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been poured on their servants or husbands, may now be carried off by another more agreeable channel.
I could not have thought it possible, that this undertaking would have subsisted two nights, without setting all the female tongues from St. James's to Temple-Bar in motion. But the ladies have hitherto been dumb; and female eloquence seems as unlikely to display itself in public as ever. Whether their mo
desty will not permit them to open their mouths in the unhallowed air of Covent-Garden, I know not: but I am rather inclined to think, that the questions proposed have not been sufficiently calculated for the female part of the assembly. They might perhaps be tempted to debate," whether Fanny Murray or Lady —— were the properest to lead the fashion ;" "to what lengths a lady might proceed without the loss of her reputation;" or "whether the beautifying lotion or the royal washball were the most excellent cosmetics." It might also be expected, in complaisance to the fair sex, that the Inquisitor should now and then read a dissertation on natural and artificial beauty; in which he might (with that softness and delicacy peculiar to himself) analyse a lady's face, and give examples of the ogle, the simper, the smile, the languish, the dimple, &c. with a word or two on the use and benefit of paint.
But these points I shall leave to Mr. Macklin's consideration: In the mean time, as it is not in my power to oblige the public with a lady's speech, I shall fill up the remainder of my paper with an oration, which my correspondent is desirous should appear in print, though he had not sufficient confidence to deliver it at the Inquisition.
Whether the Stage might not be made more conducive to virtue and morality?
THE ancient drama had, we know, a religious as well as political view; and was designed to inspire the audience with a reverence to the Gods and a love of their country. Our own stage, upon particular occasions, has been made to answer the same ends. Thus we may remember during the last rebellion, besides the loyalty of the fiddles in the orchestra, we were inspired with a detestation of the Pope and Pretender by the Nonjuror, the Jesuit Caught, Perkin Warbeck, or the Popish Impostor, and such other politico-religious dramas.
But there is a species of the drama, which has not yet been mentioned by any of the gentlemen who have spoke to the question, and which is very deficient in point of moral: I mean, pantomimes. Mr. Law has been very severe on the impiety of representing heathen gods and goddesses before a truly Christian audience and to this we may add, that Harlequin is but a wicked sort of fellow, and is always running after the girls. For my part I have often blushed to see this impudent rake endeavouring to creep up Columbine's petticoats, and at other times patting her neck, and laying his legs upon her lap. Nobody will say, indeed, that there is much virtue or morality in these entertainments: though it must be confessed to the honour of our neighbouring house here, that the Necromancer and the Sorcerer, after having played many unchristian pranks upon the stage, are at last fairly sent to the devil. I would therefore recommend it to our pantomime-writers, that instead of the Pantheon, or lewd comedies, they would take their subjects
from some old Garland, moral ballad, or penny history book. Suppose, for example, they were to give us the story of Patient Grizzle in dumb shew; setting forth, as how a noble lord fell in love with her, as he was hunting;—and there you might have the scene of the spinning wheel, and the song of the Early horn ;and as how, after many trials of her patience, which they might represent by machinery, this lord at last married her; and then you may have a grand temple and a dance. The other house have already revived the good old story of Fortunatus's wishing cap; and as they are fond of introducing little children in their entertainments, suppose they were to exhibit a pantomime of the Three Children in the Wood ;—'twould be vastly pretty to see the paste-board robin-redbreasts let down by wires upon the stage to cover the poor innocent babes with paper leaves. But if they must have fairies and genii, I would advise them to take their stories out of that pretty little book, called the Fairy Tales. I am sure, instead of ostriches, dogs, horses, lions, monkeys, &c. we should be full as well pleased to see the Wolf and little red RidingHood; and we should laugh vastly at the adventures of Puss in Boots. I need not point out the excellent moral, which would be inculcated by representations of this kind; and I am confident they would meet with the deserved applause of all the old women and chil dren in both galleries.
N° 48. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1754.
Age, libertate Decembri,
Quando ita majores voluerunt, utere
Come, let us, like our jovial sires of old,
With gambols and mince-pies our Christmas hold. AT this season of the year it has always been customary for the lower part of the world to express their gratitude to their benefactors; while some of a more elevated genius among them clothe their thoughts in a kind of holiday dress, and once in the year rise into poets. Thus the bellman bids good night to all his masters and mistresses in couplets; the news-carrier hawks his own verses; and the very lamp-lighter addresses his worthy customers in rhyme. As a ser
vant to the public, I should be wanting in the due respect to my readers, if I also did not take this earliest opportunity of paying them the compliments of the season, and (in the phrase of their barbers, tailors, shoemakers, and other tradesmen) wish them a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Those old-fashioned mortals, who have been accustomed to look upon this season with extraordinary devotion, I leave to con over the explanation of it in Nelson: It shall at present be my business to shew the different methods of celebrating it in these kingdoms. With the generality, Christmas is looked upon as a festival in the most literal sense, and held sacred by good eating and drinking. These, indeed, are the most distinguishing marks of Christmas: The revenue from the malt-tax and the duty upon wines, &c. on account of these twelve days, has always been found
to encrease considerably: And it is impossible to conceive the slaughter, that is made among the poultry and the hogs in different parts of the country, to furnish the prodigious number of turkeys and chines, and collars of brawn, that travel up, as presents, to the metropolis on this occasion. The jolly cit looks upon this joyous time of feasting, with as much pleasure as on the treat of a new-elected alderman, or a lordmayor's day. Nor can the country farmer rail more against the game-act, than many worthy citizens, who have ever since been debarred of their annual hare; while their ladies can never enough regret their loss of the opportunity of displaying their skill, in making a most excellent pudding in the belly. But these notable housewives have still the consolation of hearing their guests commend the mince-pies without meat, which we are assured were made at home, and not like the ordinary heavy things from the pastry-cooks. These good people would, indeed, look upon the absence of mince-pies as the highest violation of Christmas; and have remarked with concern the disregard, that has been shewn of late years to that old English repast: for this excellent British olio is as essential to Christmas, as pancake to Shrove Tuesday, tansy to Easter, furmity to Midlent Sunday, or goose to Michaelmas day. And they think it no wonder, that our finical gentry should be so loose in their principles, as well as weak in their bodies, when the solid, substantial, Protestant mince-pie has given place among them to the Roman Catholic aumlets, and the light, puffy, heterodox pets de religieuses.
As this season used formerly to be welcomed in with more than usual jollity in the country, it is probable that the Christmas remembrances, with which the waggons and stage-coaches are at this time loaded, first took their rise from the laudable custom of distributing provisions at this severe quarter of the year