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THOUGH itis an agreeable task, upon
T the whole, to attempt the vindication of an author's injured fame, the pleasure is much allayed, by its being attended with a necessity to lay open the unfairness and errors, in the proceedings of his antagonist.
To defend is pleasant, to accuse is painful; but we must prove the injustice of the aggreffor’s sentence, before we can demand to have it repealed. The editor of the late edition of Corneille's works, has given the following preface to the tragedy of Cinna: “ Having often heard Corneille and Shake" spear compared, I thought it proper to
“ Thew their different manner, in subjects “ that have a resemblance. I have therefore “ chosen the first acts of the Death of Cæ“ far, where there is a conspiracy, as in “ Cinna; and in which everything is “ relative to the conspiracy to the end of “ the third Act. The reader may compare “.the thoughts, the style, and the judg“ ment of Shakespear, with the thoughts, « the style, and the judgment of Corneille. " It belongs to the readers of all nations « to pronounce between the one and the “ other. A Frenchman or an Englishman
might perhaps be suspected of some par“ tiality. To institute this process, it was “ necessary to make an exact tranflation ; “ what was prose in the tragedy of Shake“ fpear is rendered into profe; what was « in blank verse, into blank verfe, and “ almost verse by verse ; what is low and « familiar is translated familiarly and in a “ low style. The translator has endea“ voured to rise with the author when he “ rises; and when he is turgid and bom“ bast, not to be more or less so than he.
“ The translation given here is the most “ faithful that can be, and the only faithful. “ one in bur language, of any author ancient “ or modern. I have but a word to add, “ which is, that blank verse costs nothing * but the trouble of dictating: it is not “ more difficult to write, than a letter. If “.people should take it into their heads to * write tragedies in blank verse, and to act “ them on our theatre, Tragedy is ruined : “. take away the difficulty, and you take « away the merit.”
Ån English reader will hardly forbear smiling at this bold assertion concerning the facility of writing blank verse. It is indeed no hard matter to write bad verse of any kind; but, as so few of our Poets have attained to that perfection in it, which Shakespear and Milton have, we have reas son to suppose the art to be difficult. Whata : ever is well done, in Poetry or Eloquence, appears easy to be done. In the theatrical: dialogue, which is an imitation of difcourse, our Critics require the language of