« السابقةمتابعة »
this is the last of them. In plain truth, we have raised the price of this sort of ware above five-and-twenty per cent. and I do not question, but, before the end of May, it will be hard to get a cudgel of any substance for love or money. But why do I talk of cudgels only? benches, sconces, every thing that we can lay our hands on, go to wreck, without fear of wit, when we have a mind to shew our plenitude of power. And let me see the manager who dares to say to the meanest of us, what doest thou?"-Here, Sir, though not a little nettled all the while at his arrogant manner, I ventured to interpose: “ But pray, young man, to answer what end is all this violence? Is it to banish folly, absurdity, self-conceit, indecorum, barbarism, or dulness, from the stage? Is it in behalf of any injured genius ? Is it to revive departed wit? Is it to provoke ingenuous emulation? Is it to restore the lost importance, dignity, and majesty of the English theatre?”—“ Pshaw! (replies my spark) I don't know what you talk of: 'tis to restore king Harlequin.”—“How! (said I, with a mixture of warmth and concern) is this all? Is it for this that the very temple of the Muses, as one may call it, is filled with noise and tumult? Is it for this that good-manners are forgotten, order violated, greatness insulted, and even
beauty frighted, where it ought to be adored? For shame! for shame! Though I am pleased to see you have power, though I should even recommend the exercise of it now and then, I would have it guided by discretion and propriety, and never employed to disturb, but polish and reform.—You have now an opportunity to be instrumental in exalting the British stage to a rivalship with that at Athens. The opera (that syren enemy!) sleeps; the French inmates are returned home; all ranks and degrees of people shew a greater fondness for diversions of this kind than ever; and, on your evidence, they are better understood. Shall this great opportunity then be lost ? Shall you manifest your power in clamour and tyranny only, regardless of justice and decency? Or in making it the tool of little factions behind the scenes, when it ought to discourage the least
appearance of any such bar to your diversions? Shall it be said, the gentlemen critics of this age ruined the theatre, by their cabals in favour of a trifling harlequin, when even the ladies made contributions in honour of immortal Shakspeare ?-You may shew your influence by this means, for what I can tell ; but they, their understanding; and which conduct best deserves applause, I leave the world to judge.”-Here, Sir, I paused; and the young gentleman looking a little abashed, I turned my discourse to another subject : but thinking what had passed was of some consequence, I . resolved to send a hasty sketch of it to you; and, with your approbation, I shall henceforward take the liberty of becoming your correspondent; for since it is in a manner impossible to be heard in a play-house, I have a mind to try what hope there is from the press ; being very sincerely,
Fidem qui perdit, nihil potest ultra perdere:
He who hath lost his integrity hath nothing farther to lose :
Cha-Abbas, king of Persia, making a progress through his dominions, withdrew himself one day from his court, led by his curiosity to see the simple natural life of the peasants; taking with him only one of his courtiers.—“I have never yet had an opportunity (says the king to him) to observe the manners of men in a true light: what I have hitherto seen has been all disguise; the simplicity of nature has been hidden from me: therefore I have resolved to look into the country, and to consider those people whom we despise, notwithstanding they are the foundation and support of society. I am weary of being perpetually surrounded by courtiers, who watch my looks and my words to ensnare me with flattery. Be not surprized then that I have determined to lay aside the king for a time, that I may converse, freely and unknown, with husbandmen and shepherds.
He passed through several villages with his confident, and in every place as he passed he found the people dancing. His hearć was ravished with delight, upon discovering the cheap, innocent, peaceable pleasures, which are not to be found but at a distance from courts. He went into a hut to refresh himself; and, as through fasting and exercise his appetite was keen, he made a delicious repast, and relished the coarse fare that was laid before him beyond the delicacies of his own table.
From the little green hut, Cha-Abbas wandered on with his companion, till he came to a meadow richly embroidered with flowers, and shaded on every side with spreading trees. He had not entered far into this luxuriant scene, when he heard the murmur of a brook; and, advancing forward, he perceived a young shepherd sitting on the bank of a stream, under the cool shade of a beech-tree, and playing on his pipe, while his flock fed along the fresh margin. The king came up to him, and, attentively eye. ing him, was surprised at the sweetness and ingenuity of his countenance, tempered with a graceful simplicity. The mean apparel of the youth did not abate his comeliness, and the king took him for some young nobleman in disguise. Hereupon the shepherd informed hiin,