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vate character of a tailor. I must not omit that it was this second lion who treated me with so much humanity behind the scenes.
The acting lion at present is, as I am informed, a country gentleman who does it for his diversion; but desires his name may be concealed. He says very handsomely, in his own excuse, that he does not act for gain; that he indulges an innocent pleasure in it; and that it is better to pass away an evening in this manner, than in gaming and drinking; but at the same time says, with a very agreeable raillery upon himself, that if his name should be known, the ill-natured world might call him, "the ass in the lion's skin." This gentleman's temper is made out of such a happy mixture of the mild and the choleric, that he outdoes both his predecessors, and has drawn together greater audiences than have been known in the memory of man.
I must not conclude my narrative without taking notice of groundless report that has been raised to a gentleman's disadvantage, of whom I must declare my self an admirer; namely, that Signior NICOLINI and the tion have been seen sitting peaceably by one another, and smoking a pipe together behind the scenes; by which their common enemies would insinuate, that it is but a sham combat which they represent upon the stage; but, upon inquiry, I find that if any such correspondence has passed between them, it was not till the combat was over, when the lion was to be looked upon as dead, according to the received rules of the drama. Besides, this is what is practised every day in Westminster Hall, where nothing is more usual than to see a couple of lawyers, who have been tearing each other to pieces in the court, embracing one another as soon as they are out of it.
I would not be thought, in any part of this relation, to reflect upon Signior NICOLINI, who, in acting this part, only complies with the wretched taste of his audi ence he knows very well that the lion has many more admirers than himself; as they say of the famous equestrian statue on the Pont-Neuf at Paris, that more people go to see the horse than the king who sits upon it. On the contrary, it gives me a just indignation to see a person whose action gives new majesty to kings, resolution
to heroes, and softness to lovers, thus sinking from the greatness of his behaviour, and degraded into the character of the London Prentice. I have often wished that
our tragedians would copy after this great master in action. Could they make the same use of their arms and legs, and inform their faces with as significant looks and passions, how glorious would an English tragedy appear with that action, which is capable of giving a dignity to the forced thoughts, cold conceits, and unnatural expressions, of an Italian opera? In the mean time, I have related this combat of the lion, to shew what are at present the reigning entertainments of the politer part of Great Britain.
Audiences have often been reproached by writers for the coarseness of their taste; but our present grievance does not seem to be the want of a good taste, but of C (a).
NO. 14.-FRIDAY, MARCH 16. 1710-11.
-Teque his, infelix, exue monstris.
OVID. MET. iv. 590.
Wretch that thou art! put off this monstrous shape.
ON PUBLIC DIVERSIONS.
I was reflecting this morning upon the spirit and humour of the public diversions five and twenty years ago and those of the present time; and lamented to myself that though in those days they neglected their morality, they kept up their good sense; but that the beau monde, at present, is only grown more childish, not more innocent, than the former. While I was in this train of thought, an old fellow, whose face I have often seen at the playhouse, gave me the following letter with these words: "Sir, the lion presents his humble ser. vice to you, and desired me to give this into your own hands."
From my Den in the Hay-Market,
"I HAVE read all your papers, and have stifled my resentment against your reflections upon operas till that of this day, wherein you plainly insinuate that Signior NICOLINI and myself, have a correspondence more friendly than is consistent with the valour of his character, 'or the fierceness of mine. I desire you would, for your own sake, forbear such intimations for the future; and must say it is a great piece of ill nature in you to shew so great an esteem for a foreigner, and to dis courage a lion that is your own countryman.
"I take notice of your fable of the lion and man (NO. 11.), but am so equally concerned in that matter, that I shall not be offended to whichsoever of the animals the superiority is given. You have misrepresented me in saying that I am a country-gentleman who act only for my diversion; whereas had I still the same woods to range in which I once had when I was a foxhunter, I should not resign my manhood for a maintenance; and assure you, as low as my circumstances are at present, I am so much a man of honour, that I would scorn to be any beast for bread but a lion. Yours, &c.”
1 had no sooner ended this, than one of my landlady's children brought me in several others; with some of which I shall make up my present paper, they all having a tendency to the same subject, viz. the elegance of our present diversions.
COVENT-GARDEN, MARCH 13. "I HAVE been for twenty years under-sexton of this parish of St Paul's, Covent Garden, and have not missed tolling, into prayers six times in all those years; which office I have performed to my great satisfaction till this fortnight last past; during which time I find my congregation take the warning of my bell morning and evening to go to a puppet-show, set forth by one PowELL, under the Piazzas. By this means I have not only lost my two customers whom I used to place for sixpence apiece over-against Mrs RACHEL EYEBRIGHT, but Mrs. RACHEL herself is gone thither also. There now appear among us none but a few ordinary people, who
come to church only to say their prayers, so that I have no work worth speaking of but on Sundays. I have placed my son at the Piazzas, to acquaint the ladies that the bell rings for church, and that it stands on the other side of the garden; but they only laugh at the child. ́ ́
"I desire you would lay this before all the world, that I may not be made such a tool for the future, and that Punchinello may choose hours less canonical. As things are now, Mr PoWELL has a full congregation, while we have a very thin house; which, if you can remedy, you will very much oblige,
The following epistle I find is from the undertaker of the masquerade.
"I HAVE observed the rules of my masque (No. 8.) so carefully (in not inquiring into persons), that I cannot tell whether you were one of the company or not last Tuesday; but if you were not, and still design to I desire you would, for your own entertainment, please to admonish the town, that all persons indifferently are not fit for this sort of diversion. I could wish, Sir, you could make them understand that it is a kind of acting to go in masquerade, and a man should be able to say or do things proper for the dress in which he appears. We have now and then rakes in the habit of Roman senators, and grave politicians in the dress of rakes. The misfortune of the thing is, that people dress themselves in what they have a mind to be, and not what they are fit for. There is not a girl in the town, but let her have her will in going to a masque, and she shall dress as a shepherdess. But let me beg of them to read the Arcadia, or some other good romance, before they appear in any such character at my house. The last
day we presented, every body was so rashly habited, that when they came to speak to each other, a nymph with a crook had not a word to say but in the pert style of the pit bawdry; and a man in the habit of a philosopher was speechless till an occasion offered of expressing himself in the refuse of the tiring-rooms. We had a judge that danced a minuet, with a Quaker for his partner,
while half a dozen Harlequins stood by as spectators. A Turk drank me off two bottles of wine, and a Jew eat me up half a ham of bacon. If I can bring my design to bear, and make the masquers preserve their cha racters in my assemblies, I hope you will allow there is a foundation laid for more elegant and improving gallantries than any the town at present affords; and consequently that you will give your approbation to the cndeavours of,
Your most obedient humble servant.”
I am very glad the following epistle obliges me to mention Mr POWELL.a second time in the same paper; for indeed there cannot be too great encouragement gi, ven to his skill in motions (a), provided he is under proper vestrictions.
"THE opera at the Hay-Market, and that under the little Piazza in Covent-Garden, being at present the two leading diversions of the town, and Mr PowELL professing in his advertisements to set up WHITTINGTON and his Cat against RINALDO and ARMIDA, my curiosity led me the beginning of last week to view hoth these performances, and make my observations upon them.
First, therefore, I cannot but observe that Mr PowELL wisely forbearing to give his company a bill of fare beforehand, every scene is new and unexpected; whereas it is certain that the undertakers of the Hay-Market, having raised too great an expectation in their printed. opera, very much disappoint their audience on the stage.
"The King of Jerusalem is obliged to come from the city on foot, instead of being drawn in a triumphant chariot by white horses, as my opera-book had promised me; and thus while I expected ARMIDA's dragons should rush forward towards ARGANTES, I found, the hero was obliged to go to ARMIDA, and hand her out of her coach. We had also but a very short allowance of thunder and lightning;, though I cannot in this place omit doing justice to the boy who had the direction of the two painted dragons, and made them. spit fire and smoke: he flashed out his rosin in such just