Imatges de pÓgina
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rigidly to the measure as to make fome fort of pause at the end of each line, tho' the fenfe evidently runs into the fucceeding ones.

After recollecting the conftant effect of this maternal affection on the audience, let us compare with it that of the conjugal love, exprefs'd in no inferior manner, and in a no less favourite play, in the character of Belvidera, in the Venice Preferv'd of Otway. Perhaps this honeft and noble paffion has never been touch'd in a more masterly manner than in that speech of this lady; where, after her husband's reprefenting to her the miferable condition they fhould fhortly be reduc'd to, fhe answers,

O, I will love thee, even in madness love thee;
Tho' my diftracted fenfes fhou'd forfake me,
I'd find fome intervals, when my poor heart
Shou'd 'fwage itself, and be let loose to thine:

Tho' the bare earth be all our refting-place,
Its roots our food, fome cliff our habitation;
I'll make this arm a pillow for thine head,
And as thou fighing ly'ft, and fwell'd with forrow,
Creep to thy bofom, pour the balm of love
Into thy foul, and kiss thee to thy reft;
Then praise our God, and watch thee till the
morning.

We have a fair comparifon. in thefe almoft inimitable paffages, both fpoken by the fame inimitable actress, between the effects of one of these paffions and the other; and the cafe is foon decided, when we perceive, that tho' a whole audience feels the firft, no tears are ever fhed for the laft, except by a few ladies who have not been long married. If we would afk the reason

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for this partiality in regard to the poet and the performer, tho' both equally great in each cafe, perhaps it is that the former is more in nature, and that there are more affectionate mothers than affectionate wives among us.

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Tragedy not only takes in but few paffions, but all that it does employ, bear a fort of natural conformity to one another; they are all violent, and all ferious ones; its heroes are always either in the moft vehement tranfports, or in the deepest melancholy. Some of them are, thro' the whole play, furious, raging, and thirfting as it were for blood; others are continually bent down beneath the weight of their own misfortunes, or of thofe of fome other perfon who is dear to them both are continually agitated by rage, or by affiction; by an impatience to fee their intents accomplish'd; or by a defpair on fe ing the execu tion of them retarded by fome powerful obftacles. If the poet fufpends for a few moments the rage, or the mifery of his principal characters, to relieve for a time the audience and the player, it is generally done with defign to engage them immediately afterwards in fcenes yet more affecting than thofe out of which he has for the prefent reliev'd them. A few only of the paffions, for thefe reafons, fall to the fhare of the tragedian the comic player, on the other hand, has the whole feries of them within his province; and he will be efteem'd a man of no confequence in his profeffion, if he cannot, with equal ftrength and propriety, exprefs the transports of a fond and foolish joy, and thofe of the most excruciating uneafinefs; the ridiculous doating of an old and impotent lover, and the fufpicious resentments of a jealous husband, or infulted rival; the noble

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boldness of a daring, generous mind; and the contemptible timidity of a pufillanimous heart: if he cannot represent to us with the same strength and fpirit, a ftupid admiration, and an infolent difdain; all the extravagances of the most interested felf-love, when flatter'd with circumftances that favour it, or hurt by contrary accidents In fine, if he be not able to give a due force to every emotion of the heart; to every fpecies of paffion that human nature is capable of being affected by.

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It is not fufficient for him that he be able to put on the image of every one of the paffions that fall within the reach of his author, if he have not, befide this, the power of throwing himself readily and easily out of one into another of them. The bufinefs of comedy is to raife and to keep up a pleafurable fenfation, to give joy to an audience; and the poets who excel in this fpecies of writing, well knowing that a dull uniformity in the scene is one of the greatest enemies to this, have ever been attentive to the neceffary variety; and taken care to make every capital character in the fame piece, and not unfrequently in the fame fcene, the fport of a number of different paffions; they have always given it an infinity of contrary impreffions, the one of which fuddenly drives away another, to be, in its turn, as fuddenly banished by a third.

Mr.Garrick, who is as amiable in the character of a player, as cenfurable in another capacity in which he has too much connexion with our theatrical entertainments, gives us an excellent inftance of what perfection an actor may arrive at in this way, in his Archer: in this, tho' not one of

of the characters in which he makes the greatest figure, how readily does he run through the feveral artful tranfitions which the author of the Stratagem has thrown into his character, from one paffion to another, moft foreign, nay, fometimes, moft oppofite ones! and how wholly does he devote himself to each in its turn, as if no other, of whatever kind, had ever claimed any power over him!

In one scene he is the ardent lover, in another the mercenary schemer: in one, the jovial footman treating his fellow flave with all the ready familiarity of an equal, in another, the gallant courting in high heroics: in one scene, nay in one moment, the free companion, and the humble attendant of Aimwell, or the refolute heroe in the engagement with a ruffian, and the bantering acquaintance with the lady.

Till this excellent performer play'd this part, we never knew what beauties it was capable of, in the fudden tranfitions from paffion to paffion, in the laft act; where he alternately rejoices in the fuccefs of the fcheme he was upon; and becomes the furly accufer of the friend who had partnership in it, and whom an inftant before he was hugging in his arms; then conceives new hopes from promifing circumftances, which fail his expectation, and return him to his despair. In fine, his exquifite mixture of paffions, at the fame inftant in the dread of a discovery from an old acquaintance, his tranfport in immediately afterwards finding this very perfon the meffenger of better news than could have been expected; his paffion for Mrs. Sullen and his dear Cherry at the fame time; his concern at the supposed lofs of that good-natur'd creature, and the joy at re

ceiving.

ceiving news both of her and his money at once; all this, notwithstanding all that has been faid of Mr. Wilks, never was fo exprefs'd as to intereft the audience in every one of the feveral paffions together; or but to convey all of them to them, till we faw Mr. Garrick in the character.

We have a multitude of instances of this kind in our other comedies, where the actor always. fails, and the author is cenfured by most people as dull in the moft fpirited parts of his piece. The French ftage gives us infinitely greater instances of this transition from paffion to paffion in comedy than ours; and to do juftice to the performers of that nation, it affords us alfo very numerous inftances of actors who are able to play them.

The character of Arnolphe, in the Ecole des Femmes, is an eminent inftance of this, and may ferve as a leffon to the player, of whatever nation, to inftruct him in every thing that is neceffary in this way. This character, in the courfe of a very few moments, is carried through all the contrafts which could produce in him the utmoft curiofity to know every thing that related to the fuccefs of his amour, and the dread of his finding that he was betray'd: he laments that he is fo far diftant from the object of his affection, and that at fo very improper a time; and at the fame moment rejoices that he is certain of not being quite fo miferable as he had the moment before perfuaded himself that he was. When Agnes ingenuously acknowledges to him, that she cannot love him, to what a variety of different emotions does the jealous lover give himself up, despairing, to gain her either by threats or perfuafions; and what a variety of oppofite paffions does he exprefs,

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