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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF
MR. COLLINS. THOMAS COLLINS, son to the conductor of several respectable theatres in the west of England, viz. Southampton, Portsmouth, Winchester, Chichester, 8c was born in the city last mentioned, in the year 1775. His father, unwilling to encourage the inclination he, at a very early period, manifested for the stage, placed him under the tuition of Mr. Brooks, a performer of some eminence on che violin, and leader of the band in the Bath orchestra. This arrangement was but indifferently calculated for the object in view. Like Emery, who was similarly situated, he felt a stronger desire to sing to the fiddle than to play it; and was no sooner released from his apprenticeship, than he made his appearance in his native city, as an actor, in 1793, in Young Philpot, in the Citizen. He became immediately a favourite in his father's circuit, and filled a very extensive line of comic business. Mr. Sheridan, some time since, had an opportunity of seeing him perform several characters, at the Winchester theatre; and judging very favourably of his talents, uffered him a situation at Drury Lane, where he made bis appearance, in the month of October, 1802, in the characters of Jabal, in the Jew, and Robin Roughhead, in the farce of Fortune's Frolick. He was received with uncommon warmth by the audience; and every new character seems to display his talents in a stronger light. Indeed, very few young actors have made so rapid a progress in the good opinion of the public.
AUGUSTUS possesses much more policy than his uncle. Cæsar was continually reminding the Senate of their nonentity. Augustus, on the other hand, is never weary of expatiating on the virtue and power of the fathers, and the high veneration he entertains for their opinion. Under the semblance of this regard, I find, he disposes the mind of the Senate to whatever he thinks requisite to his pleasure or his interest. Liberty is now the watch-word, but it seems to be little but a gilded slavery; not so cruel as that of Sylla, but certainly more dangerous, as it will most probably last longer. The people are as completely cheated of their liberty as myself, and seem as little willing to be emancipated.
I expressed a strong desire, the other day, to see a portrait of the excellent Octavia: a similarity of dignified sentiment, familiar to Thalia, induced this wish, as I conceived there might be some likeness in person, as well as mind, and I was not disappointed. Titus Marcellus, a brother of my friend, who had been an unsuccessful suitor to Octavia, engaged to shew it me.
She is the image of my Thalia.
She possesses great dignity, blended with a majestic height, and softened by an exquisite symmetry of form : her eyes are shaded by a large circling eye-brow, which gives a decisive character to her face; her nose truly Roman, her lips beautifully pouting, with a fine natural vermilion colour, and her chin rising gracefully from the indented valley under the mouth, and rounding gently toward the neck : her head is without any ornament, her hair combed straight, from the top of the head to the * ear, and from thence curling backward, in ringlets, over the temples.
Perhaps history does not furnish a woman more admirable than Octavia : she was married to Marc Anthony, the man we were so disgusted with at Athens. The loss of her son, Marcellus, has sunk her into a gloomy despondence, which renders her the peculiar care of Augustus, and the admiration of Rome.
This portrait is drawn from an engraving, by E. Harding, jun. from a gem in the Museium Florentinum,
One day, when Virgil was reading his 6th book to Augustus, in the presence of Octavia; and coming to that exquisite passage,
Heu miserande puer! Si qua fata aspera rumpas,
Octavia was so affected that she fainted, and ordered the poet ten sesterces for each line: neither is this to be wondered at; as, independent of the maternal feelings of the mother, the passage itself is so beautiful and affecting, as must touch the heart of any one possessing the smallest sensibility.
You will be afflicted when I tell you, that philosophy, in this city, is in the lowest state: every one professes himself a philosopher; and what is very accommodating, every one finds a philosophy best suited to his propensities. Epicurus, the exquisite moral philosopher, is here regarded as a sensualist; and Socrates, the wise and the good, is by some esteemed a buffoon, because of his cheerful and lively sallies. How fatal to the interest of society is the idea, that a man of abilities can not be cheerful! To shew you how little action is blended with theory, I will give you an anecdote of Q. Sulpitius: by some accident or other he crowded himself into my house with J. Flaminius, a young nobleman, with whom I have forined an acquaintance : the conversation turned upon cruelty to animals. It was then I discovered him to be of the Pythagorean doctrine. He told us, that he had ordered his slave two hundred lashes that morning, for killing and eating a pheasant. “ Such deviations from moral rectitude," said he, “inspire me with horror; particularly when I reflect, that the very pheasant, thus devoured, might contain the soul of a man, who has rendered some important service to his country. We ought, therefore, to be particularly cautious how we sport with the feelings of animals: for my own part, such an abhorrence have I to the encouragement of any thing which tends to inflict pain upon others, that I always dine upon roots and vegetables.”
I had not time to make many observations upon his argument, as Flaminius rose to depart: as he moved towards the door, he said, loud enough to be heard by Sulpitius,“ Sulpitius, Sylla's associate."
In our walk towards the house of Flaminius, which stands upon an eminence commanding a distinct view of the city, we had to pass immediately through the Forum. The crowd were rather tumultuous, and we stopt till the noise should have a little subsided; as we were conversing, I remarked a man fixing his eye with the most particular, and indeed impertinent attention upon my face, appearing to observe every curve and line in it. I desired Flaminius to remark him. “ It is Zophyrus," said he, “ the physiognomist ;* he knows every character in Rome by his countenance; he has made the observance of the human face his most particular study; and from long attention, he knows the virtues and vices of each individual by a mere cursory survey-he seems to have eyed you with remarkable earnestness; and to convince you of his abilities, I will step up to bim, and request to know the result of his attention; you will then be a judge of the extent of his powers.”
Before I could put my vetó to this proposition, he had passed over to the other side of the street. Aristotle was the first that wrote upon this subject; and, I recollect that Pythagoras used to physiognomize his scholars before he admitted them. I must confess I felt so much regard for myself as to be anxious to know the outlines of my own character. When Flaminius returned, he smiled and said, (but before I tell you what he did say, you must form the friendly resolution to excuse the vanity of repeating it) “ You have more virtues than vices," said he, “I went up to him and said, that is Aristides of Athens :—What is his character? I have a particular wish to be informed of it."-"I have observed him with attention," replied Zophyrus. “You say his name is Aristides, and that he is from Athens--if he is not allied to Aristides the Just in consanguinity, he certainly is in sentiment; his soul is as elevated as his carriage is dignified; he is mild, yet resolute; possessing a suavity of manner, with a firm energy of action, and formed to do honour to the republic of which he is a member."- " Cease,” said I to Flaminius, " I do not know myself; he has spent much time to little purpose-let us proceed."
Adieu, The vanity of which I have been guilty leads me to reflect on that of the Romans, and which shall be made one of the subjects of my next letter.
* Cicero de fato, (5). + Aulus Gellius, b. 1. c. 9.
Being a few useful Hints to such Gentlemen as walk the Streets, frequent
the Theatres, or go to Coffee-Houses.
Such gentlemen as carry small canes, ought to put them in an ho: rizontal position, under their right arm, taking especial care that the ferule end, which must be carried behind them, be sufficiently dirty. This, with a jerk in the gait, and a frequent whisk, as if to look about them, will prevent the crowd of busy troublesome people, who infest the public streets, from pressing too close.
If a short man carries an umbrella, let him lift it no higher than the eyes of the over-grown monsters who are frequently walking the streets. By this means, he will prevent their coming so near as to splash him; at least, if they do, it will be at the hazard of their eyes.
Such gentlemen as write their letters in coffee-houses, should endeavour to get two or three of the newspapers of the day, to put under their paper; this will prevent the table soiling their letter or their ruffle; and as to the impatience of those who wait for them that is not the business of a gentleman to inquire about.
If you see the coffee-room crowded, endeavour to fix yourself at the corner of a table, in such a manner, that you prevent any one passing you to get seated in any other part of the bench; or, if that cannot conveniently be done, put one or both of your legs at full length upon the seat, lean back and whistle, or pick your teeth. This will show your consequence.
If you walk the streets, always wear boots and spurs; I say spurs, because it is three to one but they catch the apron or petticoat of any woman who is passing you; and if she is young and handsoine, you may make a low bow, and ask her pardon in a graceful degagee way, and by this means form an agreeable connexion. The same rule will hold good when you go to the playhouse; besides, if your boots are sufficiently dirty, you prevent people incommoding you by pressing too close.
Whenever you call a hackney-coach, take care the fellow stops his horses in such a manner as to intersect a crossing. This will naturally occasion a number of people to stop, and give you an opportunity of showing your person and your importance at the same time,