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Venez en tel état, tel horreur, tel emoy,
This speech would deserve the praise of tragic power as well as expression, if the thoughts were not taken, both by the author and his original, Seneca, from the Greek Medea.
JAQUES GREVIN, a physician, appears to have been the first who dramatized the death of Cæsar. There are resemblances between his play and the tragedy of Shakspeare; but only such as arose from their having drawn from the same historical sources. It is a feeble performance, written in the author's youth.-The following reflection of the chorus on the death of Cæsar, is at least pointed:
* Ah! la Nature est plus maratre
It concludes with Antony's display of Cæsar's bloody mantle to the soldiers (not the people,) in order to incite them to revenge his death.
JEAN DE LA TAILLE, a lawyer, but who abandoned jurisprudence for poetry, produced several pieces. The best is his "Madness of Saul," a tragedy taken from the Bible. He drew freely and judiciously upon the sacred text. His plot is tolerably constructed; and in the character of Saul, there are, in the midst of horror and extravagance, strong traits of terror, pathos, and elevation. Saul, just recovered from a paroxysm of frenzy, in which he had made dreadful havoc upon the lives of those around him, by decapitation and torture, asks of God how he had brought the divine wrath upon his head.
Helas! toujours le vent la grand mer n'esmeust,
your ghastly torches. Come clothed in horror and dismay, as when you witnessed my yielding to Jason; your eyes flashing fire, and your monstrous ringlets hissing horribly adown your backs. Inspire the traitor with such fury, that, avenger of his own guilt, he shall, with his own hands, be murderous executioner of king, wife, child-and ever let this fury convulse his lungs, without power to die; but, wandering a maniac through unknown lands, let him live the exiled victim of want, fear, wretchedness, execration-not finding one amongst the human race to look favourably upon him.
* Ah! Nature is more a stepmother to men than to other living creatures. It would seem that by our destiny to toil and suffering we dearly pay the privilege
† Alas! the wind does not always vex the troubled sea; harsh winter doth not last always with cold and rain-every thing hath a close. Must then thy en
Tout prend fin-faut il donc que ta longue cholere,
An attendant, taking advantage of the lucid moment, tells him
it was because he had spared the life of Agag.
But to do justice to this most tragic subject was reserved for the genius of ALFIERI. JAQUES DE LA TAILLE, the brother of the abovementioned, also wrote tragedies; the most remarkable of which is "The Death of Alexander." This play abounds with two vices which are but too prevalent in Shakspeare-ringing changes upon words, and a disposition to the unnatural and gigantesque. One of the conspirators, having invited Alexander to the feast at which he is to be poisoned, says, (aside).
"Va! va! O fier tyran, ta fiere tyrannie
Sera par des gents fiers, bien fierement punie."
This sets translation at defiance.
The following speech, in which Alexander vents his agony under the effects of the poison, resembles the forcible but somewhat exaggerated speech of King John, in a similar situation, and, though still at a sober distance, the bombastic deliration of Lee's tragedy on the same subject:
† Helas! voyez que c'est qui mes poulmons empiere,
during wrath, oh, great God! be on me ever, without end! Oh! I am over-much hated of thee, and of men also. I have a thousand cares, and no one careth for me. But tell the cause of this thy hate-tell why I am thus made to suffer. Alas! what have I done, what guilt committed, that thou must be always thus in anger?
For being pitiful, then, I suffer his anger; and had I been cruel, he would be kind to me. Oh, Lord, Lord! must then a conqueror be harsh, not pitiful, and, without calling to mind that the vanquished lot might be his own, cut so many throats? Is it not better to consult our humanity than our great power?
† Alas! see, what is it that attacks my lungs, that freezes my blood, and racks my vitals? Ah! what plague is this that, ever without rest, cuts my heart all through,-burns my bones to cinder? Out! out! whoever thou beest, that within me hast garrisoned thee. Confront me, and do not take me thus, like a coward
Pourquoy assailles-tu mes membres en cachette ?
The younger BAIF was natural son of LAZARE BAIF (already mentioned,) an ecclesiastic, by a Venetian lady, with whom he had an amour whilst on an embassy to that republic. This reverend ambassador of Francis the First, appears to have represented with a curious fidelity the gallantry and love-letters which distinguished that generous and, for his time, accomplished and enlightened prince. The son, like the father, chiefly applied himself to giving translaions, greatly improved, from the Greek and Roman dramatists. He is, however, chiefly remembered for two experiments tried by him upon the poetic language of his country-the introduction of blank verse, and the adoption of the dactylic and spondaic measure of the Greeks and Latins. The first project was not even noticed; the second, upon which he had set his heart, and tried to stamp his name in the title of Vers Baifins, was noticed for derision. Our own laureat's recent trial of the latter experiment upon the English language, presents an edifying coincidence.
Between 1560 and 1570, French tragedy was advanced a step by ROBERT GARNIER, who united in himself, and with distinction, the several characters of a lawyer, a judicial magistrate, a lieutenantgeneral, and a poet. He imitated the ancients with considerable taste, and derived from them a finer sense of the difference between rudeness and elegance of style, with improved skill in rendering his dialogue dramatic. Eight pieces by him have been preserved, viz. "The Death of Portia," founded on the defeat of Philippi, and the death of BRUTUS;-" The Death of Cornelia, (wife of Pompey)" founded on the tyranny of the triumvirate;-"Marc Antony ;""Hippolytus," imitated from Euripides;-" The Troas," from Seneca;-" Antigone," from Sophocles;-" Sedecias, or the Jews," taken from scripture; and " Bradamante," from the Orlando Furioso. It is difficult to select a specimen which should give a precise estimate of the talent of Garnier. His most conspicuous beauties of thought are scarcely his own, being imitated from the ancients. His finest speeches are taken from Sophocles, Euripides, Seneca, Virgil, Lucan, and his best choruses from Pindar and HoNo extract, for nearly the same reason, will give an idea of
traitor. Why dost attack my limbs in ambush thus? Tell me who hath given thee this so secret entrance within me, thou plague? What Moorish shore, what pontic land, or what Circe hath produced thee, another monster, to vanquish Alexander the invincible? Is it some serpent, or horrid aspic? alas! tell me what thou art, that at least I may know who is my enemy that lurks within me to take my life. Certes, whoever thou beest, thou darest not meet me hand to hand.
his manner. It varied with the original, which he imitated for the moment, whether tragic, epic, lyric, or even pastoral. The following lines from his "Death of Portia," afford an example of that beautiful blending of the fanciful with the pathetic, which is so exquisitely touched by Shakspeare and some of his contemporaries. A messenger announces to Portia that Antony had ordered the body of BRUTUS to be embalmed, and conveyed to her by sea, for the purpose of receiving the honours of Roman burial. Portia, after reproaching the gods with injustice and cruelty, in having allowed wrong to prevail over right, and three tyrants to triumph over the virtue of Brutus, and the liberties of Rome, thus apostrophizes the sea, which bears back the body of her husband:
Vous deloyale mer, quy courbastes le dos
Sous nos vaisseaux armés, et quy dessus vos flots
O folle que je suy! O folle d'estimer
The plot of his "Hippolytus" is, in some scenes, managed with more force than by Euripides or Racine. Phædra, in the fourth act, no longer able to control the fervour of her passion, throws her arms round the neck of Hippolytus. The young prince, fired with indignation, draws his sword to kill her. The unhappy queen bares her bosom to the stroke; the sword drops from his hand, and she retires, overwhelmed with shame. Theseus in the mean time arrives, and insists, by menaces, upon knowing from the nurse, the cause of the confusion and terror which he finds in his house.. Phædra hears what is passing, and dreading lest the nurse should disclose the truth, rushes in with the sword dropped by Hippolytus, and presents it to Theseus, as that which the violator of her person had left behind him in his flight, having drawn it against her life. Theseus receives the sword, recognises it for that of his own son, and claims from Neptune the pledged fulfilment of his fatal prayer. Phædra survives, and learns the dreadful death of the Prince; weeps over his mangled body, vindicates his innocence, and confesses her own shame, in language full of pathos and re
† Hippolyte! Hippolyte! helas! je romps le cours
• Thou traitor sea, that didst bend thy vassal back beneath our armed ships, and didst upon thy waves proudly bear my Brutus; instead of restoring him to me, you bring me a corpse ready for the tomb. It was not thus you received him committed to your faith. You received him living-living give him back
Oh! fool that I am. oft-perjured sea.
Oh! fool to think that any faith or pity existeth in the
Hippolytus! Hippolytus! I break the thread of thy pure life, by my burning passion. Forgive me, and do not, oh thou beloved, bear indignant within
Pardonnez-moy, ma vie, et sous la sepulture
Mon cœur que tremble-tu? quelle şoudaine horreur,
Il est temps de mourir: sus, que mon sang ondoye
In his tragedy of " Cornelia," the widow of Pompey relates the following dream, diffusely, but eloquently, imitated from the apparition of Hector in the Æneid:
* Deja la nuit muette, ayant faict long sejour,
Quand d'un petit sommeil (s'il faut ainsy nommer
Pâle, et tout descharné, non tel qu'il souloit estre
Il estoit triste, affreux, les yeux creux, et la face,
the tomb, implacable revenge for this my crime. I have murdered thee, Hippolytus! It is I who shut thee captive in the dungeon of infernal night. But my own unchaste blood shall wash out my crime against thy innocence. My heart, why tremblest thou? What sudden shuddering horror congeals thy rage? What horrid fury appears before my eyes? What coiled serpent, what flaming torch, what foaming wave, what roaring current, what red furnace blazing horribly! Ah! it is Hell, it is, it is, Hell that opens to receive me in its caverns. Adieu, thou shining sun, bright sun adieu; farewell, sad Theseusthis mournful spot farewell. It is time to die. Come! let my blood flow upon this dear mangled corse, &c. &c.
* Already silent night, having made a tedious stay, had passed the midway between evening and morning When a light sleep (if I may so call the numbness of thought which overcomes us) flows on my eyes unused to repose-wearied and surcharged with tears for the sorrow which consumes me. And behold I see by my moistened pillow, the buried Pompey, his visage piteous, sad, pale, and disfigured; ah! not such as he was wont to be, when carried in triumph amidst the sovereign people, or when, seated on a throne, he beheld at his feet kings manacled with clumsy cords. He looked mournful, frightful,