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whofe action gives new majefty to kings, refolution to heroes, and foftness to lovers, thus finking from the greatnefs of his behaviour, and degraded into the character of the London Prentice. I have often wished, that our tragedians would copy after this great mafter in action. Could they make the fame use of their arms and legs, and inform their faces with as fignificant looks and paffions, 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 expreffions of an Italian opera. In the mean time, I have related this combat of the lion, to fhew what are at prefent the reigning entertainments of the politer part of Great-Britain.
Audiences have often been reproached by writers for the coarseness of their tafte; but our prefent grievance does not seem to be the want of a good tafte, but of common fenfe.
Friday, March 16.
-Teque his, infelix, exue monftris.
OVID. Met. 1. 4. ver. 590
Wretch that thou art! put off this monftrous shape.
I Was reflecting this morning upon the spirit and hu
mour of the public diverfions five and twenty years ago, and thofe of the prefent time; and lamented to myfelf, that though in thofe days they neglected their morality, they kept up their good fenfe; but that the beau monde, at prefent, 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 feen at the play-house, gave me the following letter with these words, Sir, The Lion prefents bis humble fervice to you, and defired me to give this into your own bands.
From my Den in the Hay-Market, March 15.
I HAVE read all your papers, and have ftifled my 'refentment against your reflections upon operas, uñtil that of this day, wherein you plainly infinuate, ⚫ that fignior Grimaldi and myself have a correfpondence more friendly than is confiftent with the valour ' of his character, or the fiercenefs of mine. I defire you would for your own fake forbear fuch intimations for the future; and muft fay it is a great piece of ill-nature in you, to fhew fo great an esteem for a foreigner, and to discourage a lion that is your own countryman.
I take notice of your fable of the Lion and Man, but am fo equally concerned in that matter, that I 'fhall not be offended to which foever of the animals the fuperiority is given. You have mifreprefented me, in faying that I am a country-gentleman, who act only for my diverfion; whereas, had I ftill the fame 'woods to range in which I once had when I was a fox-hunter, I should not refign my manhood for a ⚫ maintenance; and affure you, as low as my circumstances are at prefent, I am so much a man of honour ⚫ that I would fcorn to be any beaft for bread but a • lion.
I had no fooner ended this, than one of my landlady's children brought me in feveral others, with fome of which I thall make up my prefent paper, they all having a tendency to the fame fubject, viz. the elegance of our present diversions.
Covent-Garden, March 13. 'I HAVE been for twenty years under-fexton of this parish of St. Paul's Covent-Garden, and have not miffed tolling in to prayers fix times in all thofe years; which office I have performed to my great fatisfaction, ⚫ until this fortnight laft paft, 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 loft my two cuftomers, whom I used to place for fix-pence a-piece over-against Mrs. Rachael Eye-bright, but Mrs. Rachael 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,
fo that I have no work worth speaking of but on Sundays. I have placed my fon at the Piazzas, to acquaint the ladies, that the bell rings for church, and that it ftands on the other fide of the Garden; but they only laugh at the child.
I defire you would lay this before all the world, that I may not be made fuch a tool for the future, • and that punchinello may choose hours lefs canonical. As things are now, Mr. Powell has a full congregation, while we have a very thin houfe; which if you can remedy, you will very much oblige,
The following epiftle I find is from the undertaker of the masquerade.
'I HAVE obferved the rules of my mask fo carefully, • (in not inquiring into perfons) 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 defire you would, for your own entertainment, please to admonish the town, that all perfons indifferently, are not fit for this fort of diverfion. I could with, fir, you could make them understand, that it is a kind of acting to go in masquerade, and a man should be able to fay or do things proper for the drefs, in which he appears. We have now and then rakes in the habit of Roman fenators, and grave politicians in the dress of rakes. The misfortune of the thing is, that people. drefs 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 mask,
' and the fhall drefs as a fhepherdefs. But let me beg ' of them to read the Arcadia, or fome other good romance, before they appear in any fuch character at my houfe. The laft day we prefented, every body was fo rafhly habited, that when they came to speak to each other, a nymph with a crook had not a word to fay but in the pert ftyle of the pit bawdry; and a man in the habit of a philofopher was fpeechlefs, 'till an occafion offered of expreffing 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 ftood by as spectators: a Turk 'drank me off two bottles of wine, and a few eat me · up half a ham of bacon. If I can bring my design to bear, and make the maskers preserve their characters in my affemblies, I hope you will allow there is a ⚫ foundation laid for more elegant and improving gallantries than any the town at prefent affords; and confequently, that you will give your approbation to 'the endeavours of,
Your most obedient humble fervant.
I am very glad the following epiftle obliges me to mention Mr. Povell a fecond time in the fame paper; for indeed there cannot be too great encouragement given to his fkill in motions, provided he is under proper reftrictions.
THE opera at the Hay-Market, and that under the little Piazza in Covent-Garden, being at prefent the two leading diverfions of the town, and Mr. Powell profeffing in his advertisements to fet up Whittington and his Cat againft Rinaldo and Armida, my curiofity led me the beginning of last week to view both thefe performances, and make my obfervations upon them.
First, therefore, I cannot but obferve that Mr. Powell wifely forbearing to give his company a bill of fare beforehand, every fcene 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 Jerufalem is obliged to come from the city on foot, inftead of being drawn in a triumphant chariot by white horfes, as my opera-book had promifed me; and thus while I expected Armida's dragons should rush forward towards Argentes, 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 juftice to the boy who had the direction of the two painted dragons, and made them fpit fire and smoke: he flashed out his rofin in fuch juft proportions and in fuch due time, that I could not forbear conceiving hopes of his being one day a most excellent player. I faw indeed but two things wanting to render his whole action complete, I mean the keeping his head a little lower, and hiding ⚫ his candle.
I obferved that Mr. Powell and the undertakers had 'both the fame thought, and I think much about the 'fame time, of introducing animals on their feveral ftages, though indeed with very different fuccefs. The fparrows and chaffinches at the Hay-Market fly as yet very irregularly over the stage; and instead of perching on the trees, and performing their parts, these young actors either get into the galleries, or put out the candles; whereas Mr. Powell has fo well difciplin'ed his pig, that in the first scene he and Punch dance a minuet together. I am informed however, that Mr. • Powell refolves to excel his adverfaries in their own way; and introduce larks in his next opera of Sufanna, or Innocence betrayed, which will be exhibited next week with a pair of new elders.
The moral of Mr. Powell's drama is violated, I 'confefs, by Punch's national reflections on the French, ❝ and king Harry's laying his leg upon the queen's lap "in too ludicrous a manner before fo great an affembly.
As to the mechanism and scenery, every thing indeed was uniform, and of a piece, and the scenes were managed very dexterously; which calls on me to take