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ens to make the best use of their time, for they will soon, for all their present bloom, be stretched under the table, like the dead body before them.
Of all the bards this country ever produced, the last and the greatest was CAROLAN THE BLIND. He was at once a poet, a musician, a composer, and sung his own verses to his harp. The original natives never mention his name without rapture: both his poetry and music they have by heart; and even some of the English themselves, who have been transplanted there, find his music extremely pleasing. A song beginning
in life as he did, from Italy, and strike so far out of the common road of his own country's music. A mere fiddler,* a shallow coxcomb, a giddy, insolent, worthless fellow, to compose such pieces as nothing but genuine sensibility of mind, and an exquisite feeling of those passions which animate only the finest souls, could dictate; and in a manner too so extravagantly distant from that to which he had all his life been accustomed!-It is impossible. He might indeed have had presumption enough to add some flourishes to a few favourite airs, like a cobbler of old plays when he takes it upon him to mend Shakspeare. So far he might go; but farther it is impossible for any one to believe, that has but just ear enough to distinguish translated by Dean Swift, is of his composition; between the Italian and Scotch music, and is dis- which, though perhaps by this means the best posed to consider the subject with the least degree known of his pieces, is yet by no means the most
March 18, 1760.
THERE can be perhaps no greater entertainment than to compare the rude Celtic simplicity with modern refinement. Books, however, seem incapable of furnishing the parallel; and to be acquainted with the ancient manners of our own ancestors, we should endeavour to look for their remains in those countries, which being in some measure retired from an intercourse with other nations, are still untinctured with foreign refinement, language, or breeding.
"O'Rourke's noble fare will ne'er be forgot,"
deserving. His songs in general may be compared to those of Pindar, as they have frequently the same flights of imagination; and are composed (I do not say written, for he could not write) merely to flatter some man of fortune upon some excellence of the same kind. In these one man is praised for the excellence of his stable, as in Pindar, another for his hospitality, a third for the beauty of his wife and children, and a fourth for the antiquity of his family. Whenever any of the original natives of distinction were assembled at feasting or revelling, Carolan was generally there, where he was always ready with his harp to celebrate their praises. He seemed by nature formed for his profession; for as he was born blind, so also he was possessed of a most astonishing The Irish will satisfy curiosity in this respect memory, and a facetious turn of thinking, which preferably to all other nations I have seen. They gave his entertainers infinite satisfaction. Being in several parts of that country still adhere to their ancient language, dress, furniture, and superstitions; several customs exist among them, that still speak their original; and in some respects Cæsar's description of the ancient Britons is applicable to them.
Their bards, in particular, are still held in great veneration among them; those traditional heralds are invited to every funeral, in order to fill up the intervals of the bowl with their songs and harps. In these they rehearse the actions of the ancestors of the deceased, bewail the bondage of their country under the English government, and generally conclude with advising the young men and maid
• David Rizzio was neither a mere fiddler, nor a shallow coxcomb nor a worthless fellow, nor a stranger in Scotland.
once at the house of an Irish nobleman, where there was a musician present who was eminent in the profession, Carolan immediately challenged him to a trial of skill. To carry the jest forward, his Lordship persuaded the musician to accept the challenge, and he accordingly played over on his fiddle the fifth concerto of Vivaldi. Carolan, immediately taking his harp, played over the whole piece after him, without missing a note, though he never heard it before; which produced some sur. prise: but their astonishment increased, when he
assured them he could make a concerto in the same taste himself, which he instantly composed; and that with such spirit and elegance, that it may compare (for we have it still) with the finest com. positions of Italy.
His death was not more remarkable than his
He had indeed been brought over from Piedmont, to be put life. Homer was never more fond of a glass than at the head of a band of music, by King James V. one of the he; he would drink whole pints of usquebaugh, most elegant princes of his time, an exquisite judge of music, and, as he used to think, without any ill conseas well as of poetry, architecture, and all the fine arts. Rizzio,quence. His intemperance, however, in this reat the time of his death, had been above twenty years in spect, at length brought on an incurable disorScotland: he was secretary to the Queen, and at the same time an agent from the Pope; so that he could not be so ob- der, and when just at the point of death, he called for a cup of his beloved liquor. Those who were
acure as he has been represented.
standing round him, surprised at the demand, en- | remembered this place in its pristine beauty, I
away, of the bowers that were destroyed by ne-
Or all men who form gay illusions of distant "You see, in the place before you, the paternal happiness, perhaps a poet is the most sanguine. inheritance of a poet; and, to a man content with Such is the ardour of his hopes, that they often are little, fully sufficient for his subsistence: but a equal to actual enjoyment; and he feels more in strong imagination and a long acquaintance with expectance than actual fruition. I have often re- the rich are dangerous foes to contentment. Our garded a character of this kind with some degree poet, instead of sitting down to enjoy life, resolved of envy. A man possessed of such warm imagi- to prepare for its future enjoyment, and set about nation commands all nature, and arrogates posses-converting a place of profit into a scene of pleasions of which the owner has a blunter relish. sure. This he at first supposed could be accomWhile life continues, the alluring prospect lies be- plished at a small expense; and he was willing for fore him: he travels in the pursuit with confidence, while to stint his income, to have an opportunity and resigns it only with his last breath. of displaying his taste. The improvement in this It is this happy confidence which gives life its manner went forward; one beauty attained led him true relish, and keeps up our spirits amidst every to wish for some other; but he still hoped that distress and disappointment. How much less every emendation would be the last. It was now would be done, if a man knew how little he can therefore found, that the improvement exceeded do! How wretched a creature would he be, if he the subsidy, that the place was grown too large and saw the end as well as the beginning of his pro- too fine for the inhabitant. But that pride which jects! He would have nothing left but to sit down was once exhibited could not retire; the garden in torpid despair, and exchange employment for was made for the owner, and though it was beactual calamity. come unfit for him he could not willingly resign it
I was led into this train of thinking upon lately to another. Thus the first idea of its beauties convisiting the beautiful gardens of the late Mr. tributing to the happiness of his life was found unShenstone, who was himself a poet, and possessed faithful; so that, instead of looking within for satof that warm imagination, which made him ever isfaction, he began to think of having recourse to foremost in the pursuit of flying happiness. the praises of those who came to visit his improveCould he but have foreseen the end of all his ment. schemes, for whom he was improving, and what "In consequence of this hope, which now took changes his designs were to undergo, he would possession of his mind, the gardens were opened have scarcely amused his innocent life with what to the visits of every stranger; and the country for several years employed him in a most harmless flocked round to walk, to criticise, to admire, and manner, and abridged his scanty fortune. As the to do mischief. He soon found, that the admirers progress of this improvement is a true picture of of his taste left by no means such strong marks sublunary vicissitude, I could not help calling up of their applause, as the envious did of their my imagination, which, while I walked pensively malignity. All the windows of his temples, and along, suggested the following reverie. the walls of his retreats, were impressed with the As I was turning my back upon a beautiful characters of profaneness, ignorance, and obscenipiece of water enlivened with cascades and rock-ty; his hedges were broken, his statues and urns work, and entering a dark walk by which ran a defaced, and his lawns worn bare. It was now prattling brook, the Genius of the place appeared before me, but more resembling the God of Time, than him more peculiarly appointed to the care of gardens. Instead of shears he bore a scythe; and he appeared rather with the implements of husbandry, than those of a modern gardener. Having
therefore necessary to shut up the gardens once
"In this situation the poet continued for a time
covered up by the luxuriance of nature; the wind-| ing walks were grown dark; the brook assumed a natural sylvage; and the rocks were covered with THE theatre, like all other amusements, has its moss. Nothing now remained but to enjoy the fashions and its prejudices; and when satiated with beauties of the place, when the poor poet died, and its excellence, mankind begin to mistake change his garden was obliged to be sold for the benefit for improvement. For some years tragedy was of those who had contributed to its embellishment. the reigning entertainment; but of late it has en"The beauties of the place had now for some time been celebrated as well in prose as in verse; tirely given way to comedy, and our best efforts and all men of taste wished for so envied a spot, tion. The pompous train, the swelling phrase, are now exerted in these lighter kinds of composiwhere every urn was marked with the poet's pen- and the unnatural rant, are displaced for that cil, and every walk awakened genius and meditation. The first purchaser was one Mr. True-natural portrait of human folly and frailty, of which all are judges, because all have sat for the penny, a button-maker, who was possessed of three thousand pounds, and was willing also to be pospicture. sessed of taste and genius.
But as in describing nature it is presented with a double face, either of mirth or sadness, our modern writers find themselves at a loss which chiefly to He conceiv-copy from; and it is now debated, whether the exhibition of human distress is likely to afford the mind more entertainment than that of human absurdity?
"As the poet's ideas were for the natural wildness of the landscape, the button-maker's were for the more regular productions of art. ed, perhaps, that as it is a beauty in a button to be of a regular pattern, so the same regularity ought to obtain in a landscape. Be this as it will, he em
ployed the shears to some purpose; he clipped up of the frailties of the lower part of mankind, to disComedy is defined by Aristotle to be a picture the hedges, cut down the gloomy walks, made vistas upon the stables and hog-sties, and showed his tinguish it from tragedy, which is an exhibition of friends that a man of taste should always be doing. fore ascends to produce the characters of princes or the misfortunes of the great. When comedy there"The next candidate for taste and genius was a captain of a ship, who bought the garden because generals upon the stage, it is out of its walk, since low life and middle life are entirely its object. The the former possessor could find nothing more to mend; but unfortunately he had taste too. His principal question therefore is, whether in describgreat passion lay in building, in making Chinese ing low or middle life, an exhibition of its follies temples, and cage-work summer-houses. As the place before had an appearance of retirement, and inspired meditation, he gave it a more peopled air; every turning presented a cottage, or ice-house, or a temple; the improvement was converted into a little city, and it only wanted inhabitants to give it the air of a village in the East Indies.
be not preferable to a detail of its calamities? Or, in other words, which deserves the preference-the weeping sentimental comedy so much in fashion which seems to have been last exhibited by Vanat present, or the laughing and even low comedy, brugh and Cibber?
If we apply to authorities, all the great masters in the dramatic art have but one opinion. Their "In this manner, in less than ten years, the im-rule is, that as tragedy displays the calamities of provement has gone through the hands of as many the great, so comedy should excite our laughter, proprietors, who were all willing to have taste, and to show their taste too. As the place had received by ridiculously exhibiting the follies of the lower its best finishing from the hand of the first possessor, so every innovator only lent a hand to do mischief. Those parts which were obscure, have been entightened; those walks which led naturally, have Deen twisted into serpentine windings. The colour of the flowers of the field is not more various than
critics, asserts, that comedy will not admit of tragic
Le comique, ennemi des soupirs et des pleurs,
Nor is this rule without the strongest foundation
means affect us so strongly as the calamities of the great. When tragedy exhibits to us some great man fallen from his height, and struggling with want and adversity, we feel his situation in the
he variety of tastes that have been employed here, in nature, as the distresses of the mean by no and all in direct contradiction to the original aim of the first improver. Could the original possessor but revive, with what a sorrowful heart would he look upon his favourite spot again! He would scarcely recollect a Dryad or a Wood-nymph of his former acquaintance, and might perhaps find himself as much a stranger in his own plantation as in the deserts of Siberia."
and our pity is increased in proportion to the height same manner as we suppose he himself must feel,
from which he fell. On the contrary, we do not and if they are delightful, they are good. Their so strongly sympathize with one born in humbler success, it will be said, is a mark of their mennt, circumstances, and encountering accidental dis-and it is only abridging our happiness to deny us tress: so that while we melt for Belisarius, we an inlet to amusement.
scarcely give halfpence to the beggar who accosts These objections, however, are rather specious us in the street. The one has our pity; the other than solid. It is true, that amusement is a great our contempt. Distress, therefore, is the proper object of the theatre, and it will be allowed that object of tragedy, since the great excite our pity by these sentimental pieces do often amuse us; but their fall; but not equally so of comedy, since the the question is, whether the true comedy would not actors employed in it are originally so mean, that amuse us more? The question is, whether a cha they sink but little by their fall. racter supported throughout a piece, with its ridicule still attending, would not give us more delight than this species of bastard tragedy, which only is applauded because it is new?
Since the first origin of the stage, tragedy and comedy have run in distinct channels, and never till of late encroached upon the provinces of each other. Terence, who seems to have made the nearest approaches, always judiciously stops short before he comes to the downright pathetic; and yet he is even reproached by Cæsar for wanting the vis comica. All the other comic writers of antiquity aim only at rendering folly or vice ridiculous, but never exalt their characters into buskined pomp, or make what Voltaire humorously calls a tradesman's tragedy.
A friend of mine, who was sitting unmoved at one of the sentimental pieces, was asked how he could be so indifferent? "Why, truly," says he, "as the hero is but a tradesman, it is indifferent to me whether he be turned out of his counting-house on Fish-street Hill, since he will still have enough left to open shop in St. Giles's."
The other objection is as ill-grounded; for though we should give these pieces another name, it will not mend their efficacy. It will continue a kind Yet, notwithstanding this weight of authority and of mulish production, with all the defects of its opthe universal practice of former ages, a new species posite parents, and marked with sterility. If we of dramatic composition has been introduced under are permitted to make comedy weep, we have an the name of sentimental comedy, in which the vir- equal right to make tragedy laugh, and to set down tues of private life are exhibited, rather than the in blank verse the jests and repartees of all the atvices exposed; and the distresses rather than the tendants in a funeral procession. faults of mankind make our interest in the piece. But there is one argument in favour of sentiThese comedies have had of late great success, per- mental comedy which will keep it on the stage in haps from their novelty, and also from their flatter-spite of all that can be said against it. It is of all ing every man in his favourite foible. In these others the most easily written. Those abilities plays almost all the characters are good, and ex- that can hammer out a novel, are fully sufficient ceedingly generous; they are lavish enough of their for the production of a sentimental comedy. It is tin money on the stage; and though they want only sufficient to raise the characters a little; to humour, have abundance of sentiment and feeling. deck out the hero with a riband, or give the heroine If they happen to have faults or foibles, the spec- a title; then to put an insipid dialogue, without tator is taught, not only to pardon, but to applaud character or humour, into their mouths, give them them, in consideration of the goodness of their mighty good hearts, very fine clothes, furnish a hearts; so that folly, instead of being ridiculed, is new set of scenes, make a pathetic scene or two, commended, and the comedy aims at touching our with a sprinkling of tender melancholy conversapassions without the power of being truly pathetic. tion through the whole, and there is no doubt but In this manner we are likely to lose one great all the ladies will cry, and all the gentlemen ap source of entertainment on the stage; for while the plaud. comic poet is invading the province of the tragic muse, he leaves her lovely sister quite neglected. Of this, however, he is no way solicitous, as he measures his fame by his profits.
Humour at present seems to be departing from the stage, and it will soon happen that our comic players will have nothing left for it but a fine coat and a song. It depends upon the audience whether But it will be said, that the theatre is formed to they will actually drive those poor merry creatures amuse mankind, and that it matters little, if this from the stage, or sit at a play as gloomy as at the end be answered, by what means it is obtained. tabernacle. It is not easy to recover an art when If mankind find delight in weeping at comedy, it once lost; and it will be but a just punishment, would be cruel to abridge them in that or any other that when, by our being too fastidious, we have innocent pleasure. If those pieces are denied the banished humour from the stage, we should our name of comedies, yet call them by any other name, selves be deprived of the art of laughing.
he carried her down in a post-chaise, and coming back she helped to carry his knapsack.
Miss Racket went down with her lover in their
As I see you are fond of gallantry, and seem own phaeton; but upon their return, being very willing to set young people together as soon as you fond of driving, she would be every now and then can, I can not help lending my assistance to your for holding the whip. This bred a dispute: and endeavours, as I am greatly concerned in the at- before they were a fortnight together, she felt that tempt. You must know, sir, that I am landlady he could exercise the whip on somebody else beof one of the most noted inns on the road to Scot-sides the horses. land, and have seldom less than eight or ten couples Miss Meekly, though all compliance to the will a-week, who go down rapturous lovers, and return of her lover, could never reconcile him to the change man and wife. of his situation. It seems he married her supposing she had a large fortune; but being deceived in their expectations, they parted; and they now keep separate garrets in Rosemary-lane.
If there be in this world an agreeable situation, it must be that in which a young couple find themselves, when just let loose from confinement, and whirling off to the land of promise. When the post-chaise is driving off, and the blinds are drawn up, sure nothing can equal it. And yet, I do not know how, what with the fears of being pursued, or the wishes for greater happiness, not one of my customers but seems gloomy and out of temper. The gentlemen are all sullen, and the ladies discontented.
The next couple of whom I have any account, actually lived together in great harmony and uncloying kindness for no less than a month; but the lady who was a little in years, having parted with her fortune to her dearest life, he left her to make love to that better part of her which he valued more.
The next pair consisted of an Irish fortune-hunter, and one of the prettiest modestest ladies that But if it be ing down, how is it with them ever my eyes beheld. As he was a well-looking coming back? Having been for a fortnight together, gentleman, all dressed in lace, and as she was very they are then mighty good company to be sure. It fond of him, I thought they were blessed for life.
is then the young lady's indiscretion stares her in the face, and the gentleman himself finds that much is to be done before the money comes in.
For my own part, sir, I was married in the usual way; all my friends were at the wedding: I was conducted with great ceremony from the table to the bed; and I do not find that it any ways diminished my happiness with my husband, while, poor man! he continued with me. For my part, I am entirely for doing things in the old family way; I hate your new-fashioned manners, and never loved an outlandish marriage in my life.
Yet I was quickly mistaken. The lady was no better than a common woman of the town, and he was no better than a sharper; so they agreed upon a mutual divorce: he now dresses at the York Ball, and she is in keeping by the member for our borough to parliament.
In this manner we see that all those marriages in which there is interest on the one side and disobedience on the other, are not likely to promise a large harvest of delights. If our fortune-hunting gentlemen would but speak out, the young lady, instead of a lover, would often find a sneaking As I have had numbers call at my house, you rogue, that only wanted the lady's purse, and not may be sure I was not idle in inquiring who they her heart. For my own part, I never saw any were, and how they did in the world after they left thing but design and falsehood in every one of me. I can not say that I ever heard much good them; and my blood has boiled in my veins, when come of them; and of a history of twenty-five that I saw a young fellow of twenty, kneeling at the feet I noted down in my ledger, I do not know a single of a twenty thousand pounder, professing his pascouple that would not have been full as happy if sion, while he was taking aim at her money. I do they had gone the plain way to work, and asked the consent of their parents. To convince you of it, I will mention the names of a few, and refer the rest to some fitter opportunity.
not deny but there may be love in a Scotch marriage, but it is generally all on one side.
Of all the sincere admirers I ever knew, a man of my acquaintance, who, however, did not run away with his mistress to Scotland, was the most so. An old exciseman of our town, who as you may guess, was not very rich, had a daughter, who,
Imprimis, Miss Jenny Hastings went down to Scotland with a tailor, who, to be sure, for a tailor, was a very agreeable sort of a man. But I do not know, he did not take proper measure of the young as you shall see, was not very handsome. It was lady's disposition; they quarrelled at my house on their return; so she left him for a cornet of dragoons, and he went back to his shop-board.
the opinion of every body that this young woman would not soon be married, as she wanted two main articles, beauty and fortune. But for all this, Miss Rachel Runfort went off with a grenadier. a very well-looking man, that happened to be travThey spent all their money going down; so that elling those parts, came and asked the exciseman