Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

but carefully concealed from his mistress the manner in which he had been employed. He never approached her without the utmost respect, and the usual obeisances of a lacquey of the old regime; and he passed his nights in a small outhouse.

Misfortune had soured a temper, naturally haughty, and she frequently scolded the faithful creature for staying away so long, and leaving her quite unattended. To these reproaches he never made the least reply, continuing, till her death, the same affectionate ministration to her necessities.

With this affecting story, Dumont became acquainted by mere accident. It was too late, however, to force relief upon the unbending spirit of the Marquise, who, nevertheless, by a singular sophistry in her pride, condescended to receive it at the hands of her former servant, assuring herself, that she could reward and indemnify him, upon her return (which she so fondly expected) to her wealth and territory. Dumont, much to his honour, made the faithful creature, whose cares had lengthened out her life, comfortable for the residue of his own.

I was pleased with an ingenious argument of Dumont's upon the question,--whether the art of acting was rendered more perfect, when the actor himself felt the passions of the scene? Dumont contended that the maxim of Horace,

“ Si vis me flere, dolendum est prius," &c. &c. &c.

was wholly inapplicable to the theatre. The true painter, he said, selects only from Nature, that which is picturesque, or fit to be painted. If he cannot find it in Nature, as is frequently the case, he combines that which is consonant to Nature, or at least that which does not degrade her, with that which she furnishes to his hands. So, a good actor, when he represents the stormy rage, or the fixed despair, or the sudden sorrows of humanity, must not watch, and literally copy, the exact effects of those emotions in their actual operation on the countenance, the voice, the gesture, but he will naturally consider what is most befitting to human dignity in his representation of those passions. Were he to watch their operations in common and domestic life; were he, for example, to transcribe, exactly, the effect really produced there by some instantaneous stroke of grief, and faithfully imitate the workings of it, he would represent what is essentially deformed and unseemly; for grief, as well as the other violent passions, is deformity, producing attitudes that are ungraceful, and unfit to be copied. The maternal grief of the Niobe is the beau-ideal of grief-not as it would, in real life, be expressed by a mother, who suddenly sees her children prostrated by the bolts of heaven. It is the grief most becoming our -nature; the most exalted species of it, which holds forth man as a being, not debased by affliction, but still claiming the compassion of Heaven, and the reverence of his fellow-creatures. Whereas, the actor, whose nerves are so weak that he really feels the emotions, which it is his province only to excite in others, will represent their natural, not their moral or picturesque effect. He will blubbers

and whine, and display sorrow, not in its grand and majestic outlines, but in puny and disgusting details; and, according to the degree of indolence, which he permits to his sensibilities, will he recede from the perfection of his art.

ROGERS, THE POET.

The author of the “ Pleasures of Memory ” was not, when I knew him, some years ago, the indefatigable punster it is now the fashion to represent him. He was addicted to a dry and often bitter sarcasm, which was not much relished; but his conversation sparkled with anecdote, and his criticisms were characterised by a severe and discriminating taste. He used to confess, that in his poetical compositions, he was far from being a Lord Fanny.* His verses were beaten rather than cast. A couplet often cost him considerable labour-some persons said, not unfrequently, a fortnight. This is, I think, sufficiently

* “ Lord Fanny spins a thousand such a day.”

PoPE. .

« AnteriorContinuar »