« PreviousContinue »
important business, I amused myself, whom one wishes to be farther acin his abfence, with some very highly quainted. finished drawings (the productions, as White I was thus engaged, I fell I afterward learned, of a young relation into a train of reflection, which quickly of his) wnich decorated the room into banished fiom my mind the rememwhich I was shewn. The subjects of brance that it was but a drawing I these were exceedingly miscelaneous; was contemplating ; and linking into but my attention was presently fixed a kind of reverie, I began to realize, to one, the fimplicity of whole group as it were, the shadows I beheld. and figures, and the beauty and truth From an ideal correspondence beof whose colouring, together with the tween the mode of drets and of archirural charms of the landscape in the tecture, &c. I immediately concluded back ground, rendered it particularly the gentleman to be the lord of the suitable to the disposition of mind in poble mansion I have before noticed, which I then was.
on the neighbouring hill.
I conThe fore ground exhibited a simple ceived him to be a man of taste, fenrustic bench, under a thick spreading timent, and virtue, who having laid canopy
of young and luxuriant trees, out his grounds in the pure style of inscribed to conjugal afiction, and a rural elegance, had particularly erectmale and female figure, elegantly at- ed a simple rustic seat inscribed to tired, advancing from it toward a conjugal offection : building this seat beautiful little female infant, who, in the rudeft ftile, and with the moft seated on the turf, spread forth its frugal materials, to thew that the virpretty hands with smiles toward tuous felicity to which it is held fathem. Half concealed in embowering cred, is, by the bounty of the Creator woods, a noble mansion decorated the (who makes whatever is essential ubneighbouring hill, whose well-selected tainable by all) fo constituted, as to site seemed to command all the beauti- be open to the enjoyment of those ful varieties of the surrounding prof- who have neither affluence, nor skill, pect.
for more coitly or ingenious accomThere was an interesting impresion modations. of innocence and sympathy in the To this feat, I suppose, he has led whole appearance of the lady, which, the lovely partner of his heart and more than the blooming youth that fortunes, whom he has chosen from smiled conspicuous in her features, all the world, on account of the puheightened the delicate graces of her rity of her mind, the charms of her form; and something of engaging person, and the engaging fimplicity teneficence and affection in the coun- of her manners, to be the repository tenance and attitude of her companion, of his dearest confidence, and the who was beading forward to the source and partner cf all his terreftrial smiling cherub, and stretching his enjoyments'; with her also he has hand playfully over its little head, brought the little darling image of that fascinated me, and compelled me her beauties--the fond pledge of their to reflect, rather with pity, than in- mutual affection--the tweet memento dignation, on those beings who, dead of nuptial bliss ! to the social endearments of domestic While this darling infant, feated life, can laugh at all its tender cares, on the grass, has been innocently and ridicule its enjoyments as tame amusing itself with plucking the dailies and insipid. In short, I regarded and king-cups that enamel the verthese penciled forms with that kind of dant carpet, and lisping to its parents complacent smile with which, in a to mark their fimple beauties, their large and mixed circle, one frequently minds, faid I to myself, (fuperior to singles out some individual of pleasing the common topics of vulgar cbfervaform and congenial disposition, with tion) have been foaring on the wings
of contemplation to the great source fucceffion, would be a wild and deof all surrounding blesings; have solated heath, where thorns of care, been expatiating on all tie rich va- perplexity, and itrife, would choak rieties of the land tape, and pointing the rank neglected foil. out its contrated b auties ; for what • Confidence and civilization exist scene in nature is without its charms ? alone in the thee: for thou art the
At length, their souls feasted with 'bond of society. Snap thee afunder so rational an entertainment, they ---the world's unhinged, and “ Chaos have arisen from thcir rustic feat, and, come again !” by parental endearments, are en • Fools and libertines may revel in couraging their little cherub to rise, the boasted delights of infátiable vaand return with them to the mansion, riety : in vain! where vice kindles where other pleafures, as rational, the restless paffion, inconftancy can and, consequently, as interesting to but ensure a change of disappointhearts like theirs refined and elevated ments: but when Virtue inspires the by useful culture, await to variegate fettled tenderness of love, thy everthe scene.
during obligations seem not too long With fuch a prospect present in my --feel not like restraints upon the imagination, I felt my heart suddenly heart; for gentleness and forbearance warmed and elevated; and, struck are all thy own. Thou teacheft the with the beneficent wisdom of the storm-tofled passions to subfide into Creator, who has contrived to make the calm of mutual tenderness; blindest the strongeit and most essential instinct the eyes of censoriousness'; reconcilest of his rational creatures, when pro- the varying tastes and appetites, and perly regulated, a fource at once of givest the nerve of sympathy, by which virtue and of pleasure, I exclaimed united hearts commune with each in the ardour of my soul :
other's feelings, and learn to avoid • All hail! thou best, and purest the painful cruelty of giving pain. spring of mortal happiness ! thou Yes, conjugal affection ! thou art fweetest, strongest attachment of the the only fource of pure enjoyment. virtuous mind! blest conjugal affec- And though various nations, and contion! It is by thee we are lifted above tending sects, deck thee with different the brute creation, and are taught to ornaments, and approach thee with acknowledge that there are pleasures dissimilar ceremonies, yet all civilized superior to the boasted enjoyments of societies have conspired to hail thee fenfualists, who, diffipated in vicious as the divinity on whom their pervariety, lose the ennobling delicacy of petuity, union, peace, and happiconitant attachments: pleasures to ness depend. And though speculativa which Virtue imparts a fuperior zelt, Reafon may revolt at thy indissoluble and which Reason glories to prolong. bond, and man (ever free to fly from
"It is thou, O conjugal affection! mifery) may jusly snap the fetter that who, concentrating to one point the links him to perverse and incessant scattered rays of defire, makest that discord, yet Vice and Folly must have which were elfe a troubled and unhal- intruded in that union which necessity lowed fire, glow, pure, and amiable, presumes to dissolve: and seldom is the a kindly fame, genial to virtue and bosom of either entirely pure, when social happinels. It is thou, ulso, those who have united under thy banwho, knitting the indissoluble bond of ner, would with to be released from domestic amity, giveft birth to the the holy obligation. social feelings, and the tender ties of Hail, then, blest conjugal affecrelative affection and regard. With- tion! friendly alike to happiness and out thee, the well-ordered garden of virtue! who awakeft the finest feelcivil life, where joy and friendship, ings of the soul, and poureft pleasures peace and union, bloom in perennial on the most tender nerve of the suscepti
ble heart; who linkelt mankind in one and virtue, I made ro apologies for connected chain, and makest the hap- my conduct, but, after some little piness of one the bliss of many; who friendly falutations, took the liberty unfoldett to us the beneficence of the to borron a pen and ink, and comCreator, and by shewing us a virtu-municate my rhapsody to paper. And ous pleasure superior to all the licenti- as there is good reason to suppose that ous gratifications of vice, teachest us the general bias of my reflections to hope improving happiness from the might be attributed to my having, cultivation of increasing virtue and on that very morning, perused an benevolence !'
essay in the Universal Magazine, on Turning round, with some degree the Comparative felicity of the of exultation, as I pronounced these married and fingle state,' the insertion words, I beheld my friend, who had of the above, in the same ingenious entered unobserved during my reverie, miscellany, as a testimony of my enfilently smiling at the other end of the tire acquiescence in the sentiments of room. However, as I am not yet fuf- the author, would much oblige, an ficiently instructed in the fashionable occasional correspondent, refinements of this enlightened town,
AN ENTHUSIAST. to blush at the sentiments of nature
On the CHORUS of the ANCIENT TRAGEDY.
troduced the frontispiece to this some degree, interested in the isfue of volume, it was observed, that, in the action. This company, which, process of time, the Chorus, from in the days of Sophocles, was rebeing the principal, became only the stricted to the number of fifteen peracceffory in Tragedy; till, at last
, it sons, was constantly on the stage, entirely disappeared in Modern Tra- during the whole performance, mingled gedy.
in discourse with the actors, entered As this circumstance forms the prin- into their concerns, suggested counsel cipal distin&tion between the ancient and advice to them, moralized on all and modern stage, it has given rise the incidents in succession, and, during to a question much agitated between the intervals of the action, sung their the partizans of the ancients and the odes, or songs, in which they ad- / moderns, whether the drama has dressed the gods, implored success for gained, or suffered, by the abolition the virtuous, lamented their misforof the Chorus. It must be admitted, tunes, and delivered many religious that the Chorus tended to render and moral sentiments, Accordingly, Tragedy, not only more magnificent, Horace, in his Art of Poetry, thus but more moral and instructive. It describes the office of the Chorus: was always the most sublime and poetical part of the work; and being Actoris partes Chorus, officiumque virile carried on by finging, and accom- Defendat : neu quid' medios 'intercinat panied by music, it must certainly actus, have much diversified the entertain- Quod non proposito conducat & hæreat ment, and added to its fplendour, aptè. The Chorus, at the same time, con- Ille bonis faveatque & concilietur amicè; ftantly inculcated the lessons of virtue. Et regat iratos, & amet pacare tumentes : It confifted of such persons as might
Ille dapes laudet menfæ brevis ; ille falu
brem be most naturally supposed to be pre- Justitiam, legesque, '& apertis otia portis sent on the occafion; inhabitants of Ille tegat commiffa, deoique prececur & the place in which the scene was laid, oret, often the companions of some of the Ut redeat miferis, abeat fortuna fuperbis.
The Chorns must fupport an actor's part, transacted in private, the Chorus Defend the virtuous, and advise with art; must ever be witnefles; they must be Govern the choleric, arc the proud aph the corfederater of both parties, who
pease, And the Mort feasts of frugal tabies p aite; who are, perhaps, confpiring against
come succefirely upon the siage, and Applaud the justice of well.govern'u itites, And Peace triumphant with her open ga es,
each other. In short, the manageIntrusted fecrets let thein ne'er betray,
ment of a Chorus is an unnatural conBut to the righteous gods with ardour finement to a poet ; it requires to pray,
great a facrifice of probability in the That Fortune with returning siniles may conduct of the action, it has too much bless
the air of a theatrical decoration, to Amitted worth, and impious pride de- be consistent with that appearance of
press. Yet let their songs with apt coherence reality, which a poct mult cver prejoin,
serve in order to move our paffions. Promote the plot, and aid the just design. The origin of Tragedy anong the
FRANCIS. Greeks, we have fen, was a cho al
song, or hymn to the gods. It is no But, notwithstanding the advan- wonder, therefore, that it so long tages that were obtained by means of kept poífefiion of the Greck stage. the Chorus, the inconveniencies 'on But, perhaps, it may be confidently the other side are so great, as to ren- aflerted, that if, initead of the drader the modern practice of excluding matic dialogue having been fuperthe Chorus,, far more eligible upon added to the Chorus, the dialogue itthe whole : for, if a natural and pro- felf had been the first invention, the bable imitation of human a tions be Chorus, in that case, would never the chief end of the drama, no other have been thought of. perfons ought to be brought upon the One use, perhaps, mright ftill be stage, than those that are neceffary made of the ancient Chorus, (which to the dramatic action. The intro- would be a contiderable improvement duction of an adventitious company of of the modern theatre) if, instead of persons, who have but a flight con- that unmeaning, and often improcern in the business of the play, is un- perly-chosen music, with which the natural in itself, and embarrassing to audience are entertained in the interthe poet ; and, although it may ren- vals between the acts, a Chorus were der the spectacle splendid, it tends un- then to be introduced, the music and doubtedly, to render it also more cold songs of which, although forming no and uninteresting, because more un- part of the play, Mould have a relalike a real transaction. The mixture tion to the incidents of the preceding of music, or song, on the part of the act, and to the dispositions which thote Chorus, with the dialogue carried on incidents are presumed to have awakby the actors, is another unnatural ened in the spectators. The tone of circumstance, which removes the re- the passions would then be kept up presentation still farther from the re- without interruption, and all the good semblance of life. The poet, more effects of the ancient Chorus might over, is subjected to innumerable dif- be preserved, for inspiring proper ficulties, in fo contriving his plan, sentiments, and for increasing the mothat the presence of the Chorus, du- rality of the performance, without ring all the incidents of the play, the inconveniencies which arose from fall consist with any kind of proba- the Chorus forming a constituent part bility. The scene must be constantly, of the play, and mingling unseasonand often absurdly, laid in some pub- ably, and unnaturally, with the perlic place, that the Chorus may be fonages of the drama. supposed to have free access to it. After this view of the rise of TraTo many things that ought to be gedy, and of the nature of the anci