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En oration, which my correfpondent is defirous fhould appear in print, though he had not fufficient confidence to deliver it at the Inquifition.


Whether the Stage might not be made more conducive to Virtue and Morality?


THE ancient drama had, we know, a religious as well as political view; and was defigned to inspire the audience with a reverence to the gods and a love to their country. Our own ftage, upon particular occafions, has been made to answer the fame ends. Thus we may remember, during the last rebellion, befides the loyalty of the fiddles in the Orcheftra, we were infpired with a deteltation of the Pope and Pretender by the Nonjuror, the Jefuit Caught, Perkin Warbeck, or the Popish Impoftor, and fuch other politico-religious dramas.

But there is a fpecies of the drama, which has not yet been mentioned by any of the gentlemen who have fpoke to the question, and which is very deficient in point of moral: I mean, Pantomimes. Mr. Law has been very fevere on the impiety of reprefenting heathen gods and goddeffes before a truly Chriftian audience: and to this we may add, that Harlequin is but a wicked fort of fellow, and is always running after the girls. For my part, I have often blushed to fee this impudent rake endea. vouring to creep up Columbine's petticoats, and at other times patting her neck, and laying his legs upon her lap. Nobody will fay, indeed, that there is much virtue or morality in thefe entertainments: though it must be confeffed to the honour of our neighbouring houfe

here, that the Necromancer and the Sor cerer, after having played many unchriftian pranks upon the ftage, are at laft fairly fent to the devil. I would therefore recommend it to our pantomime-writers, that instead of the Pantheon, or lewd comèdies, they would take their fubjects from fome old gar land, moral ballad, or penny hiftory book. Suppose, for example, they were to give us the ftory of Patient Grizzle in dumb fhew; setting forth, as how a noble lord fell in love with her, 'as he was hunting;-and there you might have the fcene of the Spinning Wheel, and the fong of the Early Horn;and as how, after many trials of her patience, which they might represent by inachinery, this lord at last married her;

and then you may have à grand temple and a dance. The other house have already revived the good old ftory of Fortunatus's Withing-cap; and as they are fond of introducing little children in their entertainments, fuppofe they were to exhibit a pantomime of the Three Children in the Wood;-'twould be vaftly pretty to fee the paste-board robin-red-breaits let down by wires upon the tage to cover the poor innocent babes with paper leaves. But if they must have Fairies and Genii, I would advise them to take their ftories out of that pretty little book called the Fairy Tales. I am fure, instead of oftriches, dogs, horfes, lions, monkeys, &c. we should be full as well pleafed to fee the Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood; and we should laugh vaftly at the adventures of Pufs in Boots. I need not point out the excellent moral, which would be inculcated by representations of this kind; and I am confident they would meet with the deferved applaufe of all the old women and children in both galleries.






T this feafon of the year it has always been customary for the lower part of the world to express their grati

tude to their benefactors; while fome of a more elevated genius among them clothe their thoughts in a kind of holi

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day drefs, and once in the year rife into poets. Thus the bellman bids good night to all his masters and miftreffes in couplets; the news-carrier hawks his own verfes; and the very lamp-lighter addresses his worthy customers in rhyme. As a fervant to the public, I fhould be wanting in due refpect to my readers, if I alfo did not take this earliest opportunity of paying them the compliments of the featon, and (in the phrafe of their barbers, taylors, fhoemakers, and other tradefmen) with them a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Thofe old-fashioned mortals, who have been accustomed to look upon this feafon with extraordinary devotion, I leave to con over the explanation of it in Nelfon: it fhall at prefent be my bufinefs to fhew the different methods of celebrating it in thefe kingdoms. With the generality, Christmas is looked upon as a feftival in the moft literal fenfe, and held facred by good eating and drinking. Thefe, indeed, are the most diftinguishing marks of Chriftmas: the revenue from the malt-tax and the duty upon wines, &c. on account of thefe twelve days, has always been found to increase confiderably: and it is impoffible to conceive the flaughter that is made among the poultry and the hogs in different parts of the country, to furnish the prodigious numbers of turkeys and chines, and collars of brawn, that travel up, as prefents, to the metropolis on this occafion. The jolly cit looks upon this joyous time of feafting with as much pleature as on the treat of a new-elected alderman, or a lord-mayor's day. Nor can the country farmer rail more against the Game-act, than many worthy citizens, who have ever fince been debarred of their annual hare; while their ladies can never enough regret their lofs of the opportunity of difplaying their skill, in making a moft excellent pudding in the belly. But thefe notable houfe-wives have ftill the confolation of hearing their guests commend the mincepies without meat, which we are affured were made at home, and not like the ordinary heavy things from the pastrycooks. Thefe good people would, indeed, look upon the abfence of mincepies as the highest violation of Chriftmas; and have remarked with concern the difregard that has been fhewn of late years to that Old English repaft: for this excellent British Olio is as effen

tial to Chriftmas, as pancakes to Shrove Tuesday, tanfy to Eafter, furmity to Midlent Sunday, or goofe to Michaelmas Day. And they think it no wonder, that our finical gentry should be fo loofe in their principles, as well as weak in their bodies, when the folid fubftantial Proteftant mince-pie has given place among them to the Roman Catholic Amulets, and the light, puffy, heterodox Pets de Religieufes.

As this feafon ufed formerly to be welcomed in with more than usual jollity in the country, it is probable that the Christmas remeinbrances, with which the waggons and stage-coaches are at this time loaded, firft took their rife from the laudable custom of diftributing provisions at this fevere quarter of the year to the poor. But thele presents are now feldom fent to those who are really in want of them, but are defigned as compliments to the great from their inferiors, and come chiefly from the tenant to his rich landlord, or from the rector of a fat living, as a kind of tythe to his patron. Nor is the old hofpitable Englifh cuftom, of keeping open house for the poor neighbourhood, any longer regarded. We might as foon expect to fee plum-porridge fill a terrene at the ordinary at White's, as that the lord of the manor fhould affemble his poor tenants to make merry at the great house. The fervants now fwill the Chriftmas ale by themselves in the hall, while the fquire gets drunk, with his brother fox-hunters, in the fmoking-room.

There is no rank of people fo heartily rejoiced at the arrival of this joyful feafon, as the order of fervants, journeymen, apprentices, and the lower fort of people in general. No mafter or miftrefs is fo rigid, as to refuse them an holiday; and, by remarkable good luck, the fame circumftance which gives them an opportunity of diverting themselves, procures them money to fupport it by the tax which cuftom has impofed upon us in the article of Christmas Boxes. The butcher and the baker fend their journeymen and apprentices to levy contributions on their customers, which are paid back again in the usual fees to Mr. John and Mrs. Mary. This ferves the tradefman as a pretence to lengthen out his bill, and the mafter and mistress to lower the wages on account of the vails. The Chriftmas Box was formerly the bounty of well,difpofed people, who


were willing to contribute fomething towards rewarding the industrious, and supplying them with neceffaries. But the gift is now almost demanded as a right; and our journeymen, apprentices, c. are grown fo polite, that instead of referving their Christmas Box for it's original ufe, their ready cash ferves them only for prefent pocket-money; and inftead of vifiting their friends and relations, they commence the fine gentlemen of the week. The fixpenny hop is crouded with ladies and gentlemen from the kitchen; the Syrens of Catherine Street charm many a holiday gallant into their fnares; and the playhoufes are filled with beaux, wits, and critics, from Cheapfide and Whitechapel. The barrows are furrounded with raw lads fetting their halfpence against oranges; and the greafy cards and dirty cribbage-board employ the genteeler gamefters in every alehoufe. A merry Christmas has ruined many a promifing young fellow, who has been flush of money at the beginning of the week, but before the end of it has committed a robbery on the till for more.

But in the midft of this general feftivity, there are some fo far from giving into any extraordinary meriment, that they feem more gloomy than ufual, and appear with faces as difmal as the month in which Christmas is celebrated. I have heard a plodding citizen moft grievously complain of the great expence of houfekeeping at this feafon, when his own and his wife's relations claim the privilege of kindred to eat him out of house and home. Then again, confidering the prefent total decay of trade, and the great load of taxes, it is a fhame, they think, that poor fhopkeepers thould be fo fleeced and plundered, under the pretence of Christmas Boxes. But if tradefmen have any reafon to murmur at Christmas, many of their customers, on the other hand, tremble at it's approach; and it is made a fanction to every petty mechanic, to break in upon their joy, and disturb a gentleman's rep:fe at this time, by bringing in his bill.

Others who used to be very merry at

this feafon, have within this year or two been quite difconcerted. To put them out of their old way, is to put them out of humour: they have therefore quarrelled with the almanack, and refufe to keep their Chriftmas according to act of parliament. My coufin Village informs me, that this obftinacy is very common in the country; and that many ftill perfift in waiting eleven days for their mirth, and defer their Christmas till the blowing of the Glaftonbury Thorn. In fome, indeed, this cavilling with the calendar has been only the refult of clofe œconomy; who, by evading the expence of keeping Christmas with the rest of the world, find means to neglect it, when the general time of celebrating it is over. Many have availed themselves of this expedient: and I am acquainted with a couple, who are enraged at the New Style on another account; because it puts them to double expences, by robbing them of the opportunity of keep ing Christmas Day and their Wedding Day at the fame time.

As to perfons of fashion, this annual carnival is worfe to them than Lent, or the empty town in the middle of fummer. The boisterous merriment, and aukward affectation of politeness among the vulgar, interrupts the course of their refined pleasures, and drives them out of town for the holidays. The few who remain are very much at a lofs how to difpofe of their time; for the theatres at this feafon are opened only for the reception of school-boys and apprentices, and there is no public place where a perfon of fashion can appear without being furrounded with the dirty inhabitants of St. Giles's, and the brutes from the Wapping fide of Westminster. Thefe unhappy fufferers are really to be pitied: and fince Christmas Day has, to perfons of diftinction, a great deal of infipidity about it, I cannot enough applaud an ingenious lady, who fent cards round to all her acquaintance, inviting them to a rout on that day; which they declared was the happiest thought in the world, because Christmas Day is fo much like Sunday,


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Elections and Double Returns being at present the general topic of difcourfe, a fubject in which the ladies, methinks, are but little concerned, I have a scheme to propofe to you in their behalf, which I doubt not but you, as their profeffed patron, will ufe your eloquence to recommend, and your authority to enforce. It has long been a matter of real concern to every well-wisher to the fair fex, that the men fhould be allowed the free choice of reprefentatives, to whom they can make every real or pretended grievance known, while the women are deprived of the fame privilege; when in reality they have many grievances utterly unknown and unthought of by the men, and which cannot be redreffed but by a Female Parliament.

I do not, indeed, pretend to the honour of first projecting this fcheme, fince an affembly of this nature has been propofed before: but as it appears to me fo neceffary, I would advise that writs be immediately iffued out for calling a ParJiament of Women, which for the future hould affemble every winter, and be diffolved every third year. My reafon for fhortening the time of their fitting proceeds from the reflection, that full as much business will be done, at least as many fpeeches will be made, by women in three years, as by men in feven. To this affembly every county and city in England fhall fend two members; but from this privilege I would utterly exclude every borough, as we fhall prefently fee that they can have no bufinefs o tranfact there. But as I would have

their number at least equal to that of the other parliament, the deficiency fhould be fupplied by the fquares and great streets at the court end of the town, each of which fhould be reprefented by one of their own inhabitants. In humble imitation of the Houfes of Lords and Commons, the ladies of peers (whether fpiritual or temporal) fhould fit here in their own right, the others by election only; any woman to be qualified, whose husband, or even whole father (for I would by no means exclude the unmarried ladies) is qualified to be chofen into the other. In the fame manner, whatever entitles the hufband or father to vote at that election, fhould entitle his wife or daughter to vote at this.

Having fettled this point, it now remains to adjust the fubjects which they are to treat of: and thefe we fhall find to be, indeed, of the last importance. What think you, Sir, of the rife and fall of fashions, of as much confequence to them as the rife and fall of kingdoms is to us? of the commencing a new acquaintance, equivalent to our making a new alliance? and adjusting the ceremonial of a rout or a ball, as interefting as the preliminaries of a treaty or a con grefs? Thefe fubjects, and thefe alone, will fufficiently employ them every fef fion; and as their judgment must be final, how delightful will it be to have bills brought in to determine how many inches of the leg or neck may lawfully be expofed, how many curtfies at a public place amount to an acquaintance, and what are the precife privileges of birth or fortune that entitle the poffeffors to give routs or drums, on weekdays or on Sundays. Whoever fhould prefuzie to tranfgrefs against thefe laws,

might be punished fuitably to their offences; and be banished from public places, or condemned to do penance in linfey-woolfey: or if any female fhould be convicted of immodefty, fhe might be outlawed; and then (as thefe laws would not bind the nymphs of Drury) we fhould easily diftinguifh a modeft woman, as the phrafe is, if not by her looks, at least by her drefs and appear ance; and the victorious Fanny might then be fuffered to strike bold strokes, without rivalry or imitation. If any man 100 fhould be found fo grofsly offending against the laws of fashion, as to refufe a member a bow at a play, or a falute at a wedding, how fuitably would he be punished by being reprimanded on his knees in fuch an affembly, and by fo fine a woman as we may fuppofe the fpeaker would be? Then doubtless would a grand committee fit on the affairs of hoops; and were they eftablished in their prefent form by proper authority, doors and boxes might be altered and enlarged accordingly then should we talk as familiarly of the visit-bill as of the marriage-bill; and with what pleasure should we peruse the regulations of the committee of drefs? Every lover of decorum would be pleafed to hear, that refractory females were taken into cuftody by the ufher of the black fan; the double return of a vifit would occafion as many debates as the double return for a certain county; and at the eve of an election, how pretty would it be to fee the ladies of the thire going about, mounted on their white palfreys, and canvaffing for votes.

Till this great purpofe is attained, I fee not how the vifible enormities in point of drefs, and failures in point of ceremony, can effectually be prevented. But then, and not before, I fhall hope to fee politenefs and good breeding diffinguished from formality and affectation, and dreffes invented that will improve, not diminish the charms of the fair, and rather become than difguife the wearers. I am, Sir, yours, &c.


I am much obliged to my correfpondent for his letter, and heartily with that this fcheme was carried into execution. The liberties daily taken in point of dress demand proper reftrictions. The ancients fettled their national habit by law; but the dress of our own coun

try is fo very fluctuating, that if the great grandmothers of the prefent generation were to rife, they would not be able to guess at their pofterity from their dress, but would fancy themselves in a ftrange country. As thefe affairs fall more immediately under the cognizance of the ladies, the female world in general would foon be fenfible of the advantages accruing from a Female Parliament; and though ladies of fashion might probably claim fome peculiar li berties in drefs by their privilege, it might naturally be expected, that this wife affembly would at least keep the reft of the fex in order; nor fuffer enormous hoops to spread themselves across the whole pavement, to the detriment of all honeft men going upon business along the ftreet; nor permit the chandler's wife to retail half-quarterns from behind the counter, in a fhort ftomacher and without a handkerchief.

I am aware that a confiderable objection may be brought against this scheme: to wit, that a Female Parliament (like thofe of the men) may be fubject to corruption, and made dependant on a court. The enormous Elizabeth Ruff, and the ankward Queen of Scots Mob, are fatal inftances of the evil influence which courts have upon fashions: and as no one can tell the power which a British Queen might have over the councils of a

Female Parliament, future ages might perhaps fee the itays bolstered out into hump-backs, or the petticoats let down to conceal a bandy leg, from the fame fervile complaifance which warped the necks of Alexander's courtiers.

But though a Parliament on the foregoing fcheme has not yet taken place, an institution of the like nature has been contrived among that order of females, who (as I mentioned in a former paper) advertise for gentlemen to play at cards with them. The reader may remember, that fome time ago an advertisement appeared in the public papers, from the Covent Garden Society; in which it was fet forth, that one of their members was voted common. This very Society is compofed of thefe Agreeable Young Ladies, whofe bufinels it is to play at cards with thofe gentlemen, who have good-nature and fortune fufficient to fit down contented with being lofers. It is divided, like the upper and lower Houfes of Parliament, into Ladies and Commons. The upper order of Card


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