« PreviousContinue »
to ourselves, and none but a fool would measure his satisfaction by what the world thinks of it.
Dick Wildgoose was one of the happiest silly fellows I ever knew. He was of the number of those good-natured creatures that are said to do no harm to any but themselves. Whenever Dick fell into any misery, he usually called it seeing life. If his head was broke by a chairman, or his pocket picked by a sharper, he comforted himself by imitating the Hibernian dialect of the one, or the more fashionable cant of the other. Nothing came amiss to Dick. His inattention to money matters had incensed his father to such a degree, that all the intercession of friends in his favour was fruitless. The old gentleman was on his deathbed. The whole family, and Dick among the number, gathered round him. « I leave my second son Andrew,» said the expiring miser,« my whole estate, and desire him to be frugal.v Andrew, in a sorrowful tone, as is usual on these occasions, « prayed Heaven to prolong his life and health to enjoy it himself.»—-~ I recommend Simon, my third son, to the care of his elder brother, and leave him beside four thousand pounds. »- Ah! father,» cried Simon (in great affliction to be sure), « may Heaven give you life and health to enjoy it yourself !» At last, turning to poor Dick, « As for you, you have always been a sad dog, you'll never come to good, you 'll never be rich; I'll leave you a shilling to buy a halter. »-« Ah! father, » cries Dick, without any emotion, « may Heaven give you life and health to enjoy it yourself!» This was all the trouble the loss of fortune gave this thoughtless imprudent creature. However, the tenderness of an uncle recompensed the neglect of a father; and Dick is not only excessively good-humoured, but competently rich.
The world, in short, may cry out at a bankrupt who appears at a ball; at an author, who laughs at the public which pronounces him a dunce; at a general, who smiles at the reproach of the vulgar; or the lady who keeps her good-humour in spite of scandal; but such is the wisest behaviour they can possibly assume. It is certainly a better way to oppose calamity by dissipation, than to take up the arms of reason or resolution to oppose it: by the first method we forget our miseries, by the last we only conceal them from others. By struggling with misfortunes, we are sure to receive some wounds in the conflict : the only method to come off victorious, is by running away.
ON OUR THEATRES.
MADEMOISELLE CLAIRON, a celebrated actress at Paris, seems to me the most perfect female figure I have ever seen upon any stage. Not perhaps that nature has been more liberal of personal beauty to her, than some to be seen upon our theatres at home. There are actresses here who have as much of what connoisseurs call statuary grace, by which is meant elegance unconnected with motion, as she; but they all fall infinitely short of her, when the soul comes to give expression to the limbs, and animates every fea
Her first appearance is excessively engaging; she never comes in staring round upon the company, as if she intended to count the benefits of the house, or at least to see, as well as be seen. Her eyes are always, at first, intently fixed upon the
persons of the drama, and she lifts them, by degrees, with enchanting diffidence, upon the specta
Her first speech, or at least the first part of it, is delivered with scarcely any motion of the arm; her hands and her tongue never set out together; but the one prepares us for the other. She sometimes begins with a mute eloquent attitude; but never goes forward all at once with hands, eyes, head, and voice. This observation, though it may appear of no importance, should certainly be adverted to; nor do I see any one performer (Garrick only excepted) among us, that is not in this particular apt to offend. By this simple beginning, she gives herself a power of rising in the passion of the scene. As she proceeds, every gesture, every look, acquires new violence, till at last transported, she fills the whole vehemence of the part, and all the idea
of the poet.
Her hands are not alternately stretched out, and then drawn in again, as with the singing women at Saddler's Wells; they are employed with graceful variety, and
every moment please with new and unexpected eloquence. Add to this, that their motion is generally from the shoulder; she never flourishes her hands while the upper part of her arm is motionless, nor has she the ridiculous appearance, as if her elbows were pinned to her hips.
But of all the cautions to be given to our rising actresses, I would particularly recommend it to them never to take notice of the audience, upon any occasion whatsoever; let the spectators applaud never so loudly, their praises should pass, except at the end of the epilogue, with seeming inattention. I can never pardon a lady on the stage, who, when she draws the admiration of the whole audience, turns about to make them a low courtesy for their applause. Such a figure no longer continues Belvidera, but at once drops into Mrs Cibber. Suppose a sober tradesman, who once a-year takes his shilling's-worth at DruryLane, in order to be delighted with the figure of a queen, the
queen of Sheba, for instance, or any other queen; this honest man has no other idea of the great but from their superiour pride and impertinence : suppose such a man placed among the spectators, the first figure that appears on the stage is the queen herself, courtesying and cringing to all the company: how can he fancy her the haughty favourite of King Solomon the wise, who appears actually more submissive than the wife of his bosom? We are all tradesmen of a nicer relish in this respect, and such conduct must disgust every spectator, who loves to have the illusion of nature strong upon
him. Yet, while I recommend to our actresses a skilful attention to gesture, I would not have them study it in the looking-glass. This, without some precaution, will render their action formal; by too great an intimacy with this, they become stiff and affected. People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy
after. I remember to have known a notable performer of the other sex, who made great use of this flattering monitor, and yet was one of the stiffest figures I ever saw.
I am told his apartment was hung round with looking-glasses, that he might see his person twenty times reflected upon entering the room; and I will make bold to say, he saw twenty very ugly fellows whenever he did so.
THE BEE, No III.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1759.
ON THE USE OF LANGUAGE.
The manner in which most writers begin their treatises on the use of language, is generally thus : « Language has been granted to man, in order to discover his wants and necessities, so as to have them relieved by society. Whatever we desire, whatever we wish, it is but to clothe those desires or wishes in words, in order to fruition; the principal use of language, therefore,» say they, « is to express our wants, so as to receive a speedy redress.»
Such an account as this may serve to satisfy grammarians and rhetoricians well enough, but men who know the world maintain very contrary maxims; they hold, and I think with some show of reason, that he who best knows how to conceal his necessity and desires, is the most likely person to find redress; and that the true use of speech is not so much to express our wants, as to conceal them.
When we reflect on the manner in which mankind generally confer their favours, we shall find, that they who