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Spence, the friend and contemporary of Pope, in a letter to his mother, from Turin, in 1739, gives the following account of an Italian entertainment, which was thus advertised. “Here, under the porticoes of this charitable Hospital, will be represented this evening, “The Damned Soul,' with proper decorations." 6 As this seemed to be one of the greatest curiosities I could possibly meet with in my travels, I immediately paid my threepence, was showed in with great civility, and took my seat among a number of people.
“At length the curtain drew up, and discovered the Damned Soul, all alone, with a melancholy aspect. She was (for what reason I don't know) drest like a fine lady, in a gown of flamecoloured satin. She held a white handkerchief in her hand, which she applied often to her eyes; and in this attitude, with a lamentable voice, began a prayer (to the holy and ever blessed Trinity) to enable her to speak her part well: afterwards she addressed herself to all the good Christians in the room ; begged them to attend carefully to what she had to say, and heartily wished they would be the better for it : she then gave an account of her life; and, by her own confession, appeared to have been a very naughty, woman in her time.
" This was the first scene. At the second, a back curtain was drawn; and gave us a sight of our Saviour and the Blessed Virgin, amidst the clouds. The poor soul addressed herself to our Saviour first, who rated her extremely, and was indeed all the while very severe.
All she desired was to be sent to purgatory, instead of going to hell: and she at last begged very hard to be sent into the fire of the former, for as many years as there are drops of water in the sea. As no favour was shewn her on that side, she turned to the Virgin and begged her to intercede for her. The Virgin was a very decent woman, and answered her gravely but steadily, ' That she had enraged her Son so much, that she could do nothing for her :' and on this, they both went away together.
6. The third scene consisted of three little Angels, and the Damned Soul. She had no better luck with them: nor with St. John the Baptist and all the Saints, in the fourth; so, in the fifth, she was left to two Devils ; seemingly to do what
they would with her. One of these Devils was very ill-natured and fierce to her; the other was of the droll kind, and, for a Devil, I can't say but what he was good-natured enough: though he delighted in vexing the poor lady rather too much.
“ In the sixth scene, matters began to mend a little: St. John the Baptist, (who had been with our Saviour, I believe, behind the scenes,) told her, if she would continue her entreaties, there was yet some hope for her. She, on this, again besought our Saviour and the Virgin to have compassion on her: the Virgin was melted with her tears, aad desired her Son to have pity on her; on which it was granted, that she should go into the fire, only for sixteen or seventeen hundred thousand years; and she was very thankful for the mildness of the sentence.
“ The seventh (and last) scene was a contest between the two infernal devils above-mentioned, and her guardian angel. They came in again, one grinning, and the other open-mouthed to devour her. The angel told them, that they should get about their business. He, with some difficulty, at last drove them off the stage, and handed off the good lady; in assuring her that
all would be very well, after some hundreds of thousand of years, with her.
"All this while, in spite of the excellence of the actors, the greatest part of the entertainment to me was the countenances of the people in the pit and boxes. When the Devils were like to carry her off, every body was in the utmost consternation; and when St. John spoke so obligingly to her, they were ready to cry out for joy. When the Virgin appeared on the stage, every body looked respectful; and on several words spoke by the actors, they pulled off their hats, and crossed themselves.
"There was but one thing that offended me. All the actors, except the Devils, were women : and the person who represented the most venerable character in the whole play, just after the representation, came into the pit, and fell a kissing a barber of her acquaintance, before she had changed her dress. She did me the honour to speak to me too; but I would have nothing to say to her."
THE following smart satire on dramatic puffery appeared in the public papers on the morning of the night fixed for Mr. Liston's benefit,
and is a favourable specimen of his wit and ingenuity.
MR. LISTON TO THE EDITOR.
SIR,-My benefit takes place this evening at Covent Garden Theatre, and, I doubt not, will be splendidly attended ; several parties in the first circle of fashion were made the moment it was announced. I shall perform Fogrum in “ The Slave," and Leporello in “ The Libertine;" and in the delineation of those arduous characters, I shall display much feeling and discrimination, together with much taste in my dresses and elegance in my manner. The audience will be delighted with my exertions, and testify, by rapturous applause, their most decided approbation.
When we consider, in addition to my professional merits, the loveliness of my person, and the fascinations of my face, which re only equalled by the amiability of my private character, having never pinched my children, nor kicked my wife out of bed,” there is no doubt but this puff will not be inserted in vain.
I am, Sir,
J. Liston. 28, King Street, June 10, 1817.
CHARLES Hulet was apprentice to the famous Edmund Curl, the bookseller, and learned, very early, the art of stage murders; for, acting the part of Alexander, in the kitchen, with an elbowchair for his Clytus, and a poker for his javelin,