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Sir John Chardin; that gentleman, after having told us,
that the inns which receive the caravans in Persia, and the eastern countries, are called by the name of caravansaries, gives us a relation to the following purpose:
A dervise, travelling through Tartary, being arrived at the town of Balk, went into the king's palace by mistake, as thinking it to be a public inn or caravansary. Having looked about him for some time, he entered into a long gallery, where he laid down his wallet, and spread his carpet, in order to repose himself upon it, after the manner of the eastern nations. He had not been long in this posture before he was discovered by some of the guards, who asked him what was his business in that place? The dervise told them he intended to take up his night's lodging in that caravansary.
The guards let him know, in a very angry manner, that the house he was in was not a caravansary, but the king's palace. It happened that the king himself passed through the gallery during this debate, and smiling at the mistake of the dervise, asked him how he could possibly be so dull as not to distinguish a palace from a caravansary? “Sir,' says the dervise,
give me leave to ask your majesty a question or two. Who were the persons that lodged in this house when it was first built?' The king replied, • His ancestors. “And who,' says the dervise,
was the last person that lodged here?' The king replied, “His father.' . And who is it,' says the dervise, “that lodges here at present?” The king told him that it was he himself. 6 And who, says the dervise, will be here after you?' The king ansivered, “ The young prince his son.
“Ah, sir,' said the dervise, a house that changes its inhabitants so often, and receives such a perpetual succession of guests, is not a palace, but a caravansary.'
No. 290. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1.
Projicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba.
The players, who know I am very much their friend, take all opportunities to express a gratitude to me for being so. They could not have a better occasion of obliging me than one which they lately took hold of. They desired my friend, Will Honeycomb, to bring me to the reading of a new tragedy; it is called The Distressed Mother. I must confess, though some days.are passed since I enjoyed that entertainment, the passions of the several characters dwell strongly upon my imagination; and I congratulate the age, that they are at last to see truth and human life represented in the incidents which concern heroes and heroines. The style of the play is such as becomes those of the first education, and the sentiments worthy those of the highest figure. It was a most exquisite pleasure to me, to observe real tears drop from the eyes of those who had long made it their profession to dissemble affliction; and the player who read, frequently threw down the book, till he had given vent to the humanity which rose in him at some irre
sistible touches of the imagined sorrow. We have seldom had any female distress on the stage, which did not, upon cool examination, appear to flow from the weakness rather than the misfortune of the person represented: but in this tragedy you are not entertained with the ungoverned passions of such as are enamoured of each other merely as they are men and women, but their regards are founded upon high conceptions of each other's virtue and merit; and the character which gives name to the play, is one who has behaved herself with heroic virtue in the most important circumstances of a female life, those of a wife, a widow, and a mother. If there be those whose minds have been too attentive upon the affairs of life, to have any notion of the passion of love in such extremes as are known only to particular tempers, yet in the abovementioned considerations, the sorrow of the heroine will move even the generality of mankind. Domestic virtues concern all the world, and there is no one living who is not interested that Andromache should be an imitable character. The generous affection to the memory of her deceased husband, that tender care for her son, which is ever heightened with the consideration of his father, and these regards preserved in spite of being tempted with the possession of the highest greatness, are what can not but be venerable even to such an audience as at present frequents the English theatre. My friend, Will Iloneycomb, commended several tender things that were said, and told me they were very genteel; but whispered me, that he feared the piece was not busy enough for the present taste. To supply this, he recommended to the players to be very careful in their scenes, and above all things, that every part should be perfectly new dressed. I was very glad to find that they did not neglect my friend's admonition, because there are a great many in this class of criticism who may be gained by it; but indeed the truth is, that as to the work itself, it is every where nature. The persons are of the highest quality in life, even that of princes; but their quality is not represented by the poet, with directions that guards and waiters should follow them in every scene, but their grandeur appears in greatness of sentiments, flowing from minds worthy their condition. To make a character truly great, this author understands that it should have its foundation in superior thoughts and maxims of conduct. It is very certain, that many an honest woman would make no difficulty, though she had been the wife of Hector, for the sake of a kingdom to marry the enemy of her husband's family and country; and indeed who can deny but she might be still an honest woman, but no heroine? That may be defensible, nay laudable, in one character, which would be in the highest degree exceptionable in another. When Cato Uticensis killed himself, Cottius, a Roman of ordinary quality and character, did the same thing: upon which one said, smiling, Cottius might have lived, though Cæsar has seized the Roman liberty.' Cottius's condition inight have been the same, let things at the upper end of the world pass as they would. What is further very extraordinary in this work is, that the persons are all of them laudable, and their misfortunes arise rather from unguarded virtue than propensity to vice. The town has an upportunity of doing itself justice in supporting the representations of passion, sorrow, indignation, even despair itself, within the rules of decency, honour, and good breeding: and since there is no one can flatter himself his life will be always fortunate, they may here see sorrow, as they would wish to bear whenever it ves.
I am appointed to act a part in the new tragedy called The Distressed Mother: it is the celebrated grief of Orestes which I am to personate: but I shall not act it as l ought; for I shall feel it too intimately to be able to utter it. I was last nigặt repeating a paragraph to myself, which I took to be an expression of rage, and in the middle of the sentence there was a stroke of self-pity, which quite unmanned me. Be pleased, sir, to print this letter, that, when I am oppressed in this manner at such an interval, a certain part of the audience may not think I am out; and I hope, with this allowance, to do it with satisfaction.
"I am, Sir,
6 MR. SPECTATOR,
As I was walking t'other day in the Park, I saw a gentleman with a very short face; 1 desire to know whether it was you. Pray inform me as soon as you can, lest I become the most heroic Hecatissa's rival. - Your humble servant to command,