Page images

beg'et a te'mperance that may g'ive it smoothness. 0! it offen'ds me to the coʻre, to hear a robu'stious/ peri'wig-pated fe'llow/ tear a pa’ssion to ta'tter, to very ra‘gs, to split the ea'rs of the groʻundlings, w'ho, (for the most part) are capable of nothing, but inexplicable dumb sho'ws and nois'e. I would have such a fellow whi'pped/ for o’eordoing Ter'gament; it ooutherods Herod,— Pray yoou, avo'id-it.

Be not too tam'e, nei'ther ; but, let your discr'etion be your tu'tor. Suit the a'ction to the wo'rd, the wo'rd to the ac'tion, with this special obser'vance, that you o'erste'p-not-the-modesty of na'ture : for, anything so overd'one) is from the pu'rpose of playing ; whose e'nd/ both at the fir'st and no'w, w'as and i's, to hoʻld (as 'tw'ere) the mi'rror up to na'ture; to show Vir'tue, her own feature, Sco'rn her own i'mage, and the very a'ge and bo`dy of the tisme his foʻrm and pre'ssure. No'w/ this o’verdone, though it make the unski'lful lau'gh, cannot but make the judi cious grieve, the censure of one of whi'ch/ mu'st/ in your allowance/ o’erweigh a whole th'eatre of others. Oh! there be players, that I have seen pla'y, and heard others pr'aise, and that highly, (not to speak it profa'nely,) th'at/ nei'ther having the a'ccent of Chri'stian, nor the gaạit of Chʼristian, pa gan, nor maʼn, have so stru'tted and B'ELLOWED, that I have thought some of Nature's jou'rneymen had m'adethem, (and not made them well,) they imitated hum'anity so abom'inably.*


How many thousands of my pooʻrest-subjects/
A're at th'is-hour/ asleep! gentle Sleep,
(Nature's soft nu ́rse,) how have I frigʻhted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eye-lids do'wn,
And steep my s'enses/ in forge'tfulness !


Though the critical discrimination, and profound knowledge of the subject, must be apparent to all, in these justly-admired " Instructions," (tb application of which is by no means confined to "the stage,”) they are peculiarly so to the rhetorical student ; and why they are not uniformly and universally adopted may well excite the wonder and pity of the skilful Elocutionist, since their propriety is conspicuously manifest to every person of cultivated taste : nevertheless, such, in some instances, is

Why ra'ther, (Sle'ep,) liest thou in smok’y-cribs,
(Upon uneasy pa'llets/ stretching-thee,)
Ànd, hush'ed/ with buzzing night-flies to thy slu'mber;
Than in the perfumed cha'mbers of the gr'eat,
Under the can'opies of costly state,
And lull'ed/ with so'unds of swe'etest melody?
O thou dull'-god, why liest thou with the vi'le
In loathsome-beds, and leavest the kingly-couch,
A watch'-case/ to a common la'rum-bell ?
Wilt-thou (upon the high and giddy m'ast)
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his br'ains,
In cradle of the rude/ imperious sur'ge;
And, in the visita'tion of the wi'nds,
Who take the ruffian bi'llows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads, and han'ging-them
With deafening cla'mours/ in the slippery shr'ouds,
Tha't, with the hu’rly, de'ath itse'lf awa’kes :
Cans't thou (O partial Sle'ep) give thy repoʻse/
To the wet sea-

a-bo'y/ in an hour so ru'de ;
And, in the calmest and the s'tillest ni'ght,
(With all appl'iances and means to bo'ot,)
Deny it to a king? Then, happy/ low'ly clown;
Unea'sy lies the he'ad/ that we'ars a cro‘wn.



MORGAN. SHAK'SPEARE-is/ in tru'th/ an au'thor/ whose mimic crea'tion/ agre'es/ in general/ so perfectly with that of n'ature, that it is not only won'derful in the gresat, but opens another scene of amaʼzement/ to the disco'veries of the microscope. We have been charged indeed by a foreign w‘riter (Volta'ire) with an overmuch-admiring of this Barb'arian: Whether we have admired with kno'wledge, or have blindly followed those feelings of aff'ection, which we could not resi'st, I cannot tell ; but certain it i's, th'at/ to the labours of his e'ditors he has not been overm'uch oʻbliged. They a're, how'ever, (for the most part) of the firs't-rank in li'terary-fame; but some of them had possessions of their o`wn in Parn'assus, of an extent too gr'eat and impor'tant/ to allow of a very di'ligent-attention to the interests of others'; and among those cr'itics (more profe'ssionally s'o,) the a'blest and the be'st h'as/ unfortunately, looked more to the praise of ingen'ious, than of juost-conjecture.

the force of early misdirected judgment, and, in others, of an unaccountable fondness for what is “overdone" and outré, that an extraordinary adherence still prevails in some quarters to the “robustious perriwigpated" school of Elocution, in preference to the simple, chaste, natural manner, which WALKER'S SYSTEM, when properly understood, is so well qualified to impart

Yet/ whatever may be the ne'glect of som'e, or the ceînsure of others, there are thoʻse/ who firmly beli'eve, that this wi'ld, this uncu'ltivated-Barbarian, has not yet obtained one ha'lf of his faʼme ; and who tru'st/ that some new Stagyrite will ari'se, wh'o, instead of pecking at the su'rface of thi’ngs, will enter into the inward so'ul of his composi'tions, and ex'pel (by the force of congenial fe'elings) those foreign impu'rities which have sta'ined and disgraced-his-page. And/ as to those spo'ts/ which will still rem'ain, they may perhaps become in'visible to th'ose/ who shall seek them through the medium of his be’auties, instead of looking for those be’auties (as is too frequently d'one) through the smoke of some r'eal/ or impu'tedobscurity When the hand of time shall have swept off his present e'ditors and commentators, and when the very na me of Voltaire (and even the memory of the language in which he has w'ritten) shall be no m'ore, the Apala'chian mou'ntains, the ba’nks of the Ohio, and the plai'ns of Sci’ota shall resound with the a'ccents of this Barba'rian. In his na^tive ton'gue/ he shall roll the ge'nuine passions of n'ature ; no'r/ shall the griefs of Le’ar be alle'viated, or the cha'rms and w'it of Rosa'lind/ be abated by tisme.* There is/ indeed/ nothing pe'rishable-abouthim/ except that very lea’rning/ which he is sai'd so much to wa'nt! He ha’d-not (it is troue) enough for the demands of the ag'e/ in which he li’ved, but/ he had perhaps too much for the reach of his ge'nius, and the interest of his fa'me! Milton and he/ will carry the decayed remnants and fripperies of ancient mytho'logy/ into more distant a'ges/ than they a're/ by their own force entitled to exte'nd; and the metamorphoses of O’vid (upheld by th'em) lay in a new cla'im/ to unmeorited immortality.

* Johnson has a similar idea. “The stream of time," says he, “which is

perpetually washing the dissoluble-fabrics of other poets, passes, without injury, by the adamant of Shakspeare.”

Shak'speare/ is a name so i'nteresting, that it is excusable to stop a mo'ment, n'ay/ it would be inde'cent) to pass him without the tribute of some admira'tion. H'e differs ess^entially from all other w'riters: Hi'm we may profess rather to fe'ely than to understand ;* and it is safer to sa'y, (on many occ'asions,) that we are posses'sed-by-him, than that we pos'sesshim.t And no wo‘nder :-He scatters the seeds of things, the principles of cha'racter and a'ction, with so cun'ning a han'd, yet, with so car'eless an a'ir, a'nd/, master of our fe'elings, subm'its-himself/ so little to our ju'dgment, that every thing seems supe'rior. We discern not his coʻurse, we 'see no connection of ca'use and effe'ct, we are rapt in ignorant admir'ation, and claim no kin'dred with his abi'lities. All the i'ncidents, all the pa'rts, look like cha'nce, while we fe'el and are sen'sible that the wh'ole is desiogn. His characters/ not only ac't and speak/ in strict confor'mity to n'ature, but/ in strict relation to us; just so much is sho'wn as is r'equisite, —just so mu'ch is impressed; he commands every passage to our hea'ds, and to our he’arts, and mou'lds-us as he ple'ases ; and tha't/ with so much ea'se, that he never betrays his own exe'rtions. We see these characters act from the mingled m'otives of pas'sion, re'ason, in'terest, ha'bit, and comple'xion, (in all their prop'ortions) when they are suppos'ed tof know it not themselves; and we are made to acknowledge that their actions and sentiments a're, from those m'otives, the necessary resu'lt. He at once blen'ds and disting’uishes every-thing ; -eve'ry-thing/is com'plicated, e'very-thing/is pla'in. I restrain the further expressions of my admira'tion, lest they should not seem applicable to m'an; but/ it is really asto'nishing that a mere human b’eing (a part of humanity o'nly) should so perfectly comprehend the whoole ; and that he/should possess such e'xquisite-art, tha't, whilst every w'oman and every child/ shall feel the whole effe'ct, his learned e'ditors and comment'ators/ should yet so very frequently mistake/ or seem ig'norant of the cauose. A scéptre or a stra'w is/ in his' hands/ of equal e'fficacy; he' needs no sele'ction ; he' converts every thing into e'xcellence ; no'thing is too gr'eat, n'othing is too ba'se. Is a character e'fficient, like R'ichard ?—it is every thing we can wish. Is it o'therwise, like Ha'mlet ? — it is productive of e'qual admira'tion : Action/ produces on'e-mode of excellence, and in action, ano^ther : The chro'nicle, the n'ovel, or the ba'llad; the kin'g, or the beg'gar ; the h'ero, the ma'dman, the so't, or the fo'ol ; it is all on'e ; no'thing is worse, n'othing is better : The same genius perv'ades, and is equally aʼdmirable, in a‘ll. Or', is a character to be shown in progr'essivechange, and the events of years/ comprised within the h'our ; -with what a magic ha’nd/ does he prepa're and sc'atter his spe'lls ! The understanding mu'st (in the first place) be subdu'ed; and l'o! how the rooted prejudices of the ch'ild/ spring up to confound the maon! The weird sisters ris'e, and oʻrder is extin'guished. The laws of nature gi've-way, and leave no'thing in our minds/ but wi'ldness and ho‘rror. No

* While we see in this, and similar sentences, the negative character of the disjunctive “than,” the verb “feel,” in the example before us, may be considered as the positive member, requiring the falling inflection ; and "understand," the negative, which necessarily requires the rising inflection of the voice. --Vide p. 5, “ Introductory Outline.”

† Mr. Pope pays the immortal bard a compliment not entirely dissi. milar to this :- "Homer himself,” he says, “ did not make his draughts so immediately from nature as Shakspeare did; and it is not so proper to say that he (Shakspeare) spoke from nature, as it is to say that she spoke through him.

When this preposition is without accentual force, as in the present instance, how inelegantly and slovenly it is generally pronounced ! Scarcely do we ever hear it otherwise sounded (even in our pulpits !) than as if spelt something like tă ;-its proper and legitimate pronunciation, it is almost superfluous to add, is, even without any accent, exactly the same as the adverb " too."

pause is allowed us for refle'ction : Horrid sen'timent, furious gu'ilt and compun'ction ; air-drawn da'ggers, mur'ders, gho'sts, and encha'ntment, shak'e and posse'ss us who'lly. In the mean ti'me, the process is comple'ted. Macbeth changes under our ey'e; the milk of human kindness is converted to gall; he has supped full of horrors, and his Ma'y-of-life/ is fallen into the sear, the ye’llow-leaf ; whilst w'e (the fools of amaʼzement) are insensible to the shi'fting of plac'e) and the lap'se of tisme, an’d/ till the curtain dro'ps, never once wake to the truth of th'ings, or recognize the laʼws of ex'istence. On such an occ'asion, a fell'ow/ like R’ymer, waking from his tr’ance, shall lift up his constable’s staff, and charge this great Magi cian, this daring practiser of ar'ts inh'ibited, (in the name of A'ristotle) to surren'der ; whilst Aristotle himsRef (disowning his wretched oʻfficer) would fall prostrate at his fee't, and ackno'wledge his suprem'acy. “O supreme of dramatic e'xcellence ! (might he sa'y) not to me' be imputed the insolence of fo'ols. The

« PreviousContinue »