Imatges de pÓgina

Andromathe and this her son were mine,
Were mine by lot, and who fhall wrest them

from me ?

If any

There is here no pomp of language to fupport the player, no dignity but what is in the sentiment; yet we hardly see an instance on the 1łage in which the player is more the Monarch than Mr. Quin is in this į and 'tis evident that he gives, by his manner of delivering the words, a majefty to the speech, which none but a very judicious reader will find in the closet. thing can add to the idea of true grcatness, which we conceive of the character of Pyrrhus from this Speech, it is that noble, that haughty resentment with which this player makes him receive the fecret threatning couched under smooth words by thie ambaslador, of the Greeks joining against hiin in case of a refusal. With what majesty, as well as warmth, two things not easily combin’d, except, by this excellent actor, does he answer,

No, let them come, since I was born to wage
Eternal wars ; let them now turn their rage
On him who conquer’d for them; let them come,
And in Epirus seek another Troy.
'Twas thus they recompens'd my godlike father,
Thus was Achilles thank'd-But, prince, remember
Their black ingratitude then cost them dear.

Tho' the lower part of an audience have not generally that readiness of apprehension which people accuftom'd to the height of poetry have brought themselves to, they have all, however, the seeds of it in them, and wait only to have then warm’d and enliven’d by the actor's


eloquence, to bring them to unfold themselves. The player, who, while performing in the character of some great man, perceives himself full of that celestial fire with which he, while living and transacting the things he is representing was alfo animated, will find no difficulty in diffusing the facred flame all about him ; his audience will meet it as it breaks from him, and the very meanest soul will find fenfibility enough to catch some spark of it. The player thus qualify'd and thus exerting himself, converts the most timid and pufillanimous heart into a bold and noble one, and every individual of his audience, at least for the moment while he is delivering the noble sentiments of his part, becomes a heroe. People are in a manner persuaded that themselves only want opportunities to astonish the world with their magnanimity, and that if they were placed in the very fituation of the heroe whom they see the player personating, they should come up to all the noble heights he arrives at, and perhaps excell him. At every elevated sentiment the poet has thrown into the character, they fancy to themselves that they are only entertained with the noble thoughts of their own hearts. They contemplate in the great man they are admiring, what they firmly believe themselves capable of being; and admire and reverence in his virtues the imaginary greatness of foul to which they fancy themselves shou'd have aspir'd, if fortune had been favourable enough to them to have given them occasions of exert,

We hear much of the amazing power of the antient orators, and are apt to wonder at the асcounts we receive of the additional force which F5


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they gave in speaking to those pieces of theirs which are left us : Something like this enthusiasm we are describing, gave them the energy they are fo highly celebrated for; and if we wou'd form a true idea of the effects it had on their auditors, the best method we can take, is to be attentive to a good tragedy, in which a considerable part falls to the share of Mr. Quin.


As all Players have occasion for the great Quality

of Sensibility ; those in a particular manner who propose to themselves to succeed in drawing Tears

from us, have more Necessity than any others, for that peculiar kind of it, which we sometimes express by the Word Tenderness, iho strongly by the appropriated' Term Feeling.

tho' more

T is a maxim as old as the days of Horace;

if you wou'd have me shed tears, you must werp your fulf first. That excellent author address’u this doctrine to crators; but it is still more applicable to actors.

Would the tragedian strongly impress the illusion of his performance upon us, he must first impress it as strongly upon himself;. he must fecl every thing strongly, that he would have his audience feel : In order to his utmost success, it is necessary that he imagine himself to be, nay that he for the time really is the person he reprefents, and that a happy frenzy perswades hiin that he is himself in his own person betray'd, persecuted, and exposed to all the unmerited injuries, for which we are to pity him. Nay it is necessary that this voluntary error pass from his



imagination to his heart, and on many occasions that a pretended distress produce from him real tears: In this case we no longer perceive in hiin the cold player, who by his studied tones and forc'd gestures, is labouring to intereft our hearts in imaginary adventures ; he is to us the person he represents, and if some unsurmountable accident does not oppose the effect he ought to produce, he is sure to work all the wonders that can be perform'd by his profession. The players of this masterly kind are the only absolute fovereigns of the world: They command in an irresistible manner the heart, the very soul itfell. They are the only enchanters who know how to give feeling to the most lifeless, and naturally insensible beings.

Such as this is the power of sorrow when well express’d: This tender affection of the soul is a kind of epidemic malady, the progress of which among an audience is amazing; it spreads itself every way at once, and infects the most remote spectators with a rapidity scarce to be conceiv'd. Contrary to the nature of all other infections, this propagates itself only by the eyes and ears ; but it passes through both these fo regularly and so certainly, that it is sufficient if we see a person in real and undeserv'd affiction ; nay, if we only hear of it, we are sure, whether we will or not, to join in it.

The utmost effects of the other paflions are by no means fo contagious: A man gives himself up in our company to all the extravagant emotions of rage and fury; yet we remain in perfect, undisturbid tranquility; another is elevated to the clouds with a transport of joy, yet we, tho' present at the whole scene, continue leF 6


rious and unmov’d; but tears and the figns of distress, even in a person ever so indifferent to us, have almost always the power to affect us, to touch our hearts, and make us sympathize : Born as we are to pain, to sufferings and misfortune, we read with a feeling forrow our own fate in that of the unhappy wherever we meet them ; and the wretchedness of others is a fort of mirror to us, in which we see and cannot but contemplate with bitterness and sorrow the miseries which we know are attach'd to our own condition.

It is not difficult to aflign the reason of our finding it thus easy to afflict and mortify ourfelves: We shall understand it pretty readily, if we enquire of our hearts what is truly and exactly the nature of that pleasure which we receive from seeing a tragedy perform'd: Our feeling ourfelves affected is not always a proof of the fuperior merit of the piece; we often go thither on purpose to pick up some impressions which we know we ought to have, but cannot find that we really are potless'd of; or to throw off fome others which displease, and seem not fo agreeable as they ought to be, to the circumstances of our bearis.

What is most of all surprizing is, that there appears to be a sort of joy in the expressing our forrow; and we often go to such a representation on purpose to indulge a melancholy, and give ourselves an opportunity of shedding tears. Every man may assure himself, from the remembrance of some part or other of his life, that this odd inclination is natural; and many reasons fpecious enough may be asiign'd for it. The difficulty is not to affin some one cause for it, but to deter

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