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and chilling, though more classical. Cato is the most frigid of all tolerable tragedies, and the personages—excepting perhaps Cato—are almost Frenchmen; so strongly had French originals taken possession of the mind of Addison. From that time the dejection of pathos became complete upon the English stage; and it has constantly proceeded to the present hour, with diminished interest. The breath of France has blighted British genius; and until all the doctrines of that school, which can do no more than dabble in the pettiness of nature, are discarded; until we frankly return to our own old principles, and feel again that our hearts, and the hearts of all who are men, are more romantic than classic, we shall not recover the vigour we have lost. Our comedy has declined, even more perhaps than our tragedy, by an imitation of France, in truth and strength; and, in morality, unquestionably much more. We do not mean that French comedy is immoral. It was from the affectation of French manners that our public became depraved; and our comedy took advantage of the prevailing laxity of morals to become licentious. Nothing, says Madame de Stael, is less like the English nation than English comedy. The manners represented by Congreve certainly did not predominate in his time; and nothing was more unlike his Way of the World than the world it is supposed to represent. From Ben Jonson, the true parent of legitimate English comedy, to this poet his first best descendant, there was not a man endowed with such powers for witty and appropriate dialogue. Wycherly, Cibber, Vanburgh, Farquhar, were lively and entertaining; but none of them possessed the true tone of comedy in the same degree as Congreve. Thrown out from the great field of nature, in which there is such ample gleaning, even when all appears to have been gleaned before, our comic poets have since wandered about in stray paths or lost themselves in wildernesses. A Mr. O'Keeffe indeed arose, and established the school of buffoonery; which, finding its way from the two act pieces whose broad mirth came to dry the tears which a Siddons had made to flow, into productions bearing a higher title, has entailed upon the public the disgraceful progeny to be found in the comedies—must we call them?—of Reynolds, Moreton, &c. and thus has swooned—for we hope she is not dead—the muse of Volpone, Kitely, Bobadil, in the arms of farce, of Lingo, and ofDomine Felix. Thecopyers of O'Keeffe are doubly reprehensible, for Sheridan was equally their contemporary; and the public which applauded him had shown itself worthy of the best efforts of comedy. It may be remarked, that among our dramatic writers a greater proportion of comic than of
tragic poets belong to Ireland, where wit is in some measure become a weapon of the weak to divert the anger of the more powerful.
A similar degradation of nature has taken place upon the Spanish stage by the introduction of French symmetries. The first attempt at dramatic composition was in Spain, as every where else, imperfect and barbarous; aud Mingo Rebulgo was a still more extravagant production than Gammer Gurton's Needle. Celestina tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, written at least in the middle if not in the beginning of the fifteenth century, was in twenty-one acts, and not intended for representation. The story is something like that of Clarissa Harlowe ; and calculated to put female innocency upon its guard against the corruptions of the world. It is a novel in dialogue. Calisto becomes enamoured of Melibea, and conceives the project not of marrying, but of seducing her. Excluded from her house by her parents, he employs Celestina, an entremetleuse, to carry on the intrigue. She introduces herself into the family, corrupts the servants, has recourse to sorcery; and the parents of Melibea perceive the danger when it is too late. The catastrophe is most tragic. Almost all the servants of Melibea are murdered; as is Celestina, in the most barbarous manner. Calisto also is assassinated, and Melibea throws herself from a high tower. But the dialogue is still admired as particularly easy and natural. It is supposed to have beeu the work of more than one author. The Eclogues of Enzina were the favourites of the court; and the only dramatic productions held as a part of the national literature, when two parties sprung up as legislators in the province of the drama, the erudites and the moralists. The former, generally learned, but without imagination, were partizans of the drama of antiquity, and overwhelmed their country muse under the weight of Greek and Roman translations; and it is not their fault if such did not become the sole models of the Spanish stage. It is however remarkable, that not a single man of genius embraced this party. The latter would have moulded every thing according to the dramatic novel of Celestina, which they applauded for its moral tendency: and they also poured out numerous effusions in imitation of what they admired. But fortunately neither of these views of the drama satisfied the nation; and two poets arose, Naharro and Lope de Rueda, who, neglecting the theories of both these sects, struck out new lights of their own, and thus opened the course which the theatre of their nation has continued to run, most worthily, under the guidance of the great masters of the art, who have done honour to Spain. It is remarkable that Juan de
la la Cueva wrote a kind of ars poetica for the very purpose of overthrowing the rules of the ancients, and setting aside many practices which, though excellent among them, are not suited to the spirit of the moderns. He insinuates that the ancient laws of the drama are not binding for moderns, and that they must be new moulded to the times. Thus while Shakspeare in England was instinctively putting in practice the enlarged views he had taken of the dramatic domain, a Spanish author, approving the taste of his nation, was erecting theatrical freedom into a principle, and maintaining it upon the true spirit of a more extended and enlightened knowledge of man than the Greeks could have possessed. The poem of Cueva, certainly the effusion of a much vaster mind than the art poetiquc of Boileau, became the dramatic code of his country; and is that which Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Argensola, Verues, Montalvan, Calderon, Solis, Moreto, Hoz, Molina, Kojas, Salazar, Amescua, Mendoza, Guevasa, Cabillo, Coello, Godinez, Tragoso, d'Alarcon, Guillen cle Castro, &c. constantly followed. These poets belonged to the brightest period of the Spanish theatre; and produced nearly- all the three thousand eight hundred and fifty-two plays enumerated by la Huerta.
During the reign of the three Philips who preceded the house of Bourbon, the Spanish nation sensibly declined, and the establishment of Philip V. upon the throne gave a deadly blow to the literature of the country. Fastidiousness under many specious names, names baleful to every genuine feeling of exalted nature,— politeness, elegance, good taste, good company,—spread through the palace; and the courtiers of the foreign monarch dared not avow their attachment to their old poets, who were openly ridiculed, as was Shakspeare in England after the Restoration, and hardly defended even in secret. Luzan, a man of uncommon erudition, but of no taste or genius, undertook in his Poetica, or Reglas de la Poesia in general, to correct, as he thought, the literature of his country, by introducing Greek and French rules, and quoted the authorities of Aristotle, Rapin, Corneille, Crousaz, Lancy, and Madame Dacier, giving long extracts from their works in French, a very anti-national innovation. He embraced all the littlenesses of the French critics, narrowing every province of genius which he touched upon. He was just capable of pointing out defects, but had no comprehensive feeling for beauties. He could decry the sectaries of Gongora, who had introduced affectation among the Spanish poets; but he could not appreciate Lope de Vega or Calderon, with their disciples, whom he accuses of having violated nature in the unities of Aristotle. Some plays were translated from the French; and Augustin de Montiano wrote
two two tragedies in the French manner, in which the unities are observed, and all that in the native theatre would have been in action, is in recital. He also exhorts his countrymen to adopt the same principles, and to do better than he has done. But since his days not a single poet of merit has made his appearance in Spain; and the establishment of the French school has afflicted that poetical nation with a dramatic paralysis, from which it has not yet recovered. Toward the end of the century indeed, the house of Bourbon, in Spain, having made itself Spanish, and French influence and example having worn themselves out, a counter-revolution commenced. It required no less, however, than a man of rank and weight, a member of the Spanish academy, and royal librarian, to overbalance all who had pretensions to good taste, and called themselves good company, for such were the party of the Gallicists. Vincent Garcia de la Huerta was distinguished as a poet; but, though he was gifted with an instinct of the beautiful, he had not sufficiently studied its principles to set himself in opposition to Luzan, as a critic. He was. always impetuous, because he was always patriotic, when he had to contend with the critics of France; but in exercising his art he showed more timidity than genius, for he took a mezzo termine between the ancient drama of his country and that of the French poets, a union between which never can prevail, because the former is nature in her full attire, the latter is only that portion of nature which consists in turgid dignity. Consequently Huerta is as far removed from Lope de Vega and from Calderon, as Rdwe or Addison from Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger, Marlowe, Webster, Ford, &c. Notwithstanding all his wellmeant patriotic efforts, and his critical virulence, he could not redeem the Spanish stage from disgrace, and bring back the oriental boldness and luxuriance which he so much valued in the character and genius of his countrymen.
It is remarkable that Spain, most rich in excellent dramatic productions, is poor in epopeas; while Italy, poor in the drama, has been luxuriant in other walks of poetry; and hence it is, that the Italian dramatists of the French school, as Maffei, Metastasio, Goldoni, Alrieri, have not injured the vernacular theatre. Even in ancient Italy, the epic, lyric and didactic are infinitely superior to the dramatic, and above all to the tragic poets. Indeed, it is remarkable how much greater perfection the epopea attained among the ancients than the drama. The epopea draws entirely upon the imagination for its resources, and describes, but does not represent actions. The drama relies upon truth; and its perfection consists in representing, uot in describing actions and passions. The faculty of imagination is more early developed
than the faculty by which we acquire knowledge of truth, and without which, there may be fanciful description, but there cannot be vivid and faithful representation.
The baleful influence of French example was also felt in the German theatre, which began, like all others, with religious subjects. There was a kind of bonhommie, characteristic of this nation, in their early stage, which is not to be met with elsewhere. Their plays were performed by honest citizens little skilled in the art of assuming fictitious characters, and all their personages laid open their entire hearts without disguise. Opiz gave a new form to the German stage, and translated some Greek and Italian plays. Andreas Gryphius, who has been compared to Shakspeare, succeeded Opiz; but he is now forgotten. During the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century, this branch of German literature was as barren as the rest, when Gottsched introduced French imitation, in which he was followed by Gillert, by Elias Schlegel, Cronegk, and Weisse, whose works are particularly excellent in the genre ennuyeux. The taste for French literature was at this time predominant throughout Germany; and the success it met with, only shows that though a congeniality with the national mind may make littleness of conception tolerable, yet when transplanted into another country by mere authority, not by nature, it cannot take root and flourish. Lessing, to whose labours in many walks of literature his country owes so much, was the first who spoke of Shakspeare with admiration, notwithstanding a lingering weakness for Aristotle, and a strong submission to Diderot. His Mina de Barnhelm and EmiliaGallotti were bold innovations; but Lessing was not born a poet. The two men who completed the emancipation of the German stage, and gave it a character of nationality, were Goethe and Schiller: but they took a wrong course, particularly the former, who created an ideal domain, which it would not be very easy to suppose peopled by rational beings, and dragged into it, vi et armis, the whole human race. A constant fault of the Germans is, a morbid longing after originality; and they think it shameful to tread a path in which the trace of man can be found. All their extravagance, all their dullness, all their dissimilitude with nature, proceed from the passion of doing or saying something—no matter what—that none ever did or said before them; and, in this, they make genius consist. Goethe seems to have spoiled great powers of intellect by his unceasing struggle to avoid a resemblance with all he had ever known; and to have studied men and their works only that he might learn the better how to be unlike them. Rather than enter into the world of realities, he resigned himself to be eternally blown about in
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