Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton

A Ballad on the Ridotto al Fresco


A Ballad on the RIDOTTO AL FRESCO.

YE Nymphs and Swains, who love the sport,
        And value reputation,
Come boldly all to VENUS Court,
Where no prim Justices resort –
         Or none for reformation.

For now so pious are we grown,
         A girl that’s common civil
Dares hardly shew her face in Town,
But skulks in corners up and down,
         As if here deeds were evil.

Then thanks to those of generous soul
         Who, prompted by good reason,
Have found a way, without controul,
The ardor of the blood to cool
         So heighten’d by the season.

But still the vertue of the age
         Appears e’en in our leudness;
For, tutor’d by the modest Stage,
At least we keep from bare-fac’d rage,
         Because ’til reckon’d rudeness.

In Town this trick has long got ground
         Of amorous masquerading:
And reason good, for all around
Was nought but masquerading found,
         In every other trading.

Nay, this is not the first, they say,
         Has been beyond the water;
For there, fame tells us, every day
Some masques are seen, tho’ not so gay,
         And of more CANTing nature.

Then you, who wisely right and wrong
         By fashion always measure,
To save your credit join the throng;
And you, who for that same may long,
         Come for the sake of pleasure.

Of something new you can’t here fail,
         If you’ll defy all dangers;
For tho’ perhaps the face be stale,
A man shall find his Spouses tail
         As new, as any stranger’s.

So on the bowers of Ida JOVE
         Once met his wife and sister
In masquerade; and tho’ her love
Had long since ceas’d his heart to move,
         He could not then resist her.

O state of bliss, by laws not chain’d!
         Which all the world had shar’d in,
Had EVE but from the fruit refrain’d:
But now ’til to th’ Elect restrain’d,
         That wander in this garden.

(Grub-street Journal, 15 June 1732)

Thursday, 29 June 1732   Friday, June 23. On Wednesday night at the Ridotto al’ Fresco, at Faux Hall [i.e. Vauxhall], there was not half the Company as was expected, being no more than 203 persons, amongst whom were several persons of distinction, but more Ladies than Gentlemen; and the whole was managed with great order and decency, a detachment of 100 of the Foot guards being posted round the garden: a Waiter belonging to the house having got drunk, put on a dress and went to Fresco, with the rest of the company; but being discovered, he was immediately turned out of doors. C. — His Royal highness the Prince, the E. of Scarborough, the L. Gage, &c. were present, and the whole affair was managed with decency and good order: about 2 o’clock his Royal Highness went away, but the greatest part of the company staid ’till 5 in the morning. DP. (Grub-street Journal)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "A Ballad on the Ridotto al Fresco", 31 January 2006 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/masquer.htm>

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