« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
receive payment, it is a hundred to one but they will be undone by it.
My bonds to Beauties must suffer a very great discount. They are indeed of such a nature that prescription foon bars them; and most of them are so conceived, that coverture or marriage in the obligee renders them absolutely void.
Authors will be often disappointed in the claims they pretend to have upon me. I never receive a fiftieth part of the books that modern writers desire their booksellers to send me. In order, however, to conciliate your favour, Sir, I will give you my promise (though it is but fair to confess that I sometimes forget my promises), that the Lounger shall make one of my library. Your most obedient servant,
I HAVE lately received feveral letters on the subject of the Stage, and among others, one figned Nerva, censuring in very strong terms that boisterous and noisy kind of applause which, in the midst of the most affecting passages of a tragedy, the bulk of a British audience are difposed to indulge in. It seems to have been written during the time of Mrs. Pope's late performance in our theatre, whose tones of pity and of tenderness, my correspondent complains, were
often interrupted or rendered inaudible by the drumming of sticks and the clapping of hands in the pit and gallery. He was the more struck with the impropriety, he says, from his being accompanied by a gentleman, a native of Italy, though enough a proficient in our language to understand the play. He describes “ the sur“prise and horror of the susceptible Albani,” (so it seems the stranger is called,) accustomed as he had been to the decorum of the Italian, itage, to find, instead of filent and involuntary tears, the roar and riot with which our audience received the most pathetic speeches of one of the best of our tragedies.
On Sunday,” continues my correspondent, “ Albani and I went to church. The plainness “ of the edifice, and the simplicity of our wor« ship, ftruck him much; yet he was pleased “ with the decency which prevailed, and charmed « with the discourse." " I am surprised," said he, as we walked home, « that so elegant “ a preacher is not a greater favourite with the « public.”-" You are mistaken," I replied, “ he has long been their favourite.”—“ Nay," said he, “ do not tell me so; you saw they “ did not give him a single mark of applause “ during the whole discourse, nor even at the "end.”_" I laughed, Mr. Lounger, and so "perhaps will you ; but I believe you will find
« it difficult to assign any good reason, why “ filence, attention, and tears, which are thought « ample approbation in the one place, should be « held insufficient in the other; or why that « boisterous applause which is thought fo ho« nourable in the Theatre, should be thought a “ disgrace to merit in the Pulpit or at the Bar.”
I cannot, however, perfectly agree with my correspondent in this last obfervation. At the Bar, indeed, the clapping of hands, and the beating the floor with people's sticks, might do well enough; but at the Bar it is a rule, never to make a noise for nothing. In the Church, not to mention the indecency of the thing, disturbances of that kind are perfectly averse to the purpose for which many grave and good Christians go thither. · In the Playhouse, besides the prescriptive right which the audience have now acquired to this sort of freedom, I think that part of the house by which it is commonly exercised have much to plead in its defence. The boxes frequently contrive to drown the noise of the stage, and it is but fair that the pit and gallery should in their turn drown the noise of the boxes.
My correspondent seems to allow this sort of applause at the representation of Comedy, or at least of Farce ; and indeed I am inclined to think, that in some of our late Farces, a very
moral moral use may be made of it, as the less that is heard of them by the boxes the better. The cudgels of the audience, of the barbarity of which Nerva complains so warmly, cannot be better employed, except perhaps they could be applied to recompense the merit of the author, instead of the talents of the actors. Moral writers on the subject of the Stage used to vent their reproaches against the Comic authors of the last age, who mixed so much indecency with their wit. The cenfure does not exactly apply to the petite piece writers of our days ; for they keep strictly to the unity of compofition, and mix no wit with their indecency. I fairly confess, that I have been obliged to abate somewhat of the severity of my former opinion with regard to the wicked wits of the old school, and am content to go back to Wycherley and Congreve, having always thought, with my friend Colonel Caustic, that if one must fin, it is better to sin like a gentleman. Besides, a very dull or a very innocent person may possibly miss the allusion of a free speech, when it is covered with the veil of wit or of irony. But the good things of our modern Farce-mongers have nothing of disguise about them; the dishes they are pleased to serve up to us are not garlicked ragouts, but ragouts of garlic. I was much pleased with the answer which I heard a plain country-gentleman
give to another in the pit some weeks ago, who observed to him, that the farce was droll and laughable enough, but that there was a good deal of double entendre in it. I don't know what you may think double, said he in reply; but in my mind, it was as plain single entendre as ever I heard in my life.