« AnteriorContinuar »
BY ISAAC BICKERSTAFFE, ESQ.
We now enter on those parts of Mr. Addison's prose works, which have done him the greatest honour, and have placed him at the head of those whom we call our polite writers. I know that many readers prefer Dr. Swift's prose to his :-but, whatever other merit the Dean's writings may have, (and they have, certainly, a great deal,) I affirm it with confidence, (because I have examined them both with care,) that they are not comparable to Mr. Addison's, in the correctness, propriety, and elegance of expression.
Mr. Addison possessed two talents, both of them very uncommon, which singularly qualified him to excel in the following essays: I mean an exquisite knowledge of the English tongue, in all its purity and delicacy; and a vein of humour, which flowed naturally and abundantly from him on every subject; and which experience hath shown to be inimitable. But it is in the former respect only that I shall criticise these papers ; and I shall do it with severity, lest time, and the authority of his name, (which, of course, must become sacred,) should give a sanction even to his defects. If any man of genius should be so happy, as to equal all the excellencies of his prose, and to avoid the few blemishes which may, haply, be found in it, he would be a perfect model of style, in this way of writing: but of such an one, it is enough to say at present, (and I shall, surely, offend no good writer in saying it, )
"-hunc nequeo monstrare, et sentio tantùm.”
No. 20. THURSDAY, MAY 26, 1709.
-Though the theatre is now breaking, it is allowed still to sell animals there; therefore, if any lady or gentleman have occasion for a tame elephant, let them inquire of Mr. Pinkethman, who has one to dispose of at a reasonable rate. The downfal of May Fair has quite sunk the price of this noble creature, as well as many other curiosities of nature. A tiger will sell almost as cheap as an ox; and I am credibly
informed, a man may purchase a cat with three legs, for very near the value of one with four. I hear likewise, that there is a great desolation among the gentlemen and ladies who were the ornaments of the town, and used to shine in plumes and diadems; the heroes being most of them pressed, and
; the queens beating hemp. Mrs. Sarabrand, so famous for her ingenious puppet-show, has set up a shop in the Exchange, where she sells her little troop under the term of Jointed Babies. I could not but be solicitous to know of her, how she had disposed of that rake-hell Punch, whose lewd life and conversation had given so much scandal, and did not a little contribute to the ruin of the fair. She told me with a sigh, that despairing of ever reclaiming him, she would not offer to place him in a civil family, but got him in a post upon a stall in Wapping, where he may be seen from sun-rising to sun-setting, with a glass in one hand, and a pipe in the other, as sentry to a brandy-shop. The great revolutions of this nature bring to my mind the distresses of the unfortunate Camilla, who has had the ill luck to break before her voice, and to disappear at a time when her beauty was in the height of its bloom. This lady entered so thoroughly into the great characters she acted, that when she had finished her part, she could not think of retrenching her equipage, but would appear in her own lodgings with the same magnificence that she did upon the stage. This greatness of soul has reduced that unhappy princess to an involuntary retirement, where she now passes her time among the woods and forests, thinking on the crowns and sceptres she has lost, and often humming over in her solitude,
I was born of royal race,
Yet must wander in disgrace, &c. But for fear of being overheard, and her quality known,' she usually sings it in Italian;
Nacqui al regno, nacqui al trono,
Sventurata pastorellaSince I have touched upon this subject, I shall communicate to my reader part of a letter I have received from a friend at Amsterdam, where there is a very noble theatre ; though the manner of furnishing it with actors is something pecu
1 Easily expressed, but not exactly. Better :-"But for fear of being overheard, and lest her quality should be known.”
liar to that place, and gives us occasion to admire both the politeness and frugality of the people.
“My friends have kept me here a week longer than ordinary to see one of their plays, which was performed last night with great applause. The actors are all of them tradesmen, who, after their day's work is over, earn about a guilder a night by personating kings and generals. The hero of the tragedy I saw was a journeyman tailor, and his first minister of state, a coffee-man. The
made me think of Parthenope in the Rehearsal; for her mother keeps an alehouse in the suburbs of Amsterdam. When the tragedy was over, they entertained us with a short farce, in which the cobbler did his part to a miracle ; but, upon inquiry, I found he had really been working at his own trade, and representing on the stage what he acted every day in his shop. The profits of the theatre maintain an hospital: for as here they do not think the profession of an actor the only trade that a man ought to exercise, so they will not allow anybody to grow rich on a profession that in their opinion so little conduces to the good of the commonwealth. If I am not mistaken, your playhouses in England have done the same thing; for, unless I am misinformed, the hospital at Dulledge was erected and endowed by Mr. Allen, a player: and it is also said, a famous she-tragedian has settled her estate, after her death, for the maintenance of decayed wits, who are to be taken in as soon as they grow dui, at whatever time of their life that shall happen.
No. 42. SATURDAY, JULY 16, 1709.
-Celebrare domestica facta. - This is to give notice, that a magnificent palace, with great variety of gardens, statues, and water-works, may be bought cheap in Drury Lane; where there are likewise several castles to be disposed of, very delightfully situated; as also groves, woods, forests, fountains, and country seats, with very pleasant prospects on all sides of them; being the moveables of Christopher Rich, Esq., who is breaking up house-keeping, and has many curious pieces of furniture to dispose of, which may be seen between the hours of six and ten in the evening.
Spirits of right Nants brandy, for lambent flames and apparitions.
Three bottles and a half of lightning.
A sea, consisting of a dozen large waves, the tenth 1 bigger than ordinary, and a little damaged.
A dozen and a half of clouds, trimmed with black, and well conditioned.
A rainbow, a little faded.
A set of clouds after the French mode, streaked with lightning, and furbelowed.
A new-moon, something decayed.
A pint of the finest Spanish wash, being all that is left of two hogsheads sent over last winter.
A coach very finely gilt, and little used, with a pair of dragons, to be sold cheap.
A setting sun, a pennyworth.
An imperial mantle, made for Cyrus the Great, and worn by Julius Cæsar, Bajazet, King Harry the Eighth, and Signior Valentini. A basket-hilt sword, very convenient to carry milk in. Roxana’s night gown. Othello's handkerchief. The imperial robes of Xerxes, never worn but once. A wild boar, killed by Mrs. Tofts and Dioclesian. A serpent to sting Cleopatra. A mustard bowl to make thunder with.
Another of a bigger sort, by Mr. D—-is's directions, little used.
Six elbow-chairs, very expert in country dances, with six flower-pots for their partners.
The whiskers of a Turkish bassa.
The complexion of a murderer in a bandbox; consisting of a large piece of burnt cork, and a coal-black peruke.
1 “Fluctus decumanus."