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example to precept. The first examples shall be of sentiments that appear the legitimate offspring of pas sion; to which shall be opposed what are descriptive only, and illegitimate: and in making this comparison, I borrow my instances chiefly from Shakspeare, who for genius in dramatic composition stands uppermost in the rolls of fame.
Sentiments dictated by a violent and perturbed pas
Kent. Good, my Lord, enter here.
Lear. Pr'ythee, go in thyself, seek thine own ease;
KING LEAR. ACT III. Sc. 4.
Sentiments arising from remorse and despair:
Othello. Behold! I have a weapon:
A better never did itself sustain
Upon a soldier's thigh. I've seen the day,
Now-how dost thou look now? O ill starr'd wench!
This look of thine will hurl my soul from heaven,
OTHELLO.-ACT V. Sc. 2.
The sentiments here displayed flow so naturally from the passions represented, that we cannot conceive any imitation more perfect.
In the tragedy of Cinna, Æmilia, after the conspiracy was discovered, having nothing in view but racks and death to herself and her lover, receives a pardon from Augustus, attended with the brightest circumstances of magnanimity and tenderness. This is a lucky situation for representing the passions of surprise and gratitude in their different stages. These passions, raised at once to the utmost pitch, and being at first too big for utterance, must, for some moments, be expressed by violent gestures only as soon as there is vent for words, the first expressions are broken and interrupted: at last we ought to expect a tide of intermingled sentiments, occasioned by the fluctuation of the mind between the two passions. Emilia is made to behave in a very different manner: with extreme coolness she describes her own situation, as if she were merely a spectator, or rather the poet that takes the task off her hands.
In the tragedy of Sertorius, the queen, surprised with the news that her lover was assassinated, instead of venting any passion, degenerates into a cool spectator, and undertakes to instruct the bystanders how a queen ought to behave on such an occasion.
So much in general upon the genuine sentiments of passion. I proceed to particular observations. Passions seldom continue uniform any considerable time: they generally fluctuate, swelling and subsiding in a quick succession; and the sentiments cannot be just unless they correspond to such fluctuation. Accordingly, climax never shows better than in expressing a swelling passion: thus
Oroonoko. Can you raise the dead?
OROONOKO.—ACT II. Sc. 2.
How hast thou charm'd
I would not be the villain that thou think'st
MACBETH.-ACT IV. Sc. 3.
The following passage expresses finely the progress of conviction:
Let me not stir, nor breathe, lest I dissolve
MOURNING BRIDE.-ACT II. Sc. 6.
In the progress of thought, our resolutions become more vigorous as well as our passions:
If ever I do yield or give consent,
Another lord, may then just heav'n shower down, &c.
The different stages of a passion, and its different directions, from birth to extinction, must be carefully represented in their order; because otherwise the sentiments, by being misplaced, will appear forced and unnatural. Resentment, when provoked by an atrocious injury, discharges itself first upon the author: sentiments therefore of revenge come always first, and must in some measure be exhausted before the person injured thinks of grieving for himself. In the Cid of Corneille, Don Diegue, having been affronted in a cruel manner, expresses scarce any sentiment of revenge, but is totally occupied in contemplating the low situation to which he is reduced by the affront.
As the first movements of resentment are always directed to its object, the very same is the case of grief. Yet with relation to the sudden and severe distemper that seized Alexander bathing in the river Cydnus, Quintus Curtius describes the first emotions of the army as directed to themselves, lamenting that they were left without a leader, far from home, and had scarce any hopes of returning in safety: their king's distress, which must naturally have been their first concern, occupies them but in the second place, according to that author. In the Amynta of Tasso, Sylvia, upon a report of her lover's death, which she believed certain, instead of bemoaning the loss of her beloved, turns her thoughts upon herself, and wonders her heart does not break.
In the tragedy of Jane Shore, Alicia, in the full purpose of destroying her rival, has the following reflection:—
Oh Jealousy! thou bane of pleasing friendship,
How does thy rancor poison all our softness,
And turn our gentle natures into bitterness!
ACT III. Sc. 1.
These are the reflections of a cool spectator. A passion, while it has the ascendant, and is freely indulged, suggests not to the person who feels it any sentiment to its own prejudice; reflections like the foregoing occur not readily till the passion has spent its vigor. A person sometimes is agitated at once by different passions; and the mind, vibrating like a pen ́dulum, vents itself in sentiments that partake of the same vibration.
Queen. Would I had never trod this English earth,
Ye've angels' faces, but Heaven knows your hearts.
Alas! poor wenches, where are now your fortunes?
Shipwreck'd upon a kingdom, where no pity,
HENRY VIII.-ACT III. Sc. 1.
Othello. Oh devil, devil!
If that the earth could teem with woman's tears,
Desdemona. I will not stay t' offend you.
I do beseech your Lordship, call her back.
Des. My Lord.
Oth. What would you with her, Sir?
Lod. Who, I, my Lord?
Oth. Ay! you did wish that I would make her turn:
[Exit Desdemona. OTHELLO-ACT IV. Sc. 1.
Emilia. Oh! my good Lord, I would speak a word with
Othello. Yes, 'tis Emilia-By and by-She's dead.
OTHELLO.-ACT V. Sc. 2.
Nature, which gave us passions, and made them extremely beneficial when moderate, intended undoubtedly that they should be subjected to the government of reason and conscience. It is therefore against the order of nature, that passion in any case should take the lead in contradiction to reason and conscience: such a state of mind is a sort of anarchy, which every one is ashamed of, and endeavors to hide or dissemble. Even love, however laudable, is attended with a con