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through the deceit which he em ploys for public-fpirited ends, "bringing deftruction on all whom he loved: thefe are the examples which tragedy now difplays, by means of which it inculcates on men the proper government of their paffions. I am afraid, if we appeal to the feelings of the audience at the conclufion of any of thofe pieces, we fhall not find the effect to be what is here fuppofed. Othello we rather pity for his jealoufy, than hate as a murderer. With Jaffier and his affociates we are undoubtedly leagued against the rulers of Venice; and even the faith and tenderness of Belvidera hardly make us forgive her for betraying their fecret. The fentiments of Siffredi, however wife and juft, are disregarded where they impeach the dignity and fupereminence of love. His deceit indeed is blamed, which is faid to be the moral of the piece: but it is blamed because it hindered the union of Tancred and Sigifmunda, which, from the very beginning of the play, is the object in which the reader or fpectator is interested. Reverse the fituation, make it a contrivance to defeat the claim of the tyrant's daughter, to give the throne to Tancred, and to place Sigifmunda there at his fide, the audience would admire its ingenuity, and rejoice in its fuccefs.
"In the mixture of a plot, and amidst the variety of fituations, where weakneffes are flattered and paffions indulged, at the fame time that virtues are displayed and duties performed, one fet of readers will enjoy the pleasure of the firft, while thofe only who have lefs need to be inftructed will feize the inftruction of the latter. When Marcus dies for his country, the ladies in the fide-boxes only confider his death
as removing the bar to the marriage of Lucia with his brother Portius.
"In tragedy as in novel, which is fometimes a kind of tragedy, the author is obliged, in justification of weak characters, to elevate villanous ones, or to throw round their vices a bewitching addrefs, and captivating manners. Lovelace is made a character which the greater number of girls admire, in order to juftify the feduction of Clariffa. Lothario, though very inferior, is fomething of the fame caft, to mitigate the crime of Calista. The tory would not be probable else ;— granted: but in proportion to the art of the poet, in rendering it probable, he heightens the immoral effect, of which I complain.
"As the incidents must be formed, fo must the fentiments be introduced, according to the character and condition of the perfon fpeaking them, not according to the laws of virtue, or the dictates of prudence. To give them this propriety, they must often be apologics for vice and for fraud, or contain ridicule against virtue and honefly. It is not fufficient to answer, that if the perfon uttering them is punifhed in the courfe, or at the end of the play, the expiation is fufficiently made; if the fentiments at the time are threwdly imagined, and forcibly expreffed, they will have a powerful effect on the mind, and leave impreffions which the retribution of poetical juftice will hardly be able to efface.
"On poetical justice, indeed, I do not lay fo much ftrefs as fome authors have done. I incline to be of the opinion of one of my predeceffors, that we are frequently more roufed to a love of virtue, and a hatred of vice, when virtue is unfor tunate, and vice fuccesful, than
when each receives the recompence it merits. But I impute more to ftriking incidents, to the fentiments running through the tenor of a piece, than to the general impreffion of its denouement. Monf. d'Alembert fays, that in any fort of fpectacle which would leave the poet more at liberty than tragedies taken from history, in the Opera, for example, the author would not eafily be pardoned for allowing vice to go unpunished. I remember to have fcen,' continues he, a MS. opera of Atreus, where that monster perifhed by a thunderbolt, exclaiming, with a favage fatisfaction,
Tonnez, Dieux impuiffans:
This would have made one of the happieft denouements that can well 'be imagined.' As to theatrical effect, I am quite or his opinion; but as to the moral, I cannot agree with him. The line which he quotes, brilliant, forcible, and bold,, would have remained with the audience, not to recal the punishment of guilt, but to mark the pleasure of revenge.
"But it is not only from the vices or imperfections of tragic characters that we are to fear the danger of familiarifing the approach of evil, or encouraging the growth of error. Their very virtues, I fear, are often dangerous to form the principles, or draw the imitation of their readers. Theirs are not fo much the useful, the productive virtues (if I may be allowed the expreffion) of real life, as the fining and flowy qualities which attract the applaufe, or flatter the vanity of the unthinking. The extreme, the enthufiafm even of a laudable propenfity, takes from its ufefulnefs to others, and degene.
rates into a blind and headlong indulgence in the poffeffor. In the greatest part of modern tragedies, fuch are the qualities of the perfons that are moft in favour with the public. In what relates to paffive excellence, prudence to avoid evils, or fortitude to bear them, are not the virtues of tragedy, converfant as it is with misfortune; it is proud to indulge in forrow, to pour its
tears without the controul of rea
fon, to die of difappointments which wisdom would have overcome. There is an era in the life of most young people, and thofe too the moft amiable, where all this is their creed of excellence, generofity, and heroifin, and that creed is drawn from romance and tragedy.
"In the remarks which in this and two former papers I have made on Novel and on Tragedy, two of the most popular of all kinds of writing, I have ventured, in the hardihood of a moralift, rather beyond the ufual caution of a periodical paper, that wishes, to conciliate the favour of the public. By those whofe daily and favourite reading is croffed by my obfervations, Ï fhall be asked, if I mean to profaribe every novel and every trage dy, or of what kind of each I am difpofed to allow the perufal, and to what clafs of readers their perufal may be trusted? To fuch I would anfwer in general, that if I had influence enough to abridge the list of both fpecies of reading, I believe neither morals nor tafte would fuffer by the restriction. I have pointed out the chief dangers to which I conceive the perufal of many fuch works is liable.
"I am not, however, infenfible of the value, perhaps but too fenfible of the power, of thefe productions of fancy and of genius. Nor am I fo much a bigot to the opinions I have
I have delivered, as to deny that well-compofed tragedy, be difputed.
there are uses, noble ufes, which fuch productions may ferve, amidst the dangers to which they fometimes expofe their readers. The region of exalted virtue, of digni fied fentiment, into which they traufport us, may have a confiderable effect in changing the cold and unfeeling temperament of worldly minds; the indifferent and the felfish may be warmed and expanded by the fiction of diftrefs, and the eloquence of feeling. In the prefent age, and among certain ranks, indifference and felfishness have become a fort of virtues, and fashion has fometimes taught the young to pride themselves on qualities fo unnatural to them To combat thefe Giants of the Rock," romance and tragedy may be very ufefully employed; and that race must have become worthlefs and degenerate indeed, whom their terrors fhall fail to roufe, and their griefs to melt.
Nor, as an amufement, can the elegance of that which is drawn from the perufal of a well-written novel, or the reprefentation of a
It certainly is as much a nobler, as it is a more harmless employment of time, than its wafte in frivolous diffipation, or its abufe in the vigils of play. But there is a certain fort of mind common in youth, and that too of the most amiable kind, tender, warm, and vifionary, to which the walks of fancy and enthufiafm, of romantic love, of exaggerated forrow, of trembling fenfibility, are very unfafe. To rea ders of this complexion, the amusement which the works above men tioned afford, fhould, I think, be fparingly allowed, and judiciously chofen. In fuch bofoms, feeling or fufceptibility must be often repreffed or directed; to encourage it by premature or unnatural means, is certainly hurtful. They refemble fome luxuriant foils which may be enriched beyond a wholefome fertility, till weeds are their only produce; weeds, the more to be regretted, as, in the language of a novellift himself," they grow in the foil from which virtue fhould "have fprung."
PECULIAR FEATURES of ENGLISH LANDSCAPE.
[From the First Volume of Gilpin's Obfervations relative chiefly to Picturefque Beauty.]
NE of thefe peculiar features arifes from the inter. mixture of wood and cultivation, which is found oftener in English landscape, than in the landscape of other countries. In France, in Italy, in Spain, and in most other places, cultivation, and wood have their feparate limits. Trees grow in detached wood; and cultivation
occupies vaft, unbounded common fields. But in England, the cuf tom of dividing property by hedges, and of planting hedge-rows, fo univerfally prevails, that almost wherever you have cultivation, there also you have wood.
"Now although this regular intermixture produces often deformity on the nearer grounds; yet, at a distance
a distance it is the fource of great beauty. On the fpor, no doubt, and even in the firit diftances, the marks of the fpade, and the plough; the hedge, and the ditch; toge ther with all the formalities of hedge-row trees, and fquare divifions of property, are difgutting in a high degree. But when all thefe regular forms are foftened by diftance-when hedge-row trees begin to unite, and lengthen into ftreaks along the horizon-when farm houfes, and ordinary buildings lofe all their vulgarity of fhape, and are scattered about, in formlef fpots, through the feveral parts of a distance-it is inconceivable what richness, and beauty, this mafs of deformity, when melted together, lds to landfcape. One vaft tract of wild, uncultivated country, unlefs either varied by large parts, or under fome peculiar circumftances of light, cannot produce the effect. Nor is it produced by unbounded tracts of cultivation; which, without the intermixture of wood, cannot give richness to diftance. Thus English landscape affords a fpecies of rich diftance, which is rarely to be found in any other country.You have like wife from this intermixture of wood and cultivation, the advantage of being fure to find a tree or two, on the foreground, to adorn any beautiful view you may meet with in the distance.
"Another peculiar feature in the landscape of this country, arifes from the great quantity of English oak, with which it abounds. The gak of no country has equal beauty nor does any tree andwer all the purposes of fcenery fo well. The oak is the noblest ornament of a fore-ground; fpreading, from fide to de, its tortuous branches; and foliage, rich with fome autumnal
tint. In a distance alfo it appears with equal advantage; forming itfelf into beautiful clumps, varied more in fhape: and perhaps more in colour, than the clumps of any other tree. The pine of Italy has its beauty, hanging over the broken pediment of fome ruined temple. The chefnut of Calabria is confecrated by adorning the foregrounds of Salvator. The elm, the afh, and the beech, have all their refpective beauties: but no tree in the foreft is adapted to all the purposes of landfcape, like English oak.
Among the peculiar features of English landscape, may be added the embellifhed garden, and parkfcene. In other countries the en virons of great houfes are yet uns der the direction of formality. The wonder-working hand of art, with it's regular cafcades, fpouting fountains, flights of terraces, and other archievements, hath ftill poffeffion of the gardens of kings, and princes. In England alone the model of nature is adopted.
This is a mode of fcenery intirely of the fylvan kind. As we feek a mong the wild works of nature for the fublime, we feek here for the beautiful: and where there is a variety of lawn, wood, and water; and thefe naturally combined; and not too much decorated with buildings, nor difgraced by fantastic or naments; we find a fpecies of landfcape, which no country, but England, can difplay in fuch perfection: not only becaufe this just tafte in decoration prevails no where elfe; but alfo, because no where elfe are found fuch proper materials. The want of English oak, as we have just observed, never be made up, in this kind of landscape efpecially. Nor do we any where find fo clofe and rich a Η HA
verdure. An eafy fwell may, every where, be given to ground: but it cannot every where be covered with a velvet turf, which conftitutes the beauty of an embelliflied lawn.
"The moisture, and vapoury heavinefs of our atmofphere, which produces the rich verdure of our lawns; gives birth alfo to another peculiar feature in English landfcape that obfcurity, which is often thrown over diftance. In warmer climates especially, the air is purer. Thofe mits and vapours which fteam from the ground at night, are difperfed with the morning-fun. Under Italian fkies very remote objects are feen with great diftinétneis. And this mode of vifion, no doubt, has it's beauty; as have all the works, and all the operations of nature. But, at beft, this is only one mode of vilion. groffer atmosphere (which likewife hath it's feafons of purity) exhibits various modes; fome of which are in themselves more beautiful, than the most diftin&t vilion.
"The feveral degrees of obfcurity, which the heavinefs of our atmosphere gives to landfcape, may be reduced to three-hazinefs, mifts, and fogs.
"Hazinefs juft adds that light, grey tint that thin, dubious veil, which is often beautifully fpread over landscape. It hides nothing. It only fweetens the hues of nature -it gives a confequence to every common object, by giving it a more indiftinct form-it corrects the glare of colours-it foftens the harfhnefs of lines; and above all, it throws over the face of landscape that harmonizing tint, which blends the whole into unity, and repofc.
"Milt goes farther. It fpreads ftill more obfcurity over the face of nature. As hazinefs foftens, and adds a beauty perhaps to the
correcteft form of landscape; mift is adapted to thofe landicapes, in which we want to hide much; to foften more: and to throw many parts into a greater distance, than they naturally occupy.
"Even the fog, which is the highest degree of a grofs atmos phere, is not without it's beauty in landscape; efpecially in the mountain-fcenes, which are fo much the objects of the following remarks. When partial, as it often is, the effect is grandeft. When fome vast promontory, iffuing from a cloud of vapour, with which all it's upper parts are blended, fhoots into a lake; the imagination is left at a lofs to difcover, whence it comes, or to what height it afpires. The effect rifes with the obfcurity, and the view is fometimes wonderfully great.
"To the fe natural features, which are, in a great degree, peculiar to the landscape of England, we may laitly add another, of the artificial kind-the ruins of abbeys; which, being naturalized to the foil, might indeed, without much impropriety, be claffed among it's natural beauties.
"Ruins are commonly divided into two kinds; caftles, and abbeys. Of the former few countries perhaps can produce fo many, as this ifland; for which various caufes may be affigned. The feudal fyftem, which lafted long in England, and was carried high, produced a number of calles in every part. King Stephen's reign contributed greatly to multiply them. And in the northern counties, the continual wars with Scotland had the fame effect. Many of thefe buildings, now fallen into decay, remain objects of great beauty.