Obrázky stránek

'Chastity being the first female virtue, Britomartis is a Briton; her part is fine, though it requires explication. His style is very poetical; no puns, affectations of wit, forced antitheses, or any of that low tribe.

His old words are all true English, and numbers exquisite; and since of words there is the multa renascentur, since they are all proper, such a poem should not (any more than Milton's) consist all of it of common ordinary words. See instances of descriptions.

Causeless jealousy in Britomartis, v. 6, 14, in its restlessness.

"Like as a wayward child, whose sounder sleep Is broken with some fearful dream's affright, With froward will doth set himself to weep, Ne can be still'd for all his nurse's might, But kicks and squalls, and shrieks for fell despite; Now scratching her, and her loose locks misusing, Now seeking darkness, and now seeking light; Then craving suck, and then the suck refusing: Such was this lady's loves in her love's fond accusing.” Curiosity occasioned by jealousy, upon occasion of her lover's absence. Ibid. Stan. 8, 9.

"Then as she look'd long, at last she spy'd

One coming towards her with hasty speed,
Well ween'd she then, ere him she plain descry'd,
That it was one sent from her love indeed;
Whereat her heart was fill'd with hope and dread,

Ne would she stay till he in place could come,
But ran to meet him forth to know his tiding's somme :
Even in the door him meeting, she begun.
"And where is he, thy lord, and how far hence?
Declare at once; and hath he lost or won ""


Care and his house are described thus, iv. 6, 33,

34, 35.

"Not far away, nor meet for any guest,

They spy'd a little cottage, like some poor man's nest.


"There entering in, they found the good man's self,
Full busily unto his work ybent,

Who was so wee a wretched wearish elf,

With hollow eyes and rawbone cheeks far spent,
As if he had in prison long been pent.
Full black and griesly did his face appear,
Besmear'd with smoke that nigh his eye-sight blent,
With rugged beard and hoary shaggy heare,
The which he never wont to comb, or comely shear.


"Rude was his garment, and to rags all rent,
No better had he, ne for better cared;
His blistered hands amongst the cinders brent,
And fingers filthy with long nails prepared,
Right fit to rend the food on which he fared.
His name was Care; a blacksmith by his trade,
That neither day nor night from working spared,
But to small purpose iron wedges made:
These be unquiet thoughts that careful minds invade."

'Homer's epithets were much admired by antiquity see what great justness and variety there are in these epithets of the trees in the forest, where the Redcross Knight lost Truth. B. i. Cant. i. Stan. 8, 9.

"The sailing pine, the cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop elm, the poplar never dry.
The builder-oak, sole king of forests all,
The aspine good for staves, the cypress funeral.


"The laurel, meed of mighty conquerors,
And poet's sage; the fir that weepeth still,
The willow worn of forlorn paramours,
The yew obedient to the bender's will,
The birch for shafts, the sallow for the mill:
The myrrhe sweet, bleeding in the bitter wound,
The war-like beech, the ash, for nothing ill,
The fruitful olive, and the plantane round,
The carver holm, the maple seldom inward sound."

'I shall trouble you no more, but desire you to let me conclude with these verses, though I think they have already been quoted by you. They are directions to young ladies oppressed with calumny, vi. 6, 14.

"The best (said he) that I can you advise,
Is to avoid the occasion of the ill;

For when the cause whence evil doth arise
Removed is, the effect surceaseth still.
Abstain from pleasure and restrain your will,
Subdue desire and bridle loose delight,
Use scanted diet, and forbear your fill,
Shun secresy, and talk in open sight;
So shall you soon repair your present evil plight."


No. 541. THURSDAY, NOV. 20, 1712.

Format enim natura prius nos intus ad omnem
Fortunarum habitum: juvat, aut impellit ad iram,
Aut ad humum mærore gravi deducit, et angit :
Post effert animi motus interprete linguâ.

HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 108.

For nature forms and softens us within,
And writes our fortune's changes in our face;
Pleasure enchants, impetuous rage transports,
And grief dejects, and wrings the tortur'd soul;
And these are all interpreted by speech


My friend the Templar, whom I have so often mentioned in these writings, having determined to lay aside his poetical studies, in order to a closer pursuit of the law, has put together, as a farewell essay, some thoughts concerning pronunciation and action, which he has given me leave to communicate to the public. They are chiefly collected from his favourite author Cicero, who



[ocr errors]

is known to have been an intimate friend of Ros-
cius the actor, and a good judge of dramatic per-
formances, as well as the most eloquent pleader
of the time in which he lived.


Cicero concludes his celebrated books De Oratore with some precepts for pronunciation and action, without which part he affirms that the best orator in the world can never succeed; and an indifferent one, who is master of this, shall gain much greater applause. What could make a stronger impression,' says he,' than those exclamations of Gracchus?" Whither shall I turn? Wretch that I am! to what place betake myself? Shall I go to the Capitol? Alas! it is overflowed with my brother's blood. Or shall I retire to my house? Yet there I behold my mother plunged in misery, weeping and despairing!" These breaks and turns of passion, it seems, were so inforced by the eyes, voice, and gesture of the speaker, that his very enemies could not refrain from tears. I insist,' says Tully, upon this the rather, because our orators, who are as it were actors of the truth itself, have quitted this manner of speaking; and the players, who are but the imitators of truth, have taken it up.'


I shall therefore pursue the hint he has here given me, and for the service of the British stage I shall copy some of the rules which this great Roman master has laid down; yet without confining myself wholly to his thoughts or words: and to adapt this essay the more to the purpose for which I intend it, instead of the examples he has. inserted in this discourse out of the ancient tragedies, I shall make use of parallel passages out of the most celebrated of our own.

The design of art is to assist action as much as possible in the representation of nature; for the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

appearance of reality is that which moves us in all representations, and these have always the greater force the nearer they approach to nature, and the less they show of imitation.

Nature herself has assigned to every motion of the soul its peculiar cast of the countenance, tone of voice, and manner of gesture, through the whole person; all the features of the face and tones of the voice answer, like strings upon musical instruments, to the impressions made on them by the mind. Thus the sounds of the voice, according to the various touches which raise them, form themselves into an acute or grave, quick or slow, loud or soft, tone. These too may be subdivided into various kinds of tones, as the gentle, the rough, the contracted, the diffuse, the continued, the intermitted, the broken, abrupt, winding, softened, or elevated. Every one of these may be employed with art and judgment; and all supply the actor, as colours do the painter, with an expressive variety.

Anger exerts its peculiar voice in an acute, raised, and hurrying sound. The passionate character of king Lear, as it is admirably drawn by Shakspeare, abounds with the strongest instançes of this kind.

-Death! Confusion!

Fiery! what quality ?-why Gloster! Gloster!
I'd speak with the duke of Cornwall and his wife.
Are they inform'd of this? my breath and blood!
Fiery! the fiery duke!

[ocr errors]

Sorrow and complaint demand a voice quite different; flexible, slow, interrupted, and modulated in a mournful tone: as in that pathetical soliloquy of cardinal Wolsey on his fall.

-a long farewell to all my greatness!
This is the state of man!- -to day he puts forth

« PředchozíPokračovat »