Obrázky stránek
[ocr errors]

rally received, being in many gentlemen's opinion very exceptionable, I fhould be glad to fee the inquiry renewed. And if you think the following effay deferves a place in the London Magazine, I fhould be glad to fee it appear. I am, Sir, your humble fervant,

Dec. 1784.


OME philofophers have imagined that the grofs thick vapours floating near the furface of the earth really magnified the fun and moon at their rifing and fetting, but when aftronomers came to measure the angles which they fubtended at different altitudes, they found that these objects really fubtended a lefs angle at the horizon than at higher elevations.

Others have fuppofed that the eye is impofed on by the long feries of objects which intervene between the eye and the fenfible horizon. And Hobbs, Mallebranche, and their followers, have accounted for it by the concave figure of the heavens appearing lefs than a hemifphere, which caufes celestial objects to appear at a greater distance in the horizon than when they are near the zenith. And as the moon is feen under the fame angle nearly, in both fituations, they fay, we are led to fuppofe her magnitude increafed as we fuppofe her diftance is increafed. This is the principle on which the folution is founded that is now generally received; and which, in my opinion, deferves to be ftrictly examined.

In looking at an object in a very thick mift, at a known difiance, it feems prodigioufly magnified. Now, I think there cannot remain any doubt, but this phenomenon is derived from the fame caufe as the other, whatever that caufe may be. And, as it is well known that an object seen in a weak light does not fubtend a greater angle than when it is viewed in a ftrong light, and as no intervening objects or figure of the fky can be feen, therefore they cannot be the caufe of this illufion; nor can we be mistaken in judging of its magnitude by fuppofing it at a greater diftance than it really is, because that distance is known. Hence, the only caufe that remains to produce this effect is, the feeble light in which the eye is placed, which leaves it in a relaxed and dilated ftate; in confe


quence of which, a larger picture is formed on the retina, than if the eye were placed in a ftronger light. For if it be not the ftate of the eye that produces this effect, but owing to the weak light in which the object is placed, we have only to look at the fun through a smoked or stained glass, to make him appear as large when he is on the meridian as he does at rifing or fetting. But it is well known that the fun appears neither larger nor at a greater diftance by being feen through fuch a glass.

I fhall next inquire whether the eye can view an object under a given angle, and yet form pictures of it upon the retina of different magnitudes. It has long been known that we have the power of adjufting our eyes to fee objects diftinctly at various distances, and that the cryftalline humour is principally concerned in the operation: for where the effect of this humour is deftroyed, as in couching a cataract, the eye entirely lofes this faculty, and lenfes of different focal diftances become neceffary to be placed before it to fee objects diftinctly.

Hence it appears that the cryftalline muft either change its form or diftance from the retina, or both; for if it changes its form, and becomes a lens of a longer focus, it must also be moved further from the retina to form distinct vifion, and then a larger picture will be formed upon the retina. The quere is, whether the cryftalline humour be formed by nature to admit of this change in its figure; if not, the above conjecture cannot be true. But, on diffecting an eye, we find this humour a double convex lens of unequal denfity, being at the centre hard like fuet, but outwardly foft like jelly. This humor, with fome water, is contained in the tranfparent membrane called the capfula. Behind the cryftalline humor is the vitreous, in which the cryftalline is fo deeply lodged and closely united, that it does not feem probable


that it can be moved nearer the retina without the vitreous humor changes its form. And as it has been proved that the crystalline humor must change its diftance with refpect to the retina, to fee objects diftinctly at different diftances, it feems highly probable that this motion is performed by the vitreous. As to the changes made in the form of the cryftalline humor, they feem to be produced by the ciliary ligament, which is fimilar in form and contexture to the iris, and furrounds the crystalline, as the iris feems to embrace the pupil.-From thefe obfervations on the structure of the eye, it appears, that when a ftrong light falls upon the eye, the mufcles of the iris expand, agreeably to the impreffion made on the retina, and the pupil becomes fmall: the ciliary ligature acting in like manner, preffes upon the circumference of the cryftalline, and forms it into a lens of a fhorter focus, which is inftantly adjusted to diftinct vifion by that power which the eye ufes in feeing objects diftinctly at different diftances. But, when the eye has been fome time in a feeble light, as in a thick mift, the iris and ciliary ligament are relaxed, the pupil enlarged, the cryftalline flat, and of a longer fccus, and the whole eye formed to receive the flightest impreffions of light.

When the cryftalline is removed farther from the retina to form distinct vifion, it is well known, from the principles of optics, that the picture of an object on the retina of the eye in this ftate will be larger than in its former ftate. Wherefore, if a perfon walks out in a warm dark miity morning, his eyes having been relaxed many hours by fleep and darkness, he may expect that objects will appear to him exceedingly large; and if he happens to fee the fun near the horizon, fo much darkened by the thickness of the atmosphere as to look at him without offending his eyes in this relaxed ftate, he may expect to fee him appear of an enormous magnitude. And the distance between two stars may appear greater at one time than another for the fame reafon.

Having demonftrated, that in viewing an object at a given distance the retina receives a larger picture in a weak light than in a ftrong one: from hence it is evident that the cryftalline humor not only changes its distance from the bottom of the eye, but its form alfo. There are many other appearances in optics, befides thefe herein-mentioned, that may be accounted for from this property of the eye, which perhaps I may confider at fome future opportunity.




BOUT the end of January, the MAID OF HONOUR, a tragedy, altered from Maffinger's tragi-comedy of that name by Mr. Kemble, was brought forward at this theatre. The principal characters were thus caft: Bertoldo







Mr. Palmer.
Mr. Kemble.
Mr. Aickin.
Mr. Barrymore.
Mr. Packer.
Mr. R. Palmer,
Mr. Suett.
Mr. Staunton.
Mrs. Ward.
Mrs. Siddons.

LOND. MAG. Feb. 1785.

This piece is confiderably altered from the original; paffages are expunged, and others added, in every fcene; and feveral incidents tranfpofed from the order in which they formerly ftood. Some scenes are alfo introduced from the Maid's Tragedy of Beaumont and Fletcher, and in the licence which Mr. Kemble has availed himself of, he has rejected the character of Sylli. It is but liberal to allow the alterer praife for the extreme labour he has been at; but the unnatural incidents which the piece at prefent retains call in question his tafle and judgement. The generous exertions of Camisla, to ransom

[blocks in formation]

her lover Bertoldo from captivity, demand a very different return from the one fhe experiences. He is perfidious to her, without having a paffion for her rival Aurelia; and difcovers himfelf to be a dupe, rather than a gallant. The refolution of Camiola to retire to a convent, at a time when the has obtained her fuit, and won her lover back, appears extravagant; and the authority even of a Patriarch of our drama is not fufficient to reconcile the abfurdity to the prefent age. It is called a tragedy, but it appears to have no death to affix that appellation upon it; unlefs the refolution taken by the Maid of Honour, to fhut herself up in a convent for life, which in fome refpects the fenfe will confider as felf-flaughter, is of a nature to warrant the title. There is a battle, it is true, and a rencounter alfo takes place between Adorni and Fulgentio, but the event leaves a very flight impreffion on the mind.

The character of Camiola is of a confiderable length, but by no means of a complexion to fhew Mrs. Siddons to advantage; it is too declamatory, particularly in the laft act, to fuit her forte. In many inftances, however, it furnished her with opportunities to difplay with effect the powers of which fhe is miftrefs.

Adorni was well fuftained by Mr. Kemble; it appeared to have been ftudied with attention, and his delineation of it was accurate; but more fpirit would have improved the part. The other characters were decently filled.

The dreffes and decorations difcovered too much frugality. Mr. Palmer was habited in a fplendid ftile, but the brilliancy of his drefs threw a gloom upon all the reft. Mr. Packer appeared in a Roman toga, but wore at the fame time Turkish slippers and fable coloured ftockings, which occafioned the remark that he was a tragedy black-leg. Mrs. Siddons was beautifully apparelled in a Grecian drefs.

The play upon the whole was well received; and when given out by Mr. Kemble, the audience, in regard to the good character he fuftains in private life, feemed unanimous in their approbation.

The prologue, apologizing for the violation of the unities, contained fome good lines, and was well delivered by Mr. Kemble; it was faid to be the firftling of the Hon. Capt. Henry Phipps's mufe; and if fo, will by no means difcredit him. The epilogue is an admirable jeu d'efprit, humourously playing on the title of the piece, and happily contrafting a Sicilian with a British Maid of Honour ! -It was written by Mr. Colman, and spoken by Mrs. Siddons, who, we are forry to add, unfortunately emphafifed it out of many of its excellent points!

Feb. 2. This night Shakspeare's Macbeth was performed for the benefit of Mrs. Siddons; and fhe appeared, for the first time in London, in the part of Lady Macbeth.

Attached as Mrs. Siddons has appeared to be to characters occupied by fingle paffions, to a fonorous verfification, and to thofe dramatic fituations which gave her opportunities of exhibiting a few ftrong expreffions of phyfiognomy, and afforded abundant room for declamation, we could eafily account for her avoiding the plays of Shakfpeare, where the paffions are broken and blended, as they are in nature; and where, to answer the expectations of the public, Mrs. Siddons must have been no longer herself, but received the very foul of the perfonages the meant to reprefent.

We have already hinted, that the tranfition from the walk in which Mrs. Siddons has already moved would not be very violent, if she affumed the part of Lady Macbeth: this was done this night; and though there is a fimilarity to herfelf in her manner of performing every part, which would render a frequent attendance on her much more tirefome to us than the more varied performance of inferior actors, yet the congeniality between the vigour of her mind and that of Lady Macbeth gave her advantages in the character which no lady has poffeffed fince the beft days of Mrs. Yates. This feems to have recurred to the managers, for they got up the play in a very excellent ftyle; and they will be amply rewarded for their prudence.


Feb. 8. An opera of two acts, called LIBERTY-HALL, compofed by Mr. Dibdin, to whom the literary part is by fome alfo afcribed, this night was reprefented at this theatre. The characters are as follows: Sir Ephraim Rupee Rupee


Ap Hugh


Lord Lofty Fidgit Seabright La Fleur Aurelia Lucy Patience

Mr. Suet.

Mr. Barrymore. Mr. Bannifter. Mr. Dodd. Mr. Fawcett. Mr. Staunton. Mr. R. Palmer. Mr. Wrighten. Mr. Burton. Mifs George. Mifs Phillips. Mrs. Wilson. The fable lies in narrow limits. Young Rupee, in the idea that Sir Ephraim, his father, is dead, returns from the Eaft-Indies, and launches into a variety of exceffes. Amongst other enormities, he feduces, by means of a feigned marriage, Lucy, the daughter of Seabright, his father's fteward.His conduct is watched by English, who is an admirer of his fifter Aurelia. After having continued a life of diffipation for fome time, he determines to reform, and even appears defirous of atoning to Lucy for the wrong he has done her; whereupon English informs him that the marriage he had believed fictitious was a real one. At this inftant he is told an execution is in his houfe, and that he has not fortune fufficient to fatisfy his creditors, from his father being yet alive. Sir Ephraim appears, forgives his paft errors, is reconciled to his marriage with Lucy; and confents to the union of English with Aurelia.

There is no great defign manifefted in the materials of which this opera confifts; neither are the scenes recommended by any degree of intereft: but they contain nothing offenfive: and, upon the whole, the dialogue is pleafing. The fongs have confiderable literary merit, and the airs to fome of them poffefs originality. The rondeau fung by Dodd in the fecond act has great novelty. The pathetic air by the fame performer in the first act alfo deferves notice. The air by Mifs Phillips, be

ginning" When Fairies," &c. is extremely elegant, and the bravura fong by Mifs George," Prepared each army in its way," is a good compofition. But the hunting fong by Bannister, and the one refpecting the race-horfe, are not in fufficient contraft: the former is the worft air in the piece.

We must compliment Mr. Dibdin, for the tafte and elegance he has difplayed in the accompanyments of the airs; but the horn appears to be rather too freely ufed. He is highly indebted to the orcheftra for their fervices. The finished performance of Mr. Parke, who played an obligato part in the overture, and produced the moft pleafing effect by his accompanyment of fome of the airs, demands particular acknowledgment.

Mr. Bannister's fea-fong was delightfully fung. Mifs Phillips executed the air affigned to her with neatness and expreffion. Mifs George fung with great truth and execution; but we must recommend her not to look fo all-conquering when the makes her congé! lefs affectation! lefs folly, if poffible! Dodd was extremely well in the Welsh

[blocks in formation]

Feb. 11. The felection of airs and choruffes, &c. with which the memory of Handel was lately celebrated under the patronage of the KING has been judicioufly made choice of, and was this night brought forward, to form a part of the facred mufic that is annually offered to the public at this feafon. Thus are the admirers of harmony, who were prevented attending the Abbey and Pantheon, enabled to partake of that fublime treat. The excellent order of the band, and the ability of the fingers, produced a fine effect.

We do not mean to place either Mifs Phillips or Mifs George in competition with Madame Mara, but they acquitted themselves with confiderable defert.

Their Majefties, who, with Prince Edward, and four of the princeffes, hɔnoured the theatre, appeared highly gratified with the ftile of performance.

[blocks in formation]


[blocks in formation]



Adela Jaquelette

Mr. Fearon.

Mr. Wewitzer. Mr. Farren. Mr. Davies.

Mr. Ed-win.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Quick. Mr. Booth. Mrs. Inchbald. Mrs. Wilfon. Quintin Matoys having been apprenticed when a youth to a black fmith at Antwerp, falls in love with Adela, daughter to Van Dipembeck, a man of fome fubftance, but fo paffionately fond of the art of painting, that he determines to give this favourite daughter to none but one of its profeffors. Poor Quintin, thus precluded from all hopes of his lovely miftrefs in his present trade, is inspired with the idea of turning painter, and departs for Rome, where a laborious ftudy from the best works brings forth the latent fparks of genius, and in the course of a few years he returns to Antwerp, a capital mafter. At this point, the piece opens. Quintin, in his journey through Italy, commences an acquaintance with Albert, the brother to his miftrefs, who was likewife returning from his ftudies-is by him looked upon with the higheft admiration, knowing him only as Florio, the name which Quintin had affumed, to bring about his long wifhed for purpofe. The first news, on their arrival at Antwerp, is old Dipembeck's determination that very day to marry Adela to Van Dunderman, only for his having produced the best picture. From a knowledge of Dunderman's brutality, Albert perfuades Quintin to contend the prize, and lay his claim, by pro

ducing a moft excellent picture of Two Mifers, which he had brought with him, and receives hopes of his fuccefs with his fifter, from his likeness to her favourite blackfmith's portrait of her own painting, which he had fnatched from her. Jacob, a difcarded fervant of Van Dunderman's, now lays a fcheme with Otho (who is likewife turned off by Quintin) to fteal his celebrated picture of the Mifers, and by paffing for the painter of it, to obtain the young lady, go fhares in her fortune, and compafs a revenge upon their feveral mafters; but Otho, by his awkward and blundering attempt to carry on this deception, is fufpected by Dipembeck for an impoftor. After many ridiculous mistakes, he is discovered, and confoles himself for the lofs of the miftrefs, by the hand of her maid Jaquelette, his quondam fweetheart. Quintin was no fooner known to be fo excellent a painter, than he fuperfedes Van Dunderman, and with her father's confent, obtains the sweet reward of his labours.

Mr. O'Keeffe is the author of the abore farce, and, to fpeak technically, the outline is defective in drawing; the colouring diffufed in unpleafing maffes; and while the bhades of the picture are fombre indeed, the lights are few and imperfect.

The author has been fuccefsful in a

number of pieces, and therefore he ought not to be disheartened, if he now and then fails; particularly when it is reflected, that he produces his dramas with two much dispatch, to admit of ftudy, or neat writing.

The farce was prefaced by a prologue, fpoken by Farren, which promifed poor Quintin immortality in the bays of the poet, when the traces of his pencil were no longer to be seen.

*This picture is now to be feen in Windfor-Caftle.


Feb. 12. THIS evening the Judge ment of Paris was given for the firft time, and received with a degree of

applaufe which evinced the wifh of the public to fee fomething new in the department of the dances, now become


« PředchozíPokračovat »