Imatges de pÓgina
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The other affections of the heart paint themfelves no otherwife on the face than by making an alteration in fome of its traces; but love, (and the fame may in fome measure be faid of joy) has the evident privilege of giving new graces, new beauties to the countenance; and of concealing, or even, for the time, amending its defects. Tho' a player, therefore, is able to represent to us a tolerably perfect image at least, of any other pasfion, without, in reality, fubmitting himself to its government; yet it does not follow, that he can by the fame means imitate, even tho' it were but imperfectly, the joyous intoxication of Love, without his being truly affected by it himself.

It would be expecting impoffibilities to require, that in every tender fcene that is to be reprefented on the ftage, the two perfons who perform'd the enamour'd parts fhould always be, in reality, in love with one another: as to this we only know, that when this is the cafe, we have the advantage of feeing the scene much better play'd than it can be under any other circumftances; but we are to with, in general, that both performers could always take up the paffion, for the moment their parts require them; and that, if it be only affumed for the occafion, it may appear as ftrongly as poffible they will never make even the lightest impreffion upon us, if they have not at least a natural inclination for the paffion in itself, whatever they may have for the perfon whom chance has thrown into their way for the prefent imaginary object of it. It is as impoffible for us to make a perfon, on whom youth, beauty, and accomplishments in woman have no power in real life, to borrow the extafies, the tranfporting frenzy, and all the gay delights that attend that paffion from what he fees

fees in others, as to make the dark and melancholy night exprefs the brightnefs of the finest day.

CHA P. V.

Which is a corollary to the foregoing Chapter.

ST

INCE a natural difpofition to love and tenderness is a neceffary requifite for playing the character of a lover to advantage, it is very evident that no actor ought to attempt parts of this kind, if he be past that period of his age in which loving would be proper in real life. The remembering our paft impreffions will never prove fufficient for our expreffing them as if prefent: 'tis in vain, on this occafion, that we call back what we once were in our thoughts, when the warmth and activity of our blood gave the paffions a command over us that we now no longer acknowledge. Thefe ideas, when our juices are become cold and frozen, fcarce able to creep along their paflages, feem but the remembrance of a pleafant dream; and can never awaken in us again thofe foft tranfports that were our happinefs while they were in their perfection. In order to their producing this effect upon us, it is neceffary that the objects of our paffion appear to us fuch as they did at that time; but how is this poffible, when we have no longer the fame eyes to view them with? It is the unlucky circumftance of human life, on this occafion, that the more we lose the right of being difficult to please, the nicer we become on that head; and as we deferve lefs, we expect more.

In this fituation, what means are there by which an actor and an actress can transform themfelves, according to our defires or expectations, or according to the neceffity the author has laid them under, into a pair of lovers, who believe that they fee in the object of their adoration every thing that nature has created perfect or amiable in the fex. Independently of what the players, in the latter part of their lives, want in the warmth of their hearts and inclinations, befide that they neither fee with the fame eyes, nor are capable of being affected in the fame fenfible manner that they would have been while younger, they ought to remember, that they will affuredly be in the fame fort of aukward perplexity in performing on the ftage the characters of amorous people, that they would be in,if what they are pretending were a reality. They will fpeak the language of love to a fuppos'd miftrefs fo much the more faintly, as they are fenfible they fhould do it were they in real life, and repeating the courtship of their younger days. They cannot but be fenfible that they should not in the latter cafe be able to perfwade; and they will never find it poffible to take up, in the former, the deportment and tone of voice, and the thousand niceties of fenfation and expreffion, by means of which they might have hoped to fucceed in a more proper time of life.

SECT.

SECTION the SECOND.

Of thofe Qualifications which, when they fall to the Share of that Clafs of Actors Spoken of in the Second Book, peculiarly intereft the Senfes of an Audience.

СНАР.

І.

That Sort of Voice which may be very adequate to certain Characters, may be by no means fufficient for the Actor, in Parts by which we are to be peculiarly moved and affected.

W

E fhould not fail to think it an abfurd and ridiculous attempt in any man who fhould bring himself before us on the ftage, be it in tragedy or in comedy, without adequate organs for the performance of what we expect from every one who comes there, who fhould perfwade himself, that he could be understood without being heard; and that an audience would patiently open their ears to hear the dumb fpeak, or fit down to fee thofe fcenes, into which they know the author has thrown every ornament that wit, fpirit and genius could give them, fink in the reprefentation into the cold ftupidity of pantomimes. Provided, however, that the actors in comedy do but take care to exprefs themselves fo diftinctly, and articulately, that they do not let us lofe a fyllable of what the author puts into their mouths, we, in many cafes, very readily pafs over the want of a fine tone, or the elegancies of a good voice.

G 4

Per

Perhaps it may be even establish'd as a rule, that it is not to the advantage of the Actor in comedy to have too full and fonorous a voice. The ufe of this in tragedy, all the world is acquainted with; but as whatever the voice gains in fullness, it lofes in swiftnefs; and as to speak quick, yet articulately, is the great merit, in many cafes, in comedy; a fwift and manageable voice, ready for every turn of expreffion, is the most of all to be wifh'd for, in the actor who has thefe parts affign'd him. The perfons who would fucceed in tragedy, on the contrary, have occafion for a voice that is ftrong, majestic, and pathetic. Comedy, even when the author means that we fhould be touch'd by it fomewhat in the manner of tragedy, is yet intended to give us but a flight fenfation of this kind; and therefore it requires but little of this affiftant energy: We expect, on the other hand, from tragedy, the moft ftrong and violent emotions; and to produce thefe, we always require fonorous voices in the principal characters engag'd in fcenes where there is room to raise them. It is abfolutely necessary, therefore, to the fuccefs of tragedy, that the voice of the perfons who perform the capital parts in it be proper, at the fame time to command the attention, to impress a sort of reverence on the audience, and to raise the greatest emotions in their hearts; that it be fuch as can give all the ftrength and vigour to the vehemence of the paffions, that the author could wifh in them; all the noble majefty that he intended in the expreffion of his moft elevated fentiments; and where an affecting forrow is to be delivered, that it have all that eloquent energy that is neceffary to ftrike, to feize upon, to penetrate the

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