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call to be older than Thespis, and is apt to think it appeared in the world soon after the ancient comedy; for which reason it has still a place in our dramatic entertainments : nor must I here omit what a very curious gentleman, who is lately returned from his travels, has more than once assured me, namely, that there was lately dug up at Rome the statue of a Momus, who holds an instrument in his right-hand very much resembling our modern cat-call.
There are others who ascribe this invention to Orpheus, and look upon the cat-call to be one of those instruments which that famous musician made use of to draw the beasts about him. It is certain, that the roasting of a cat does not call together a greater audience of that species, than this instrument, if dexterously played upon in proper time and place.
But notwithstanding these various and learned conjectures, I cannot forbear thinking that the cat-call is originally a piece of English music. Its resemblance to the voice of some of our Bri. tish songsters, as well as the use of it, which is peculiar to our nation, confirms me in this opinion. It has at least received great improvements among us, whether we consider the instrument itself, or those several quavers and graces which are thrown into the playing of it. Every one might be sensible of this, who heard that remarkable over-grown cat-call which was placed in the centre of the pit, and presided over all the rest at the cele. brated performance lately exhibited in Drury-lanc.
Having said thus much concerning the original of the cat-call, we are in the next place to consider the use of it. The cat-call exerts itself to most advantage in the British theatre : it very much improves the sound of nonsense, and often goes along with the voice of the actor who pronounces it, as the violin or harpsi. cord accompanies the Italian recitativo.
It has often supplied the place of the ancient chorus, in the words of Mr. ***.! In short, a bad poet has as great an antipathy to a cat-call, as many people bave to a real cat.
Mr. Collier, in his ingenious essay upon music, has the following passage :
'I believe it is possible to invent an instrument that shall have a quite contrary effect to those martial ones now in use : an instrument that shall sink the spirits, and shake the nerves, and curdle the blood, and inspire despair, and cowardice, and consternation, at a surprising rate. It is probable the roaring of a lion, the warbling of cats and screech-owls, together with a mixture of the howling of dogs, judiciously imitated and compounded, might go a great way in this invention. Whether such anti-music as this might not be of service in a camp, I shall leave to the military men to consider.'
What this learned gentleman supposes in speculation, I have known actually verified in practice. The cat-call has struck a damp into generals, and frighted heroes off the stage. At the first sound of it I have seen a crowned head tremble, and a princess fall into fits. The humorous lieutenant himself could not stand it; nay, I am told that even Almanzor looked like a mouse, and trembled at the voice of this terrifying instrument.
As it is of a dramatic nature, and peculiarly appropriated to the stage, I can by no means approve the thought of that angry lover, who, after an unsuccessful pursuit of some years, took leave of his mistress in a serenade of cat-calls.
I must conclude this paper with the account I have lately received of an ingenious artist, who has long studied this instrument, and is very well versed in all the rules of the drama. He teaches to play on it by book, and to express by it the whole art of criticism. He has his base and his treble cat-call; the former for tragedy, the latter for comedy; only in tragicomedies they may both play together in consort. He has a particular squeak to denote the violation of each of the unities, and has different sounds to shew whether he aims at the poet or the player. In short, ho teaches the smut-note, the fustian-note, the stupid-note, and has composed a kind of air that may serve as an act-tune to an incorrigible play, and which takes in the whole compass of the cat-call.
* Not being yet determined with whose name to fill up the gap in this dissertation which is noted with asterisks, I shall defer it until this paper appears with others in a volume. Spect. in folio, No. 361.-C.
No. 367. THURSDAY, MAY 1.
- --Perituræ parcite chartæ.
Juv. Sat. 1. 18.
I have often pleased myself with considering the two kinds of benefits which accrue to the public from these my Speculations, and which, were I to speak after the manner of logicians, I would distinguish into the material and the formal. By the latter I understand those advantages which my readers receive, as their minds are either improved or delighted by these my daily labours; but having already several times descanted on my endeavours in this light, I shall at present wholly confine myself to the consideration of the former. By the word material I mean those benefits which arise to the public from these my Speculations, as they consume a considerable quantity of our paper manufacture, employ our artisans in printing, and find business for great numbers of indigent persons.
Our paper-manufacture takes into it several mean materials
which could be put to no other use, and affords work for several hands in the collecting of them, which are incapable of any other employment. Those poor retailers, whom we see so busy in every street, deliver in their respective gleanings to the merchant. The merchant carries them in loads to the paper-mill, where they pass through a fresh set of hands, and give life to another trade. Those who have mills on their estates by this means considerably raise their rents, and the whole nation is in a great measure supplied with a manufacture, for which formerly she was obliged to her neighbours.
The materials are no sooner wrought into paper, but they are distributed among the presses, where they again set innumerable artists at work, and furnish business to another mystery. From hence, accordingly as they are stained with news or politics, they fly through the town in Post-men, Post-boys, Daily Courants, Reviews, Medleys, and Examiners. Men, women, and children, contend who shall be the first bearers of them, and get their daily sustenance by spreading them. In short, when I trace in my mind a bundle of rags to a quire of Spectators, I find so many hands employed in every step they take through their whole progress, that while I am writing a Spectator, I fancy myself providing bread for a multitude.
If I do not take care to obviate some of my witty readers, they will be apt to tell me, that my paper, after it is thus printed and published, is still beneficial to the public on several occasions. I must confess I have lighted my pipe with my own works for this twelvemonth past: my landlady often sends up her little daughter to desire some of my old Spectators, and has frequently told me, that the paper they are printed on is the best in the world to wrap spice in. They likewise make a good foundation for a mutton.pie, as I have more than once experienced, and were very much sought for last Christmas by the whole neighbourhood.
It is pleasant enough to consider the changes that a linen fragment undergoes, by passing through the several hands abovementioned. The finest pieces of Holland, when torn to tatters, assume a new whiteness more beautiful than their first, and often return in the shape of letters to their native country. A lady's shift may be metamorphosed into billet-doux, and come into her possession a second time. A beau may peruse his cravat after it is worn out, with greater pleasure and advantage than ever he did in a glass. In a word, a piece of cloth, after having officiated for some years as a towel or a napkin, may by this means be raised from a dunghill, and become the most valuable piece of furniture in a prince's cabinet.
The politest nations of Europe have endeavoured to vie with one another for the reputation of the finest printing : absolute governments, as well as republics, have encouraged an art which seems to be the noblest and most beneficial that was ever invented among the sons of men. The present king of France, in his pur. suits after glory, has particularly distinguished himself by the promoting of this useful art, insomuch that several books have been printed in the Louvre at his own expence, upon which he sets so great a value, that he considers them as the noblest pre. sents he can make to foreign princes and ambassadors. If we look into the commonwealths of Holland and Venice, we shall find that in this particular they have made themselves the envy of the greatest monarchies. Elzevir and Aldus are more frequently mentioned than any pensioner of the one or doge of the other
The several presses which are now in England, and the great encouragement which has been given to learning for some years last past, has made our own nation as glorious upon this account, as for its late triumphs and conquests. The new edition which is