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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 ail English plays were like the plays of Shakspeare; but, alas ! I begin to apprehead that they are not all quite so good l instead of those portraits of the passions, which Nature spontaneously acknowledges for her own, I only see exaggerated representations of transient and incidental folly. Whether it be owing to the peculiar taste of the exalted Omrah, whose office it is to examine the merits of the Natacks 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 dramatick writers in this country are now confined to one plot: A foolish old man devoted to a varice, has a daughter that is petulant and disobedient, or a sou 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 sister, 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 successfully exposed to publick ridicule the bodily infirmities and mental failings of their several parents, they are paired for marriage, and thus the piece concludes. This composition is called a Sentimental Comedy, and is succeeded by what is termed a Farce. In the Farce, his Majesty's servants make faces, and perform many droll tricks for the diversion of the audience, who seem particularly pleased with their exertions in this way, which they applaud with repeated peals of laughter.— And, surely, it must be highly gratifying to the imperial mind, to see the people pleased at so cheap a rate. The first time I went to the theatre was, as I have already informed you, in company

with Miss Ardent, who was much disappointed that the illness of the royal servants should have prevented the representation of a new piece, written by an English officer in the service of the East India Company, which, in the opinion of this Lady, is a piece of much intrinsick 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 than 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 such an opinion, as nothing is now deemed so barbarous as the energy of good sense.—“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 high-sounding sentiment. Sentiment and sing-song are the fashion of WOL. II. 10 *

the day. That it 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 taste.” “Pardon me,” cried a gentleman who stood by, “but in my opinion, the stage does not so much form, as reflect the national taste. Poetry has always reached her maturity, while her votaries were in a semibarbarous 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 stept into it, she invited me to dine with her on the following day. “What t” you will say, “a single, unprotected woman, invite you to her house?–Shameful violation 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 crimit mal 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 as little perturbation as if she had been a gentleman in petticoats. She received me in an apartment devoted to literature and contemplation, from which it takes the name of study : the walls of the room were lined with books, all shining in coats of glossy leather, richly ornamented with leaf of gold. That pains which in Asia 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 gentleman had arrived before me, and were already engaged in conversation. —These, as Miss Ardent informed me in a whisper, were great Criticks. The word

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