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Græcia capta ferum victorem cepit, et artes Intulit agresti Latio. Sic horridus ille Defluxit 'numerus Saturnius, et grave virus Munditia pepulere: sed in longum tamen ævum


Ver. 263. We conquer'd France,] Pope has failed in ascribing that introduction of our polite literature to France, which Horace attributes to Greece among the Romans (ver. 15. orig.). It was to Italy, among the moderns, that we owed our true taste in poetry. Spenser and Milton imitated the Italians, and not the French. And if he had correctness in his view, let us remember, that in point of regularity and correctness, the French had no dramatic piece equal to the Silent Woman of Ben Jonson, performed 1609; at which time Corneille was but three years old. The rules of the drama are as much violated in the Cid, 1637, beautiful as it is, as in the Macbeth, Lear, and Othello, all written before Corneille was born; whose first comedy, Melite, which is now never acted, was represented 1624. The pieces of the very fertile Hardy (for he wrote six hundred), the immediate predecessor of Corneille, are full of improbabilities, indecorums, and absurdities, and by no means comparable to Melite. As to the correctness of the French stage, of which we hear so much, the rules of the three unities are indeed rigorously and scrupulously observed but the best of their tragedies, even some of those of the sweet and exact Racine, have defects of another kind, and are what may be justly called descriptive and declamatory dramas; and contain the sentiments and feelings of the author, or the spectator, rather than of the person introduced as speaking. "After the Restoration," says Pope, in the margin, "Waller, with the Earl of Dorset, Mr. Godolphin, and others, translated the Pompey of Corneille; and the more correct French poets began to be in reputation." But the model was unfortunately and injudiciously chosen; for the Pompey of Corneille is one of his most exceptionable tragedies. And the rhyme translation they gave of it is performed pitifully enough. Even Voltaire confesses, that Corneille is always making his heroes say of themselves, that they are great men. Pope mentions only Waller and Denham as masters of versification. What! did Milton contribute nothing



*We conquer'd France, but felt our captive's



Her arts victorious triumph'd o'er our arms;
Britain to soft refinements less a foe,
Wit grew polite, and 'numbers learn'd to flow.
Waller was smooth; but Dryden taught to join
The varying verse, the full resounding line,
The long majestic march, and energy divine.


to the harmony and extent of our language? Nothing to our national taste, by his noble imitations of Homer, Virgil, and the Greek tragedies? Surely his verses vary, and resound as much, and display as much majesty and energy as any that can be found in Dryden. And we will venture to say, that he that studies Milton attentively, will gain a truer taste for genuine poetry, than he that forms himself on French writers, and their followers. Warton.

Ver. 267. Waller was smooth;] Mr. Waller, about this time, with the Earl of Dorset, Mr. Godolphin, and others, translated the Pompey of Corneille, and the more correct French poets began to be in reputation.


Ver. 269. The long majestic march,] But Dryden himself says, that he used the Alexandrine line in imitation of Spenser. It cannot be allowed that Pope, as is asserted in the following note, by his perpetual encomiums preserved his master from falling into neglect. This truly great but incorrect poet stood in no need of such assistance. Warton.

Ver. 269. energy divine.] Mr. Pope's gratitude, for what he owed to the genius and writings of this great poet, occasioned these perpetual encomiums; which have preserved his master from falling into neglect, and have even raised his reputation higher than ever. Cicero did the same grateful office to Crassus and Antonius, to whom he had the same obligations. One of the principal reasons he gives for making them the chief speakers in his famous dialogue de Oratore is, "ut laudem eorum jam prope senescentem quantum ego possem (says he) ab oblivione hominum


Manserunt, hodieque manent, "vestigia ruris.
Serus enim Græcis admovit acumina chartis;
Et post "Punica bella quietus quærere cœpit,
Quod 'Sophocles et Thespis et Æschylus utile fer-

rent :

Tentavit quoque rem, si dignè vertere posset:
Et placuit sibi, naturâ sublimis et acer:
Nam 'spirat tragicum satis, et feliciter audet:
Sed 'turpem putat inscite metuitque lituram.
Creditur, ex 'medio quia res arcessit, habere


atque a silentio vindicarem-deberi hoc a me tantis hominum ingeniis putavi.-" Warburton.

Ver. 274. Corneille's noble fire,] Father Tournemine used to relate, that M. de Chalons, who had been secretary to Mary de Medicis, and had retired to Rouen, was the person who advised Corneille to study the Spanish language; and read to him some passages of Guillon de Castro, which struck Corneille so much, that he determined to imitate his Cid. The artifices used by Richlieu, and the engines he set to work to crush this fine play, are well known. Not one of the cardinal's tools was so vehement as the Abbé d'Aubignac; who attacked Corneille on account of his family, his person, his gesture, his voice, and even the conduct of his domestic affairs. When the Cid first appeared, says Fontenelle, the cardinal was as much alarmed as if he had seen the Spaniards at the gates of Paris. In the year 1635, Richlieu, in the midst of the important political concerns that occupied his mighty genius, wrote the greatest part of a play, called La Comédie des Tuilleries in which Corneille proposed some alterations to be made in the third act, which honest freedom the cardinal never forgave.

The Medea of Corneille was played 1635. It was the first tolerable tragedy produced in France after the Sophonisba of Mairet, 1633. It is remarkable, that, both in Italy and France, Sophonisba was the story that gave rise to the drama from the hands of Trissino and Mairet.


Though still some traces of our "rustic vein, 270
And splay-foot verse, remain'd, and will remain.
Late, very late, correctness grew our care,
When the tired nation "breath'd from civil war.
Exact Racine, and Corneille's noble fire,
Show'd us that France had something to admire.
Not but the Ptragic spirit was our own,
And full in Shakespear, fair in Otway shone:
But Otway fail'd to polish or refine,
And 'fluent Shakespear scarce effaced a line.
Even copious Dryden wanted, or forgot,
The last and greatest art, the art to blot.
Some doubt, if equal pains, or equal fire,
The 'humble muse of comedy require.



Ver. 275. something to admire.] How highly soever we ought to think of the exact Racine, who deserved a stronger epithet, and of the spirited Corneille, France shewed us also another Poet worthy admiration, I mean Molière; who, in his way, is equal, if not superior, to the two former. I fear we have no English writer of comedy whom we can put in competition with Molière. Yet this incomparable writer, whose comedies are a school of virtue, and whose life was irreproachable, was forbidden Christian burial by Harlay, archbishop of Paris, because he was an actor; and, on a remonstrance from his wife to the king, was at last allowed to be privately interred, without the usual funeral ceremonies, while Madame Molière cried out: "Quoi, l'on réfusera la sépulture à un homme qui merite des autels!" As to the skilfulness of Racine in speaking, mentioned above, it is known that he taught Chammesle, with whom he was in love, to speak with justness and propriety, who also instructed her niece, Madame du Clos, in the same style of speaking; but which sort of declamation being rather too pompous and stiff, was brought down to a more natural tone by Baron and Le Couvreur. Garrick did the same on our stage.


Sudoris minimum; sed habet Comadia tanto
Plus oneris, 'quantò veniæ minus. Aspice, Plautus
Quo pacto 'partes tutetur amantis ephebi,
Ut patris attenti, lenonis ut insidiosi :
Quantus sit Dossennus "edacibus in parasitis;
Quàm non astricto percurrat pulpita socco.


Ver. 282. Some doubt,] "Tragedy," says Dr. Hurd, “whose end is the pathos, produces it by action, while comedy produces its end, the humorous, by character. Now it is much more difficult to paint manners, than to plan action, because that requires the Philosopher's knowledge of human nature; this only the His torian's knowledge of human events." But in answer to this assertion, Dr. Brown observes, "That, in the course of this argument, it seems entirely forgot, that the tragic Poet's province is not only to plan, but to paint too. Had he no further task, than what depends on the mere historian's knowledge of human events, the reasoning would hold: but as it is the first and most essential effort of his genius, in the construction of a complete tragedy, to invent and order a pathetic plan, consistent in all its parts, and rising towards its completion by a succession of incidents which may keep up and continually increase terror or pity; it is manifest that the perfection of his plan depends not on his mere historic knowledge of human events, but on his philosophic discernment of human passions; aided by a warm and enlarged invention: talents as rare, at least, as the knowledge or discernment of human characters. If to this we add the subsequent task, of giving the high colourings of passion to the tragic plan thus ordered, the difficulty of writing a complete tragedy may seem to be in some respects equal, in others superior, to that of producing a complete comedy: for, in the conduct of this last species, it is acknowledged, that a small degree of poetic invention will support it." Brumoy has given a long and judicious dissertation on this question in the fifth volume of his Grecian Theatre, page 251, which at last he leaves undecided. But does there not appear to be a fundamental error in stating the question? for character is as essentially necessary to tragedy as to comedy. How are the incidents that constitute a fable

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