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Et fi fa liberté te faifait entreprendre,
Tu ne m'euffes jamais empêché de la rendre ;
Ma faveur fait ta gloire, & ton pouvoir en vient;
Elle feule t' éleve, & feule te foutient,
C'est elle qu'on adore, et non pas ta perfonne,
Emilia enters, and behaves with the most infolent pride, undaunted affurance, and unfeeling ingratitude; and declares to Auguftus, that as long as fhe is handsome enough to get lovers he shall never want enemies. Auguftus ftill adheres to his plan of clemency, (for that too is plan, and the refult of prudent deliberation, not of generous magnanimity) he pardons Maximus, forgives Cinna in fpite of his unworthiness, and bestows upon him Emilia and the confulfhip. Emilia is at last mitigated, and modeftly tells Auguftus that heaven has ordained a change in the commonwealth fince it has changed her heart. What is there in all this that can move either pity or terror? In what is it moral, in what is it interesting, where is it pathetic ?
It is a common error in the plan of Corneille's tragedies, that the interest of the piece turns upon fome unknown perfon, generally a haughty princefs; so that instead of the representation of an important event, and the characters of illuftrious perfons, the bufinefs of the drama is the love-intrigue of a termagant lady, who, if fhe is a Roman, infults the Barbarians, if the is a Barbarian, braves the Romans, and even to her lover is infolent and fierce. Were fuch a person to be produced on our theatre, he would be taken for a mad poetefs escaped from her keepers in Bedlam, who, fancying herself a queen, was ranting, and delivering her mandates in rhyme upon the stage. All the excufe that can be made for Corneille in fuch representation, is, that characters like thefe, dignified indeed with nobler fentiments, were admired in the romances in which the manners of chivalry are exagge rated. By the inftitutions of chivalry every valiant knight profeffed a peculiar devotion
devotion to the fair fex, in whofe caufe, as the champion of the defencelefs, and protector of the oppreffed, he was always ready to take arms. A lady's intereft being often the object, and fometimes her person the prize of a combat, fhe was fupposed to infpire his courage; and, as he was to be not less distinguished for politeness than valour, he affected an air of fubmiffive obedience, while fhe, by the courtesy of knighthood, was allowed to affume a ftile of fuperiority and command. To carry thefe manners into ancient Greece and Rome, and weave them into a confpiracy there, betrays want of judgment. In the strain of romance this drama is carried on. The lady enjoins her lover to kill Auguftus; that adventure atchieved he is to hope for her hand; his glory is to be derived from her acknowledging him worthy of it; fhe is continually exhorting him to deferve the honour of being beloved by her. The fate of Auguftus, of the Roman empire, all the duties of the citizen and the friend, are to depend on her decifion.
decifion. She fays to Auguftus, when he has discovered the confpiracy, as a fufficient vindication of her lover,
Oui, tout ce qu'il a fait, il l'a fait pour me plaire, Et j'en etois, feigneur, la cause et le falaire. The author certainly intended to recommend Cinna to his fpectators merely as a loyal lover, according to the phrase of romance in every other light he appears contemptible, and indeed fuffers himself to be ufed with the greatest contempt and indignity. As Shakespear laboured to fhew that the motives of Brutus were untinctured by any bad paffion; on the contrary every movement in the mind of Cinna has the character of baseness, and whether he confpires or whether he repents of it, he is still, as he acknowledges himself to be,
Un efprit malheureux, Qui ne forme qu'en lache un deffein genereux.
From this unhappy wretch who bafely conceives a generous defign, let us turn to Brutus. There we fhall fee the different judgment