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or familiarity of diction; but as we have none, | spirit of absolute monarchy-the same artificial stateliness-the same slow moving of few persons-the same suppression of ordinary emotions, and ostentatious display of lofty sentiments, and, finally, the same jealousy of the interference of lower agents, and the same horror of vulgarity and tumult. When we

we must make up our minds to compose our tragedies in prose, if we ever expect to have any that may deserve the name. What then?" he continues; "must we throw our Racines and Voltaires in the fire?-by no means; on the contrary, we must keep them, and study and admire them more than ever;-consider too, that in the countries where this but with right conceptions of their true nature form of the drama has been established, the and merit-as masterpieces of poetry, and Court is the chief patron of the theatre, and reasoning, and description;-as the first works courtiers almost its only supporters, we shall of the first geniuses that ever adorned any probably be inclined to think that this unination under heaven:-But not as tragedies, formity of character is not a mere accidental -not as pieces intended to exhibit natural coincidence, but that the same causes which characters and passions speaking their own have stamped those attributes on the serious language, and to produce that terrible impres- hours of its rulers, have extended them to sion which such pieces alone can produce. those mimic representations which were origConsidered in that light, their coldness and inally devised for their amusement. In Engchildishness will be immediately apparent ;- land, again, our drama has all along partaken and though the talents of the artist will al- of the mixed nature of our government,— ways be conspicuous, their misapplication persons of all degrees take a share in both, and failure wil not be less so. With the each in his own peculiar character and fashion: prospect that lies before us, the best thing, and the result has been, in both, a much perhaps, that we can do is to go on, boasting greater activity, variety, and vigour, than was of the unparalleled excellence we have at- ever exhibited under a more exclusive system. tained. But how speedily should our boastings In England, too, the stage has in general been be silenced if the present race of children dependent on the nation at large, and not on should be succeeded by a generation of men! the favour of the Court;-and it is natural to Here is a theory," concludes the worthy Baron, suppose that the character of its exhibitions a little alarmed it would seem at his own te- has been affected by a due consideration of merity, "which it would be easy to confirm that of the miscellaneous patron whose feeland illustrate much more completely-if a ings it was its business to gratify and reflect. man had a desire to be stoned to death before the door of the Theatre François! But, in the mean time, till I am better prepared for the honours of martyrdom, I must entreat you to keep the secret of my infidelity to yourself." Diderot holds very nearly the same lan-"Diou de Danse" as old Vestris ycleped himguage. After a long dissertation upon the self-or even the famous "affaire du Menuet" difference between real and artificial dignity, which distracted the whole court of France he proceeds," What follows, then, from all at the marriage of the late King. We can this-but that tragedy is still to be invented allow only a sentence indeed to the elaborate in France; and that the ancients, with all their dissertation in which Diderot endeavours to faults, were probably much nearer inventing prove that an actor is all the worse for having it than we have been?-Noble actions and any feeling of the passions he represents, and sentiments, with simple and familiar language, is never so sure to agitate the souls of his are among its first elements;-and I strongly hearers as when his own is perfectly at ease. suspect, that for these two hundred years, we We are persuaded that this is not correctly have mistaken the stateliness of Madrid for true;-though it might take more distinctions the heroism of Rome. If once a man of ge- than the subject is worth, to fix precisely nius shall venture to give to his characters where the truth lies. It is plain we think, and to his diction the simplicity of ancient however, that a good actor must have a capadignity, plays and players will be very differ- city, at least, of all the passions whose lanent things from what they are now. But how guage he mimics, and we are rather inclined much of this," he adds also in a fit of sympa- to think, that he must also have a transient thetic terror, "could I venture to say to any feeling of them, whenever his mimicry is body but you! I should be pelted in the very successful. That the emotion should be streets, if I were but suspected of the blas- very short-lived, and should give way to triphemies I have just uttered." vial or comic sensations, with very little interval, affords but a slender presumption against its reality, when we consider how rapidly such contradictory feelings succeed each other, in light minds, in the real business of life. That real passion, again, never would be so graceful and dignified as the counterfeited passion of the stage, is either an impeachment of the accuracy of the copy, or a contradiction in terms. The real passion of a noble and dignified character must always be dignified and graceful,-and if Cæsar, when

After having said so much about the stage, we cannot afford room either for the quarrels or witticisms of the actors, which are reported at great length in these volumes-or for the absurdities, however ludicrous, of the

With the assistance of two such allies, we shall renew the combat against the Continental dramatists with fresh spirits and confidence; and shall probably find an early opportunity to brave the field, upon that important theme. In the mean time we shall only remark, that we suspect there is something more than an analogy between the government and political constitution of the two countries, and the character of their drama. The tragedy of the Continent is conceived in the very genius and

actually bleeding in the Senate-house, folded | from the arms of her lawful husband, and to his robe around him, that he might fall with compel her to submit again to his embraces,decorum at the feet of his assassins, why and that the court was actually guilty of the should we say that it is out of nature for a incredible atrocity of granting such an order! player, both to sympathise with the passions It was not only granted, M. Grimm assures of his hero, and to think of the figure he us, but executed,—and this poor creature was makes in the eyes of the spectators? Strong dragged from the house of her husband, and conception is, perhaps in every case, attended conducted by a file of grenadiers to the quarwith a temporary belief of the reality of its ters of his highness, where she remained till objects; and it is impossible for any one to his death, the unwilling and disgusted victim copy with tolerable success the symptoms of of his sensuality! It is scarcely possible to

a powerful emotion, without a very lively ap-regret the subversion of a form of government, that admitted, if but once in a century, of abuses so enormous as this: But the tone in which M. Grimm notices it, as a mere foiblesse on the part of le Grand Maurice, gives us reason to think that it was by no means without a parallel in the contemporary history. In England, we verily believe, there never was a time in which it would not have produced insurrection or assassination.

prehension and recollection of its actual presence. We have no idea, we own, that the copy can ever be given without some participation in the emotion itself—or that it is possible to repeat pathetic words, and with the true tone and gestures of passion, with the same indifference with which a schoolboy repeats his task, or a juggler his deceptions. The feeling, we believe, is often very momentary; and it is this which has misled One of the most remarkable passages in those who have doubted of its existence. this philosophical journal, is that which conBut there are many strong feelings equally tains the author's estimate of the advantages fleeting and undeniable The feelings of the and disadvantages of philosophy. Not being spectators, in the theatre, though frequently much more of an optimist than ourselves, M. more keen than they experience anywhere Grimm thinks that good and evil are pretty else, are in general infinitely less durable than fairly distributed to the different generations those excited by real transactions; and a lu- of men; and that, if an age of philosophy be dicrous incident or blunder in the perform-happier in some respects than one of ignorance, will carry the whole house, in an instant, ance and prejudice, there are particulars in from sobbing to ungovernable laughter: And which it is not so fortunate. Philosophy, he even in real life, we have every day occasion thinks, is the necessary fruit of a certain exto observe, how quickly the busy, the dissi-perience and a certain maturity; and implies, pated. the frivolous, and the very youthful, in nations as well as individuals, the extinccan pass from one powerful and engrossing tion of some of the pleasures as well as the emotion to another. The daily life of Vol- follies of early life. All nations, he observes, taire, we think, might have furnished Diderot have begun with poetry, and ended with phiwith as many and as striking instances of the losophy-or, rather, have passed through the actual succession of incongruous emotions, as region of philosophy in their way to that of he has collected from the theatrical life of stupidity and dotage. They lose the poetical Sophie Arnoud, to prove that one part of the passion, therefore, before they acquire the succession must necessarily have been ficti- taste for speculation; and, with it, they lose all faith in those allusions, and all interest in those trifles which make the happiness of the brightest portion of our existence. If, in this advanced stage of society, men are less brutal, they are also less enthusiastic;-if they are more habitually beneficent, they have less warmth of affection. They are delivered indeed from the yoke of many prejudices; but at the same time deprived of many motives of action. They are more prudent, but more anxious-are more affected with the general interests of mankind, but feel less for their neighbours; and, while curiosity takes the place of admiration, are more enlightened, but far less delighted with the universe in which they are placed.

tous.

There are various traits of the oppressions and abuses of the government, incidentally noticed in this work, which maintains, on the whole, a very aristocratical tone of politics. One of the most remarkable relates to no less a person than the Maréchal de Saxe. This great warrior, who is known never to have taken the field without a small travelling seraglio in his suite, had engaged a certain Madlie. Chantilly to attend him in one of his campaigns. The lady could not prudently decline the honour of the invitation, because she was very poor; but her heart and soul were devoted to a young pastry cook of the name of Favart, for whose sake she at last broke out of the Marshal's camp, and took refuge in the arms of her lover; who reward-arts, is evidently unfavourable on the whole. ed her heroism by immediately making her Their end and object is delight, and that of his wife. The history of the Marshal's la- philosophy is truth; and the talent that seeks mentation on finding himself deserted, is to instruct, will rarely condescend to aim purely ridiculous, and is very well told; but merely at pleasing. Racine and Molière, and our feelings take a very different character, Boileau, were satisfied with furnishing amusewhen, upon reading a little farther, we find ment to such men as Louis XIV., and Colbert, that this illustrious person had the baseness and Turenne; but the geniuses of the pres and brutality to apply to his sovereign for a ent day pretend to nothing less than enlightlettre de cachet to force this unfortunate woman | ening their rulers; and the same young men

The effect of this philosophical spirit on the

1

who would formerly have made their debut | After these precious ameliorations were com-
with a pastoral or a tragedy, now generally pleted, they threw of the full impression;
leave college with a new system of philoso- and, to make all sure and irremediable, con-
phy and government in their portfolios. The signed both the manuscript and the original
very metaphysical, prying, and expounding proofs to the flames! Such, says M. Grimm,
turn of mind that is nourished by the spirit is the true explanation of that mass of im-
of philosophy, unquestionably deadens our pertinences, contradictions, and incoherences,
sensibility to those enjoyments which it con- with which all the world has been struck, in
verts into subjects of speculation. It busies the last ten volumes of this great compilation.
itself in endeavouring to understand those It was not discovered till the very eve of the
emotions which a simpler age was contented publication; when Diderot having a desire to
with enjoying and seeking, like Psyche, to look back to one of his own articles, printed
have a distinct view of the sources of our some years before, with difficulty obtained a
pleasures, is punished, like her, by their in- copy of the sheets containing it from the
stant annihilation.
warehouse of M. Breton-and found, to his
Religion, too, continues M. Grimm, consid-horror and consternation, that it had been gar-
ered as a source of enjoyment or consolation bled and mutilated, in the manner we have
in this world, has suffered from the progress just stated. His rage and vexation on the
of philosophy, exactly as the fine arts and af-discovery, are well expressed in a long letter
fections have done. It has no doubt become to Breton, which M. Grimm has engrossed in
infinitely more rational, and less liable to his register. The mischief however was ir
atrocious perversions; but then it has also remediable, without an intolerable delay and
become much less enchanting and ecstatic- expense; and as it was impossible for the
much less prolific of sublime raptures, bea- editor to take any steps to bring Breton to
tific visions, and lofty enthusiasm. It has punishment for this "horrible forfait," with-
suffered, in short, in the common disenchant-out openly avowing the intended publication
ment; and the same cold spirit which has of a work which the court only tolerated by
chased so many lovely illusions from the earth, affecting ignorance of its existence, it was at
has dispeopled heaven of half its marvels and last resolved, with many tears of rage and
its splendours.
vexation, to keep the abomination secret-at
least till it was proclaimed by the indignant
denunciations of the respective authors whose
works had been subjected to such cruel mu-
tilation. The most surprising part of the
story however is, that none of these authors
ever made any complaint about the matter.
Whether the number of years that had elaps-
ed since the time when most of them had
furnished their papers, had made them in-
sensible of the alterations-whether they be-
lieved the change effected by the base hand
of Breton to have originated with Diderot,
their legal censor-or that, in fact, the altera-
tions were chiefly in the articles of the said
Diderot himself, we cannot pretend to say;
but M. Grimm assures us, that, to his aston-
ishment and that of Diderot, the mutilated
publication, when it at last made its appear-
ance, was very quietly received by the in-
jured authors as their authentic production,
and apologies humbly made, by some of them,
for imperfections that had been created by
the beast of a publisher.

There are many curious and original anec-
dotes of the Empress of Russia in this book;
and as she always appeared to advantage
where munificence and clemency to individu-
als were concerned, they are certainly calcu-
lated to give us a very favourable impression
of that extraordinary woman.
We can only
afford room now for one, which characterises
the nation as well as its sovereign. A popu-
lar poet, of the name of Sumarokoff, had
quarrelled with the leading actress at Moscow,
and protested that she should never again
have the honour to perform in any of his tra-
gedies. The Governor of Moscow, however,
not being aware of this theatrical feud,
thought fit to order one of Sumarokoff's trage
dies for representation, and also to command

We could enlarge with pleasure upon these just and interesting speculations; but it is time we should think of drawing this article to a close; and we must take notice of a very extraordinary transaction which M. Grimm has recorded with regard to the final publication of the celebrated Encyclopedie. The redaction of this great work, it is known, was ultimately confided to Diderot; who thought it best, after the disturbances that had been excited by the separate publication of some of the earlier volumes, to keep up the whole of the last ten till the printing was finished; and then to put forth the complete work at once. A bookseller of the name of Breton, who was a joint proprietor of the work, had the charge of the mechanical part of the concern; but, being wholly illiterate, and indeed without pretensions to literature, had of course no concern with the correction, or even the perusal of the text. This person, however, who had heard of the clamours and threatened prosecutions which were excited by the freedom of some articles in the earlier volumes, took it into his head, that the value and security of the property might be improved, by a prudent castigation of the remaining parts; and accordingly, after receiving from Diderot the last proofs and revises of the different articles, took them home, and, with the assistance of another tradesman, scored out, altered, and suppressed, at their own discretion, all the passages which they in their wisdom apprehended might give offence to the court, or the church, or any other persons in authority-giving themselves, for the most part, no sort of trouble to connect the disjointed passages that were left after these mutilations and sometimes soldering them together with masses of their own stupid vulgarity.

miscellaneous contents. Whoever wishes to
see the economist wittily abused-to read a
full and picturesque account of the tragical
rejoicings that filled Paris with mourning at
the marriage of the late King-to learn how
Paul Jones was a writer of pastorals and love
songs--or how they made carriages of leather,
and evaporated diamonds in 1772-to trace
the debût of Madame de Staël as an author at
the age of twelve, in the
year
!-to un-
derstand M. Grimm's notions on suicide and
happiness-to know in what the unique charm
of Madlle. Thevenin consisted-and in what
manner the dispute between the patrons of
the French and the Italian music was con-
ducted-will do well to peruse the five thick
volumes, in which these, and innumerable
other matters of equal importance are dis-

"Monsieur Sumarokoff, j'ai été fort étonnée de votre lettre du 28 Janvier, et encore plus de celie du premier Février. Toutes deux contiennent, à

tia qui pourtant n'a fait que suivre les ordres du comte Soltikoff. Le feld-maréchal a désiré de voir représenter votre tragédie; cela vous fait honneur. Il était convenable de vous conformer au désir de la

ce qu'il me semble, des plaintes contre la Belmon-cussed, with the talent and vivacity with which the reader must have been struck, in the least of the foregoing extracts.

première personne en autorité à Moscou; mais si
elle a jugé à propos d'ordonner que cette pièce fat
représentée, il fallait exécuter sa volonté sans con-
testation. Je crois que vous savez mieux que per-
sonne combien de respect méritent des hommes qui
ont servi avec gloire, et dont la tête est couverte de
cheveux blancs; c'est pourquoi je vous conseille
d'éviter de pareilles disputes à l'avenir. Par ce
moyen vous conserverez la tranquillité d'âme qui
est nécessaire pour vos ouvrages, et il me sera tou-
jours plus agréable de voir les passions représentées
dans vos drames que de les lire dans vos lettres.
Au surplus, je suis votre affectionnée.
Signé CATHERINE."
"Je conseille," adds M. Grimm, "à tout min-
istre chargé du département des lettres de cachet,
d'enregistrer ce formulaire à son greffe, et à tout
hasard de n'en jamais délivrer d'autres aux poetes
et à tont ce qui a droit d'être du genre irritable,
c'est-à-dire enfant et fou par état. Après cette
lettre qui mérite peut-être autant l'immortalité que
les monumens de la sagesse et de la gloire du règne
actuel de la Russie, je meurs de peur de m'affermir
dans la pensée hérétique que l'esprit ne gâte jamais
rien, même sur le trône.'

*4

the services of the offending actress on the occasion. Sumarokoff did not venture to take any step against his Excellency the Governor; but when the heroine advanced in full Muscovite costume on the stage, the indignant poet rushed forward from behind the scenes, seized her reluctantly by the collar and waist, and tossed her furiously from the boards. He then went home, and indited two querulous and sublime epistles to the Empress. Catherine, in the midst of her gigantic schemes of conquest and improvement, had the patience to sit down and address the following good-humoured and sensible exhortation to the disordered bard.

But it is at last necessary to close these entertaining volumes,-though we have not been able to furnish our readers with any thing like a fair specimen of their various and

We add but one trivial remark, which is forced upon us, indeed, at almost every page of this correspondence. The profession of literature must be much wholesomer in France than in any other country:-for though the volumes before us may be regarded as a great literary obituary, and record the deaths, we suppose, of more than an hundred persons of some note in the world of letters, we scarcely meet with an individual who is less than seventy or eighty years of age-and no very small proportion actually last till near ninety. or an hundred-although the greater part of them seem neither to have lodged so high, nor lived so low, as their more active and abstemious brethren in other cities. M. Grimm observes that, by a remarkable fatality, Europe was deprived, in the course of little more than six months, of the splendid and commanding talents of Rousseau, Voltaire, Haller, Linnæus, Heidegger, Lord Chatham, and Le Kain-a constellation of genius, he adds, that when it set to us, must have carried a dazzling light into the domains of the King of Terrors, and excited no small alarm in his ministersif they bear any resemblance to the ministers of other sovereigns.

(January, 1810.)

Memoirs of the Life and Writings of VICTOR ALFIERI. Written by Himself. 2 vols. 8vo.

pp. 614. London: 1810.

THIS book contains the delineation of an extraordinary and not very engaging character; and an imperfect sketch of the rise and progress of a great poetical genius. It is deserving of notice in both capacities-but chiefly in the first; as there probably never was an instance in which the works of an anthor were more likely to be influenced by his personal peculiarities. Pride and enthusiasm-irrepressible vehemence and ambition -and an arrogant, fastidious, and somewhat narrow system of taste and opinions, were the

great leading features in the mind of Alfieri. Strengthened, and in some degree produced, by a loose and injudicious education, those traits were still further developed by the premature and protracted indulgences of a very dissipated youth; and when, at last, they admitted of an application to study, imparted their own character of impetuosity to those more meritorious exertions;-converted a taste into a passion; and left him, for a great part of his life, under the influence of a true and irresistible inspiration. Every thing in

him, indeed, appears to have been passion and ungoverned impulse; and, while he was raised above the common level of his degenerate countrymen by a stern and self-willed haughtiness, that might have become an ancient Roman, he was chiefly distinguished from other erect spirits by the vehemence which formed the basis of his character, and by the uncontrolled dominion which he allowed to his various and successive propensities. So constantly and entirely, indeed, was he under the influence of these domineering attachments, that his whole life and character might be summed up by describing him as the victim, successively, of a passion for horses-a passion for travelling-a passion for literature and a passion for what he called independence.

The memoirs of such a life, and the confessions of such a man, seem to hold out a promise of no common interest and amusement. Yet, though they are here presented to us with considerable fulness and apparent fidelity, we cannot say that we have been much amused or interested by the perusal. There is a proud coldness in the narrative, which neither invites sympathy, nor kindles the imagination. The author seems to disdain giving himself en spectacle to his readers; and chronicles his various acts of extravagance and fits of passion, with a sober and languid gravity, to which we can recollect no parallel. In this review of the events and feelings of a life of adventure and agitation, he is never once betrayed into the genuine language of emotion; but dwells on the scenes of his childhood without tenderness, and on the struggles and tumults of his riper years without any sort of animation. We look in vain through the whole narrative for one gleam of that magical eloquence by which Rousseau transports us into the scenes he describes, and into the heart which responded to those scenes, or even for a trait of that social garrulity which has enabled Marmontel and Cumberland to give a grace to obsolete anecdote, and to people the whole space around them with living pictures of the beings among whom they existed. There is not one character attempted, from beginning to end of this biography;-which is neither lively, in short, nor eloquent-neither playful, impassioned, nor sarcastic. Neither is it a mere unassuming outline of the author's history and publications, like the short notices of Hume or Smith. It is, on the contrary, a pretty copious and minute narrative of all his feelings and adventures; and contains, as we should suppose, a tolerably accurate enumeration of his migrations, prejudices, and antipathies. It is not that he does not condescend to talk about trifling things, but that he will not talk about them in a lively or interesting manner; and systematically declines investing any part of his statement with those picturesque details, and that warm colouring, by which alone the story of an individual can often excite much interest among strangers. Though we have not been able to see the original of these Memoirs, we will venture to add, that they

are by no means well written; and that they will form no exception to the general, observation, that almost all Italian prose is feeble and deficient in precision. There is something, indeed, quite remarkable in the wordiness of most of the modern writers in this language,—the very copiousness and smoothness of which seems to form an apology for the want of force or exactness-and to hide, with its sweet and uniform flow, both from the writer and the reader, that penury of thought, and looseness of reasoning, which are so easily detected when it is rendered into a harsher dialect. Unsatisfactory, however, as they are in many particulars, it is still impossible to peruse the memoirs of such a man as Alfieri without interest and gratification. The traits of ardour and originality that are disclosed through all the reserve and gravity of the style, beget a continual expectation and curiosity; and even those parts of the story which seem to belong rather to his youth, rank, and education, than to his genius or peculiar character, acquire a degree of importance, from considering how far those very circumstances may have assisted the formation, and obstructed the development of that character and genius; and in what respects its peculiarities may be referred to the obstacles it had to encounter, in misguidance, passion, and prejudice.

Alfieri was born at Asti, in Piedmont, of noble and rich, but illiterate parents, in January 1749. The history of his childhood, which fills five chapters, contains nothing very remarkable. The earliest thing he remembers, is being fed with sweetmeats by an old uncle with square-toed shoes. He was educated at home by a good-natured, stupid priest; and having no brother of his own age, was without any friend or companion for the greater part of his childhood. When about seven years old, he falls in love with the smooth faces of some male novices in a neighbouring church; and is obliged to walk about with a green net on his hair, as a punishment for fibbing. To the agony which he endured from this infliction, he ascribes his scrupulous adherence to truth through the rest of his life;

all this notwithstanding, he is tempted to steal a fan from an old lady in the family. and grows silent, melancholy, and reserved; -at last, when about ten years of age, he is sent to the academy at Turin.

This migration adds but little to the interest of the narrative, or the improvement of the writer. The academy was a great, ill-regulated establishment; in one quarter of which the pages of the court, and foreigners of distinction, were indulged in every sort of dissipation-while the younger pupils were stowed into filthy cells, ill fed, and worse educated. There he learned a little Latin, and tried, in vain, to acquire the elements of mathematics; for, after the painful application of several months, he was never able to comprehend the fourth proposition of Euclid; and found, he says, all his life after, that he had "a completely anti-geometrical head." From the bad diet, and preposterously early hours of

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