thought I had fallen into their hands last night; for I observed two or three lusty black men that followed me half way up Fleetstreet, and mended their pace behind me, in proportion as I put

ing and devouring all the nations about thein.” * Nor was the designation inapt; for if there was one sort of brutality on which they prided themselves more than another, it was in tattooing; or slashing people's

Their other exploits faces with, as Gay wrote, “new invented wounds.". Slashing people's were quite as savage as those of their predecessors, although they aimed at dashing their mischief with wit and originality. They began the evening at their clubs, by drinking to excess, in order to inflame what little courage they possessed. They then sallied forth sword in hand. Some enacted the part of “ dancing-masters” by thrusting their rapiers between the legs of sober citizens in such a fashion as to make them cut the most grotesque capers. The hunt spoken of by Sir Roger was commenced by a "view hallo!” and as soon as the savage pack had run down their victim, they surrounded him, and formed a circle with the points of their swords. One gave him a puncture in the rear which naturally made him wheel about, then came a prick from another, and so they kept him spinning like a top till in their mercy they chose to let him go free. An adventure of this kind is narrated in No. 332 of of the “Spectator.”

Another savage diversion was thrusting women into barrels and rolling them down Snow or Ludgate Hill: Gay sings:

- their mischiefs done
Where, from Snow Hill black steepy torrents run;
How Matrons hoop'd within a högshead's womb,
Were tumbled furious thence; the falling tomb
O'er the stones thunders; bounds from side to side:
So Regulus to save his country dy'd."

TRIRIA. At the date of the present “Spectator" the outrages of the Mohocks were so intolerable, that they became the subject of a royal proclamation issued on the 18th of March, just a week before Sir Roger's visit to Drury Lane. Swift—who was horribly afraid of them-mentions some of their villapies. He writes two days previously that “two of the Mohocks caught a maid of old Lady Winchelsea's at the door of her house in the Park with a candle, and had just lighted out somebody. They cut all her face, and beat her without any provocation.”

The proclamation had little effect. On the very day after our party went to the play, we find Swift exclaiming—"They go on still, and cut people's faces every night! but they shan't cut mine;—I like it hetter as

it is."

*“Spectator," No. 324.

on to go away from them. You must know, (continued the knight with a smile,) I fancied they had a mind to hunt me: for I remember an honest gentleman in my neighbourhood, who was served such a trick in King Charles the Second's time; for which reason he has not ventured himself in town ever since. I might have shewn them very good sport, had this been their design ; for as I am an old Fox-hunter, I should have turned and dodged, and have played them a thousand tricks they had never seen in their lives before.' Sir Roger added, that if these gentlemen had

any such intention, they did not succeed very well in it; for I threw them out, (says he,) at the end of Norfolk-street, where I doubled the corner, and got shelter in my lodgings before they could imagine what was become of me. However (says the knight), if Captain Sentry will make one with us tomorrow night, and if you will both of you call upon me about four o'clock, that we may be at the house before it is full, I will have my own coach in readiness to attend you, for. John tells me he has got the fore-wheels mended.'

The captain, who did not fail to meet me there at the appointed hour, bid Sir Roger fear nothing, for that he had put on the same sword which he made use of at the battle of Steenkirk' Sir Roger's servants, and among the rest my old friend the butler, had, I found, provided themselves with good oaken plants, to attend their master upon this occasion. When we had placed him in his coach, with myself at his left hand, the captain before him, and his butler at the head of his footmen in the rear, we convoyed him in safety to the play-house; where, after having marched up the entry in good order, the captain and I went in with him, and seated him betwixt us in the pit. As soon as the house was full, and the candles lighted, my old friend stood up and looked about him with that pleasure, which a mind seasoned with humanity naturally feels in itself, at the sight of a multitude of people who seem pleased with one another, and partake of the same common entertainment. I could not but fancy to myself, as the old man stood up in the middle of the pit, that he made a very proper centre to a tragic audience. Upon the entering of Pyrrhus, the knight told me, that he did not believe the King of France himself had a better strut. I was, indeed, very attentive to my old friend's remarks, because I looked upon them as a piece of natural criticism, and was well pleased to hear him at the conclusion of-almost every scene, telling me that he could not imagine how the play would end. One while he ap. peared much concerned for Andromache; and a little while after as much for Hermione: and was extremely puzzled to think what would become of Pyrrhus.

* This battle was remarkable in the annals of fashion for giving the name to a modish neck-cloth. At the beginning of August, 1692, while William the Third was in Flanders at the head of the allies, he discovered

' ᏚᏢᎩ French, His Majesty caused him to give his master false information. The king then set upon the enemy at day-break, while they were asleep, and routed them. The French generals, however, rallied and formed their troops on favourable ground, turned the tables, and finally conquered. The allies were so crest-fallen and disunited by this defeat, that William broke up the campaign, and retired to England. The French were as much elated. Their generals-amongst whom were the Prince de Condé and the Duke of Vendôme-- were received in Paris with acclamation, and the roads were lined with jubilants. The petits maîtres shared in the #geral exultation ; and, although at that time it was their pride to ar

When Sir Roger saw Andromache's obstinate refusal to her lover's importunities, he whispered me in the ear, that he was sure she would never have him; to which he added, with a more

range their lace cravats with the utmost elaboration and care; yet, when they heard of the disordered dress in which the generals appeared in the fight from their haste to get into it, they suddenly changed the fashion, and wore a sort of lace negligé, which they called a “Steenkirk.” The fashion soon extended t> England, and for several years the “ Steenkirk" was your fop's only wear.-*

than ordinary vehemence, you cannot imagine, sir, what it is to have to do with a widow. Upon Pyrrhus his threatening afterwards to leave her, the knight shook his head, and muttered to himself, Ay, do if you can. This part dwelt so much on my friend's imagination, that at the close of the third act, as I was thinking of something else, he whispered in my ear, 'These widows, sir, are the most perverse creatures in the world. But pray. (says he), you that are a critic, is this play according to your dramatic rules, as you call them? Should your people in tragedy always talk to be understood ? Why, there is not a single sentence in this play that I do not know the meaning of.'

The fourth act very luckily begun before I had time to give the old gentleman an answer; Well, (says the knight, sitting down with great satisfaction,) I suppose we are now to see Hector's Ghost.' He then renewed his attention, and, from time to time, fell a praising the widow. He made, indeed, a little mis. take as to one of her pages, whom, at his first entering, he tools for Astyanax ; but he quickly set himself right in that particular, though, at the same time, he owned he should have been very glad to have seen the little boy, 'who,' says he, 'must needs be a very fine child by the account that is given of him.' Upon Hermione's going off with a menace to Pyrrhus, the audience gave a loud clap; to which Sir Roger added, “ On my word, a notable young baggage !'

As there was a very remarkable silence and stillness in the audience during the whole action, it was natural for them to take the opportunity of the intervals between the acts, to express their opinion of the players, and of their respective parts.

Sir Roger hearing a cluster of them praise Orestes, struck in with them, and told them, that he thought his friend Pylades was a very sensible man; as they were afterwards applauding Pyrrhus, Sir Roger put in a second time, 'And let me tell you, (says he,

though he speaks but little, I like the old fellow in whiskers as well as any of them.'. Captain Sentry, seeing two or three wags who sat near us, lean with an attentive ear towards Sir Roger, and fearing lest they should smoke the knight, plucked him by the elbow, and whispered something in his ear, that lasted till the opening of the fifth act. The knight was wonderfully attentive to the account which Orestes gives of Pyrrhus his death, and at the conclusion of it, told me it was such a' bloody piece of work, that he was glad it was not done upon the stage. Seeing afterwards Orestes in his raving fit, he grew more than ordinary serious, and took occasion to moralize (in his way) upon an evil conscience, adding, that. Orestes, in his madness, looked as if he saw something.'

As we were the first that came into the house, so we were the last that went out of it; being resolved to have a clear passage for our old friend, whom we did not care to venture among the justling of the crowd. Sir Roger went out fully satisfied with his entertainment, and we guarded him to his lodgings in the same manner that we brought him to the play-house; being highly pleased, for my own part, not only with the performance of the excellent piece which had been presented, but with the satisfaction which it had given to the good old man. L.

« ForrigeFortsett »