Imagens das páginas

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and, in the first scene, he meets Metellus, the consul, * who had arrived before the rest of the senators, in obedience to the order. The scene between the two is good in itself, and it serves usefully to disclose the character, which the poet means to display in his hero. The following lines have something more moving in their close, than often occurs in French tragedy:

· Nous cédons l'un et l'autre à l'ascendant suprême
Qui soumel et le peuple, et le sénat lui-même,
Et du faîte où s'assied le héros dictateur
Nos yeux avec respect mesurent la hauteur.
Mais de nos sentimens en recherchant la cause,
Cette admiration, que Sylla nous inipose,
Laisse au fond de nos cæurs des regrets bien amers :
L'arbitre des Romains leur a donné des fers.
La liberté n'est plus. O fils de Cornélie,

Dans la tombe avec vous elle est ensevelie.' On the assembling of the senators, Sylla enters, and, retaining Roscius, discloses the purpose for which he had called them together, giving each one permission to intercede for any name on the list, which he thinks may be erased with safety to the state. Metellus procures the pardon of Cimber, and Ofella applies in vain for the insertion of the name of Cæsar; but Catiline is successful in adding that of Claudius, the son of the tribune Sulpicius, and, therefore, naturallyan object of suspicion. His real crime was -being the husband of Valeria, of whose ' beauté sublime' Catiline was enamoured. The character of Catiline is too well established, to suffer much by this gratuitous imputation; but his tastę

may be a little called in question ; for this lady, the heroine of the piece, and upon whom much of the interest is made to turn, is a sister of the Gracchi; her younger brother had been dead rather more than forty years, and her father about seventy; her charms, therefore, must have attained something more even than the fullest bloom, which it could be creditable for a young patrician of about five-and-twenty to admire so intensely.

On the breaking up of the council, Roscius remains, and, with the freedom which Sylla is said to have allowed him, conimences an animated remonstrance against the intended proscription, and implores him to spare the life of Claudius. Sylla is moved by bis earnestness, and, though he refuses to recall the order, he gives him a permission, obscurely hinted, but readily understood, to inform the unfortunate young man of the danger which menaced him, that he might avoid it by instant fight.

The second act opens with the dawn of morning, and while Me

5o * Metellus was, in fact, consul with Sylla the year before his abdication, and not at the time of the action of the play.


tellus, and Faustus, the son of the dictator, are contriving means to procure the safety of Claudius, not being informed of the interference of Roscius, he himself enters, under circumstances which very much add to the interest thrown round him already by the poet. He is ignorant of the destiny which is hanging over him. The friendship of the son, and the pity of the fatlier, had hitherto preserved him, though recognised as the natural head of the remains of the Marian party. His intimacy with that party makes him acquainted with the plots in agitation against the life of Sylla, and he has mistaken the resort of the senators to the midnight council for the execution of some conspiracy; he comes, therefore, to his friend, with a view to succour him in the danger to which his filial piety might expose him in defence of his father's life. This is, indeed, but an improbable and clumsy contrivance to bring him with effect,' into Sylla's house.

It was not very likely that Claudius should make the mistake in question; but if he did, he must have been strangely ignorant of the pace at which assassins generally proceed, to remain without the house all night, and to enter in the morning to protect his friend against them. But allowing for this, (and in the rapidity of representation much may be safely allowed for,) the scene which follows is good. The thought of Valeria left unprotected, melts the resolution which he had at first taken to brave the horror of the proscription, and he consents to be concealed for a time even in the lion's den, the house of the dictator himself.

The next is the brilliant scene of Sylla's levér, which M. Jouy has crowded with contending kings, ambassadors, warriors, consuls, senators and courtiers. Criticism,' says Dr. Johnson, • disdains to chase a school-boy to his common places, but we could have wished for a little more accuracy in the common-places of M. Jouy. An occasional avachronisin, if not too glaring, and if it auswered a necessary purpose, we should not be disposed to visit

very severely; but they are poured upon us here in every line, they are such as every English school-boy would detect, and they serve no purpose which might not as well have been spared, or answered in some other way. Thus Sylla is made to receive the embassy from the Parthians, and to accept their alliance at Rome as dictator, though both these events had happened about fourteen years before, when he was prætor, on the banks of the Euphrates. He restores Ariobarzanes to his throne, whom he had quietly seated on it, at the close of his Mithridatic war; and he repulses Archelaus, the envoy of Mithridates, declaring that he never will conclude a treaty with bis master, on account of the niassacre of the Roman citizens in Asia; though that massacre had been one of the causes of the



Mithridatic war, which he had three years before concluded by a peace with this very king, negotiated by this very general,

The lever is disturbed by the clamour of the agitated populace without; and Lænas enters, deputed by them to remonstrate with Sylla on this new massacre. The dialogue (for which the hint is taken from an anecdote of the young Metellus, mentioned by Plu. tarch) is intended to exhibit the sarcastic and cold manner in which Sylla could talk of the most appalling transactions and con duct himself in moments of critical emergency. It is not unsuc cessful :

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Par le peuple Romain député près de toi
J'ose t'interroger-


Interroger! qui? moi!
Ton audace, Lænas, a droit de me surprendre,
Mais parle cependant-je consens à t'entendre.


Sylla, l'incertitude est pire que la mort.
Dis-nous enfin, dis-nous quel sera notre sort.
N’es-tu pas satisfait de tant de funérailles ?
Veux-tu dans notre sang renverser nos murailles ?
Chaque jour verra-t-il de nouvelles horreurs?
Et ne mettras-lų pas de terme à tes fureurs ?

Tu vois, de mes transports je suis aussi le maître.
Je souffre tes discours, et c'est assez peut-être.


Quand j'entrai dans ces lieux, je ne me flattai pas
De pouvoir en sortir-


Je t'écoute, Lænas!


Qu'ordonnes-tu de nous ? qu'est-ce que tu décides?
Déroule en un seul jour tes tables homicides.
De tous les condamnés annonce le trépas.
Combien en proscris-tu, Sylla ?


Je ne sais pas
Je partage le doute où ton esprit se livre.


Eh bien-dis-nous donc ceux que tu veux laisser vivre.


Lænas, en retournant vers ceux, qui t'ont commis,
Prouve leur, que j'épargne aussi des ennemis-

pp. 23, 24. Faustus, who had entered in the coạrse of the levér, remains after

it closes, and the father and son have a warm aud affectionate couversation; the son first imploring the pardon of Claudius, and then turning with filial apprehensions to the insecure state of the dictator himself, from the exasperation of the public mind. The answer of Sylla, with the exception of a few lines, where his pride degenerates into loquacious and undignified vanity, is, we think, really fine: the lines flow in a solemn equable rhythm, the style is simple and severe, and produced a strong impression, uttered with ihe slow cadence, and deep intonation of Talma:

• Sous la fatalité qui pèse sur nos têtes
Avec calme je marche au milieu des tempêtes.
Si nous vivions, Faustus, dans ces âges fameux,
Où l'on vit les Romains, libres et vertueux,
Fiers d'une pauvreté par la gloire ennoblie,
Combattre, triompher, mourir pour la patrie, ,
On me verrait, mon fils, rival des Decius,
De tous ces grands Romains surpasser les vertus.
Ces temps sont loin de nous-les lois n'ont plus d'empire,
L'antique liberté sous la licence expire;
Et Rome, après avoir dompté les nations,
N'est qu'une immense proie offerte aux factions.
Forcé de renoncer aux vertus d'un autre age
J'adorai la fortune, et je suis son ouvrage.
Sa faveur au pouvoir m'appela malgré moi :
Je reçus ses bienfaits sans accepter sa loi ;
Je renversai l'Etat, mais pour le reconstruire,
J'étais né, je le sens, pour fonder ou détruire:
J'accomplis mes destins, et vers la liberté

Je ramène en esclave un peuple épouvanté.' Roscius enters in the following scene; and if it was necessary for one who, in other places has not scrupled, as we shall see presently, to violate the sacred unities, to substitute description of what had been passing elsewhere in Rome, for the actual representation of it, it is well imagined that Roscius should be the narrator. There is something natural in the favourite actor detailing to his master a brilliant scene in eloquent and glowing language. He describes to him the agitated multitude calling for Claudius, and then paints the sudden appearance of the beautiful and distracted Valeria, and the effect she produces on them by an harangue, in which she urges them to vengeance on their tyrant, and offers them the example of a second Lucrece. At this moment, when the populace were worked up to phrenzy, Catiline had appeared with his soldiers, and driven the dastardly mob from the street. It may be supposed that this only confirms Sylla in his contempt for his countrymen; and in this mood, when Valeria forces her way into his presence, he listens to her reproaches, her


p. 28.

prayers, and her threats, with scornful and cold indifference. It is not explained why Roscius had never communicated to her the favourable feeling which Sylla had manifested towards her husband.

The third act adds little to the interest, and advances but little the action of the play. It is passed principally in interviews, which not merely Valeria, but Aufidius and Lænas also, have with Claudius, and the subject of their deliberations is the mode of making away with Sylla. Aufidius and Lænas are disguised, it is true, as slaves; but the heads of the Marian faction must have been well known in Rome, and Lænas liad been but a short time before in the same hall as the deputy from the people, in his own proper person. M. Jouy cannot vouch' the unities to excuse the monstrous absurdity of these meetings taking place in the very eye of day, and in Sylla's hall of audience, Claudius being a proscribed man, and it being death for Faustus to be detected in having concealed him.

In the fourth act, Catiline re-appears; he is baffled in another attempt to prevail on Valeria to yield to him, and he cannot detect the retreat of Claudius. He becomes more inveterate and furious than ever, and in the next council accuses Roscius. to Sylla of the crime of .concealing him. Considering the permission which Sylla had given to Roscius, and the comunication which Sylla had made of it to Faustus, neither the father nor the son should have been much affected by the accusation; but they appear so to be, and it induces Faustus to reveal to Sylla when alone, that be is himself guilty of the crime imputed to Roscius, and that he has made his father's own house the place of retreat for his unfortunate friend.

This makes a very powerful impression on Sylla, and seems to shake his strong mind. What had he been toiling for, and where was he to repose, if his own son could shelter under his own roof, in defiance of the most penal laws, the man whom his connections and undisguised feelings pointed out as amongst the most formidable and active of his enemies ? And it is under this impression, that the poet makes him entertain the first vague idea of abdication. This it is important to recollect, because the preface had told is, that the character was drawn from Montesquieu, and that, according to 'hin, Sylla's whole life was a system, and that he had meditated the resignation of his power at the very moment in which he had'assumed it. The soliloquy, in which the idea is first and not unnaturally hinted at, is as follows :

* Dans les transports confus, où s'abîme mon âme,
Je n'ose interroger le désir qui m'enflamme.
Prodigue de mon sang, en immolant Faustus
Dois-je encore aux Romains l'exemple d'un Brutus ?


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