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CONCERNING DRAMATIC MANNERS-WHAT CONSTITUTES THEM-MAN
NERS OF OTHELLO, MACBETH, HAMLET THOSE OF THE AST QUESTIONED, AND WHY-CONSISTENCY REQUIRED-YET SOMETIMES BLAMEABLE, AND WHY-GENUINE MANNERS IN SHAKSPEARE-IN LILLOMANNERS, MORALLY BAD, POETICALLY GOOD.
When the principal persons of any drama preserve such a consistency of conduct, (it matters not whether that conduct be virtuous or vicious,) that, after they have appeared for a scene or two, we conjecture what they will do hereafter from what they have done already, such persons in poetry may be said to have manners, for by this, and this only, are poetic manners constituted."
To explain this assertion by recurring to instances : As soon as we have seen the violent love and weak credulity of Othello, the fatal jealousy, in which they terminate, is no more than what we may conjecture. When we have marked the attention paid by Macbeth to the witches, to the persuasions of his wife, and to the flattering dictates of his own ambition, we suspect something atrocious; nor are we surprised that, in the event, he murders Duncan, and then Banquo. Had he changed his conduct, and been only wicked by halves, his manners would not have been as they now are, poetically good.
If the leading person in a drama, for example Hamlet, appear to have been treated most injuriously, we naturally infer that he will meditate revenge ; and should that revenge prove fatal to those who had injured him, it is no more than was probable, when we consider the provocation.
But should the same Hamlet by chance kill an innocent old man—an old man from whom he had never received offence, and with whose daughter he was actually in love-what should we expect then? Should we not look for compassion, I might add, even for compunction? Should we not be shocked, if, in
4 'Έστι δε ήθος μέν το τοιούτον, και δηλοί ένιοι των λόγων: “for which reason some την προαίρεσιν οποία τις εστίν, εν οίς ούκ of the dramatic dialogues have no manners έστι δηλον, ει προαιρείται, ή φεύγει και at all." λέγων: “ Manners or character is that And this well explains another account which discovers what the determination of manners given in the same book : td (of a speaker) will be, in matters where it did non, kad å holous Tivas elyai pájev is not yet manifest, whether he chooses to Toùs apátTortas : “manners are those quado a thing, or to avoid it.' Aristot. Poet lities through which we say, the actors are c. 6. p. 231. edit. Sylb.
men of such or such a character.” Ibid. It was from our being unable, in the Bossu, in his Traité du Poeme Epique, persons of some dramas, to conjecture what has given a fine and copious commentary they will determine, that the above author on this part of Aristotle's Poetics. See his immediately adds, dióhep oỦk é xovoty hoos work, 1. iv. c. 4, 5, &c.
stead of this, he were to prove quite insensible, or (what is even worse) were he to be brutally jocose ?
Here the manners are blameable, because they are inconsistent; we should never conjecture from Hamlet any thing so unfeelingly cruel.
Nor are manners only to be blamed for being thus inconsistent. Consistency itself is blameable, if it exhibit human beings completely abandoned ; completely void of virtue; prepared, like king Richard, at their very birth, for mischief. It was of such models that a jocose critic once said, they might make good devils, but they could never make good men : not (says he) that they want consistency, but it is of a supernatural sort, which human nature never knew.
Quodcumque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi. Those who wish to see manners in a more genuine form, may go to the characters already alleged in the preceding chapter;" where, from our previous acquaintance with the several parties, we can hardly fail, as incidents arise, to conjecture their future behaviour.
We may find also manners of this sort in the Fatal Curiosity. Old Wilmot and his wife discover affection for one another; nor is it confined here they discover it for their absent son ; for his beloved Charlotte; and for their faithful servant Randal. Yet, at the same time, from the memory of past affluence, the pressure of present indigence, the fatal want of resources, and the cold ingratitude of friends, they shew to all others (the few above excepted) a gloomy, proud, unfeeling misanthropy.
In this state of mind, and with these manners, an opportunity offers, by murdering an unknown stranger, to gain them immense treasure, and place them above want. As the measure was at once both tempting and easy, was it not natural that such a wife should persuade, and that such a husband should be persuaded? We may conjecture from their past behaviour what part they would prefer, and that part, though morally wicked, is yet poetically good; because here, all we require is a suitable consistence.
We are far from justifying assassins. Yet assassins, if truly drawn, are not monsters, but human beings; and as such, being chequered with good and with evil, may by their good move our pity, though their evil cause abhorrence.
But this in the present case is not all. The innocent parties, made miserable, exhibit a distress which comes home; a distress which, as mortals, it is impossible we should not feel. Sunt lacrymæ rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt."
See p. 433.
quotations from different parts of this af. See
fecting tragedy, what is asserted in various + See above.
parts of these Inquiries. But the intention u It was intended to illustrate, by large was laid aside, (at least in greater part,) by refecting that the tragedy was easily to be του λόγου δεί παρασκευασθήναι" μέρη δε procured, being modern, and having passed τούτων, τό, τε αποδεικνύναι, και το λύειν, through several editions, one particularly και το πάθη παρασκευάζειν, οίον έλεον, η 80 late as in the year 1775, when it was póßov, opriv, kał 8oa Tolaūta, kal éri printed with Lillo's other dramatic pieces. μέγεθος και σμικρότητα: “All those things
CONCERNING DRAMATIC SENTIMENT - WHAT CONSTITUTES IT — Cox
NECTED WITH MANNERS, AND HOW — CONCERNING SENTIMENT, GNOMOLOGIC, OR PRECEPTIVE-ITS DESCRIPTION-SOMETIMES HAS REASON ANNEXED TO IT SOMETIMES LAUDABLE, SOMETIMES BLAMEABLE-WHOM IT MOST BECOMES TO UTTER IT, AND WHY — BOSSUM TRANSITION TO DICTION.
FROM manners we pass to sentiment; a word which, though sometimes confined to mere gnomology, or moral precept, was often used by the Greeks in a more comprehensive meaning, including every thing for which men employ language; for proving and solving; for raising and calming the passions; for exaggerating and depreciating; for commands, monitions, prayers, narratives, interrogations, answers, &c. &c. In short, sentiment, in this sense, means little less than the universal subjects of our discourse.
It was under this meaning the word was originally applied to the drama, and this appears not only from authority, but from fact: for what can conduce more effectually than discourse to establish with precision dramatic manners and characters!
To refer to a play already mentioned, the Fatal Curiosity: When old Wilmot discharges his faithful servant from pure affection, that he might not starve him, how strongly are his manners delineated by his sentiments? The following are among his monitions:
If any one read this tragedy, the author belong to sentiment (or didvora) that are to of these Inquiries has a request or two to be performed through the help of discourse: make, for which he hopes a candid reader now the various branches of these things will forgive him: one is, not to cavil at are to prove, and to solve, to excite passions, minute inaccuracies, but ook to the supe- (such as pity, fear, anger, and the like,) rior merit of the whole taken together ; an- and, besides this, to magnify, and to diother is, totally to expunge those wretched minish.” Arist. Poet. c. 19. p. 245. edit. rhymes which conclude many of the scenes; Sylb. and which it is probable are not from Lillo, We have here chosen the fullest descrip but from some other hand, willing to con- tion of diávoia ; but in the same work there form to an absurd fashion, then practised, are others more concise, which yet express but now laid aside, the fashion (I mean) of the same meaning. In the sixth chapter a rhyming conclusion.
we are told it is, το λέγειν δύνασθαι τα x There are two species of sentiment ενόντα και τα αρμόττοντα, « to be able to successively here described, both called in say (that is, to express justly) such things English either a sentiment or a sentence, as necessarily belong to a subject, or properly and in Latin sententia. The Greeks were suit it.” And again, soon after: Aldvora more exact, and to the different species as- oè, èv ols åtodelkVÚOvoi tu, 's čotiv, 1 ds signed different names, calling the one διά- ουκ έστιν, ή καθόλου τι αποφαίνονται : νοια, the other γνώμη.
“Aldvola, or sentiment, exists, where men deOf yróun we shall speak hereafter: of monstrate any thing either to be, or not to Sidrola their descriptions are as follows: be ; or through which they assert any thing "EoTi dè katà Thy sievolay Taütc, ova in general, or universal.” Ibid. p. 231.
Shun my example ; treasure up my precepts ;
The world's before thee; be a knave and prosper. The young man, shocked at such advice from a master whose virtues he had been accustomed so long to venerate, ventures modestly to ask him,
Where are your former principles ? The old man's reply is a fine picture of human frailty; a striking, and yet a natural blending of friendship and misanthropy; of particular friendship, of general misanthropy:
No matter (says he) for principles ;
Is his own bubble, and undoes himself. He departs with these expressions, but leaves the young man far from being couvinced.
The suspicious gloom of age, and the open simplicity of youth, give the strongest contrast to the manners of each, and all this from the sentiments alone ; sentiments which, though opposite, are still perfectly just, as being perfectly suited to their different characters.
It is to this comprehensive meaning of sentiment that we may in a manner refer the substance of these inquiries; for such sentiment is every thing, either written or spoken.
Something, however, must be said upon that other, and more limited species of it, which I call the gnomologic, or preceptive ; a species, not indeed peculiar to the drama, but, when properly used, one of its capital ornaments.
The following description of it is taken from antiquity. A gnomologic sentiment, or precept, is an assertion or propositionnot however all assertions, as that, “ Pericles was an able statesman," "Homer a great poet;" for these assertions are particular, and such a sentiment must be general-nor yet is it every assertion, though general; as that, “ The angles of every triangle are equal to two right angles"—but it is an assertion which, though general, is only relative to human conduct, and to such objects, as in moral action we either seek or avoid.
Y We now come to the second species ούτε περί πάντων καθόλου, οιον, ότι το of sentiment, called in Greek youn, and ενθώ το καμπύλη εναντίον αλλά περί όσων which Aristotle describes much in the same αι πράξεις εισι, και αιρετά και φευκτά έστι manner as we have done in the text: 'Esti ipds to apdooelv. Arist. Rhetor. l. ii. c. 21. 8è youn årópavois, où uévtoi Tepi Tôr p. 96. edit. Sylb. So too the Scriptor. ad nad ¢kadrov, olov, moiós tis 'Ipikepérns Herennium, i. iv. e. 24. Sententia est
Among the assertions of this sort we produce the following; the precept which forbids unseasonable curiosity:
Seek not to know, what must not be reveal d. Or that which forbids unrelenting anger:
Within thee cherish not immortal ire. We remark, too, that these sentiments acquire additional strength, if we subjoin the reason. For example :
Seek not to know what must not be reveald ;
Joys only flow where fate is most conceal d. Or again :
Within thee cherish not immortal ire,
When thou thyself art mortal.? In some instances, the reason and sentiment are so blended as to be in a manner inseparable. Thus Shakspeare:
He who filches from me my good name,
But makes me poor indeed.
If sacred right should ever be infring'd,
In other things pure conscience be thy guide.a
The man's a fool, Who, having slain the father, spares the song.b These ideas are only fit for tyrants, usurpers, and other profiligate men; nor ought they to appear in a drama, but to shew such characters.
On gnomologic sentiments in general it has been observed, that though they decorate, they should not be frequent, for then the drama becomes affected and declamatory.
It has been said, too, they come most naturally from aged persons, because age may be supposed to have taught them exoratio sumpta de vita, quæ aut quid fit, aut confirmatur subjectione rationis, hoc modo: quid esse oporteat in vita, breviter ostendit, omnes bene vivendi rationes in virtute sunt hoc modo-- Liber is est existimandus, qui collocandæ, propterea quod sola virtus in nulli turpitudini servit.
sua potestate est. Scriptor. ad Heren. I. iv. 2 The first of these sentiments is taken from Dryden, the second is quoted by à Vid. Cic. de Officiis, l. ij. c. 21; who Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, l. ii. c. 22. p. 97. thus translates Euripides : edit. Sylb.
Nam si violandum est jus, regnandi gratia 'Αθάνατον οργήν μη φύλαττε, θνητός ών. Violandum est : aliis rebus pietatem colas. On this the philosopher well observes, that 6 Νήπιος, θς, πατέρα κτείνας, παίδας if the monition had been no more, than that karalelnou. Arist
. Rhet. I. i. c. 16. L iii. we should not cherish our anger for it c. 22. p. 98. edit. Sylb. had been a sentence or moral precept; but c So the same Latin rhetorician, above when the words Ovntos @v, “ being mortal,” quoted: Sententias interponi raro convenit, are added, the poet then gives us the reason, ut rei actores, non vivendi præceptores esse Td dià rl dével. Rhet. ut sup. The Latin videamur. Scriptor. ad Herenn. lib. iv. rhetorician says the same: Sed illud quod- & 25. que probandum est genus sententiæ, quod