Imágenes de páginas

Th' oppressor's wrongs, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardles bear,
To groan and sweat under a weary life?
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather choose those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.

As all these varieties of voice are to be directed by the sense, so the action is to be directed by the voice, and with a beautiful propriety, as it were to enforce it. The arm, which, by a strong figure, Tully calls the Orator's Weapon, is to be sometimes raised and extended; and the hand, by its motion, sometimes to lead, and sometimes to follow the words as they are uttered. The stamping of the foot too has its proper expression in contention, anger, or absolute command. But the face is the epitome of the whole man, and the eyes are, as it were, the epitome of the face; for which reason, he says, the best judges among the Romans were not extremely pleased, even with Roscius himself, in his mask. No part of the body, besides the face, is capable of so many changes as there are different emotions in the mind, and of expressing them all by those changes. Nor is this to be done without the freedom of the eyes; therefore Theo. phrastus called one, who barely rehearsed his speech with his eyes fixed, an absent actor.

As the countenance admits of so great variety, it requires also great judgment to govern it. Not that the form of the face is to be shifted on every occasion, lest it turn to farce and buffoonery; but it is certain that the eyes have a wonderful power of marking the emotions of the mind, sometimes by a stedfast look,

sometimes by a careless one, now by a sudden regard, then by a joyful sparkling, as the sense of the words is diversified for action is, as it were, the speech of the features and limbs, and must therefore conform itself always to the sentiments of the soul. And it may be observed, that in all which relates to the gesture, there is a wonderful force implanted by nature, since the vulgar, the unskilful, and even the most bar. barous, are chiefly affected by this. None are moved by the sound of words, but those who understand the language; and the sense of many things is lost upon men of dull apprehension: but action is a kind of universal tongue; all men are subject to the same passions, and consequently know the same marks of them in others, by which they themselves express them.

Perhaps some of my readers may be of opinion, that the hints I have here made use of, out of Cicero, are somewhat too refined for the players on our theatre in answer to which, I venture to lay it down as a maxim, that without good sense no one can be a good player, and that he is very unfit to personate the dignity of a Roman hero, who cannot enter into the rules for pronunciation and gesture delivered by a Roman orator.

There is another thing which the author does not think too minute to insist on, though it is purely mechanical; and that is the right pitching of the voice. On this occasion, he tells the story of Gracchus, who employed a servant with a little ivory pipe, to stand behind him, and give him the right pitch, as often as he wandered too far from the proper modulation. Every voice, says Tully, has its particular medium and compass, and the sweetness of speech consists in leading it through all the variety of tones naturally, and without touching any extreme. Therefore, says he, leave the pipe at home, but carry the sense of this custom with you.



Non est vivere sed valere vita.


To breathe is not to live; but to be well.


IT is an unreasonable thing some men expect of their acquaintance. They are ever complaining that they are out of order, or displeased, or they know not how, and are so far from letting that be a reason for retiring to their own homes, that they make it their argument for coming into company. What has any body to do with accounts of a man's being indisposed but his physician? If a man laments in company, where the rest are in humour enough to enjoy them. selves, he should not take it ill if a servant is ordered to present him with a porringer of caudle or possetdrink, by way of admouition that he go home to bed. That part of life which we ordinarily understand by the word conversation, is an indulgence to the sociable part of our make; and should incline us to bring our proportion of good-will or good-humour among the friends we meet with, and not to trouble them with relations which must of necessity oblige them to a real or feigned affliction. Cares, distresses, diseases, uneasinesses, and dislikes of our own, are by no means to be obtruded upon our friends. If we would consider how little of this vicissitude of motion and rest, which we call life, is spent with satisfaction, we should be more tender of our friends, than to bring them little sorrows which do not belong to them. There is no real life but cheerful life; therefore valetudinarians should be sworn before they enter into company, not to say a word of themselves until the meeting breaks up. It is not here pretended, that we should be always sitting with chaplets of flowers round our heads, or be crowned with roses in order to make our entertainment agreeable to us; but if, as it is usually observed,

they who resolve to be merry, seldom are so; it will be much more unlikely for us to be well pleased, if they are admitted who are always complaining they are sad. Whatever we do we should keep up the cheerfulness of our spirits, and never let them sink below an inclination at least to be well pleased: the way to this, is to keep our bodies in exercise, our minds at ease. That insipid state wherein neither are in vigour, is not to be accounted any part of our por. tion of being. When we are in the satisfaction of some innocent pleasure, or pursuit of some laudable design, we are in the possession of life, of human life. Fortune will give us disappointments enough, and nature is attended with infirmities enough, without our adding to the unhappy side of our account by our spleen or ill-humour. Poor Cottilus, among so many real evils, a chronical distemper and a narrow fortune, is never heard to complain: that equal spirit of his, which any man may have, that, like him, will conquer pride, vanity, and affectation, and follow nature, is not to be broken, because it has no points to contend for. To be anxious for nothing, but what nature demands as necessary, if it is not the way to an estate, is the way to what men aim at by getting an estate. This temper will preserve health in the body, as well as tranquillity in the mind. Cottilus sees the world in an hurry with the same scorn that a sober person sees a man drunk. Had he been contented with what he ought to have been, how could, says he, such a one have met with such a disappointment? If another had valued his mistress for what he ought to have loved her, he had not been in her power: if her virtue had a part of his passion, her levity had been his cure; she could not then have been false and amiable at the same time.

Since we cannot promise ourselves constant health, let us endeavour at such a temper as may be our best support in the decay of it. Uranius has arrived at that composure of soul, and wrought himself up to such a

neglect of every thing with which the generality of mankind is enchanted, that nothing but acute pains can give him disturbance, and against those too he will tell his intimate friends he has a secret which gives him present ease. Uranius is so thoroughly persuaded of another life, and endeavours so sincerely to secure an interest in it, that he looks upon pain but as a quickening of his pace to an home, where he shall be better provided for than in his present apartment. Instead of the melancholy views which others are apt to give themselves, he will tell you that he has forgot he is mortal, nor will he think of himself as such. He thinks at the time of his birth he entered into an eternal being; and the short article of death he will not allow an interruption of life: since that moment is not of half the duration as is his ordinary sleep. Thus is his being one uniform and consistent series of cheerful diversions, and moderate cares, without fear or hope of futurity. Health to him is more than pleasure to another man, and sickness less affecting to him than indisposition is to others.

I must confess, if one does not regard life after this manner, none but idiots can pass it away with any tolerable patience. Take a fine lady who is of a delicate frame, and you may observe from the hour she rises a certain weariness of all that passes about her. I know more than one who is much too nice to be quite alive. They are sick of such strange frightful people that they meet; one is so aukward, and another so disagreeable, that it looks like a penance to breathe the same air with them. You see this is so very true, that a great part of ceremony aud goodbreeding among the ladies turns upon their uneasiness; and I will undertake, if the how-d'ye servants of our women were to make a weekly bill of sickness, as the 'parish clerks do of mortality, you would not find in an account of seven days, one in thirty that was not 'downright sick or indisposed, or but a very little better than she was, and so forth.

« AnteriorContinuar »