Abbildungen der Seite


Suspicion 38

Contempt 39

Pride .' 51

Phlegm 51

Hauteur , 52

Idiotism 52

Sinking to repose 54

Starting from repose 54

Doubt 59

Apprehension . 60

Painful Recollection 61

Scorn c 61

Sublime Ad miration 73

Astonishment: 79

Devotion 82

Affection 90

Terror 91

A voluptuary 97

Thirst „ 98

Expectation 99

Terror, from Lairesse 103

Terror, as described by Engel 107

Medea Ill

Voluptuous Indolence 143

Joy 143

Conceit 152

Vulgar Arrogance 153

Menace 154

Dejection 184

False Gesture 221

False Gesture 225

False Gesture 226

False Gesture 249 Page





On the Possibility of the practical Illustration of Gesture and Action.

The arguments, by which you have endeavoured to persuade me to give up my ideas of a Treatise on the Defects and Proprieties of the Dress and Action now adopted in our Theatres, have produced an effect on my mind entirely opposite to the sentiments you wished to excite. So far from convincing me of my error, they have tended to root my original opinion more deeply. This, you will say, is the way in which every self-willed blockhead conducts himself; the more one shows him the folly or impracticability of his projects, with the greater obstinacy is he sure to pursue them. Although I flatter myself, my dear friend, that I do not exactly deserve this reproach from you, yet I cannot resist a strong impulse which I feel, to pursue the subject a little farther, if it be only to convince myself, that there really is nothing. so very absurd or extravagant in the ideas which I formerly communicated to you.

Our theatres have lately made such rapid strides towards perfection in the article of costume, that we may reasonably expect the completion of our hopes. If ever a liberal and discerning public had a right to look for this perfection in their favourite amusement, it is at the present moment. When the august monarch of this nation honours every one with his countenance who makes an effort for the improvement of the drama, it would be shameful, indeed, if those who are versed in the science did not exert every faculty, to cooperate in removing all obstructions in the way of its progression and improvement. You tell me, that every thing which is executed by prescribed rules will be formal, stiff, embarrassed, and precise. You will please to observe how I endeavour to answer this objection. While the rule is perpetually present to the mind of the scholar, he will, perhaps, be awkward and confused in all his gestures, and the fear of making constant mistakes will render him more constrained and irresolute than if he were to give way to his habitual actions. I will grant you thus much with great willingness, but you will in return allow me one grand and general position, viz. that use is a second nature. A man when he first learns to dance, moves with a solemnity . which approaches the ridiculous; but this solemnity in time wears off, and his step becomes not only more majestic, but more sure, more free, and more unembarrassed than his who has never practised that accomplishment. Should you state, in reply to this, that the same argument will hold good in the mere exercise of the profession of an actor, I answer, that though the general rule be alio wed j that habit becomes a kjnd_ of nat u re; yet the same rule will have equal place with regard to awkward as well as elegant actions. A constant custom of appearing before the public may make a man bold, but between grace and boldness there is as wide a difference as there is between light and darkness.

Do not think me, however, so absolutely devoted to my own theory as to be totally insensible to the objections you have made to the practicable part of my s^stgjn. Some of your arguments are weighty, and I own they have put me to some trouble in my efforts to remove them. No science was ever yet brought to any perfection without much labour in surmounting diffi

« ZurückWeiter »