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fixed upon the pleasure they have in the consciousness that they are the objects of love and admiration, are ever changing the air of their countenances, and altering the attitude of their bodies, to strike the hearts of their beholders with new sense of their beauty. The dressing part of our sex, whose minds are the same with the sillier part of the other, are exactly in the like uneasy condition to be regarded for a welltied cravat, a hat cocked with an uncommon briskness, a very well-chosen coat, or other instances of merit, which they are impatient to see unobserved. his apparent affectation, arising from an ill-governed consciousness, is not so much to be wondered at in such loose and trivial minds as these: but when we see it reign in characters of worth and distinction, it is what we cannot but lament, not without some indignation. It creeps into the heart of the wise man as well as that of the coxcomb. When vou see a man of sense look about for applause, and discover an itching inclination to be commended; lay traps for a little incense, even from those whose opinion he values in nothing but his own favour; who is safe against this weakness? or who knows whether he is guilty of it or not? The best way to get clear of such a light fondness for applause, is to take all possible care to throw off the love of it upon occasions that are not in themselves laudable, but as it appears we hope for no praise from them. Of this nature are all graces in men's persons, dress, and bodily deportment, which will naturally be winning and attractive if we think not of them, but lose their force in proportion to our endeavour to make them such. When our consciousness turns upon the main design of life, and our thoughts are employed upon the chief purpose either in business or pleasure, we shall never betray an affectation, for we cannot be guilty of it: but when we give the passion for praise an unbridled liberty, our pleasure in little perfections robs us of what is due to us for great virtues, and worthy qualities. How many excellent speeches and honest actions are lost, for want of being indifferent where we ought? Men are oppressed with regard to their way of speaking and acting, instead of having their thoughts bent upon what they should do or say; and by that means bury a capacity for great things, by their fear of failing in indifferent things. This, rhaps, cannot be called affectation; but it as some tincture of it, at least so far, as that their fear of erring in a.." of no consequence, argues they w e too much pleased in performing it. It is only from a thorough disregard to himself in such particulars, that a man can act with a laudable sufficiency: his heart is fixed upon one point in view; and he tornmits no errors, :ause he thinks nothing an error but what deviates from that intention.
The wild havock affectation makes in that part of the world which should be most polite, is visible wherever we turn our eyes: it pushes men not only into impertinences in conversation, but also in their premeditated speeches. At the bar it torments the bench, whose business it is to cut off all superfluities in what is spoken before it by the practitioner, as well as several little pieces of injustice which arise from the law itself. I have seen it make a man run from the purpose, before a judge, who was, when at the bar himself, so close and logical a pleader, that with all the pomp of eloquence in his power, he never spoke a word too much.”
It might be borne, even here; but it often ascends the pulpit itself; and the declaimer in that sacred place, is frequently so impertinently witty, speaks of the last day itself with so many quaint phrases, that there is no man % understands raillery but must resolve to sin no more. Nay, you may behold him sometimes in prayer, for a proper delivery of the great truths he is to utter, humble himself with sovery-well turned phrases, and mention his own unworthiness in a way so very becoming, that the air of the pretty gentleman is preserved, under the lowliness of the preacher.
I shall end this with a short letter I writ the other day to a very witty man, overrun with the §§ I am speaking of:
‘DEAR SIR,--I spent some time with you the other day, and must take the liberty of a friend to tell you of the unsufferable affectation you are guilty of in all you say and do. When I gave you a hint of it, you asked me whether a man is to be cold to what his friends think of him? No, but praise is not to be the entertainment of every moment. He that hopes for it must be able to suspend the possession of it till proper periods of life, or death itself. . If you would not rather be commended than be praise-worthy, contemn little merits; and allow no man to be so free with you, as to praise you to your face... Your vanity by this means will want its food. At the same time your passion for esteem will be be more fully gratified; men will praise you in their actions: where you now receive one compliment; you will then receive twenty civilities. Till then you will never have of either, further than, Sir, your humble Servant.
* This seems to be intended as a compliment to Chancellor Cowper.
of giving the mind one of the most delightful and most improving entertainments. A virtuous man (says Seneca) struggling with misfortunes, is such a spectacle as gods . look upon with pleasure; and such a pleasure it is which one meets with in the representation of a well-written tragedy. Diversions of this kind wear out of our thoughts every thing that is mean and little. They cherish and cultivate that humanity which is the ornament of our nature. They soften insolence, sooth affliction, and subdue the mind to the dispensations of Providence. It is no wonder therefore that in all the polite nations of the world, this part of the drama has met with public encouragement. The modern tragedy excels that of Greece and Rome, in the intricacy and disposition of the fable; but what a Christian writer would be ashamed to own, falls infinitely short of it in the moral part of the performance. This I may show more at large hereafter: and in the mean time, that I may contribute something towards the improvement of the English tragedy, I shall take notice, in this .# in other following papers, of some particular parts in it that seem liable to exception. Aristotle observes, that the Iambic verse in the Greek, tongue was the most proper for tragedy: because at the same time that it lifted up the discourse from prose, it was that which approached nearer to it than any other kind of verse. “For,” says he, “we may observe that men in ordinary discourse very often speak iambics, without taking notice of it.” We may make the same observation of our English blank verse, which often enters into our common discourse, though we do not attend to it, and is such a due medium between rhyme and prose, that it seems wonderfully adapted to tragedy. ... I am therefore very much offended when I see a play in rhyme; which is as absurd in English, as a tragedy of hexameters would have been in Greek or Latin. The solecism is, I think, still greater in those plays that have some scenes in o and some in blank verse, which are to be looked upon as two several languages; or where we see some particular similes dignified with rhyme at the same time that every thing about them lies in blank verse. I would not however debar the poet from concluding his tragedy, or, if he pleases, every act of it, with two or three couplets, which may have the same effect as an air in the Italian opera after a long recitativo, and give the actor a graceful exit. Besides that, we see a diversity of numbers in some parts of the old tragedy, in order to hinder the ear from being tired with the same continued modulation of the voice. For the same reason I do not dislike the speeches in our English tragedy that close with an hemistich, or half verse, notwithstanding
the person who speaks after it begins a
new verse, without filling up the preced
ing one: nor with abrupt pauses and break
ings off in the middle of a verse, when
§§ humour any passion that is expressed it.
Since I am o this subject, I must observe that our English poets have succeeded much better in the style, than in the sentiments of their tragedies. Their language is very often noble and sonorous, but the sense either very trifling, or very common. On the contrary, in the ancient tragedies, and indeed in those of Corneille and Racine, though the expressions are very great, it is the thought that bears them up and swells them. For my own part, I prefer a noble sentiment that is deressed with homely language, infinitel efore a vulgar one that is blown up wit all the sound and energy of expression. Whether this defect in our tragedies may arise from want of genius, knowledge, or experience in the writers, or from their compliance with the vicious taste of their readers, who are better judges of the language than of the sentiments, and conse". relish the one more than the other, cannot determine. But I believe it might rectify the conduct both of the one and of the other, if the writer laid down the whole contexture of his dialogue in plain English, before he turned it into blank verse; and if the reader, after the perusal of a scene, would consider the naked thought of every speech in it, when divested of all its tragic ornaments. By this means, without being imposed upon by words, we may judge impartially of the thought, and consider whether it be natural or great enough for the person that utters it, whether it deserves to shine in such a blaze of eloquence, or show itself in such a variety of lights as are generally made use of by the writers of our English tragedy. I must in the next place observe, that when our thoughts are great and just, they are often obscured by the sounding phrases, hard metaphors, and forced expressions in which they are clothed. Shakspeare is often very faulty in this particular. There is a fine observation in Aristotle to this purse, which I have never seen quoted. he expression, says he, ought to be very much laboured in the unactive parts of the fable, as in descriptions, similitudes, narrations, and the like; in which the opinions, manners, and passions of men are not represented; for these (namely, the opinions, manners, and passions,) are apt to be obscured by o phrases and elaborate expressions. Horace, who copied most of his criticisms from Aristotle, seems to have had his eye on the foregoing rule, in the following verses: • Et tragicus plerumque dolet sermone pedestri: Telephus et Peleus, cum pauper et exul uterque, Projicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba,
Si curat cor spectantis tetigesse querela." pec Ilor. Ars Poet. ver 95.
That unexpected break in the line, and turning the description of his manner of talking into admiration of it, is inexpressibly beautiful, and wonderfully suited to the fond character of the person that speaks it. There is a simplicity in the words, that outshines the utmost pride of expression. Otway has followed nature in the language of his tragedy, and therefore shines in the passionate parts, more than any of our English poets. As there is something familiar and domestic in the fable of his tragedy, more than in those of any other poet, he has little pomp, but great force in his expressions. For which reason, though he has admirably succeeded in the tender and melting part of his tragedies, he sometimes falls into too great familiarity of phrase in those parts, which by Aristotle’s rule, ought to have been raised and supported by the dignity of expression. It has been observed by others, that this É. has founded his tragedy of Venice reserved on so wrong a plot, that the greatest characters in it are those of rebels and traitors. Had the hero of this play discovered the same good qualities in the defence of his country that he showed for its ruin and subversion, the audience could not enough pity and admire him: but as he is now represented, we can only say of him what the Roman historian says of Cataline, that his fall would have been glorious (si fro-fatria sic concidisset) had he so fallen in the service of his country. C.
Acne forte putes, me, quae facere ipse recusem,
Cum rectetractent alii, laudare maligne;
Ille per extentum funem mihi posse videtur
Irepoeta, meum qui pectus inaniter angit,
Irritat, mulcet, falsis terroribus implet,
Ut magus; et modome. Thebis, modo ponit Athenis. - Hor. Lib. 2, Ep. i. 208.
Yet lest you think I rally more than teach, Or praise, malignant, arts I cannot reach, Let me for once presume to instruct the times, To know the poet from the man of rhymes; 'Tis he, who gives my breast a thousand pains, Can make me feel each passion that he feigns; Enrage, compose, with more than magic art, With pity, and with terror, tear my heart; And snatch me o'er the earth, or through the air, To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and where. Pope. THE English writers of tragedy are possessed with a notion, that when they represent a virtuous or innocent person in distress, they ought not to leave him till they have delivered him out of his troubles, or made him triumph over his enemies. This error they have been led into by a ridiculous doctrine in modern criticism, that they are obliged to an equal distribution of rewards and punishments, and an impartial execution of poetical justice. o were the first that established this rule I know not; but I am sure it has no foundation in nature, in reason, or in the practice of the ancients. We find that good and evil happen alike to all men on this side of the grave; and as the principal design of tragedy is to raise commiseration and terror in the minds of the audience, we shall defeat this great end, if we always make virtue and innocence hapby and successful. Whatever crosses and disappointments a good man suffers in the body of the tragedy, they will make but a small impression on our minds, when we know that in the last act he is to arrive at the end of his wishes and desires. When we see him engaged in the depths of his afflictions, we are apt to comfort ourselves, because we are sure he will find his way out of them; and that his grief, how great soever it may be at present, will soon terminate in gladness. For this reason the ancient writers of tragedy treated men in their plays, as they are dealt with in the world, by making virtue sometimes happy and sometimes miserable, as they found it in the fable which they made choice of, or as it might affect their audience in the most agreeable manner. Aristotle considers the tragedies that were written in either of these kinds, and observes, that those which ended unhappily had always pleased the people, and carried away the rize in the public disputes of the stage, rom those that ended happily. Terror and commiseration leave a pleasing anguish in the mind; and fix the audience in such a serious composure of thought, as is much more lasting and delightful than any little transient starts of * and satisfaction. Accordingly we find, that more of our English tragedies have succeeded in which the favourites of the audience sink under their calamities, than those in which the recover themselves out of them. The best lays of this kind are The Orphan, Venice É. Alexander the Great, Theodosius, All for Love, GEdipus, Oroonoko,
Othello, &c. King Lear is an admirable tragedy of the same kind, as Shakspeare wrote it; but as it is reformed, according to the chimerical notion of poetical justice, in my humble opinion it has lost half its beauty. At the same time I must allow, that there are very noble tragedies, which have been framed upon the other plan, and have ended happily; as indeed most of the good tragedies, which have been written since the starting of the above criticism, have taken this turn; as The Mournin Bride; Tamerlane, Ulysses, Phaedra an Hippolitus, with most of Mr. Dryden’s. I must also allow that many of Shakspeare's, and several of the celebrated tragedies of antiquity, are cast in the same form. I do not therefore dispute against this way of writing tragedies, but against the criticism that would establish this as the only method; and by that means would very much cramp the .. tragedy, and perhaps give a wrong bent to the genius of our writers. The tragi-comedy, which is the product of the English theatre, is one of the most monstrous inventions that ever entered into a lo thoughts. . An author might as well think of weaving the adventures of Æneas and Hudibras into one poem, as of writing such a motley piece of mirth and sorrow. But the absurdity of these performances is sovery visible, that I shals not insist upon it. The same objections which are made to tragi-comedy, may in some measure be applied to all tragedies that have a double plot in them; which are likewise more frequent upon the English stage, than upon any other; for though the grief of the audience, in such performances, be not changed into another passion, as in tragicomedies; it is diverted upon another object, which weakens their concern for the principal action, and breaks the tide of sorrow, by throwing it into different channels. This inconvenience, however, may, in a great measure be cured, if not wholly removed, by the skilful choice of an underplot, which may bear such a near relation to the principal design as to contribute towards the completion of it, and be concluded by the same catastrophe. There is also another particular, which . be reckoned among the blemishes, or rather the false beauties of our English tragedy: I mean those particular speeches which are commonly known by the name of rants. The warm and passionate parts of a tragedy, are always the most taking with the audience; for which reason we often see the players pronouncing, in all the violence of action, several parts of the tragedy which the author writ with great temper, and designed that they should have been so acted. I have seen Powell*
very often raise himself a loud clap by this artifice. The poets that were acquainted with this secret, have given frequent occasion for such emotions in the actor, by adding vehemence to words where there was no passion, or inflaming a real passion into fustian. This hath filled the mouths of our heroes with bombast; and given them such sentiments, as proceed rather from a swelling than a greatness of mind. Unnatural exclamations, curses, vows, blasphemies, a defiance of mankind, and an outraging of the gods, frequently pass upon the audience for towering thoughts, and have accordingly met with infinite applause. I shall here add a remark, which I am afraid our tragic writers may make an ill use of. As our heroes are generally lovers, their swelling and blustering upon the stage very much recommends them to the fair part of their audience. The ladies are wonderfully pleased to see a man insulting kings, or affronting the gods in one scene, and throwing himself at the feet of his mistress in another. Let him behave himself insolently towards the men, and abjectly towards the fair one, and it is ten to one but he proves a favourite with the boxes. Dryden and Lee, in several of their tragedies, have practised this secret with good success. But to show how a rant pleases beyond the most just and natural thought that is not pronounced with vehemence, I would desire the reader when he sees the tragedy of QEdipus, to observe how quietly the §. is dismissed at the end of the third act, after having pronounced the following lines, in which the thought is very natural, and apt to move compassion: "To you good gods, I make my last appeal.' Or clear my virtues, or my crimes reveal. If in the maze of fate I blindly run, And backward tread those paths I sought to shun; Impute my errors to your own decree: My hands are guilty, but my heart is free." Let us then observe with what thunder claps of applause he leaves the stage, after the impieties and execrations at the end of the fourth act; and you will wonder to see an audience so cursed and so pleased at the same time. “O that, as oft I have at Athens seen,
[Where by the way, there was no stage till many years after GEdipus.]
* Mr. George Powell, though moving in the same sphere with Betterton, Booth, Wilkes, &c. maintained no inconsiderable rank in the public estimation: un
The stage arise, and the big clouds descend;
Having spoken of Mr. Powell, as oil..."; himself applause from the ill taste of an audience, must do him the justice to own, that he is excellently
fortunately, however, in his latter days, the love of the bottle weaned him from his attachment to the stage, and he declined greatly from that reputation which he had acquired. He was author of five Plays, all of which he brought on the stage with good success. He died in 1714.
formed for a tragedian, and, when he pleases, deserves the admiration of the best judges: as I doubt not but he will in the Conquest of Mexico, which is acted for his own benefit, to-morrow night. C.
No. 41.] Tuesday, Ahril 17, 1711. Tunon inventa reperta es. o Ovid. Met. i. 654. So found, is worse than lost. .Addisor CoMPAssion for the gentleman who writes the following letter, should not prevail upon me to fall upon the fair-sex, if it were not that I find they are frequently fairer than they ought to be. Such impostures are not to be tolerated in civil society, and I think his misfortune ought to be made public, as a warning for other men always to examine into what they admire.
*SIR,--Supposing you to be a person of general knowledge, I make my application to you on avery particular occasion. I have a great mind to be rid of my wife, and hope, when you consider my case, you will be of opinion I have very just pretensions to a divorce. I am a mere man of the town, and have very little improvement, but what I have§. from plays. I remember in The Silent Woman,” the learned Dr. Cutberd, or Dr. Otter, (I forget which) makes one of the causes of separation to be Error Personae, when a man marries a woman, and finds her not to be the same woman whom he intended to marry, but another. If that be law, it is, I presume, exactly my case. For you are to know, Mr. Spectator, that there are women who do not let their loods see their faces till they are mar
*Not to keep you in suspense, I mean Holy that part of the sex who paint.
hey are some of them so exquisitely skilful this way, that give them but a tolerable pair of eyes to set up with, and they will make bosom, lips, cheeks, and eye-brows, by their own industry. As for my dear, never was a man so enamoured as I was of her fair forehead, neck, and arms, as well as the bright jet of her hair; but, to my great astonishment, I find they were all the effect of art. Her skin is so tarnished with this practice, that when she first wakes in a morning, she scarce seems young enough to be the mother of her whom I carried to bed the night before. I shall take the liberty to part with her by the first opportunity, unless her father will make her portion suitable to her real, nother assumed countenance. This I thought fit to let him and her know by your means. I am, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant.”
I cannot tell what the law, or the parents
*Epicoene, or The Silent Woman, a comedy by Ben Jonson.—It is much to be regretted that this fine comedy has for several years been totally neglected by the mana. gers of our theatres. Unless the public taste has greatly declined from what it was, this excellent performance would certainly be more acceptable than the flippant vulgar nonsense with which we are so often annoyed from the pens of some of our modern dramatists.
of the lady will do for this injured gentleman, but must allow he has very much justice on his side... I have indeed very song observed this evil, and distinguished those of our women who wear their own, from those in borrowed complexions, by the Picts and the British. There does not need any great discernment to judge which are which. The British have a lively animated aspect; the Picts, though never so beautiful, have dead uninformed countenances. The muscles of a real face sometimes swell with soft passion, sudden surprise, and are flushed with agreeable confusions, according as the objects before them, or the ideas presented to them, affect their imagination. But the Picts behold all things with the same air, whether they are joyful or sad; the same fixed insensibility appears upon all occasions. A Pict, though she takes all that pains to invite the approach of lovers, is obliged to keep them at a certain distance; a sigh in a languishing lover, if fetched too near her, would dissolve a feature; and a kiss snatched by a forward one, might transfer the complexion of the mistress to the admirer. It is hard to speak of these false fair ones, without saying something uncomplaisant, but I would only recommend to them to consider how they like coming into a room new painted; o, may assure themselves the near approach of a lady who uses this practice is much more offensive.
Will Honeycomb told us, one day, an adventure he once had with a Pict. This lady had wit, as well as beauty, at will; and made it her business to gain hearts, for no other reason but to rally the torments of her lovers. She would make t advances to ensnare men, but without any manner of scruple break off when there was no provocation. Her ill nature and vanity made my friend very easily proof against the charms of her wit and conversation; but her beauteous form, instead of being blemished by her falsehood and inconstancy, every day increased upon him, and she had new attractions every time he saw her. When she observed Will irrevocably her slave, she began to use him as such, and after many steps towards such a cruelty, she at last utterly banished him. The unhappy lover strove in vain, by servile epistles, to revoke his doom, till at length he was forced to the last refuge, a round sum of money to her maid. . This corrupt attendant placed him early in the morning behind the hangings in her mistress's dressing-room. He stood very conveniently to
bserve, without being seen. The Pict begins the face she designed to wear that day, and I have heard him protest she had worked a full half hour before he knew her to be the same woman. As soon as he saw the dawn of that complexion for which he had so long languished, he thought fit to break from his concealment, repeating that verse of Cowley: