Online text (1753 edition): Vol. I - Vol. II - Vol. III - Vol. IV
The Essay, incomplete, was published in 1753 in the fourth volume (pp. 353-414) of The Works of the Late Aaron Hill, Esq.; In Four Volumes. Consisting of Letters on Various Subjects, And of Original Poems, Moral and Facetious, With an Essay on the Art of Acting (London, Printed for the Benefit of the Family, 1753; second edition: London, Printed for the Benefit of the Family, 1754).
The Essay is the arrival point of the author's reflections on acting. In the text, Aaron Hill analyzes, using as examples passages taken from well-known plays, the ten passions already listed in previous texts, indicating the method to evoke them through a mechanical stimulus, so that, in the moment in which the imagination conceives the idea of passion, the body is led to mechanically adapt to the emotion.
An Essay on the Art of Acting; in which, the Dramatic Passions are properly defined and described, with Applications of the Rules peculiar to each, and Selected Passages for Practice. The Whole so treated as to afford an Actor, or Speaker, easy Principles for acquiring a power to please an Audience, And to give the Intelligent Reader the Clearest Idea of a Judicious Theatrical Performer. By the late A. Hill, Esq; Now first Revised, and separately Published, London, Printed for J. Dixwell, 1779.
Throughout the nineteenth century, various editions of the Essay were published, most likely pirated copies, with various titles:
- The Art of Acting; An Essay, in which the Dramatic Passions are properly defined and described ... With an Analysis ... to which is prefixed The Actor's Epitome, a Poem, London, J. Smeeton, 1801 (see).
- The Actor; or, Guide to the Stage; exemplifying the whole Art of Acting: in which the Dramatic Passions are defined, analyzed, and made easy of Acquirement. The whole interspersed with Select and Striking Examples from the most popular Modern Pieces, London, John Lowndes, 1821 (see).
- The Art of Acting; or, Guide to the Stage: in which the Dramatic Passions are Defined, Analyzed, and made Easy of Acquirement, New York, Samuel French, 1855 (see).