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unfortunate lunatic, than a distressed hero. As thefe fuperfluous ornaments upon the head make a great man, a princefs generally receives her grandeur from thofe additional incumbrances that fall into her tail; I mean the broad fweeping train that follows her in all her motions, and finds conftant employment for a boy who ftands behind her to open and fpread it to advantage. I do not know how others are affected at this fight, but I must confefs, my eyes are wholly taken up with the page's part; and as for the queen, I am not fo attentive to any thing she speaks, as to the right adjusting of her train, left it should chance to trip up her heels, or incommode her, as the walks to and fro upon the ftage. It is, in my opinion, a very odd fpectacle, to fee a queen venting her paffion in a difordered motion, and a little boy taking care all the while that they do not ruffle the tail of her gown, The parts that the twa perfons act on the ftage at the fame time, are very different; the princefs is afraid left the could incur the difpleasure of the king her father, or lofe the hero her lover, whilft 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 diftreffed heroes, ufed to make the actors reprefent them in dreffes and clothes, that were thread-bare and decayed. This artifice for moving pity, feems as ill contrived as that we have been fpeaking of to infpire us with a great idea of the perfons introduced upon the ftage. In fhort. I would have our conceptions raised by the dignity of thought and fublimity of expreffion, 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 fcenes, with the two candle-fnuffers, make up a complete body of guards upon the English ftage; and by the addition of a
dreffed in red coats, can
above a dozen legions. I have fometimes feen a couple of armies drawn up together upon the ftage, when the poet has been difpofed to do honour to his generals. It is impoffible for the reader's imagination to multiply twenty men into fuch prodigious multitudes, or to fancy that two or three hundred thousand foldiers are fighting in a room of forty or fifty yards in compafs. Incidents of fuch a nature should be told, not represented.
have here only touched upon those particulars which are made ufe of to raife and aggrandize the perfons of a tragedy; and fhall fhew in another paper the feveral expedients which are practised by authors of a vulgar genius to move terror, pity or admiration, in their hearers.
Yet there are things improper for a scene, Which men of judgment only will relate. ROSCOMMON.
The taylor and the painter often contribute to the fuccefs of tragedy more than the poet. Scenes affect ordinary minds as much as speeches; and our actors are very fenfible, that a well-dressed play has fometimes brought them as full audiences, as a well-written one. The Italians have a very good phrase to express this art of impofing upon the fpectators by appearances: they call it theFourberia della fcena, the knavery or trickith part of the drama.' But however the show and outfide of the tragedy may work upon the vulgar, the more understanding part of the audience immediately fee through it and despise it.
A good poet will give the reader a more lively idea of an army or a battle in a defcription, than if he actually faw them drawn up in fquadrous and battalions, or engaged in the confufion of a fight. Our minds should be opened to great conceptions, and inflamed with glorious fentiments, by what the actor fpeaks, more than by what he appears. Can all the trappings or equipage of a king or hero give Brutus half that pomp and majefty which he receives from a few lines in Shakefpear? C
No. 43. THURSDAY, APRIL 19.
Hæ tibi erunt artes; pacifque imponere morem,
O'er fubject lands extend thy gentle sway, And teach with iron rod the haughty to obey. HERE are crowds of men, whofe great misfortune it is that they were not bound to mechanic arts or trades; it being abfolutely neceffary for them to be led by fome continual task or employment. These are fuch as we commonly call dull fellows; perfons, who for want of fomething to do, out of a certain vacancy of thought, rather than curiofity, are ever meddling with things for which they are unfit. I cannot give you a notion of them better than by prefenting you with a letter from a gentleman, who belongs to a fociety of this order of men, refiding at Oxford.
fome of your late fpeculations, I find some fketches towards an hiftory of clubs: but you feem to me to fhew them in fomewhat too ludicrous a light. I have well weighed that matter, and think that the most important negotiations may best he carried on in fuch affem→ blies. I fhal, therefore, for the good of mankind, (which, I truft, you and I are equally con
I fhould therefore, in this particular, recommend to my countrymen the example of the French ftage, where the kings and queens always appear unattended, and leave their guards behind
the fcenes. I fhould likewife be glad if we imi-cerned for) propose an inftitution of that nature tated the French in banishing from our ftage the noife of drums, trumpets, and huzza's; which is fometimes fo very great, that when there is a battle in the Hay-Market theatre, one may hear it as. far as Charing Crofs,
for example fake.
II must confefs the defign and tranfactions of 'too many clubs are trifling, and manifeftly of " no confequence to the nation or public weal; thofe I'll give you up. But you must do me
then the juftice to own, that nothing can be more useful or laudable, than the fcheme we go upon. To avoid nicknames and witticifms, · we call ourselves The Hebdomadal Meeting: " our Prefident continues for a year at leaft, and fometimes four or five: we are all grave ferious, defigning men, in our way: we think it our duty, as far as in us lies, to take care the conftitution receives no harm. Ne quid detrimenti Res capiat publica To cenfure 'doctrines or facts, perfons or things, which we don't like; to fettle the nation at home, and to carry on the war abroad, where and in what manner we see fit. If other people are not of our opinion, we can't help that. Twere betfter they were. Moreover, we now and then condescend to direct, in fome measure, the little affairs of our own University.
Verily, Mr. Spectator, we are much offended at the act for importing French wines: a bottle or two of good folid edifying port at honeft George's made a night chearful, and threw off ' referve. But this plaguy French claret will not only cost us more money, but do us lefs good: 'had we been aware of it, before it had gone too 'far, I muft tell you, we would have petitioned to be heard upon that subject. But let that pafs.
I must let you know likewife, good Sir, that we look upon a certain northern prince's march, in conjunction with infidels, to be palpably against our good-will and liking, and, for all Monfieur Palmquist, a most dangerous innova'tion; and we are by no means yet fure, that some 'people are not at the bottom on't. At least, my own private letters leave room for a politician, well verfed in matters of this nature, to 'fufpect as much, as a penetrating friend of mine tells me.
We think we have at last done the bufinefs with the male contents in Hungary, and shall clap up a peace there.
'What the neutrality army is to do, or what the army in Flanders, and what two or three other princes, is not yet fully determined < among us and we wait impatiently for the coming-in of the next Dyer, who, you must know, is our authentic intelligence, out Ariftotle in politics. And 'tis indeed but fit there 'fhould be fome dernier refort, the abfolute decider of all controverfies. 'We were lately informed, that the gallant train'dbands had patroll'd all night long about the ftreets of London: we indeed could not · imagine any occafion for it, we gueffed hot a 'tittle on't aforehand, we were in nothing of the fecret; and that city tradefimen, or their apprentices, fhould do duty, or work, during the holidays, we thought abfolutely impoffible. But Dyer being pofitive in it, and fome letters 'from other people, who had talked with fome ' who bad it from those who should know, giving fome countenance to it, the chairman re'ported from the committee, appointed to examine into that affair, that 'twas poffible there 'might be fomething in't. I have much more to fay to you, but my two good friends and 'neighbours, Dominick and Slyboots, are juit come in, and the coffee's ready. I am, in the mean time.
• Mr. Spectator,
Your admirer and humble fervant,
• Abrabam Froth."
You may obferve the turn of their minds tends only to novelty, and not fatisfaction in any thing. It would be disappointment to them, to come to certainty in any thing, for that would gravel them, and put an end to their inquiries, which dull fellows do not make for information, but for exercife. I do not know but this may be a very good way of accounting for what we frequently fee, to wit, that dull fellows prove very good men of bufinefs. Bufinefs relieves them from their own natural heaviness, by furnishing them with what to do; whereas bufinefs to mercurial men, is an interruption from their real existence and happiness. Though the dull part of mankind are harmless in their amufements, it were to be wifhed they had no vacant time, because they usually undertake fomething that makes their wants confpicuous, by their manner of supplying them. You shall feldom find a dull fellow of good education, but (if he happens to have any leifure upon his hands) will turn his head to one of those two amusements, for all fools of eminence, politics or poety, The former of these arts, is the study of all dull people in general; but when dulness is lodged in a perfon of a quick animal life, it generally exerts itself in poetry. One might here mention a few military writers, who give great entertainment to the age, by reafon that the ftupidity of their heads is quickned by the alacrity of their hearts. This conftitution in a dull fellow, gives vigour to nonsense, and makes the puddle boil, which would otherwife ftagnate. The British Prince, that celebrated poem, which was written in the reign of king Charles the fecond, and deservedly called by the wits of that age incomparable, was the effect of fuch an happy genius as we are fpeaking of. From among many other diftichs, no less to be quoted on this account, I cannot but recite the two following lines;
A painted veft prince Voltager had on, Which from a naked Pict his grandfire won.
Here if the poet had not been vivacious, as well as ftupid, he could not, in the warmth and hurry of nonfenfe, have been capable of forgetting that neither prince Voltager, nor his grand-father, could ftrip a naked man of his doublet; but a fool of a colder conftitution would have ftaid to have flea'd the Pict, and made buff of his skin, for the wearing of the conqueror.
To bring thefe obfervations to fome useful purpofe of life, what I would propose should be, that we imitated thofe wife nationt, wherein every man learns fome handi-craft-work. Would it not employ a beau prettily enough, if, instead of eternally playing with a fnuff-box, he spent fome 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 fomething; for there would then be no one member of human fociety, but would have fome little pretenfions for fome degree in it; like him who came to Will's coffee-house upon the merit of having writ a pofy of a ring. R
N° 44. FRIDAY, APRIL 20.
Tu, quid ego & populus mecum defideret, audi. HOR'. Ars Poet, ver. 153. Now hear what ev'ry auditor expects.
MONG the feveral artifices which are put in practife by the poets to fill the minds of an audience with terror, the first place is due to thunder and lightning, which are often made ufe of at the defcending of a god, or the rifing of a ghoft, at the vanishing of a devil, or the death of a tyrant. I have known a bell introduced into feveral tragedies with good effect; and have feen the whole affembly in a very great alarm all the while it has been ringing. But there is nothing which delights and terrifies our English theatre fo much as a ghoft, especially when he appears in a bloody fhirt. A spectre has very often faved a play, though he has done nothing but ftalked acrofs the ftage, or rofe through a cleft of it, and funk again without fpeaking one word. There may be a proper season for these several terrors; and when they only come in as aids and affiftances to the poet, they are not only to be excufed, but to be applauded. Thus the founding of the clock in Venice Preferved, makes the hearts of the whole audience quake; and conveys a stronger terror to the mind than it is poffible for words to do. The appearance of the ghoft in Hamlet is a nafterpiece in its kind, and wrought up with all the circumstances that can create either attention or horror. The mind of the reader is wonderfully prepared for his reception by the difcourfes, that precede it his dumb behaviour at his firft entrance frikes the imagination very strongly; but every time he enters, he is ftill more terrifying. Who can read the fpeech with which young Hamlet accofts him, without trembling.
Hor. Leok, my Lord, it comes !
Ham. Angels and minifters of grace defend us! Be thou a fpirit of health, or goblin damn'd, Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blafts from hell;
Be thy events wicked or charitable
from being mifapplied. In a word, I would have the actor's tongue fympathize with his eyes.
A difconfolate mother, with a child in her hand, has frequently drawn compaffion from the audience, and has therefore gained a place in feveral tragedies. A modern writer, that obferved how this had took in other plays, being refolved to double the diftrefs, and melt his audience twice as much as thofe before him had done, brought a princefs upon the ftage with a little boy in one hand and a girl in the other. This too had a very good effect. A third poet, being refolved to out write all his predeceffors, a few years ago introduced three children with great fuccefs: and as I am informed, a young gentleman, who is fully determined to break the moft obdurate hearts, kas a tragedy by him, where the first perfon that appears upon the ftage is an afflicted widow in her mourning-weeds, with half a dozen fatherless children attending her, like thofe that ufually hang about the figure of charity. Thus feveral 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 fo abfurd and barbarous, and what more expofes us to the contempt and ridicule of our reighbours, than that dreadful butchering of one another, which is fo very frequent upon the English ftage. To delight in feeing men ftabbed, poisoned, racked, or impaled, is certainly the fign of a cruel temper: and as this is often practifed before the British audience, feveral French critics, who think thefe are grateful spectacles to us, take occafion from them to reprefent us as a people that delight in blood. It is indeed very odd, to fee our ftage ftrowed with carcafes in the last scene of a tragedy; and to obferve in the wardrobe of the play-houfe feveral daggers, poniards, wheels, bowls for poifon, and many other inftruments of death. Muiders and executions are always tranfacted behind the fcenes 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 abfurdities almost as ridiculous as that which falls under our prefent cenfure. I remember in the famous play of Corneille, written upon the fubject of the Horatii and Curiatii; the fierce young hero who had overcome the Curiatii one after another, inftead of being congratulated by his fifter for his victory, being upbraided by her for having flain her lover, in the height of his paffion and refentment kills her. If any thing could extenuate fo brutal an action, it would be the doing of it on a fudden, before the fentiments of nature, reason, or manhood, could take place in him. However, to avoid public bloodshed, as foon as his paffion is wrought to its height, he follows his fifter the whole length of the ftage, and forbears killing her till they are both withdrawn behind the fcenes. I must confefs had he murdered her 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 cafe, the fact ought not to have been reprefented, but to have been told, if there was any occafion for it.
It may not be unacceptable to the reader to fee how Sophocles has conducted tragedy under the like delicate circumftances. Oreftes was in the fame condition with Hamlet in Shakespeare,
I do not therefore find fault with the artifices above-mentioned when they are introduced with kill, and accompanied by proportionable fentiments and expreffions 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 perfons are in diftrefs by any thing they fay, if they did not from time to time apply their handkerchiefs to their eyes. Far be it from me to think of banishing this inftrument of forrow from the ftage; I know a tragedy could not subsist without it all that I would contend for, is to keep it
his mother having murdered his father, and taken poffeffion of his kingdom in confpiracy with the adulterer. The young prince therefore, being determined to revenge his father's death upon thofe who filled his throne, conveys himself by a beautiful ftratagem into his mother's apartment, with a refolution to kill her. But becaufe fuch a fpectacle would have been too fhocking for the audience, this dreadful resolution is executed behind the fcenes: the mother is heard calling out to her fon for mercy; and the fon anfwering her, that the fhewed no mercy to his father; after which the shrieks out that the is wounded, and by what follows we find that he is flain. I do not remember that in any of our plays there are fpeeches made behind the fcenes, though there are other inftances of this nature to be met with in thofe of the ancients: and I believe my reader will agree with me, that there is fomething infinitely more affecting in this dreadful dialogue between the mother and her fon behind the fcenes, than could have been in any thing tranfacted before the audience. Oreftes immediately after meets the ufurper 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 fhould live fome time in his prefent bitternefs of foul before he would difpatch him, and by ordering him to retire into that part of the palace where he had flain his father, whofe murder he would revenge in the very fame place where it was committed. By this means the poet obferves that decency which Horace afterwards established by a rule, of forbearing to commit parricides or unnatural murders before the audience.
Nec coram populo natos Medea trucidet.
Ars. Poct. ver. 185. Let not Medea draw her murd'ring knife, And fpill her childrens blood upon the stage. ROSCOMMON. -The French have therefore refin'd too much upon Horace's rule, who never defigned to banish all kinds of death from the stage; but only fuch as had too much horror in them, and which would have a better effect upon the audience when tranfacted behind the fcenes. I would therefore recommend to my countrymen the practice of the ancient poets, who were very fparing of their public executions, and rather chofe to perform them behind the fcenes, if it could be done with as great an affect upon the audience. At the fame time I must obferve that though the devoted perfons of the tragedy were feldom flain before the audience, which has generally fomething ridiculous in it, their bodies were often produced after their death, which has always in it fomething melancholy or terrifying; so that the killing on the ftage does not feem to have been avoided only as an indecency, but also as an improbability.
I have now gone through the feveral dramatic inventions which are made ufe of by the ignorant poets to fupply the place of Tragedy, and by the kilful to improve it; fome of which I could wish intirely rejected, and the rest to be used with caution. It would be an endless task to confider Comedy in the fame light, and to mention the innumerable fhifts that fmall wits put in practice to raife a laugh. Bullock in a fhort coat, and Noris in a long one, feldom fail of this effect. In ordinary comedies, a broad and a narrow-brimm'd hat are different characters. Sometimes the wit of the fcene lies in a fhoulderbelt, and sometimes in a pair of whiskers. A lover running about the ftage, with his head peeping out of a barrel, was thought a very good jeft in king Charles the second's time; and invented by one of the first wits of that age. But because ridicule is not fo delicate as compaffion, and because the objects that make us laugh are infinitely more numerous than thofe that make us weep, there is a much greater latitude for comic than tragic artifices, and by confequence a much greater indulgence to be allowed them.
HERE is nothing which I more defire than a fafe and honourable peace, though at the fame time I am very apprehenfive of many ill confequences that may attend it. I do not mean in regard to our politics, but our manners. What an inundation of ribbons and brocades will break in upon us! What peals of laughter and impertinence fhall we be expofed to! For the prevention of these great evils, I could heartily wish that there was an act of parliament for prohibiting the importation of French fopperies.
The female inhabitants of our Ifland have already received very strong impreffions from this ludicrous nation, though by the length of the war, as there is no evil which has not fome good attending it, they are pretty well worn out and forgotten. I remember the time when some of our wellbred country-women kept their Valet-de Chambre, because forfooth, a man was much more handy about them than one of their own fex. I myself have feen one of these male Abigails tripping about the room with a looking-glafs in his hand, and combing his lady's hair a whole morning together. Whether or no there was any truth in the ftory of a lady's being got with child by one of thefe her handmaids I cannot tell, but I think at prefent the whole race of them is extinct in our own country.
About the time that feveral of our fex were taken into this kind of fervice, the ladies likewife brought up the fashion of receiving vifits in their breeding for a woman to refuse to see a man, bebeds. It was then look'd upon as a piece of illhave been thought unfit for his place, that could cause she was not stirring; and a porter would have made fo awkward an excufe. As I love to fee 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, defiring him, at the fame time, to prefent me as a foreigner who could not speak English, that fo I might not be obliged to bear a part in the difcourfe. The lady, though
though willing to appear undreft, had put on her best looks, and painted herself for our reception. Her hair appeared in a very nice diforder, as the night gown which was thrown upon her fhoulders was ruffled with great care. For my part, I am fo fhocked with every thing that looks immodeft in the fair fex, that I could not forbear taking off my eye from her when the moved in her bed, and was in the greatest confufion imaginable every time the firred a leg or an arm. As the coquettes, who introduced this cuftom, grew old, they Left it off by degrees; well knowing that a woman of threefcore may kick and tumble her heart out without making any impreffions.
Sempronia is at present the most profest admirer of the French nation, but is fo modeft as to admit her vifitants no farther than her toket. It is a very odd fight that beautiful creature makes, when he is talking politics with her treffes flowing about her shoulders, and examining that face in the glafs which does fuch execution upon all the male standers-by. How prettily does the divide her difcourfe between her woman and her vifitants! What sprightly transitions does she make from an opera or a fermon, to an ivery comb or a pin-cushion? How have I been pleased to fee her interrupted in an account of her travels, by a meffage 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 expofes a woman to greater dangers, than, that gaiety and airiness of temper, which are natural to most of the fex. It fhould be therefore the concern of every wife and virtuous woman, to keep this fprightlinefs from d generating into levity. On the contrary, the whole difcourfe and behaviour of the French is to
make the fex more fantaftical, or, as they are
pleafed to term it, 'more awakened,' than is confiftent either with virtue or difcretion. To speak bud in public affemblies, to let every one hear you talk of things that fhould only be mentioned in private, or in whisper, are looked upon as parts
a refined education. At the fame time a blush is unfashionable, and filence more ill-bred than any thing that can be fpoken. In short, difcretion and modefty, which in all other ages and countries have been regarded as the greatest ornaments of the fair fex, are confidered as the ingredients of narrow conversation and family behaviour.
planted myself in one of the remotest corners of the pit.
This pretty childishness of behaviour is one of the most refined parts of coquetry, and is not to be attained in perfection by ladies that do not travel for their improvement. A natural and un-. conftrained behaviour has fomething in it so agreeable, that it is no wonder to fee people endeavouring after it. But at the fame time, it is fo very hard to hit, when it is not born with us, that people often make themfelvesridiculous in attempting it.
Some years ago I was at the tragedy of Macbeth, and unfortunately placed myfelf under a woman of quality that is fince dead; who, as I found by the noife the made, was newly returned from France, A little before the rifing of the curtain, the broke out into a loud foliloquy, "When will the dear witches enter?" and immediately upon their first appearance, afked a lady that fat three boxes from her, on her right-hand, if those witches were not charming creatures. A little after, as Betterton was in one of the fineft fpeeches of the play, the hook her fan at another lady, who fat as far on her left-hand, and told her with a whifper that might be heard all over the pit, we must not expect to fe Balloon to-night. Not long after, calling out to a young baronet by his name, who fat three feats before me, the afked him whether Macbeth's wife was till alive; and before he could give an answer, fell a talking of the ghost of Panquo. She had by this time formed a little audience to herAll and fixed the attention of all about her. But as I had a mind to hear the play, I out of the sphere of her impertinence, and
A very ingenious French author tells us, that the ladies of the court of France, in his time, thought it ill-breeding, and a kind of female pe dantry, to pronounce an hard word right; for which reason they took frequent occafion to use hard words, that they might fhew a politenefs in murdering them. He further adds, that a lady of fome quality at court, having accidentally made use of an hard word in a proper place, and pronounced it right, the whole affembly was out of countenance for her.
I must however be fo juft as to own, that there are many ladies who have travelled feveral thoufands of miles without being the worfe for it, and have brought home with them all the modefty, difcretion, and good fenfe, that they went abroad with. As on the contrary, there are great numbers of travelled ladies, who have lived all their days within the fmoke of London. I have known a woman that never was out of the parish of St. James's betray as many foreign fopperies in her carriage, as he could have gleaned up in half the countries of Europe. с
The jarring feeds of ill-conforted things. WHEN I want materials for this paper, it is my cuftom to go abroad' in queft of game; and when I meet any proper fubject, I take the first opportunity of setting down an hint of it upon paper. At the fame time I look into the letters of my correfpondents, and if I find any thing fuggefted in them that may afford matter of fpeculation, I likewife enter a minute of it in my collection of materials. By this means I frequently carry about me a whole fheet-full of hints, that would look like a rhapfody of nonfenfe to any body but myfelf; there is nothing in them but obfcurity and confufion, raving and inconfiftency. In fhort, they are my fpeculations in the first principles, that, like the world in its chaos, áre void of all light, diftinction and order.
About a week fince there happened to me a very odd accident, by reafon of one of these my papers of minutes which I had accidentally dropped at Lloy'd's coffee-house, where the auctions are ufually kept. Before I miffed it, there was a cluster of people who had found it, and were oiverting themfelves with it at one end of the coffee-houfe: it had raised fo much laughter among them before I had obferved what they were about, that I had not the courage to own it. The boy of the coffee-houfe, when they had done with it, carried it about in his hand, asking every body if they had dropped a written paper; but nobody challenging it, he was ordered by thofe merry genthe