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MAN IN THE MOON.
Say, what is taste, but the internal pow'rs
Saturday, 10th Dec. 1803.
PERHAPS in no epoch of history has the wretched poverty of true genius and of taste been more apparent than at the present time. That pureness of intellect, soundness of judgment, and moral of the mind, that adorned other ages, seems exhausted in this, so that scarcely any thing is left but a debilitated tone of taste (if I may be allowed the expression) that requires a constant stimulus to satisfy its false and depraved appetite; no longer pleased with the wholesome food of recreation, reason, and common sense,
it seems to delight only in the twice laid dishes cooked up by managers and authors, who have felt the sickly pulse of the town, and know the relaxation of solid sense, under which it labours. Yet all is vain, these messes, garnished with high seasoned absurdities, may act as stimulants for the moment, but will, in the end, pall and sicken the understanding. How many cardiacs has the fertile invention of modern dramar
tists mixed up secundum artem, to please an audience, gaping to take in the grossest deformities of novelty, baited by the skilful anglers of public favour. This career of nonsense commenced about three or four years ago, when in solemn procession enter O.P. two stately elephants; sometime afterwards a little monkey was engaged for the purpose of skipping about, scratching his ears, &c. to entertain the boxes, for to do the galleries justice they do not like any thing so low. The next was an elegant dumb character, who was too graceful to use any stuttering or stammering natural to some of those unhappy beings, but who presented a finished address and perfect action, that made the deformity an advantage ; but to display the highest degree of stage effect, it was necessary the next season to produce to the public a pretty little baby, who was to be dandled in the arms of an hero. It used to be an observation of an excellent dramatic author of the present day, that he always wished that it was the reign of Herod, whenever he saw a child brought upon the stage; and yet this same author, in conformity, no doubt, with the puling taste of the town, stept up into the nursery himself for a little poppet to insure the success of his piece; and certainly speaking with true dramatic feeling, if little master had been included in the Herodian anathema, it would not have mattered a great deal.
Pity it is that authors, who are capable of painting characters of real life, should disturb from their cradles poor little innocents, who would be far best at home. Yet not a great while ago, one of these was about to be cut in
pieces for the entertainment of an audience, it was said, agreeable to the judgment of Solomon, though I am of opinion that it did not shew the judgment of the author to offer such a spectacle to the public. But the reader may judge the astonishment of the Man in the Moon when he heard, in addition to these prodigies, a report ascend to his lunar mansion, that the next novelty of the stage was to be a large Newfoundland dog; it was natural to suppose that the critics would growl and grumble at the innovation, but never did an amateur of the drama sustain the fatigue of the insipid representation of the musical entertainment called the · Caravan,' with more fortitude than I did, tortured every instant with the greatest improbabilities, the harlequinade of a governor descending from the window of his castle at a cry of fire, without the usual alarm from the sentries; by which his excellency is the first out of danger, with the hackneyed tink a tinka of the Mountaineers, and which has been renewed in almost every new musical entertainment since, to fascinate, with the attitudes of the graceful Decamp, the dramatic censors into gentleness and peace; yet, oh nature ! without thy help, what would all the dress and fancy of art avail? one incident from thy choice store of materials can conquer the heart in a moment, and make the sternest critic yield; the child of the marquis is hurled into the stream, which incident alone, would have occasioned more of horror than of any other sensation; but the heart is enwrapt in delight and love for the trusty faithful animal, who at his master's cali plunges into the flood, and brings the infant safe to
land. One feels a desire to call out " bravo," and to pat the honest animal on the head.
I cannot conceive by what species of jealousy, or narrowness of mind, the faithful Carlo was not included in the Dram. Pers. I know very well the strict etiquette among performers, as to where each, according to his rank, is to be placed in the play-bill, yet I think that the poor honest dog might have been permitted to have followed his master; certainly his merits are as great as any other performer, he plays true to nature, catches genuine applause, makes no long unjust pauses before he makes his leap to prepossess the audience with what he is going to do, and trusts to nature alone for success. Certainly the dog might afford some lessons of good acting to the performers of the present day,
TO THE MAN IN THE MOON.
Ter. Andr. Act 1. sc. 1.
“ Having felt the inconvenience of being addicted in conversation to the use of any favourite or particular expression, I take this opportunity of warningothers from the same practice, and to request your advice how I myself may avoid it in future. My obnoxious phrase is—if in case—;" and my friends tell me, that I cannot express two ideas together without introducing it to their great annoyance. I have been in the constant use of this sentence from my school days; ;
and though I could never yet discover any mischief it has done to others, I feel very sensibly, to this moment, its effects on myself; for I had once a whimsical old uncle, with whom, in other respects, I was a favourite, but to whom the use of my favourite phrase was so disagreeable, that he promised to make me his sole heir, if in case I would leave it off. For some time before his death I succeeded to my wishes, and believe I did not use it in his hearing for the last six months of his life, till the day before his death; when I most unfortunately stumbled on my old habit again, by informing him how great would be my grief if in case he should die. The old man was as good as his word. He immediately sent for his lawyer, and altered his will in favour of my younger brother, who, he was sure, would never offend the world by the use of that, or any other particular phrase, being both deaf and dumb. Such is my fate; and if in case you can make use of it in your lectures for the benefit of any fellow sinner in this particular, you are welcome to do it.
so I am, &c.
« T. D."
I cannot but think my correspondent was too se. verely punished for his little failing, and take his word for the singularity of his uncle's character: yet as our passing with the world depends on the aggregate of a thousand little things, I beg leave to caution my readers against a similar practice. I once knew a man whose favourite word was “ probably”; and he, like my correspondent T. D. could not express two ideas together without making use of it. Indeed it came so