Scots Magazine, I, August 1739, pp. 363-4
London, June 28, 1739
After the piece of musick is finish'd, a silence ensues, of a length sufficient to allow the company time to take a circuit of the gardens before another begins; which is the same before each piece; and those intervals are chiefly employed in visiting the walks, remarking the company, and viewing the paintings, which have been put up the last spring to protect the Ladies, while sitting in the arbours, from catching cold in their necks by the inclemency of the evening breezes. These paintings forming something like three parts of a square, the Prince's pavilion (so called in honour of his Royal Highness, who always honours that place with his presence when he visits these gardens) and the house belonging to the manager, form the fourth. In the middle of this square, which takes up about a fourth part of the gardens, stands a beautiful orchestra for the band of musick, which consists of the best hands upon every instrument in modern use: and from that a little bridge of four or five yards reaches to an elegant edifice, wherein is placed an excellent organ; which has lately been fitted to several new pieces of entertainment, particularly a symphony of singing birds, which never fails to meet with the loud applauses of all present. Many little novelties are contrived to yield a greater variety to the audience on the other instruments; and a set of small bells have been introduced in a tune which meets with a very favourable receptionThe walks leading close by the front of the arbours, (each of which is large enough to entertain ten or twelve persons to supper) the paintings at the back of every arbour afford a very entertaining view; especially when the Ladies, as ought ever to be contrived, sit with their heads against them. And, what adds not a little to the pleasure of these pictures, they give an unexceptionable opportunity of gazing on any pleasing fair-one, without any other pretence than the credit of a fine taste for the piece behind her. To preserve these pieces from the weather, they are fixed so as to be in cases, contrived on purpose, from the close of the entertainment every night, to the fifth tune of the evening following; after which, in an instant, they all fall down; and, from an open rural view, the eye is relieved by the agreeable surprise of some of the most favourite fancies of our poets in the most remarkable scenes of our comedies, some of the celebrated dancers, &c. in their most remarkable attitudes, several of the childish diversions, and other whims that are well enough liked by most people at a time they are disposed to smile, and every thing of a light kind, and tending to unbend the thoughts, has an effect desired before it is felt.
By the time the next piece is begun, the gardens being pretty full, the company crowd round the musick; and, by being forced to stand close, have an opportunity of taking a strict observation of every face near, and, as it frequently happens, of picking out companions for the remaining part of the -------- evening. Sir John Trot points out to his Lady, who has not before crossed the water for twenty years, the motion of the Gentleman who beats time, the manly strokes of the kettle-drummer, and the wonderful strength of lungs with which Mr S--- sounds the trumpet. The Petit Maitres, at the beginning of a solo on the last mention'd instrument, fixing their toes in a proper position, pull out their snuff-boxes; and, after an emphatical nod at setting off, take a pinch in exact time; till the martial notes raising, by slow degrees, their untried courage, they discharge the whole force of their valour upon the eyes of the Ladies who stand next them; who, generally, receive their fire with great resolution, and make a defence often fatal to the assailants. - Mrs Flimsy finds in the softer musick something so like the ravishing softness of the Italian opera's, that, in an extasy of pleasure at the bewitching [p.364] notes, she is upon the point of falling, when the young Lord Shallow, with a complaisance hereditary in his family, interposing his kind hand, startles her with an agreeable surprize, and occasions as many apologies for the freedom on one hand, and acknowledgements for the obligation on the other, as, by a mutual display of the most engaging rhetorick, lay the foundation of an acquaintance that lasts, perhaps, for some hours. Gentlemen who come alone are open to the overtures of any amiable companion, and Ladies who venture without a masculine guide, are not, generally speaking, averse to the company of a polite protector. The musick again ceasing, and dusk approaching, the green walks are filled; at the termination of which stands a man in the posture of a Constable, to protect the Ladies from any insult, &c. and at the bottom of the grand walks, by the help of a ha-ha wall, the top of which, standing in a trench, is on a level with the ground, the prospect is open to the country, and a hideous figure of Aurora on a pedestal interrupts, I cannot say terminates the view. Soft whispers begin now to murmur thro' the trees; and, the shade of evening favouring the Ladies with a convenience of blushing without being perceived, or of avoiding any hard thought for omitting that pleasing mark of innocence on occasions when it may happen to be expected, the lofty trees, which form a grove that must be called delightful, and every fanning breeze, by waving the garments of the sylvan Deities (the only ones we know) yield a double delight, and resemble, as much as we can guess at this distance of time, the most delightful scenes of old Arcadia: And when the musick plays at a distance, so as to be heard thro' the leaves in one connected sound, without any distinction of one instrument from another, the inchanting harmony produces a pleasure scarce to be equalled by nature, not easy to be conceived in imagination; - and I cannot help confessing that, according to what I can judge from my own experience, the breast must be a stranger to the soft passion that feels not a tender bias to love, and a powerful one indeed if any object of affection chance to be near; for every return of the artful symphony thro' any chance vacancy of the grove, fresh fans the glowing flame, and irresistibly increases the influence of the fair-one, who yet has more charms added by every melting effect the melody has on her mind and gesture. In this situation, if soft ideas prevail more than elsewhere, those only will wonder at it whose minds are proof against Cupid's painful delight, and whose ears are deaf to the power of harmony, and arm'd against all the accidental motives to love that are apt to prevail upon a mind bent on pleasure. A few turns round the shades make the Ladies glad to think of sitting down to rest themselves; and the Gentlemen assiduously seek the most agreeable arbours to regale them with a repast suitable in elegance to the elevation of their ideas; which usually happening about nine o'clock, the description thereof will naturally fall into the next letter you receive from,
SIR, Your humble servant,