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upon the passion of Love, to which the man, the prince, the hero, is made to sacrifice every other consideration, even private morals are corrupted. Of this we shall be perfectly convinced, if we compare the conduct and sentiments of Theseus, and of the unfortunate daughter of Jocasta, in Antigone, and @dipus Coloneus, with the Theseus and Dirce of Corneille; where the enamoured pair disclaim all other regards and duties, human and divine, for the character of mere Lovers. In this play, great violence is done to the character of the persons, to which Horace, and all good critics, prescribe a most exact adherence. And though the Romans, who had conquered all other națions, had the best right to prefer their own manners, and despise those of other countries, yet their critics inculcated the necessity of imitating those of the people represented. .
The French Tragedians not only deviate from the character of the Individual
reprefented, but even from the general character of the Age and Country. Theseus and
Achilles are not only unlike to Theseus and Achilles, but they are not Greeks. Sophocles and Euripides never introduce a hero who had appeared in the Iliad or Odyssey, without a strict attention to make him act suitably to the opinion conceived of him from those epic Poems. When Ulysses, in the tragedy of Hecuba, comes to demand Polixena to be sacrificed, how admirably is his conduct suited to our conceptions of him!' He is cold, prudent, deaf to pity, blind to beauty, and to be moved only by consideration of the public weal. See him in the Iphigenia of Racine, on a similar occafion, where he tells Agamemnon, he is ready to cry:
Je suis pret de pleurer ; and examine whether there appears any thing of Ulysses upon the Stage, but his Name. Nor is there a greater resemblance between the French and Greck Achilles. Euripides paints him with a peculiar frankness and warmth of character, abhorrent of fraud, and highly provoked when he discovers his name has been used in a deceit. When he sees Iphigenia preferring the good of her
country, and an immortal fame, to the pleasures of life, he is then struck with sentiments so suitable to the greatness of his own mind; and, in the style of a hero and a Greek, expresses how glad he should have been of such a bride. The Achilles of Ra. cine is not distinguished from any young lover of spirit; yet this is one of the best French tragedies.
It is usual to compliment Corneille with having added dignity to the Romans; and he has undoubtedly given them a certain strained elevation of sentimentandexpression, which has perhaps a theatrical greatness: but this is not Roman dignity, nor suitable to the character of republicans ; for, as the excellent Bishop of Cambray observes *, history represents the Romans great and high in Sentiment, but simple, modest, natural in Words, and very unlike the bombast, turgid heroes of romance. A greatman, says he does not declaim in the tone of the Theatre; his expressions in conversation are just and strong; * Lettres fur l'Eloquence, &c.
he utters nothinglow, noranything pompous: Augustus Cæfar, represented to a barbarous audience, would command more respect, if feated on the Mogul's golden throne, sparkling with gems, than in the curule chair, to which power, not pomp, gave dignity. It is a degree of barbarism to ascribe nobleness of mind to arrogance of phrase, or info: lence of manners.
There is a certain expression of style and behaviour which verges towards barbarism; a state to which we may approach by roads that rise, as well as by those that fall. An European monarch would think it as unbecoming him to be styled light of the world, glory of nations, and by the swelling titles assumed by the Asiatic princes, as to be called the tamer of horses, or the swift-footed, like the heroes of Homer.
Pere Brumoy seems to be very sensible of Corneille's misrepresentation of the Roman character, though he speaks of it in all the ambiguity of language which prudence could suggest, to one who was thwarting a natio
nal opinion t. He talks of un raffinement de fierté in the Romans, and asks, if they are of this globe, or spirits of a superior world? The Greeks of Racine, says he, are not indeed of that universe, which belonged only to Corneille; but with what pleasure does he make us behold ourselves in the persons he presents to us ! and how agreeably would the heroes of antiquity be surprised to find themselves adorned by new manners, not indeed like their own, but which yet do not misbecome them!
It can hardly be supposed that a Critic of Pere Brumoy's taste did not mean to convey an oblique cenfure in these observations. The Tragic Poet is not to let his Pegasus, like the Hippogriffe of Astolpho, carry him to the moon; he is to represent men such as they were; and, indeed, when the fable and manners do not agree, great improprieties and perfect incredibility ensue.
If a Grecian fable is chosen, Grecian + Theatre Grec. par Brumoy, D