Page images


and upon the farce which sums up the follies of an after- over which an action extends cannot be restricted by :

revolution of the earth round the sun, or of the moon round Such is not, however, the case with certain rules which the earth. have at different times been set up for this or that kind of In a drama which presents its action as one, this action drama, but which have no absolute validity for any kind. I must be complete in itself

. This law, like the first, distinThe supposed necessity that an action should consist of one guishes the dramatic action from its subject. The former event is an erroneous interpretation of the law that it should may be said to have a real artistic, while the latter has be, as an action, one. For an event is but an element in an only an imaginary real, completeness. The historian, for action, though it may be an element of decisive moment. instance, aims indeed at a complete exposition of a body of The assassination of Cæsar is not the action of a Cæsar events and transactions, and may even design to show their tragedy; the loss of his treasure is not the action of the working to a definite end; but he is aware that this aim Miser. Again, unity of action does not exclude the intro- can never be more than partially accomplished, since he duction of one or even more subsidiary actions as contri- may present only what he knows, and all human knorbuting to the progress of the main action. The sole in- ledge is partial. But art is limited by no such uncertainty. dispensable law is that these should always be treated as The dramatist, in treating an action as one, comprebends what they are—subsidiary only; and herein lies the the whole of it in the form of his work, since to him who difficulty, which Shakespeare so successfully overcame, of has conceived it, all its parts, from cause to effect, are equally solving a combination of subjects into the idea of a single clear. Accordingly, every drama should represent in action; herein also lies the danger in the use of that organic sequence the several stages of which a complete favourite device of the modern drama-bye- or under-plots. action consists, and which are essential to it. This law of On the other hand, a really double or multiple action, completeness therefore lies at the foundation of all systems logically carried out as such, is inconceivable in a single of dramatic construction. drama, though there is many a play which is palpably Every action, if conceived of as complete, has its causes, only two plays knotted into one. Every one is familiar growth, height, consequences, and close. There is no with the dramatist who towards the drop of the curtain binding law to prescribe the relative length at which these seems to be counting on his fingers whom he has killed several stages in the action should be treated in a drama, or what couples he has to marry. Thirdly, unity of action or to enforce a more or less exact correspondence between need not imply unity of hero—for hero (or heroine) is the successive presentment of each, and technical divisions, merely a term signifying the principal personage of the such as acts or scenes, which dramatic practice may find it action. And inasmuch as an action may consist in the convenient to adopt. Neither is there any law to assert joint contention of more than one will against the same any obligatory regulation of the treatment of such subsidiary obstacleas in the instance of The Seven against Thebes, actions as may be introduced in aid of the main plot, or of or Romeo and Juliet—it is only when the change in the such more or less directly connected episodes which may at degree of interest excited by different characters in a play the same time advance and relieve its progress. But experesults from a change in the conception of the action itself, rience, as the parent of usage, has necessarily from time to that the consequent duality (or multiplicity) of heroes time established certain rules of practice, from which the recalls a faulty uncertainty in the conception of the action dramatist, working under customary forms, will find it they carry on. Such is the objection applying to the neither easy, nor in most cases advantageous, to swerve too crucial case of Schiller's Don Carlos. Lastly, the entirely widely; and from the adoption of particular systems of arbitrary exactions of unity of time and of place are not, division for particular species of the drama—such as that like that of unity of action, absolute dramatic laws. Their into five acts for a regular tragedy or comedy, wbich Roman object is by representing an action as visibly continuous to example has caused to be so largely followed-has naturally render its unity more distinctly or easily perceptible; but resulted a certain uniformity of relation between the the effect of their observance cannot be to render it more conduct of an action and the outward sections of a playreally one. Thus they may in one sense be regarded as Essentially, however, there is no difference between the devices to avoid the difficulty experienced by the human laws regulating the construction of a Sophoclean or mind in regarding an action as one when the eye beholds Shakespearean tragedy, a comedy of Molière or Congreve, its different parts occurring in what are supposed to be and a well-built modern farce. And this, because all different places, or when the process of its advance from exbibit an action complete in itself. cause to effect extends over what is supposed to be a con The introduction or exposition forms an integral part of siderable period of time. But the imagination is capable the action, and is therefore to be distinguished from the proof constructing for itself the bridges necessary to preserve logue in the more ordinary sense of the term, which, like the to an action, conceived of as such, its character of con- epilogue (or the Greek parabasis), stands outside the action, tinuousness. In another sense these rules were convenient and is a mere address to the public from author or actor usages conducing to a concise and clear treatment as actions occasioned by the play. Prologue and epilogue, greatly as of subjects in themselves of a limited nature; for they they may have at times contributed to the success of a were a Greek invention, and the repeated resort to the drama, are mere external adjuncts, and have as little to do same group of myths made it expedient for a Greek poet with the construction of a play as the bill which announces to seek the subject of a single tragedy in a part oniy of one it, or the musical prelude which disposes the mind for its of the myths open to him. The observance of unity of reception. The introduction or exposition belongs to the place, moreover, was suggested to the Greeks by certain action itself; it is, as the Hindu critics called it, the seed outward conditions of their stage--as assuredly as it was or circumstance from which the business arises. Clearness adopted by the French in accordance with the construction being its primary requisite, many expedients have been at and usages of theirs, and as the neglect of it by the various times adopted to secure this feature. Thus, the Elizabethans was in their case encouraged by the established Euripidean prologue, though spoken by one of the characform of the English scene. The palpable artificiality of ters of the play, takes a narrative form, and places itself these laws needs no demonstration, so long as the true half without, half within the action of which it properly is meaning of the term action be kept in view. Of the action part. The same purpose is served by the separate inducof Othello part takes place at Venice and part at Cyprus, tions in many of our old English plays, and the preludes and yet the whole is one in itself ; while the limits of time I or prologues, or by whatever name they may call

themselves, in numberless modern dramas of all kinds - effect, in the fall everything depends upon not marring its from Faust down to the favourites of the Ambigu and the This may be ensured by a rapid progress to the close; but Adelphi. Another such expedient is that of the inductive neither does every action admit of such treatment, nor is it dumb-shows, which sought to secure rapidity together with in accordance with the character of those actions which are impressiveness of exposition by the process of pantomimic of a complicated kind. With the latter, therefore, the full summary. Such, again, are the opening scenes in French is often a return-i.e., in Aristotle's phrase, a change into tragedy between hero and confidant, and those in French the reverse of what is expected from the circumstances of comedy and its derivatives between observant valet and the action (TEPITTÉTELA), -as in Coriolunus, where the knowing lady's-maid. But it is clear how all such Roman story lends itself so admirably to dramatic demands. expedients may be rendered unnecessary by the art of the In any case the art of the dramatist is in this part of his dramatist, who is able outwardly also to present the intro-work called upon for the surest exercise of its tact and duction of his action as what it is an organic part of that skill. The effect of the climax has been to concentrato action is self; who seems to take the spectators in medias the interest; the fall must therefore, above all, avoid res while he is really building the foundations of his plot;dissipating it. The use of episodes is not even now who can dramatically account for an Iliad of woes without excluded; but they must be of a more directly significant going back to Leda's egg ; who touches in the opening of kind than is necessary in the earlier stages of the drama ; his action the chord which is to vibrate throughout its even where serving the purpose of relief they must course—“ Down with the Capulets ! down with the help to keep alive the interest previously raised to its Montagues !"_" With the Moor, sayest thou ?"

highest pitch. This may be effected by a return The introduction ends with the opening of the movement or revolution ; or again, by the raising of obstacles between of the action, a passage which it may prove highly effective the height of the action and its expected consequences, by to mark with the utmost distinctness (as in Hamlet, where the suggestion in tragedy of a seemingly possible recovery or it is clearly to be sought in the actual meeting between the escape from them (as in the wonderfully powerful construchero and the ghost), but which in other instances is advan- tion of the latter part of Macbeth), by the gradual removal tageously marked by the insertion of subsidiary action or in comedy, or wherever the interest of the action is less opisode (as in King Lear, where the opening of the move intense, of such difficulties as the growth and climax have ment of the main action would follow too sharply upon its occasioned. In all kinds of the drama discovery will remain, exposition, were not the beginning of the subsidiary action as it was in the judgment of Aristotle, a most effective of Gloster and his sons opportunely introduced between expedient; but it should be a discovery which has been them). From this point the second stage of the action-its foreshadowed by that method of treatment which in its growth-progresses to that third stage which is called its consummate master, Sophocles, has been termed luis irony. height or climax. All that has preceded the reaching of Nowhere should the close or catastrophe be other than a this constitutes that half of the drama-usually its much consequence of the action itself. Sudden revulsions from larger half-which Aristotle terms the déors, or tying of the conditions of the action-sach as the deus ex machina, the knot. The varieties in the treatment of the growth or or the revising officer of the emperor of China, or the second stage of the action are infinite, and it is here that nabob returned from India bring about-condemn themthe masters of the tragic and the comic drama-notably selves as unsatisfactory makeshifts. However sudden, and those unequalled weavers of intrigues, the Spaniards—are oven, in manner of accomplishment, surprising, may be the able most fully to exer ise their inventive faculties. If the catastrophe, it should not be unprepared, but like every growth is too rapid, the climax will fail of its effect and other part of the action should preserve its organic connecit is, therefore, at this stage that subsidiary actions, and tion with the whole. The sudden suicides which terminate episodes are most largely used ; if it is too slow, the so many tragedies, and the paternal blessings which close interest will be exhausted before the greatest demand upon an equal number of comedies, should be something more it has been made-a fault to which comedy is specially than a signal for the fall of the curtain. liable ; if it is involved or inverted, a vague uncertainty | The action of a drama, besides being one and complete will take the place of an eager or agreeable suspense, the in itself, ought likewise to be probable. The probability action will seem to halt, or a fall will begin prematurely. In required of a drama is not that of actual or historical the contrivance of the climax itself lies one of the chief experience—it is a conditional probability, or in other tests of the dramatist's art; for while in the transactions words the consistency of the course of the action with the of real life their climax is often only a matter of assumption, conditions under which, and with the characters by which, in the action of a drama its climax should present itself as the dramatist has chosen to carry it on. As to the former, self-evident. In the middle of everything, says the Greek he is fettered by no restrictions save those which he imposes poet, lies the strength; and this strongest or highest point upon himself, whether or not in deference to the usages of it is the task of the dramatist to make manifest. Much certain accepted species of dramatic composition. Ghosts here depends upon the niceties of constructive instinct ; appear neither in real life nor in dramas of real life ; but much (as in all parts of the action) upon a thorough the introduction of supernatural agency is neither enjoined dramatic transformation of the subject. The historical nor prohibited by any general dramatic law. The use of drama here presents peculiar difficulties, and perhaps the such expedients is as open to the dramatic as to any other example of Henry VIII., as compared with Shakespeare's poet; the judiciousness of his use of them depends upon other históricul plays, may be held to furnish an instructive the effect which, consistently with the general conduct of example of defective (because hasty) workmanship. his action, they will exercise upon the spectator, whom other

From the climax, or height, the action proceeds through circumstances may or may not predispose to their acceptits fall to its close, which in a drama with an unhappy ance. The ghost in Hamlet belongs to the action of the ending we still call its catastrophe, while to terminations in play; the ghost in the Persce is not intrinsically less progeneral we apply the term dénouement. This latter name bable, but the apparition seems to spring, so to speak, would, however, more properly be used in the sense in less naturally out of the atmosphere around it. Dramatic which Aristotle employs its Greek equivalent dúous—the probability has, however, a far deeper meaning than this. untying of the knot-of the whole of the second part of The Eumenides is probable with all its primitive mysterious. the action, from the climax downwards. If, in the manage-ness, and Macbeth with all its barbarous witchcraft. The ment of the climax, everything depended upon making the proceedings of the feathered builders of Cloudcuckootowa

VII. — 50

are as true to dramatic probability as are the pranks of to him as a suggestive illustration-under the operation of Overon's fairies. In other words, it is in the consistency particular circumstances. His conception, growing and of the action with the characters, and of the characters modifying itself with the progress of that of the action, with themselves, that this dramatic probability lies. The will determine the totality of the character he creates. dramatist has to represent characters affected by the pro- The likeness which the result bears to an actual or historigross of an action in a particular way, and contributing to cal personage may very probably, from secondary points of it in a particular way, because, if consistent with themselves, view, concern the success of his creation ; upon its dramatic they must be so affected, and must so act.

effect this likeness can have no influence whatever. In a Upon the invention and conduct of his characters the | different sense from that in which Shakespeare used the dramatist mnst therefore expend a great proportion of his words, it should be possible to say of every dramatic cbarlabour. His treatinent of them will in at least as high a acter which it is sought to identify with an actual degree as his choice of subject, conception of action, and personage, “ This is not the man." The mirror of the meihod of construction, determine the effect which his work drama is not a photographic-apparatus. produces. And while there are aspects of the dramatic Distinctiveness, as the primary requisite in dramatio art ander which its earlier history already exhibits an un characterization, is to be demanded in the case of all persurpassed degree of perfection, there is none under which sonages introduced into a dramatic action, but not in all its advance is more perceptible than this. Many causes cases in an equal degree. Schiller, in adding to the have contributed to this result ; thu chief is to be sought dramatis persone of his Fiesco superscriptions of their chief in the multiplication of the opportunities for mankind's characteristics, labels Sacco as “an ordinary person," and study of man. The theories of the Indian critics on the sub- this suffices for Sacco. . Between Bassanio's two unsuccessject of dranatic character are a scaffolding more elaborate ful rivals in the trial of the caskets there is difference than the edifice it surrounds. Aristotle's remarks on the enough for the dramatic purpose of their existence. But gubject are scanty; and it may be unhesitatingly asserted with the great masters of characterization & few touches, that the strength of the dramatic literature from whose of which the true actor's. art knows how to avail itself, examples he abstracted his maxims is not to be sought in distinguish even their lesser characters frun one another; the fulness or variety of its characterization. This relative and every man is in bis humour down to the third citizen. deficiency the outward conditions of the Greek theatre-the Elaboration is necessarily reserved for characters who are remoteness of actor from spectator, and the consequent the more important contributors to the action, and the necessity for the use of morsks, and for the raising and fulness of elaboration for its heroes. Many expedients may therefore conventionalizing of the tones of the voice.. lend their aid to the higher degrees of distinctiveness. In undoubtedly helped to occasion. Later Greek and Roman characters designed to influence the wbole of the action it comedy; with a persistency furnishing a remarkable illus. must be marked early, in others in due relation to their contration of the force of habit, limited their range of charac tribution towards the course of the plot. Much is gained by ters to an accepted gallery of types. Nor is it easy a significant introduction of hero or heroine,-80 Antigone to ignore the fact that these examples, and the influence of is dragged in by the watchman, Gloucester enters alone national tendencies of mind and temperament, have inclined upon the scene, Volpone is discovered in adoration of his the dramatists of the Romance nations to attach less import- golden saint. Nothing marks character more clearly than ance to characterization of a closer and more varied kind the use of contrastas of Othello with Iago, of Octavio than to interest of action and effectiveness of construction. with Mar Piccolomini, of Joseph with Charles Surface. The Italian and the Spanish drama more especially, and the Nor is direct antithesis the only effective kind of contrast; French during a great part of its history, have in general Cassius is a foil to Brutus, and Leonora to her namesake shown a disposition to present their characters, as it were, the Princess. But besides impressing the imagination as ready made-whether in the case of tragic heroes and a conception distinct in itself, each character must maintain heroines, or in that of comic types, often moulded accord a consistency between its conduct in the action and the ing to a long-lived system of local or national selection. features it has established as its own. This consistency It is in the Germanic drama, and in its master Shakespeare does not imply uniformity; for, as Aristotle observes, there above all, that the individualization of characters. has been are characters which, to be represented with uniformity, carried to its furthest point, and that their significance has must be presented as uniformly un-uniform. Of such been allowed to work itself out in closest connection with consistently complex characters the great critic cites no the progress of the dramatic action to which they belong. instances, nor indeed are they of frequent occurrence in

But, however the method and scope of characterization Greek tragedy ; in the modern drama Hamlet is their may vary under the influence of different historical epoche unrivalled exemplar; and Weislingen in Goethe's Göta, and different tendencies or tastes of races or nations, the and Alceste in the Misanthrope, may bo mentioned laws of this branch of the dramatic art are everywhere as other illustrations in dramas widely different from one based on the same essential requirements. What interests another. It should be added that those dramatic liteus in a man or woman in real life. or in the impressions we ratures which freely admit of a mixture of the serious form of historical personages, is that whic, seems to as to with the comic element thereby enormously increase the individualize them. A dramatic character must therefore, opportunities of varied characterization. The difficulty of whatever its part in the action, be sufficiently marked in the task at the same time enhances the effect resulting its distinctive features to interest the imagination ; with from its satisfactory solution; and if the conception of a these its subsequent conduct must be consistent, and to character is found to bear a variety of costs resembling those its participation in the action must correspond. In that which experience shows life to have at hand for every order that such should be the result: the dramatist must man, its naturalness, as we term it, becomes more obvious first have distinctly conceived the character, whatever to the imagination. Naturalness is only another word for may have suggested it to him. If, for instance, he has taken / what Aristotle terms proprieb, the artificial rules by which it. as the phrase is, from history or from contemporary life. | usage has at times sought to define particular specias of cha ho must transtorm it, just as he must transform the subject racter are in their origin only a convenience of the theatre, of the action into the action itself. His task is not to though they have largely helped to conventionalize dramatic paint a copy of any particular man, but to conceive a kind characterization. Lastly, a character should be directly Du man-of which a particular individual may have occurred | effective with regard to the dramatic action in which it

takes part,- that is to say, the influence it exerts upon the burghers of Brussels in the opening scenes of Emont progress of the action should correspond to its distinctive What a picture of a clique we have in the t'rerumuses features, the conduct of the play should seem to spring ridicules of Molière ; what a reproduction of a class in the from the nature of its characters. Heuce even the minor pot-house politicians of Holberg ! Yet even in such characters should not idly intortene, and, before they instances the dramatist will only use what suits his intervene significantly, we should be prepared by some | dramatic purpose ; he will select, not trausfer in mass, hisprevious notion of them. The chief characters, on the toric features, and discriminate in his use of modern other hand, should predominate over or determine the instances. The details of historic fidelity, anıl the lesser course of the action ; its entire conception should harmonize shades distinguishing the varieties of social uxaye, he will Irith their distinctive features ; it is only a Prometheus introduce at his choice, or leave to be supplied by tho whom the gods bind fast to a rock, only a Juliet who will actor. Where the reproduction of manners becomes the venture into a living death for her Roineo. Thus in a primary purpose of a play, its effect can ouls bo of au sense chance is excluded from dramatic action, or rather, inferior kind; and a drama purely of inanners is a contrulike every other element in it, bends to the dramatic idea. | diction in terms. And in view of this predominance of character over action, No complete system of dramatic species can be abstracted we may appropriately use such expressions as a tragedy of from any one dramatic literature. They are often the love or jealousy or ambition, or a comedy of character-by result of particular antecedents, and their growth is often which is merely meant one wbose preponderating interest affected by peculiar conditions. Different nations or ages use lies in the effectiveness with which its conduct impresses the same naine, and may preserve some of the same rules, for upon the mind the conception of its chief character or species which in other respects their usage may have matericharacters.

| ally modified from that of their neighbours or predecessors. The term mmners (as employed in a narrower sense | Who would undertake to define, except in their successive than the Aristotelian) applies to that which colours applications, such ternis as tragi-comedy or meloliema? Yet both action aud characters, but does not determine this does not imply that all is confusion in the terminology the essence of either. As exhibiting human agents as to the species of the drama. In so far as they are distiuunder certain conditions of time and place, and of the guishable according to the effects which their actions, or those various relations of community existing or conceivable which the preponderating parts of their actions, produce, among men, the action of a drama, together with the char- they may primarily be ranged in accordance with the broad acters engaged in it and the incidents and circumstances difference established by Aristotle between tragedy and belonging to it, must be more or less suited to the external comedy. Tragic aud comic effects differ in regard to the conditions assumed. From the assumption of some such emotions of the mind which they excite ; and a drama is conditions not even those dramatic species which indulge tragic or comic according as such effects are produced by in the most sovereigu liceuce, such as Old Attic comedy or it. The strong or serious emotious are, alone capable of burlesque in general, can wholly emancipate themselves ; exercising upon us that influence which, employing a bold and even supernatural characters and actions must adapt but marvellously happy figure, Aristotle termed purification, themselves to some antecedents. But it depends altogether and which a Grcek comedian, after a more matter-of-fact on the measure in which the nature of an action and the fashion, thus expressed : development of its characters are affected by considerations of time and place, or of temporary social systems and the

" For whensoe'er a man observes his fellow

Bear wrongs more grievous than himself bas known, transitory distinctions they produce, whether the imitation

More easily he bears his own misfortunes ;" of a particular kind of manners becomes a significant element in a particular play. What is of vanishing import i.e., the petty troubles of self which disturb without ance in one may be an adjunct of inestimable value in elevating the mind are driven out by the sympathetic another. The Hindu caste-system is an antecedent of participation in greater griefs, which raises while it every Hindu drama, and the peculiar organization of excites the mind employed upon contemplating them. Chinese society of nearly every Chinese with which we are It is to these emotions—which are and can be no acquainted. Greek tragedy itself, though treating subjects others than pity and terror-that actions and characters derived from no historic age, had established a standard of which we call tragic appeal. Those which we term comic manners from which in its decline it did not depart with address themselves to the sense of the ridiculous, and their impunity. The initation of manners of a particular age subjects are those vices and moral infirmities, the repreor country may or may not be of moment in a play. The sentation of which is capable of touching the springs of conjuncture of the Crusades is merely a felicitous choice for laughter. Where, accordingly, a drama excludes all effects the time of action of Nathan the TV ise ; but the dramatic except those of the former class, it may be called a pure conflict of Minng von Barnhelm derives half its life from tragedy; when all except those of the latter, a pure comedy. the background of the Seven Years' War. In some dramas, In those dramas where the effects are mixed, it is the and in some species of drama, time and place are so purely nature of the main action and of the main characters (as imaginary and so much a matter of indifference that the adop- determined by their distinctive features) which alone tion of a purely conventional standard of manners, or at enables us to classify such plays as serious or humorous least the exclusion of any definitely fixed one, is here desir- dramas-or as tragic or comic, if we choose to preserve the able. The ducal reign of Theseus at Athens (when ascer- terms. But the classification admits of a variety of transitained) does not date A Midsummer Night's Dream ; nor tions, from pure tragedy to mixed, from mixed tragedy to do the coasts of Bohemia localize the manners of the mixed comedy, and thence to pure comedy and her slighter customers of Autolycus. Where, on the other hand, as sister farce. This method of distinction has no concern more especially in the historic drama, or in that kind of with the mere question of the termination of a slay, comedy which directs its shafts against the ridiculous vices according to which Philostratus and other authorities Lare of a particular age or country, the likeness of the manners sought to distinguish between tragic and comic dramas. represented to what is more or less known possesses The serious drama which ends happily (the German significance, there the dramatist will use care in his colour- Schauspiel) is not a species co-ordinate with tragedy and ing. How admirably is the French court specialized in comedy, but only one subordinate to the former, if, indeed, Henry V., how completely are we transplanted among the l it be necessary to distinguish it as a species at all. Other

distinctions may be almost infinitely varied according the imagination of the spectators. The actor's real to the point of view adopted for the classification.

achievement lies in the transformation which the artist The historical sketch of the drama attempted in the himself effects ; nor is there any art more sovereign in the following pages will best serve to indicate the successive use it can make of its means, or so happy in the directness growth of national dramatic species, many of which by of the results it can accomplish by them. asserting their influence in other countries and ages than those which gave birth to them, have acquired a more than The origin of the INDIAN drama may unhesitatingly be national significance.

described as purely native. The Mahometans when they The art of acting, whose history forms an organic though overran India brought no drama with them; the Persians, a distinct part of that of the drama, necessarily possesses a the Arabs, and the Egyptians were without a national theory and a technical system of its own. But into these theatre. It would be absurd to suppose the Indian drama it is impossible here to enter. One claim, however, should to have owed anything to the Chinese or its offshoots. On be vindicated for the art of acting, viz., that though it is a the other hand, there is no real evidence for assuming any dependent art, and most signally so in its highest forms, influence of Greek examples upon the Indian drama at any yet its true exercise implies a creative process. The stage of its progress. Finally, it had passed into ita conception of a character is determined by antecedents decline before the dramatic literature of modern Europe not of the actor's own making ; and the term originality had sprung into being. can be applied to it only in a relative sense. Study and The Hindu writers ascribe the invention of dramatic entor. reflection enable him, with the aid of experience and of the tainments to an inspired sage Bharata, or to the communiintuition which genius bestows, but which experience may in cations made to him by the god Brahma himself concerning a high degree supply, to interpret, to combine, and to sup an art gathered from the Vedas. As the word Bharata pilement given materials. But in the transformation of the signifies an actor, we have clearly here a mere personificaconception into the represented character the actor's function of the invention of the drama. Three kinds of Lions are really creative; for here he becomes the character entertainments, of which the nátya (defined as a dance by means which belong to his art alone. The distinctive combined with gesticulation and speech) comes nearest to hiess he gives to the character by making the principal the drama, were said to have been exhibited before the features recognized by him in it its groundwork ;—the gods by the spirits and nymphs of Indra's heaven, and to consistency which he maintains in it between groundwork these the god Siva added two new styles of dancing. and details ;--the appropriateness which he preserves in it The origin of the Indian drama was thus doubtless to the course of the action and the part borne in it by the religious ; it sprang from the union of song and dance in character :-all these are produced by himself, though the festivals of the gods, to which were afterwards added suggested by the conception he has derived from his narrative recitation, and first sung, then spoken, dialogue. materials. As to the means at his disposal, they are Such scenes and stories from the mythology of Vishúu are essentially of two kinds only; but not all forms of the still occasionally enacted by pantomime or spoken dialogue drama have admitted of the use of both, or of both in the in India (játras of the Bengalis ; rásas of the Western same completeness. All acting includes the use of gesture, Provinces); and the most ancient Indian play was said to or, as it has been more comprehensively termed, of bodily have treated an episode from the history of that deity,--the eloquence. · From various points of view its laws regulate choice of him as a consort by Laxmi,-a favourite kind of the actor's bearing, walk, and movements of face and limbs. subject in the Indian drama. The tradition connecting its They teach what is æsthetically permitted and what is carliest themes with the native mythology of Visbúu agrees æsthetically pleasing. They deduce from observation with that ascribing the origin of a particular kind of what is appropriate to the expression of particular affections dramatic performance the sangita—to Krishúa and the of the mind and of their combinations, of emotions and shepherdesses. The author's later poem, the Gitagovinda, passions, of physical and mental conditions-joy and grief, has been conjectured to be suggestive of the earliest species health and sickness, waking, sleeping, and dreaming, mad. of Hindu dramas. But while the epic poetry of the ness, collapse, and death-of particular agas of life and Hindus gradually approached the dramatic in the way of temperaments, as well as of the distinctive characteristics of dialogue, their drama developed itself independently out of race, nationality, or class. While under certain conditions the union of the lyric and the epic forms, Their dramatic -as in the masked drama--the use of bodily movement poetry arose later than their epos, whose great works, the as one of the means of expression has at times been partially Hahábhárata and the Rámáyana, bad again been long prerestricted, there have been, or are, forms of the draina which ceded by the hymuody of the Vedus-just as the Gresk have altogether excluded the use of speech (such as drama followed upon the Homeric poems, and these had pantomime), or have restricted the manner of its employ- been preceded by the early hymus. The beginnings of ment (such as opera). In the spoken drama the laws of the Indian drama may accordingly belong to the 3d rhetoric regulate the actor's use of speech, but under con century B.C., or to a rather earlier date. But by the time ditions of a special nature. Like the orator, he has to it produced the first specimens with which we are follow the laws of pronunciation, modulation, accent, and acquainted, it had already reached its zenith ; and it was rhythm (the last in certain kinds of prose as well as in such therefore looked upon as having sprung into being a3 a forms of verse as he may be called upon to reproduce) perfect art. We know it only in its glory, in its decline, But he has also to give his attention to the special laws of and in its decuy. dramatic delivery, which vary in soliloquy and dialogue, The history of Indian dramatic literature may be roughly and in such narrative or lyrical passages as may occur in divided into the following periods :

[ocr errors]

I. From the 1st century B.C. to the 10th century A.D.The totality of the effect produced by the actor will in This period belongs to the pre-Mahometan age of Indian some degree depend upon other aids, among which those of history, but to that second division of it in wbich Baddhism a purely external kind will not be lost sight of. But the had already become a powerful factor in the social, as significance of costume in the actor, like that of decoration well as in the moral and intellectual, life of the land. It and scenery in an action, is a wholly relative one, and is is the classical period of the Hindu drania, and includes to a large measure determined by the claims which custom the works of its two indisputably greatest masters. O enables the theatre to make, or forbids its making, upon these Kalidasa was by far the earlier, who lived at the

his part

« EelmineJätka »