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candles were lighted, That here were candles enough burnt in one night, to keep an honest poor family for a whole twelvemonth.'
As soon as the play, which was Hamlet Prince of Denmark, began, Partridge was all attention, nor did he break silence till the entrance of the ghost; upon which he asked Jones, What man that was in the strange dress; something,' said he, like what I have seen in a picture. Sure it is not armour, is it?" Jones answered, That is the ghost.' To which Partridge replied, with a smile, Persuade me to that, sir, if you can. Though I can't say I ever actually saw a ghost in my life, yet I am certain I should know one, if I saw him, better than that comes to. No, no, sir; ghosts don't appear in such dresses as that, neither.' In this mistake, which caused much laughter in the neighbourhood of Partridge, he was suffered to continue, till the scene between the Ghost and Hamlet, when Partridge gave that credit to Mr. Garrick, which he had denied to Jones, and fell into so violent a trembling, that his knees knocked against each other. Jones asked him what was the matter, and whether he was afraid of the warrior upon the stage? O, la! sir,' said he, I perceive now it is what you told me. I am not afraid of any thing; for I know it is but a play. And if it was really a ghost, it could do one no harm at such a distance, and in so much company; and yet if I was frightened, I am not the only person. Why, who,' cries Jones, dost thou take to be such a coward here besides thyself?"-Nay, you may call me a coward if you will; but if that little man there upon the stage is not fright. ened, I never saw any man frightened in my life. Ay, ay; go along with you! Ay, to be sure! Who's fool then? Will you? Lud have mercy upon such fool-hardiness!Whatever happens, it is good enough for you. Follow you? I'd follow the devil as soon.. Nay, perhaps, it is the devil; for they say he can put on what likeness he pleases. Oh! here he is
again. No farther! No, you have gone far enough already; farther than I'd have gone for all the king's dominions.' Jones offered to speak, but Partridge cried, Hush, hush, dear sir! don't you hear him?' And during the whole speech of the ghost, he sat with his eyes fixed partly on the ghost, and partly on Hamlet, and with his mouth open; the same passions which succeeded each other in Hamlet, succeeding likewise in him.
When the scene was over, Jones said, Why, Partridge, you exceed my expectations. You enjoy the play more than I conceived possible.' Nay, sir,' answered Partridge, if you are not afraid of the devil, I can't help it; but, to be sure, it is natural to be surprised at such things, though I know there is nothing in them: not that it was the ghost that surprised me, neither; for I should have known that to have been only a man in a strange dress; but when I saw the little man so frightened himself, it was that which took hold of me.' And dost thou imagine, then, Partridge,' cries Jones, that he was really frightened? Nay, sir,' said Par tridge, did not you yourself observe afterwards, when he found it was his own father's spirit, and. how he was murdered in the garden, how his fear forsook him by degrees, and he was struck dumb with sorrow, as it were, just as I should have been, had it been my own case. But hush! O la! what noise is that? There he is again! Well, to be certain, though I know there is nothing at all in it, I am glad I am not down yonder, where those men are.' Then turning his eyes again upon Hamlet, Ay, you may draw your sword; what signifies a sword against the power of the devil!'
During the second act, Partridge made very few remarks. He greatly admired the fineness of the dresses; nor could he help observing upon the king's countenance. Well,' said he, how people may be deceived by faces! Nulla fides fronti, is, I find, a true saying. Who would think, by look
ing in the king's face, that he had ever committed a murder?' He then inquired after the ghost; but Jones, who intended he should be surprised, gave him no other satisfaction than, that he might possibly see him again soon, and in a flash of fire.'
Partridge sat in fearful expectation of this; and now, when the ghost made his next appearance, Partridge cried out, There, sir, now! what say you now? is he frightened now or no? As much frightened as you think me, and, to be sure, nobody can help some fears; I would not be in so bad a condition as what's his name, 'Squire Hamlet, is there, for all the world. Bless me! what's become of the spirit? As I am a living soul, I thought I saw him sink into the earth. Indeed, you saw right,' answered Jones. Well, well,' cries Partridge, I know it is only a play; and besides, if there was any thing in all this, Madam Miller would not laugh so; for as to you, sir, you would not be afraid, I believe, if the devil was here in person. There, there-Ay, no wonder you are in such a passion; shake the vile wicked wretch to pieces. If she was my own mother, I should serve her so. To be sure, all duty to a mother is forfeited by such wicked doings.--Ay, go about your bu siness; I hate the sight of you.'
Our critic was now pretty silent till the play, which Hamlet introduces before the king. This he did not at first understand, till Jones explained it to him; but he had no sooner entered into the spirit of it, than he began to bless himself that he had never committed murder. Then turning to Mrs. Miller, he asked her, If she did not imagine the king looked as if he was touched! Though he is,' said he, a good actor, and doth all he can to hide it. Well, I would not have so much to answer for, as that wicked man there hath, to sit upon a much higher chair than he sits upon. No wonder he run away;for your sake, I'll never trust an innocent face again.'
The grave-digging scene next engaged the atten tion of Partridge, who expressed much surprise at the number of skulls thrown upon the stage. To which Jones answered, That it was one of the most famous burial-places about town. No won der then,' cries Partridge, that the place is haunt ed. But I never saw in my life a worse gravedigger. I had a sexton, when I was clerk, that should have dug three graves while he is digging one. The fellow handles a spade as if it was the first time he had ever had one in his hand. Ay, ay, you may sing. You had rather sing than work, I believe.'--Upon Hamlet's taking up the skull, he cried out, Well! it is strange to see how fearless. some men are: I could never bring myself to touch any thing belonging to a dead man, on any account. He seemed frightened enough too at the ghost, I thought. Nemo omnibus horis sapit.'
Little more worth remembering occurred during the play; at the end of which Jones asked him, • Which of the players he had liked best?" To this he answered, with some appearance of indignation at the question, The king, without doubt.' Indeed, Mr. Partridge,' says Mrs. Miller, you are not of the same opinion with the town; for they are all agreed, that Hamlet is acted by the best player who was ever on the stage.' He the best player!' cries Partridge with a contemptuous sneer, Why, I could act as well as he myself. I am sure, if I had seen a ghost, I should have looked in the very same manner, and done just as he did. And then, to be sure, in that scene, as you called it, between him and his mother, where you told me he acted so fine, why, Lord help me! any man, that is, any good man, that had such a mother, would have done exactly the same. I know you are only joking with me; but, indeed, madam, though I was never at a play in London, yet I have seen acting before in the country; and the king for my money: he speaks all
his words distinctly, half as loud again as the other. Any body may see he is an actor.'
While Mrs. Miller was thus engaged in conversation with Partridge, a lady came up to Mr. Jones, whom he immediately knew to be Mrs. Fitzpatrick. She said, she had seen him from the other part of the gallery, and had taken that opportunity of speaking to him, as she had something to say, which might be of great service to himself. She then acquainted him with her lodgings, and made him an appointment the next day in the morning; which, upon recollection, she presently changed to the af ternoon; at which time Jones promised to attend
Thus ended the adventure at the play-house; where Partridge had afforded great mirth, not only to Jones and Mrs. Miller, but to all who sat within hearing, who were more attentive to what he said, than to any thing that passed on the stage.
He durst not go to bed all that night, for fear of the ghost; and for many nights after sweated two or three hours before he went to sleep, with the same apprehensions, and waked several times in great horrors, crying out, Lord have mercy upon us! there it is!"
Tis almost impossible for the best parent to ob serve an exact impartiality to his children, even though no superior merit should bias his affection; but sure a parent can hardly be blamed, when that superiority determines his preference.
As I regard all the personages of this history in the light of my children; so I must confess the same inclination of partiality to Sophia; and for