Imatges de pÓgina
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I wou'd thou coud'ft ftammer, that thou might't

pour this conceal'd man out of thy mouth, as "wine comes out of a narrow neck'd bottle, either too much at once, or none at all. I prythee take the cork out of thy mouth, that I may drink thy tidings.'

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Every fpeech after this, convinc'd us more and more, that we had been long in poffeffion of a jewel that we had fcandaloufly neglected; till toward the end of the play, her raillery to her lover, who pretended to be dying for her, fhew'd us fully what he was. Ex eo Corydon, Corydon eft tempore nobis.

With what pleasure is it that one recollects the circumftances that discovered fo much merit; that one remembers the manner in which she said,

No, faith, die by attorney; the poor world ' is almost fix thousand years old, and in all this time there was not a man died in his own perfon, videlicet, in a love caufe: Troilus had his brains dafh'd out with a Grecian club, yet he did what he cou'd to die before, and he is 6 one of the patterns of love. Leander was another of them; he wou'd have liv'd many a fair year, tho' Hero had turn'd Nun, if it had not been for a hot midfummer night; for, good youth, he went forth to wash himself in the Hellefpont, and being taken with the cramp he 6 was drown'd; and the foolish chroniclers of that age found it was for Hero of Seftos. But thefe are all lies; men have dy'd from tinie " to time, and worms have eaten them; but not ⚫ for love.

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CHAP.

CHA P. IV.

Players who are naturally amorous, are the only ones who fhou'd perform the Parts of Lovers upon the Stage.

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N actress whofe perfonal charms had long render'd her celebrated among a set of formers, where fome others might with more juftice have claim'd the firft applaufe, had the part of a princefs affign'd her in a new piece, whofe character was remarkable for a very tender paffion to a very faithless man: She perfectly remember'd the words of her part, but he was by no means able to throw into it that tendernefs, which the author had meant to characterise the lady by.

There are many reafons why two people of the fame fex fhou'd not have any very great friendship for one another while on the fame ftage; but all these pleaded in vain against the generofity of temper of one of this favourite lady's fifter-actreffes. She was fond of her, and wifh'd nothing fo much as to fee her merit as a player equal to the applauses which were bestow'd upon her perfon. She peculiarly wish'd to fee her excell in this new part. She gave her many leffons upon the fubject; but they did not produce the intended effect. In fine, the inftru&trefs one day in amazement afk'd her scholar, Dear creature, can there be any real difficulty in what I am taking all this pains to fet you right in? throw your felf out of the perfonated character into real life; fuppofe yourself the generous tender woman you act, betray'd in the fame bafe manner: If you

were

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were to be this moment abandoned by a man whom you tenderly loved, would it not ftrike you with the moft fenfible pain? Would not you be endeavouring by every means in the world? I reply'd the lady to whom this difcourfe was directed! I fhould certainly be endeavouring to get myself another lover as quick as I could. If that be the cafe, reply'd the other, we are both throwing away our time: I am very well fatisfy'd that you will never play this part as you ought to do.

The confequence the friend of our actress drew from this declaration of the ftate of her heart, was a very just one; the celebrated lady having no other ideas in a love affair than those of intereft or vanity, was utterly incapable of expreffing any thing of the tenderness and delicacy of that elegant and difinterested paffion.

What is the reafon that no body ever play'd Juliet fo well as Mrs. Cibber, but that Mrs. Cibber has a heart better form'd for tenderness than any other woman who ever attempted it; and perhaps, in real life, more deferves the name of a lover than any body of her sex ever did? It is eafy to fee that in all that tenderness Shakespear has put into the mouth of this favourite character, this actress is, as the delivers it, glorying in the opportunity of expreffing her own fentiments in fuch elegant language; and 'tis for this reason that no body after her will ever be endur'd on the fame ftage in that paffionate speech, wherein fhe tells Romeo from her window,

Thou know'ft the mask of night is on my face, Elfe would a maiden blufh bepaint my cheek

For

For that which thou haft heard me fpeak to

night:

Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny
What I have spoke ;-but farewel compliment.

Doft thou love me?-I know thou wilt fay aye,

And I will take thy word: yet if thou fwear'ft,
Thou may'ft prove falfe:at lover's perjuries
They fay Jove laughs.-Ogentle Romeo,
If thou doft love, pronounce it faithfully;
Or if you think I am too quickly won,
I'll frown and be perverse, and fay thee nay,
So thou wilt woo; but elfe not for the world.

In truth, sweet Mountague, I am too fond, And therefore thou may'ft think my 'haviour light: But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more true, Than thofe that have more cunning to be ftrange.

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Or in thofe eager and animated fpeeches to him afterwards, which indeed, in reading, are very pleafing; but which are not the thing that ftrike us to the heart with a tenderness for the character, except when fhe fpeaks them, fuch are,

If thou wilt fwear, fwear by thy gracious felf,
Who art the god of my idolatry,
And I'll believe thee.-

O for a falkner's voice, To lure this Taffel-gentle back again. Bondage is hoarfe, and may not speak aloud, Elfe would I tear the cave where Eccho lies, And make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine, With repetition of my Romeo's name. -If that thy bent of love be honourable, Thy purpose marriage, fend me word to

morrow;

And

And all my fortunes at thy foot I lay, And follow thee, my love, throughout the world.

Whoever has heard this adrefs deliver thefe fpeeches, knows that there is more fondness, more real love in them, than in all the pompous declarations of it in a Satira, when in the transports of an enthusiastic paffion, fhe fays of Alexander,

He kiffes fofter than a fouthern wind,
Curls like a vine, and touches like a god.

Or in the eager expreffion of it in Hermione, when Pyrrhus apologizes for his own inconftancy, by telling her, the man who ne'er was lov'd can ne'er be false; with how much spirit and earnestness does Mrs. Horton answer to this,

Have I not lov'd you then, perfidious man?
For you I flighted all the Grecian princes;
Forfook my father's houfe, conceal'd my wrongs,
When most provok'd would not return to Sparta,
In hopes that time might fix your wavering heart.
I lov'd you then, inconftant; and even now,
Inhuman king, that you pronounce my death,
My heart ftill doubts, if I fhould love or hate you.

But with all the energy that accompanies this speech, there appears fomething wanting in it; we perceive that Hermione is very angry, but we do not diftinguish in her that heart-felt paffion the poet meant the fhould difcover in every fentence, as the fource of that anger: pride, and an indignation of being forfaken for another, feem the reigning paffions in the character as this lady

repre

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