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a suspicion of himself in a man who passes npon the world for a fine thing, in order to alarm him, one might say, If Lord Foppington was not on the stage (Cibber acts the false pretensions to a genteel beha. viour so very justly), he would have in the genera. lity of mankind more that would admire than deride him. When we come to characters directly comical, it is not to be imagined what effect a well-regu: Jated stage would have upon men's manners. The craft of an usurer, the absurdity of a rich fool, the awkward roughness of a fellow of half courage, the ungraceful mirth of a creature of half wit, might for ever be put out of countenance by proper parts for Dogget. Johnson, by acting Corbacchio the other night, must have given all who saw him a thorough detestation of aged avarice. The petulancy of a peevish old fellow, who loves and hates he knows not why, is very excellently performed by the ingenious Mr. William Penkethman in the Fop's For. tune; where, in the character of Don Choleric Snap Shorto de Testy, he answers no questions but to those whom he likes, and wants no account of any thing from those he approves.
Mr. Penkethman is also master of as many faces in the dumb scene as can be expected from a man in the circumstances of being ready to perish qut of fear and hunger. He wonders through the whole scene very masterly, without neglecting his victuals. If it be as I have heard it sometimes mentioned, a great qualification of the world to follow business and pleasure too, what is it in the ingenious Mr. Penkethman to represent a sense of pleasure and pain at the same time--as you may see him do this evening?
As it is certain that a stage ought to be wholly suppressed, or judiciously encouraged, while there is one in the nation, men turned for regular pleasure cannot cmploy their thoughts more usefully, for the diversion of mankind, than by convincing them that it is in themselves to raise this entertain. ment to the greatest height. It would be a great improvement, as well as embellishment to the the. atre, if dancing were more regarded, and taught to all the actors. One who has the advantage of such an agreeable girlish person as Mrs. Bicknell, joined with her capacity of imitation, could in proper gesture and motion represent all the decent characters of female life. An amiable modesty in one aspect of a dancer, and assumed confidence in another, a sudden joy in another, a falling-off with an impatience of being beheld, a return towards the audience with an unsteady resolution to approach them, and well-acted solicitude to please, would revive in the company all the fine touches of mind raised in observing all the objects of affection and passion they had before beheld. Such elegant entertainments as these would polish the town into judgment in their gratifications; and delicacy in pleasure is the first step people of condition take in reforma. tion from vice. Mrs. Bicknell has the only capaci. ty for this sort of dancing of any on the stage; and I dare say all who see her performance to-morrow night, when sure the romp will do her best for her own benefit, will be of my mind.
N° 371. TUESDAY, MAY 6, 1712.
Jamne igitur laudas quod de sapientibus unus
JUV. Sat. X. 28.
I SHALL communicate to my readers the following letter for the entertainment of this day.
You know very well that our nation is more famous for that sort of men who are called 66 whims" and “humourists," than any other country in the world : for which reason it is observed, that our English comedy excels that of all other nations in the novelty and variety of its characters.
Among those innumerable sets of whims which our country produces, there are none whom I have regarded with more curiosity than those who have invented any particular kind of diversion for the entertainment of themselves and their friends. My letter shall single out those who take delight in sort, ing a company that has something of burlesque and ridicule in its appearance. I shall make myself understood by the following example. One of the wits of the last age, who was a man of a good estate t, thought he never laid out his money better than in a jest. As he was one year at the Bath, ob
+ Villars, the last Duke of Buckingham, and father of the late Lady Mary Wortley Montague.
serving that, in the great confluence of fine people, there were several among them with long chins, a part of the visage by which he himself was very much distinguished, he invited to dinner half a score of these remarkable persons who had their mouths in the middle of their faces. They had ņo sooner placed themselves about the table but they began to stare upon one another, not being able to imagine what had brought them together. Our English pro.
''Tis merry in the hall,
It proved so in the assembly I am now speaking of, who seeing so many peaks of faces agitated with eating, drinking, and discourse, and observing all the chins that were present meeting together very often over the centre of the table, every one grew sensible of the jest, and gave into it with so much good humour, that they lived in strict friendship and alliance from that day forward,
• The same gentleman some time after packed together a set of oglers, as he called them, çon, sisting of such as had an unlucky cast in their eyes. His diversion on this occasion was to sçe the cross bows, mistaken signs, and wrong connivances, that passed amidst so many broken and refracted rays of sight.
• The third feast which this merry' gentleman exhibited was to the stammerers, whom he got to. gether in a sufficient body to fill his table. Ile had ordered one of his servants, who was placed behind a screen, to write down their table-talk, which was very easy to be done without the help of short hand. It appears þy the notes which yere taken, that though their conversation never
fell, there were not above twenty words spoken during the first course ; that upon serving up the second, one of the company was a quarter of an hour in telling them that the ducklings and asparagus were very good ; and that another took up the same time in declaring himself of the sams opinion. This jest did not, however, go off so well as the former; for one of the guests being a brave man, and fuller of resentment than he knew how to express, went out of the room, and sent the facetious inviter a challenge in writing, which, though it was afterwards dropped by the interposition of friends, put a stop to these ludicrous entertainments.
• Now, Sir, I dare 'say you will agree with me, that, as there is no moral in these jests they ought to be discouraged, and looked apon rather as pieces of unluckiness than wit. However as it is natural for one man to refine upon the thought of another; and impossible for any single person, how great soever his parts may be, to invent an art, and bring it to its utmost perfection; I shall here give you an account of an honest gentleman of my acquaint. ance, who upon hearing the character of the wit above mentioned, has himself assumed it, and en. deavoured to convert it to the benefit of mankind. He invited half a dozen of his friends one day to dinner, who were each of them famous for in, serting several redundant phrases in their discourse,
D'ye hear me?-D'ye see—That is,-And so, Sir." Each of his guests making use of his particular elegance, appeared so ridiculous to his neighbour, that he could not but reflect
hine self as appearing equally ridiculous to the rest of the company. By this means, before they had sat long together, every one, talking with the greatest circumspection, and carefully avoiding his favourite