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in a stronger light than the rapid change which a few months' education produces on the physiognomy of those dumb children to whom the ingenuity of the present age furnishes the means of mental culture-a change from listlessness, vacancy, and seeming fatuity, to the expressive and animated look of self-enjoyment and conscious intelligence. It is true that, in such a state of society as ours, a great proportion of the community are as incapable of reflection as savages; but the principle of imitation, which, in some measure, assimilates to each other all the members of the same group or circle, communicates the external aspect of intelligence and of refinement to those who are the least entitled to assume it: and it is thus we frequently see the most complete mental imbecility accompanied with what is called a plausible or imposing appearance, or, in other words, a countenance which has caught, from imitation, the expression of sagacity.

I have already said that, in the case of most persons, the pow. er of imitation decays as the period of childhood draws to a close. To this cause it is probably owing that the strong resemblance, which often renders twins scarcely distinguishable from each other in infancy, in most cases disappears gradually, in proportion as their countenances are rendered more expressive by the development of their respective characters. Like other powers, however, exercised by the infant mind, this faculty may be easily continued through the whole of life by a perseverance in the habits of our early years. By a course of systematical culture, it may even be strengthened to a degree far exceeding what is ever attained by the unassisted capacities of our natures. It is thus that the powers of the mimic are formed-powers which almost all children have a disposition to indulge, and of which it is sometimes difficult to restrain the exercise. The strength of the propensity seems to vary a good deal, according to the physical temperament of the individual; but, wherever it meets with any encouragement, it is well known that no faculty whatever is more susceptible of improvement: and accordingly, when at any time the possession of it happens to be at all fashionable in the higher circles, it very soon ceases to be a rare accomplishment. In the other sex the power of imitation is, I think, in general, greater than in ours.

A frequent reiteration of any act, it has been often remarked, communicates to the mind, not only a facility in performing it, but an increased proneness or disposition to repeat it. This observation is remarkably verified in those who accustom themselves to the exercise of mimicry. Their propensity to imitation gains new strength from its habitual indulgence, and sometimes becomes so powerful as to be hardly subject to the control of the will. Instances of this have, more than once, fallen under my own observation; and, in a few well-authenticated cases, the propensity is said to have become so irresistible as to constitute a species of disease.

As we have a faculty of imitating the peculiarities of our acquaintances, so we are able to fashion, in some degree, our own exterior, according to the ideal forms which imagination creates. The same powers of embellishing nature, which are exercised by the poet and the painter may, in this manner, be rendered subservient to the personal improvement of the individual. By a careful study of the best models which the circle of his acquaintance presents to him, an outline may be conceived of their common excellencies, excluding every peculiarity of feature which might designate the particular objects of his imitation; and this imaginary original he may strive to copy and to realize in himself. It is by a process analogous to this (as Sir Joshua Reynolds has very ingeniously shown) that the masters in painting rise to eminence; and such, too, is the process which Quintilian recommends to the young orator who aspires to the graces of elocution and of action: “Imitate,” says he, “the best speakers you can find; but imitate only the perfections they possess in common.”

It is remarked by the same admirable critic, that although a disposition to imitate be, in young men, one of the most favorable symptoms of future success, yet little is to be expected from those who, in order to raise a laugh, delight in mimicking the peculiarities of individuals. An exclusive attention, indeed, to the best models which human life supplies, indicates some defect in those powers of imagination and taste, which might have supplied the student with an ideal pattern still more faultless; and therefore, how great soever his powers of execution may be, they can never produce anything but a copy (and probably an inferior copy) of the original he has in view.

These observations may throw some light on the distinction between the powers of the mimic and of the actor. The former attaches himself to individual imitation; the latter, equally faithful to the study of nature, strives, in the course of a more extensive observation, to seize on the genuine expressions of passion and of character, stripped of the singularities with which they are always blended when exhibited to our senses. It has been often remarked that these powers are seldom united in the same person ; and I believe the remark is just, when stated with proper limitations. It is certainly true that talent for mimicry may exist in the greatest perfection where there is no talent for acting, because the former talent implies merely the power of execution, which is not necessarily connected either with taste or with imagination. On the other hand, when these indisputable qualities in a great actor are to be found, there will probably be little disposition to cultivate those habits of minute and vigilant attention to singularities on which mimicry depends. But the powers of the actor evidently presuppose and comprehend the powers of the mimic, if he had thought the cultivation of them worthy of his attention; for the same reason that the genius or the historical painter might, if he had chosen, have succeeded in the humbler walks of painting portraits. If I am not much mistaken, the conclusion might be confirmed by an appeal to facts. Foote, it is well known, was but an indifferent actor; and many other mimics of acknowledged excellence in their own line have succeeded still worse than he did on the stage. But I have never known a good actor who did not also possess enough of the power of mimicry to show that it was his own fault that he had not acquired it in still greater perfection. Garrick, I have been told by some of his acquaintance, frequently amused his friends with portraits of individual character incomparably finer and more faithful than any that were ever executed by Foote.


THEY saw before them, far as they could view,
Full many people gathered in a crew;
Whose great assembly they did much admire ;
For never there the like resort they knew,

So towards them they coasted, to enquire
What thing so many nations met did there desire.

There they beheld a mighty Giant stand

Upon a rock, and holding forth on high
A huge great pair of balance in his hand,
With which he boasted in his surquedrie*
That all the world he would weigh equally
If ought he had the same to counterpoise:
For want whereof he weighed vanity,

And fill'd his balance full of idle toys:
Yet was admired much of fools, women, and boys.

He said that he would all the earth uptake

And all the sea, divided each from either:
So would be of the fire one balance make,
And one of air, without or wind or weather;
Then would he balance heaven and hell together,
And all that did within them all contain;
Of all whose weight he would not miss a feather:

And look what surplus did of each remain,
He would to his own part restore the same again.

For why, he said, they all unequal were,

And had encroached upon each other's share ;
Like as the sea (which plain he showed there)
Had worn the earth, so did the fire the air;
So all the rest did others' parts impair :


And so were realms and nations run awry.
Ali which he undertook for to repair,

In sort as they were formed anciently ;
And all things would reduce into equality.
Therefore the vulgar did about him flock

And cluster thick unto his leasings vain;
Like foolish flies about an honey-crock;
In hope by him great benefit to gain,
And uncontrolled freedom to obtain.
All which when Artegal did see and hear,
How he misled the simple people's train,

In 'sdainful wise he drew unto him near,
And thus unto him spake without regard or fear.

“Thou that presum'st to weigh the world anew,

And all things to an equal to restore,
Instead of right me seems great wrong dost show,
And far above thy forces' pitch to soar:
For ere thou limit what is less or more
In everything, thou oughtest first to know
What was the poise of every part of yore:

And look, then, how much it doth overflow
Or fail thereof, so much is more than just to trow.

“For at the first they all created were

In goodly measure by their Maker's might;
And weighed out in balances so near,
That not a dram was missing of their right:
The earth was in the middle centre pight,
In which it doth immoveable abide,
Hemm'd in with waters like a wall in sight,

And they with air, that not a drop can slide :
All which the heavens contain, and in their courses guide.

“Such heavenly justice doth among them reign,

That every one do know their certain bound ;
In which they do these many years remain,
And 'mongst them all no change hath yet been found;

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