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dark and more delicate expressions. Where then shall we apply for a solution of this intricate problem, which seems to penetrate deep into human nature? In my mind it will be convenient to suspend the inquiry, till we are better acquainted with the nature of external signs, and with their operations. These articles, therefore, shall be premised.
The external figns of passion are of two kinds, voluntary and involuntary. The voluntary figns are also of two kinds: some are arbitrary, fome natural. Words are obviously voluntary figns : and they are also arbitrary ; excepting a few fimple sounds expressive of certain internal emotions, which founds being the same in all languages, must be the work of nature : thus the unpremeditated tones of admiration are the same in all men'; as also of compassion, resentment, and despair. Dramatic writers ought to be well acquainted with this natural language of paffion : the chief talent of such a writer is a ready command of the expressions that nature dictates to every person, when any vivid emotion struggles for utterance; and the chief talent of a fine reader is a ready command of tones suited to these expressions.
The other kind of voluntary figns comprehends certain attitudes or gestures that naturally accompany certain emotions with a surprising uniformity; excessive joy is expressed by leaping, dancing, or some elevation of the body: exceffive grief, by
finking finking or depressing it: and proftration and kneeling have been employed by all nations, and in all ages, to signify profound veneration. Another circumstance, Atill more than unifor. mity, demonstrates these gestures to be natural, viz. their remarkable conformity or resemblance to the passions that produce them *. Joy, which is a chearful elevation of mind, is expressed by an elevation of body: pride, magnanimity courage, and the whole tribe of elevating passions, are expressed by external gestures that are the same as to the circumstance of elevation, however distinguishable in other respects; and hence an erect pofture is a sign or expression of dignity :
Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall,
Paradise Loft, book Grief, on the other hand, as well as respect, which depress the mind, cannot, for that reason, be expressed more significantly than by a similar depression of the body; and hence, to be cast down, is a common phrase, fignifying to be grieved or dispirited t.
* See Chap. 2. Part 6.
+ Instead of a complimental speech in addressing a. superior, the Chinese deliver the compliment in writing, the smallness of the letters being proportioned to the degree of respect; and the highest compliment is,
One would not imagine who has not given peculiar attention, that the body should be sufceptibe of such variety of attitude and motion, as readily to accompany every different emotion with a corresponding expression. Humility, for example, is expressed naturally by hanging the head; arrogance, by its elevation; and languor or despondence by reclining it to one fide. The expressions of the hands are manifold : by different attitudes and motions, they express, defire, hope, fear; they affist us in promising, in inviting, in keeping one at a distance; they are made instruments of threatening, of supplication, of praise, and of horror; they are employ. ed in approving, in refusing, in questioning; in showing our joy, our sorrow, our doubts, our regret, our admiration. These expressions, so obedient to passion, are extremely difficult to be imitated in a calm ftate : the ancients, sensible of the advantage as well as difficulty of having these expressions at command, bestowed much time and care in collecting them from observation, and in digesting them into a practical art, which was taught in their schools as an important branch of education. Certain sounds are
to make the letters so small as not to be legible. Here is a clear evidence of a mental connection between re. fpect and littleness : a man humbles himself before his fuperior; and endeavours to contrad himself and his band-writing within the smallest bounds.
by nature allotted to each passion for expressing it externally. The actor who has these sounds at command to captivate the ear, is mighty: if he have also proper gestures at command to captivate the eye, he is irresistible.
The foregoing signs, though in a strict sense voluntary, cannot however be restrained but with the utmost difficulty when prompted by passion. We scarce need a stronger proof than the gestures of a keen player at bowls : observe only how he writhes his body, in order to restore a stray bowl to the right track. It is one article of good breeding, to suppress, as much as posfible, these external signs of passion, that we may not in company appear too warm, or too interested. The same observation holds in fpeech: a passion, it is true, when in extreme, is filent * ; but when less violent it must be vented in words, which have a peculiar force not to be equalled in a sedate composition. The ease and security we have in a confident, may encourage us to talk of ourselves and of our feelings : but the caufe is more general; for it operates when we are alone as well as in company. Passion is the cause ; for in many instances it is no flight gratification, to vent a paflion externally by words as well as by gestures. Some paffions, when at a certain height, impel us so strongly to vent them in words, that we speak with an audible voice even when there is none to listen. It is that circumstance in passion which justifies foliloquies ; and it is that circumstance which proves them to be natural *. The mind sometimes favours this impulse of passion, by bestowing a temporary sensibility upon any object at hand, in order to make it a confident. Thus in the Winter's Tale t, Antigonus addresses himself to an infant whom he was ordered to expose; Come, poor babe, I have heard, but not believ'd, the spirits of the dead,
See Chap. 17.
* Though a foliloquy in the perturbation of passion is undoubtedly natural, and indeed not unfrequent in real life ; yet Congreve, who himself has penned several good soliloquies, yields, with more candour than knowledge, that they are unnatural; and he only pre. tends to justify them from necessity. This he does in his dedication of the Double Dealer, in the following words : “ When a man in a soliloquy reasons with
himself, and pro's and con's, and weighs all his de“ figns; we ought not to imagine, that this man ei“ ther talks to us, or to himself: he is only thinking, " and thinking (frequently) such matter as it were in“ excusable folly in him to speak. But because we
are concealed fpectators of the plot in agitation, and “ the poet finds it necessary to let us know the whole
mystery of his contrivance, he is willing to inform “ us of this person's thoughts, and to that end is forced “ to make use of the expedient of speech, no other “ better way being yet invented for the communica« tion of thought,"
+ Act. 3. fc. 6.