« 上一頁繼續 »
der the wheels of the Messiah's chariot with that exception to the throne of God!
Under his burning wheels
Notwithstanding the Messiah appears clothed with so much terror and majesty, the poet lias still found means to make his readers conceiva an idea of him beyond what he himself is able to describe.
Yet half his strength he put not forth, but check'd His thunder in mid volley; for he meant Not to destroy, but root them out of heaven. In a word, Milton's genius, which was so great in itself, and so strengthened by all the helps of learning, appears in this book every way equal to his subject, which was the most sublime that could enter into the thought of a poet. As he knew all the arts of affecting the mind, he knew it was necessary to give it certain resting places, and opportunities of recovering itself from time to time: he has therefore with great address interspersed several speeches, reflections, similitudes, and the like reliefs, to diversify his narration, and ease the attention of the reader, that he might come fresh to his great action, and by such a contrast of ideas have a more lively taste of the nobler parts of his description.
No. 334. MONDAY, MARCH 24.
-Voluisti, in suo genere, unumquemque nostrum quasi quendam esse Roscium, dixistique non tam ea quæ recta essent probari, quam quæ prava sunt fastidiis adhærescerc.
CICERO DE GESTU. You would have each of us be a kind of Roscius in his way;
and you have said, that men are not so much pleased with what is right, as disgusted at what is wrong.
It is very natural to take for our whole lives a light impression of a thing, which at first fell into contempt with us for want of consideration. The real use of a certain qualification (which the wiser part of mankind look upon as at best an indifferent thing, and generally a frivolous circumstance) shows the ill consequence of such prepossessions. What I mean is the art, skill, accomplishment, or whatever you will call it, of dancing. I knew a gentleman of great abilities who bewailed the want of this part of his education to the end of a very honourable life. He observed that there was not occasion for the common use of great talents; that they are but seldom in demand; and that these very great talents were often rendered useless to a man for want of small attainments. A good mien (a becoming motion, gesture and aspect) is natural to some men: but even those would be highly more graceful in their carriage, if what they do from the force of nature were confirmed and heightened by the force of reason. To one who has not at all considered it, to mention the force of reason on such a subject, will appear fantastical; but when you have a little attended to it, an assembly of men will have quite another view; and they will tell you it is evident from plain and infallible rules, why this man, with those beautiful features, and well-fashioned person, is not so agreeable as he who sits by him without any of those advantages. When we read, we do it without any
exerted act of memory that presents the shape of the letters; but habit makes us do it mechanically, without staying like ehildren to recollect and join those letters. A man who has not had the regard of his gesture in any part of his education, will find himself unable to act with freedom before new company; as a child that is but now learning, would be to read without hesitation. It is for the advancement of the pleasure we receive in being agreeable to each other in ordinary life, that one would wish dancing were generally understood as conducive, as it really is, to a proper deportment in matters that appear
the most remote from it. A man of learning and sense is distinguished from others as he is such, though he never runs upon points too difficult for the rest of the world: in like manner, the reaching out of the arm, and the most ordinary motion, discovers whether a man ever learned to know what is the true harmony and composure of his limbs and countenance. Whoever has seen Booth in the character of Pyrrhus march to his throne to receive Orestes, is convinced that majestic and great conceptions are expressed in the very step; but perhaps, though no other man could perform that incident as well as he does, he himself would do it with a yet greater eleva
tion were he a dancer. This is so_dangerous a » subject to treat with gravity, that I shall not at
present enter into it any farther: but the author of the following letter has treated it in the essay he speaks of, in such a manner, that I am beholden to him for a resolution that I will never hereafter think meanly of any thing, till I have heard what they who have another opinion of it have to say in its defence.
Since there are scarce any of the arts or sciences that have not been recommended to the world by the pens of some of the professors, masters, or lovers of them, whereby the usefulness, excellence, and benefit arising from them, both as to the speculative and practical part, have been made public, to the great
advantage and improvement of such arts and sciences; why should dancing, an art celebrated by the ancients in so extraordinary a manner, be totally neglected by the moderns, and left destitute of any pen to recommend its various excellencies and substantial merit to mankind?
* The low ebb to which dancing is now fallen is altogether owing to this silence. The art is esteemed only as an amusing trifle; it lies altogether uncultivated, and is unhappily fallen under the imputation of illiterate and mechanic: and as Terence, in one of his prologues, complains of the rope-dancers drawing all the spectators from his play, so may we well say, that capering and tumbling is now preferred to, and supplies the place of just and regular dancing on our theatres. It is, therefore, in my opinion, high time, that some one should come to its assistance, and relieve it from the many gross and growing errors
that have crept into it, and overcast its real beauties; and to set dancing in its true light, would show the usefulness and elegance of it, with the pleasure and instruction produced from it; and also lay down some fundamental rules, that might so tend to the improvement of its professors, and information of the spectators, that the first might be the better enabled to perform, and the latter rendered more capable of judging, what is (if there be any thing) valuable in this art.
• To encourage therefore some ingenious pen capable of so generous an undertaking, and in some measure to relieve dancing from the disadvantages it at present lies under, I, who teach to dance, have attempted a small treatise as an essay towards a history of dancing; in which I have inquired into its antiquity, origin, and use, and shown what esteem the ancients had for it. I have likewise considered the nature and perfection of all its several parts; and how beneficial and delightful it is, both as a qualification and an exercise; and endeavoured to answer all objections that have been maliciously raised against it. I have proceeded to give an account of the particular dances of the Greeks and Romans, whether religious, warlike, or civil; and taken particular notice of that part of dancing relating to the ancient stage, in which the pantomimes had so great a share; nor have I been wanting in giving an historical account of some particular masters excellent in that surprising art. After which I have advanced some observations on the modern dancing, both as to the stage, and that part of it so absolutely necessary for the qualification of gentlemen and ladies; and have conclud