Puslapio vaizdai

For if the dreamer, after he had awoke, were to relate to me his nonsense, why should I reward him? Why should I say to him: Dream on, dreamer of foolish dreams; while you are sleeping, I will work for you? No! To the uncertain work of revery, man is right in offering only the uncertain hope of glory. It is by means of the hope of glory that he supports his revery, not knowing what his dreams will bring forth. But the day when poetry bursts forth from the brain of the divine dreamer, then in addition to glory, man gives to genius, especially in our own times, honor and fortune; and often, what seems so extraordinary, at the time when it pleases God to take from genius some of its own strength and beauty; as if when man is anxious to add to the gifts which God has given him, God takes back his own, in order to avoid the mingling of the treasures of earth with the treasures of heaven.

We have examined the different vicissitudes of sentiment which man has of his own life. We have seen how ancient and modern literature expressed them, and what a remarkable difference there is between them. One inspiring the love of life, the other the love of death; one borrowing its images and its ideas from every thing which lives, from all that is embellished with the light and brilliancy of day; the other deriving its thoughts from the meditation of human destiny, and its emotions in the spectacle, and in contemplations, of death; one more simple, the other more subtle and refined; the one which represents the beautiful in the arts and the true in morals, the other which, in the arts, represents the exaggerated and the fantastic, and which in morals, represents materialism, disguised under the fine name of sensibility; in a word, one more wholesome and more moral than the other, because, in making us love life, it makes us love the duties which we are called upon to discharge; because it encourages man to be patient and firm; while the other, in inspiring us with a disgust for life, inspires us also with a disgust of our duties, and makes us love indolence in expecting nothing but annihilation.




We do not wish to define paternal love. It is the merit of dramatic literature not to define sentiments, but to put them into action. We ought then, in our criticisms upon this literature, to distrust our capacity for analysis and definition ought not to dissect that which is alive.

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We will take paternal love as it has been represented in our ancient drama, especially in Corneille, and compare it with paternal love as it has been represented in the dramas and romances of our own times.


In Corneille, paternal love has an extraordinary character of firmness and grandeur. At the first glance, it would seem that Don Diego and the old Horace are wanting in tenderThey have not, at least, that which passes among us for tenderness: we mean this weakness and this agitation which we call sensibility. But take these great souls at the moments when they are off their guard, at those moments when some unexpected event deprives them of the command which they have over themselves. Take the old Horace when his sons are going to the battle:

Ah! [says he,] do not overcome my feelings!
My voice wants expression, and my heart boldness
To encourage you in your aspirations!

In this farewell I have only tears.

Do your duty, and leave the rest to the gods!

Act iii. scene 3.

Here tenderness is displayed in the manner in which a great soul should feel, which is troubled and acknowledges

its trouble. This old man who appeared severe and unmerciful, knows even how to console his daughter and his daughter-in-law, Camille and Sabine, and to console them as we console them, by partaking of their pains and sympathizing with them. Thus when in the despite of the Horatii and Curatii, Rome and Alba wished to seek other combatants :

I do not conceal it, [says he,] I have joined my vows to yours. If merciful Heaven had heard my voice,

Alba would be compelled to make another choice.
We will soon see the Horatii triumph,

Without seeing their arms soiled with the blood of the Curatii;
And upon the event of a more human combat,
Will now depend the honor of the Roman name.
The wisdom of the gods orders it otherwise.

Act iii. scene 5.

Thus all Roman as he is, he would rather have preferred less glory and less danger for his sons, and he does not conceal from his daughters the sorrow which he feels. But the gods will it to be so, and the glory of Rome demands it. He is therefore resigned. Shall we say that on this account, the old Horace loves his country more than he loves his children? No; that only shows that the old Horace entertains for his country the same feelings which he does for his children. He loves his children with tenderness and sensibility, as we all love them; but he loves his country with a devotion which determines him to do and suffer all for it.

In the old Horace, paternal love bursts forth, especially when it is in accordance with duty, and has nothing to constrain it. See this scene, where he knows at last that his son has caused Rome to triumph, and that he is conqueror and alive :

O, my son! my joy! the pride of our age!
O, unexpected prop of a falling state!

Courage worthy of Rome, and blood worthy of the Horatii !
The bulwark of your country and the glory of your race!
When will I be able to extinguish in your embraces,
The error of which I had formed such false sentiments!
When will my love enable me to bathe your victorious forehead
With tears of ecstasy and joy!

Act iv. scene 2.

This old Roman, who at the departure of his son, accused himself of having tears in his eyes, now weeps without wish

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ing to conceal it; he weeps, and his tears of joy affect us more than his tears of sorrow, because they lay open to us the depth of this paternal love, which, until then, was concealed from our eyes, with a kind of shrinking bashfulness.

Such is the old Horace, such are the fathers in Corneille; they are true men, because they all have humane sentiments; but ready at the same time to sacrifice these sentiments to things which are superior to the heart of man, and which constitute its law.


There is in the character of the old Horace, a trait which we would feel culpable to forget. It is the sentiment which he entertains of the power which belongs to him as the father of a family. This trait is altogether Roman. "Jus autem potestatis," says Gaius, copied by Justinian in his Institutes, "proprium est civium Romanorum; nulli enim alii sunt homines qui talem in liberos habeant potestatem, qualem nos habemus." The Roman had the right of life and death over his children; he could sell them, according to the law of the Twelve Tables. It mattered not if the son married and had children; he did not the less belong to his father, with his wife and children. Even the Consulate did not free the sons from the bonds of paternal authority, and the political law yielded to the civil law. This sentiment of absolute power gave to paternal love among the Romans an extraordinary character of dignity. The father felt himself a magistrate. Thus in Corneille; when the old Horace hears of the flight of his son, he does not hesitate to condemn him, and vows that he will punish him: "I call the Supreme Powers to witness, that before this is ended, these hands, my own hands, will wash out in blood the dishonor of the Romans." Do not expect of the father of a family invested with such power the weakness of paternal love, such as we know it. In Roman society, the father had an immovable belief in his authority, which he felt had emanated from nature, and confirmed by the laws and customs of his country. In modern society, on the other hand, the father sometimes seems to have doubts with regard to his power, and he endeavors to make up for authority by tenderness; but tenderness does not create authority. It softens authority, it adorns obedience, it establishes between the father and his children a sympathy, which by degrees introduces the idea of equality, and which for this reason weakens the idea of paternal authority. The tender

ness of the father of a family, if he wishes to be obeyed and respected, does not in any respect resemble another kind of tenderness. Paternal love ought not to be a passion, but a duty. Such is truly paternal love in the old Horace, majestic in his joy when he embraces his victorious son, as in his anger when he condemns his son whom he believes to be culpable; in a word, he is calm, and master of himself; and it is the true character of the sentiment where the idea of duty enters largely into it. Nothing calms the heart of man so much as duty.

In the Cid, the paternal love of Don Diego is of the same character of firmness and dignity. Don Diego loves his son, but when the honor of his house is compromised, he does not hesitate to risk the life of his son, he does not hesitate to tell him those terrible words: die or kill. Honor in Don Diego, as patriotism in the old Horace, causes paternal love to be silent without extinguishing it. Don Diego, it is true, has not the time to experience the alarms which agitate the old Horace, and which, in spite of him, betrays his paternal tenderness; for in the Cid, revenge follows soon after the outrage. Don Diego cannot remain dishonored even for an hour; his Spanish pride will not bear this insult; and Corneille would reproach himself if he permitted the white hairs of this old man to reappear before they were avenged. When Don Diego has remitted his cause into the hands of

his son,

Overwhelmed [says he] with misfortunes which destiny
heaps upon me,

I go to deplore them. Go, run, fly and avenge us!

Act i. scene 5.

Concealed as long as the insult lasts, he only reappears when he is avenged. We do not then see his alarms during the battle, we do not see the struggle between honor and paternal tenderness. It is not, in fact, in this struggle that Corneille has placed the interest of his piece. There is another love, more passionate, stronger than paternal love, which must sustain the struggle against the sentiment of honor. The tears which paternal tenderness have forced from Don Diego, have awakened perhaps in our own eyes the inflexibility of the law of honor; and Corneille required that we should believe in the fatality of the law of honor, so that, at a more remote period, we may excuse Rodrigo for

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