LONDON: Printed for JOHN BELL, near Exeter-Exchange, in the Strand; and C. ETHERINGTON, at York. MDCCLXXIII.



IT is matter of great doubt whether any dedicatory address was ever freer from taint of flattery, than the present; if we pronounce you the best illustrator of, and the best living comment on, SHAKESPEARE, that ever has ap­peared, or possibly ever will grace the British stage, it is merely echoing the public voice, and concurring with that unparalleled unanimity of praise, which, during so long a course of years, hath attended your incomparable merit.

[Page iv]This compact edition of SHAKE­SPEARE is offered you as a grateful, tho' small, return, for the infinite pleasure, and extensive information, derived from your exquisite perfor­mance, and judicious remarks, by,

Your most obedient humble servants, THE EDITORS.


SHAKESPEARE's admirers, even the enthusiastic ones, who worship him as the god of their idolatry, have never scru­pled to admit that his most regular pieces produce some scenes and passages, highly derogatory to his incomparable general me­rit; he frequently trifles, is now and then obscure, and, sometimes, to gratify a vitiated age, indelicate: but can any degree of cri­tical taste wish the preservation of dark spots, because they have grown upon dramatic sun­shine? is not the corrective hand frequently proved to be the kindest? critics, like pa­rents, should neither spare the rod, nor use it wantonly.

There is no doubt but all our author's faults may justly be attributed to the loose, quibbling, licentious taste of his time; he, no doubt, upon many occasions, wrote wildly, merely to gratify the public; as DRYDEN wrote bombastically, and CON­GREVE obscenely, to indulge the humour, and engage the favour of their audiences: no man can suppose that the former consi­dered his rhiming dialogues as marks of sublimity, nor that the latter imagined his [Page 6] double entendres were wit; one wanted money, the other fame; for which, pompous sounds and gross ideas, were then popular baits; consequently, chaste criticism and delicacy were without scruple, sacrificed to their several views.

Our author did not go quite so far, but very frequently preserved himself free from taint, reining his fiery PEGASUS with an able masterly hand; why then should not the noble monuments he has left us, of unri­valled ability, be restored to due proportion and natural lustre, by sweeping off those cobwebs, and that dust of depraved opinion, which SHAKESPEARE was unfortunately forced to throw on them; forced, we say, for it is no strain of imagination, to suppose that the Goths and Vandals of criticism, who frequented the theatre, in his days, would, like those who over-ran the Roman empire, have destroyed and consigned to bar­barous oblivion, the sublime beauties which they could not relish; and it is matter of great question with us, whether the fool, in King Lear, was not a more general fa­vourite, than the old monarch himself.

The above considerations first started the idea, and induced the undertaking, of this edition; and as the THEATRES, especially [Page 7] of late, have been generally right in their omissions, of this author particularly, we have printed our text after their regulations; and from this part of our design, an evident use will arise; that those who take books to the THEATRE, will not be so puzzled them­selves to accompany the speaker; nor so apt to condemn performers of being imperfect, when they pass over what is designedly omit­ted. Upon this point, however, it is to be observed, that the difference of power, of voice and execution, between different per­formers, may make one erase more than ano­ther; nevertheless we come so near the mark of all, that scarce any perplexity can arise, in tracing them; besides we would hope, that a reasonable standard being thus laid down, professors of the drama will not be so forward, as capriciously and arbitrarily to deviate from it; it is commendable to consult the extent of expression, but thro' idleness to retrench what is beautiful and necessary, or through vanity to retain what is heavy and unessential to action, we deem an affront to the public, and a disgrace to the performer.

As an author, replete with spirited ideas, and a full flow of language, especially one possessing a muse of fire, cannot stop exactly where stage utterance and public attention [Page 8] require; some passages, of great merit for the closet, are never spoken; such, though omitted in the text, we have carefully pre­served in the notes.

And now, being upon this part of our subject, we hold ourselves bound in justice and gratitude to Mr. Garrick, to mention a delicate fear, which he suggested, when we first solicited his sanction and assistance. This fear was, lest the prunings, transpositions, or other alterations, which, in his province as a manager he had often found necessary to make, or adopt, with regard to the text, for the con­venience of representation, or accommoda­tion to the powers and capacities of his per­formers, might be misconstrued into a cri­tical presumption of offering to the literati a reformed and more correct edition of our author's works; this being by no means his intention, we hope it will not become liable to such an unmerited misconstruction. In justification of ourselves also, we take this opportunity of declaring, that to expect any thing more of this work, than as a com­panion to the theatre, is to mistake the pur­pose of the editors.

Having been long convinced that multi­plying conjectural verbal criticisms, tends rather to perplex, than inform readers; we [Page 9] have given those readings which to us ap­pear most consonant to our author's manner and meaning, without obtruding one capri­cious opinion on another.

We have furnished an explanation of technical and obsolete terms; pointed out the leading beauties, as they occur, without descanting so much as to anticipate the rea­der's conception and investigation; we have shewn, with a becoming impartiality, what ap­pear to us to be blemishes and imperfections: the requisites for representing every character of importance are defined, and the mode of performance essential for scenes pecu­liarly capital, is clearly pointed out.

We have earnestly consulted correctness, neatness, ornament, utility, and cheapness of price; we have avoided all ostentation of criticism, compacting our notes as much as possible; in regard whereof, it may be justly said, that we could have enlarged the number, and extended the phraseology, with much less trouble, than it cost us to give them their present form; it has been our peculiar endeavour to render what we call the essence of SHAKESPEARE, more in­structive and intelligible; especially to the ladies and to youth; glaring indecencies be­ing removed, and intricate passages explain­ed; [Page 10] and lastly, we have striven to supply plainer ideas of criticism, both in public and private, than we have hitherto met with.

A general view of each play is given, by way of introduction.

Though this is not an edition meant for the profoundly learned, nor the deeply studious, who love to find out, and chace their own critical game; yet we flatter our­selves both parties may perceive fresh ideas started for speculation and reflection.



THOUGH it is not strictly within the limits of our plan, to range at large over the ex­tensive field of oratorical correctness, fancy and excellence, as it respects the pulpit, senate, and bar; yet it is hoped we shall so far touch on the essentials of them all, as to give hints, which may prove useful to each of the three degrees.

If we say that an orator, like a poet, to excel, should be born such, it will be no strained asser­tion; and if we add that he must be more indebted to nature, than a son of the muses, it will be easily admitted. Cultivated imagination, regulated by judgment, constitutes one; who, totally void of external requisites, may shine from his closet, tho' ever so deformed in figure, rude in features, weak in voice, or blemish'd in appearance.

[Page 12]The other, though he may, by peculiar excel­lence of delivery, and the help of a feeling sub­ject well treated on, be able to impress an audience, with little more than a good voice; yet experience powerfully convinces us that a graceful person, re­spectable marking features, expressive eyes, and ornamental gesture, are of the utmost utility: it is no argument to say, that a man, as in the case of Sir John Fielding, tho' the visual gates of sympa­thy be shut, may show strong marks of oratorical merit; for the question naturally follows, would he not be much more powerful in expression, if the indexes of thought enjoyed their natural and proper vigour, especially where particular feelings are to be excited?

It is too common for ignorance and avarice, to misapply the talents of youth, especially in this point of view; many are destined for, and brought up to the most serious, the most important con­cerns of life, wherein public speaking is required, who labour under glaring defects and imbecilities of expression; hence so many drowsy, irksome preachers, so many senatorical cyphers; and such a number of imperfect pleaders: this parental blunder is much the same as breeding a purblind boy to watchmaking, or one hard of hearing to music.

Supposing a person qualified by nature, let us see how far art may be called in. The complete orator must have a general and intimate knowledge of himself, the world and mankind; a clear con­ception of the passions and affections of those he is to instruct and persuade; a perfect acquaintance with the various distinctions of virtue and vice; he should be critically intimate with all the beau­ties and blemishes of the ancient writers; he should [Page 13] be an historian and a logician; possessing a correct idea of, and taste for, the liberal arts; if a com­petent knowledge of the mechanical ones is added, so much the better; he should possess a quick con­ception, and a retentive memory; he should be able to break thro', with ease, the cobwebs of so­phistry, and, above all, enjoy that grand ingre­dient recommended by CICERO, social philosophy.

He should be master of all the arguments, for and against his subject; in short, to sum up all with the great Roman orator's own words, ‘"he should be furnished with logical acuteness, phi­losophical wisdom, and poetical imagination, embellished with the most polished elocution and gesture of the stage."’

To expatiate upon the obvious advantages de­riveable from each of the above qualifications re­quired to complete this very comprehensive cha­racter we are considering, would be to spin out a needless length of explanation; which could an­swer no end, but anticipating the reader's reflec­tive investigation; wherefore we shall quit this point, with observing, that when so many requi­sites, both internal and external are necessary, it is no wonder that a complete orator is so very scarce a character.

Declaimers, who may be justly stiled the pageants of oratory, possess the flowery, but not the argu­mentative, part; they appeal boldly to fancy and the passions, but cautiously shun rational inquisi­tion; shew and plausibility completely set up one of this dangerous kind of public speakers, who oftener make proselytes among the weak and igno­rant, than sound orators do; as they are mostly pleasing, tho' seldom instructive. Bishop Sprat, speaking of them, in his history of the Royal Society, [Page 14] emphatically says, ‘"of all the studies of men, no­thing can be sooner obtained, than a vicious abundance of phrase; the trick of metaphors, and a volubility of tongue."’

Having come thus far, the three celebrated ora­tors of antiquity seem to fall in the way; DEMOS­THENES, ISOCRATES and CICERO; the first spoke from the heart, the second from the head; the first was animated by his subject and powerfully enforced it; the second decked it profusely with rhetorical flowers; one flashed conviction, by ir­resistable imagery; the other amused imagination, with fantastical allusions: of ISOCRATES we may say, his eloquence resembled a pleasant, but shal­low, stream, which tickles the ear with an agree­able murmuring: DEMOSTHENES a deep majestic current, that in its course thunders on attention, and bears down all opposition: ISOCRATES pos­sesses ease and elegance, DEMOSTHENES power and perswasion; CICERO who rises far above the former, does not in our idea come up to the latter; he is however a very masterly mixture of both, and therefore more likely to obtain general admi­ration, than either of his predecessors.

Oratory is well defined the exercise of eloquence; eloquence the fluency of speech; and rhetoric the guide of both. It is odd that these three terms should frequently be used as synonimous, when they so essentially differ.

Oratorical composition should be founded on a progressive unity of parts, but not like some of our sermons, which are disgraced with insipid metho­dical formality commonly stiled heads; it should enter modestly upon, warm into the subject, and, if required, kindle to fire, when the audience are ready to receive heated impressions; an impas­sioned [Page 15] exordium generally produces a cold conclu­sion; and that piece, which endeavours to catch attention too suddenly, will either not catch it at all, or be obliged soon to let it slip.

FENELON, ARCHBISHOP OF CAMBRAY, de­scribing the Beauties of Eloquence, speaks to the following effect: ‘"Of what use can any ornament be, that does not tend to prove, to paint, or to affect? those ornaments, which only please, are false beauties; those which please and persuade, solid ones; the just and natural emotions of an orator have much grace and beauty in them; his correct and spirited painting charms us; all the essential parts of eloquencce tend to please; but merely pleasing is not the most important aim; ideas and expressions, which only tickle the ear, may be deemed quaint turns; all graces of style, which serve to invigorate persuasion, are to be wish'd for; but all witty, punning conceits, all quibbling upon words, all strained metaphors, all forced glaring imagery, and all luxurance of idea, which only serve to flash and glitter upon fancy, disgrace sound oratory."’

In public speaking, as well as in poetry and painting, art should be carefully concealed: where perceptible, it has a coarse and mean aspect. The orator should so intirely possess his audience of the subject, as to make them forget the speaker.

From the affecting exclamation of Gracchus, mentioned by Cicero, and a dilation of it, we per­ceive how expression strengthens, or enervates, a subject: ‘"Wretched man that I am! whither shall I turn myself? where can I go? to the Capitol? it swims with my brother's blood! shall I go to to my own house? there to see my wretched mo­ther dissolved in tears, and overwhelmed with [Page 16] sorrow?"’ This is a beautiful, bold, and affect­ing picture of perplexed grief: mark how faded the tints of originality appear in the following faint copy: ‘"I know not where to go, nor whi­ther I shall turn myself, amidst my misfor­tunes—the Capitol is the place where my bro­ther's blood was shed; and at home I shall find my unhappy mother lamenting her sad con­dition."’ With very narrow comprehension and very dull feelings we may readily perceive the fall­ing off, in this languid extension and variation of phrase.

We shall offer an instance of the turgid and chaste, in the following comparative contrast. Suppose a person addressing an English audience, on a pre­sumed decay of English liberty, should thus de­claim; ‘"Most renowned Britons—in the magna­nimous volume of Time we may read—even purblind eyes may see the glaring type, that there was a period, when liberty, diaphanous as sun-beams at noon, exhilarated this oceanic isle; when like the bird of Jove it soar'd aloft, and gazed with pleasure on the face of day; now it faintly glimmers, like the fog-wrapped moon, and our glorious eagle is become a bird of night."’

Now let us see how the same subject may be treated, in opposition to this over-charged, bloated, tabernacle harangue; which, delivered in the Moorfield manner, must prove a laughable mor­sel of mirth, to divert common sense, and astonish ignorance.

‘"Fellow citizens, there was a time, when li­berty diffused its blessings thro' this once happy isle; when its value was known, and its worth revered; when, like the sun, it was a common [Page 17] comforter; the parent of pleasure, ease, and security: now corruption and our own depra­vity have brought it to so enfeebled and preca­rious a state, that every real friend of his coun­try must tremble, as I do, at the painful idea of its speedy and inevitable dissolution."’

If eloquence (a very dangerous weapon in the hands of ill-designing men) is used to any other purposes than the following, we may consider it as in a censurable state of perversion.

It should enforce the clearest proof of any use­ful truth, with such interesting motives as may af­fect the hearers, and work their passions to virtu­ous purposes; to raise indignation against ingrati­tude; horror against cruelty; detestation against vice; abhorrence against slavery; compassion for misery; love for virtue; reverence for religion; obedience to superiors; and benevolence to all. Thus employed, eloquence appears in its full force and beauty: mere harangues seldom fail to catch the ear, but rarely touch the heart, and as seldom inform the head.

It is necessary that an orator should call the pas­sions to his aid; but then he should be very cau­tious not to impose on, or assail, them too violent­ly: the one is cruel, the other impolitic. He should be clear in his ideas, and concise in his ex­pression: he should perfectly understand just ar­rangement of matter, and the proper climax of ar­gument: he should be thoroughly possessed of every principle and part of his subject: he should pro­vide a sufficient number of apposite, affecting figures. Thus prepared, he must speak, and ef­fectually, from an untrammel'd imagination.

The following passages, from Bishop Burnet's discourse on the Pastoral Care, seems well calculated [Page 18] for the improvement of Lay, as well as Pulpit, speakers. ‘"The extempore orator should fre­quently converse with himself, to let his thoughts flow freely from him; especially when he feels an edge and heat upon his mind; for then hap­py expressions will spontaneously come to his mouth. He must also write essays on all kinds of subjects; for, by writing, he will bring him­self to a facility and correctness of thinking and speaking: and thus, by close application for two or three years, a man may render himself such a master this way, that he can never be sur­prized; nor will new thoughts ever dry up up­on him. If, in his meditations, happy thoughts and noble pathetic expressions offer themselves, he must not lose, but write them down."’

We perfectly agree with the right reverend Au­thor, that much oratorical merit may be derived from frequent, well-regulated soliloquies, and essay-writing; and are induced to offer a few more of his thoughts, though not in the exact words nor confined light wherein he has proposed them.

One most essential point is, that an orator should have a due and deep sense of the truth and utility of his subject: he must have a life and glow in his thoughts, with relation to it: he should very sen­sibly feel in himself those things which he explains and recommends to others: he should speak as if what he uttered came from the heart: the orator, unless he really is, or seems to be, in earnest, will never make any material impression. There is a degree of authority, even in the simplest matters that can be treated of, if they appear genuine, while the most important points fall into neglect, when conveyed through the cold vehicle of languid expression.

[Page 19]For a general well-compacted idea of oratory, we shall refer to some speeches from FENELON's Dialogue, between DEMOSTHENES and CICERO.


What! dost thou pretend that I was but an ordinary orator?


Not an ordinary one; for it is not over an ordinary person that I affect superiority. Thou wert doubtless a celebrated orator: thou hadst great parts; but didst frequently deviate from "the point wherein perfection consists.


And pray hadst thou no faults at all?


I believe I can be taxed with none, in point of eloquence.


Canst thou compare richness of genius with me? thou, who art dry, unadorned; who art ever confined within narrow and contracted limits: thou dost not amplify any subject: thou, from whom nothing can be retrenched; so im­poverished, so starved is the manner in which thy subjects are treated; whereas I extended mine, displaying a copious and fertile genius; which gave judicious critics occasion to say, that nothing could be added to my works.


He from whom nothing can be retrenched, has said nothing but what is perfect.


He to whom nothing can be added, has omit­ted nothing that could adorn his work.


Thou findest thy discourses more replete with [Page 20] flashes of wit, than mine—confess honestly, is not this thy claim to superiority?


Since you urge the point, I acknowledge it: my compositions are infinitely more beautified, than thine. They speak far more wit, more in­genuity of turn, more art, more ease. I exhi­bit the same thing under twenty different shapes: when people heard my orations, they could not help admiring my parts, nor being surprized at my art: they were constantly shouting, and interrupting me with vehemence of applause. Thou must have been heard very quietly; with, I suppose, little or no interruption.


Thy observations on both, are true; but the inference drawn from them, is thy mistake. Thou took'st up the audience with thyself; I engaged it only with the affairs I spoke upon. People admired thee; I was forgot by the au­ditors; who saw nothing but the course I wish'd them to take. Thou didst entertain with flashes of wit: I struck down with bolts of thunder. Thou madest men say, How finely he speaks! I made them exclaim, Come, let us take the field against Philip! They praised thee: they were too much dispossessed of themselves, to praise me. Thy harangues came forth adorned; none ever discovered in me any ornament: there was nothing in my pieces, but precise, strong, clear argument; and thence impulses like light­ning, which nothing could resist. Thou wert a perfect orator, when thou wert like me—simple, grave, austere, without apparent art; in a word, when thou wert Demosthenical: but when wit, turn, and art shone in thy dis­courses, [Page 21] then wert mere Cicero; departing so far from perfection, as thou departedst from my character.

Mr. RAPIN, in his Reflections upon Eloquence, observes, that there are two extremes, which should be equally and carefully avoided; the frigid style, and the boyish. The former renders discourses dry and insipid, by a languid flatness of expression; the latter ungrateful and shocking, by a turgid loftiness, and affected amplification. Those who use the frigid style, call in pompous expressions, when the subject requires plain ones; and they who affect the boyish one, employ low expressions in the loftiest themes. The frigid style properly includes all such expressions as are too strong, or too sparkling, strained metaphors, and frequent witticisms: the boyish style comprehends strokes of humour, and quaint conceits, upon serious subjects; loose and heavy repetitions, in that part of an oration which ought to be close and concise; too violent exaggerations, and too labo­rious figures.

One would think that MALBRANCHE had the enthusiastic religion-mongers of those days in view, when he observed, that one of the greatest and most remarkable proofs of the strong influence that some heated imaginations have over others, is the power of extensive persuasion, without a shadow of proof*.

[Page 22]Stage delivery (for theatrical expression cannot be stiled oratory) including more variety, and more force of passion, is consequently more diffi­cult. It requires the finest, and most significant feelings, in the performer, to create, by sympathy, proper sensations in the audience.

That noble and almost peculiar sense of human nature, Sympathy, makes us not only share in the distress of a fellow creature, but also pity the miserable brute: it varies shapes and strength, ac­cording to the objects and circumstances which occur. There are two principal degrees; sympa­thy of compulsion and sympathy of election: the first is, when irresistable motives arrest the heart; the second, when it becomes interested, by choice. Compulsive sympathy instructs us to sigh with successless love; to kindle with real or well painted rage; to weep with grief; and to mourn for virtue in distress: elective sympathy is when we make choice of objects in different situations, and be­come, without any personal knowledge or imme­diate concern, anxious for their success: in cases of competition, whether of a pleasurable or of a serious nature, man cannot remain a spectator to­tally indifferent; he must assist one side or the other, with a sympathetic wish: in the choice he is free; yet that choice is frequently so capricious, that no firm reason can be offered, why it becomes fixed.

Imagination is the vehicle which conveys sym­pathy to, and draws it meliorated from, the heart: that which the Theatre raises, is produced by the bold painting of the Poet's pen, aided by the na­tural and forcible talents of a good Actor; who is, in every sentence, an illustrative comment upon his author's idea.

[Page 23]This is that kind of sympathy, which the inge­nious Dr. SMITH, in his Theory of Moral Senti­ments, describes to arise from the view of emotions in another person: the passions may be transfused from one person to another, instantaneously, and antecedent to any knowledge of what excited them in the person principally concerned. Grief and Joy, strongly expressed in the look and gestures of any one, exclusive of voice, at once affect the specta­tor with some degree of a like painful or agreeable emotion: a smiling face is to every one who sees it a cheerful object; as a sorrowful countenance, on the other hand, is a melancholy one.

What the ingenious Professor says of mankind at large, may be brought to the point we have im­mediately in view. Every faculty in one man, when he judges of propriety, is the measure by which he decides upon the like faculty in another: I judge of your sight, by my sight; of your ear, by my ear; of your reason, by my reason; of your re­sentment, by my resentment; of your love, by my love: I neither have nor can have any other way of judging, about them. This position granted, we are not to wonder at the endless variety of, and frequent absurd critical opinions upon, the real and mimic stages of life.

If an actor creates sympathy (which to do should be his foremost aim) he will command attention: if not, vain are the best requisites, and all the ad­ventitious aids of theatrical decoration.

[Page 24] For what follows we have been obliged to a pam­phlet, written by Mr. GENTLEMAN, some few years since.

READING and DECLAMATION consist of em­phasis, climax, modulation, pauses, breaks, transi­tions, tones, cadences, and gesture.

EMPHASIS may be divided into two branches, explanatory and expressive: by the first is meant that stress of utterance, which presents more clear­ly to conception the meaning of what we deliver; as for example:—‘"A popular man is, in truth, no better than a prostitute to common fame, and to the people: he lies down to every one he meets, for the hire of praise, and his humility is only a disguised ambition."’—By marking the preceding passage so, the meaning strikes immediately, with full force; whereas, if the stress was laid upon other words, or if the whole was uttered with monotony (a sameness of tone) the sense would be confused; and to a hearer, whose apprehension was not very quick, perhaps quite unintelligible.—In cases where the sense is doubtful, proper emphasis is indispensably necessary; for instance: "Did the Englishman deserve to die?—If I lay the stress upon did, then it marks a question arising from surprise; if Englishman is distinguished, then it im­plies that others were concerned, and that I would know his case particularly.—If die is marked, then it appears that I admit guilt, but want to know if his crime was of such a nature as to deserve capital punishment.

Expressive emphasis is that which we use to ren­der a passage, whose meaning is obvious, more for­cible; [Page 25] as may appear by properly marking the fol­lowing quotation from Shakespeare*.

In this, ye GODS, you make the weak most strong;
In this, ye GODS, you tyrants do defeat;
Nor stony tow'rs, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron,
Can be retentive to the strength of spirit:
But life, being weary of these worldly bars,
Never lacks power to dismiss itself.

Let us take another example, from an higher Epic.

He bids the SPIRY firs arise,
The cedar, vig'rous, pierce the skies,
From Lebanon's chill brow:
Fearless amid conflicting storms,
The tow'ring stork his cradle forms,
High on the sounding bough.
104th PSALM.

By laying the emphasis on spiry, in the first line, the peculiar form of the trees mentioned is ex­plained; whereas, had the stress been laid upon firs, it would leave us at liberty to think upon oaks, elms, &c. spiry too.—The word arise is marked, as being the purport of a command; and though, in general, the voice falls, at the end of a line, yet, in this case, the meaning re­quires it should be raised, but not too high, nor abruptly.

In the second line, vig'rous is marked as a pro­perty of the cedar: indeed all epithets, whether [Page 26] they precede or follow, require emphasis.—Pierce is noted as painting a quickness and boldness of vegetation, while the imagination is raised to a more than ordinary height, by particularising skies.

In the third line, chill is distinguished as a cha­racteristic quality of the climate of Lebanon.

Fearless, in the fourth line, is pointed out as an extraordinary attribute of a bird; and conflicting storms are emphatical, as a proof of that attribute; enlarging the idea much more than the simple word fearless, unassisted, would have done.

In the fifth line, tow'ring is distinguished as an epithet; and cradle, which happily describes the stork's nest in that rocking situation, is pointed out as the motive of the bird's resolution.

In the last line, high is marked as a material cir­cumstance of the imagery, and sounding not only as an epithet, but also as referring to its turbulent situation among whistling or roaring gales.

I have chosen the above stanza from the Psalms, as picturesque poetry rests more upon emphasis, than any other species of writing; and I have been so minute in the explanation of it, not only that my meaning might be understood, as to this branch of expression, but likewise to show that emphasis should be founded on reason, not laid merely for a jingle, or variation of sound.—Having thus marked and explained one stanza, I shall propose two more for the exercise of the student, without any marks of distinction.

He, as a curtain, stretch'd on high
The vast cerulean canopy,
And gave with fires to glow:
[Page 27]'Twas he, tremendous Potentate!
Built on the waves his hall of state,
Wide as the waters flow.
He walks upon the wings of wind,
And leaves the rapid storms behind;
Their monarch's awful will
Seraphs await in dread suspence,
And, swifter than the lightning's glance,
His mighty word fulfil.

After all that can be said, the degrees of empha­sis are so many and so variable, that no precise rules can be laid down for their application.—In reading and declamation, as in music, there must be taste, to give beauty; without it mere rectitude will be most unaffectingly insipid. This quality, though improveable, must certainly be first derived from Nature.—A reader, before he can reach bare propriety, must thoroughly understand what he reads; for which reason the custom of putting children to peruse the Bible, in which there are many difficult words and abstruse passages, is by no means to be commended; nay, if we consider it in another light, it is highly blameable; for by being made the subject of puzzle and embarrass­ment, by being tossed about in a careless and slovenly manner, that love and respect which the sacred writings justly claim, are too frequently set aside in youth*. We are told, that among the [Page 28] Turks, if a piece of written paper appears on the ground, it is taken up and carefully preserved, lest the word ALLAH, or GOD, be inscribed on it.—Mark the contrasted irreverence of Christians! who not only profane with their mouths that most aw­ful name, upon the most trivial occasions, but also frequently use, as waste paper, whole sheets, in which not only his sacred name is mentioned, but every letter a part of his divine word.

Another reason against making the Bible an early book among learners, is the frequency of periods, and peculiarity of style, in which it differs widely from most other compositions. It is not rare to find many persons, who, by laboriously conning over the chapters, can stumble their way pretty tolerably through any part of it; yet put them to any other book, you shall find them lamentably hampered, and frequently at an absolute stand.

But to return more particularly to my subject.—As no absolute rules can be laid down for emphasis, in general, we must be content with remarks upon particular cases; such as, that opposition, or anti­thesis, requires an emphasis upon each of the op­posed words; and that most monosyllables, begin­ning a question, must be strongly marked: as, Why did he so? What can he mean? How did she look? In compound words, that are opposed to others, the emphasis, or rather accent, properly falls on the distinguishing syllables: for instance, The virtuous are modest—the vicious immodest—the righteous are blessed—the unrighteous are mi­serable.—Here I have opposed simple to simple, and compound to compound; were the words im­modest and unrighteous to be pronounced without opposition, the accent would fall upon the second syllable, instead of the first.

[Page 29]In explanatory emphases the very same words are differently marked, according to the writer's de­sign: as, What did my master say? If I lay the stress upon what, it is a general interrogation; if I place it upon my, it implies that other masters were concerned; if master is distinguished, it notes that there were other persons; and if the emphasis lies boldest upon say, it shows I want to know his particular words.

Both the cause and the effect in any sentence require an emphasis.—Example: To live WELL, is to die HAPPY—only to be GOOD, is to be GREAT—GUILT is the source of SORROW.

CLIMAX is that progressive force and exaltation of expression, which more powerfully impresses each subject on the mind; and is not only of in­dispensible use, but also highly ornamental. In the execution of this, there is much nicety, as the rise, in most cases, should be gradual, always har­monious, and upon many occasions very forcible.—To illustrate the matter, I shall offer several ex­amples of different degrees of climax. First from Shakespeare's Brutus; which should rise with a full, smooth, philosophic weight and dignity.

—If these,
As I am sure they do, bear fire enough
To kindle cowards, and to steal with valour
The melting spirits of women; then, countrymen,
What need we any spur but our own cause,
To prick us to redress? What other bond,
Than secret Romans who have spoke the word,
And will not falter? Or what other oath,
Than honesty to honesty engag'd,
That this shall be, or we will fall for it?

[Page 30]The climax of reasoning, in these lines, is too obvious to be insisted on; therefore I shall only observe, that the glow of expression, as I may call it, should warm, with the argument.

The Sublime and Beautiful, from Moses' Last Song.

‘"Give ear, oh ye heavens! and I will speak; and hear, oh earth, the words of my mouth: my doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew; as the small rain upon the ten­der herb; and as the showers upon the grass; be­cause I will publish the name of the Lord. Ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the rock; his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment. A God of truth: and without iniquity—just and right is he—for the Lord's portion is his people. Jacob is the lot of his inheritance: he found him in a desart land; and in the waste howling wilder­ness: he led him about: he instructed him, and kept him as the apple of his eye: as an eagle stir­reth up her nest; fluttereth over her young; spreadeth abroad her wings; taketh them, beareth them on her wings, so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him."’

We have an example from Addison, which calls for dignity, softened and impassioned by the most pathetic feeling of manly grief; a feeling which very few have imagination to conceive happily, and as few powers to express properly.

—'Tis Rome demands our tears;
The mistress of the world, the seat of empire!
The nurse of heroes! the delight of gods!
That humbled the proud tyrants of the earth,
[Page 31]And set the nations free—Rome is no more.
Oh liberty! Oh virtue! O my country!
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
Whate'er the Roman virtue had subdued,
The sun's whole course, the day and year, are Caesar's:
For him the self-devoted Decii died;
The Fabii fell, and the great Scipios conquer'd;
Even Pompey fought for Caesar! Oh, my friends,
How is the work of Fate, the toil of ages,
The Roman empire, fall'n!—Oh curs'd am­bition!
Fallen into Caesar's hands!—Our great fore­fathers
Had left him nought to conquer but his country.

Of Pathetic Lamentation, from Jeremiah.

‘"How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people? how is she become as a widow? she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces: How is she become tribu­tary? she weepeth sore in the night; and her tears are on her cheeks. Among all her losses, she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her: they have become her ene­mies: for these things I weep; mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter, that should relieve my soul, is far from me. My children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed. My eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled: my liver is poured upon the earth for the destruc­tion of the daughter of my people."’

[Page 32] Of pathetic, descriptive Melancholy, from Shake­speare.

—of comfort no man speak;
Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth!
Let's chuse executors, and talk of wills;
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath,
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives, and all are Bolingbroke's,
And nothing can we call our own, but death;
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as dust, and cover to our bones.
For heaven's sake let's sit upon the ground,
And tell sad stories of the deaths of kings;
How some have been deposed, some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they dispossessed,
Some poison'd by their wives, some sleeping kill'd;
All murther'd—for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court—throw away respect,
Tradition, form, and ceremonious duty;
For you have but mistook me ail this while.
I live on bread like you, feel want like you;
Taste grief, need friends like you. Subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?
K. Richard II.

The following passage from Otway should gradually warm into Rapture.

Can there in woman be such glorious faith!
Sure all ill stories of thy sex are false!
Oh woman! lovely woman! Nature made thee
[Page 33]To temper man: we had been brutes without you:
Angels are painted fair to look like you:
There's in you all that we believe of Heaven;
Amazing brightness, purity, and truth,
Eternal joy, and everlasting love.

An instance of Climax in vindictive Rage we have in the following lines of Young.

Yet ere I fall, be it one part of vengeance,
To make ev'n thee confess that I am just.
Thou seest a prince whose father thou hast slain,
Whose native country thou hast laid in blood,
Whose sacred person—Oh, thou hast profan'd!
Whose reign extinguish'd. What was left to me,
So highly born? No kingdom, but revenge;
No treasure, but thy tortures and thy groans.

Vindictive Ferocity, from Milton.

My sentence is for open war—of wiles
More inexpert I boast not—them let those
Contrive who need; unworthy of our might.
For while they sit contriving, shall the rest,
Millions now under arms, who longing wait
The signal to ascend, sit lingering here,
Heav'n's fugitives; and for their dwelling-place
Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame;
The prison of his tyranny who reigns
By our delay?—No! let us rather choose,
Arm'd with hell-flames and fury, all at once,
O'er heav'n's high towers to force resistless way;
Turning our tortures into horrid arms
Against our torturer—When to meet the noise
[Page 34]Of his terrific engine, he shall hear
Infernal thunder, and for light'ning see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Amongst his angels—and his throne itself
Mixt with Tartarian sulphur, and strange fire;
His own invented torments—but perhaps
The way seems difficult and steep, to scale
With adverse wing against a higher foe—
Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,
That with our proper motion we ascend
Up to our native seat—descent and fall
To us are adverse—Who but felt of late,
When our fierce foe hung on our broken rear,
Insulting and pursued thro' the deep,
With what compulsion and laborious flight
We sunk thus low? The ascent is easy then—
Th' event is fear'd—Should we again provoke
Our enemy, some worse way he may find
To our destruction; if there be in hell
Fear to be worse destroy'd—What can be worse
Than to dwell here?—Driven out from bliss, condemn'd
From this abhorred deep to utter woe,
Where pain of unextinguishable fire
Must exercise us, without hope of end;
The vassals of his anger, when the scourge
Inexorable, and the tort'ring hour
Calls us to penance? More destroyed than thus
We must be quite abolished and expire.
What fear we then? what doubt we to incense
His utmost ire? which to the height enraged
Will either quite consume us, and reduce
To nothing this essential: happier far
Than miserable to have eternal being.
Or if our substance be indeed divine,
[Page 35]And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
On this side nothing; and by proof we feel
Our pow'r sufficient to disturb his heav'n;
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Tho' inaccessible, his fatal throne:
Which if not victory is yet revenge.

A Climax of jealous Rage Shakespeare give us in the following lines.

I had been happy if the general camp
(Pioneers and all) had tasted her sweet body,
So I had nothing known—Oh, now, for ever
Farewel the tranquil mind! farewel content!
Farewel the plumed troops, and the big war
That make ambition virtue! O farewel!
Farewel the neighing steed, and the shrill trump;
The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner; and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!
And, oh, ye mortal engines, whose rude throats
Th' immortal Jove's dread clamours counterfeit,
Farewel! Othello's occupation's gone.

A Climax of more Rapidity, proceeding from a sudden Burst of Grief, Shakespeare gives as follows.

Come, shew me what thoul't do!
Woo't weep? woo't fast? woo't fight? woo't tear thyself?
Woo't drink up Eisel, eat a crocodile?
I'll do't!—Dost thou come hither but to whine?
To outface me with leaping in her grave?
Be buried quick with her, and so will I!
And if thou prat'st of mountains, let them heap
[Page 36]Millions of acres on us, till our ground,
Singeing its pate against the burning zone,
Make Ossa like a wart.

Any person who can do justice to these, or simi­lar passages, either by genius or instruction, may claim a sufficient knowledge of climax; which, however, as well as emphasis, is farther explained under the term MODULATION.

If we consider the human voice through the whole extent of its several divisions, we shall easily discover that nothing can require more the assist­ance of art to render it pleasing and expressive.

The art of harmonious expression is distinguished by the term modulation; for the better compre­hending of which let us borrow a division from music; counter-tenor, tenor, and base, or upper, medium, and lower notes. Every one of these, so far as reading and declamation extend, may be found or created, more or less perfectly, in every voice, according to the organs of utterance, and the proper use of those organs; it then remains properly to appropriate each of the divisions.

To all plaintive, amorous passages, humble in­sinuation, flattery, and frequently to exclamations of joy and distractions, the counter-tenor is most properly applied, as will appear from the follow­ing examples, first from Otway, in the plaintive strain.

Oh, Belvidera! doubly I'm a beggar;
Undone by Fortune, and in debt to thee;
Want, worldly want, that hungry meagre fiend,
Is at my heels, and chaces me in view.
Canst thou bear cold and hunger? Can these limbs,
[Page 37]Fram'd for the tender offices of love,
Endure the bitter gripes of smarting poverty?
When banish'd by our miseries abroad,
(As suddenly we shall be) to seek out
In some far climate, where our names are strangers,
For charitable succour;—wilt thou then,
When in a bed of straw we shrink together,
And the bleak winds shall whistle round our heads,
Wilt thou then talk thus to me? Wilt thou then
Hush my cares thus, and shelter me with love?
Venice Preserv'd.

Instance of the amorous Style, from Lee.

—No more of this, no more; for I disdain
All pomp when thou art by. Far be the noise
Of kings and courts from us, whose gentle souls
Our kinder stars have steer'd another way.
Free as the forest-birds we'll pair together,
Without rememb'ring who our fathers were;
Fly to the arbours, grots, and flow'ry meads,
And in soft murmurs interchange our souls;
Together drink the chrystal of the stream,
Or taste the yellow fruit which Autumn yields;
And, when the golden ev'ning calls us home,
Wing to our downy nest, and sleep till morn.

Humility and Insinuation are thus happily set forth by Shakespeare.

Thus, Brutus, did my master did me kneel;
Thus did Marc Antony bid me fall down,
And, being prostrate, thus he bade me say:
Brutus is noble, valiant, wise, and honest;
Caesar was mighty, royal, bold, and loving:
Say I love Brutus, and I honour him;
Say I fear'd Caesar, honour'd him and lov'd him.
[Page 38]If Brutus will vouchsafe that Antony
May safely come to him, and be resolv'd
How Caesar hath deserv'd to lie in death,
Marc Antony shall not love Caesar dead
So well as Brutus living; but will follow
The fortunes and affairs of noble Brutus,
Thorough the hazards of this untrod state,
With all true faith.
Julius Caesar.

Dissimulation, which requires the same tone of ex­pression, we find in these lines of Young.

It hurts not me, my lord, but as I love you:
Warmly as you I wish Don Carlos well;
But I am likewise Don Alonzo's friend:
There all the difference lies between us two.
In me, my lord, you hear another self,
And give me leave to add, a better too;
Clear'd from those errors, which, tho' born of virtue,
Are such as may hereafter give you pain.—

Instances of Exclamation in Joy and Rage are thus set forth by Shakespeare.

—Oh my soul's joy!
If after every tempest come such calms,
May the winds blow till they have waken'd death;
And let the lab'ring bark climb hills of seas
Olympus high, and duck again as low
As hell's from heav'n—
—Whip me, ye devils,
From the possession of this heav'nly sight;
Blow me about in winds, roast me in sulphur,
Wash me in steep down gulfs of liquid fire—

[Page 39] Of Despair, from Sophocles.

‘"Alas! alas! the truth now appears too plain­ly—oh, light! this is the last time I shall behold thee—alas! alas! wretched man, where am I?—whence comes it that my voice so suddenly fails me?—oh, fortune, whither art thou fled? un­happy, wretched man that I am!—I feel a raging anguish, while I think of my misfortunes!—oh, friends, what can I now see, or love, or entertain, or hear with comfort?—oh, friends! immediately forsake a wretch, an execrable wretch; abhorr'd of Gods and men!—Cursed be the man that unloosed my fetters, and saved me in the desart, where I was exposed—he did me no real kindness. I might then have died with less sorrow to myself and friends; I should neither have become the sanguine murderer of my father, nor the incestu­ous husband of my mother!"’

The preceding examples may suffice for the upper tones of voice; which, however, should never be suffered to run into feigned squeaking, or unnatural softness.

The middle notes, or tenor of expression, suit all common narrations, dissertations, and those parts of declamation which do not touch upon the passions. I presume it would be deemed superfluous to give various examples of what every book which presents itself for perusal calls for in general; therefore I shall only transcribe one short passage from Milton for the medium notes.

—Know that in the soul
Are many lesser faculties, that serve
Reason as chief: among these Fancy next
[Page 40]Her office holds: of all external things
Which the five watchful senses represent,
She forms imagination's airy shapes,
Which reason, joining or disjoining, frames
All that we affirm, or what deny, and call
Our knowledge or opinion; then retires
Into her private cell, where nature rests.
Oft in her absence mimic fancy wakes
To imitate her; but misjoining shapes
Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams,
Ill matching words and deeds, long past or late.
Paradise Lost.

That degree of expression I term base, is parti­cularly well applied to gloomy meditation, pas­sages of horror, the invocation of fiends, cynical roughness, and vindictive rage.—Instance of Gloomy Reflection, from Young.

Whether first nature, or long want of peace,
Has wrought my mind to this, I cannot tell;
But horrors now are not displeasing to me;
I like this rocking of the battlements.
Rage on, ye winds, burst clouds, and waters roar!
Ye bear a just resemblance of my fortune,
And suit the gloomy habit of my soul.

An Example of Horror we have in these Lines of Rowe.

—An universal horror
Struck thro' my eyes, and chill'd my very heart;
The cheerful day was every where shut out
With care, and left a more than midnight dark­ness,
Such as might ev'n be felt: a few dim lamps,
[Page 41]That feebly lifted up their sickly heads,
Look'd faintly thro' the shade, and made it seem
More dismal by such light; while those who waited
In solemn sorrow, mix'd with wild amazement,
Observ'd a dreadful silence.

Instance of Horror from Shakespeare.

Is this a dagger which I see before me?
The handle toward my hand? come let me clutch thee—
I have thee not—and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight! or art thou but
A dagger of the mind—a false creation
Proceeding from the heat oppressed brain?
I see thee yet—in form as palpable
As that which now I draw—
Thou marshal'st me the way that I was going,
And such an instrument I was to use,
Mine eyes are made the fools of th' other senses,
Or else worth all the rest—I see thee still,
And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood
Which was not so before—there's no such thing—
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes—now o'er one half the world
Nature seems dead—and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain'd sleep—now witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate's offerings, and wi [...]her'd murther
Alarum'd by his sentinel the wolf,
Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,
With Tarquin's ravishing strides tow'rds his design
[Page 42]Moves like a ghost—thou sound and firm set earth
Hear not my steps which way they walk, for fear
Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,
And take the present horror from the time
Which now suits with it.—

Invocation of Jealousy, from Mallet.

—Thou jealousy!
Almighty tyrant of the human mind,
Who canst at will unsettle the calm brain,
O'erturn the scaled heart, and shake the man
Thro' all his frame, with tempest and distraction,
Rise to my present aid: call up thy powers,
Thy furious fears, thy blast of dreadful passion;
Thy whips, snakes, mortal stings, thy host of horrors:
Rouse thy whole war against him, and complete
My purpos'd vengeance.

Invocation of Fiends, from Young.

Ye pow'rs of darkness who rejoice in ill,
All sworn by Styx, with pestilential blasts
To wither every virtue in the bud:
To keep the door of dark conspiracy,
And snuff the grateful fumes of human blood;
From sulphur blue, or your red beds of fire,
On your black ebon thrones auspicious rise;
And, bursting thro' the barriers of this world,
Stand in dread contrast to the golden sun;
Fright day-light hence with your infernal smiles,
And howl aloud your formidable joy.

[Page 43] The following Passages of Enraged Discontent, from Rowe, claim the under Notes of Expression.

Come, lead me to my dungeon; plunge me down
Deep from the hated sight of man and day;
Where, under covert of the friendly darkness,
My soul may brood at leisure o'er her sorrows.
* * * * * * * *
I tell thee, slave, I have shook hands with Hope,
And all my thoughts are rage, despair, and horror.

These Lines of the same Author present us with Cynical Roughness and Contempt.

—Yes, thou hast thy sex's virtues;
Their affectation, pride, ill-nature, noise,
Proneness to change even from the joy that pleas'd them;
So gracious is your idol, dear Variety,
That for another love you would forego
An angel's form, to mingle with a devil's.

Picture of deep Diffident Cruelty from Shakespeare.

Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet,
But thou shalt have—and creep time ne'er so slow,
Yet it shall come for me to do thee good.
I had a thing to say—but let it go—
The sun is in the heav'ns, and the proud day,
Attended by the pleasures of the world,
Is all too wanton, and too full of gauds,
To give me audience—if the midnight bell,
Did with his iron tongue and brazen mouth,
[Page 44]Sound one unto the drowsy race of night;
If this same were a churchyard where we stand,
Or thou possessed with a thousand wrongs;
Or if that surly spirit melancholy
Had bak'd thy blood, and made it heavy thick;
Which else runs tickling up and down the veins,
Making the ideot laughter keep mens eyes,
And strain their cheeks with idle merriment,
(A passion hateful to my purposes)
Or if thou could'st see me without eyes,
Hear me without thine ears, and make reply
Without a tongue—using conceit alone—
Then in despite of broad-ey'd, watchful day,
I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts—&c.
King John.

Having thus given examples for each of the three divisions of voice, it becomes necessary to remark, that the variations in each are many; and that the appropriations I have made are only meant in general. There are certainly several exceptions; but these must be left to the instructor's or stu­dent's discernment, as entering into every particu­lar would be, if not impracticable, at least intolera­bly tedious.

PAUSES next present themselves to considera­tion, and chiefly occur in meditation, doubt, or confusion: no exact time can be fixed for them, but they ought to be made longer or shorter ac­cording to the importance of the subject; and in most, especially passages of reflection, the voice should have a tone of continuance, which consti­tutes the difference between a pause and break; the former is a gradual stop, the latter a sudden check of expression.

[Page 45] Pauses of the first sort occur in the following lines of Shakespeare; and, as the subject is of great weight, should be of considerable duration, perhaps while one could number six, or a period and half to each.

It must be by his death: and for my part
I know no personal cause to spurn at him,
But for the general.—He would be crown'd—
How that might change his nature—there's the question—
It is the bright day that brings forth the adder;
And that craves wary walking: crown him—that—
And then I grant we put a sting in him,
Which, at his will, he may do danger with.
Julius Caesar.

Or these Lines, from the same Author.

To be—or not to be—that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them—To die—to sleep—
No more;—and by that sleep to say we end
The heart-ach, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.—To die—to sleep—
To sleep! perchance to dream:—Ay, there's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.—

[Page 46] Pauses of confusion are shorter than those of re­flection, and are to be fill'd up with hesitative panting breath, while every succeeding word or sentence varies in tone of expression from the for­mer:—instances from Shakespeare, as follow;

Nay, good Lieutenant—alas, gentlemen—
Help, ho!—Lieutenant!—Sir—Montano—
Help, Masters!—here's a goodly watch in­deed!—
Who's that?—Who rings that bell?—Dia­blo?—Ho!
The town will rise—
* * * * * * * *
Yes; 'tis Emilia—by and by—she's dead.
'Tis like she comes to speak of Cassio's death.
The noise was high.—Ha! no more moving?—
Still as the grave—shall she come in? were't good!
I think she stirs again—no—What's the best?—

Every discerning reader will readily perceive that the latter example is of a stronger, but slower confusion than the former.

BREAKS, as I have before hinted, are only pauses of a different nature, more abrupt and sudden, as when a passion cuts short before the meaning is fully explained: these most frequently occur in violent grief and impetuous rage; and the tone of voice alters as the passion rises or falls. One general rule in the expression of grief is, that, when gradual, the tones should swell pathetically; but, when sudden, they should burst forth and break the voice, still avoiding any dissonant scream [Page 47] or croak.—In these lines of Shakespeare we find pauses of grief swelling slowly, and working upon themselves.

I prithee, Daughter, do not make me mad!—
I will not trouble thee, my Child—farewell.—
We'll meet no more—no more see one ano­ther;—
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it;—
I do not bid the Thunder-bearer strike,
Nor tell tales of thee to avenging Heav'n:
Mend when thou canst—be better at thy lei­sure;—
I can be patient—I can stay with Regan.—
King Lear.

Examples of Breaks in Impetuous Rage as follow.

—Darkness and devils!—
Saddle my horses—call my train together;—
Degenerate viper—I'll not stay with thee!
I yet have left a daughter—serpent! monster!
Lessen my train, and call 'em riotous!
All men approv'd—of choice and rarest parts,
That each particular of duty know.—
—dost thou understand me, man?
The King would speak with Cornwall;—the dear father
Would with his daughter speak:—commands her service,
Are they inform'd of this?—My breath, and blood—
Fiery—the fiery Duke!—tell the hot Duke that—
No—but not yet, may be he is not well.—
King Lear.

[Page 48]Having thus particularly and distinctly explain­ed the proper application of the three grand divi­sions of the voice, in order to bring what has been said into a narrow compass, and to place it in one point of view, I shall produce for an example the Seven Ages of Shakespeare, and mark the lines ac­cording to the variations; which, agreeable to the foregoing observations, ought to be made in speak­ing or in reading this passage. The counter-tenor, or upper notes, I distinguish by italics; the tenor, or medium, retain the common type; and the base is marked by CAPITALS.

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And each man in his time plays many parts;
His acts being seven ages.—First the infant,
Mewling and pewking in the nurse's arms:
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail,
Unwillingly to school;—and then the lover,
Sighing, like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eye-brow:—then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like a pard;
Jealous in honour—sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Ev'n in the cannon's mouth: and then the JUSTICE,
And so he plays his part: the sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon;
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shanks; and his big manly voice
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in the sound—Last scene of all,
Which ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.

Every emphasis and variation of voice should be founded on reason; it may be proper, therefore, to show why the several parts of the preceding lines are thus distinguished. In the first age of infancy, the upper notes are most descriptive of that tender time, as they are also of the whimpering school-boy; and their softness likewise suits the sighing of the lover. The forward confidence of the soldier demands a full-spirited medium; and the corpulent importance, generally imputed to magistracy, is well pictured by the jolly swell of the base notes, while the feebleness of fast declining age calls for the counter-tenor, tremulated, as it were, with weakness.

Thus much for general explanation, which I have delivered in as full and clear a manner as the nature of my design would possibly admit; and, having set forth such examples as, explained by teachers, or carefully investigated by students, may give a full idea of what is intended, I shall pro­ceed to some brief remarks upon utterance and [Page 50] action, in which, though it is not probable that many will excel, yet most may be improved.

First then, if a voice is naturally harsh, great care should be taken to avoid guttural expres­sion; nor should the tongue be allowed to play too much between the teeth; the breath, drawn, as it were, from the stomach, and vibrated upon within the mouth, will soften harsh notes, and render them much more tuneable; on the con­trary, a weak shrill voice should borrow solidity and force from the throat: as too great an expan­sion of the lips is disgraceful to the features, so un­natural contraction of them will render expression unmeaning and imperfect.

Stops and cadences are a most essential point of consideration, and cannot be better set forth than in the following remarks of a French author:

'It is necessary for us,' says he, 'to respire from time to time, but the voice does not repose equally at the conclusion of every sense; in a sentence of considerable length, we respire at every comma; but this short pause is made in such a manner as to show, by the tone of conti­nuance, that we are to go farther, the ear re­maining unsatisfied, because the pronunciation continues suspended till the sentence is completely finished; as for example: At such a time, the King, having taken these matters into consideration, determined, here Attention is inquisitive to know what follows; the colon and semicolon are marks of more considerable respiration, yet still leave Judgment in suspence till the period unfolds the whole, and calls for a concluding cadence.

'In every part, or parts of a sentence there is elevation and depression of the voice, which never absolutely reposes but at the conclusion of [Page 51] a period, all other respiration being of conti­nuance.'

There is undoubtedly much judgment in the composition of harmonious and comprehensive pe­riods; a dissonant unconnected style will take greatly from the beauty and force of expression, as a discordant piece of music must disgrace a perfor­mance of the ablest master, and injure the utter­ance of the most perfect instruments.

Frequent use strengthens and meliorates the or­gans of expression, and practice will teach a most essential point, that of pitching the voice to any place or number of persons. There is considera­ble nicety in knowing the different effect which the same notes of voice may have in places of equal dimensions, but of different construction, of a place containing but few auditors, or thronged with a large number; and this point of excellence must be attained by much practice and observation. Only thus much may be observed in general of the operations of sound; that where it undulates con­siderably, the louder a reader or declaimer goes beyond the just pitch, the more indistinct he will be, of which we find very frequent instances in cathedral churches: a full audience in any place will require at least twice the force of expression of a thin one; which, exclusive of some buzz that must unavoidably attend a numerous assembly, may be philosophically accounted for by an essen­tial density of air, from the conjunct respiration of so many people.

The voice being pitched, and modulated thro' the several variations which may be found necessary, it remains to consider, to comprehend, and to feel the subject; without which expression must be languid, unaffecting, and wearisome. What we [Page 52] read or speak unfelt, must be like painting with­out light or shade; there may be just symmetry of parts and good colouring; but unless they are raised and brought forward, both pall on the view, and die upon the canvass.

Spirit and feeling are necessary to idea as well as to sight; for which reason teachers should not only make their pupils understand every word they read, but their general sense in a state of connec­tion: a point of care seldom attended to.

Emphatic expression, feeling, and taste, are par­ticularly essential to poetry, as that, in general, appeals oftner to the passions than any other species of writing. Cadences also are more critical in num­bers than in prose; in both they should be smooth, gradual, and die away almost insensibly, yet so as to preserve and to impress the last syllable both upon the ear and mind, without snapping short the breath or sound, which is extremely grating to a judicious hearer.

How often is verse of every kind miserably mangled! A sort of unmeaning pedantic recitative, tedious from a repetition of misplaced unharmonious tones, is substituted for dignity; thus we find many, who make a tolerable shift with prose, the moment they see any number of measured syllables, throw aside nature, reason, nay even common sense, to display their knowledge of versification, and what they think its peculiar importance.—What can be more absurd? Genuine poetry needs no pom­pous affectation to dignify it; for as by transposing the words you cannot reduce it to prose, neither can you take from its harmony by plain, natural expression.

I know not any thing which has done our lan­guage, and the reading of it, more injury than the [Page 53] gingle of rhime, especially that which is thrown into heroic measure, it being certain that the more correct an author in that way is, the more he will lead to monotony. Instance Mr. Pope, who has been so critically exact in accenting particular syl­lables, that very few of his pieces can be read with any tolerable variation of voice; for which reason I would have learners kept from rhime in heroic measure till they are well grounded in a just mode of utterance. Indeed we are not to wonder that the generality chaunt verse in so lamentable a man­ner, when some of those who have sketched rules for reading, insist upon such a servile obedience to the author, as not only to change the accented syllable, but even to favour his bad rhime, with false pronunciation; for example, to sound the last syllable of liberty, as an exact rhime either to flee or fly.—To prescribe a stop or half pause at the end of a line, whether the sense requires it or not, is another rule that has been given, equally erro­neous and disgustful.

In reading, properly so called, action has no concern, but declamation is very defective without it; yet, except upon the stage, and among many there miserably methodized, we scarce find any.—When I recommend action, I would not be supposed to intend that a speaker should be in continual motion; or that, puppet-like, he is to lift up first one hand and then another, merely to lay them down again.—No—I would have motions few, easy, graceful; and, for my own part, I know not how a declaimer can possibly feel and stand stock-still: but, admit the possibility of this, I will venture to say there is but little probability that his audience will think him in earnest: I know that some delicate persons are afraid of be­coming [Page 54] too theatrical; but there is a very wide difference between the action of an orator and an actor, unless when the latter judiciously represents the former; but I shall no further urge the neces­sity of a point so obvious, let us proceed to the thing itself.

First, then, action should be entirely reserved for those passages which contain somewhat inte­resting or important, as demonstration, or the en­forcing of a charge. This should be attended with the right arm stretched forward to the full extent, the fingers even, and the palm of the hand downwards, or sometimes the hand turned side­ways, the fore finger only pointing: if the cir­cumstance demonstrated, or given in charge, be very momentous, the well known and admired action of St. Paul preaching at Athens, stretching forth both arms, palms downwards, has much force and propriety.

Where grief is to be expressed, the right hand laid slowly to the left breast, the head and chest bending forward, is a just indication of it. To express confidence and resolution, the same hand must move to the same place, but with quickness and vigour, recoiling as it were from the heart, which thereby seems to meet it. With this action the head should be thrown back and the chest for­ward. The expression of ardent affection, is to close both hands warmly at half arm's length, the fingers intermingling, and to bring them to the breast with spirit. If expansion of mind, or any thing similar, is to be pointed out, then both arms should be cast different ways, in a parallel line, and the chest thrown open. Folding arms, with a drooping of the head, describe contemplation; erection of the head speaks dignity, or, with suit­able [Page 55] features, contempt. There are some few other instances of action which may be graceful, and serves for variation, though not absolutely ne­cessary; but these must be left to the choice and discretion of the declaimer, and to the uncon­strained operation of judicious feeling: only thus much it may be necessary to observe, that the left hand should seldom or never be used by itself; and that all action should move between the tip of the shoulder and the seat of the heart; all above is what Shakespeare justly styles sawing the air; all below both unmeaning and ungraceful. Upon the whole, every motion should be the natural attendant of what is spoken: if an extreme cannot be avoided, I would rather recommend no action than too much, or than such as must offend judici­ous eyes.—Attitudes, or positions of the body, when happily struck off and well applied, are not only picturesque but striking, all description of them with a pen must be faint and confused, where­fore we refer to the pencil of some able painter.

To what has been already offer'd we shall sub­join some useful remarks from an ingenious Trea­tise on the Art of Speaking.

"If nature, unassisted, could form the eminent speaker, where were the use of art and culture? which no one pretends to question: art is but na­ture improved upon and refined; and before im­provement is applied, genius is but a mass of ore in the mine, without lustre and without value, be­cause unknown and unthought of: the ancients used to procure masters for pronunciation from the theatres, and had youth taught gesture and attitude, by the Palaestritae, who taught much the same among them, as dancing-masters do among us.

[Page 56]"It is well when a youth has no natural impedi­ment or defect in his specch; and I should by no means advise that he who has, be brought up to any profession requiring elocution; yet there are instances of natural defects surmounted; and emi­nent speakers formed by indefatigable diligence in spite of them; DEMOSTHENES when he began to study rhetoric, could not pronounce the first letter of the name of that art; and CICERO was long-necked and narrow chested; but diligent labour, in what we are earnest upon, surmounts all diffi­culties, that are not too deeply rooted in nature: for want of proper application we are frequently disgusted by public speakers lisping, stammering, and speaking thro' the nose; pronouncing the letter k with the throat, instead of the tongue, s like th, and screaming above, or croaking below all natural pitch of human voice.

Some unexperienced attempters at oratory mum­ble as if they were conjuring up spirits; others bawl as loud as street hawkers; some so precipi­tate in expression that no ear can distinguish; others drag words like the heavy pauses of a great clock striking; some have got a disagreeable habit of shrugging up their shoulders; others of see-sawing their bodies backwards and forwards, or from side to side; some open their mouths frightfully, others keep their teeth so close as if the jaws were set; all which, with many other bad, disgraceful habits, should either be got the better of in early life, or the young persons put into some other path than that of public speaking: neglect of this, occasions such confirmation of deficiency, that not one speaker in twenty knows what to do with his hands, voice, or eyes.

[Page 57]"Some actors, who should most particularly ap­ply to feeling and attention, who should most strictly regard decorum, are guilty of monstrous improprieties as to management of the eyes in par­ticular; to look full at the audience when speak­ing a soliloquy, or a speech aside, is intolerable; a performer should not in theatrical station seem conscious of an audience, or that there is a spec­tator looking on; and one peculiar fault in per­formers is, that they don't in general keep a fixed eye on those they speak to, even in impassioned dialogue: from whatever cause we may derive this disgraceful, enfeebling inattention, it is severely censurable."

It being far beyond the limits of our design to enter upon the general minutiae of our subject, we refer our readers for a circumstantial description of the effects which various affections and passions have upon the human features, to the studious treatise we have just now quoted from; published by LONGMAN and BUCKLAND, Pater-noster-row; though we think great part of it more curious than useful, for where the mind by nature, or represen­tation properly feels, the features will operate con­sonantly; if words and looks are contrary, no sym­pathy can be gained; in which case the main point is lost.

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