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trust therefore that the local government will not be interfered with, in consequence of the restless spirit of a few ultra-philanthropists, the activity of whose benevolent feelings appears to expand in the direct ratio of geographical distance. These gentlemen are not satisfied unless the work of an age be compressed into the space of a day; they have no regard for consequences. 'We must not/ says Sir John Malcolm,' be diverted for one moment from our object by the clamour of those who, from only half understanding this great subject, seek to interest popular opinion., and national pride and prejudices, on the side of systems of speculative reform and rash innovations, as crude as they are * gerous.'
In stirring the question of the sutties in the east, we are as far from impeaching the good intentions of Mr. Fowler Buxton, as we are those of Mr. Wilberforce for his zealous endeavours to effect the liberation of the blacks in the west; but we must be permitted to doubt the practical wisdom and discretion of both. The affairs of this world are not to be governed, nor the happiness of mankind secured, by intentions, however good, which militate against a sound and prudent policy. If, by a misplaced zeal, an insurrection should spread in one hemisphere, and a rebellion be created in the other, results, we regret to say, far from impossible, it would be but a poor apology to plead that no such calamities had been contemplated. These gentlemen, and those who think with them, ought to be aware, that the only effect of their interference would be to increase the evil which they meant to prevent, just as the victims rushed in greater numbers to fling them-selves under the wheels of die Juggernath car, when we attempted to stop its career; whereas, since ithasbeen treated with neglect, the priests are unable to procure a single sacrifice.
We say nothing here on the subject of what is called a free press in India, being fully persuaded that such a proposition, let it come from what quarter it may, will be entertained with just suspicion ; and we earnestly hope that, so long as we have honest and intelligent rulers in that country, it will be sedulously protected from the certain and incalculable mischiefs which such an engine, in the hands of needy and unprincipled adventurers, cannot fail to produce. We entirely agree with Sir John Malcolm in thinking, 'that it is our duty to diffuse knowledge and truth;' but' that it is also our most imperative duty to exercise our bes,t judgment, as to the mode in which blessings shall be diffused, so as to render them beneficial.' We cannot better close these remarks than by quoting the concluding paragraph of his excellent work. . • .:
'Since we have obtained sovereignty over them, (the natives,) we
E E 2 have
have greatly ameliorated their condition, and all rational means have ■ been employed to promote their happiness, and to secure to them the •benefits of good government. By premature efforts to accelerate the
progress of the blessings it is our hope to impart, we shall not only i hasten our own downfall, but repluuge the natives of India into a state ; of greater anarchy and misery than that from which we relieved them. 'Let us, therefore, calmly proceed in u course of gradual improvement; ."and when our rule ceases, for cease it must, (though probably at a reImote period,) as the natural consequence of our success in the diffusion
of knowledge, we shall as a nation have the proud boast that we have 'preferred the civilization to the continued subjection of India. When
our power is gone, our name will be revered; for we shall leave a
moral monument more noble and imperishable than the hand of man
ever constructed.'—p. 304.
Art. VI.— 1. Orgueilet Vaniti, Comidie en 5 actes, et en prose. ParM.J.S.
2. La Fille d'Honneur, Comidie en 5 actes, en vers. Par M. Alex. Duval, Membre de f Instil ul Royal.
3. Le Folliculaire, Comidie en 5 actes, et en vers. Par M. de la Ville de Mirmont.
4. Les Plaideurs sans Proems, Comidie en trois actes. Par M. Etienne.
5. L'Amour et tAmbition, Comidie en cinq actes. Par M. Riboute.
6. Valerie, Comidie en cinq actes. Par M. Scribe.
7. Le Secritaire et le Citiswier, Comidie. Par M. Scribe.
'IXHE two walks of the drama to which we alluded in a former ■*■ Article as being those in which the French had attained superior excellence, are operatic pageantry and light comedy. By operatic pageantry, we mean the entire spectacle—the show of the grand opera, for in some particulars they are surpassed by other nations. The decorations of the theatre, the mode of lighting, and ventilating it, the appearance of the audience, are superior in England; and it is the fault of the managers if better machinery is not employed in this country, which the French, when they wish to be sarcastic, call le pays des machines. In Italy and Germany the music is beyond comparison superior, for, indeed, nothing can be more inharmonious and grating, than the imitative screams of the vernacular opera, in a fit of pathos. But the excellence of the ballet is an ample compensation for the music of the tragedie lyrique. There is an ensemble and a precision in the whole business of the stage, which other nations have not attained, and a brilliancy of execution to which none but French dancers can, as yet, pretend. Their style of representation, in■ — • deed,
deed, does not generally belong to the great pantomimic art, or to the imitation of strong passions; though even these we have sometimes seen successfully attempted; but it is characterized by ease, gracefulness, and agility. The sports of the heathen gods, and the imagery of mythological lore, generally supply the subjects of the great ballets; and it is difficult to conceive any thing more enchanting in its nature than the species of poetry— the poetry of the heels—which the French have invented to embody these airy conceptions.
By ' light comedy,' we do not mean such as has been produced by the authors whom the French reckon among the most eminent dramatic writers, as Moliere, Dancourt, Destouches, Dufresny, Regnard, &c. but by others of an inferior order, of an order, indeed, the members of which it would be almost held profanation in France, to admit farther than the portico of that temple in which the superior genuises are canonized. What we have to say upon this matter will probably provoke the strictest animadversion of our neighbours; unless, indeed, their contempt of our bad taste, of our barbarism, our ignorance, our want of Atticism, of Parisianism, save us from their wrath.
Moliere, who may be considered as the father of French comedy, possessed a deeper insight into human character than any other dramatic writer of France, whether tragic or comic. But he painted the follies, rather than the passions of men, and gave portraits of the relations which the intercourse of society engenders, rather than the native impulses of the soul. He was full of wit, sprightliness, and gaiety, and his spirit of observation turned all he saw to the profit of his comic vein: but here we think his praise must end; for he was not endowed with the powers of imagination and combination which constitute creative genius in its highest department. Moliere might produce an Avare, or a Tartuflfe, or an Alceste, or a Bourgeois Gentilhomme; but, he could no more have created an Ariel, or a Caliban, have painted a Falstaflf, a Malvolio, or a Touchstone, than he could have formed a new world. Nay, without going to the extreme excellencies of the art, and quoting the miraculous productions of a poet whom our national admiration almost ranks as supernatural, we will venture to say, that Moliere never could have produced the single personage of Sir Giles Overreach; as for Volpone and Mosca, they were quite beyond his powers. With all his eminent qualities, Moliere was depressed by the meanness of his position, and his genius bowed before it. He was as great as his nation and its mind gave him room to be; but it is not in a country where nature is curtailed, and every thing is sacrificed to manners, that even comedy can have its full scope. It is true,
E E 3 a subjection
a subjection to manners is less injurious to comedy than to tragedy; for the former still finds an ample fund for representation in the foibles of society, independently of the vast resource of characters and humours; while the latter has no treasures in reserve, but those which it can draw from passions and the heart. Madame de Stael is perfectly right, when she says, that the state of society in France was favourable to comedy; but it would be giving her assertion too much latitude, to allow that there is no higher species of comedy than that which is nurtured by such a state of society: we may think with her, that Moliere is superior in his walk to the writers of other nations; but we cannot admit that his walk is the highest order of comedy, in poetry, philosophy, or general delineation of man.
The effect which national servitude to the tyranny of manners produces, is to efface the differences which nature established among men when she bestowed upon them an infinite variety of mind; and to wear down the diversified texture of society to an even if not a polished surface. The smallest asperity becomes a subject of remark and wonder, and often of ridicule. None, who pretend to appear in the world, dare to differ from its laws; and an affectation of compliance on the part of many who might very well be exempted from them, constitutes a principal distinction. But this distinction naturally must embrace classes rather than individuals. It must weigh upon the financier who would assume the flippancy of the courtier; upon the man of justice, who would imitate the gallantry of the man of the sword; upon the citizen, who would copy the nobleman; upon all who attempt to quit their situation in life for another, to which they are not suited. In systems of society where manners are paramount, these things hang together unavoidably; and the comedy which represents them must be the comedy of classes, not of individuals.
But where men have energy enough to shake off this species of oppression, and assume their native right to individual humours, allowing no class to legislate to character, the field of comedy is ■as uncircumscribed as the* range of tragedy. It may ransack every heart, and expose its foibles, its weaknesses, its follies, all that makes it ridiculous or contemptible; and pursue in every single person the infinite combinations which these produce throughout the species, and which are precisely the elements that compose each particular disposition, and stamp individuality on every mind.
Dr. Johnson, in his preface to Shakspeare, has said, ' that in the writings of other poets, a character is too often an individual; in those of Shakspeare, it is commonly a species.' This opi
nion, which Dr. Johnson delivered as a eulogium, would have been the most derogatory that could have been devised to the merit of our great bard, had it been true: but fortunately for those who admire his plays, it is altogether unfounded; and in order to give it either sense or justice, it must be reversed. The prodigious excellence of Shakspeare, that which raises him above every other poet, is, that all his characters are individuals. They do, indeed, belong to some class, and so do all men; but, besides the generic attributes which mark that class, each has his own peculiar qualities, which distinguish him from every other individual appertaining to it. Macbeth and Richard belong to the class of ambitious men, who would undertake any thing to gratify their ruling passion; but it is impossible not to distinguish each from the other by his individual characteristics. Shylock and lago belong to the vindictive class; Othello and Leontes to the jealous; yet nothing can be more different than the details of those passions in each personage. Individuals in real life neither do nor can represent classes; and it would be a strange imitation which would give to the copy properties which the original could not possess. It is juster praise to say, that in the writings of some poets, a character is too often a species, whereas in those of Shakspeare it is always an individual. It is this close, this condensed mode of representing mankind, which gives such truth and vividness to all his conceptions; which makes us believe in the deception he practises upon us, and completes the illusion. He is the only poet who has observed the progress of nature in constituting moral genera and species; and in proceeding from them by more determinate characteristics, to varieties, and thence by shades still more defined, to individuals. A single passion or propensity constitutes the generic property. The addition of a second diminishes the numbers of persons to whom it can apply, and makes the picture more precise. A third and a fourth bring it still closer to the likeness of a single original, till, at length, an assemblage of qualities too minute and too exact to meet together in any other person in the same proportion and degrees, reduce it to the strict likeness of one only living sentient being. Thus it is, that men in real life are characterized as individuals, as distinct from all the race; and thus only can poetic individuality be delineated. A single passion or propensity, insulated from all others, is a mere abstraction; and to make men act as genera or species would be an incorrect mode of representing them. One only passion never did exist in a human breast, even the most absorbed by mania; and whether in reality or fiction, it must be devoid of moral interest. The poetry which does but describe, may, indeed, occupy itself upon genera and species; because the entire
E E 4 T / world,