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imagination can suggest: and if the crime cannot bear disguise, the next attempt is to thrust it out of mind altogether, and to rush on to action without thought. This last was the husband's method:
Strange things I have in head, that will to hand;
Act III. Sc. 4.
The lady follows neither of these courses, but in a deliberate manner endeavors to fortify her heart in the commission of an execrable crime, without even attempting to color it. This, I think, is not natural; I hope there is no such wretch to be found as is here represented. In the Pompey of Corneille,* Photine counsels a wicked action in the plainest terms without disguise:
Seigneur, n'attirez point le tonnerre en ces lieux,
Pressé de toutes parts des colères célestes,
Il en vient dessus vous faire fondre les restes;
Il devoit mieux remplir nos vœux et notre attente,
Il n'eût ici trouvé que joye et que festins;
Mais puisqu'il est vaincu, qu'il s'en prenne aux destins.
Le choix des actions, ou mauvaises, ou bonnes,
Quand on craint d'être injuste on a toujours à craindre;
In the tragedy of Esther,† Haman acknowledges, without disguise, his cruelty, insolence, and pride. And there is another example of the same kind in the Agamemnon of Seneca. In the tragedy of Athalie, Mathan, in cool blood, relates to his friend many black crimes of which he had been guilty, to satisfy his ambition.
In Congreve's Double-dealer, Maskwell, instead of disguising or coloring his crimes, values himself upon them in a soliloquy:
Cynthia, let thy beauty gild my crimes; and whatsoever I commit of treachery. ↑ Act II. Sc. I.
Act III. Sc. 3. at the close.
* Act I. Sc. I.
oi deceit, shall be imputed to me as a merit.Treachery! what treachery? Lové cancels all the bonds of friendship, and sets men right upon their first foundations. Act II. Sc. 8.
In French plays, love, instead of being hid or disguised, is treated as a serious concern, and of greater importance than fortune, family, or dignity. I suspect the reason to be, that, in the capital of France, love, by the easiness of intercourse, has dwindled down from a real passion to be a connection that is regulated entirely by the mode or fashion. This may in some measure excuse their writers, but will never make their plays be relished among foreigners:
Maxime. Quoi, trahir mon ami?
Cinna, Act III. Sc. 1.
A certain author says humorously, "Les mots mêmes d'amour et d'amant sont bannis de l'intime société des deux sexes, et relégués avec ceux de chaine et de flamme dans les Romans qu'on ne lit plus." And where nature is once banished, a fair field is open to every fantastic imitation, even the most extravagant.
The last class comprehends sentiments that are unnatural, as being suited to no character nor passion. These may be subdivided into three branches: first, sentiments unsuitable to the constitution of man, and to the laws of his nature; second, inconsistent sentiments; third, sentiments that are pure rant and extravagance.
When the fable is of human affairs, every event, every incident, and every circumstance, ought to be natural, otherwise the imitation is imperfect. But an imperfect imitation is a venial fault, compared with that of running contrary to nature. In the Hippolytus of Euripides, Hippolytus, wishing for another self in his own situation, How much (says he) should I be touched with his misfortune! as if it were natural to grieve more for the misfortunes of another than for one's own.
Osmyn. Yet I behold her-yet-and now no more.
No man, in his senses, ever thought of applying his eyes to discover what passes in his mind; far less of blaming his eyes for not seeing a thought or idea. In Moliere's L'Avare,† Harpagon being robbed of his money, seizes himself by the arm, mistaking it for that of the robber. And again he expresses himself as follows:
Je veux aller quérir la justice, et faire donner la question à toute ma maison; à servantes, à valets, à fils, à fille, et à moi aussi.
Mourning Bride, Act II. Sc. 8.
This is so absurd as scarcely to provoke a smile, if it be not at the author.
Of this second branch the following are examples.
-Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impossible,
Julius Cæsar, Act II. Sc. 3.
Le Cid, Act V. Sc. last.
Que son nom soit béni. Que son nom soit chanté,
Esther, Act V. Sc. last.
Me miserable! which way shall I fly
+ Act IV. Sc. 7.
Act IV. Sc. 5.
Of the third branch, take the following samples.
Romanum nomen, et omne
Thus in Rowe's translation :
-What is this?
Your knees to me? to your corrected son?
Where there are seas, or air, or earth, or skies,
The following passages are pure rant. Coriolanus, speaking to his mother,
L. 8. 1. 798.
Coriolanus, Act V. Sc. 3.
Julius Cæsar, Act II. Sc. 4.
Will not the gap of one whole day allow,
Almanzor. Good heaven, thy book of fate before me lay
That minute e'en the happy from their bliss might give,
Would like divided waters join again.
Conquest of Grenada, Act III.
As life: when life's gone, I'll hold this last,
Conquest of Grenada, Part 2. Act III.
Let not that ugly skeleton appear.
Bow quickly down and your submission show;
Dryden, All for Love, Act I.
Not to talk of the impiety of this sentiment, it is ludicrous instead of being lofty.
The famous epitaph on Raphael is no less absurd than any of the foregoing passages:
Raphel, timuit, quo sospite, vinci
Imitated by Pope in his Epitaph on Sir Godfrey Kneller:
Her works; and dying, fears herself might die.
Such is the force of imitation; for Pope, of himself, would never have been guilty of a thought so extravagant.
So much upon sentiments; the language proper for expressing them, comes next in order.
LANGUAGE OF PASSION.
Man has a propensity to communicate his passions and emotions-Venting a passion gives relief-Immoderate grief is silent, because it fills the mind-Immoderate love and revenge silent-Surprise and terror silent-They express in words, only the capital circumstances-Language should be adopted to the sentiment and passion-Elevated sentiments require elevated language-Tender sentiments, soft and flowing language-Figures give an agreeable character to sentiment-Gross errors, of passions expressed in flowing in an unequal course -The language of violent passion, interrupted and broken, soliloquies particularly-Authors apt to use language above their tone of mind-To use language too figurative for the dignity and importance of the subject, an errorLanguage too light and airy for a serious passion-A thought that turns upon one expression instead of the subject-Expressions which have no distinct meaning.
AMONG the particulars that compose the social part of our nature, a propensity to communicate our opinions, our emotions, and every thing that affects us, is remarkable. Bad fortune and injustice affect us greatly; and of these we are so prone to complain, that if we have no friend nor acquaintance to take part in our sufferings, we sometimes utter our complaints aloud, even where there are none to listen.