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In the representation of Ajax in a Phrenzy, the spectators took such violent impressions from the acting Dancer who represented him, that they perfectly broke out into outcries ; strip, ped, as it were, to fight, and actually came to blows among each other, as if they had caught their rage from what was paffing on the theatre.
“ At another time they melted into tears at the tender affliction of Hecuba.
" And upon whom were these lively impressions produced ? Upon the Cotemporaries of Mecenas, of Lucullus, Auguftus, Virgil, and Pollio; upon men of the most refined taste, whose criticism was as severe as their approbation was honourable ;: who never fpared their censure or their applause where either was due. How, especially under the eyes of Horace, could any thing pass the approbation of the public, unless under the seal of excellence in point of art and good taste? Would Augustus have declared himself the special patron of a kind of entertainment, that had been deficient as to probability and genius? Would Metenas, the protector of Virgil, and of all the fine arts, have been pleased with a fight that was not á striking imitation of beautiful nature ?"
In this place our Author_has unhappily taken up arms against his own argument. Pantomimes were indeed greatly encouraged in the time of Horace, but that Critic was so far from affording them any countenance, that he condemns the reigning depravity of taste which had substituted these to oral entertainments.
-migravit ab aure voluptas Omnis ad incertos oculos et gaudia vana. This the Poet scruples not to say to that very Augustus, whom Mr. Gallini affirms to have been the great patron of the Pantomime Art. It is true that Pantomimes were not altogether discouraged by Auguftus and Mecenas, more particularly the latter, whose freedman was Bathyllus, the principal of the Pantomimes. But the countenance, or rather the connivance, which these great men Thewed to this art, proceeded most probably from a political view. While the attention of the people was taken up with bulls and bears and Pantomimes, arbitraty power was fortifying herself un. noticed. Nay, the very conductors of the Pantomimes seem to have been sensible to what they owed their encouragement; for when their party-quarrels had made great disturbance Rey, May, 1962.
among the people, and Auguftus had sentenced Pylades, a principal of one of the Pantomime parties, to banishment, ( Why, faid the Dancer to the Emperor, do not you let the people amuse themselves with our quarrels ?”
It muft be owned, however, in favour of these Pantomimes, that they had brought their theatrical dumb-lhew to a perfection scarce conceivable to us. It is even aftonishing, if it be true, what Athenæus tells us, that Memphir, a Pythagorean philosopher, expressed by Dancing all the excellence of the philosophy of Pythagoras, with more elegance, more clearness, and energy, than the most eloquent Professor of Philosophy could have done : but surely this was impossible !
Nay, we are told, that even the rigid Cynic, who came with an intention to damn their performances, was so overpowered by the expressive force of their action, that he joined in applauding them.
“ It was in the reign of Nero that a Cynical mock-philofopher, called Demetrius, saw, for the first time, one of these Pantomime compositions. Struck with the truth of the representation, he could not help expressing the greatest marks of astonishment; but whether his pride made him feel a sort of shame for the admiration he had involuntarily shewn, or whether naturally envious and selfish, he could not bear the cruel pain of being forced to approve any thing but his own fingularities. He attributed to the mufic the strong impreffion that had been made upon him. As in that reign a false philosophy very naturally had a greater influence than the real, this man was, it feems, of consequence enough for the managers of the Dances to take notice of his partiality, or at least to be piqued enough, for their own honour, to lay a scheme for undeceiving him. He was once more brought to their theatre, and feated in a conspicuous part of the house, without his having been acquainted with their intention.
“ The Orchestra began; an actor opens the Scene ; on the moment of his entrance the symphony ceases, and the representation continues. Without any aid but that of the steps, the positions of the body, the movements of the arms, the piece is performed ; in which are fuccessively represented the amours of Mars and Venus, the fun discovering them to the jealous Husband of the Goddess, the snares which he sets for his faithless Spouse and her formidable Gallant; the quick effect of the treacherous net, which, while it compleats the revenge of Vulcan, only publishes his fhame, the confusion
of Venus, the rage of Mars, the arch mirth of the Gods, who came to enjoy the sight.
« The whole audience gave to the performance its due applause; but the Cynic, out of himself, could not help crying out in a transport of delight, No! this is not a representation ; it is the very thing itself.”
The following little story will give our Readers a still morc agreeable idea of that perfection to which the Ancients had brought the Pantomimic Art.
“Pylades had been publickly challenged by Hylas, once a pupil of his, to represent the greatness of Agamemnon. Hylas came upon the stage with buskins, which, in the nature of stilts, inade him of an artificial height; in consequence of which he greatly over-topped the crowd of actors who surrounded him. This passed well enough till Pylades appeared, with an air stern and majestic. His serious step, his arms a-cross, his motion sometimes flow, sometimes animated, with pauses full of meaning, his looks now fixed on the ground, now lifted to heaven, with all the attitudes of profound penfiveness, painted strongly a man taken up with great things, which he was meditating, weighing, and comparing, with all the dignity of kingly importance. The spectators, ftruck with the juftness, with the 'energy, and real elevation of so expresfive a portraiture, unanimously adjudged the preference to Pylades, who coolly turning to Hylas, said to him, Young man, we had to represent a King, who commanded over twenty Kings; you made him tall, I fewed him great."
But notwithstanding all that may be said in behalf of the antient Pantomimes, we must own that we should be sorry to see them encouraged to any great degree in our own times, and in our own country; for we could not help looking upon such an event as ominous of the total decay of letters and good taste. However, in a country where opulence has diffused luxury through all ranks of people, the mob will generally direct the taste of public diverfions. Hence our numerous ridiculous Farces ! And hence, in process of time, it is possible that Shakespear may be driven off the stage, tò make way for a Greenland Bear!
The accounts which our Author has given us of the differa ent kinds of Dances, in different countries, are not unenter. taining. But the spirit of Dancing, it seems, prevails no where so much as in Africa.
356 An Elegy, written ainong the Tombs in Westminster Abbey.
“ Upon the Gold-Coast especially, the inhabitants are fo passionately fond of it, that in the midst of their hardest labour, if they hear a person sing, or any musical instrument played, they cannot refrain from dancing.
" There are even well-attested stories of fome Negroes Ainging themselves at the feet of an European playing on a fiddle, entreating him to desist, unless he had a mind to tire them to death; it being impossible for them to cease dancing whilft he continued playing. Such is the irresistible passion for dancing
The Americans too have their peculiar Dances.
" In Peru the manner of dancing has something very particular. Instead of laying any stress on the motion of the arms, in most of their Dances, their arms hang down, or are wrapped up in a kind of mantle, so that nothing is seen but the bending of the body, and the activity of the feet. They have, however, many Figure Dances, in which they lay aside their cloaks or mantles; but the graces they add are rather actions than geftures.
Among the Savages of North America, we are told, there are various Dances practised, such as that of the Calumet, the Leader's Dance, the War-Dance, the Marriage-Dance, the Sacrifice-Dance, all which respectively differ in the movements; and fome, amidst all the wildness of their performance, are not without their graces. But the Dance of the Calumet is esteemed the finelt; this is used at the reception of strangers whom they mean to honour, or of Ambassadors to them on public occasions. This Dance is commonly executed in an oval figure.
Thus far we have attended Mr. Gallini in his ingenious Treatise on Dancing, partly from our own real estimation of the art, but more out of complaisance to our Fair Readers ; on whose account we have not been afraid of giving some propriety to that curious line of the present Laureate, -learn to DANCE from Journals and Reviews."
An Elegy, written among the Tombs in Westminster Abbey. 4to.
6d. Dodsley. It T has been truly observed, that there never was a good Poet
who did not make a multitude of bad ones. The success of genius in any particular species of writing, sets all the little
Wits at work'; and, like the Frog in the Fable, they strut and
Hail, hallow'd Fane! amid whose mould'ring Shrines
Her Vigils musiog Melancholy keeps,
And o'er the spoils of human Grandeur weeps.
Hail, aweful Edifice! thine ayles along,
In Contemplation wrapt, o let me ilray !
Serenely meditate the moral Lay.
Far hence be banish'd every note profane,
Where Heaven-inspir'd Devoción loves to raise
Attun'd co celebrate Jehovah's Praise.
upon the Muse, No making a Poem without that; d'ye
Come, heavenly Muse, awake the plaintive string,
Motion of the Mind controul ;
And with thy Pathos pure poffefs my soul.
What pleasing Sadness fills my thoughtful breast,
Whene'er my steps these vaulted Mansions trace ;
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