deluge had swept over England during his time, destroying one set of things, quickening and producing another. The parent of our modern style, it was rather by the musings over a by-gone day, than by any inspiration drawn from what was passing around him, that he refreshed and invigorated his language, and caught a tone of simplicity and chivalry, which was not that of the society in which he lived.

In France, or the contrary, though the stir and rush of later times has been in sympathy with the stern and active genius of the middle ages, it has been the feelings of the present that have inspired a passion for the past, and not a study of the past that has breathed its influence over the present. The literature of the moment is native to the moment.

But the different English articles that I have seen on the state of the French drama have been written without notice of the circumstances which have produced its peculiarities; and while the absurdities and the atrocities of the French dramatists have been ridiculed and condemned, their merits have not been seen, nor their faults accounted for. The difficulty is in separating what is peculiar to the author himself from the time and the public for which he writes.

I do not blame an author for suiting himself to the period and to the people he addresses—he must be understood by his audience, but then he should elevate his audience. If he live in a time when exaggeration is to be expected, you hope to see that exaggeration softened by his skill and ennobled by his art. You hope to see him true to nature, though you know it must be the nature of his particular period. You hope to see him keeping to the ancient costume of history, though you know that that costume wil be coloured by the spirit of a new time. You hope to see him seize and concentrate the vaguer sentiments that are abroad, and deduce from them some kind of order which will give a character to his epoch. You hope to see him give force and clearness, rather than add pomp and paradox to what he finds. This you expect; and above all, you expect that he

. will awake and excite the better feelings, and make you forget or loathe the more mean and pernicious passions of your soul.

How has the modern French dramatist satisfied the hopes and the expectations that we had a right to form ?

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How far the horrid subjects chosen for the French stage are allowable, and

in what their offence consists.

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The first consideration which opens upon us in relation to the present French drama is

The horrid nature of its subjects and the manner in which those subjects are handled and introduced,

I shall now, therefore, proceed to inquire—How far those subjects are in themselves allowable, or how much they depend on the manner in which they are treated.

A subject is not allowable on the stage either because it offends the rules of art, or because it offends the still more important rules of morality.

Now I say here, as I said in speaking of the Tour de Nesleno subject, as it appears to me, offends the rules of art which is in harmony with the character or with our general ideas of the character of the time in which it is introduced. The offence against the rules of art in bringing "bloody Mary” on the stage is, in not making “ bloody Queen Mary” bloody enough : the offence against the rules of art in bringing Darlington on the stage is, in making Darlington a much greater political profligate than he could possibly have been.

I do not, then, I confess, join in the usual cant which denounces as an abomination the mere bringing Lucrèce Borgia and Marguerite de Bourgogne on the stage. I see no reason, as a question of art, wby any person, why any passion, why any subject, should be prohibited the author that his audience does not forbid; but I do see every reason, as a question of art, why the persons he creates should be in the image of the times in which he creates them ; why the persons for whom he is indebted to history should stand forth in their historical characters; why the countries of which be speaks should be spoken of with a knowledge of their manners; why the events that


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take place in the drama should not be wholly unnatural in their comparison with the events of real life.

It is in these, the finer parts of their pursuit, that the present dramatic writers of France are universally defective. If M. V. Hugo and M. Dumas were schoolboys, and told to write about English history in the time of Mary Tudor, or English manners and laws at the present time, they would have been whipped for the ridiculous faults that they have both committed. These are not faults of genius; they are purely and entirely faults of negligence or ignorance.

I turn, then, from this first inquiry to the second, viz. how far these subjects offend, what every dramatist is most bound to protect

, the laws and the interests of morality. King Lear is a horrid subject—Macbeth is a horrid subject : do they offend the morals of an audience?

It is of the rules of morality as of the rules of art: it is not the horrid nature of a subject that offends either the one or the other; it is in the manner in which that subject is treated that its beauty as a piece of composition, or its value as a lesson of virtue, depends. The immorality of M. V. Hugo and of M. Dumas is not in having brought Marion Delorme and Antony upon the stage, but in affecting to breathe a mawkish interest over the infamy of the prostitute, and attaching a romantic heroism to the adulterous seducer of female honour.

The inverted philosophy of M. Hugo appears to me, as I have frankly said, a kind of unphilosophic madness, with which I have no sympathy, for which I think there is no excuse; and what I say of the intentional follies of M. V. Hugo, I say of the wild and whining vice of M. Dumas.

And why is this? Why, M. Dumas, instead of attempting to breathe a false poesy into the grovelling amours of a Parisian salon, or holding up for imitation a political profligacy -which, thank God, is yet untrue—in the public men and the parliament of Great Britain—why have you sought for no truer, no better, no brighter models for the emulation of those ardent youths who admire your talent and worship your career i—Are there no characters you can take from the heroes of July, or the enthusiasts of June?-are there no models of female heroism and devotion you can draw from the revolution of 1789, and he restoration of 1815? Have Madame Ro


land and Madame Lavalette lived in vain ? Have you had no men in France who have been disinterested and brave? Have you had no women in France who have been noble and virtuous ? Must you fill your stage with sickly-faced apothecaries in the frontispiece attitude of Lord Byron, and fourth-rate fine ladies vulgarly imitating the vices and the ton of Mad. de Mirepoix? Why should you invent imaginary personages in the representation of your age who are exceptions to your age ? Why should you take as the heroes and heroines of your drama the creatures whom it would sicken you to meet in the commerce of daily life?

And you, M. V. Hugo!-you, the promise of whose youth was so generous-in whose Odes breathed a spirit no less remarkable for its purity than its poesy—you, who seemed by instinct to have caught the chivalry and the grace of the old knightly time, with the popular language that goes to the heart of the present day—have you no better mode of elevating your countrywomen than by teaching them to be good mothers by the example of Lucrèce Borgia, or devoted mistresses by the example of Marion Delorme? What! have you found no cleverer mode of elevating the people in their own esteem, than by telling every unwashed apprentice that a Countess wishes to marry him-not because he is a good man, and a steady apprentice-Oh, no! simply because he is an apprentice, because he is a working man?

Is not this stuff? is not this prostrate and dust-licking flattery? Can you talk of the cringing of a courtier to his monarch, when you bow thus slavishly before the meanest of your mob? Nor is my praise or censure indifferent to you—if 1a foreigner-far away from all your petty jealousies and rival cliques—if I—who not even as a man of letters—a title to which I have not the honour to pretend—if I, who neither as a countryman, nor even as a literary man, can possibly have any rivalry with you—if I, who honour your talents, love your country, and approve of many of your principles--if I, who, if any wish were stirring in my mind, can only have the wish to propitiate your friends, to obtain and enjoy the pleasure and honour of your acquaintance—if I have allowed words to be wrung out from me-words of reproach-strong words—words expressive of more than my regret-at the manner in which you have allowed ignorance, and prejudice, and adulation, and negligence, and indifference, and immorality to obscure and to tarnish the lustre of talents for which such a country and such a time as that in which you live opened so great, and so noble, and so heart-cheering a path to fame—if I have had language—such as that which I have used, unwillingly, I declare-extorted from me—is it not possible that, far away from that feeble chorus of easily-enchanted friends, who, like the bird in the Arabian Nights, pass their lives in repeating “There is but one Poesy, and Dumas and Victor Hugo are its true prophets!"—is it not possible, I say, that, far away from these sicklied sounds, there is an opinion rising, gathering, swelling, an opinion which shall be the opinion of Europethe opinion of posterity-an opinion which might have raised you in a new time to such pedestals as those of the old time occupy-an opinion which shall break as busts of clay what you might have made statues of stone and of marble—an opinion which shall leave you the lions of a drawing-room, and which might have made you the land-marks of an epoch ?

But I pass from this. And now, having expressed an opinion in respect to the present French drama, let me come to a yet more interesting consideration, and inquire what the present French drama proves in respect to the present French' public.

Does it follow as a matter of course, that, if greater atrocities than formerly were exhibited on the French stage, the French people would be more atrocious ? Does it follow as a matter of course, that, because there is less delicacy than formerly used in mentioning, and less ceremony than formerly used in manifesting on the stage, all the possible circumstances connected with adultery and seduction, there are in real life more cases of adultery and seduction?

At first sight there is, I admit, a strong coincidence between the number of murders, the number of rapes, the number of suicides, the number of natural children in France, and various scenes which are represented on the stage. But the connection is not so easily established, or so easily traced, as we may at once be induced to imagine; for the representations of the stage are far less influenced by the morals of a people than by their manners.

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