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cushions ; and in this attitude, would you believe it, Isaac ? she was reading a romance with spectacles on. The first compliments over, as she was industriously endeavouring to enter upon conversation, a violent fit of coughing scized her. This awaked Shock, and in a trice the whole room was in an uproar; for the dog barked, the squirre squealed, the monkey chattered, the parrot screamed, and Ursula, to appease them, was morc clamorous than all the rest. You, Isaac, who know how any barsh noise affects my head, may guess what I suffered from the hideous din of these discordant sounds. At length all was appeased, and quiet restored : a chair was drawn for me; where I was no sooner scated, but the parrot fixed bis horny beak, as sharp as a pair of sheers, in one of my heels, just above the shoe. I sprung from the place with an unusual agility; and so being within the monkey's reach, he snatches off my new bob wig, and throws it upon two apples that were roasting by a sullen sea-coal fire. I was nimble enough to save it from any further damage than singeing the fore-top. I put it on; and, composing myself as well as I could, I drew my chair to. wards the other side of the chimney. The good lady, as soon as she had recovered breguh, employed it in making a thousandapologies, and with great eloquence, and a numerous train of words, lamented
misfortunc. In the middle of her harangue, I felt something scratching near my knee, and, feeling what it should be, found the squirrel had got into my coat pocket. As I endeavoured to remove him from his burrow, he made his teeth meet through the fleshy part of my forc-linger. This gave me an unexpressible pain. The Hungary water wiis imuncdiately brought to bathe it, and gold-beaters skin applied to stop the blood. The lady renewed her excuses; but, being now out of all patience, I abruptly took my leave, and, hobbling down stairs with heedless haste, I set my foot full in a pail of water, and down we came to the bottom together.—Here my friend concluded his narrative, and, with a composed countenance, I began to make him compliments of condolence; but he started from his chair, and said, İsaac, you may spare your speeches, I expect no reply : when I told you this, I knew you would laugh at me; but the next woman that makes me ridiculous shall be a young one.
ON THE ITALIAN OPERA. No. 5.
opera may be allowed to be extravagantly lavislı in its decorations, as its only design is to gratify the senses, and keep up an indolent attention in the audience. Common sense however requires that there should be nothing in the scenes and machines, which may appear childish and absurd. How would the wits of king Charles's time have laughed to have seen Nicolini exposed to a tempest in robes of ermine, and sailing in an open boat upon a sea of pasteboard ! What a field of raillery would they have been led into, had they been entertained with painted dragons spitting wildfire, enchanted chariots drawn by Flanders mares, and real cascades in artificial landscapes ! A little skill in criticism would inform us, that shadows and rea-. lities ought not to be mixed together in the same piece; and that the scenes which are designed as the representations of nature, should be filled with resemblancs, and not with the things themselves. If one would represent a wide champaign country filled with herd: and flocks, it would be ridiculous to draw the country
only upon the scenes, and to crowd several parts of the stage with sheep and oxen. This is joining together inconsistencies, and making the decoration partly real and partly imaginary. I would recommend what I have here said to the directors, as well as to the admirers, of our modern opera. .
As I was walking in the streets about a fortnight ago, I saw an ordinary fellow carrying a cage full of little birds upon his shoulder ; and, as I was wondering with myself what use he would put them to, he was met very luckily by an acquaintance, who had the same curiosity. Upon his asking what he had upon his shoulder? he told him that he had been buying sparrows for the opera. Sparrows for the opera ! says his friend, licking his lips, what, are they to be roasted ? No, no, says the other, they are to enter towards the end of the first act, and to fly about the stage.
This strange dialogue awakened my curiosity so far, that I immediately bought the opera, by wbich means I perceived the sparrows were to act the part of singingbirds in a delightful grove; though, upon a nearer inquiry, I found the sparrows put the same trick upon the audience that sir Martin Mar-all practised upon his mistress : for, though they flew in sight, the music proceeded from a concert of flageolets and bird-calls, which were planted behind the scenes. At the same time I made this discovery, I found by the discourse of the actors, that there were great designs on foot for the improvement of the opera ; that it had been proposed to break down a part of the wall, and to surprise the audience with a patty of a hundred horse; and that there was actually a project of bringing the New River into the house, to be employed in jetteaus and waterworks. This project, as I have since heard, is post