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• The reader will see that were our immortal Shakespeare to be tried before Aristotle himself, that candid critic (for candid he is in the highest degree) might find him, perhaps, guilty of breaking some of the municipal statutes of the Grecian ftage, yet would he applaud him for the higher merit of Arietly observing those superior Jaws of general propriety and excellence, which are independent of local and temporary regulations, and which are implanted by the hand of nature in the imagination of the real poet, as the laws of morality and justice are in the heart of the virtuous man.'
We could not refrain from taking notice of what Mr. Pye bas promised, because we approve of his plan, and hope to see it carried into execution. As to what he has performed, when we consider the difficulties arising from the closeness of the original, and a text in fome places injured by time, we cannot withhold the tribute of praise, where it seems to be so fairly earned. As we foresee, from the circumstance of another translation being just published, that Aristotle will be in our hands for some time, we do not propose, at present, to enter into a minute examination either of the doctrines taught by Aristotle, or of the present translator's merie. Our reason is, that the opportunity being fair, we shall not content ourselves with a lelection of particular paffages, to illuftrate our remarks, wishing rather to lay before our readers a compendious view of the great philosophic critic, distinguishing such rules, as appear only to be local and arbitrary, from those, which are founded in nature, and therefore of eternal obligation on the poets of every age and country. In the execution of this design, we shall frequently have recourse to Mr. Pye's translation ; and when he is quoted, the elegance, as well as the accuracy of the version, will be obvious to the reader of taste. Before we finally close our review of the Poetic, we shall proceed to the tranllation by Mr. Twining (which we have not yet seen), and from an exanination of both performances, we fatter ourselves that our readers will find in the following numbers of the Monthly Review, a concise, yet not defective, system on the subject of dramatic poetry. And though it will, perhaps, appear that many of the precepts laid down by Aristotle, have been fince, or ought to be, rejected by the voice of nature and good senfe, yet it will be found to use Mr. Pye's allufion to Doctor Harrison in Fielding's Amelia) that Ariftotie is not so great a blockhead, as some think, who have never read him.
As we have now opened our design, Mr. Pye, we hope, will excuse our baving so long forborne to do justice to his elegant translation, and, as the subject is of importance to the literary world, our readers, it is presumed, will give us credit for the discharge of our promise, in our subsequent publications; especially as we have chalked out a plan of no small trouble to out(elves, fince we are to cull from various materials, and (after all)
to crowd a great deal into narrow limits. This, it will be ada mitted, requires some preparation.
Aristotle is, certainly, the first great author of philosophic criticism. He has, with the utmost perspicuity, given the origin and progress of tragedy; by a molt ingenious analysis of the several parts, that compose a legitimate tragedy, he has investigated the hidden beauties, proceeding to the summary perfection of the whole ; and he has, with that depth of penetration, which fo greatly diftinguished him, laid open the secret sources of that exquisite art, which raises delight by a guth of tears : as Boileau says,
“ Et pour nous divertir, nous arracha des larmes." Such a writer, now brought forward by Mr. Pye, and by another gentleman of bigh reputation, ought not to be dispatched in too cursory a manner; especially at a time, when it may not be useless to recall our present race of dramatic writers to some knowlege of the art which they profess.
As the talk which we propose to ourselves will take some time, we think we cannot better close this article, for the present, than by refering our readers to some particulars concerning Aristotle, taken from ancient authors, which will be found in our Review, vol. diri. p. 200. where we have given an account of a former transa. tion of this part of his works.
[To be continued.] Mu...y.
Art. XII. Oratio ex inftituto Hon. Dom. Nathanielis Dom. Crew,
habita in Theatro Oxon. 1788. à Gulielmo Crowe, L.L. B. e Coll. Nov. publico Universitatis Oratore. 4to. Is. Cadell, &c,
F Mr. Crowe's parujality to Whig principles we had a
under our notice ; but in the oration now before us this partiality is much more prominent and glaring.
So far from concurring with the late Dr. Samuel Johnson, in calling King. William a froundrel, he speaks of him with all the commendation of a true Revolutionist, and evidently thinks, though he does not say it, if the word scoundrel muft be applied, it should rather be applied to King James II. His oration is whiggism in all its glory, the blaze of which some of his auditors could not perhaps patiently endure. We, however, applaud his manly, con Hicutional sentiments; and though the Latin may not in every refpect be the most classical, we have read the whole with pleafure. What were the particular objections which the xpitiXWTATou et WONITIYwTato hoinines made to Mr. Crowe's oration, he has not informed us; but since he publishes in his own defence (habeant a me defenfionis et responfi loco, ipfam orationem fuis oculis jub;ettam), we ihall, that our readers may form some judgment
of his politics and latinity, lay before them a short extract taken from the beginning.
• Centefimus hic annus est, Academici, ex quo, precipue quidem divina ope, deinde confiantia et virtute majorum noftrorum ab graviffimis malis inftantissimisque periculis erepti sumus atque servati. Illo enim anno permagna quidem et ante id tempus inaudita in Britannia res gejia eft : Rex potentisimus, quod multa contra remp. fecerat, ipfe eft una cum facinerum suorum fuaforibus et ministris, cum sectæ fuæ facerdotibus et aseclis, cum tota denique domo in exilium miffus, ejetus, abdicatus. Tum ejus in locum ele&tus a civibus alius, qui jufte et legitime imperaret : civium porro jura, ipfo rege approbante, definite distincteque recenfita, et novarnm auctoritate legum confirmata etiam et stabilita. Tania sunt bec, Academici, et cum noftra omnium falute ita conjuntia, ut si quis alio tempore ea dicendo commemorare velit, haud intempeftivum orationis argumentum jumphille videatur. Seculi autem Sfario jam exacta, oportere bec eadem sclenniori quadam prædicatione celebrari, quis est qui neget? Juftum ergo tempus mihi oblatum esse video ; neque deerit legitima dicendi materies : dicam enim, Academici, de viris, hæc olim intra mænia enutritis, qui infigne virtutis documentum iniquo illo tempore dederunt : præcipue autem de illis dicam, qui hac ipfa in Academia nefariorum hominum aufis, inftantisque tyranni minis refiftere, magno licei cum ipforum difcrimine, non recusarunt.'
ART. XIII. 1. Fragmens de Lettres, &c. i. e. Fragments of original Letters
from MADAME Charlotte-Elizabeth of Bavaria, Widow of MonSIEUR, only Brother of Lewis XIV, 2 Vols. 12mo. Hamburgh. 1788.
HETHER this sportive compilation is genuine or
not, we are unable to determine ; but of this certain, that many of the jokes have been long in circulation, In 1767, a kind of French Joe Miller was published at Paris, in iwo volumes, under the title of Dictionnaire d'Anecdotes, somewhat in the style of this book. Those who have leisure and inclination to collate these works, will probably find some of their old acquaintance in both. Many of the stories paint the gallantry of the court of France during the reign of Lewis the XIV. and the Regent, on which, and on jokes of a certain kind, Madame dwells with peculiar fatisfaction.
But though the first volume begins much in the style of a jeft book, it grows more interesting, and its materials become more probable as we advance; and if the work is a forgery, the author must be allowed the merit of confiderable ingenuity; for though some of the pleasantries and anecdotes seem familiar, yet there are domestic descriptions, and characteristic conversations, particularly of Monfeur and Madame, that are at least well imagined. L 4
This princess, the mother of the Regent Duke of Orleans, notwithstanding the ceremonials, refinements, and varnished manners of the court of France, where she had resided near fifty years, when most of these letters were written, preserves the less polished manners and sentiments of Germany, which the had imbibed in her early youth; and relates, in pretty plain terms, many circumstances to her correspondents, which, though too common perhaps in France to have been thought worth notice by a native, seem likely to have awakened attention in a foreigner.
We have long heard of the gallantry of fashionable people in France, and how vulgar and bourgeois it was for two persons of rank and condition after marriage to be troubled with any thing like constancy, affection, or jealousy. But we have here fraga ments of plain unvarnished tales, which paint the manners of the French court, in higher colours than can easily be found in any of the numerous memoirs written by the gay natives of France during the residence of Madame in that kingdom. To begin with the Grand Monarque him
felf, who was early married to a princess of Spain; his mistresses, public and private, during the life of the Queen, were innumerable. After mentioning several of his early favourites, Madame tells ber correspondent, that the late King (Lewis XIV.) was certainly very gallant; and that, sometimes, even to a degree of debauchery. All was fair game with him then-country girls, gardeners daughters, house-maids, chamber-maids, and women of quality, provided they did but seem fond of him. I am certain, however, that the Duchess de la Valliere was the only one who had a true affection for him, Madame de Montespan loved him through ambition, S*** through interest, and M*** from both these motives. La Fontange loved him excessively; but like an heroine in romance ; for ine was romantic beyond all expression. Ludri loved him with ardour ; but this paffion was not long mutual, for the King soon grew tired of her. As to Madame de Monaco, I would not swear that she ever rewarded the passion which the King manifested for her. While his fondness continued, the Comte de Lausun was disgraced: he had a regular but secret intrigue with his beautiful cousin, and did not forget to forbid her listening to the King: and one day, when he was sitting with his Majesty on the steps of the terrass, in close conversation together, Lausun, seeing them from the guard-room, came out, so transported with jealousy, that he could not contain himself; but ronning up the steps, as if only to pass by to the terrass, trod on the hand of Madame de Monaco, with such violence, that he almost crushed it to pieces. The King, in a fury, abused him for his brotality, which the Count answering with impertinence, he was immediately ordered to the Baltile; which was his first visit to that fortress.'
So much for his mistelles, before he piously astached himself to Madame de Maintenon; which was fo late in life that, when Mrs. Cornwall, an English lady then at Paris, was asked what
the bad seen at Versailles? answered, “ I have seen such strange things as I never expected to see; love in the tomb, and mini, fters in the cradle:" meaning the King's favourite Madame de Maintenon, then tolerably old, and Messrs. de Torcy and Segnelay, his ministers of state, at a very early period of their lives.
It seems to bave been generally allowed, that Lewis XIV. bad more personal grace, elegance, and dignity, than any one of his court. His figure was such, that in a crowd no one need have asked wbich was the king; and in conversation with persons in whom he had an entire confidence, he is said by Madame to have been the most amiable of men.
He had an irony and pleasantry which he played off with infinite grace. But though this priece bad much natural wit, he was a stranger to learning and science. He had never studied; which he seemed frequently to lament. However, though he appeared mortified and alhamed of his ignorance, there were flatterers still more ignorant than himself, who made their court to him by ridiculing all kinds of learning and science. Is there any thing aftonishing, lays Madame, in the bad education of the King and his brother ? Cardinal Mazarin wilhed to reign bimself; and if these princes had been well instructed, his dominion would have foon ceased. The Queen-mother approved of whatever the Cardinal thought expedient, and the wished to have him always at the head of affairs.
Ii' is a circumstance worthy the attention of Sovereigns ambitious of fame, that Lewis XIV, though he was kept in such ignorance by the policy of one minister as hardly to be able to read and write, yet by another, the excellent Colbert, he was ftimulated to encourage and protect men of learning and science, in a more liberal and effectual manner than any prince on record; and this is the only fame that is left him, either in books, or in the hearts of men. The glory of conqueft no longer dazzles even his countrymen who reflect on the injuftice of bis wars, and the oppression of his subjeds in supporting them. Even his piety, which seems to have supplied the place of worn-out pallions, unsuccessful ambition, and satiated vanity, was so tinged with intolerance, and ignorance of true Christian humility and benevolence, that bigotry itself is now albomed to defend it.
And as to the pomp, Splendour, and magnificence of his court, palaces, gardens, and public buildings, they have long lost cheir charms in the eye of wisdom and philosophy, when it is remembered how his subjects were oppressed, and his kingdom beggared, to construct and support them.
Of all his numerous descendants, legitimate and illegitimate, lineal or collateral, there does not seem to have been one manly tobus conftitution or great intellectual character among them.