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I would not be the villain that thou think'st
space that's in the tyrant's grasp
Macbeth, Act IV. Sc. 3.
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,
Mourning Bride, Act I. Sc. 1. And this leads to a second observation, that 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, for example, 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 Çid of Corneille, Don Diegue having been affronted in a cruel manner, expresses scarcely any sentiment of revenge, but is totally occupied in contemplating the low situation to which he is reduced by the affront:
O rage! ô désespoir! ô vieillesse ennemie !
Le Cid, Act I. Sc. 7 These sentiments are certainly not the first that are suggested by the passion of resentment. 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 scarcely 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 Aminta 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,
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 his 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, in that case, vibrating like a pendulum, vents itself in sentiments that partake of the same vibration. This I give as a hird observation :
Queen. 'Would I had never trod this English earth,
Henry VIII. Act III. Sc. I.
Desdemona. I will not stay t'offend you. (going.
Lodovico. Truly, an obedient lady:
Concerning this, Sir-oh well painted passion!
—Hence, avaunt ! (Exit Desdemona
Othello, Ac IV. Sc. 1.
Othello. Yes, 'tis Æmilia-By and by-She's deud.
Othello, Act V. Sc. 2. A fourth observation is, that 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, of which every one is ashamed, and endeavors to hide or dissemble. Even love, however laudable, is attended with a conscious shame when it becomes immoderate: it is covered from the world, and disclosed only to the beloved object :
Et l'amour souvent de remors combattu,
Boileau, L'Art Poét. Chant. 3. 1. 101.
Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act I. Sc. 2. Hence a capital rule in the representation of immoderate passions, that they ought to be hid or dissembled as much as possible. And chis holds in an especial manner with respect to criminal passions : one never counsels the commission of a crime in plain terms: guilt must not appear in its native colors, even in thought: the proposal must be made by hints, and by representing the action in some favorable light of the propriety of sentiment upon such an occasion, Shakspeare, in the Tempest, has given us a beautiful example, in a speech by the usurping Duke of Milan, advising Sebastian to murder his brother the King of Naples : Antonio
Tempest, Act II. Sc. 1.
K. John. Come hither, Hubert. O my gentle Hubert,
* See Chap. 2. Part 7.
There is a soul counts thee her creditor,
Hubert. I am much bounden to your Majesty.
K. John. Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet-
K. John. Do not I know thou wouldst?
King John, Act III. Sc. 3. As things are best illustrated by their contraries, I proceed to faulty sentiments, disdaining to be indebted for examples to any but the most approved authors. The first class shall consist of sentiments that accord not with the passion; or, in other words, sentiments that the passion does not naturally suggest. In the second class, shall be ranged sentiments that may belong to an ordinary passion, but unsuitable to it as tinctured by a singular character Thoughts that properly are not sentiments, but rather descriptions, make a third. Sentiments that belong to the passion represented, but are faulty as being introduced too early or too late, make a fourth. Vicious sentiments exposed in their native dress, instead of being concealed or disguised, make a fifth. And in the last class, shall be collected sentiments suited to no character nor passion, and therefore unnatural.
The first class contains faulty sentiments of various kinds, which
O my soul's joy!
Othello, Act II. Sc. 1.
Philaster. Place me, some god, upon a pyramid
Philaster of Beaumont and Fletcher, Act IV. Second. Sentiments below the tone of the passion. Ptolemy, by putting Pompey to death, having incurred the displeasure of Cæsar, was in the utmost dread of being dethroned: in that agitating situation, Corneille makes him utter a speech full of cool reflection, hat is in no degree expressive of the passion.
Ah! si je t'avois cru, je n'aurois pas de maître,
La Mort de Pompée, Act IV. Sc. 1.
Third. Sentiments that agree not with the tone of the passion; as where a pleasant sentiment is grafted upon a painful passion, or the contrary. In the following instances the sentiments are too gay for a serious passion :
No happier task these faded eyes pursue;
Eloisa to Abelard, 1. 47.