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which the Iphigenia of Euripides is a proof. But a human facrifice, being altogether inconsistent with modern manners as producing horror instead of pity, cannot with any propriety be introduced upon a modern stage. I must therefore condemn the Iphigenia of Racine, which, instead of the tender and sympathetic paffions, substitutes disgust and horror. Another objection occurs against every fable that deviates so remarkably from improved notions and senti. ments; which is, that if it should even command our belief by the authority of history, it appears too fictitious and unnatural to produce a perception of reality *: a human facrifice is so unnatural, and to us so improbable, that few will be affected with the representation of it more than with a fairy tale. The objection first mentioned strikes also against the Phedra of that author : the Queen's passion for her stepson, transgressing the bounds of nature, creates aversion and horror rather than compassion. The author in his preface observes, that the Queen's passion, however unnatural, was the effect of destiny and the wrath of the gods; and he puts the same excuse in her own mouth. But what is the wrath of a heathen God to us Christians ? we acknowledge no destiny in pallion; and if love be unnatural, it never can be relished. A supposition like what our author lays hold of, Dd4
* See Chap. 2. Part 1. sect. 7.
may possibly cover flight improprieties ; but it will never engage our sympathy for what appears to us frantic or extravagant.
Neither can I relish the catastrophe of that tragedy. A man of taste may peruse, without disgust, a Grecian performance describing a seamonster sent by Neptune to destroy Hippolytus : he confiders, that such a story might agree with the religious creed of Greece, and may be pleased with the story, as what probably had a strong effect upon a Grecian audience. But he cannot have the same indulgence for such a representation upon a modern stage ; because no story that carries a violent air of fiction can ever move us in any considerable degree.
In the Coëphores of Eschylus *, Orestes is made to say, that he was commanded by Apollo to avenge his father's murder; and yet if he obey. ed, that he was to be delivered to the furies, or be struck with fome horrid malady: the tragedy accordingly concludes with a chorus, deploring the fate of Orestes, obliged to take vengeance against a mother, and involved thereby in a crime against his will. It is impoflible for any modern to bend his mind to opinions so irrational and absurd, which must disgust him in perufing eren a Grecian story. Again, among the Greeks, grossly superstitious, it was a common opinion, that the report of a man's death was a
presage of his death ; and Orestes, in the first act of Electra, spreading a report of his own death, in order to blind his mother and her adulterer, is even in that case affected with the presage. Such imbecility can never find grace with a modern audience: it may indeed produce some compassion for a people afflicted with absurd terrors, similar to what is felt in perusing a description of the Hottentots; but such manners will not interest our affections, ņor attach us to the per. sonages represented.
EXTERNAL SIGNS OF EMOTIONS AND PASSIONS.
Qo intimately connected are the soul and w body, that every agitation in the former produceth a visible effect upon the latter. There is, at the same time, a wonderful uniformity in that operation; each class of emotions and passions being invariably attended with an external appearance peculiar to itself *. These external appearances or signs may not improperly be considered as a natural language, ex• pressing to all beholders emotions and passions as they arise in the heart. Hope, fear, joy, grief, are displayed externally : the character of a man can be read in his face; and beauty, which makes so deep an impression, is known to result, not so much from regular features and a fine complexion, as from good nature, good sense, sprightliness, sweetness, or other mental quality, expressed upon the countenance.
Though perfect skill in that language be rare, yet what is generally known is sufficient for the or
* Omnis enim motus animi, suum quemdam a natura habet vultum et sonum et gestum. Cicero, l. 3. De Oratore.
dinary purposes of life. But by what means we come to understand the language, is a point of some intricacy: it cannot be by fight merely; for, upon the most attentive inspection of the human face, all that can be discerned, are fie gure, colour, and motion, which, singly or combined, never can represent a passion, nor a fentiment: the external sign is indeed visible; but to understand its meaning we must be able to connect it with the passion that causes it, an operation far beyond the reach of eye-fight. Where, then, is the instructor to be found that can unveil this secret connection ? If we apply to experience, it is yielded, that from long and diligent observation, we may gather, in some measure, in what manner those we are acquainted with express their passions externally: but with respect to strangers, we are left in the dark; and yet we are not puzzled about the meaning of these external expressions in a stranger, more than in a bosom-companion. Further, had we no other means but experience for understanding the external signs of passion, we could not expect any degree of skill in the bulk of individuals : yet matters are so much better ordered, that the external expressions of passion form a language understood by all, by the young as well as the old, by the ignorant as well as the learned : I talk of the plain and legible characters of that language: for undoubtedly we are much indebted to experience in deciphering the