« PoprzedniaDalej »
of as committed. I heartily agree with Addison,* that no part of this incident ought to have been represented, but reserved for a narrative, with every alleviating circumstance in favor of the hero.
A few words upon the dialogue; which ought to be so conducted as to be a true representation of nature. I talk not here of the sentiments, nor of the language; for these come under different heads: I talk of what properly belongs to dialogue-writing; where every single speech, short or long, ought to arise from what is said by the former speaker, and furnish matter for what comes after, till the end of the scene. In this view, all the speeches, from first to last, represent so many links of one continued chain. No author, ancient or modern, possesses the art of dialogue equal to Shakspeare. Dryden, in that particular, may justly be placed as his opposite : he frequently introduces three or four persons speaking upon the same subject, each throwing out his own notions separately, without regarding what is said by the rest : take for an example the first scene of Aurenzebe. Sometimes he makes à number club in relating an event, not to a stranger, supposed ignorant of it, but to one another, for the sake merely of speaking: of which notable sort of dialogue we have a specimen, in the first scene of the first part of the Conquest of Granada. In the second part of the same tragedy, scene second, the King, Abenamar, and Zulema, make their separate observations, like so many soliloquies, upon the fluctuating temper of the mob. A dialogue so uncouth, puts one in mind of two shepherds in a pastoral, excited by a prize to pronounce verses alternately, each
in praise of his own mistress. de V
Torah This manner of dialogue writing, beside an unnatural air, has another bad effect: it stays the course of the action, because it is not productive of any consequence. In Congreve's comedies, the action is often
* Spectator, No. 44.
suspended to make way for a play of wit. But of this more particularly in the chapter immediately following.
No fault is more common among writers, than to prolong a speech, after the impatience of the person to whom it is addressed ought to prompt him or her to break in. Consider only how the impatient actor is to behave in the mean time. To express his impatience in violent action, without interrupting, would be unnatural; and yet to dissemble his impatience, by appearing cool where he ought to be highly inflamed, would be no
Rhyme being unnatural and disgustful in dialogue, is happily banished from our theatre: the only wonder is that it ever found admittance, especially among a people accustomed to the more manly freedom of Shakspeare's dialogue. By banishing rhyme, we have gained so much, as never once to dream of any
further improvement. And yet, however suitable blank verse may be to elevated characters and warm passions, it must appear improper and affected in the mouths of the lower sort. Every scene in tragedy need not be in blank verse. Shakspeare, with great judgment, intermixes prose with verse, and only employs the latter where it is required by the importance or dignity of the subject. Familiar thoughts and ordinary facts are expressed in plain language: to hear a footman deliver a simple message in blank verse, must appear ridiculous to every one who is not biassed by custom. In short, that variety of characters, and of situations, which is the life of a play, requires not only a suitable variety in the sentiments, but also in the diction.
In what do tragedy and epic poetry resemble each other?
To what is the term moral applied ?
Give an example of a poern inculcating moral truth by parTative.
What is the effect of a pathetic composition ?
Are subjects always equally fitted for epic or for dramatic composition ?
For which is dialogue better qualified ?
What is peculiarly the province of tragedy?—what of epic poetry?
What is the subject best fitted for tragedy?-why?
What is the effect of purely accidental misfortunes happening to an innocent person?
Give an example.
What author successfully ridicules the modern use of the heathen mythology?
What is the effect of allegory ?
In the first chapter is explained the pleasure we have in a chain of connected facts. In histories of the world, of a country, of a people, this pleasure is fáint because the connexions are slight. We find more en tertainment in biography ; because the incidents are connected by their relation to a person who makes a figure, and commands our attention. But the greatest entertainment is in the history of a single event, supposing it interesting; because the facts and circumstances are connected by the strongest of all relations, that of cause and effect: a number of facts that give birth to each other form a delightful train; and we have great mental enjoyment in our progress from beginning to end.
When we consider the chain of causes and effects in the material world, independent of purpose, design, or thought, we find incidents in succession, without beginning, middle, or end: every thing that happens is both a cause and an effect; being the effect of what goes before, and the cause of what follows: one inci
affect us more, another less; but all of them are links’in the chain: the mind, in viewing these incidents, cannot rest ultimately upon any one, but is carried along in the train without any close.
But when the intellectual world is taken under view, in conjunction with the material, the scene is varied. Man acts with deliberation and choice: he aims at some end, glory, for example, or riches, or conquest, the procuring happiness to individuals, or to his country in general: he proposes means, and lays plans to attain the end purposed. Here are a number of facts or incidents leading to the end, and composing one chain by the relation of cause and effect. In running over a series of such facts, we cannot rest upon any
Zo which du tragedy. Tragicin style.
1. Limited to one seene 2. Confins to action of a single day. 3. Contain but one catastrophe.
one; because they are presented to us as means only leading to some end: but we rest with satisfaction upon the ultimate event; because there the purpose of the chief person is accomplished. This indicates the beginning, the middle, and the end of what Aristotle calls an entire action. The story begins with describing those circumstances which move the principal person to form a plan, to compass some desired event. the prosecution of that plan, and the obstructions, carry the reader into the heat of action : the middle is properly where the action is the most involved; and the end is where the event is brought about, and the plan accomplished.
A plan thus happily accomplished after many obstructions, affords delight to the reader; to produce which, a principle mentioned above mainly contributes, the same that disposes the mind to complete every work commenced, and in general to carry every thing to a conclusion.
The foregoing example of a plan crowned with success, affords the clearest conception of a beginning, middle, and end, in which consists unity of action; and stricter unity cannot be imagined. But an action may have unity, or a beginning, middle, and end, without so intimate a relation of parts; as where the catastrophe is different from what is intended or desired, which frequently happens in our best tragedies. In the Æneid, the hero, after many obstructions, makes his plan effectual. The Iliad is formed upon a different model: it begins with the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon; goes on to describe the several effects produced by that cause; and ends in a reconciliation. Here is unity of action, no doubt, a beginning, a middle, and an end; but inferior to that of the Æneid, which will thus appear. The mind has a propensity to go forward in the chain of history: it keeps always in view the expected event; and when the under parts are connected by their relation to the event, the mind runs sweetly and easily along them