« НазадПродовжити »
sence. At the same time I shall not think my self obliged, by this Proinise, to conceal any false Protestations which I observe made by Glances in publick Assemblies; but endeavour to make both Sexes 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 Affairs of less Consideration. As this is the greatest Concern, Men shall be from henceforth liable to the greatest Reproach for Milbehaviour in it. Falshood in Love shall hereafter bear a blacker Aspect, than Infidelity in Friendship, or Vil. lany in Business. For this great and good End, all Breaches against that noble Passion, the Cement of Society, shall be severely examined. But this, and all other Matters loosely hinted at now, and in my
former Papers, shall have their proper Place in my following Dilcourses: The present Writing is only to admonilh the World, that they shall not find me an idle but'a busie Spectator.
Tuesday, March 6.
Spectatum admisi rifum teneatis?
N Opera may be allowed to be extravagantly lavilh in its Decorations, as its only Delign is to
gratifie the Senses, and keep up an indolent Attention in the Audience. Conimon 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 Ermin, and failing in an open Boat upon a Sea of Paste-board? What a Field of Raillery would they have been let into, had they been entertained with painted Dragci, spitting Wild-fire, enchanted Chariots drawn bş Flander's Mares, and real Cascades in artificial Landskips: A little Skill in Criticism would inform us, that
Shadows and Realities 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 Resemblances, and not with the Things themselves. If one would represent a wide Champian Country filled with Herds 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 my self what Use he would put them to, he was met very luckily by an Acquaintance, who had the same Curiosi. ty. Upon his asking him what he had upon his Shoul. der, 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 roaked? No, no, says the other, they are to enter towards the End of the first Act, and to fly about the Stage.
THIS Atrange Dialogue awakened my Curiosity lo far, that I immediately bought the Opera, by which means I perceived that the Sparrows were to act the part of Singing Birds in a delightful Grove; though upon a nearer Enquiry I found the Sparrows put the same Trick upon the Audience, that Sir Martin Mar-all pra&tised upon his Mistress; for though they flew in Sight, the Mufick proceeded from a Confort of Flagellets and Bird-calls which were planted behind the Scenes. At the same Time I made this Discovery, I found by the Discourse of the A&ors, 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 surprize 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 since heard, is poftponed 'till the Summer-Season; when it is thought the Coolness that proceeds from Fountains and Cascades will be more ac
ceptable 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 Fireworks; which the Audience may look upon without catching Cold, and indeed without much Danger of being burnt; for there are several Engines filled with Wa, ter, and ready to play at a Minute's warning, in cafe any such Accident should happer. However, as I have a very great Friendship for the Owner of this Theatre, I hope that he has been wise enough to insure his House before he would let this Opera be acted in it.
IT is no wonder, that those Scenes should be very surprizing, which were contrived by two Poets of different Nations, and raised by two Magicians of different Sexes. Armida (as we are told in the Argument) was an Amazonian Enchantress, and poor Signior Cafani (as we learn from the Persons represented) a Christian Conjurer (Mago Christiano.) I must confess I am very much puzzled to find how an Amazon should be versed in the Black Art, or how a good Christian, for such is the Part of the Magician, should deal with the Devil.
TO'confider the Poets after the Conjurers, I shall give you a Taste of the Italian, from the first Lines of his Preface. Eccoti, benigno Lettore, un Parto di poche Sere, che se ben nato di Notte, non è però aborto di Tenebre, mà li farà conoscere Figlio d' Apollo con qualche Raggio di Parnaffe. Behold, gentle Reader, the Birth of a few Evenings, which tho' it be the offspring of the Night, is not the Abortive of Darkness, but will make it self kn. Un to be the son of Apollo, with a certain Ray of Parnassus. He afterwards proceeds to call Mynheer Hendel the Orpheus of our Age, and to acquaint us, in the fame Sublimity of Style, that he composed this Opera in a fortnight. Such are the Wits, to whose Taftes we so ambitiously conform our felves. The Truth of it is, the finest Writers among the Modern Italians, express themselves in such a fcrid Form of Words, and such tedious Circumlocutions, as are used by none but Pedants in our own Country; and at the same time fill their Writings with such poor Imaginations and Conceits, as our Youths are ashamed of before they have
been two Years at the University. Some may be apo to think that it is the Difference of Genius which produces this Difference in the Works of the two Nations ; but to shew there is nothing in this, if we look into the Writings of the old Italians, such as Cicero and Virgil, we shall find that the English Writers in their way of thinking and expressing themselves, resemble those Authors much more than the Modern Italians pretend to do. And as for the Poet himself, from whom the Dreams of this Opera are taken, I must entirely agree with Monsieur Boileau, that one Verse in Virgil is wortla all the Clincant or Tinsel of Tafso.
* BUT to return to the Sparrows; there have been lo many Flights of them let loose in this Opera, that it is feared the House will never get rid of them; and that in other Plays they may make their Entrance in very wrong and improper Scenes, so as to be seen flying in a Lady's Bed-Chamber, or pearching upon a King's Throne; besides the Inconveniencies which the Heads of the Audience may sometimes suffer from them. I am credibly informed, that there was once a Design of casting into an Opera the Story of whittington and his Cat, and that in order to it, there had been got together a great Quantity of Mice; but Mr. Rich, the Proprietor of the Play-house, very prudently considered that it would be impossible for the Cat to kill them all, and that confe. quently the Princes of the Stage might be as much infested with Mice, as the Prince of the inand was before the Cat’s Arrival upon it; for which Reason he would not permit it to be Acted in his House. And indeed I cannot blame him: For, as he said
upon that Occasion, I do not hear that any of the Performers in our Opera pretend to equal the famous Pied Piper, who made all the Mice of a great Town in Germany follow his Musick, and by that means cleared the Place of those little noxious Animals,
BEFORE I dismiss this Paper, I must inform my Reader, that I hear there is a Treaty on foot with Lone don and Wise (who will be appointed Gardeners of the Play-house) to furnish the Opera of Rinaldo and Armida with an Orange-Grove; and that the next time it is A&ed, the Singing Birds will be Personated by Tom
Tits: The Undertakers being resolved to spare neither Pains nor Money for the Gratification of the Audience.
Wednesday, March 7.
Credebant hoc grande Nefas, e Morte piandum, si Juvenis Vetulo non affærrexerat
Juy. Know no Evil under the Sun so great as the Abuse of the Understanding, and there is no one Vice more
It has diffused it self through both Sexes and all Qualities of Mankind, and there is hardly that Person to be found, who is not more concerned for the Reputation of Wit and Sense, than Honesty and Virtue. But this unhappy Affectation of being Wise rather than Honeft, Witty than Good-natur'd, is the Source of moft of the ill Habits of Life. Such false Impressions are owing to the abandoned Writings of Men of Wit, and the aukward Imitation of the rest of Mankind,
FOR this Reason Sir ROGER was saying last Night, That he was of Opinion none but Men of fine Parts de serve to be hanged. The Reflections of such Men are lo delicate upon all Occurrences which they are concerned in, that they should be exposed to more than ordinary Infamy and Punishment for offending against such quick Admonitions as their own Souls give them, and blunting the fine Edge of their Minds in such a Manner, that they are no more shocked at Vice and Folly, than Men of Nower Capacities. There is no greater Monster in Being, than a
very ill Man of great Parts : He lives like a Man in a Palfy, with one side of him dead. While perhaps he enjoys the Satisfaction of Luxury, of Wealth, of Ambition, he has lost the Tafte of Good-will, of Friendship, of Innocence. Scarecrow, the Beggar in Lincoln's-Inn. Fields, who disabled himself in his
Right Leg, and asks Alms all Day to get himself a warm Supper and a Trull at Night, is 'not halt so despicable a Wretch as such a