Зображення сторінки

pair, implored the banditti to have mercy on her comrades; offering, that if they would be merciful, she would yield herself up a sacrifice, and devote herself to their pleasure. She described how many ways she would be useful to them, that she could dance to amuse them; she could cook for them; and, to be brief, intimated, in the language of Deborah Woodcock, "that she had no objection to any work they could put her to." In short, the thieves were appeased, and carried off the lady in triumph, but not till they had stripped the whole troop stark naked; leaving them nothing but the refuse of what they had pillaged from the baggage waggon, consisting of a few odds and ends of pantomime dresses. Grimaldi put on an old Harlequin's jacket; poor Flahaut contented himself with the trowsers of Scaramouch; and, in this agreeable plight, they begged their way to Brussels.


WAS caused by want of caution, in a violent fit of the gout. His activity kept off the disease longer than usual; but the fit soon returned upon him with greater violence, and it was the more unfortunate, as it was at the time of his benefit.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The play he had fixed upon was "The Maid's Tragedy," in which he was to enact the part of Melanthes; and notice was given thereof by his friend, Sir Richard Steele, in the " Tatler;" but, the fit intervening, that he might not disappoint the town, he was obliged to submit to external applications, in order to reduce the swelling in his feet, which enabled him to appear on the stage, though he was obliged to use a slipper. He was observed, on that day, to have a more than ordinary spirit, and met with suitable applause; but the unhappy consequence of tampering with his distemper was, that it flew into his head, and killed him.

Mr. Booth, who knew him only in his decline, used to say, that he never saw him, off or on the stage, without learning something from him; and frequently observed, that Betterton was no actor; that he put on his part with his clothes, and was the very man he undertook to be, till the play was over, and nothing more. So exact was he in following nature, that the look of surprise which he assumed in the character of Hamlet, astonished Booth, when he first personated the Ghost, to such a degree, that he was

unable to proceed with his part for some mo



"Among other sights in Milan," says a traveller, "I went to Girolamo's Theatre of Puppets (Les Marionettes), and laughed more than at any exhibition I ever beheld. You may, perhaps, think this entertainment was childish enough. But you don't know it; nor have you ever seen any thing like it, nor any thing so superlatively ridiculous. The puppets were about five feet, or, perhaps, less in height: and Girolamo, the master and owner of the Theatre, was the animating soul and voice of these grotesque images. He had to speak and modulate his voice to the characters of nine or ten different dramatis persona, male and female. He was, of course, invisible.

"After an overture from a most miserable orchestra, in which there was neither time nor tune, nor any thing like tolerable music, the curtain, on which was a very clever painting, drew up, and a little deformed black, in a suit of brown, with scarlet stockings, and an immense cocked hat, moved forward upon the stage, and began a soliloquy, which was interrupted by the

entrance of another strange figure, a female, who entered into a smart dialogue with the little black, whose gestures, grimaces, and contortions of limb, were amazingly absurd, although perfectly in unison, in point of tune and Italian manner, with the recitation, which seemed to proceed from his inflexible lips. Had it not been for a certain awkward rigidity in their sidelong motions, when moving from one part of the stage to another, and for the visibility of the wire attached to their heads, and descending from the roof above the stage, one might have been deceived, for a short time, into a belief of the existence of these strange personages. They walked about very clumsily, to be sure; but then, they bowed and curtsied, and flourished with their arms, and twisted themselves about with as much energy and propriety of effect, as most of those living puppets who infest the stages of the little Theatres in London.

"There were also two skeletons, who played their parts admirably. They glided about, and accompanied their hollow-voiced speech. es with excellent gesticulations, while their fleshless jaws moved quite naturally. Then, to crown all, there was a ballet of about a dozen

of these puppets; and they danced with all the agility of Vestris, and cut much higher than he ever did in his life. They actually did cut extremely well in the air. All the airs and graces of the French opera-dancers, their pirouettes, spinning round with an horizontal leg, &c., were admirably quizzed. One of these dancers, dressed like a Dutchman, stopped short, after a few capers; and, drawing a snuff-box from his pocket, took a pinch; then replaced the box, and set off again with a most exalted example of the entrechat. His partner helped herself, from a pocket pistol, to a dram, and then recommenced her furious exertion!"


THE late amiable Mr. T. Warton, being at Winchester, on a visit to his brother, was solicited by a company of comedians, who performed over the butchers' shambles, to write a suitable prologue for the commencement of their theatrical campaign. How well he succeeded, in apt allusion and genuine humour, there can be but one opinion.

"Whoe'er our stage examines, must excuse
The wond'rous shifts of the Dramatic Muse;

« НазадПродовжити »