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which it is excited, and possibly wholly unaffected by those slower vibrations of which we are sensible. [If there is no limit to the power of discerning low sounds, the “gravest audible sound” is a nonentity, and we ought to read “the gravest known sound.”]
XCIV. WESTRIS, THE GOD OF DANCING.
The first Westris, the founder of a mighty dynasty of dancers, was a native of Provence, or, according to others, an Italian. Be this as it may, he could never pronounce French properly; and when he modestly took to himself the title of the “God of dancing,” he always called it “ le Diou de la danse.” There were innumerable anecdotes current in Paris, all showing the sublime conceit and self-satisfaction of this hero, who really considered dancing as the first of human arts and sciences, and himself as the greatest dancer that had ever been created to enchant the world. The following are told in Baron de Grimm's correspondence.
When young Westris made his debut, his father, le Diou de la danse, dressed in the richest and strictest court costume, with his sword at his side, and his chapeaubras under his arm, presented himself with his son at the front of the stage, and, after having addressed the pit, in terms full of dignity, on the sublimity of his art, and the noble hopes inspired by the august heir of his genius, he turned with an imposing aspect to the young candidate, and said to him, “Now then, my son, show your talent to the public; your father sees you!”—(Wotre père vous regarde )
In consequence of being engaged in one of those insurrections against managers and cabinet ministers which were frequent among the dancers of the Opera in the times of Louis XV. and Louis XVI, Vestris junior was sent to Fort l'Evêque. Nothing so pathetic was ever seen as the parting of father and son: “Allez,” said the Diou de la danse, “go, my son This is the most glorious day of your life. Take my carriage, and ask for the apartment of my friend the King of Poland; I will pay all !”
We forget whether it was on this or on an earlier occasion that Westris senior said, “Well! this is the first difference that ever took place between the house of Westris and the house of Bourbon 1"
Young Vestris was the son of the Diou de la danse by Mademoiselle Allard, also a dancer at the Opera, and hence the Parisians gave him the compound name of Westrallard. One night he excelled himself in a new ballet, on which his father, who was watching every new step and turn, exclaimed in rapture, “If he goes on in this way I have a great gift in store for him—I will allow him to bear my own name !” The Diou de la danse, like certain other gods we read of, was not a constant lover. Dauberval, another artiste of reputation, who had shared his favours with Mademoiselle Allard, was also forcibly struck with the young prodigy, and was heard to say with a mixture of spite, regret, and admiration, * Quel talent J C'est le fils de Vestris, et ce n'est pas le mien / Hélas ! je ne l'ai manqué que d'un quart d'heure!”
XCV. PRYNNE'S HISTRIO-MASTIX.
THE work of William Prynne, a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, for which Archbishop Laud cut off his ears, written against the immoral tendency of the stage-plays of his age, since it must be considered as representing the opinion of a large, and that the more sober and reflecting, portion of his countrymen, shows that the English dramatic literature of Prynne's age was by many considered as immoral as the French novel and dramatic literature of the present day (not without reason) have been lately represented as being in the Quarterly Review. Prynne's work to which we allude is the “ Histrio-Mastix; the Players' Scourge, or Actors' Tragedie;” wherein he attempts to show “by divers arguments, and by the authority of sundry texts of Scripture; of the whole primitive Church; of 55 synods and councils; of 71 Fathers and Christian writers before the year of our Lord 1200; of above 150 foreign and domestic Protestant and Popish authors since ; of 40 Heathen philosophers, &c.; and of our own English statutes, magistrates, universities, writers, preachers; that popular stage-plays are sinful, lewd, ungodly spectacles, and most pernicious corruptions.” We shall confine our extracts to the English authorities.
After quoting the testimonies of thirty fathers of the church, that stage-plays foment those carnal lusts which draw both actors and spectators on to actual uncleanness, to their eternal ruin; and so, by necessary consequence,
* The edition from which we quote is that of London, 1633.
are utterly unlawful for Christians to act, to see, to hear; Prynne thus proceeds: “If any stage-frequenting, play-adoring Christian be so incredulous as not to give credit to these alleaged fathers; let him then listen to some councels, some modern Christian authors, some ancient Pagans, who averre the self-same truth, whose joynt concurrent authorities he cannot deny.” Of the reign of Elizabeth and James he cites the following authors, among which it is to be remarked are several church dignitaries, and two or three bishops; which proves that the opinions were held by some of what the Quarterly Review would admit to be the respectable classes of society, and were not entirely confined to the “ low puritanical rabble.” We give part of the quotations, which are curious, omitting certain passages which are not much to the point. “Doctor Reinolds, in his preface to his 6 Theses, and in his overthrow of Stage-players thorowout: Printed 1599, and now reprinted, 1629. Doctor Sparkes, in his Rehearsall Sermon at Paul's Crosse, Aprill 29, 1579. Master Perkins, in his Treatise of Conscience, c. 3, and on the 7th Commandment. Master Stubs, in his Anatomy of Abuses, page 101 to 107. Master. Northbrooke, in his Treatise against Waine Playes and Enterludes, page 57 to 77. A booke intituled. The Church of evill men and women, whereof Lucifer is the head, and the members are all dissolute Players and Sinners. Printed by Richard Pinson, in 8". A Treatise of Dances, printed in 8”. 1581 ; wherein it is showed that dances are as it were accessaries, or dependants, or things annexed unto
whoredome; where also by the way is proved that playes are joyned and knit together in a ranke with them. The second and third Blast of Retrait from Playes and Theaters pag. 1, 2, 3, 4.43, 44. 53, 54, 55, 56, 89.92, 96.98 to 103. (all pregnant places to our purpose): Printed by authority, London, 1580. Master Gosson, in his Schoole of Abuse. Two bookes, the one intituled, The Myrror for Magistrates of Citties; the other, The Counter-blast to Stage-playes: by an uncertaine Author. John Field, in his Declaration of God's Judgment shewed at Paris Garden, January the 13th 1587: Printed by Henry Carre, 1588. J. G., in his refutation of Haywood's Apologie for Actors. Master Thomas Beard, in his Theater of God's Judgments, cap. 34. Master Elton and Master Dod, on the 7 Commandment. Bishop Baily, in his preface to the Practice of Piety. Bishop Hall, in his Epistles; Decad. 6. Epist. 6. J. P. Minister of Feversham, in his booke intitled The Covenant betweene God and Man. Exposition on the 7 Commandment. Doctor Layton, in his Speculum Bellicari, cap. 45. Master Brinsly, in his True Watch; part 3, . Abomination 19, p. 73, 74. Master John Downham, in his Guide to Godlinesse, lib. 3. cap. 21. sect. 5; and in his Summe of Divinity, lib. 1. cap. 11,
page 203. And Richard Rawledge, in his Scourging of Tiplers, pag. 2, 3, 4. Passing by all these,” continues
Prynne, “with a briefe quotation of their names and
workes, to which you may resort, as being too tedious to
recite at large; I shall onely relate unto you what four
other authors of our owne have written concerning the
lewde effects of stage-playes.