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und sum of money to her
with so much art,
-e him in the utmost confu-t smirk imaginable on the e, pale as ashes on the other. her gally-pots and washes, andkerchief full of brushes, ol, and phials of unguents. he country, the lover was
th ought to be kept with made to a Pict is of itself ore exhort all the British la, nor do I know any but be exempt from discovery; ion is so delicate, that she The covering it with paint, as Dosing to be the worse piece of the masterpiece of nature. have no expectations from them only as they are part -t half so much fear offending of sense; I shall therefore which have been in public never appeared. It will be tainment in the playhouse, d this custom) to see so many lay it down, incog. in their
as a pattern for improving x study the agreeable Statira. vened with the cheerfulness H-humour gives an alacrity to eful without affecting an air, out appearing careless. Her art in her mind, makes her
Ey, and how unlike is a Pict,
nd so distinctly wrought, st say her body thought." ERTISEMENT.
an of about nineteen years of
The verses were written on Miss
of Donne's patron, Sir Robert D. at e Donne and his family had apartoung lady (who was said to have of King James's eldest son Prince er 15th year.
ARISTOTLE has observed, that ordinary writers in tragedy endeavour to raise terror and pity in their audience, not by proper sentiments and expressions, but by the dresses and decorations of the stage. There is something of this kind very ridiculous in the English theatre. When the author has a mind to terrify us, it thunders; when he would make us melancholy, the stage is darkened. But among all our tragic artifices, I am the most offended at those which are made use of to inspire us with magnificent ideas of the persons that speak. The ordinary method of making an hero, is to clap a huge plume of feathers upon his head, which rises so very high, that there is often a greater length from his chin to the top of his head, than to the sole of his foot. One would believe, that we thought a great man and a tall man the same thing. This very much embarrasses the actor, who is forced to hold his neck extremely stiff and steady all the while he speaks; and notwithstanding any anxieties which he pretends for his mistress, his country, or his friends, one may see by his action, that his greatest care and concern is to keep the plume of feathers from falling off his head. For my own part, when I see a man uttering his complaints under such a mountain of feathers, I am apt to look upon him rather as an unfortunate lunatic, than a distressed hero. As these superfluous ornaments upon the head make a great man, a princess generally receives her grandeur from those additional encum brances that fall into her tail: I mean the broad sweeping train that follows her in all her motions, and finds constant employment for a boy who stands behind her to open and spread it to advantage. I do not know how others are affected at this sight, but I must confess my eyes are wholly taken up with the page's part; and, as for the queen, I am not so attentive to any thing she speaks, as to the right adjusting of her train, lest it should chance to trip up her heels, or incommode her, as she walks to and fro upon the stage. It is, in my opinion, a very odd spectacle, to see a queen venting her passion in a disordered motion, and a little boy taking care all the while that they do not ruffle the tail of her gown. The parts that the two persons act on the stage at the same time are very different. The princess is afraid lest she should incur the displeasure of the king her father, or lose the hero her lover, whilst her attendant is only concerned lest she should entangle her feet in her petticoat.
We are told, that an ancient tragic poet, to move the pity of his audience for his exiled kings
and distressed heroes, used to make the actors represent them in dresses and clothes that were threadbare and decayed. This artifice for moving pity, seems as ill contrived as that we have been speaking of to inspire us with a great idea of the persons introduced upon the stage. In short, I would have our conceptions raised by the dignity of thought and sublimity of expression, rather than by a train of robes or a plume of feathers.
Another mechanical method of making great men, and adding dignity to kings and queens, is to accompany them with halberts and battle-axes. Two or three shifters of scenes, with the two candle-snuffers, make up a complete body of guards upon the English stage; and by the addition of a few porters dressed in red coats, can represent above a dozen legions. I have sometimes seen a couple of armies drawn up together upon the stage, when the poet has been disposed to do honour to his generals. It is impossible for the reader's imagination to multiply twenty men into such prodigious multitudes, or to fancy that two or three hundred thousand soldiers are fighting in a room of forty or fifty yards in compass. Incidents of such a nature should be told, not represented.
-Non tamen intus
Digna geri promes in scenam: multaque tolles
'Yet there are things improper for a scene, Which men of judgment only will relate.' ROSCOMMON.
I should, therefore, in this particular, recommend to my countrymen the example of the French stage, where the kings and queens always appear unattended, and leave their guards behind the scenes. I should likewise be glad if we imitated the French in banishing from our stage the noise of drums, trumpets, and huzzas; which is sometimes so very great, that when there is a battle in the Haymarket theatre, one may hear it as far as Charing-cross.
I have here only touched upon those particulars which are made use of to raise and aggrandize the persons of a tragedy; and shall show in another paper the several expedients which are practised by authors of a vulgar genius to move terror, pity, or admiration, in their hearers.
N° 43. THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 1711.
Ha tibi erunt artes; pacisque imponere morem,
Be these thy arts; to bid contention cease,
'Oxford, April 13, 1711. Four o'clock in the morning. In some of your late speculations, I found some sketches towards an history of clubs: but you seem to me to show them in somewhat too ludicrous a light. I have well weighed that matter, and think. that the most important negotiations may be best carried on in such assemblies. I shall therefore for the good of mankind, (which, I trust, you and I that nature for example sake. are equally concerned for) propose an institution of
'I must confess the design and transactions of too many clubs are trifling, and manifestly of no consequence to the nation or public weal. Those will give you up. But you must do me then the justice to own, that nothing can be more useful o laudable, than the scheme we go upon. To avoid nicknames and witticisms, we call ourselves The Hebdomadal Meeting. Our president continue are all grave, serious, designing men in our way, w for a year at least, and sometimes four or five; w think it our duty, as far as in us lies, to take care the constitution receives no harm-Ne quid detr menti res capiat publica-To censure doctrines o facts, persons or things, which we do not like; to settle the nation at home, and carry on the wa The tailor and the painter often contribute to abroad, where and in what manner we see fit. I the success of a tragedy more than the poet. other people are not of our opinion, we canno Scenes affect ordinary minds as much as speeches; help that. It were better they were. Moreover and our actors are very sensible, that a well-dress-we now and then condescend to direct, in some ed play has sometimes brought them as full au- measure, the little affairs of our own university, diences as a well-written one. The Italians have a very good phrase to express this art of imposing at the act for importing French wines. A bottle Verily, Mr. Spectator, we are much offender upon the spectators by appearances; they call it or two of good solid edifying port at hones the Fourberie della scena,'The knavery, or trickish part of the drama.' But however the show and George's, made a night cheerful, and threw off re outside of the tragedy may work upon the vulgar, cost us more money, but do us less good. Had w But this plaguy French claret will not only the more understanding part of the audience imme-been aware of it, before it had gone too far, diately see through it, and despise it.
A good poet will give the reader a more lively idea of an army or a battle in a description, than if he actually saw them drawn up in squadrons and battalions, or engaged in the confusion of a fight. Our minds should be opened to great conceptions, and inflamed with glorious sentiments, by what the actor speaks, more than by what he appears. Can all the trappings of equipage of a king or hero, give Brutus half that pomp and majesty which he receives from a few lines in Shakspeare?
must tell you, we would have petitioned to be heard upon that subject. But let that pass.
look upon a certain northern prince's march, in 'I must let you know likewise, good sir, that w conjunction with infidels, to be palpably agains our good-will and liking; and, for all Monsieu Palmquist, a most dangerous innovation; and w are by no means yet sure, that some people are no at the bottom of it. At least my own private let ters leave room for a politician, well versed in matters of this nature, to suspect as much, as a penetrating friend of mine tells me.
last done the business ngary, and shall clap
is to do, or what the t two or three other etermined among us; the coming-in of the know is our authentic politics. And indeed some dernier resort, ontroversies. ed, that the gallant I all night long about indeed could not imaguessed not a tittle on nothing of the secret; heir apprentices, should e holidays, we thought Dyer being positive in other people, who had it from those who should ance to it, the chairman e appointed to examine possible there might be uch more to say to you, nd neighbours, Dominic ne in, and the coffee is time, pectator,
and humble servant,
Here, if the poet * had not been vivacious, as well as stupid, he could not, in the warmth and hurry of nonsense, have been capable of forgetting that neither Prince Voltager, nor his grandfather, could strip a naked man of his doublet; but a fool of a colder constitution would have staid to have flead the Pict, and made buff of his skin, for the wearing of the conqueror.
To bring these observations to some useful purpose of life, what I would propose should be, that we imitated those wise nations, wherein every man learns some handicraft-work. Would it not employ a beau prettily enough, if, instead of eter nally playing with a snuif-box, he spent some part of his time in making one? Such a method as this would very much conduce to the public emolument, by making every man living good for something; for there would then be no one member of human society, but would have some little pretension for some degree in it; like him who came to Will's coffee-house, upon the merit of having writ a posy of a ring.
Tu, quid ego et populus meum desideret, audi.
Now hear what ev'ry auditor expects.
ABRAHAM FROTH.' urn of their minds tends AMONG the several artifices which are put in pracatisfaction in any thing. tice by the poets to fill the minds of an audience ent to them, to come to with terror, the first place is due to thunder and r that would gravel them lightning, which are often made use of at the deinquiries, which dull fel-scending of a god, or the rising of a ghost, at the ormation, but for exer- vanishing of a devil, or at the death of a tyrant. this may be a very good I have known a bell introduced into several trahat we frequently see, to gedies with good effect; and have seen the whole rove very good men of assembly in a very great alarm all the while it has ves them from their own been ringing. But there is nothing which delights nishing them with what to and terrifies our English theatre so much as a mercurial men, is an in- ghost, especially when he appears in a bloody I existence and happiness. Shirt. A spectre has very often saved a play, mankind are harmless in though he has done nothing but stalked across the re to be wished they had stage, or rose through a cleft of it, and sunk again they usually undertake without speaking one word. There may be a proeir wants conspicuous, by per season for these several terrors; and when g them. You shall seldom they only come in as aids and assistances to the ood education, but, if he poet, they are not only to be excused, but to be sure upon his hands, will applauded. Thus the sounding of the clock in Venice Preserved, makes the hearts of the whole audience quake; and conveys a stronger terror to the mind than it is possible for words to do. The appearance of the ghost in Hamlet is a masterpiece in its kind, and wrought up with all the eircumstances that can create either attention or horror. The mind of the reader is wonderfully prepared for his reception by the discourses that precede it. His dumb behaviour at his first entrance strikes the imagination very strongly; but every time he enters, he is still more terrifying. Who can read the speech with which young Hamlet accosts him, without trembling?
hose two amusements for litics or poetry. The forstudy of all dull people in ess is lodged in a person of generally exerts itself in e mention a few military entertainment to the age, upidity of their heads is rity of their hearts. This ellow, gives vigour to nonpuddle boil, which would he British Prince, that cewas written in the reign of ond, and deservedly called è incomparable, was the efgenius as we are speaking y other distichs no less to be nt, I cannot but recite the
nce Voltager had on,
5. 222 and 469.
Hor. Look, my Lord, it comes!
'Ham. Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Thou com'st in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee. I'll call thee Hamlet,
The Hon. Edward Howard. See Tat. N° 21.
+ See N° 536, Letter I.
# Advents; comings or visits,
King, Father, Royal Dane. Oh answer me.
I do not therefore find fault with the artifices above mentioned, when they are introduced with skill, and accompanied by proportionable sentiments and expressions in the writing.
For the moving of pity, our principal machine is the handkerchief; and indeed in our common tragedies, we should not know very often that the persons are in distress by any thing they say, if they did not from time to time apply their handkerchiefs to their eyes Far be it from me to think of banishing this instrument of sorrow from the stage; I know a tragedy could not subsist without it: all that I would contend for, is to keep it from being misapplied. In a word, I would have the actor's tongue sympathize with his eyes.
A disconsolate mother, with a child in her hand, has frequently drawn compassion from the audience, and has therefore gained a place in several tragedies. A modern writer, that observed how this had took in other plays, being resolved to double the distress, and melt his audience twice as much as those before him had done, brought a princess upon the stage with a little boy in one hand, and a girl in the other. This too had a very good effect. A third poet being resolved to outwrite all his predecessors, a few years ago introduced three children with great success: and, as I am informed, a young gentleman, who is fully determined to break the most obdurate hearts, has a tragedy by him, where the first person that appears upon the stage is an afflicted widow in her mourn ing weeds, with half a dozen fatherless children attending her, like those that usually hang about the figure of Charity. Thus several incidents that are beautiful in a good writer, become ridiculous by falling into the hands of a bad one.
But among all our methods of moving pity or terror, there is none so absurd and barbarous, and what more exposes us to the contempt and ridicule of our neighbours, than that dreadful butchering of one another, which is very frequent upon the English stage. To delight in seeing men stabbed, poisoned, racked, or impaled, is certainly the sign of a cruel temper: and as this is often practised before the British audience, several French critics, who think these are grateful spectacles to us, take occasion from them to represent us as a people that delight in blood. It is indeed very odd, to see our stage strewed with carcases in the last scenes of a tragedy; and to observe in the wardrobe of the playhouse several daggers, poniards, wheels, bowls for poison, and many other instruments of death. Murders and executions are always transacted behind the scenes in the French theatre; which in general is very agreeable to the manners of a polite and civilized people: but as there are no exceptions to this rule on the French stage, it leads them into absurdities almost as ridiculous as that which falls under our present censure. I remember in the famous play of Corneille, written upon the subject of the Horatii and Curiatii; the fierce young hero, who had overcome the Curiatii one after another (instead of being congratulated by his sister for his victory, being upbraided by her for having slain her lover), in the
height of his passion and resentment kills her. If any thing could extenuate so brutal an action, it would be the doing of it on a sudden, before the sentiments of nature, reason, or mashood, could take place in him. However, to avoid public bloodshed, as soon as his passion is wrought to its height, he follows his sister the whole length of the stage, and forbears killing her till they are both withdrawn behind the scenes. I must confess, had he murdered ber before the audience, the indecency might have been greater; but as it is, it appears very unnatural, and looks like killing in cold blood. To give my opinion upon this case, the fact ought not to have been represented, but to have been told, if there was any occasion for it. It may not be unacceptable to the reader to see how Sophocles has conducted a tragedy under the like delicate circumstances. Orestes was in the same condition with Hamlet in Shakspeare, his mother having murdered his father, and taken possession of his kingdom in conspiracy with her adulterer. That young prince therefore, being determined to revenge his father's death upon those who filled his throne, convey's himself by a beautiful stratagem into his mother's apartment, with a resolution to kill her. But because such a spectacle would have been too shocking to the audience, this dreadful resolution is executed behind the scenes: the mother is heard calling out to her son for mercy; and the son answering her that she showed no mercy to his father; after which she shrieks out that she is wounded, and by what follows we find that she is slain. I do not remember that in any of our plays there are speeches made behind the scenes, though there are other instances of this nature to be met with in those of the ancients: and I believe my reader will agree with me, that there is something infinitely more affecting in this dreadful dialogue between the mother and her son behind the scenes, than could have been in any thing transacted before the audience. Orestes immediately after meets the usurper at the entrance of his palace; and by a very happy thought of the poet avoids killing him before the audience, by telling him that he should live some time in his present bitterness of soul before he would dispatch him, and by ordering him to retire into that part of the palace where he had slain his father, whose murder he would revenge in the very same place where it was committed. By this means the poet observes that decency, which Horace afterwards established as a rule, of forbearing to commit parricides or unnatural murders before the audience.
Nec coram populo natos Meden trucidet.'
Ars Poet. ver. 185.
'Let not Medea draw her murd'ring knife,
The French have therefore refined too much upon Horace's rule, who never designed to banish all kinds of death from the stage; but only such as had too much horror in them, and which would have a better effect upon the audience when tran-acted behind the scenes. I would therefore recommend to my countrymen the practice of the an cient poets, who were very sparing of their public executions, and rather chose to perform them be hind the scenes, if it could be done with as great an effect upon the audience. At the same time, I must observe, that though the devoted persons of the tragedy were seldom slain before the audience, which has generally something ridiculous in it, their bodies were often produced after their death,
ething melancholy or ng on the stage does ded only as an indeability..
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 185.
the several dramatic use of by the ignorant of tragedy, and by the e of which I could wish = rest to be used with endless task to consider and to mention the inwits put in practice to a short coat, and Norris of this effect. In ordid a narrow brimmed hat Sometimes the wit of the belt, and sometimes in a running about the stage, of a barrel, was thought ng Charles the Second's e of the first wits of that cule is not so delicate as the objects that make us numerous than those that much greater latitude for es, and by consequence a to be allowed them.
AY, APRIL 21, 1711.
JUV, Sat. iii. 100.
pany of players.
h I desire more than a safe though at the same time I of many ill consequences do not mean in regard to manners. What an inunprocades will break in upon hter and impertinence shall or the prevention of these artily wish that there was an prohibiting the importation
nts of our island have altrong impressions from this gh by the length of the war hich has not some good atretty well worn out and forthe time when some of our men kept their valet de sooth, a man was much more n one of their own sex. I of these male Abigails tripwith a looking-glass in his his lady's hair a whole morn
mer or no there was any truth in his comedy of The Comical Re
in the story of a lady's being got with child by one of these her hand-maids, I cannot tell; but I think at present the whole race of them is extinct in our own country.
About the time that several of our sex were taken into this kind of service, the ladies likewise brought up the fashion of receiving visits in their beds. It was then looked upon as a piece of ill-breeding for a woman to refuse to see a man, because she was not stirring; and a porter would have been thought unfit for his place, that could have made so awkward an excuse. As I love to see every thing that is new, I once prevailed upon my friend Will Honeycomb to carry me along with him to one of these travelled ladies, desiring him at the same time to present me as a foreigner who could not speak English, that so I might not be obliged to bear a part in the discourse. The lady, though willing to appear undressed, had put on her best looks, and painted herself for our reception. Her hair appeared in a very nice disorder, as the night-gown which was thrown upon her shoulders was ruffled with great care. For my part, I am so shocked with every thing which looks immodest in the fair sex, that I could not forbear taking off my eye from her when she moved in her bed, and was in the greatest confusion imaginable every time she stirred a leg or an arm. As the coquettes who introduced this custom grew old, they left it off by degrees; well knowing, that a woman of threescore may kick and tumble her heart out, without making any impressions.
Sempronia is at present the most professed admirer of the French nation, but is so modest as to admit her visitants no further than her toilet. It is a very odd sight that beautiful creature makes, when she is talking politics with her tresses flowing about her shoulders, and examining that face in the glass; which does such execution upon all the male standers-by. How prettily does she divide her discourse between her woman and her visitants? What sprightly transitions does she make from an opera or a sermon, to an ivory comb or a pincushion? How have I been pleased to see her interrupted in an account of her travels, by a message to her footman; and holding her tongue in the midst of a moral reflection, by applying the tip of it to a patch?
There is nothing which exposes a woman to greater dangers, than that gaiety and airiness of temper which are natural to most of the sex. It should be therefore the concern of every wise and virtuous woman to keep this sprightliness from degenerating into levity. On the contrary, the whole discourse and behaviour of the French is to make the sex more fantastical, or (as they are pleased to term it) more awakened, than is consistent either with virtue or discretion. To speak loud in public assemblies, to let every one hear you talk of things that should only be mentioned in private, or in whisper, are looked upon as parts of a refined education. At the same time a blush is unfashionable, and silence more ill-bred than any thing that can be spoken. In short, discretion and modesty, which in all other ages and countries have been regarded as the greatest ornaments of the fair sex, are regarded as the ingredients of narrow conversation, and family behaviour.
Some years ago I was at the tragedy of Macbeth, of quality that is since dead; who, as I found by and unfortunately placed myself under a woman the noise she made, was newly returned from
France. A little before the rising of the curtain,