Imatges de pÓgina
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rus abounds too much in them, in the character of the God of Revels; yet, to the honour of Volpone and Comus, we mean when Mr. Quin reprefents thofe characters, perhaps it has not been found out by any body, that has not read as well as feen those pieces, that there is a line in meafure, or a fingle rhyme in either of them.

We have had occafion to speak of this great player's delivering the invocation to Cotytto, in his character of Comus in another place, and that on another account. It may be added here, that this is one of thofe paffages in Comus where the rhyme breaks in upon the folemnity and fenfe, and in which Mr. Quin wholly finks it upon us; delivering the words in their natural periods, without regard either to the jingle or to the measure; except that he preferves fo much of the laft as is enough, without rendering his delivery forc'd or ftiff, to keep up a peculiar fmoothness and majesty in it.

Another instance, in the fame piece, is his courting the lady as fhe fits in the enchanted chair. The poet has thrown every thing that he here delivers, into rhyme and a peculiar measure, but Mr. Quin finks both in a great degree upon us, and by that means gives a majefty to the sense that it wants in every mouth befide. Who, as we before obferv'd, that had not read the piece, would find out the rhymes as he speaks this;

Hence, loathed melancholy,

Of Cerberus and blackeft midnight born,
In Stygian cave forlorn,

'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks and fighs un

holy,

Find out fome uncouth cell

Where

Where brooding darknefs fpreads his jealous wings, And the night-raven fings.

There, under Ebon fhades, and low-brow'd rocks,
As ragged as thy locks,

In deep Cimmerian darkness ever dwell.
But come, thou goddess fair and free,
In heav'n yclep'd, Euphrofyne,
And by men, heart-easing mirth,
Whom lovely Venus at a birth,
With two fifter-graces more,
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore.
Hafte thee, nymph, and bring with thee
Jeft and youthful jollity:
Quips and cranks, and wanton wiles;
Nods and becks, and wreathed fmiles,
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple fleek,
Sport that wrinkled care derides,
And laughter holding both his fides.
Come, and trip it as you go,
On the light fantaftic toe;
And in thy right-hand lead with thee
The mountain-nymph, fweet Liberty.

The spirit with which this player delivers this truly poetical fpeech, is fuch, as perhaps never was, or will be equal'd; and we hardly know whether moft to admire, that or his judgment, in the peculiar article we have been treating of, the making us lofe the rhyme, which here would add a stiffness to what the poet meant, and making it the freeft fpeech in the world. There is another, in the fame fcene, yet more feverely loaded with the double chain of rhyme and measure; it is even thrown into the ftanza's and alternate rhyme of a ballad; yet the

art

art of this player almost entirely throws off both, and gives the true force and dignity to the fentiment contained in it, that it would have had if deliver'd in profe. The paffage we mean is, his address to the lady after the entertainment his magic had given her.

Caft thine eyes around and fee
How from ev'ry element,
Nature's fweets are cull'd for thee,
And her choiceft bleffings fent.
Fire, water, earth, and air combine

To compofe the rich repaft;
Their aid the diftant feafons join,

To court thy fmell, thy fight, thy taste.
Hither fummer, autumn, fpring,
Hither all your tributes bring;
Here on bended knee be feen
Doing homage to your queen.

If we would fee a beauty of this kind, fet off in its true light and value by comparison, let us recollect the under players acting in one of Lee's tragedies. Whoever has feen Hannibal's Overthrow has found that fome, tho' very good players, and particularly excellent in their characters there, have not the addrefs to keep the unnatural jingle of the rhyme out of their ears, even in fome of the moft paffionate fcenes; but the fubalterns never fail to give it us ftrong at every tenth fyllable, let the fenfe fare as it can. The Tag, in the Orphan, famous for having been spoke in this

manner,

To his temptation lewdly fhe inclin'd
Her foul, and for an apple damn'd mankind,

was

was alfo for a long time deliver'd, by fucceffive players, with fuch a religious obfervance of the rhyme, that there was almost as abfolute a ftop at the end of one of the lines, as at that of the other.

A more modern inftance, and one which we wish to fee mended, as it is of the number of the few things that difplease us in a very pleafing play, is that of the Friar in Romeo and Juliet, who enters, at his morning employ of gathering medicinal herbs for the use of the poor, with these lines.

The grey-ey'd morn finiles on the frowning night,
Cheq'ring the eastern clouds with ftreaks of light;
Now ere the fun advance his burning eye
The day to chear, or night's dank dew to dry,
I must fill up this ofier cage of ours
With potent herbs, and precious juiced flow'rs.
Mighty is the powerful grace that lies

In herbs, trees, ftones, and their true qualities:
For nought fo vile that on the earth doth live,
But to the earth fome fpecial good doth give;
Nor ought fo good but, ftrain'd from its fair use,
Revolts to vice, and ftumbles on abuse.

The poet, according to the fashion of the times, has thrown this into rhyme; but we do not want the player to put us in continual mind of that blemish, or to preferve what we wifh had not been exhibited: we dare pronounce it, that if the actor we have mentioned before had these lines to speak, their fenfe would affect the audience as much more than it at present does, as the rhyme would be lefs diftinguish'd.

- CHAP.

CH A P. . VI.

Whether Tragedy ought or ought not to be spoke in a declamatory manner.

PER

ERHAPS, among all the queftions that have been or may be ftarted upon the subject of the player's profeffion, there is no one about which the world is lefs agreed than this, Whether or not declamation be a proper manner of speaking for the performer in tragedy? The occafion of all the diverfity of opinions which we meet with on this head, however, rather arifes from difputes about words than about things; and many who ftrenuously oppofe the decifions of one another on the fubject, only do it because they understand the terms declamatory and declamation in a different fenfe from one another.

Those who argue the moft ftrongly against this manner of delivery in tragedy, in general underftand by declamatory speaking, that unmeaning recitation, that unnatural and monotonous delivery which too many of our fecond rate players have fallen into; and which, as it is not dictated by nature, may indeed deafen and weary the ears of an audience, but can never speak either to the understanding or to the heart.

Declamatory speaking of this kind ought to be banish'd from every part, from every kind of tragedy; but our modern criticks, who, to avoid this extreme, run into the other contrary one of aflerting that the verfe of tragedy can never be fpoke too familiarly, or brought too near to com

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