Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

with the theatre still in attendance, reminds one of the Spirit of the Beggar's Opera. Button's Coffee-house, the resort of the wits of Queen Anne's time was in Russell-street, - we believe, near where the Hummums now stand. We think we recollect reading also, that in the same street, at one of the corners of Bow-street, was the tavern where Dryden held regal possession of the arm chair. The whole of Covent-garden is classic ground, from its association with the dramatic and other wits of the times of Dryden and Pope. Butler lived, perhaps died, in Rose-street, and was buried in Covent-gar. den Churchyard, where Peter Pindar the other day followed him. In Leicester-square, on the site of Miss Linwood's exhibition and other houses, was the town mansion of the Sydneys, Earl of Leicester, and the family of Sir Philip and Algernon Sydney. In the same square lived Sir Joshua Rey. nolds. Dryden lived and died in Gerrard-street, in a house which looked backwards into the garden of Leicester House. Newton lived in St. Martin's-street, on the south side of the square. Steele lived in Bury-strect, St. James's: he furnishes an illustrious precedent for the loungers in St. James's street, where a scandal-monger of those times delighted to detect Isaac Bickerstaff in the person of Captain Steele, idling before the Coffee-honses, and jerking his leg and stick alternately against the pavement. We have mentioned the birth of Ben Jonson, near Charing-cross. Spenser died at an inn, where he put up on his arrival from Ireland, in King-street, Westminster, the same which runs at the back of Parliament-street to the Abbey. Sir Thomas Moure lived at Chelsea. Addison lived and died in Holland-house, Kensington, now the residence of the accomplished nobleman who takes his title from it. In Brook-street, Grosvenor-square, lived Handel ; and in Bentick-street, Manchester-square, Gibbon. We have omitted to mention that De Foe kept a hosier's shop in Cornhill; and that, on the site of the present Southampton-buildings, Chancery-lane, stood the mansion of the Wriothesleys, Earls of Southampton, one of whom was the celebrated friend of Shakspeare. But what have we not omitted also? No less an illustrious head, that the Boar's, in Eastcheap,--the Boar's Head Tavern; the scene of Falstaff's revels. The place is still marked out by a similar sign. But who knows not Eastcheap, and the Boar's Head? Have we not all been there time out of mind? And

is it not a more real, as well as notorious thing to us, than the
London Tavern, or the Crown and Anchor, or the Hum.
mums, or White's, or What's-his-name's, or any other of
your contemporary and fleeting taps?
· But a line or two, a single sentence in an author of former
times, will often give a value to the commonest object. It not
only gives us a sense of its duration, but we seem to be look
ing at it in company with its old observer; and we are re-
minded at the same time of all that was agreeable in him.
We never saw, for instance, even the gilt ball at the top of
the College of Physicians, without thinking of that pleasant
mention of it in Garth's Dispensary, and of all the wit and
generosity of that amiable man:-

“ Not far from that most celebrated place,
Where angry Justice shows her awful face;
Where little villains must submit to fate,
That great ones may enjoy the world in state;
There stands a dome, majestic to the sight,
And sumptuous arches bear its oval height;
A golden globe, placed higb with artful skill,

Seems, to the distant sight, a gilded pill.” · Gay, in describing the inconvenience of the late narrow part of the Strand, by St. Clement's, took away a portion of its unpleasantness to the next generation, by associating his memory with the objects in it. We did not miss without regret even the combs' that hung' dangling in your face at a shop which he describes, and which was standing till the improvements took place. The rest of the picture is still alive ( Trivia, Book 3d.):

" Where the fair columns of St. Clement stand,
Whose straitened bounds encroach upon the Strand;
Where the low penl-house bows the walker's head,
And the rough pavement wounds the yielding tread ;
Where not a post protects the narrow space,
And strung in twines, combs dangle in thy face;
Summon at once thy courage, rouse thy care,
Stand firm, look back, be resolute, beware.
Forth issuing from steep lanes, the collier's steeds
Drag the black load; another cart succeeds ;
Team follows team, crouds heaped on crouds appear,

And wait impatient till the road grow clear."
There is a touch in the winter picture in the same poem,
which every body will recognize :-

[ocr errors]

* The Old Bailey..

« At White's the harnessed chairman idly stands, rin

And swings around his waist his tingling hands." ; The bewildered passenger in the Seven Dials is compared to Theseus in the Cretan Labyrinth. And thus we eome round to the point at which we began.

Before we rest our wings, however, we must take another dart over the city, as far as Stratford at Bow, where, with all due tenderness for boarding school French, a joke of Chaucer has existed as a piece of local humour for nearly four hundred and fifty years. Speaking of the Prioress, who makes such a delicate figure among his Canterbury pilgrims, he tells us, among her other accomplishments, that—..'

««French she spake full fair and featously;" Adding with great gravity,

“ After the school of Stratford atte Bowe;
For French of Paris was to her unknowe.”

ANECDOTES
OF POPULAR AND ECCENTRIC CHARACTERS. '

THE POET AND THE BOY, The Russian Poet Lomonossow was accustomed to read his playsto a rude young peasant, whom he had taken into his service for that purpose, to jndge (in imitation of Moliere) the more certainly of their theatrical effect, by their impression on an uninformed and unprejudiced mind. One evening the little Huron, while holding the light as usual, suddenly began to weep and sob, in a most piteous way, to the delight of the poet, who cried out in a transport, “ Waste not your tears before the time, my child; the scenes, in which you will most need them, come not till the fifth act.”—“ Oh, po," replied the boy, " it is not for that, but I want to ***.”-So easily are we deceived.

THE TRIBUNAL OF THE SYNOD. This Lomonossow is less celebrated for his plays and other poems, than for a witty speech on an occasion of his translation of Fontenelle's Plurality of Worlds.' Accused of heresy, he appeared before the august tribunal of the Synod, where he was asked,“ how any one could dare to affirm that of which the Bible makes no mention? And whence he drew

bis conclusion that the other planets were inhabitable, if not inhabited as well as our own? Lomonossow, without being the least dismayed by the long beard or fiery zeal of the guardian of faith, replied, “ As from the little inhabitants that I see creeping up and down on the respectable beard of your most holy Holiness, I conclude that the other respectable beards of this assembly have a similar population ; so did Fontenelle, (by the analogy of sound logic,) deduce from the population of our earth his famous conclusion in regard to the other planets.”—In an instant the laughers were on the side of Lomonossow, and he was out of danger; the fathers of the Synod thought with Sir Toby Belch, that it was not for gravity to play at cherry-pit with Satan.

THE FATE OF IPHIGENIA. The fate of Iphigenia on its first appearance, coupled with ils present high estimation, is a sufficient encouragement for damned authors. The composer exclaimed in despair, “ He. las! Iphiginie est tonbee.” « Oui, du ciel,” replied his friend.*

NOVERRE, THE CELEBRATED BALLET-MASTER. Noverre was an indifferent dancer, and upon injuring his foot, was forced to give up the practice altogether; hence, he devoted himself to the invention and getting up of ballets. Their expense ruined the directress, Destouchés, at Lions. In Strasburgh also the extravagance of his Chinese Ballet can never be forgotten. When Pietro, at that time the first serious dancer of the civilized world, was forced to leave Stutgard for his imprudence, Noverre entered into the Ducal service, and received a commission to collect an excellent Ballet company. He travelled for this purpose through France and Italy, engaged all the talent he could find, and, by giving great salaries, persuaded the least conspicuous of them to go on for figurantes. He rejected the old laws of the dance, and formed new in their place; the hand, which before was never elevated above the eyes, he made them raise above the head, and effected many similar changes. At the same time he had little idea of music, and invented difficulties which he himself could not untie, thus torturing those under him to no purpose. He was, moreover, arbitrary to excess; pointed out the place on which each one

* This is a play upon the word tombee, which has the double signification of “ fallen” and “ damned.”

was to stand by spitting, and did not even spare the Ducal favourites." Ladies,” he would say, " si vous ne-mieux que vous dansez, vous etes de miserables-—**.” His ballet programes, as well as his letters on the Art of Dancing, were written by, an Abbé, with whom he got acquainted at Lyons, and who was an inmate of his house.

THE SHOE AND THE SLIPPER. A Shoe, adorned with a handsome buckle, once found himself near a Slipper, whom he thus addressed : “ My good friend, why don't you get a buckle like mine ?” “ Your buckle is an excellent thing, truly,” answered the slipper, “ I don't even understand its use.” “ Its use," replied the shoe hastily—" you don't understand its use ? why, but for them we should stick in the first mud we went into.” “ Yes, my dear friend,” retorted the slipper," but I never go into the mud”

CATо, When he was yet a child, and living with his uncle Drusus, a deputation of the Latines came to Rome, in hopes of obtaining, for their countrymen, the freedom of the city, through the agency of Drusus, then tribune of the commons; and Poppedius, the chief of the deputation, was lodged and entertained in Drusus' house.—Availing himself of that intimacy, Poppedius requested young Cato to use his influence with bis uncle in favour of the Latines; but the child steadily refused to comply, though repeatedly urged. At length, Poppedius took him to the upper part of the house, and threatened to throw him down headlong, unless he would promise bis compliance. But the threat proved ineffectual; and Cato still inflexibly persevered in his refusal. · Some years after this, but before he had attanied the age of seventeen, he was conducted by his pedagogue (or guardian attendant,) to pay his respects to the Dictator Sylla, then uncontrolled master of Rome, who lavishly indulged his vindictive cruelty in the indiscriminate proscription of all who had oppused him. On entering the Dictator's house, young Cato was shocked to see the bloody heads of the mur. dered citizens brought into the hall by the wretches who came to claim the promised rewards for the perpetration of the murders; and, turning to his conductor, he asked, why there was not some person to be found, who would rid the world Voc I.]

No. II.

« AnteriorContinuar »