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though it often induces forgetfulness, and a neglect of food, as well as of every thing else; yet place a good piece of well-powdered buttock before a hungry lover, and he seldom fails very handsomely to play his part. Thus it happened in the present case; for though Jones perlaps wanted a prompter, and might have travelled much farther, had he been alone, with an empty stomach; yet no sooner did he sit down to the bacon and eggs, than he fell to as heartily and voraciously as Partridge himself.
Before our travellers had finished their dinner, night came on, and as the moon was now past the full, it was extremely dark. Partridge therefore prevailed on Jones to stay and see the puppetshow, which was just going to begin, and to which they were very eagerly invited by the master of the said show, who declared that his figures were the finest which the world had ever produced, and that they had given great satisfaction to all the quality in every town in England,
The puppet-show was performed with great regularity and decency. It was called the fine and serious part of the Provoked Husband; and it was indeed a very grave and solemn entertainment, without any low wit or humour, or jests; or, to do it no more than justice, without any thing which could provoke a laugh. The audience were all highly pleased. A grave matron told the master she would bring her two daughters the next night, as he did not shew any stuff; and an attorney's clerk and an exciseman both declared, that the characters of lord and lady Townley were well preserved, and highly in nature. Partridge likewise concurred with this opinion.
The master was so highly elated with these encomiums, that he could not refrain from adding some more of his own. He said, “The present age
was not improved in any thing so much as in their puppet-shows; which, by throwing out
Punch and his wife Joan, and suchsdle trumpery, ' were at last brought to be a rational entertainment. I remember,' said he, when I first took • to the business, there was a great deal of low stuff ' that did very well to make folks laugh; but was
never calculated to improve the morals of young people, which certainly ought to be principally
aimed at in every puppet-show: for why may not good and instructive lessons be conveyed
this way, as well as any other? My figures are 'as big as the life, and they represent the life in
every particular; and I question not but people ‘rise from my little Drama as much improved as they do from the great.' 'I would by no means degrade the ingenuity of your profession,' answered Jones, but I should have been glad to have seen my old acquaintance master Punch, for all that; and so far from improving, I think, by leaving out him and his merry wife Joan, ' you have spoiled your puppet-show.'
The dancer of wires conceived an immediate and high contempt for Jones, from these words. And with much disdain in his countenance, he replied, Very probably, Sir, that may be your
opinion; but I have the satisfaction to know the • best judges differ from you, and it is impossible 'to please every taste. I confess, indeed, some of • the quality at Bath, two or three years ago, 'wanted mightily to bring Punch again upon the
stage. I believe I lost some money for not agree‘ing to it; but let others do as they will; a little 'matter shall never bribe me to degrade my own profession, nor will I ever willingly consent to the spoiling the decency and regularity of my stage, by introducing any such low stuff
it.' Right, friend,' cries the clerk, you are very ‘right. Always avoid what is low. There are se'veral of my acquaintance in London, who are
resolved to drive every thing which is low from ' the stage.' 'Nothing can be more proper,' cries
the exciseman, pulling his pipe from his mouth. 'I remember,' added he, '(for I then lived with ‘my lord) I was in the footman's gallery, the night ' when this play of the Provoked Husband was 'acted first. There was a great deal of low stuff ' in it about a country gentleman come up to town * to stand for parliament-man; and there they • brought a parcel of his servants upon the stage, • his coachman I remember particularly; but the * gentlemen in our gallery could not bear any
thing so low, and they damned it. I observe, 'friend, you have left all that matter out, and you are to be commended for it.' ',
Nay, gentleman,' cries Jones, “I can never 'maintain my opinion against so many; indeed, * if the generality of his audience dislike him, the
learned gentleman who conducts the show may ' have done very right in dismissing Punch from • his service.'
The master of the show then began a second harangue, and said much of the great force of example, and how much the inferior part of mankind would be deterred from vice, by observing how odious it was in their superiors; when he was unluckily interrupted by an incident, which, though perhaps we might have omitted it at another time, we cannot help relating at present, but not in this chapter.
CHAP. VI. From which it may be inferred, that the best Things
are liable to be misunderstood and misinterpreted. A VIOLENT uproar now arose in the entry, where my landlady was well cuffing her maid both with her fist and tongue. She had indeed missed the wench from her employment, and, after a little search, had found her on the puppet-show stage in company with the Merry Andrew, and in a situation not very proper to be described,
Though Grace (for that was her name) had forfeited all title to modesty; yet had she not impudence enough to deny a fact in which she was actually surprised ; she, therefore, took another turn, and attempted to mitigate the offence. 'Why do you beat me in this manner, mistress?' cries the wench. If you don't like my doings,
you may turn me away. If I am a w—. (tor the other lady had liberally bestowed that appellation on her) ‘my betters are so as well as I. • What was the fine lady in the puppet-show just ‘now? I suppose she did not lie all night out * from her husband for nothing.'
The landlady now burst into the kitchen, and fell foul on both her husband and the poor puppet
• Here, husband,' says she, you see the ' consequence of harbouring these people in your
house. If one doth draw a little drink the more ' for them, one is hardly madle amends for the litter
they make; and then to have one's house made a ' bawdyhouse of by such lousy vermin. In short, 'I desire you would be gone to-morrow morning;
for I wil tolerate no more such doings. It is only 'the way to teach our servants idleness and nonsense; for to be sure nothing better can be learned by such idle shows as these. I remember when puppet-shows were made of good scripture stories, as Jepthah's Rash Vow, and such good things, and · when wicked people were carried away by the
devil. There was some sense in those matters; 'but as the parson told us last Sunday, nobody * believes in the devil now-a-days; and here you 'bring about a parcel of puppets drest up like lords ' and ladies, only to turn the heads of poor country 'wenches; and when their heads are once turned topsy-turvy, no wonder every thing else is so.?
Virgil, I think, tells us, that when the mob are assembled in a riotous and tumultuous manner, and all sorts of missile weapons fly about, if a man of gravity and authority appears amongst them,
the tumult is presently appeased, and the mob, which when collected into one body, may be well compared to an ass, erect their long ears at the grave man's discourse.
On the contrary, when a set of grave men and philosophers are disputing; when wisdom herself may in a manner be considered as present, and administering arguments to the disputants; should a tumult arise among the mob, or should one scold, who is herself equal in noise to a mighty mob, appear among ihe said philosophers; their disputes cease in a moment, wisdom no longer performs her ministerial office, and the attention of every one is immediately attracted by the scold alone.
Thus the uproar aforesaid, and the arrival of the landlady, silenced the master of the puppet-show, and put a speedy and final end to that grave and solemn harangue, of which we have given the reader a sufficient taste already. Nothing indeed could have happened so very inopportune as this accident; the most wanton malice of fortune could not have contrived such another stratagem to confound the poor fellow, while he was so triumphantly descanting on the good morals inculcated by his exhibitions. His mouth was now as effectually stopt, as that of a quack must be, if, in the midst of a declamation on the great virtues of his pills and powders, the corpse of one of his martyrs should be brought forth, and sleposited before the stage, as a testimony of his skill.
Instead, therefore, of answering my landlady, the puppet-show man ran out to punish his MerryAndrew; and now the moon beginning to put forth her silver light, as the poets call it (though she looked at that time more like a piece of copper), Jones called for his reckoning, and ordered Partridge, whom my landlady had just awaked from a profound nap, to prepare for his journey; but Partridge having lately carried two points, as my reader hath scen before, was emboldened to at