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gaining that fervour and warmth of expression, which, by a certain sympathy, is sure to affect those who hear us.
But our natural feelings are not always to be commanded ; and, when they are, stand in need of the regulation and embellishments of art: it is the business, therefore, of every reader and speaker in publick, to acquire such tones and gestures as nature gives to the passions; that he may be able to produce the semblance of them when he is not actually impassioned. The feelings of men, when unpremeditatedly impassioned, will do wonders. We seldom hear a person express love, rage, or pity, when these passions are produced by a powerful ob. ject on the spot, without feeling in ourselves the workings of the passions thus instantaneously produced. Here the reality of the situation contributes greatly to our own feelings, as well as to the feelings of the speaker. The speech of a malefactor seldom fails to move us powerfully, however wretchedly delivered ; and a person really in the agonies of passion moves us irresistibly. But these are situations very different from the reader and speaker in publick. The reader has always a fictitious or absent passion to exhibit: and the publick speaker must always produce his passion at a certain time and place, and in a certain order; and in this situation it is generally supposed by our best criticks, that an excess of feeling, such as we have when unpremeditatedly actuated by strong passions, would render us incapa. ble of expressing ourselves, so as properly to affect others. I have myself seen Powel, in the character of George Barnwell, so overwhelmed with grief in that pathetick address,
Be warn'd, ye youths, who see my sad despair, &c.
as to be incapable of expressing himself in the most pathetick manner to the audience. However this
be, certain it is, we ought to study the effects and appearances of the passions, that we may be able to exhibit them when we are not really impassioned; and, when we are, to give passion its most agreeable expression. Mr. Burke has a very ingenious thought on this subject in his Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. He observes, that there is such a connection between the internal feeling of a passion, and the external expression of it, that we cannot put ourselves in the posture or attitude of any passion, without communicating a certain degree of the passion itself to the mind. The same may be observed of the tone of voice which is peculiar to each passion : each passion produces an agitation of the body, which is accompanied by a correspondent agitation of the mind : certain sounds naturally produce certain bodily agitations, similar to those produced by the passions; and hence musick has power over the mind, and can dispose it alternately to joy, or sorrow; to pity, or revenge. When the voice, therefore, assumes that tone which a musician would produce in order to express certain passions or sentiments in a song the speaker, like the performer on a musical instrument, is wrought upon by the sound he creates; and, though active at the beginning, at length becomes passive, by the sound of his own voice on himself. Hence it is, that though we frequently begin to read or speak, without feeling any of the passion we wish to express, we often end in full possession of it. This may serve to show the necessity of studying and imitating those tones, looks, and gestures, that accompany the passions, that we may dispose ourselves to feel them mechanically, and improve our expression of them when we feel them spontaneously; for by the imitation of the passion, we meet it, as it were, half way.
A passion well described, disposes us to the feeling of it, and greatly assists us in expressing it with force and propriety ; this shows the necessity of a
good description of the passions, and how much the art of speaking depends upon it. Those who feel the passions the most powerfully, and unite with this feeling a power of describing their feelings, are those from whom we may expect the best pictures of what passes in the soul. For this reason, good poets are generally the best painters of the passions ; and, for this reason, too, we find the greatest orators have been most conversant with the best poets; for though it is not the business of the poet, like that of the philosopher, to enter into a logical definition of the origin, extent, and various relations of the passion he produces, he must, however, feel it strongly, and express it exactly as we see it in nature, or it will fail in its effect on the soul ; which, in this case, judges by a sort of instinct. This, it is presumed, will be a sufficient reason for drawing the examples that are given of the passions chiefly from the poets ; and of these, chiefly those in the dramatick line ; as it is in these that the passions are generally the most delicately and forcibly touched.
Aaron Hill, in his Essay on the Art of Acting, has made a bold attempt at such a description of the passions as may enable an actor to adopt them mechanically, by shewing, that all the passions require either a braced or relaxed state of the sinews, and a peculiar cast of the eye. This system he has supported with much ingenuity; but it were to be wished he had lived to give his original idea the finishing he intended, and to have seen it combated by opposite opinions, that he might have removed several objections that lie against it, and render the truth of it doubtful. It must be owned, however, that this writer deserves great praise for the mere attempt he has made to form a new system, which, under some restrictions, may not be without its use. It is certain, that all the passions, when violent, brace the sinews ; grief, which, when moderate, may be said to melt or relax the frame, when accompanied by an. guish and bitter complainings, becomes active and bracing * Pity seems never to rise to à sufficient de. gree of sorrow to brace the sinews; and anger,even in the slightest degree, seems to give a kind of tension to the voice and limbs. Thus Shakespeare, as quoted by this writer, has given us an admirable picture of this passion in its violence, and has made this violent tension of the sinews a considerable part of its composition.
Now imitate the action of the tyger !
To this may be added, that admirable picture of violent anger which Shakespeare puts in the mouth of Suffolk, in the Second Part of Henry VI.
Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake's groan,
Who can read these admirable descriptions of anger without finding his whole frame braced, and his mind strongly tinctured with the passion delineated ! How much is it to be regretted that so great a master of the passions as Shakespeare, has not left us a description similar to this of every
* See Dr. Johnson's excellent remark upon the speech of Lady Constance, in King John, Act iii. sc. 1,
emotion of the soul! But though he has not de- . scribed every other passion like this, he has placed them all in such marking points of view, as enables us to see the workings of the human heart from his writings, in a clearer and more affecting way than in any other of our poets; and, perhaps, the best description that could be given us of the passions in any language, may be extracted from the epithets he has made use of. But to return to the system : Hill defines scorn to be negligent anger, and adds, “ it is expressed by languid mus"cles, with a smile upon the eye in the light spe6 cies, or a frown to hit the serious.” The reason he gives for this expression is, “because scorn “ insinuates, by a voluntary slackness, or disarming “ of the nerves, a known or a concluded absence “ of all power in the insulted object, even to make “ defence seem necessary.” This seems a very accurate picture of the passion, and the slackness of the nerves appears necessarily to enter into the propper method of expressing it. But what are we to think of his definition of Joy! “Joy," says he, “ is pride possessed of triumph.” No author I have ever yet met with, has supposed pride to be a necessary part of the composition of joy ; though a degree of joy may form part of the composition of pride, Pity, he defines to be active grief for another's afflictions; but this definition seems not to include the most leading trait of pity, which is, benevolence and love ; and though pity is always accompanied with a degree of sorrow which often excites us to assist those we pity, yet pity is often bestowed on objects we neither can nor endeavour to assist. The poets have always strongly marked this alliance between pity and love, and with great propriety. When Blandford tells Oroonoko he pities him, Oroonoko answers,