« ПредишнаНапред »
ON THE ITALIAN OPERA. No. 5. AN
opera may be allowed to be extravagantly lavisla in its decorations, as its only design is to gratify the senses, and keep up an indolent attention in the audience. Common sense however requires that there should be nothing in the scenes and machines, which may appear childish and absurd. How would the wits of king Charles's time have laughed to have seen Nicolini exposed to a tempest in robes of ermine, and sailing in an open boat upon a sea of pasteboard ! What a field of raillery would they have been led into, had they been entertained with painted dragons spitting wildfire, enchanted chariots drawn by Flanders mares, and real cascades in artificial landscapes ! A little skill in criticism would inform us, that shadows and rea-.. lities ought not to be mixed together in the same piece; and that the scenes which are designed as the representations of nature, should be filled with resemblancs, and not with the things themselves. If one would represent a wide champaign country filled with herds and flocks, it would be ridiculous to draw the country
hearts upon too much to be ever able to relinquish. llave but patience, continued he, until I give you a succinct account of my ladics, and of this night's adventure. They are much of an age, but very different in their characters : the one of them, with all the advances which years have made upon her, goes on in a certain romantic road of love and friendship which she bell into in her teens; the other has transferred the amoTous parvions of her first years to the love of cronics, peis, and favourites, with which she is always surpounded: but tbe genius of cach of them will best apprar ly the account of what happened to me at their Jueuscs. About five this afternoon, being tired with Biudy, the weather inviting, and time lying a little upon my hands, I resolved, at the instigation of my cvil genius, to visit them; their husbands having been our contemporaries. This I thought I could do without much trouble ; for both live in the very next street. I went first to my lady Camomile ; and the butler, who had lived long in the family, and seen me often in his master's time, ushered me very civilly into the parlour, and told me, though my lady had given strict orders to be denied, he was sure I might be admitted, and bid the black boy acquaint bis lady that I was come to wait upon her. In the window lay two letters, one broke open, the other fresh scaled with a wafer; the first directed to the divine Cosmelia, the second to the charming Lucinda ; but both, by the indented characters, appeared to have been writ by very unsteady hands. Such uncommon addresses increased my curiosity, and put me upon asking my old friend the butler, if he knew who those persons were ? Very *ell, says he : this is from Mrs. Furbish to my lady,
an old school-fellow and great crony of her ladyship’s; and this the answer. I inquired in what county she lived. Oh dear! says he, but just by in the neighbourhood. Why, she was here all this morning, and that letter came and was answered within these two hours. They have taken an odd fancy, you must know, to call one another hard names; but for all that they love one another hugely. By this time the boy returned with his lady's humble service to me, desiring I would excuse her; for she could not possibly see me, nor any body else, for it was opera night.
Methinks, says I, such innocent folly, as two old women's courtship to each other, should rather make you merry, than put you out of humour. Peace, good Isaac, says he; no interruption, I beseech you. I got soon to Mrs. Feeble's, she that was formerly Betty Frisk; you must needs remember her; Tom Feeble of Brazen Nose fell in love with her for her fine dancing. Well, Mrs. Ursula, without further ceremony, càrries me directly up to her mistress's chamber, where I found her environed by four of the most mischievous animals that can infest a family; an old shock dog with one eye, a monkey chained to one side of the chimney, a great gray squirrel to the other, and a parrot waddling in the middle of the room. However, for a while, all was in a profound tranquillity. Upon the mantle-tree, for I am a pretty curious observer, stood a pot of lambitive electuary, with a stick of liquorice, and near it a phial of rose-water and powder of tutty. Upon the table lay a pipe filled with betony and colt’s-foot, à roll of wax-candle, a silver spitting-pot, and a Seville orange. The lady was placed in a large wicker chair, had her feet wrapped up in flannel, and supported by eashions ; and in this attitude, would you believe it, Isaac ? she was reading a romance with spectacles on. The first compliments over, as she was industriously endeavouring to enter upon conversation, a violent fit of coughing scized her. This awaked Shock, and in a trice the whole room was in an uproar; for the dog barked, the squirrel squealed, the monkey chattered, the parrot screamed, and Ursula, to appease them, was more clamorous than all the rest. You, Isaac, who know how any barsh noise affects my head, may guess what I suffered from the hideous din of these discordant sounds. At length all was appeased, and quiet restored : a chair was drawn for me; where I was no sooner seated, but the parrot fixed his horny beak, as sharp as a pair of sheers, in one of my heels, just above the shoc. I sprung from the place with an unusual agility; and so being within the monkey's reach, he snatches off my new bob wig, and throws it upon two apples that were roasting by a sullen sea-coal fire. I was nimble enough to save it from any further damage than singeing the forc-top. I put it on; and, composing inyself as well as I could, I drew my chair towards the other side of the chimney. The good lady, as soon as she had recovered breath, employed it in making a thousand apologies, and with great eloquence, and a numerous train of words, lamented my inisfortune. In the middle of her harangue, I felt something scratching near my knee, and, feeling what it should be, found the squirrel had got into my coat pocket. As I endeavoured to remove him from his burrow, he made his rcctlı meet through the fleshy part of my forc-finger. This gave me an unexpressible pain, The llungary water was imıncdiately brought to bathe it, and gold-beaters skin applied to stop the blood. The lady renewed her excuses; but, being now out of all patience, I abruptly took my leave, and, hobbling down stairs with heedless haste, I set my foot full in a pail of water, and down we came to the bottom together.—Here my friend concluded his narrative, and, with a composed countenance, I began to make him compliments of condolence; but he started from his chair, and said, Isaac, you may spare your speeches, I expect no reply : when I told you this, I knew you would laugh at me; but the next woman that makes me ridiculous shall be a young one.