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striking contrast to the lectures of A W. Manfreds, Antonys, sentimental villains, Schlegel, which we recently examined. and virtuous courtesans. We will endeavor, in a brief notice, to con The second defect inherent in the choice vey some notion of its contents.
of singularities and exceptions in matters The first condition of dramatic poetry is of passion, is exaggeration. When a poet that its passion be true. And at the thea- represents a simple natural passion, he has ire no passion is true but that which is gen- a rule and measure : he sees how passions eral; that which all the world feels. The act upon men, and what he sees he paints. heart of the audience is to be moved only But when he represents a character which by that which is common to all men ; psy- is an exception to the ordinary rules of huchological curiosities, idiosyncrasies, bi-man feeling, where is his measure? In enzarreries, and exceptions, may interest, but deavoring to imagine what would be the they do not move. Here lies the difference thoughts and feelings of such a person, he between the ancient and modern drama, leaves the general ground of experience to between Racine and Victor Hugo. The plunge into the regions of fancy : the result old poet selects for his subjects the most is the portrait of a madman. Let us also universal passions; and these passions, remember that when the passions are exag. which are simple in their nature, he repre- gerated they all resemble each other, and sents with simplicity. The modern poet, lose their distinctive characteristics. On on the contrary, seeks exceptional and bi- entering a theatre at the close of a modern zarre cases with as much diligence as the play, and on seeing the heroine a prey to a ancient poet avoided them Take the ex- convulsive frenzy, on hearing her cries and ample of Love.
When the drama has ex- sobs as she wrings her hands and drags herhausted the emotions which the exhibition self along the ground, how are we to know of the simple passion excites, it seeks emo- whether it is grief, rage, love, or hate, which tion in the painting of singular and fantas- drives her to these excesses ? Passions are tic passions; this singularity rapidly leads only various and distinguishable from each to extravagance in the incidents, and melo- other whilst they are moderate : they have drame triumphs; for what is melodrame then their natural language and gestures, and but the substitution of physical for mental they interest by their diversity. When they effects ? 'Marion de Lorme' is an exam- become excessive they become uniform ; ple of the over-refining tendency of modern and exaggeration, which is supposed to give poets.
Victor Hugo has there painted the relief and contrast to passion, only destroys purity of love in the breast of a courtesan; it. the thing is possible, but not vraisemblable;} If to the foregoing we add, that the tenit is an exception, a contrast, and therefore dency of modern art is material, that it undramatic. Modern literature manifests seeks to excite the senses more than the a striking tendency towards the excep- feelings, and excites even the feelings only tional in character and passion; it loves to through the senses, we shall have tolerably elevate the exception into the importance expressed the general ideas of M. Saint of the rule ; it prefers idiosyncrasies to nat- Marc Girardin on the subject. Let us folural passions; it seizes on a detail, a fea- low him now into some details. ture, or a contrast, and out of this makes a “Every feeling," he says, "has its histocharacter. But idiosyncrasies and excep-ry; and this history is interesting because tions have two great faults ; monotony and it is the abridgment of the history of humanexaggeration.
ity. Although the feelings do not change, Exceptions and curiosities soon become yet they suffer from the effect of religious monotonous. Bizarre people are only amus- and political revolutions. They retain their ing for an hour; we afterwards become tired nature, but they change their expression; of seeing their ideas and sentiments revolv- and it is in studying these changes of exing in the same eccentric circle. There pression that literary criticism writes, withis, in truth, something more tedious than out meaning it, the history of the world." being like all the world, and that is being His lectures are contributions towards always the same. Commonplace people are such a history. The love of life is the first more tolerable than monotonous people. passion of which he treats: it is also the Remember also that bizarrerie is easily most elementary of all. There have been imitated. Consisting as it does of only one times when fashion has pretended to disparticular trait, a detail, not an ensemble, it own this love of life; when stoicism, or is easily copied. Hence the multiplicity of epicureanism, has erected contempt of
death into a system: but this has always And she compares herself to Niobe, whom, been an affectation. At all times, and with
Like encircling ivy all men, love of life has been a real and in
The eager-growing rock subduedtense passion. At all times, when men have given a natural expression to their feelings, She subsequently reproaches the Thebans
a strong illustration of her horror of death. they have expressed their love of life. Achilles, the ideal of Greek manliness, and who with indifference to her fate, and the gods was always willing to sacrifice his life to
with injustice. Iphigenia is less proud something greater, yet when complimented treaties for life are expressed without re
and less resolute, and her passionate enby Ulysses, who meets him in Hades, on his now commanding the dead, and thereby serve. She, too, regrets the light of the being greater than when he ruled over the day; she, too, dreads the shades; she, too, living, Achilles mournfully replies that he revolts instinctively against death : an unwould rather be a day-laborer and a slave happy life, she says, is preferable to a if alive, than a king amongst the dead. — splendid death; xazos šūv xpeñorov, in Javeis (od. xi., 487.)
xalūs. And the audience sympathize with
her. So would the reader, could he but μη δη μου θανατον γε παραυτα φαιδιμ’ Οδυσσεύ. read her touching speech; but the splendid βουλκμην κ' επαρoυρος έων θητευεμεν αλλω original we dare not, and Potter's feeble ανδρι παρ' άκληρω, ώ μη βιοτος πολυς είη, translation we will not, quote. η πασιν νεκυεσσι καταφθιμενοισιν ανασσειν.
Polyxena is more resigned, because she Compare also, 'hateful old age,' mpaï ta has less to regret. Homeless and fatherless, , TTV&Q03 (T!. xix. 356), which energetically she can only live to be a slave; and she reexpresses his love of life. This would ap- signs herself to death, but without pomp, pear contemptible to Stoicism, but in their without stoical affectation. The Polyxena of secret hearts all men sympathize with it. Seneca, on the contrary, invites death with M. Girardin selects as illustrations of the bravado, her magnanimity borders upon love of life, the 'Ajax' and ` Antigone' of fury, and she terrifies Pyrrhus, who is to Sophocles, the ‘Iphigenia' and 'Polyxena' immolate her :of Euripides, the ‘Polyxena' of Seneca, Audax virago non tulit retro gradum: the ‘ Iphigénie' of Racine, and the Cata- Conversa ad ictum stat, truci vultu ferox. rina' of Victor Hugo. Let us follow him Tam fortis animus omnium mentes ferit, in his course.
Novumque monstrum, est Pyrrhus ad cædem
piger. Antigone, Polyxena,' and Iphigenia, are three maidens sacrificed in the flower of
This is the poetry of stoicism, of disease, their age. Neither of them affects a cour
of ennui, and affectation. By the stoics, age or contempt she does not feel; neither of death was considered as nothing. Mors est them resigns willingly her youth and hopes;
It is not an evil, but the absence all three weep without shame: weep and yet of all evil: mors adeò extra omne malum resign themselves. We see here a triumph est, ut sit extra omnem malorum metum. of art which excites pity without exhaust- There is nothing after death, for death iting it; which mixes the plaint with the re- self is nothing. signation, that they may excite pity and re Post mortem nihil est, ipsaque mors nihil.* spect, and that these two feelings may tem Such was the doctrine. What was the per each other in the spectator's breast. practice? At that period of languor and Antigone is a martyr, sacrificing herself to luxury, as M. Nisard well says,Ş a period her religious sentiments; but she has not of monstrous effeminacies, of appetites to the resignation of a martyr. In bidding which the world could scarcely suffice, of adieu to life she knows and feels what she perfumed baths, of easy and disorderly inis quitting :
trigues, there were daily men of all ranks, Behold me, fellow-citizens;
of all fortunes, of all ages, who released I tread the last path
themselves from their evils by suicide. I see the last beam of the sun
Marcellinus || is attacked with a painful I shall see it no more. For the all-reposing Hades leads me
Iphigin Aul. v. 1252. Compare also To the Acherontic shores.
• Troades,' v. 629-30. No hymeneal rites may charm me,
# Seneca, . Troades,' 1151. No nuptial hymn be sung.*
§ · Etudes sur les poetes Latines,' i. p. 95. Antigone, ed. Böckh, v. 775.
Seneca, Epist. lxxvii.
but curable malady; he is young, rich, has sage; notice not merely the beauty of the slaves, friends, every thing to make life verse, but the delicacy of the feeling ; nopleasant no matter, he conceives the tice how fine the transition from obedience fancy of dying. He assembles his friends to the implied prayer. She offers herself and consults them as if he were about to as a victim, because it is her father's will. marry. After discussing with them the But can he will it? Can he slay the darproject of suicide, he puts it to the vote. ling of his eyes, the child who first lisped Some advise him to do as he pleases, but a the nanie of father, who listened to the stoic present bids him die bravely. He fol- warrior's exploits, and flattered him by asklowed the advice and killed himself
. Suicide ing him the names of the countries he was was a fashion. The great teacher of the doc- going to conquer ? The conclusion of her trine ended his contemptible existence ac- speech is touched with the same delicate cording to his precepts; but it was by the hand. order of Nero; during his life he had
Ne craignez rien! mon cæur de votre honneur shown no contempt of life's enjoyments. jaloux, He had been Nero's pander, and he received Ne fera point rougir un père tel que vous ; a pander's wages. These were not trifles; Et si je n'avais eu que ma vie à défendre, besides his villas and superbly furnished Mais à mon triste sort, vous le savez, seigneur,
J'aurai su renfermer un souvenir si tendre. palace, his hard cash alone amounted to Une mère, un amant attachaient leur bonheur 300,000 sestertia, or 2,421,8001. sterling of our money. (Tacit. xiii. 42.) After this, we Ma mère est devant vous, et vous voyez ses
larmes. may be permitted to doubt the sincerity of
Pardonnez aux efforts que je viens de tenter, stoicism; nothing can stagger our convic- Pour prévenir les pleurs que je vais leur couter. tion of its absurdity. In the Iphigénie' of Racine we see nei
There is nothing in Euripides at all ther the Greek ingenuousness, nor the Ro- equal to this. Her prayer has treble force, man affectation. She is resigned, but with because it does not seein to be a prayer. out bravado; she regrets life, but without She does not lose an inch of her dignity, not terror, without violence. There is some a jot of her filial obedience, but she alludes thing touching in her respectful submis- to all that can make life dear, and gently sion :
places before her father's mind the extent of
the sacrifice which he demands. 'Iphigénie,' Je saurai, s'il le faut, victime obéissante Tendre au fer de Calchas une tête innocente,
says M. Girardin, 'immolates her grief to Et, respectant le coup par vous-même ordonné,
paternal authority; she is anxious not to Vous rendre tout le sang que vous ma vez donné: offend by too loud a murmur. This is
what Christianity has made of the human touching, because this submission is full of heart.' Observe that Polyxena, in Seneca, mute prayers for life; touching, because braves death, because she despises life; the life she sacrifices is dear to her, al- Iphigénie meets death calmly, because it though her father's will is dearer. Listen is her father's will, and for that father she to these sweet verses, which have the pathos has infinite and reverential love. The of those in Euripides, from which they are Iphigénie of Racine resembles more the imitated, together with an impress peculiar- Antigone of Sophocles than the Iphigenia ly Racinean.
of Euripides : indeed Racine, throughout, Si pourtant ce respect, si cette obéissance has nearer affinities to Sophocles, being Parait digne à vos yeux d'une autre récompense; the consummate flower of French art, as Si d'une mère en pleurs vous plaignez les ennuis, Sophocles was of the Greek; and we shall J'ose vous dire ici qu'en l'état où je suis, Peut être assez d'honneurs environnaient ma vie of the Iphigenia of Euripides in the 'Cat
find a nearer resemblance to the passions Pour ne pas souhaiter qu'elle me fat ravie, Ni qu'en me l'arrachant un sévère destin
arina of Victor Hugo : nearer, we mean, Si près de ma naissance en eut marqué la fin. in respect of its unhesitating expression of Fille d'Agamemnon, c'est moi qui la première, Seigneur, vous appelai de ce dous nom de père; sentiments.
the love of life, unmingled with any noble C'est moi, si long temps le plaisir de vos yeux, Vous ai fait de ce nom remercier les dieux.
Angelo, the tyrant of Padua, tells CatariHélas ! avec plaisir je me faisais conter
na that she must die, and bids her choose Tous les noms des pays que vous allez dompter; between the dagger or poison. She exEt déjà d'Ilion présageant la conquête,
claims, 'No: 'tis horrible! I will not ! I D'un triomphe si beau je préparais la tête.
cannot ! - Think a little, while there is yet Pray, reader, notice the art of this pas- time. You are all-powerful, reflect. A
woman, a lonely woman, abandoned, with antique Iphigenia, for her regrets embrace out force and without desence, without pa- those things which are universal benefits, rents, without friends! Assassinate her! the light, the beauty of the skies, the Poison her in a miserable corner of her delight in nature. This is a characteristic own house! O mother! mother! mother! of the love of life with the ancients. That
Bid me not have courage! Am I which delights them is nature; that which forced to have courage, 1? I am not delights the moderns is society. The Eg. ashamed of being a feeble woman whom mont of Goethe, when on the point of death, you ought to pity! I weep because death exclaims, ' No escape ! Sweet life! beautiterrifies me. It is not my fault.'
ful and pleasant habit of existence and acLet us not be understood as comparing tivity, must I part from thee !—part so this melodramatic rubbish with the poetry abandoned ! Not in the tumult of battle, of Euripides; our comparison rests on the amidst the clang of arms, dost thou bid me horror both women unhesitatingly manifest adieu! Compare this with the soliloquy of for death. M. Girardin remarks on Cata- Ajax (in Sophocles), who might also have rina's passion that it is "the cry of the regretted his arms, his combats, his rebody in the agony, not the cry of the soul. nown; but who, like Antigone and IphigeIt is the flesh which revolts against death; nia, dwells only on the beams of the sun, but it is a purely instinctive and material the sacred land of his birth, the fountains revolt, in which the soul takes no part. I and the rivers, the fields of Troy, and witness the sensations of one condemned to Athens his second country: and compare death : I see the flesh quiver, the visage this also, as M. Girardin bids us, with the turn pale, the limbs trembling; I witness soliloquy of Hamlet, who speaks only of an agony. But why is the material death the whips and scorns of time. Thus dif. alone represented? Why do you suppress ferently,' exclaims our author, do men die the most noble, the most elevated emotions in the north and in the south : in the north, of the dying creature, those which address bidding adieu to man and to society with themselves to the real pity of men, the pity satire or contempt; in the south, bidding which is reconciled with admiration and adieu to nature in regrets full of love. But respect, and not that which borders on dis- in Shakspeare, as in Sophocles, the idea of gust? I am pleased to see Iphigénie re- death is one of terror; ergo, the love of gretting the light of the sun so sweet to life is strong. In Rome, not only the stosee;' I am pleased with her terrors at the ics, but the other poets, looked on death as subterranean shades ;' I am touched by a glorious exit. her regrets for life, but in hier plaints there is The truth is, Rome was peopled with something beside the physical fear of death; soldiers more than men; these soldiers had and when she resigns herself, what nobility! their contempt of death formed in perpetual what dignity! How that resignation touches campaigns. "How little they regarded the our hearts; so that our pity for her can be life of others their whole history shows. prolonged without becoming a sort of un- | The gladiatorial fights, brutal and relentless, easy pain. There is a truth, certainly, in must have hardened the minds of spectators; the shrieks of Catarina; but it is a truth and there were no softening influences to which, so to speak, belongs to natural his-counteract them. How different were the tory. In the plaints of Iphigénie there is a Greeks! They did not pretend to despise truth more elevated and more human.” this beautiful life; they did not affect to be
To return to Iphigénie, M. Girardin above humanity. Life was precious, and points out the difference of the ideas enter they treasured it; treasured it not with tained by the Greek and French poet : a petty fear, but noble ingenuousness. They difference indicative of that between an- loved life, and they said so : when the time cient and modern society. The modern came to risk it for their honor, for their Iphigénie, daughter of the king of kings, country, or for another, when something and destined for the wife of Achilles, they loved better was to be gained by the thinks of the honors which surround her, sacrifice, they died unflinchingly.* The and these form the principal objects of her tears shed by Achilles and Ulysses did not regret. The antiqiie Iphigenia only re- unman them; they fought terribly, as they grets the loss of the blessed sunshine. Only the daughter of_Agamemnon can talk like the heroine of Racine · there is no dying who foretells his death. “Iliad.' xix. 420.
* Compare the reply of Achilles to Xanthus,
Com girl who could not repeat the verses of the I pare also Alcestis in Euripides.
had loved tenderly. Philoctetes in pain madness of passion, without any mixture of howls like a wild beast, because he is in philosophy. This second species is the one agony and feels no shame in expressing it; most treated by ancient poets. Phædra, but these shrieks have not softened his soul : Ajax, and Dido, do not argue respecting he is still the same stern, implacable, terri- their right to dispose of their lives: they ble Philoctetes. The Romans, in their yield to the counsels of despair, without ardread of becoming effeminate, became gument, without subtilizing, without plungmarble. They despised death, they des- ing into profound reveries like Hamlet, pised pain. The gladiator was trained to without experiencing the diseased wearibe wounded, without a muscle indicating ness of Werther, without cursing society that the wound was painful; he was taught like Chatterton. Their deaths are the exto look at impending death without a plosions of despair, not the conclusions of change of countenance. To be above pain a philosophic debate. They have been imwas thought manly. They did not see that patient at grief, and in a moment of aninstead of being above humanity, in this guish they have cast away life. they sunk miserably below it. You receive a blow, and you do not wince;
Lucemque perosi so does a
Projicere animas. stone. You are face to face with death, and you have no regrets, you despise life; But death has quickly cured them of that then are you unworthy of life. In Homer, hate of life! How gladly would they reapnot only the heroes, but the very gods ex. pear on earth, once more to enjoy the light press their pain, and the wounded Mars goes of day, even at the expense of suffering those howling off the field. If it is a condition of evils which they believed insupporta ble ! our organization that we feel pain, it is
Quam vellent athere in alto only affectation to suppress the expression. Nunc et pauperiem et duros perferre labores ! Could silence stifle pain it were desirable; Fata obstant.* but to stifle the cry is not to stifle the feelingto have a feeling and pretend In the tragedies of Seneca no one kills himnot to have it, is not being above, but be- self without asserting a philosophical right; low humanity. If you despise pain why
to die in a moment of despair would be unnot also pleasure ? and if both, wherein worthy and unwise ; a man must know that are you superior to the vegetable? The he is at liberty to kill himself if he pleases. same sensibility which causes pain, pro
(Edipus discusses this point with his daughduces also pleasure; to be free from 'either ter. I have resigned the empire of Thebes, is not to be human.
but not the empire of myself. I have powThe passion of the love of life naturally er over my own life and death; leads us to the treatment of suicide in the
jus vitæ ac necis ancient and modern drama; we will, there
Meæ penes me est. fore, accompany M. Saint Marc Girardin in his lectures on the subject. He justly
No one can interdict my death. Death is remarks, that the idea of suicide is not an every where; God, in his wisdom, has willremarks, that the idea of suicide is not an ed it so. Ubique mors est ; optime hoc cavit
. instinctive, but a reflective one; the proof Deus." In Sophocles, on the contrary, Ediis, that fashion generally regulates the form of self-destruction. In ancient times, men pus, though he longs for death, dares not died as stoics or as epicureans. In our inflict it: he only prays Apollo to hasten
the hour of his deliverance. times, suicides are imitated from the heroes of novels and dramas. The victims are all
Seneca's plays are despicable rubbish, if enthusiastic, melancholy, full of disdain for viewed poetically; but there is one light in society, full of anger against the laws: in a and that is, in comparison with those of
which they may advantageously be studied : word, such as the theatre has made them; for in this respect the theatre does not bor: Sophocles, with reference to the different row from society its suicidal ideas and feelings and ideas entertained by the Greeks passions, but society borrows them from the and Romans. Suicide, for example, is never theatre.
treated in Sophocles as a question of philosTogether with this species of suicide, ophy; in Seneca, always. In the Geeek wherein philosophy and passion unite, dramatist it is the
effect of violent passion : there is another species, which may be
hence dramatic. Even the suicide of Ajax, found in both ancient and modern society,
the most premeditated of all those in the and which is caused by the vehemence and
*Æneid.' vi. 436.