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That with this little arm, and this good sword, I've made my way through more impediments Than twenty times your stop. But, oh vain boast ! Who can controul his fate? 'tis not so now. Be not afraid, though you do see me weapond; Here is my journey's end, here is my butt, The very sea-mark of my utmost fail. Do you go back dismay'd ? 'tis a loft fear, Man but a rush against Othello's breast, And he retires. Where should Othello go? Now-how dost thou look now ? Oh ill-starr'd wench! Pale as thy smock! When we shall meet at compt, This look of thine will hurl my soul from heav'n, And fiends will snatch at it. Cold, cold, my girl; Ev'n like thy chastity. O cursed lave! Whip me, ye devils, From the possession of this heav'nly fight; Blow me about in winds, roast me in sulphur, Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire Oh, Desdemona ! Desdemona! dead ! dead! oh! oh!
Othello, A&t v. Sc.9.
The sentiments here displayed flow so naturally from the passions represented, that we cannot conceive any imitation more perfect.
With regard to the French author, truth obliges me to acknowledge, that he describes in the style of a spectator, instead of expressing passion like one who feels it; which naturally betrays him into a tiresome monotony, and a pompous
declamatory style *. It is scarce necessary to give examples, for he never varies from that tone. I shall, however, take two passages at a venture, in order to be confronted with those transcribed above. In the tragedy of Cinna,
* This criticism reaches the French dramatic writers in general, with very few exceptions : their tragedies, excepting those of Racine, are mostly, if not totally, descriptive. Corneille led the way; and later writers, imitating his manner, have accustomed the French ear to a style, formal, pompous, declamatory, which suits not with any passion. Hence, to burlesque a French tragedy, is not more difficult than to burlesque a stiff solemn fop. The facility of the operation has in Paris introduced a singular amusement, which is, to burlesque the more successful tragedies in a sort of farce, called a parody. La Motte, who himself appears to have been forely galled by some of these productions, acknowledges, that no more is necessary to give them currency but barely to vary the dramatis persona, and instead of kings and heroes, queens and princesses, to substitute tinkers and tailors, milkmaids and seamstresses. The declamatory style, so different from the genuine expresfion of paslion, passes in some measure unobserved, when great personages are the speakers ; but in the mouths of the vulga the impropriety with regard to the speaker as well as to the passion represented, is so remarkable as to become ridiculous. A tragedy, where every passion is made to speak in its natural tone, is not liable to be thus burlesqued: the same passion is by all men expresfed nearly in the same manner; and, therefore, the genuine expressions of a passion cannot be ridiculous in the mouth of any man who is susceptible of the passion.
Æmilia, after the conspiracy was discovered, having nothing in view but racks and death to herself and her lover, receives a pardon from Augustus, attended with the brightest circumstances of magnanimity and tenderness. This is a lucky situation for representing the paffions of surprise and gratitude in their different stages, which seem naturally to be what follow. These passions, raised at once to the utmost pitch, and
being It is a well known fact, that to an English ear, the French actors appear to pronounce with too great rapi. dity : a complaint much insisted on by Cibber in particular, who had frequently heard the famous Baron upon the French stage. This may in some measure be attributed to our want of facility in the French tongue ; as foreigners generally imagine that every language is pronounced too quick by natives. But that it is not the sole cause, will be probable from a fact directly oppofite, that the French are not a little disgusted with the languid. ness, as they term it, of the English pronunciation. May not this difference of taste be derived from what is observed above? The pronunciation of the genuine language of a passion is necessarily directed by the nature of the passion, particularly by the flowness or ce. lerity of its progrefs : plaintive paflions, which are the most frequent in tragedy, having a slow motion, dictate a slow pronunciation : in declamation, on the contrary, the speaker warms gradually; and, as he warms, he naturally accelerates his pronunciation. But, as the French have formed their tone of pronunciation upon Corneille's declamatory tragedies, and the English upon the more natural language of Shakespeare, it is not surprising that custom should produce such difference of taste in the two nations,
being at first too big for utterance, must, for some moments be expressed by violent gestures only: as soon as there is vent for words, the first expressions are broken and interrupted : at last we ought to expect a tide of intermingled sentiments, occafioned by the fluctuation of the mind between the two pafsions. Æmilia is made to behave in a very different manner: with extreme coolness she describes her own situation, as if she were merely a spectator, or rather the poet takes the talk off her hands :
Et je me rens, Seigneur, à ces hautes bontés :
A&t v. Sc. 3.
In the tragedy of Sertorius, the Queen, surprised with the news that her lover was assassinated, instead of venting any passion, degenerates into a cool spectator, and undertakes to instruct the by
standers standers how a queen ought to behave on such an occasion :
Viriate. Il m'en fait voir ensemble, et l'auteur, et la
AEt v. Sc. 3.
So much in general upon the genuine sentiments of passion. I proceed to particular observations. And, first, passions seldom continue uniform any eonsiderable time : they generally fluctuate, swelling and subsiding by turns, often in a quick succession *; and the sentiments cannot be just unless they correspond to such fluctuation. Accordingly, climax never shows better than in expressing a swelling passion : the following palsages may fuffice for an illustration.
Oroonoko. Can you raise the dead?
* See Chap. 2. Part 3.