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perceive, that here their marked approba. tion of any passage, excited some degree of attention in the great people, who fat in the little pews above them: and al. though among these great people, some appeared to regard the Natac, as little as the fermon, talking and whispering, al. most as much at the theatre, as they had done in church ; yet the performance was here, in general, much better attended to by all who had the enjoyment of their fenses. You will think this a strange exception--but you must know, that a part of the royal theatre, is peculiarly appropriated to the reception of a species of lunatics, called Bucks, who are indeed, very noisy and troublesome; but who are created with an amazing degree of lenity and forbearance, by the benevolent people, who bestow upon them the pity that is due to their unhappy situation. :: · Great part of the entertainment feemed, indeed, calculated for their amusement, as it is well known that the eye can be gratified by the display of gaudy colours, even where the mind is deftitute of the gift of reason. This respect to folly, was, however, in my opinion, carried too far; and though I should have been well pleased to have seen the grown children amused, by the exhibition of a few showy pictures and other mummery, I could
not approve of turning the infirmities of old age into ridicule, for their amusement. I had foolishly thought that all Englith plays were like the plays of Shakspeare; but, alas! I begin to apprehend, that they are not all quite so good! instead of those portraits of the passions, which Nature spontaneously acknowledges for her own, I only see exagge. rated representations of transient and incidental folly.' Whether it be owing to the peculiar taste of the exalted Omrah, whole office it is to examine the merits of the Natacs that are performed by his Majesty's servants, or to the limited genius of modern Poets, I know not, but it appears evident, that all dramatic writers in this country, are now confined to one plot : A foolish old man devoted to avarice, has a daughter that is petulant and disobedient, or a son of the same character; perhaps, two or three of these old men, differing from each other in the size and shape of the covering of the head, called Wigs, are brought into the same piece, together with an old unmarried fister, who always believes herself to be young and handsome. After the young people have for some time exercised their ingenuity in deceiving the vigilance of the old ones, and have fuccessfully exposed to public ridicule, the
bodily infirmities and mental failings of their several parents, they are paired for marriage, and thus the piece cona cludes. This composition is called a Sentimental Comedy, and is succeeded by what is termed a, Farce. In the Farce, bis Majesty's servants make faces, and perform many droll tricks for the diverfion of the audience, who seem particularly pleased with their exertions in this way, which they applaud with repeated peals of laughter. - And surely, it niuft be highly gratifying to the imperial mind, to see the people pleased at fo cheap a rate.
The first time I went to the theatre, was, as I bave already informed you, in company with Miss Ardent, who was much disappointed, that the illness of the royal servants should have prevented the reprefentation of a new piece, written by an Englith officer in the service of the East India Company, which, in the opinion of this Lady, is a piece of much intrinsic merit. It is taken from the history of Zingis, and adorned with the terror-striking spirit of Zamouca, which blazes throughout the whole of the performance; to me, I must confess, the presentation of such a piece would have been more charming, thập either the lesson of morality, given in the sentimental comedy, or the fooleries of the farce; but I was informed by Miss Ardent, that I must be cautious how I give utterance to fuch an opinion, as nothing is now deemed so barbarous as the energy of good senfe.-" If your highness would have the people of this country,” continued she, “ entertain a good idea of your taste, you must give all your admiration to hollow, but highfounding sentiment. Sentiment, and fingsong, are the fashion of the day. That is is so, we are much indebted to the care and talents of our modern Bards, who by such compositions as the present, spoil and contaminate the national takte:“? " Pardon me," cried a gentlemen, who ftood by, “ but in my opinion, the stage does not so much form, as reflect the na. tional taste. Poetry has always reached her maturity, while her votaries were in a semi-barbarous state : with the progress of civilization; she has gradually declined ; and if we take the rapidity of her decay in this country as the criterion of our refinement, we may proudly pronounce ourselves one of the most polished nations of the earth!"-Miss Ardent's carriage being announced, put an end to the conversation; but before she ftept into it, she invited me to dine with her on the following day. 6 What !” you will say, “a single, unprotected woman
invite you to her house? --Shameful vio lation of decorum!"-But consider, my friend-custom, that mighty legislator, who issues the laws of propriety to the different nations of the earth, maketh that appear amiable and proper in the eyes of the people of one country, which in those of another, is criminal and absurd : and so easily doth custom reconcile us to her capricious decrees, that I received the invitation, and went to the house of Miss Ardent, with a's little perturbation as if she had been a gentleman in petti. coats.
She received me in an apartment devoted to literature and contemplation, from which it takes the name of sudy; the walls of the room were lined with books, all shining in coats of gloffy leather, richly ornamented with leaf of gold. That pains which in Afia is bestowed in decorating the illuminated page, being in England, all given to the outside covering, which, it must be confessed, gives to the study a very splendid appearance.
Two gentlemen had arrived before me, and were already engaged in conversation,-Thefe, as Miss Ardent informed me in a wbisper, were great critics. The word was new to me, and I did not choose to ask for an explanation, but seeing a huge book upon the table, which I