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J'irais loin d'elle encor, tâcher de l'oublier?
In fact we pity Orestes more than we condemn him, and the friendship which unites him with Pylades, gives a sort of interest to his character, and carries us still further in lessening his crime. We think vaguely, that a man who has one friend remaining, may have been guilty, though not absolutely wicked. We are struck when, in the midst of all his sinister projects, he resolved to bear away Hermione; the only soft sentiment which remains, is in favour of Pylades:
Mais toi, par quelle erreur veux-tu toujours sur toi
And what is the answer of Pylades? It is not one of those sententious phrases such as we see so often in Corneille. He does not say a real friend should sacrifice every thing to his duty:-or, I know how a true friend would act in such a case: friendship fears no danger, &c. He shows all this in a single word:
Allons, seigneur, enlevons Hermione.
How affecting is the reply of Orestes!
Excuse un malheureux qui perd tout ce qu'il aime, · Que tout le monde hait, et qui se hait lui-même.
How different the distress! yet all are interesting, all appeal to the heart, all are tragical.
But Hermione surpasses every thing. This is one of the most astonishing creations of Racine's pen: it is the triumph of a new and sublime art. No one will deny that it belongs entirely to his genius. Where is the model of Hermione? where, before the time of Racine, do we behold such profound developments of the recesses of the human heart: such a flow and reflux so incessant and active of all the passions which can agitate a noble and wounded mind; such prompt and conflicting emotions, crossing each other like lightning; such rapid transitions from the imprecations of hatred to all the tenderness of love, from the effusions of joy to the transports of fury, from indifference and affected disdain to a despair which vents itself in lamentations, reproaches, and menaces; such rage, at one time blind and concentrated, and secretly meditating all the horrors of vengeance, and then furious, declaring the most terrible threats? When Pyrrhus, driven to despair by the disdain of Andromache, is about to espouse Hermione, in what manner does she address her confidante!
Pyrrhus revient à nous! Eh bien! chere Cléone,
Pyrrhus returns to Andromache: she is silent, and only waits for Orestes, to demand from him the head of a perjured lover. On his arrival he commences with a profusion of protestations. She inrerrupts him:
Vengez-moi: je crois tout. Orestes resolves, though with pain, to serve her, and we see what a struggle it costs him to become an assassin, even when a rival is the object. Notwithstanding his promises, she does not believe herself secure of him.
Pyrrhus n'est pas coupable à ses yeux comme aux miens
She perceives Pyrrhus. Her first emotion is that of hope; her first cry is an order to him to run after Orestes, and prevent him from doing any thing until she sees him. Pyrrhus acknowledges all his wrongs, and avows his determination to espouse Andromache. Hermione at first dissembles her resentment. She thinks that it would be degrading to appear too sensible of his conduct, and we behold the last struggle of pride against love. She even affects to lessen the hero whom she had just before exalted to the skies. His exploits are nothing but cruelties: she reproaches him with the death of the aged Priam. Pyrrhus answers her like a man quite indifferent. He applauds her trazquillity, and believes himself not so culpable as he feared. He flatters himself that their marriage would have been no more than an arrangement dictated by policy. But Hermione will not let him off so easily: irritated love can no longer contain itself, and when Pyrrhus says,
Rien ne vous engageait à m'aimer en effect; she bursts forth in the following terms:
Je ne t'ai point aimé, cruel! qu'ai-je donc fait?
Je leur ai commandé de cacher mon injure;
Reproaches soon produce tenderness and intreaty: this is the coure of nature. And how is this change of tone marked?
Mais, seigneur, s'il faut, si le ciel en colere,
There are, in this request, many sentiments, of which an agitated mind does not take notice, and which wholly occupy it without its being conscious of it. She is softened, and does not wish that Pyrrhus, by espousing Andromache, should expose himself to the rage of the Greeks. She asks but one day: this at least desers the greatest of misfortunes, and the delay may perhaps prevent it: hope never abandons love. But Pyrrhus appears insensible to her prayer. She asks but one day, and is refused: nothing then remains for her but despair.
Vous ne répondez point?—Perfide, je le roi,
Porte aux pieds des autels ce cæur qui m'abandonne,
Love and rage united have never been represented more justly and horribly. It would be endless to enter into the detail of all that is expressed in this morsel. The analysis of five or six of Racine's characters of this description, would form a complete history of love. No man ever understood or painted it, in a better manner. What life there is in this verse!
Tu comptes les momens que tu perds avec moi. How just is the observation! Nothing escapes the piercing eye of a woman who loves, even in the very tempest of passion. She cannot conceal from herself, that reproaches, since they have become unavailing, render her troublesome; and that he who is the object of them involuntarily compares these irksome moments, with those which might be passed so much more pleasantly in the society of another. And the expression ta Troyenne! what haughty contempt is conveyed by it! These are but shades, if you please; but it is the combination of circumstances, even light in themselves, which forms the illusion of the whole: nothing is little in depicting the passions. The expression tu lui parles du ceur, is both happy and new. We are unwilling to quit the scene: we pause, and among so many beauties, we seek in vain for a single superfluous word.
(To be continued.)
LETTER FROM CORTEZ TO THE KING OF SPAIN, ON THE ON
QUEST OF Mexico.
(Continued, from p. 146.) The next day we pursued the road over the heights before mentioned, and on our descent discovered the province of Choleo belonging to Montezuma. At the distance of not less than two leagues before arriving at any settlement, we found a very handsome building newly erected, and sufficiently large to lodge all my attendants, not withstanding I had with me more than four thousand Indians. We here found provisions in abundance, a very good fire, and great quantities of wood, a very necessary