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ON OUR THEATRES.
125 tors. Her first speech, or at least the first part of it, is delivered with scarcely any motion of the arm; her hands and her tongue never set out together; but the one prepares us for the other. She sometimes begins with a mute eloquent attitude; but never goes forward all at once with hands, eyes, head, and voice. This observation, though it may appear of no importance, should certainly be adverted to; nor do I see any one performer (Garrick only excepted) among us, that is pot in this particular apt to offend. By this simple beginning, she gives herself a power of rising in the passion of the scene. 25. she proceeds, every gesture, eyery look, acquires nėw violence, till at last transported, she fills the whole yehemence of the part, and all the idea of the poet.... uro! } .
Her hands are not alternately stretched out, and then drawn in again, as with the singing women at Saddler's Wells; they are employed with graceful variety, and every moment please with new and unexpected eloquence. Add to this, that their motion is generally from the shoulder; she never flourishes her hands while the upper part of her arm is motionless, nor has she the ridiculous appearance, as if her elbows were pinned to her hips.
But of all the cautions to be given to our rising actresses, I would particularly recommend it to them never to take notice of the audience, upon any occasion whatsoever; let the spectators applaud never so loudly, their praises should pass, except at the end of the epilogue, with seeming inattention. I can never pardon a lady on the stage, who, when she draws the admiration of the whole audience, turns about to make them a low courtesy for their applause. Such a figure no longer continues Belvidera, but at once drops into Mrs Cibber. Suppose a sober tradesman, who once a-year takes his shilling's-worth at Drury
Lane, in order to be delighted with the figure of a queen, the queen of Sheba, for instance, or any other queen; this honest man has no other idea of the great but from their superiour pride and impertinence : suppose such a man placed among the spectators, the first figure that appears on the stage is the queen herself, courtesying and cringing to all the company: how can he fancy her the haughty favourite of King Solomon the wise, who appears actually more submissive than the wife of his bosom? We are all tráđesmen of a nicer relish in this respect, and such conduct must' disgust every specjætor,:who loves to have the illusion of nature strong upon him . W.... .
Yet, while I recommend to our actresses a skilful attende tion to gesture, I would not have them study it in the looking-glass. This, without some precaution, will render their. action formal; by too great an intimacy with this, they become stiff and affected. People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after. I remember to have known a notable performer of the other sex, who made great use of this flattering monitor, and yet was one of the stiffest figures I ever saw. I am told his apartment was hung round with looking-glasses, that he might see his person twenty times reflected upon entering the room; and I will make bold to say, he saw twenty very ugly fellows whenever he did so.
The manner in which most writers begin their treatises on the use of language, is generally thus : « Language has been granted to man, in order to discover his wants and necessities, so as to have them relieved by society. Whatever we desire; whatever we wish, it is but to clothe those desires or wishes in words, in order to fruition; the principal use of language, therefore,» say they, « is to express our wants, so as to receive a speedy redress.»
Such an account as this may serve to satisfy grammarians and rhetoricians well enough, but men who know the world maintain very contrary maxims; they hold, and I think with some show of reason, that he who best knows how to conceal his necessity and desires, is the most likely person to find redress; and that the true use of speech is not so much to express our wants, as to conceal them.
When we reflect on the manner in which mankind denerally confer their favours, we shall find, that they who seem to want them least, are the very persons who most liberally share them. There is something so attractive in riches, that the large heap generally collects from the smaller; and the poor find as much pleasure in iħcreasing the enormous mass, as the miser, who owns it, sees happiness in its increase. Nor is there in this any thing repugnant to the laws of true morality. Seneca himself allows, that in conferring benefits, the present should always be suited to the dignity of the receiver. Thus the rich receive large presents, and are thanked for accepting them. Men of middling stations are obliged to be content with presents something less ; while the beggar, who may be truly said to want indeed, is well paid if a farthing rewards his warmest solicitations: 6.
Every man who has seen the world, and has had his ups and downs in life, as the expression is, must have frequently experienced the truth of this doctrine, and must know, that to have much, or to seem to have it, is the only way to have more. Ovid finely compares a man of broken fortune to a falling.column; the lower it sinks, the greater weight it is obliged to sustain. Thus, when a man has no occasion to borrow, he finds numbers willing to lend him. Should he ask his friend to lend him a hundred pounds, it is possible, from the largeness of his demand, he may find credit for twenty; but should he humbly only sue for a trifle, it is two to one whether he might be trusted for twopence. A certain young fellow at George's, whenever he had occasion to ask his friend for a guinea, used to prelude his request as if he wanted two hundred, and talked so familiarly of large sums, that none could ever think he wanted a small one. The same gentleman, whenever he wanted credit for a new suit from his tailor,
always made a proposal in laced clothes; for he found by experience, that if he appeared shabby on these occasions, Mr Lynch had taken an oath against trusting; or, what was every bit as bad, his foreman was out of the way, and would not be at home these two days.
There can be no inducement to reveal our wants, except to find pity, and by this means relief; but before a poor man opens his mind in such circumstances, he should first consider whether he is contented to lose the esteem of the person he solicits, and whether he is willing to give up friendship only to excite compassion. Pity and friendship are passions incompatible with each other, and it is impossible that both can reside in any breast for the smallest space, without impairing each other. Friendship is made up of esteem and pleasure; pity is composed of sorrow and contempt; the mind may for some time fluctuate between them, but it never can entertain both together.
Yet, let it not be thought that I would exclude pity from the human mind. There are scarcely any who are not, in some degree, possessed of this pleasing softness; but it is at best but a short-lived passion, and seldom affords distress more than transitory assistance: with some it scarcely lasts from the first impulse till the hand can be put into the pocket; with others it may continue for twice that space, and on some extraordinary sensibility I have seen it operate for half an hour. But, however, last as it will, it generally produces but beggarly effects: and where, from this motive, we give a halfpenny, from others we give always pounds. In great distress, we sometimes, it is true, feel the influence of tenderness strongly; when the same distress solicits a second time, we then feel with diminished sensibility, but, like the repetition of an echo,