Imatges de pÓgina

player as we have just now mentioned in Catc creates as it were in the hearts of even the lower clafs of his audience, fentiments and emotions which they never felt before, nor even had ever fufpected themselves to be capable of feeling.

The power of elevating our hearts far above our real felves, is the great prerogative of tragedy; but in many cafes the poet alone is not able to do this: We must hear, not read the paffages that are calculated to this end; and the great, the excellent performer gives them that eminence upon the stage, which we shou'd never have found in them in the clofet. The language in which the poet chooses to convey his most heroic, most ennobling fentiments, is, to a very great part of a common audience, what a piece of mufic prick'd down upon paper is to a perfon who has not been taught any thing of that science. The merit in both cafes is indeed all there the poet and the compofer have both perfectly done their parts; but, in the one cafe, till a good finger by his voice, gives the notes their foul and expreffion, or a good player enforces and explains the fentiment by his expreffive elocution; in the other, the harmony, is not known to the one, nor is the fublimity of the fentiment underftood by the other.

It will readily be allow'd us, that no author in our language, or perhaps in any other, has arrived at that height in the fublime that Milton has; and we flatter ourselves that it will also be allow'd that no man ever arriv'd at an equal perfection in fpeaking the fublime with Mr. Quin. There is alfo this other happy connexion between that great writer and this great player, that their turn of foul seems much the fame; their fentiments apF 2 pear

pear to be of a like kind; the very language of Milton feems contriv'd on purpose for the voice of Mr. Quin, and the voice of Mr. Quin, while he is fpeaking it, feems form'd on purpose for. the language of Milton. Whoever has heard him read any part of the Paradife Loft of that divine author, knows the full force of what we are advancing; but to thofe who have not had that pleasure, we may recommend his playing Comus. This is a light every body has an opportunity to fee him in; and in this it is eafy to obferve, that he has all that ftrength of conception, and expreffion, we have now been celebrating, ́all that power of enforcing the sentiments of an author which we have described, and of giving meaning to every period, while he addreffes it to those who otherwise wou'd have enter'd into none of its beauties.

We have lately had the advantage of a contraft to prove the truth not only of this propofition in general, but of this particular inftance of it. We have feen another Comus, and have obferved a whole audience (the few of a modern audience. who are capable themselves of understanding Milton only excepted) yawn over the whole part, and fhew no fign of pleasure but in the fcenery and the bacchanals. What an abfolute inattention was there to the fpeech in which Comus difcovers his furprise at the lady's voice, as fpoke by this weak attempter of the part! and how ftrong is the fenfe, how evident the beauty of every line as Mr. Quin delivers the fame words! With how noble a fhare of the enthusiasm we have been mentioning, with what a feeming heartfelt rapture does he fay,


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Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould
Breathe fuch divine enchanting ravishment?
Sure fomething holy lodges in that breast,
And with these raptures moves the vocal air
To teftify its hidden refidence.
How fweetly did they float upon the wings
Of filence thro' the empty vaulted night,
At every fall, fmoothing the Raven-Down
Of darkness till it fmil'd--I oft have heard
My mother Circe with the Syrens three
Amidst the flowr'y kirtled Naiades
Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs,
Who as they fung wou'd take the prifon'd fou!
And lap it in elyfium-Scylla wept
And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmur'd hoarfe applaufe.
Yet these in pleafing flumber lull'd the fenfe,
And in fweet madness rob'd it of itself.
But fuch a facred and home-felt delight,
Such fober certainty of waking blifs,
I never heard till now--

Notwithstanding that this fpeech contains à multitude of beauties of the highest kind, yet they are, to many ears, what prick'd mufick i to the eye of an ignorant perfon; they lie too deep to be tafted in their true dignity by any but thofe who have ftudy'd the nature of this kind of poetry: But as this player fpeaks them, the myftery is all thrown off, the veil is caft away, and we are apt to believe even the upper gallery hardly contains a perfon who does not truely tafte fome of the most beautiful passages Milton has left us.

If it were our bufinefs to enter on criticism in this place, we have an ample field for it in the epithet given to the applaufe of the Fell Charybdis in this fpeech. We have given it as Mr. Quin fpeaks it: Hoarfe Applaufe, the printed copies have it, and accordingly others fpeak it, Soft Applaufe: We have heard many a learned coffee-house difpute, and fome more ferious ones, on the fubject of this paffage; but it may perhaps be eafy to cut fhort all arguments about it, by finding a parallel one, and feeing what the f me author has done there. If we enter truly into the fpirit of Milton, there is a line in his defcription of the teftimony death gives of pleasure at the news of his being to be let loofe upon the world, in his Paradife Loft, which he meant to be of the fame kind with this. He feems to have thought it as forc'd a point to make the Fell Charybdis applaud the founds of Circe as the Fell monfter death to finile at any thing: He has in the one of thefe cafes exprefs'd the action by an epithet the moft contrary to the nature of the fubject that he cou'd poffibly have felected, and tells us that death grin'd horrible a Ghastly fmile; and we are of opinion, he meant to do just the fame in the other.

We are apt to believe that the word Hoarfe in the paffage before us was meant in the fame light as the epithet here; and till we are convino'd that Ghaftly has a natural allufion to the word file, we fhall fuppofe that Soft cannot be properly plac'd where the printers of Comus have given it.

To return to our subject, we must allow that there is fomething in the very language of Milton, that gives a natural turn to dignity in the fpeaker;



but in regard to the actor before us, this adventitious help is not neceffary to his acquiting himfelf with the fame mafterly fuperiority: To be magnificent in a little part is bombaft, not great; but whenever the character he reprefents will bear him out in it, he never fails of giving us the Monarch or the Demigod in every fpeech of it. The language in tragedy the most unlike of all to that of Milton, is that of Ambrofe Phillips. This author has fucceeded in that fpecies of writing in a new way, by throwing off all the falfe ornaments, all the idle pomp of diction, and bringing the fpeeches of kings and heroes to be more like thofe of other men. Here, if any where in tragedy, the actor is left to keep up the dignity of fpeaking himself; but here we find Mr. Quin as great as in the most fonorous numbers. Whoever recollects this actor in the character of Pyrrhus, when he receives the embaffy of Oreftes, will own that no man ever look'd or fpoke fo much like a king as he, when he returns for answer,

The Greeks are for my fafety more concern'd
Than I defire--I thought your kings were met
On more important council-When I heard
'The name of their ambaffador, I hop'd
Some glorious enterprize was taking birth
Is Agamemnon's fon dispatch'd for this?
And do the Grecian chiefs renown'd in war,
A race of heroes, join in clofe debate
To plot an infant's death-What right has Greece
To afk his life? Muft 1, muft I alone,
Of all her fcepter'd warriors be deny'd
To treat my captive as I pleafe. Know, prince,
When Troy lay fmoaking on the ground, and each
Proud victor fhar'd the harveft of the war,

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