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THE first performance of the Hippokratistic, Hippokorustic Hippodrome, or Great Moral Show, was given last evening in the Theatre of Dionysus, on 43d Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.
Zeno, Aristotle, & Co. (whom some of our citizens will remember as successful speculators during the late war) are the enterprising managers of this Hippodrome, and to the travelling agent, P. T. Aristotle, Esq., is due much credit for the excellence of the side shows. Compared to the gigantic concourse of human beings that gathered in the Theatre of Dionysus last evening, all previous audiences seem small in the extreme.
The Academy sent a delegation of Freshmen some one thousand strong, with two thousand eight hundred Proctors to keep them in order. Many thousand other children from the High Schools and Seminaries of our great metropolis were also present.
At 8 o'clock precisely the band struck up, "See, the Conquering Hero comes"; and the inimitable clown Socrates, arrayed in a seal-skin suit with brass buttons, and Cebes, the ring-master, decorously arrayed in a tall hat, black velvet coat, and green silk pantaloons, entered the ring.
Several years ago, our malignant contemporary, the Corinth Daily Herald, indulged in considerable cheap wit at the expense of the great and good Socrates. We will admit that as a base-ball player his career was hardly successful; but even his bitterest enemies must confess that nature certainly intended him for a clown, and we defy Corinth or any other Peloponnesian village to produce his equal in that capacity.
The performance opened with a sprightly dialogue between Cebes and the inimitable Clown. After a few side-splitting mathematical conundrums, Socrates in his most facetious manner asked Cebes, "Would you not be cautious in affirming that the addition of 1 to 1, or the division of 1, is the cause of 2?" * Cebes, after mature deliberation, gave it up, whereupon the Clown convulsed the audience by the following witty reply: "Then you would loudly asseverate that you know of no way in which anything comes into existence except by participation in its own proper essence, and consequently as far as you know, the only cause of 2 is the participation of duality; that is the way to make two, and the participation in one is the way to make one."*
Before the audience had ceased applauding this jeu d'esprit the band struck up "Old Dog Tray," and Diogenes, the famous prestidigitateur, entered the ring with his magic Tub.
The sleight-of-hand operations which this gentleman performed were, to say the least, wonderful. At his bidding the Tub transformed itself into a two-story French-roofed dwelling-house, with all the modern improvements, furnished most elegantly from top to bottom, while through the windows Diogenes himself could be seen, playing ball-pool upon the magnificent billiard-table which graced the second-story front-room.
This marvellous transformation scene was loudly applauded; Diogenes, however, with a cynical smile refused an encore, and retired from the ring, rolling the Tub before him. A jocose argument between Cebes and Socrates followed in regard to the probability of possibility, in which Cebes was thoroughly discomfited, for Socrates convicted him of reasoning in a circle, on the ground that he was arguing in a ring.
In response to the enthusiastic yells of the Freshmen, the Clown sang a charming little melody entitled "Xanthippe and I are out," written expressly for him by a celebrated composer whose name we are not at liberty to disclose.
The band next played "Listen to the Canary-Bird," and Aristophanes appeared before the spectators with a little army of trained canary-birds, trick frogs, and performing clouds. For a reason not apparent to the spectators the animals would not obey their master, and their obstinacy so affected the clouds that they were dissolved in tears. Aristophanes, after a short consultation with one of the supernumeraries, came forward and addressed the audience as follows:-
"Friends and fellow-citizens, - Some few weeks ago I published a letter in the Spirit of the Times, accusing this fellow (pointing to Socrates) of lack of politeness at a dinner given to the prizefighter Pericles; I now find that he has taken his revenge on me by hiring a mercenary slave to intoxicate Listerops, my head bird, so that the latter cannot drill his army this evening in his usual brilliant style." Before Aristophanes could proceed further with his dastardly reflections on the noble Socrates, the Freshmen blew a shower of beans through their bean-shooters, and drove the cowardly man, with his whole retinue of beasts and birds, from the ring.
As soon as the disorder was a little quieted, Alexander the great Macedonian equestrian entered the ring, accompanied by his fiery steed Bucephalus. Alexander threw a somersault in the air and landed on the head of Bucephalus, after which Bucephalus threw a somersault in the air and landed upon the head of Alexander. Horse and rider then threw simultaneous somersaults through tissue-paper hoops held by the Clown, with such agility that Diogenes was heard to observe, "If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Bucephalus." The Highland Fling performed on a tight rope by the nine Muses followed these equestrian feats. The band accompanied the dancers with the tune "One little, two little, three little Injuns," but we are sorry to say that premiere danseuse Terpsichore hardly did justice to her reputation.
Cebes and Socrates had just begun a mirthful controversy in regard to the infinity of the absolute, when the Clown was observed to stammer and turn pale.
The Freshmen were beginning to call "More," when a sight met their eyes that froze their very marrow with terror. Following the eyes of the Clown towards the centre of the theatre, they beheld coming down the middle aisle, spectacled and grim, Xanthippe. With a bound she cleared the rope surrounding the ring, and striding up to her no longer jocund spouse, regarded him with a contemptuous stare. Cebes, muttering something about an engagement elsewhere, retired from the ring, leaving the unfortunate Clown to his fate. Socrates raised his hand with a deprecatory gesture, murmuring, "Really, my dear - "
With a sardonic grin Xanthippe cut short his remarks, and, seizing Socrates by the ear, she dragged him calmly but firmly toward the rear entrance of the theatre.
As the unfortunate Clown was crossing the threshold, he turned toward the audience, who were rushing and tumbling out of the front doors, and pathetically observed:-
"The hour of departure is now come, - for you to live, for me to die; but which of us goes the better way the Divinity only knows."*
* Apology, Chap. XXXIII.
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