Imatges de pàgina
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The other affections of the heart paint them. selves no otherwise on the face than by making an alteration in some of its traces ; but love, (and the same may in some measure be said 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 toJerably perfect image at least, of any other palsion, without, in reality, submitting himself to its government; yet it does not follow, that he can by the same means imitate, even tho' it were but imperfe&lly, the joyous intoxication of Love, without his being truly affected by it himself.

It would be expecting impossibilities to require, that in every tender scene that is to be represented on the stage, the two persons who perform’d the enamour'd parts should always be, in reality, in love with one another : as to this we only know, that when this is the case, we have the advantage of seeing the scene much better play'd than it can be under

any

other circumstances; but we are to with, in general, that both performers could always

take up the passion, for the moment their parts require them; and that, if it be only assumed for the occasion, it may appear as strongly as possible : they will never make even the lightest impression upon us, if they have not at least a natural inclination for the passion in itself, whatever they may have for the person whom chance has thrown into their way for the present imaginary object of it. It is as impossible for us to make a perfon, on whom youth, beauty, and accomplishments in woman have no power in real life, to borrow the extasies, the transporting frenzy, and all the gay delights that attend that passion from what he

fees

sees in others, as to make the dark and melancholy night express the brightness of the finest day.

CH A P. V.

Which is a corollary to the foregoing Chapter.

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INCE a natural disposition to love and ten

derness is a necessary requisite 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 past impressions will never prove sufficient for our expressing them as if

preTent: 'tis in vain, on this occasion, that we call back what we once were in our thoughts, when the warmth and activity of our blood gave the passions a command cver us that we now no Jonger acknowledge. These ideas, when our juices are become cold and frozen, scarce able to creep along their pallages, seem but the remem.brance of a pleasant dream; and can never awaken in us again those foft transports that were our happiness while they were in their perfection. In order to their producing this effect upon us, it is necessary that the objects of our passion appear to us such as they did at that time; but how is this pollible, when we have no longer the same eyes to view them with? It is the unlucky circumstance 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 deserve less, we expect more.

In this situation, what means are there by which an actor and an actress can transform themselves, according to our desires or expectations, or according to the necessity the author has laid them under, into a pair of lovers, who believe that they see in the object of their adoration every thing that nature has created perfect or amiable in the sex. 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 same eyes, nor are capable of being affected in the fame sensible manner that they would have been while younger, they ought to remember, that they will assuredly be in the fame sort of aukward perplexity in performing on the stage the characters of amorous people, chat they would be in, if what they are pretending were a reality. They will speak the language of love to a fuppos'd mistress fo much the more faintly, as they are sensible they should do it were they in real life, and repeating the courtship of their Founger days. They cannot but be sensible that they should not in the latter case be able to perswade ; and they will never find it poffible to take up, in the former, the deportment and tone of voice, and the thousand niceries of sensation and expreffion, by means of which they might have hoped to fucceed in a more proper time of life.

SECT.

SECTION the SECOND.

Of those Qualifications which, when they fall

to the Share of that Class of Actors spoken of in the Second Book, peculiarly interest the Senses of an Audience.

CHAP. I.

That Sort of Voice which may be very adequate to

certain ČkaraElers, may be by no means sufficient for the Aftor, in Parts by which we are to be peculiarly moved and affected.

W

E Tould not fail to think it an abfurd

and ridiculous attempt in any man who should bring himself before us on the stage, be it in tragedy or in comedy, without adequate organs for the performance of what we expect froin every one who comes there, who should perswade himself, that he could be understood without being heard ; and that an audience would patiently open their ears to hear the dumb speak, or fit down to see those scenes, into which they know the author has thrown every ornament that wit, spirit and genius could give them, sink in the representation into the cold stupidity of pantomimes. Provided, however, that the actors in comedy do but take care to express themselves fo distinctly, and articulately, that they do not let us lose a syllable of what the author puts into their mouths, we, in many cases, very readily pass over the want of a fine tone, or the elegancics of a good voice,

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 sonorous a voice. The use of this in tragedy, all the world is acquainted with ; but as whatever the voice gains in fullness, it loses in swiftness; and as to speak quick, yet articulately, is the great merit, in many cases, in comedy ; a swift and manageable voice, ready for every turn of expreffion, is the moft of all to be with'd for, in the actor who has these parts affign'd him. The persons who would succeed in tragedy, on the contrary, have occasion for a voice that is strong, majestic, and. pathetic. Comedy, even when the author means that we should be touch'd by it fomewhat in the manner of tragedy, is yet intended to give us but a flight fensation of this kind ; and therefore it re. quires but little of this assistant energy: We expect, on the other hand, from tragedy, the most strong and violent emotions; and to produce these, we always require fonorous voices in the principal characters engag’d in scenes where there is room to raise them. It is absolutely necessary, therefore, to the success of tragedy, that the voice of the persons who perform the capital parts in it be proper, at the same 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 such as can give all the strength and vigour to the vehemence of the pasions, that the author could wish in them; all the noble majesty that he intended in the expreffion of his most elevated sentiments; and where an affecting forrow is to be delivered, that it have all that eloquent energy that is necessary to strike, to seize upon, to penetrate the

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