Imatges de pàgina
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BRUTUS.

Porcia, go in a while ;
And, by and by, thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.
All

my engagements I will construe to thee, All the charactery of my fad brows.--Leave me with hafte.

The dictionary was consulted for the word construe; and thus, according to the usual form, one may suppose it to have stood : To construe; to interpret. This not serving the purpose, to interpret was next fought; there he finds, to interpret or to explain ; again with indefatigable industry, excited by a desire to excel all translators and translations, he has recourse to the article to explain; under this head he finds, to unfold or clear up;

fo
away goes the translator to clear

up the countenance of Brutus.

Va, mes fourcils froncés prennent un air plus doux. “ Go ;” says he;

my frowning brow shall take a softer air.”

There are so many gross blunders in this work it would be tedious to point them out; but it is to be hoped they will deter other beaux esprits from attempting to hurt works of genius by the marked båttery of an unfair translation. Mr. Voltaire desires that by his translation all Europe will compare the thoughts, the stile, and the judgment of Shakespear, with the thoughts, the stile, and the judgment of Corneille." It is difficult, perhaps impoffible, to make the graces of style pass from one language to another; and our blank verse cannot be equalled by French blank verse. The thoughts might in fome measure have been given, if the translator had understood the words in which Shake{pear had expressed them. ""Upon the judgment of the authors in the choice of the story, in the conduct of it, in exciting the fympathies belonging to it, in the fashioning of the characters, in the nobleness of fentiment, and representation of Roman man-ners, we shall upon close examination of the Cinna and Julius Cæsar be able to pronounce,

work

As

As the fubject of the drama is built on a conspiracy which every one is affured had not any effect, and the author has fo conducted it as to render the pardon Augustus gives the conspirators an act of political prudence; rather than generous clemency, there is not any thing to interest us but the characters of Cinna, Emilia, and Maximus. Let us examine how far they are worthy to do fo as set forth in this piece; for we have no historical acquaintance with them. Emilia is the daughter of Toranius the tutor of Augustus, who was proscribed by him in his triumvirate. As we have not

As we have not any knowledge of this Toranius, we are no more concerned about any cruelty committed upon him than upon any other man, so we are not prepared to enter into the outrageous resentment of Emilia, especially as we see her in the court of Augustus under the facred relation of his adopted daughter, enjoying all the privileges of that distinguished situation, and treated with the tenderness of paternal love. Nothing so much deforms the femi

nine character as ferocity of sentiment. Nothing so deeply stains the human character as ingratitude.

This lady, however odious she appears to the spectator, is made to engage Cinna her lover, who is a nephew of the great Pompey, in a conspiracy against Augustus. Shakespear most judiciously laboured to sew that Brutus's motives to kill Cæsar were perfectly generous and purely public-spirited. Corneille has not kindled Cinna to his enterprize with any spark of Roman fire. In every thing he appears treacherous, base, and timid. Maximus, the other conspirator, seems at firft a better character ; but in the third act he makes a most lamentable confession to a slave, of his love for Emilia, and his jealousy of Cinna : this slave gives such advice as one might expect from such a counsellor ; he urges him to betray his associates, and by means of a lie, to prevail upon Emilia to go off with him. Thus Maximus becomes as treacherous and base as Cinna his friend, and Emelia his mistress. The poet

follows Seneca's

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Seneca's account of this affair in making Livia (who has no other business in the drama) advise Augustus to try the effect of measures of clemency, as his punishment of former conspiracies excited new ones. Augustus tells her she talks like a woman, treats her counsel with fcorn, and then follows it. Augustus appears with dignity and sense in the other scene, and is the only person in the play for whom one has any respect. This is the plan of a work which is to shew Corneille’s genius and judgment superior to Shakespear’s. As Mr.Voltaire has given his translation of Julius Cæfar, I will, just present to the reader a literal translation of the first scene of the first act, which begins by a soliloquy.

i

CINNA, TRAGEDIE. ACTE PREMIER. SCENE PREMIERE.

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Impatiens désirs d'une illustre vengeance,
Dont la mort de mon pére a formé la naisance,
Enfang impetueux de mon ressentiment,

Que

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