페이지 이미지

sound seems an echo to the sense. Where the objects are common, and the subject without passion, the pronunciation ought to be plain, simple, and narrative; but where the objects are grand, sublime, and terrific, the delivery ought to assume those emotions which the objects naturally excite. Where we describe passion, our pronunciation must be impassioned, and thus we shall paint or draw a picture as it were of the objects or transactions we delineate. Those who perceive the necessity and beauty of this rhetorical colouring, and yet want taste and discernment to know where to bestow it, and in what degree, generally overcharge the picture, and give such a caricature as disgusts us more than a total absence of every ornament. Great care therefore must be taken in the delivery of description, that we do not become actors instead of describers, and mimics instead of relaters.

Cicero's character of Catiline is a well known instance of this figure.

He had the appearance of the greatest virtues; he made use of many ill men to carry on his designs, and pretended to be in the interest of the best men; he had a very engaging behaviour, and did not want industry or application; he gave into the greatest dissoluteness, but was a good soldier. Nor do I believe there ever was the like monster in the world, made up of such jarring and repugnant qualities and inclinations. Who at one time was more acceptable to the best men, and who more intimate with the worst? Who was once a better patriot, and who a greater enemy to this state? Who more devoted to pleasures, who more patient in labours? Who more rapacious, and yet more profuse? He suited himself to the humours of all he conversed with; was serious with the reserved, and pleasant with the jocose; grave with the aged, and facetious with the young; bold with the daring, and extravagant with the profligate.

This description of Catiline, though uncommonly strong and animated, contains no striking imagery, no objects of terrour or surprise, no traits of passion or emotion, and therefore requires nothing in the pro

nunciation but a plainness and distinctness; long pauses between the contrasted parts, and a somewhat higher tone of voice in the former than the latter, in order the better to show the opposition: thus the clause, Who at one time was more acceptable to the best men, should be pronounced in a more elevated tone than, and who more intimate with the worst? and so of the rest.

But in his description of the behaviour of Verres to a Roman citizen in the island of Sicily, we must accompany the words with every passion excited by the objects, or we shall deprive the passage of its greatest force and beauty.

The unhappy man, arrested as he was going to embark for his native country, is brought before the wicked prætor. With eyes darting fury, and a countenance distorted with cruelty, he orders the belpless victim of his rage to be stripped, and rods to be brought; accusing him, but without the least shadow of evidence, or even of suspicion, of having come to Sicily as a spy. It was in vain that the unhappy man cried out, "I am a Roman citizen! I have served under Lucius Pretius, who is now at Panormus, and will attest my innocence!" The blood-thirsty prætor, deaf to all he could urge in his own defence, ordered the infa mous punishment to be inflicted. Thus, fathers, was an innocent Roman citizen publicly mangled with scourging, whilst the only words he utter ed, amidst his cruel sufferings, were, “I am a Roman citizen!" With these he hoped to defend himself from violence and infamy; but of so little service was this privilege to him, that, while he was thus asserting his citizenship, the order was giving for his execution upon the cross!

The beginning of this passage should be accompanied with pity, and something of the dismay of a person under the unhappy circumstances described. The description of the prætor should have a tincture of that fierceness in it which is so strongly marked. It was in vain the unhappy man cried out, I am a Roman citizen! &c. should be pronounced in a loud, complaining tone; and at The blood-thirsty prætor, the

voice must again assume a tincture of the fierce. The address to the judges should be pronounced in a lower and more tranquil tone, partaking strongly of the grief such a scene must excite in every generous breast; and the conclusion, for his execution upon the cross, must be accompanied with a low, hoarse tone of voice, expressive of that horror every Roman must feel to have a citizen suffer a death destined to the meanest slaves. How little did the orator suspect that this death, the ignominy of which seems to make him shudder, was soon to become the joy and exultation of the world!

Instances of the hypotyposis in verse are innumerable. Description seems the province of poetry. The scenery of nature naturally inspires us with numbers, and these numbers heighten and embellish the beauties of nature.

What can be more beautiful than the picture of a country life drawn by Virgil, and copied by Dryden,

Here easy quiet, a secure retreat,

A harmless life, that knows not how to cheat,
With home-bred plenty the rich owner bless,
And rural pleasures crown his happine-s.
Unvex'd with quarrels, undisturb'd with noise,
The country king his peaceful realm enjoys ;
Cool grots and living lakes, the flow'ry pride
Of meads, and streams that through the valley glide;
And shady groves, that easy sleep invite,
And, after toilsome days, a sweet repose at night.

Georg. b. ii. v. 467.

This passage presents us with no sounding epithets, no animated strokes of passion; but a judicious reader will not therefore suppose it devoid of expression: he will consider the disposition such a scene would excite in the mind, and accompany his pronunciation

with such tones as express this disposition. The tranquillity of this scene, therefore, must be expressed by a soft, easy tone bordering on the plaintive; it admits of little or no variety, except dwelling a little longer than common on the word cool, the sound of which, it is presumed, is somewhat expressive of the sense. Milton's description of rural solitude is a masterpiece of this kind.

And when the sun begins to fling
His flaring beams, me, goddess, bring
To arched walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown that sylvan loves,

Of pine or monumental oak,
Where the rude axe, with heaved stroke,
Was never heard the nymphs to daunt,
Or fright them from their hallow'd haunt;
There in close covert, by some brook,
Where no profaner eye may look,
Hide me from day's garish eye,
While the bee, with honey'd thigh,
That at her flow'ry work doth sing,
And the waters murmuring,
With such concert as they keep,
Entice the dewy-feather'd sleep.

n Penseroso.

The first line, and as far of the second as to beams, must be pronounced in a tone expressive of splendour ; the succeeding part of the line, and what follows it, must assume a cool, tranquil tone as far as haunt; then the voice must fall into a lower tone approaching to a monotone, and proceed softly and slowly to the


The description of a lady's toilet, in Pope's Rape of the Lock, is superlatively fine.

And now unveil'd the toilet stands display'd,
Each silver vase in mystic order laid
First rob'd in white, the nymph intent adores,
With head uncover'd, the cosmetic pow'rs:
A heav'nly image in the glass appears,

[ocr errors]

To that she bends, to that her eyes she rears.
Th' inferior priestess, at her altar's side,
Trembling begins the sacred rites of pride.
Unnumber'd treasures ope at once, and here
The various off'rings of the world appear.
From each she nicely culls with curious toil,
And decks the goddess with the glitt'ring spoil;
This casket India's glowing gems unlocks,
And all Arabia breathes from yonder box;
The tortoise here and elephant unite,
Transform'd to combs, the speckled and the white.
Here files of pins extend their shining rows,
Puffs, powders, patches, bibles, billet-doux.
Now awful beauty puts on all its arms,
The fair each moment rises in her charms,
Repairs her smiles, awakens every grace,
And calls forth all the wonders of her face!
Sees by degrees a purer blush arise,
And keener lightning quicken in her eyes.
The busy sylphs surround their darling care :
These set the head, and those divide the hair;
Some fold the sleeve, while others plait the gown;
And Betty's prais'd for labours not her own.

This passage requires no great variety of voice, but admits of considerable variety of expression; and, as the style is mock-heroic, this expression may be much stronger than if the composition were simple and unaffected. A dignity, solemnity, and importance of voice and manner must describe the toilet and the nymph's approach to it, in the first six lines; but the fourth couplet must be expressive of the dread and caution with which a timid servant assists a haughty beauty. The succeeding couplet must have all the splendour of pronunciation intimated by its objects, and the next two lines must abate of this splendour, to express the curious toil with which each is culled. The next four lines are to be as splendid and glowing as possible. The files of pins must shine

« 이전계속 »