Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

xius 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 represents those characters, perhaps it has not been found out by any body, that has not read as well as seen those pieces, that there is a line in meafure, or a single 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 those paslages in Comus where the rhyme breaks in upon the solemnity and sense, 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 preserves so much of the last as is enough, without rendering his delivery forc'd or ftiff, to keep up a peculiar smoothness and majesty in it.

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

Hence, loathed melancholy,
Of Cerberus and blackest midnight born,
In Stygian cave forlorn,
'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks and sighs un-

holy,
Find out some uncouth cell

Where

Where brooding darkness spreads his jealous wings,
And the night-raven fings.
There, under Ebon shades, and low-brow'd rocks,
As ragged as thy locks,
In deep Cimmerian darkness ever dwell.

Bụt come, thou goddess fair and free,
In heav'n yclep’d, Euphrosyne,
And by men, heart-easing mirth,
Whom lovely Venus at a birth,
With two sister-graces more,
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore.
Hafte thee, nymph, and bring with thee
Jest and youthful jolity :
Quips and cranks, and wanton wiles;
Nods and becks, and wreathed smiles,
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple fleek,
Sport that wrinkled care derides,
And laughter holding both his sides,
Come, and trip it as you go,
On the light fantastic toe;
And in thy right-hand lead with thee
The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty.

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

art

191
art of this player almost entirely throws off both;
and gives the true force and dignity to the senti-
ment contained in it, that it would have had if
deliver'd in profe. The pasiage we mean is, his
address to the lady after the entertainment his
magic had given her.
Cast thine eyes around and see

How from ev'ry element,
Nature's sweets are cull'd for thee,

And her choicest blcdings fent.
Fire, water, earth, and air combine

To compose the rich repaft ;
Their aid the distant seasons join,

To court thy smell, thy sight, thy taste.
Hither summer, autumn, spring,
Hither all your tributes bring;
Here on bended knee be seen
Doing homage to your queen.

If we would see a beauty of this kind, set off in its true light and value by comparison, let us recollect the under players acting in one of Lee's tragedies. Whoever has seen Hannibal's Overthrow has found that some, tho' very good players, and particularly excellent in their characters there, have not the address to keep the unnatural ingle of the rhyme out of their ears, even in some of the most paflionate scenes ; but the fubalternis never fail to give it us strong at every tenth fyllable, let the sense fare as it can. The Tag, in the Orphan, famous for having been spoke in this manner,

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

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

was also for a long time deliver’d, by successive players, with such a religious observance of the rhyme, that there was almost as absolute a stop at the end of one of the lines, as at that of the other.

A more modern instance, and one which we with to see mended, as it is of the number of the few things that displease us in a very pleasing 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.

this ofier cage

of ours

The grey-ey'd morn siniles on the frowning night,
Cheq'ring the eastern clouds with streaks 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. With potent herbs, and precious juiced flow'rs.

Mighty is the powerful grace that lies In herbs, trees, itones, and their true qualities : For nought so vile that on the earth doth live, But to the earth some special good doth give; Nor ought so good but, straind from its fair use, Revolts to vice, and stumbles 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 preserve what we wilh had not been exhibited: we dare pronounce it, that if the actor we have mentioned before had these lines to speak, their sense would affect the audience as much more than it at present does, as the rhyme would be less distinguish'd.

- C H A P.

[blocks in formation]

Whether Tragedy ought or ought not to be spoke in a

declamatory manner.

PER

ERHAPS, among all the questions that

have been or may be started upon the subject of the player's profession, there is no one about which the world is less agreed than chis, Whether or not declamation be a proper manner of speaking for the performer in tragedy? The occasion of all the diversity of opinions which we meet with on this head, however, rather arifes from disputes about words than about things; and many who ftrenuously oppose the decisions of one another on the subject, only do it because they understand the terms declamatory and declamation in a different sense from one another.

Those who argue the most strongly 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 second 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 verse of tragedy can never be {poke too familiarly, or brought too near to com.

K

MON

« PredošláPokračovať »