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piece turns upon some unknown person, generally a haughty princess; so that instead of the representation of an important event, and the characters of illustrious persons, the business of the drama is the love-intrigue of a termagant lady, who, if she is a Roman, insults the Barbarians, if she is a Barbarian, braves the Romans; and even to her lover is insolent and fierce, Were such a person to be produced on our theatre, she would be taken for a mad poetess escaped from her keepers in Bedlam, who, fancying herself a queen, was ranting, and delivering her mandates in rhyme upon the stage. All the excuse that can be made for Corneille in such representations is, that characters like these, dignified indeed with nobler sentiments, were admired in the romances, where the manners of chivalry are exaggerated. By the insitutions of chivalry, every valiant knight professed a peculiar devotion to the fair sex, in whose cause, as the champion of the defenceless, and protector of the oppressed, he was always ready to take arms. A lady's interest being often the object, and sometimes her person the prize

of a combat, she was supposed to inspire his courage; and, as he was to be not less distinguished for politeness than valour, he affected an air of submissive obedience, while she, by the courtesy of knighthood, was allowed to assume a style of superiority and command. To carry these manners into ancient Greece and Rome, and weave them into a conspiracy there, betrays want of judgment. This drama is carried on in the strain of romance. The lady enjoins her lover to kill Augustus: that adventure achieved, he is to hope for her hand; his glory is to be derived from her acknowledging him worthy of it; she is continually exhorting him to deserve the honour of being beloved by her. The fate of Augustus, of the Roman empire, all the duties of the citizen and the friend, are to depend on her decision. She says to Augustus, when he has discovered the conspiracy, as a sufficient vindication of her lover,

Qui, tout ce qu'il a fait, il l'a fait pour me plaire,
Et j'en étois, seigneur, la cause et le salaire.

The author certainly intended to recom


mend Cinna to his spectators merely as a loyal lover, according to the phrase of romance: in every other light he appears contemptible,

and indeed suffers himself to be used with the greatest contempt and indignity. As Shakspeare laboured to shew that the motives of Brutus were untinctured by any bad passion; every movement in the mind of Cinna has on the contrary the character of baseness, and whether he conspires, or whether he repents of it, he is still, as he acknowledges himself to be,

Un esprit malheureux,

Qui ne forme qu'en lâche un dessein généreux.

From this unhappy wretch, who basely conceives a generous design, let us turn to Brutus. There we shall see the different judgment and genius of the artists. Brutus and Cinna are drawn in the same situation, conspiring against the foremost man of all this world in the one we have the features and complexion of a villain, in the other the high-finished form of a noble patriot





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