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were broadest at the bottom. It was Sunday, a country church was at hand, and our traveller was willing to perform the duties of the day. Upon his first appearance at the church door, the eyes of all were naturally fixed upon the stranger; but what was their amazement, when they found that he actually wanted that emblem of beauty, a pursed chin! This was a defect that not a single creature had sufficient gravity (though they were noted for being grave) to withstand. Stifled bursts of laughter, winks, and whispers circulated from visage to visage, and the prismatic figure of the stranger's face was a fund of infinite gayety; even the parson, equally remarkable for his gravity and chin, could hardly refrain joining in the good humor. Our traveller could no longer patiently continue an object for deformity to point at. “Good folks,” said he, “ I perceive that I am the unfortunate cause of all this good humor. It is true, I may have faults in abundance, but I shall never be induced to reckon my want of a swelled face among the number."*


Imitated from the Spanish.

Sure 'twas by Providence desigu’d,

Rather in piły, than in hate,
That he should be, like Cupid, blind,

To save him from Narcissus' fate.

[The swelling here alluded to, which the French term goître, and which is so frequent among the inhabitants of the Alps, is said to be owing to the use of snow


Another, in the same spirit.

Lumine Acon dextro, capta est Leonida sinistro,

Et poterat forma vincere uterque Deos.
Parve puer, lumen quod habes concede puellæ;

Sic tu cæcus amor, sic erit illa Venus.*


Our theatres are now open, and all Grub-street is preparing its advice to the managers. We shall undoubtedly hear learned disquisitions on the structure of one actor's legs, and another's eyebrows. We shall be told much of enunciations, tones, and attitudes, and shall have our lightest pleasures commented upon by didactic dulness. We shall, it is feared, be told, that Garrick is a fine actor, but then, as a manager, so avaricious! That Palmer is a most surprising genius, and Holland likely to do well, in a particular cast of character. We shall have them giving Shuter instructions to amuse us by rule, and deploring over the ruins of desolated Majesty at Covent-Garden. As I love to be advising too, for advice is easily given, and bears a show of wisdom and superiority, I must be permitted to offer a few observations upon our theatres and actors, without, on this trivial occasion, throwing my thoughts into the formality of method.

There is something in the deportment of all our players infinitely more stiff and formal than among the actors of other dations. Their action sits uneasy upon them; for as the English

* {“ The Princess of Eboli, the mistress of Philip II. of Spain, and Maugiron, the minion of Henry III. of France, had each of them lost an eye; and the famous epigram, which Goldsmith has imitated, was written on them "-LORD BYRON, Works, vol. vi. p. 390.)


use very little gesture in ordinary conversation, our English-bred actors are obliged to supply stage gestures by their imagination alone. A French comedian finds proper models of action in every company and in every coffee-house he enters. An Englishman is obliged to take his models from the stage itself; he is obliged to imitate nature from an imitation of nature. I know of no set of men more likely to be improved by travelling than those of the theatrical profession. The inhabitants of the continent are less reserved than here; they may be seen through upon a first aoquaintance : such are the proper models to draw from; they are at once striking, and are found in great abundance.

Though it would be inexcusable in a comedian to add any thing of his own to the poet's dialogue, yet as to action he is entirely at liberty. By this he may show the fertility of his genius, the poignancy of his humor, and the exactness of his judgment; we scal

carcely see a coxcomb or a fool in common life, that has not some peculiar oddity in his action. These peculiarities it is not in the power of words to represent, and depend solely upon the actor. They give a relish to the humor of the poet, and make the appearance of nature more illusive: the Italians, it is true, mask some characters, and endeavor to preserve the peculiar humor by the make of the mask; but I have seen others still preserve a great fund of humor in the face without a mask; one actor, particularly, by a squint which he threw into some characters of low life, assumed a look of infinite stolidity. This, though upon reflection we might condemn, yet immediately, upon representation, we could not avoid being pleased with

To illustrate what I have been saying by the plays I have of late gone to see; in the "Miser,” which was played a few nights ago at Covent Garden, Lovegold appears through the whole in circumstances of exaggerated avarice; all the player's action, therefore, should conspire with the poet's design, and represent him as an epitome of penury. The French comedian, in this character, in the midst of one of his most violent passions, while he appears in an ungovernable rage, feels the demon of avarice still upon him, and stoops down to pick up a pin, which he quilts into the flap of his coat-pocket with great assiduity. Two candles are lighted up for his wedding; he flies, and turns one of them into the socket; it is, however, lighted up again; he then steals to it, and privately crams it into his pocket. The " Mock-Doctor” was lately played at the other house.* Here again the comedian had an opportunity of heightening the ridicule by action. The French player sits in a chair with a high back, and then begins to show away by talking nonsense, which he would have thought Latin by those who he knows do not understand a syllable of the matter.

At last he grows enthusiastic, enjoys the admiration of the company, tosses his legs and arms about, and in the midst of his raptures and vociferation he and the chair fall back together. All this appears dull enough in the recital; but the gravity of Cato could not stand it in the representation.

In short, there is hardly a character in comedy, to which a player of any real humor might not add strokes of vivacity that could not fail of applause. But instead of this, we too often see our fine gentlemen do nothing through a whole part, but strut, and open their snuffbox; our pretty fellows sit indecently with their legs across, and our clowns pull up their breeches: These, if once, or even twice repeated, might do well enough; but to see them served up in every scene, argues the actor almost as barren as the character he would expose.

(Molière's L'Avare' and · Medecin malgré lui; were both translated by Fielding)


The magnificence of our theatres is far superior to any others in Europe, where plays only are acted. The great care our performers take in painting for a part, their exactness in all the minutiæ of dress, and other little scenical proprieties, have been aken notice of by Riccobini, a gentleman of Italy,* who travelled Europe with no other design but to remark upon the stage; but there are several improprieties still continued, or lately come into fashion. As, for instance, spreading a carpet punctually at the beginning of the death scene, in order to prevent our actors from spoiling their clothes: this immediately apprizes us of the tragedy to follow; for laying the cloth is not a more indication of dinner, than laying the carpet of bloody work at Drury Lane. Our little pages also, with unmeaning faces, that bear up the train of a weeping princess, and our awkward lords in waiting, take off much from her distress. Mutes of every kind divide our attention, and lessen our sensibility; but here it is entirely ridiculous, as we see them seriously employed in doing nothing. If we must have dirty-shirted guards upon the theatres, they should be taught to keep their eyes fixed on the actors, and not roll them round upon the audience, as if they were ogling the boxes.

Beauty, methinks, seems a requisite qualification in an actress. This seems scrupulously observed elsewhere, and for my part I could wish to see it observed at home. I can never conceive a hero dying for love of a lady totally destitute of beauty. I must think the part unnatural; for I cannot bear to hear him call that face angelic, where even paint cannot hide its wrinkles. I must condemn him of stupidity; and the person whom I can accuse for want of taste, will seldom become the object of my affections

[See “ Reflections, Historical and Critical, on the Theatres of Europe,” p. 179; 810. 1741. Riccobini was himself a comic actor of some celebrity.

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