Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

on matters which relate to females, as they are concerned to approach or fly from the other sex, or as they are tied to them by blood, interest, or affection. Upon this occafion I think it but reasonable to declare, that whatever skill I may have in fpeculation, I fhall never betray what the eyes of lovers fay to each other in my prefence. At the fame time I fhall not think myfelf obliged by this promife to conceal any falfe proteftations which I obferve made by glances in public affemblies; but endeavour to make both fexes appear in their conduct what they are in their hearts. By this means, love, during the time of my speculations, shall be carried on with the same sincerity as any other affair of less confideration. As this is the greatest concern, men shall be from henceforth liable to the greateft reproach for misbehaviour in it. Falsehood in love fhall hereafter bear a blacker aspect than infidelity in friendship, or villany in business. For this great and good end, all breaches against that noble paffion, the cement of fociety, fhall be feverely examined. But this, and all other matters loosely hinted at now, and in my former papers, fhall have their proper place in my following discourses. The prefent writing is only to admonish the world, that they fhall not find me an idle but a bufy Spectator.

S

Rs.

s By Steele. Sir R. Steele, about the years 1715 and 1716, wrote the paper entitled, The Town Talk, and another called The Tea Table.

It is not certainly known to what numbers these papers extended, as they were not reprinted, after their first appearance in a folio form.

AN

N° 5. Tuesday, March 6, 1710-II.

Spectatum admiffi rifum teneatis?

HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 5.

Admitted to the fight, would you not laugh?

An opera may be allowed to be extravagantly lavish in its decorations, as its only defign is to gratify the fenfes, and keep up an indolent attention in the audience. Common fenfe however requires, that there should be nothing in the scenes and machines, which may appear childish and abfurd. How would the wits of King Charles's time have laughed, to have feen Nicolini exposed to a tempest in robes of ermine, and failing in an open boat upon a fea of pasteboard? What a field of raillery would they have been led into, had they been entertained with painted dragons fpitting wild-fire, enchanted chariots drawn by Flanders mares, and real cascades in artificial landscapes? A little fkill in criticism would inform us, that shadows and realities ought not to be mixed together in the fame piece; and that the scenes which are defigned as the reprefentations of nature should be filled with refemblances, and not with the things themselves.] If one would represent a wide champaign country filled with herds and flocks, it would be ridiculous to draw the coun

try only upon the scenes, and to crowd feveral parts of the stage with theep and oxen. This is joining together inconsistencies, and making the decoration partly real, and partly imaginary. I would recommend what I have here faid, 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 fhoulder; 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 fame curiofity. Upon his asking what he had upon his fhoulder, he told him that he had been buying sparrows for the opera. Sparrows for the opera, fays his friend, licking his lips, what, are they to be roafted? No, no, fays the other, they are to enter towards the end of the first act, and to fly about the stage.

This ftrange dialogue awakened my curiosity fo far, that I immediately bought the opera, by which means I perceived the fparrows were to act the part of finging birds in a delightful grove; though upon a nearer inquiry I found the fparrows put the fame trick upon the audience, that fir Martin Mar-all practifed upon his mistress: for though they flew in fight, the mufic proceeded from a concert of flagelets and

A comedy by J. Dryden, borrowed from Quinault's Amant Indifcret, and the Etourdi of Moliere. The duke of Newcastle gave it to Dryden, who adapted it to the stage; and it is entered on the books of the stationers' company, as the production of that nobleman.

bird-calls, which were planted behind the scenes. At the fame time I made this discovery, I found by the discourse of the actors, that there were great defigns 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 party of an hundred horse, and that there was actually a project of bringing the New-river into the house, to be employed in jetteaus and water-works. This project, as I have fince heard, is poftponed till the fummer feafon; when it is thought the coolness that proceeds from fountains and cafcades will be more acceptable and refreshing to people of quality. In the mean time, to find out a more agreeable entertainment for the winter season, the opera of Rinaldo is filled with thunder and lightning, illuminations and fire-works; which the audience may look upon without catching cold, and indeed without much danger of being burnt; for there are feveral engines filled with water, and ready to play at a minute's warning, in case any fuch accident fhould happen". However, as I have a very great friendship for the owner of this theatre, I hope that he has been wife enough to infure his house before he would let this opera be acted in it.

It is no wonder, that thofe fcenes fhould be very surprising, which were contrived by two poets of different nations, and raised by two

" An alarm of fire having occafioned great confufion in the playhouse, a manager came forward, and begged the audience to be compofed, for he had the pleasure to affure them that there was water enough a-top to drown them all.

magicians of different fexes. Armida (as we are told in the argument) was an Amazonian enchantress, and poor Signior Caffani (as we learn from the perfons represented) a Chriftian conjurer (Mago Chriftiano). I must confefs I am very much puzzled to find how an Amazon fhould be verfed in the black art, or how a good Christian, for such is the part of the magician, fhould deal with the devil.

[ocr errors]

To confider the poet after the conjurers, I fhall give you a taste of the Italian from the first lines of his preface: Eccoti, benigno lettore, un parto di poche fere, che fe ben nato di notte, non è però aborto di tenebre, mà fi farà conofcere figlio d' Apollo con qualche raggio di Parnaffe.' Behold, gentle reader, the birth of a few evenings, which, though it be the offspring of the night, is not the abortive of darkness, but will make itfelf known to be the son of Apollo, with a certain ray of Parnaffus. He afterwards proceeds to call Mynheer Handel the Orpheus of our age, and to acquaint us, in the fame fublimity of style, that he compofed this opera in a fortnight. Such are the wits to whofe taftes we fo ambitioufly conform ourfelves. The truth of it is, the finest writers | among the modern Italians exprefs themselves in fuch a florid form of words, and fuch tedious circumlocutions, as are ufed by none but pedants in our own country; and at the fame time fill their writings with fuch poor imaginations and conceits, as our youths are afhamed of, before they have been two years at the univerfity. Some may be apt to think that it is

« PředchozíPokračovat »