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base, scandalous, flothful Laco should all appear in their proper characters, which would be unfolding through the whole progress of the play, as their various schemes and interests were exposed. Instead of this, Martianus makes fübmissive love': Vinius and Laco are two ambitious courtiers, without any quality that distinguishes them from each other, or from any other intriguing fatesmen; nor do they at all contribute to bring about the revolution in the empire : their whole business seems to be matchmaking, and in that too they are so unskilful as not to succeed. They undertake it indeed, merely as it may influence the adoption. Several sentences from Tacitus are ingrafted into the dialogues, but, from a change of persons and circumstances, they lose much of their original force and beauty.
Galba addresses to his niece, who is in love with Otho, the fine speech which the historian supposes him to have made to Piso when he adopted him. The love-sick lady, tired of an harangue, the purport of which
is unfavourable to her lover, and being befides no politician, answers theemperor, that she does not understand state affairs : a cruel reply to a speech he could have no motive for making, but to display his wisdom and eloquence. The old warrior is more complaisant to her, for he enters into all the delicacies of her passion, as if he had studied la carte du tendre*. To steal so much matter from Tacitus without imbibing one spark of his spirit; to translate whole speeches yet preserve no likeness in the characters, is surely betraying a great deficiency of dramatic powers, and of the art of imitation. To represent the gay, luxurious, diffolute, ambitious Otho, the courtier of Nero, and the gallant of Poppea, as a mere Pastor Fido, who would die rather than be inconstant to his mistress, and is indifferent to empire but for her fake, is such a violation of historical truth, as is not to be endured. I pass over the absurd scene between the jealous ladies, the improbability of their treating the powerful and haughty favorites of the emperor
* Roman de Clelic.
with indignity, and Otho's thrice repeated attempt to kill himself before his mistress's face, without the least reason why he should put an end to his life, or probability that The would suffer him to do it. To make minute criticisms, where the great parts are lo defective, would be trilling.
Havingobserved how poorly Corneille has represented characters borrowed from so great a portrait painter as Tacitus, let us now see what Shakespear has done, from thoso awkward originals our old chronicles.