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ought never to be indulged in a composition for the theatre: nothing can be more absurd, than at the close to exhibit a full-grown person who appears a child at the beginning: the mind rejects, as contrary to all probability, such latitude of time as is requisite for a change so remarkable. The greatest change from place to place has not altogether the same bad effect.
In the bulk of human affairs, place is not material and the mind, when occupied with an interesting event, is little regardful of minute circumstances: these may be varied at will, because they scarce make any impression.
But though I have taken arms to rescue modern poets from the despotism of modern critics, I would not be understood to justify liberty without any re
An unbounded license with relation to time and place, is faulty, because it seldom fails to break the unity of action. In the ordinary course of human affairs, single events, such as are represented on the stage, are confined to a narrow spot, and commonly employ no great extent of time: we accordingly seldom find strict unity of action in a dramatic composition, where any remarkable latitude is indulged in these particulars. Further, a composition which employs but one place, and requires not a greater length of time than is necessary for the representation, is so much the more perfect; because the confining an event within so narrow bounds, contributes to the unity of action, and prevents that labor, which the mind must undergo in imagining frequent changes of place and many intervals of time. But such limitation of place and time as was necessary in the Grecian drama, is no rule to us; and though it adds one beauty more to the composition, it is but a refinement which may justly give place to a thousand beauties more substantial. And it is extremely difficult to contract within the Grecian limits, any fable so fruitful of incidents in number and variety, as to give full scope to the fluctuation of passion.
Considering attentively the ancient drama, we find, that though the representation is never interrupted, the principal action is suspended not less frequently than in the modern drama: there are five acts in each; and the only difference is, that in the forme when the action is suspended as it is at the end of every act, opportunity is taken of the interval to employ the chorus in singing. Hence it appears, that the Grecian continuity of representation cannot have the effect to prolong the impression of reality: to banish that impression, a pause in the action while the chorus is employed in singing, is no less effectual than a total suspension of the representation.
A representation with proper pauses, is better qualified for making a deep impression, than a continued representation without a pause. Representation cannot very long support an impression of reality; for when the spirits are exhausted by close attention and by the agitation of passion, an uneasiness ensues, which never fails to banish the waking dream. Supposing the time that a man.can employ with strict attention without wandering, to be no greater than is requisite for a single act; it follows that a continued representation of longer endurance than an act, instead of giving scope to a fluctuation and swelling of passion, would overstrain the attention, and produce a total absence of mind. In that -respect, the four pauses have a fine effect; for by affording to the audience a seasonable respite when the impression of reality is gone, and while nothing material is in agitation, they relieve the mind from its fatigue, and prevent a wandering of thought at the very time possibly of the most interesting scenes.
In one article the Grecian model has the advantage: its chorus during an interval not only preserves alive the impressions made upon the audience, but prepares their hearts finely for new impressions. In our theatres, the audience, at the end of every act, being left to trifle time away, lose every warm impression; and
ELEMENTS OF CRITICISM.
they begin the next act cool and unconcerned, as at the commencement of the representation. This is a gross malady in our theatrical representations; but a malady that luckily is not incurable. The music we enjoy between the acts, and which accords with the present tone of mind, is, on that account, doubly agreeable; and accordingly, though music singly hath not power to raise a passion, it tends greatly to support a passion already raised. Further, music prepares us for the passion that follows, by making cheerful, tender, melancholy, or animated impressions, as the subject requires. Take for an example the first scene of the Mourning Bride, where soft music, in a melancholy strain, prepares us for Almeria's deep distress. In this manner, music and representation support each other delightfully : the impression made upon the audience by the representation, is a fine preparation for the music that succeeds; and the impression made by the music, is a fine preparation for the representation that succeeds.
Why is the history of a single event more interesting than a general history?
Upon which series of connected events do we dwell with most satisfaction ?
Describe the beginning of an entire action—the middle—the end.
What principle produces the satisfaction derived from such an action ?
In what does unity of action consist?
What defect in the plan of the Iliad is pointed out?-in the Orlando Furioso?
What license is used by romance writers ?
From what does the unity of Hogarth's Enraged Musician arise ?
By wbom are the unities of time and place observed ?
What argument is offered in favor of observing the unities of time and place?
What was the origin of the Greek tragedy?
Why is it absurd to found rules for the modern on the Greek drama?
How are the moderns enabled to disregard the unities of time and place with propriety?
How is this doctrine illustrated ?
Is a strict compliance with the unities of time and place a beauty?
Is it very important?
What is the advantage of the pauses between the acts of a drama?
What advantage arose from the use of the chorus?
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different views. The reader will not here expect rules for improving any work of art in point of utility; it being no part of my plan to treat of any useful art as such: but there is a beauty in utility; and in discoursing of beauty, that of utility must not be neglected. This leads us to consider gardens and buildings in different views: they may be destined for use solely, for beauty solely, or for both. Such variety of destination, bestows upon these arts a great command of beauties, complex no less than various. Hence the difficulty of forming an accurate taste in gardening and architecture: and hence that difference and wavering of taste in these arts, greater than in any art that has but a single destination.
Architecture and gardening entertain the mind, by raising agreeable emotions or feelings; with which we must begin, as the true foundation of all the rules of criticism that govern these arts. Gardening, beside the emotions of beauty from regularity, order, proportion, color, and utility, raises the emotions of grandeur, sweetness, gaiety, melancholy, wildness, and even of surprise or wonder. In architecture, the beauties of regularity, order, and proportion, are more conspicuous than in gardening; but architecture is inferior as to the beauty of color. Grandeur can be expressed in a buildiug more successfully than in a garden; but as to the other emotions above mentioned, architecture has not been brought to the perfection of expressing them distinctly, To balance that defect, it can display the beauty of utility in the highest perfection.
Gardening possesses one advantage, never to be equalled in the other art: in various scenes, it can raise successively all the different emotions above mentioned. But to produce that delicious effect, the garden must be extensive, so as to admit a slow succession: for a small garden, comprehended at one view, ought to be confined to one expression; it
be sweet, or gloomy; but an attempt to mix these, would create a jumble of emotions not a little unpleasant.