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- in such a case ; if a poet has eloquence • or genius enough to command the passions, he easily • gets the better of those stage improbabilities. In • truth, the scenic deception is of a very singular nature. • It is impossible we should imagine ourselves spec• tators of the real scene, of which the stage one is • an imitation; the utmost length we are, in reality, • carried, is to deliver over our minds to that sympa. • thy, which a proper and striking representation of • grief, rage, or any other passion, produces. You • destroy the deception, it is said, when any thing im
pertinent or ludicrous happens on the stage, or • among the audience; but you will find the very • same effect, if a child blows his three-halfpenny • trumpet, in the midst of a solo of Fischer, or a song • of Rauzzini; it stops the delightful current of feel. . ing which was carrying along the soul at the time, • and dissatisfaction and pain are the immediate con• sequence; yet in the solo or the song, no such decep• tion as the theatrical is pretended.'-- Mr. delivered this with the manner of one who had studied the subject, and nobody ventured to answer him.
You were mentioning,' said Mrs. • Voltaire's imitation of Othello, in this tragedy; I
recollect, in the last act, a very strong instance of • it, the concluding speech of Osman, before he stabs • himself, which seems to be exactly taken from that • of the Moor, in a similar situation.' I remem• ber both speeches well,' said Sir
a nd • I think it may be disputed, whether either of them • be congenial to the situation.'— You will ex• cuse me, Sir H- said I, if I hold them • both perfectly in nature. The calmness of despe• rate and irremediable grief will give vent to a • speech longer and more methodical than the imme. • diate anguish of some less deep and irretrievable • calamity. Shakespeare makes Othello refer, in the
• instant of stabbing himself, to a story of his killing ra Turk in Aleppo ; the moment of perturbation, • when such a passage would have been unnatural, • is past; the act of killing himself is then a matter • of little importance; and his reference to a story
seemingly indifferent, marks, in my opinion, most
forcibly and naturally, the deep and settled horror 6 on Othello's soul. I prefer it to the concluding • lines of the Sultan's speech in Zara, which rest on • the story of his own misfortune :
• You have talked a great deal of the author,' said the young lady, but nothing of the actors. • Was not the part of Zara excellently performed ?"
Admirably, indeed,' replied Mr. ; • I know no actress who possesses the power of
speaking poetry beyond Miss Young' - Nor
of feeling it neither, Sir, I think I did not • mean to deny her that quality ; but, in the other, • I think she is unrivalled. She does not reach, per• haps, the impassioned burst, the electric flash of • Mrs. Barry; nor has she that deep and thrilling • note of horror with which Mrs. Yates benumbs an • audience: but there is a melting tremble in her voice, ' which, in tender passages, is inimitably beautiful • and affecting. Were I a poet, I should prefer her • speaking of my lines to that of any actress I ever I heard.'
She owes, I believe,' said our Frenchman, much • of her present excellence to her study of the French
stage. I mean not to detract from her merit : I • certainly allow her more, when I say, that her exa • cellence is, in great part, of her own acquirement, • than some of her ill-judging admirers, who ascribe
• it all to Nature. Our actors, indeed, are rarely • sensible how much study and application is due to • their profession ; people may be spouters without • culture, but laborious education alone can make • perfect actors. Feeling, and the imitative sympa• thy of passion, are, undoubtedly, derived from Na• ture; but art alone can bestow that grace, that • refined expression, without which feeling will often • be awkward, and passion ridiculous.'
N° 55. TUESDAY, AUGUST 3, 1779.
SINCERITY, by which I mean honesty in men's dealings with each other, is a virtue praised by every one, and the practice of it is, I believe, more common than gloomy moralists are willing to allow. The love of truth, and of justice, are so strongly implanted in our minds, that few men are so hardened, or so insensible, as knowingly and deliberately to commit dishonest actions; and a little observation soon convinces those who are engaged in a variety of trans. actions, that honesty is wisdom, and knavery folly.
But though, according to this acceptation of the phrase, men are seldom insincere, or literally disa honest, in the ordinary transactions of life ; yet, I believe, there is another and higher species of sin. cerity, which is very seldom to be met with in any degree of perfection ; I mean that sincerity which leads a man to be honest to himself, and to his own mind, and which will prevent him from being im. posed upon, or deceived by his own passions and inclinations. From that secret approbation which our mind leads us to give to what is virtuous and honourable, we cannot easily bear the consciousness of being dishonest. Hence, therefore, when men are desirous to give way to their evil inclinations and passions, they are willing, nay, at times, they are even at pains to deceive themselves. They look out for some specious apology, they seek for some colour and disguise, by which they may reconcile their conduct to the appearance of right, and may commit wrong, under the belief that they are innocent, nay, sometimes, that they are acting a praise-worthy part. Thus there are men who would abhor the thought of deceiving others, who are constantly deceiving themselves, and, while they believe that they are sincere, and are really so, in the restricted sense in which I have used this word, are, in all the important actions of their life, under the influence of deceit.
Eubulus is a judge in one of the courts of law. Eubulus believes himself a very honest judge ; and it is but doing him justice to allow, that he would not, for any consideration, knowingly, give an unjust decision; yet Eubulus hardly ever gave a fair judgment in any cause where he was connected with, or knew any thing about, the parties. If either of them happen to be his friend or relation, or connected with his friends or relations, Eubulus is sure always to see the cause in a favourable light for that friend. If, on the other hand, one of the parties happens to be a person whom Eubulus has a dislike to, that party is sure to lose his suit. In the one case, he sits down to examine the cause, under all the influence and partiality of friendship; his cool senses
are run away with ; his judgment is blinded, and he sees nothing but the arguments on the side of his friend, and overlooks every thing stated against him. In the other case, he acts under the impressions of dislike, and his judgment is accordingly so determined. A cause was lately brought before Eubulus, where every feeling of humanity and compassion prompted the wish, that one of the parties might be successful; but the right was clearly on the other side. Eubulus sat down to examine it with all the tender feelings full in his mind; they guided his judgment, and he determined contrary to justice. During all this, Eubulus believes himself honest. In one sense of the word he is so ; he does not, knowingly or deliberately, give a dishonest judgment; but, in the higher and more extensive meaning of the word, he is dishonest. He suffers himself to be imposed on by the feelings of friendship and humanity. Nay, far from guarding against it, he aids the imposition, and becomes the willing dupe to his own inclinations.
Licinius was a man of learning and of fancy; he lived at a time when the factions of this country were at their greatest height ; he entered into all of them with the greatest warmth, and, in some of the principal transactions of the time, acted a considerable part. With warm attachments, and ungoverned zeal, his opinions were violent, and his prejudices deep-rooted. Licinius wrote a history of his own times : his zeal for the interests he had espoused is conspicuous; the influence of his prejudices is apparent ; his opinion of the characters of the men of whom he writes is almost every where dictated by his knowledge of the party to which they belonged; and his belief or disbelief of the disputed facts of the time, is directed by the connection they had with his own favourite opinions. Phidippus cannot talk