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Js7" 8, Thursday, April 28, 1709.
WHF% Coftee-house, ijpril 26.
TH E RJay of the London Cuckold: was acted this evening before a suitable audience, who were extremely well diverted with that heap of vice and absurdity. The indignation which Eugenia, who is a Gentleman of a just taste, has upon occasion of seeing human nature fall so low in its delights, made him, I thought, expatiate upon the mention of this Play very agreeably. Of all men living, faid he, I pity Players (who must be men of good understanding, to be capable 6s being such) that they are obliged to repeat and assume proper gestures for representing things, of which their reason must be ashamed, and which they must disdain their audience for approving, The amendment of these low gratisications is only to be made by people of condition, by encouraging the representation of the noble characters drawn by Slxtkespear and others, from whence it is impossible to return without strong impres^ons of honour and humanity. On these occasions, distress is laid before us with all its causes and consequences, and our resentment placed according to the merit of the persons asflicted. Were drama's of this nature more acceptable to the taste of the town, men who have genius would bend their studies to excel in them. How forcible an effect this would have on our minds, one needs no more than to observe how strongly we are touched by mere pictures. Who can see Le Brun's Picture of the battle of Porus, withour entering into the character of that sierce gallant man, and being accordingly spurred to an emulation of his constancy and courage? When he is falling with his wound, the seatures are at the fame time very terrible and languishing; and there is such a stern faintness difsused through all his look, as is 1
apt to move a kind os horror, as well as pity, in the beholder. This I fay, is an effect wrought by mere lights and shades^ consider also a representation made by words only, as in an account given by a good writer: Catiline in SalluJ} makes just such a sigure as Porus by Le Bruit. It is faid of him, Catilina 'vert longe a suit inter kostium cadavera repertus eft : paidulum eliam Jpiranse Jerocitatemque animi, quant vivas habuerat, in nrultu retinens. "Catiline was sound killed, far from his own "men, among the dead bodies of the enemy: He seem"ed Hill to breathe, and still retained in his face the "fame sierceness he had when he was living.". You have in that one sentence a lively impression of his whole lise and actions. What I would insinuate from all this, is, that if the Painter and the Historian can do thus much in colours and language, what may not be persormed by an excellent Poet, when the character he draws is presented by the person, the manner, the look, and the motion, of an accomplished Player? if a thing painted or related can irresistibly enter our hearts, what may not be brought to pass by seeing generous things persormed besore our eyes? Eugenio ended his discourse, by recommending the apt use of a theatre, as the most agreeable and easy method of making a polite and moral Gentry; which would end in rendering the rest of the people regular in their behaviour, and ambitious of laudable undertakings.
St. James's Coffee-house, April 27.
Letters from Naples of the ninth instant, N. S. advise, that Cardinal Grimani had ordered the regiment commanded by General Pate to march towards Final, in order to embark for Catalonia; whither also one thoufand horse are to be transported from Sardinia, besides the troops which came from the Milanese. An Englijh man of war has taken two prizes, one a vessel of Malta, the other of Genoa, both kiden with goods of the enemy. They write from Florence of the thirteenth, that his Majesty of Denmark had received a courier from the Hague, with an account of some matters relating to the treaty sf a peact;; upon which he declared,
that he thought it necessary to hasten to his own dominions.
Letters from Switzerland inform us, that the effects of the great scarcity of corn in France were selt at Geneva; the Magistrates of which city had appointed Deputies to treat with the Cantons of Bern and Zurich, for leave to buy up such quantities of grain within their territories as should be thought necessary. The Protestants of Tockeuburg are still in arms about the convent of St. John, and have declared, that they will not lay them down, until they shall have, sufficient security, from the Roman Caiholics, of living unmolested in the exercise of their religion. In the mean time, the Deputies of Bern and Tockenhurg have frequent conserences at Zurich wiih the regency of that Canton, to sind out methods for the quieting these disorders.
Letters from the Hague, of the third of May, advise, that the President Rouille, after his last conserence with the Deputies of the States, had retired to Bodegrave, sive miles distant from Worden, and expected the return of a courier from France on the fourth, with new instructions. It is faid, if his answer from the French Court shall not prove fatisfactory, he will be desired to withdraw out of these parts. In the mean time it is also reported, that his equipage, as an embassador on this great occasion, is actually on the march towards him. They write from Flanders, that the great convoy of provisions, which set out from Ghent, is fasely arrived at Lifte. Those advices add, that the enemy had assembled near Tournay a considerably body of troops, drawn out of the^rteighbouring garrisons. Their High Mightinesses have sent orders to their Ministers at Hamburgh and Dantzic, to engage the Magistrates of those cities to forbid the fale of corn to the French, and to signify to them, that the Dutch merchants will buy up as much of that commodity as they can spare; the Hamburghers have accordingly contracted with the Dutch, and resused any commerce with the French on that occasion.
From - From my own Apartment.
Aster the lassitude of a day, spent in the strolling manner, which is usual with men of pleasure in this town, and with a head fall of a million of impertinencies, which had danced round it for ten hours together, I came to my lodging, and hastened to bed. My Valet de Chambre knows my university-trick of reading there; and he, being a good scholar for a Gentleman, ran over the names of Horace, Tibullus, Ovid, and others, to .know which I would have. Bring Virgil, faid I; and, if I fall asleep, take care of the candle. I read the sixth book over with the most exquisite delight, and had gone half through it a second time, when the pleafant -ideas of Elyfian '.sields, deceased Worthies walking in" them, sincere lovers enjoying their languishment without pain, compassion for the unhappy spirits who had <nifpent their short -day-light, and were exiled from the seats of bliss for ever; I fay, I was deep again in my reading, when this mixture of images had taken place of all others in aiy imagination before, and lulled me into a dream, from which I am just awake, to my great difadvantage. The happy mansions of Elysium, by degrees, seemed to be wafted from me, and the very traces of my late waking thoughts began to fade away, when I was .cast by a sudden whirlwind upon an island, encompassed with a roaring and troubled sea, which dhaked its very centre, and rocked its inhabitants as in a cradle. The islanders lay on their faces without offering to look up, or hope for preservation; all the harbours were crowded with mariners, and tall vessels of war lay in danger of being driven to pieces on her shores. Bless mel faid I, why have I lived in such a manner, that the convulsion of Nature mould be so terrible to me, when I seel in myself that the better part of me is to survive it? Oh! may that be in happiness. A sudden shriek, in which the whole people on their faces joined, interrupted my soliloquy, and turned my <yes and attention to the object which had given us that rfudden start, in the midst of an inconsolable and speechJese affliction. Immediately the winds grew calm, the waves subsided, and the people stood up, turning their faces upon a magnisicent pile in the midst of the island. There we beheld an Hero of a comely and erect aspect, but pale and languid, sitting under a canopy of state. By the faces and dumb sorrow of those who attended, we thought him in the article of death. At a distauce fat a "Lady, whose lise seemed to hang upon the fame thread with his: She kept her eyes sixed upon him, and seemed to smother ten thoufand thoufand nameless things, which urged her tenderness to clasp him in her arms: But her greatness of spirit overcame those sentiments, and gave her power to forbear disturbing his last moment; which immediately approached. The Hero looked up with an air of negligence, and fatiety of Being, rather than of pain to leave it; and, leaning back his head, expired.
When the Heroine, who fat at a distance, faw his last instant come, Ihe threw herself at his seet, and kneeling, pressed his hand to her lips, in which postur* she continued under the agony of an unutterable sorrow, until conducted from our sight by her attendants. That commanding awe, which accompanies the grief of great minds, restrained the multitude while in her presence; but as soon as she retired, they gave way to their distraction, and all the islanders called upon their deceased Hero. To him, methought, they cried out, as to a guardian Being; and I gathered from their broken accents, that it was he who had the empire over the Ocean and its powers, by which he had long protected the island from shipwreck and invasion. They now give a loose to their moan, and think themselves exposed without hopes of human or divine assistance. While the people ran wild, and expressed all the different forms of lamentation, methought a fable cloud overshadowed- the whole land, and covered its inhabitants with darkness: No glimpse of light appeared, except one ray from heaven upon the place in which the Heroine now secluded herself from the world, with her eyes sixed on those abodes to which her Consort was ascended. Methought a long period of time had passed away in m mrning and in darkness, when a twilight began by degrees to enlighten the hemisphere; and,
Vol. I, I> lockings