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unhappy indeed, if I were the only obstacle, and that after my death it should not fall into better hands than thine. Learn to know what thou art: descend into thyself: thou art honoured, praised, and loved, all tremble before thee, so high have I raised thy fortune: but thou wouldst be the pity of those who now envy that fortune, if I abandoned thee to thy own little merit. Contradict me if thou canst; tell me what is thy merit, what are thy virtues, what are thy glorious exploits, what are those rare qualities, by which thou couldst pretend to my favour, what is it raises thee above the vulgar? My favour is thy only glory; thy power arises from it; that alone raises and supports thee; it is that, not thou, which is respected: thou hast neither rank nor credit, but what arises from it; and to let thee fall, I need only draw back the hand that supports thee."
Quel était ton dessein, et que prétendais-tu,
Son salut désormais dépend d'un souverain,
tout conserver tienne tout en sa main;
Et si sa liberté te faisait entreprendre,
Tu ne m'eusses jamais empêché de la rendre ;
Quel était donc ton but? d'y regner en ma place?
Tu ne trouves dans Rome autre obstacle que moi ;
Ose me démentir, dis-moi ce que tu vaux,
Les rares qualités par où tu m'as dû plaire,
C'est elle qu'on adore, et non pas ta personne,
Emilia enters, and behaves with the most insolent pride, undaunted assurance, and unfeeling ingratitude; and declares to Augustus, that so long as she is handsome enough to get lovers, she shall never want enemies. Augustus still adheres to his plan of clemency, (for that too is plan, and the result of prudent deliberation, not of generous magnanimity;) he pardons Maximus, forgives Cinna in spite of his unworthiness, and bestows upon him Emilia and the consulship. Emilia is at last mitigated, and modestly tells Augustus, that heaven has ordained a change in the commonwealth, since 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
piece turns upon some unknown person, generally a haughty princess; so that instead of the representation of an important event, and the characters of illustrious persons, the business of the drama is the love-intrigue of a termagant lady, who, if she is a Roman, insults the Barbarians, if she is a Barbarian, braves the Romans; and even to her lover is insolent and fierce. Were such a person to be produced on our theatre, she would be taken for a mad poetess escaped from her keepers in Bedlam, who, fancying herself a queen, was ranting, and delivering her mandates in rhyme upon the stage. All the excuse that can be made for Corneille in such representations is, that characters like these, dignified indeed with nobler sentiments, were admired in the romances, where the manners of chivalry are exaggerated. By the insitutions of chivalry, every valiant knight professed a peculiar devotion to the fair sex, in whose cause, as the champion of the defenceless, and protector of the oppressed, he was always ready to take arms. A lady's interest being often the object, and sometimes her person the prize
of a combat, she was supposed to inspire his courage; and, as he was to be not less distinguished for politeness than valour, he affected an air of submissive obedience, while she, by the courtesy of knighthood, was allowed to assume a style of superiority and command. To carry these manners into ancient Greece and Rome, and weave them into a conspiracy there, betrays want of judgment. This drama is carried on in the strain of romance. The lady enjoins her lover to kill Augustus: that adventure achieved, he is to hope for her hand; his glory is to be derived from her acknowledging him worthy of it; she is continually exhorting him to deserve the honour of being beloved by her. The fate of Augustus, of the Roman empire, all the duties of the citizen and the friend, are to depend on her decision. She says to Augustus, when he has discovered the conspiracy, as a sufficient vindication of her lover,
Qui, tout ce qu'il a fait, il l'a fait pour me plaire,
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