« PreviousContinue »
charms which eloquence can lend to virtue, and all the terrors which the thunder of the pulpit can give to vice, avail little to produce amendment, and that even in the passage to and from the house of God, (nay in the very temple itself, his laws are violated:
-how then can it be hoped, that a novel will produce moral improvement-or a fictitious story accomplish what the truths of our holy religion fail to effect?
Yet in the present state of society, novels of a certain description may at least produce a negative kind of good. Such is the inordinate voluptuousness of the times, and the bad habits arising from it, that the useful employment of time is by a vast proportion of young females of moderate condition scorned as derogating from their dignity, and every exertion that has not pleasure for its object avoided as coarse and painfully laborious: such persons , reach their highest excellence when they pass their time innocuously to themselves: to supply them, therefore, with novels calculated to afford amusement, without impairing virtue, or endangering innocence, must certainly be allowed to be an object of considerable importance.
We have been induced to offer this little interlocutory essay to our readers, by a novel lately published in this city, of which we should think it an abuse of time to speak, if it had not some better claim to attention than mere innocuousness. Even this, as novels now run, were laudable;—but the novel of Self CONTROL goes farther, and may be read not only without fear of meeting any thing to offend the most delicate moral and religious sense, but with a just expectation of finding many sentiments instructive as well as entertaining, and friendly alike to morality and to the cause of religion. The heroine of it, while she is so captivating as to excite in the younger part of her sex a spirit of imitative emulation, is filled with religious principles which she makes the sovereign rule of all her conduct, never swerving from them at the solicitations of pleasure, convenience, necessity, or enjoy. inent, no, not even of personal safety, or of love, or of the still
stronger passion of her heart, filial affection itself.-Holding out the most important lesson,-a lesson by which, more perhaps than by any other, it is the advantage of every one to profit-namely, that the most certain road to felicity is through the thorny paths of self-denial and self-control.
Exclusive of its moral tendency, this novel is calculated to produce considerable interest;—the situations are (with the exception of a trip to Canada and back again, in the latter end) sufficiently natural, and the incidents throughout irresistibly pathetic, and well calculated to come home to every uncorrupted bosom, being chiefly of a domestic nature. What rarely happens, too, the interest excited in the beginning seldom flags; and never entirely subsides to the very end.
The name of the author of this novel does not appear; but it is evidently the production of a mind, elegant, well regulated, polished, and pious,-one to which it has been given to know the duties of life, and to know that the first is, not to shrink from any of them; and that to endure distresses with resignation, to encounter difficulties with cheerfulness, and to resist temptations with inflexible firmness, constitute the clearest title to the favour and admiration of mankind, and to the care of the Protector of the human race.
TO CORRESPONDENTS. The letter of JAQUES is received, and shall receive the attention due to it. Of Dufief's Dictionary we think just as he says, and had determined to recommend it. We must postpone that subject, however, to the next number.
[Continued from page 73.) We are now to turn to MOLIERE, who figured on the stage as a comic actor as well as a dramatic poet, and whose name is immor. talized by a number of comedies, to which the writers of his own and other countries have not scrupled to be indebted for the materials with which they have, with more or less success, attempted to build their fame.
John Baptiste Poequelin de Moliere was born at Paris in 1620. His father, who was a tapestry maker to the court, intended him for his own business. The boy, however, going frequently to the theatre, acquired such a taste for dramatic representations that his contempt for tapestry making prevailed, and he was sent under the Jesuits at the cottage of Clermont. Five years completed his education, and he next attended the lectures of Gassendi. He afterwards applied himself to the law; but after his father's death, he renounced all employments for the stage, and, uniting himself vith a theatrical party patronized by Richelieu, he quitted the VOL. IV.
name of Poequelin for Moliere. He joined an actress of the name of Bejart and accompanied her to Lyons, where (in 1653) he produced his first play, l'Etourdi, or the Plunderer, which was received with great applause. He afterwards performed at Languedoc and at Grenoble, and then settled at Rouen. He then went to Paris, and, being noticed by the duke of Conti, obtained through that prince's influence the king's permission to open 'a theatre (the third in Paris) Au Petit Bourbon, which he occupied with a company under him. It being necessary to pull down this theatre in order to build the grand entrance into the Louvre, the king took him into the palais royal, and gave to his company the title, first of La Troupe de Monsieur, and afterwards La Troupe du Roi.
In the year 1660, he published his La Cocu Imaginaire, for the plan of which he is indebted to an Italian comedy, il Cornuto per Opinione. Though it came out in the summer, while the court were absent from Paris, it was performed no less than forty nights in succession.--A very curious circumstance attended the first appearance of this comedy. A tradesman, in Paris, finding in the Cocu Imaginaire a pretty close picture of his own feelings, took it into his head that he was aimed at, and that the poet intended to affront him. “ How dare the fellow," said he one day to an actor, “ ridicule a man like me?"-" Come, come,” said the actor, “ you have no reason to complain; he has painted a flattering likeness by making you only a cuckold in imagination: I would not have you to make much more work about it, lest he should make a cuckold of you in reality.”
In the following year Moliere brought out Don Garcia de Navarre, and performed the part of Don Garcia himself; but perceiving that serious acting was by no means his forte, he had the good sense to make a resolution not to perform any but comic parts from that time. This piece, which was an heroic comedy, though chastely written, did not succeed; and the reputation of Moliere, through the industry of his enemies, of whom he had at all times undeservedly a plentiful number, suffered for a time from this disgrace. A short time however: for the success of his next piece amply consoled him for the mortification he had sustained by the fall of this. L'Ecole des Maris made its appearance in 1661. It was the first piece that Moliere brought out at the theatre du Palais Royal, and the first that he printed. In quality of
chief of the company of Monsieur, he therefore dedicated this piece to that prince.
This comedy, which served as a model for English and other authors, is taken from a tale by Boccace, which every body knows. The only difference in the two plots is that, in Boccace, a woman in love with a young man makes her confessor the go-between, who carries letters and presents, under an idea that he serves the purposes of devotion; and, in Moliere, an old man is substituted for the confessor, who is duped in the same manner by the girl he is in love with, and to whom he is the tutor.
L'Ecole des Femmes, Moliere’s next comedy, was performed for the first time in 1662. So divided began to be the French at this time as to Moliere, that under the idea, probably, of his commencing Aristophanes, and issuing personalities from the stage, whereas he in fact personated men only by personating manners, he sustained all sorts of affronts. The public were extremely divided as to the merit of this play. It gained ground, however, and brought a great deal of money. These cabals induced Moliere in the following year to write a piece which he called La Critique de l'Ecole des Femmes.
This piece was the first of the kind that ever appeared on the French theatre. It is rather a dialogue than a comedy: Moliere, however, is to be commended for having written it; for he very happily, while he points out the faults of his play, turns its enemies into ridicule. The Mercure Galant, conducted by a man of the name of Vise, who was constantly sticking in Moliere's skirts, has the kindness thus to criticise his piece by anticipation.
6 We are to see, in a short time, a piece intitled La Critique de l'Ecole des Femmes, where the author, soi disant, is to enumerate all the faults in his piece, and to excuse them at the same time.It is curious that a man should take so much pains to defend a piece which is not his own, but written by the Abbe du Buisson, who is one of the most gallant men of the age. But Moliere has the audacity to deny this. He says, that the abbe certainly did write a piece on this subject, and bring it to him, and that he could not help allowing it considerable merit, though he had his reasons for not performing it. What does all this say? That this cunning comedian, whose best merit is to know how to take advantage,