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For a Burning Town. If such a Description be necef-, sary (because it is certain there is one in Virgil) old Troy is ready burnt to your hands. But if you fear that would be thought borrowed, a Chapter or two of the Theory of the Conflagration, well circumstanced and done into verse, will be a good Succedaneum.
As for Similes and Metaphors, they may be found all over the Creation; the most ignorant may gather them, but the difficulty is in applying them, For this advife with
c H A P. XVI.
A Project for the Advancement of the Stage. IT may be thought that we should not wholly omit the
Drama, which makes so great and so lucrative a part of Poetry. But this Province is so well taken care of, by the present Managers of the Theatre, that it is perfectly needless to suggest to them any other Methods than they have already practised for the advancement of the Bathos.
Here therefore, in the Name of all our Brethren, let me return our sincere and humble thanks to the most Au. guft Mr. Barton Booth, the most Serene Mr. Robert Wilks, and the most undaunted Mr. Colley Cibber; of whom let it be known, when the people of this age shall be Ancestors, and to all the Succeffion of our Succeffors, that to this present Day they continue to Out-do even their own Out-doings : And when the inevitable Hand of sweeping Time shall have brushed off all the Works of To-day, may this Testimony of a Gotemporary Critiç to their Fame, be extended as far as To-morrow.
Yet, if to so wise an Administration it be possible any thing can be added, it is that more ample and comprehensive Scheme which Mr. Dennis and Mr. Gildon (the
two greatest Criticks and Reformers then living) made publick in the year 1720, in a Project signed with their names, and dated the second of February. I cannot better conclude than by presenting the Reader with the Substance of it.
1. It is proposed, That the two Theatres be incorporated into one Company; that the Royal Academy of Mufick be added to them as an Orchestra; and that Mr. Figg with his Prize-fighters, and Violante with the Rope-. dancers, be admitted into Partnership.
2. That'a spacious Building be erected at the publick expence, capable of containing at least ten thousand Spectators, which is become absolutely necessary by the great addition of Children and Nurses to the Audience, since the new Entertainments. That there be a Stage as large as the Athenian, which was near ninety thousand geometrical paces square, and separate divisions for the two Houses of Parliament, my Lords the Judges, the honourable the Directors of the Academy, and the Court of Aldermen, who shall all have their Places frank.
3. If Westminster-Hall be not allotted to this service, (which by reason of its proximity to the two Chambers of Parliament above-mentioned, seems not altogether improper;) it is left to the wisdom of the Nation whether Somerset-House inay not be demolished, and a Theatre built upon that Side, which lies convenient to receive Spectators from the County of Surry, who may be wafted thither by water-carriage, esteemed by all Projectors the cheapest whatfoever. To this may be added, that the river Thames' máy in the readiest manner convey those eminent Personages from Courts beyond the seas, who may be drawn either by Curiosity to behold some of our most celebrated Pieces, or by Affection to see their Countrymen, the Harlequins and Eụnuchs; of which convenient notice may be given, for two or three months before, in the publick Prints.
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4. That the Theatre abovesaid be environed with a fair Quadrangle of Buildings, fitted for the accommodation of decayed Criticks and Poets ; out of whom Six of the most aged (their age to be computed from the year wherein their first work was published) shall be elected to manage the affairs of the society, provided nevertheless that the Laureate for the time being may be always one. The Head or President over all (to prevent disputes, but too frequent among the learned) shall be the moft ancient Poet and Critick to be found in the whole Ifland.
5. The Male-Players are to be lodged in the garrets of the said Quadrangle, and to attend the persons of the Poets, dwelling under them, by brushing their apparel, drawing on their shoes, and the like. The Actresses are to make their beds, and wash their linen.
6. A large room shall be set apart for a Library, to consist of all the modern Dramatic Poems, and all the Criticisms extant. In the inidst of this room shall be a round table for the Council of Six to fit and deliberate on the Merits of Plays. The Majority shall determine the Dispute; and if it should happen that three and three should be of each side, the President shall have a cafting Voice, unless where the Contention may run so high as to require a decision by Single Combat.
may be conyenient to place the Council of Six in some conspicuous situation in the Theatre, where, after the manner usually practised by composers in music, they may give Signs (before settled and agreed upon) of Dirlike or Approbation, In confequence of these Signs the whole audience shall be required to clap of hiss, that the Town may learn certainly when and how far they ought to be pleas’d,
8. It is submitted whether it would not be proper to diftinguish the Council of Six by some particular Habit or
Gown of an honourable shape and colour, to which may he added a square Cap and a white Wand.
9. That to prevent unmarried Actresses making away with their Infants, a competent provision be allowed for the nurture of them, who shall for that reason be deemed the Children of the society; and that they may be educated according to the Genius of their parents, the said Actresses shall declare upon oath (as far as their memory will allow) the true names and qualities of their several fathers. A private Gentleman's Son shall, at the public expence, be brought up a Page to attend the Council of Six: A more ample provision shall be made for the son of a Poet; and a greater still for the son of a Critick.
10. If it be discovered that any A&tress is got with Child, during the Interludes of any Play wherein she hath a Part, it shall be reckoned a neglect of her business, and she shall forfeit accordingly. If any Actor for the future shall commit Murder, except upon the stage, he shall be left to the laws of the land ; the like is to be understood of Robbery and Theft. In all other cases, particularly in those for Debt, it is proposed that this, like the other Courts of Whiteball and St. James's, may be held a Place of Privilege. And whereas it has been found, that an obligation to satisfy paultry Creditors has been a Discouragement to Men of Letters, if any Person of Quality or others shall send for any Poet or Gritick of this Society to any remote quarter of the town, the said Poet or Critick shall freely pass and repass without being liable to an Arreft.
11. The forementioned Scheme in its several regulations may be supported by Profits arising from every Third-night throughout the year.
And as it would be hard to suppose that so many persons could live without any food (though, from the former course of their lives, a very little will be deemed fufficient) the masters of calculation will, we believe, agree, that out of those Profits,
the said persons might be subfifted in a sober and decent
We will venture, to affirm further, that not only the proper magazines of Thunder and Lightning, but Paint, Diet-drinks, Spitting-pots, and all other Neceffaries of Life, may in like manner fairly be provided for.
12. If some of the Articles may at first view seem liable to Objections, particularly those that give, so vast a power to the Council of Six (which is indeed larger than any entrusted to the great Officers of State), this may be obviated, by swearingthose Six Persons of his Majesty's Privy Council, and obliging them to pass every thing of moment previously at that most honourable Board.