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in life as he did, from Italy, and strike so far out ens to make the best use of their time, for they of the common road of his own country's music. will soon, for all their present bloom, be stretched
A mere fiddler,* a shallow coxcomb, a giddy, in- under the table, like the dead body before them. solent, worthless fellow, to compose such pieces as Of all the bards this country ever produced, the nothing but genuine sensibility of mind, and an last and the greatest was Carolan THE Blind. exquisite feeling of those passions which animate He was at once a poet, a musician, a composer, only the finest souls, could dictate; and in a man- and sung his own verses to his harp. The originer too so extravagantly distant from that to which nal natives never mention his name without raphe had all his life been accustomed !—It is impos- ture: both his poetry and music they have by sible. He might indeed have had presumption heart; and even some of the English themselves, enough to add some flourishes to a few favourite who have been transplanted there, find his music airs, like a cobbler of old plays when he takes it extremely pleasing. A song beginning upon him to mend Shakspeare. So far he might
“ O'Rourke's noble fare will ne'er be forgot,” 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 of attention.
deserving. His songs in general may be compared March 18, 1760.
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 ESSAY XX.
to flatter some man of fortune upon some excel.
lence of the same kind. In these one man is There can be perhaps no greater entertainment praised for the excellence of his stable, as in Pinthan to compare the rude Celtic simplicity with dar, another for his hospitality, a third for the modern refinement. Books, however, seem inca
beauty of his wife and children, and a fourth for
the antiquity of his family. Whenever any of pable of furnishing the parallel ; and to be acquainted with the ancient manners of our own an
the original natives of distinction were assem.
bled at feasting or revelling, Carolan was generally cestors, we should endeavour to look for their remains in those countries, which being in some
there, where he was always ready with his harp measure retired from an intercourse with other na
to celebrate their praises. He seemed by nature tions, are still untinctured with foreign refinement,
formed for his profession ; for as he was born blind, language, or breeding.
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 once at the house of an Irish nobleman, where ancient language, dress, furniture, and supersti
there was a musician present who was eminent in tions; several customs exist among them, that still
the profession, Carolan immediately challenged him speak their original; and in some respects Cæsar's to a trial of skill. To carry the jest forward, his description of the ancient Britons is applicable to
Lordship persuaded the musician to accept the them.
challenge, and he accordingly played over on his Their bards, in particular, are still held in great mediately taking his harp, played over the whole
fiddle the fifth concerto of Vivaldi. Carolan, imveneration among them; those traditional heralds are invited to every funeral, in order to fill up the piece after him, without missing a note, though he intervals of the bowl with their songs and harps.
never heard it before ; which produced some sur. In these they rehearse the actions of the ancestors
prise: but their astonishment increased, when he
assured them he could make a concerto in the of the deceased, bewail the bondage of their coun
same taste himself, which he instantly composed; try under the English government, and generally conclude with advising the young men and maid- and that with such spirit and elegance, that it may
compare (for we have it still) with the finest com.
positions of Italy. • David Rizzio was neither a mere fiddler, nor a shallow
His death was not more remarkable than his coxcomb nor a worthless fellow, nor a stranger in Scotland. 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 Scotland : he was secretary to the Queen, and zthe same spect, at length brought on an incurable disortime an agent from the Pope; so that he could not be so ob der, and when just at the point of death, he called ecure as he has been represented.
Ifor a cup of his beloved liquor. Those who were standing round him, surprised at the demand, en-remembered this place in its pristine beauty, I deavoured to persuade him to the contrary; but he could not help condoling with him on its present persisted, and, when the bowl was brought to him, ruinous situation. I spoke to him of the many attempted to drink, but could not ; wherefore, giv- alterations which had been made, and all for the ing away the bowl, he observed with a smile, that worse; of the many shades which had been taken it would be hard if two such friends as he and the away, of the bowers that were destroyed by necup should part at least without kissing; and then glect, and the hedge-rows that were spoiled by clipexpired.
ping. The Genius with a sigh received my con. dolement, and assured me that he was equally a
martyr to ignorance and taste, to refinement and ESSAY XXI.
rusticity. Seeing me desirous of knowing farther,
he went on: 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, a 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 Jefaced, and his lawns worn bare. It was now prattling brook, the Genius of the place appeared therefore necessary to shut up the gardens once before me, but more resembling the God of Time, more, and to deprive the public of that happiness, than him more peculiarly appointed to the care of which had before ceased to be his own. gardens. Instead of shears he bore a scythe; and
“In this situation the poet continued for a time he appeared rather with the implements of hus- in the character of a jealous lover, fond of the beaubandry, than those of a modern gardener. Having ty he keeps, but unable to supply the extravagance
of every demand. The garden by this time was • 1772
completely grown and finished; the marks of art were
covered up by the luxuriance of nature; the wind. ing walks were grown dark; the brook assumed a
ESSAY XXII. natural sylvage; and the rocks were covered with
The theatre, like all other amusements, has its moss. Nothing now remained but to enjoy the beauties of the place, when the poor poet died, and
fashions and its prejudices; and when satiated with his garden was obliged to be sold for the benefit its excellence, mankind begin to mistake change of those who had contributed to its embellishment.
for improvement. For some years tragedy was “ The beauties of the place had now for some
the reigning entertainment; but of late it has entime 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 penny, a button-maker, who was possessed of three which all are judges, because all have sat for the thousand pounds, and was willing also to be pos
picture. sessed of taste and genius.
But as in describing nature it is presented with “As the poet's ideas were for the natural wild- a double face, either of mirth or sadness, our modern
writers find themselves at a loss which chiefly to ness of the landscape, the button-maker's were for the more regular productions of art. lle conceiv- copy from; and it is now debated, whether the ed, perhaps, that as it is a beauty in a button to be exhibition of human distress is likely to afford the
mind more entertainment than that of human abof a regular pattern, so the same regularity ought to obtain in a landscape. Be this as it will, he em
surdity? ployed the shears to some purpose ; he clipped up of the frailties of the lower part of mankind, to dis
Comedy is defined by Aristotle to be a picture the hedges, cut down the gloomy walks, made vistas upon the stables and hoy-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.
principal question therefore is, whether in describ
His great passion lay in building, in making Chinese ing low or middle life, an exhibition of its follies temples, and cage-work sumner-houses. As the
be not preferable to a detail of its calamities? Or, place before had an appearance of retirement, and
in other words, which deserves the preference—the inspired meditation, he gave it a more peopled air ;
weeping sentimental comedy so much in fashion every turning presented a cottage, or ice-house, or
at present,* or the laughing and even low comedy, a temple; the improvement was converted into a
which seems to have been last exhibited by Vanlittle city, and it only wanted inhabitants to give it
brugh and Cibber? the air of a village in the East Indies.
If we apply to authorities, all the great masters “In this manner, in less than ten years, the im- rule is, that as tragedy displays the calamities of
in the dramatic art have but one opinion. Their 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
part of mankind. Boileau, one of the best modern so every innovator only lent a hand to do mischiet. critics, asserts, that comedy will not admit of tragic
seen twisted into serpentine windings. The colour N'admel point dans ses vers de tragiques douleurs.
Nor is this rule without the strongest foundation and all in direct contradiction to the original aim in nature, as the distresses of the mean by no of the first improver. Could the original possessor
means affect us so strongly as the calamities of the but revive, with what a sorrowful heart would he great. When tragedy exhibits to us some great look upon his favourite spot again! He would
man fallen from his height, and struggling with scarcely recollect a Dryad or a Woud-nymph of his
want and adversity, we feel his situation in the former acquaintance, and might perhaps find him
same manner as we suppose he himself must feel, self as much a stranger in his own plantation as in and our pity is increased in proportion to the height the deserts of Siberia.”
from which he fell. On the contrary, we do not and if they are delightful, they are good. Thett so strongly sympathize with one born in humbler success, it will be said, is a mark of their merrt, 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 ridiSince the first origin of the stage, tragedy and cule still attending, would not give us more delight comedy have run in distinct channels, and never
than this species of bastard tragedy, which only is till of late encroached upon the provinces of each applauded because it is new? other. Terence, who seems to have made the
A friend of mine, who was sitting unmoved at nearest approaches, always judiciously stops short one of the sentimental pieces, was asked how he before he comes to the downright pathetic; and yet
could be so indifferent? “Why, truly,” says he, he is even reproached by Cæsar for wanting the
'as the hero is but a tradesman, it is indifferent to vis comica. All the other comic writers of anti- me whether he be turned out of his counting house quity aim only at rendering folly or vice ridiculous, on Fish-street Hill, since he will still have enough but never exalt their characters into buskined left to open shop in St. Giles's.” pomp, or make what Voltaire humorously calls a
The other objection is as ill-grounded; for though tradesman's tragedy.
we should give these pieces another name, it will
not mend their efficacy. It will continue a kind Yet, notwithstanding this weightof 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 sendiThese 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 encugh 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. Jeck 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 bul 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
Humour at present seems to be departing from muse, he leaves her lovely sister quite neglected. the stage, and it will soon happen that our comic Of this, however, he is no way solicitous, as he players will have nothing lett for it but a fine coat measures his fame by his profits.
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 froin 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 ESSAY XXIII.
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 mu 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. fard, and have seldom less than eight or ten couples Miss Meckly, 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 supposIf there be in this world an agreeable situation, ing she had a large fortune; but being deceived in it must be that in which a young couple find them- their expectations, they parted; and they now selves, when just let loose from confinement, and keep separate garrets in Rosemary-lane. whirling off to the land of promise. When the The next couple of whom I have any account, post-chaise is driving off, and the blinds are drawn actually lived together in great harmony and unup, sure nothing can equal it. And yet, I do not cloying kindness for no less than a month; but the know how, what with the fears of being pursued, lady who was a little in years, having parted with or the wishes for greater happiness, not one of my her fortune to her dearest life, he left her to make customers but seems gloomy and out of temper. love to that better part of her which he valued more. The gentlemen are all sullen, and the ladies dis- The next pair consisted of an Irish fortune-huntcontented.
er, and one of the prettiest modestest ladies that But if it be ing down, how is it with them ever my eyes behcld. As he was a well-looking coming back? Ha.ing 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 Yet I was quickly mistaken. The lady was no the face, and the gentleman himself finds that much better than a common woman of the town, and he is to be done before the money comes in. was no better than a sharper; so they agreed upon
For my own part, sir, I was married in the a mutual divorce: he now dresses at the York usual way; all my friends were at the wedding: 1 Ball, and she is in keeping by the member for our was conducted with great ceremony from the table borough to parliament. to the bed; and I do not find that it any ways di- In this manner we see that all those marriages minished my happiness with my husband, while, in which there is interest on the one side and disopoor man! he continued with me. For my part, bedience on the other, are not likely to promise a I am entirely for doing things in the old family large harvest of delights. If our fortune-hunting way; I hate your new-fashioned manners, and gentlemen would but speak out, the young lady, never loved an outlandish marriage in my life. 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 ifsion, while he was taking aim at her money. I do they had gone the plain way to work, and asked not deny but there may be love in a Scotch marthe consent of their parents. To convince you of riage, but it is generally all on one side. it, I will mention the names of a few, and refer the Of all the sincere admirers I ever knew, a man rest to some fitter opportunity.
of my acquaintance, who, however, did not run Imprimis, Miss Jenny Hastings went down to away with his mistress to Scotland, was the most Scotland with a tailor, who, to be sure, for a tailor, so. An old exciseman of our town, who as you was a very agreeable sort of a man. But I do not may guess, was not very rich, had a daughter, who, 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 the opinion of every body that this young woman their return; so she left him for a cornet of dra- would not soon be married, as she wanted two goons, and he went back to his shop-board. 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