out of his Lion's Skin, it was thought proper to discard No. 13. him: And it is verily believed to this Day, that had he Thursday. been brought upon the Stage another time, he would March 15, certainly have done Mischief. Besides, it was objected against the first Lion, that he reared himself so high upon his hinder Paws, and walked in so erect a Posture, that he looked more like an old Man than a Lion.

The second Lion was a Taylor by Trade, who be longed to the Play-house, and had the Character of a mild and peaceable Man in his Profession. If the former was too furious, this was too sheepish, for his Part; insomuch that after a short modest Walk upon the Stage, he would fall at the first Touch of Hydaspes, without grapling with him, and giving him an Opportunity of showing his Variety of Italian Tripps: It is said indeed, that he once gave him a Ripp in his flesh-colour Doublet, but this was only to make Work for himself, in his private Character of a Taylor. 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 illnatured 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 Cholerick, that he out does 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 a 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 Lion have been seen sitting peaceably by one another, and smoaking a Pipe together, behind the Scenes; by which



No. 13.

which their common Enemies would insinuate, that it Thursday, is but a sham Combat which they represent upon the March 15, Stage: But upon Enquiry I find, that if any such Corre


spondence 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 West minster 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 Audience; 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 Tragoedians 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 cap able 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 Common Sense,


No. 14.


V's opera & Masquerade

No. 14.

Friday, March 16. Friday,
March 16,

Teque his infelix exue monstris,—Ovid.

WAS reflecting this Morning upon the Spirit and Humour of the publick Diversions Five and twenty Years ago, and those of the present Time; and lamented to my self, 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 odd Fellow, whose Face I have often seen at the Play-house, gave me the following Letter with these Words, Sir, The Lion presents his humble Service to you, and desired me to give this into your own Hands.

'From my Den in the Hay-Market, March 15,


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 Grimaldi and my self 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 discourage a Lion that is your own Country-man.

I take notice of your Fable of the Lion and Man, but am so equally concerned in that Matter, that I shall not be offended to which soever 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 Fox-hunter, 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,

C 164

Yours, &c.'


[ocr errors]

No. 14.

I had no sooner ended this, than one of my Landlady's Children brought me in several others, with some of March 16, which I shall make up my present Paper, they all having a Tendency to the same Subject, víz. 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 in to 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 Six-pence a piece over against Mrs. Rachel Eye-bright, but Mrs. Rachel her self 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 chuse 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,


Your, &c.' The following Epistle I find is from the Undertaker of the Masquerade,


I have observed the Rules of my Masque so carefully (in not enquiring 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 come, 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, No. 14. you could make them understand, that it is a kind of Friday, acting to go in Masquerade, and a Man should be able March 16, 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 Stile 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 Tyring-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 Characters 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 Ap probation to the Endeavours 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 given to his Skill in Motions, provided he is under proper Restrictions.


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


« VorigeDoorgaan »