners of their characters by the grotesque figures of their masks.
As the play-houses are now opened, I cannot better introduce the remarks which I may sometimes take occasion to make on the theatrical world, than by throwing together a few reflections on this " Juggle of the Theatre ;" which at present I shall consider chiefly as it relates to actors. And I hope to merit the thanks of those gentlemen, who, while they are solicitous to acquire new beauties, should at the same time endeavour to unlearn their faults and imperfections.
We are indebted to the present times for a judicious reformation of the stage in point of acting: and (by the bye) I could wish, that the same good consequences had been produced with respect to our poets. If a perfect tragedy may be considered as the most difficult production of human wit, the same thing must hold in proportion with respect to an exact representation of it; for if it is necessary for the writer to work up his imagination to such a pitch as to fancy himself in the circumstances of the character he draws, what less must the actor do, who must look as the person represented would look, speak as he would speak, and be in every point the very man ? The generation of players, that immediately preceded the present, prided themselves on what they call ed fine speaking: the emotions of the soul were disregarded for a distinct delivery; and with them, as Mr. Johnson has observed of some tragic writers,
Declamation roar'd, while Passion slept.
And, indeed, to this uninteresting taste for acting we may partly attribute that enervate way of writing so much in vogue among the Frenchified play-wrights
of those times; since nothing could be so well suited to the mouths of those actors, as golden lines, round periods, florid descriptions, and a dispassionate amplification of sentiment.
The false majesty, with which our mimic-heroes of the stage had been used to express themselves, was for a long time as distinguished a mark of tragedy, as the plumed hat and full-bottomed periwig; and we may remember, for example, when every line in Othello (a character remarkable for variety of passions) was drawn out in the same pompous manner. But as I mean to promote the art, rather than reprove the artists, I shall dwell on this no longer: for methinks I hear a veteran performer calling out to me in the voice of honest Jack Falstaff, "No more of that, if thou lovest me, Hal."
It is sufficient to remark, that as the dignity of the buskin would be degraded by talking in a strain too low and familiar, the manner of elocution in a tragedy should not on the other hand, be more remote from our natural way of expressing ourselves, than blank verse (which is the only proper measure for tragedy) is from prose. Our present set of actors have, in general, discarded the dead insipid pomp applauded in their predecessors, and have wisely endeavoured to join with the poet in exciting pity and terror. But as many writers have mistaken rant for passion, and fustian for sublime, so our players have perhaps too much given in to unnatural startings, roarings, and whinings. For this reason our late writers, (to accommodate their pieces to the present taste) having placed their chief pathos in exclamations and broken sentences, have endeavoured to alarm us with Ahs and Ohs, and pierce our souls with interjections. Upon the whole it must be acknowledged, that the stage is considerably improved in the Art of Speaking. Every passion is now distinguished by its proper tone of voice: I shall therefore only add, that when !