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that his poem proves the truth of the first of his positions, just as strongly as it does that of the second.
His leading argument in defence of his obscenity is expressed in the following very cogent lines
'Once more, then, to my first imputed crime,-
By this reasoning our readers will observe, that nothing can be more innocent than the grossest double entendres, the most downright filth, because, according to this excellent dilemma, those who understand the obscenity understood it before, and those who did not understand it before, would still remain in utter ignorance, but for the mischievous zeal of critics, who explain these horrors to uninitiated innocence.
Now, if we had followed this author with a dirty commentary, if we had explained and glossed upon his filthy innuendos, we should have been almost as bad as himself; and he would have had good ground (not indeed of self-exculpation, but) of accusation against us. But certainly our remarks are not liable to this imputation; we were not so wanting in taste and decency as to quote any of his double or his single meanings. Of his dulness and absurdity we gave, to our own annoyance and the disgust of our readers, some specimens; but of his other quality, we contented ourselves with saying that he eminently possessed it: and we had too much respect for our office, our readers, and ourselves, to descend into particulars and run the risk of spreading the contagion, by exhibiting the spots and plague-marks of his infected Vagaries.
For the same reasons we shall not now pursue him into the other parts of his defence,-defence do we say! his applause, of 'the laugh-exciting equivoque, The salt allusion, and the broader joke.'-p. 58.
For all reviewers, but for us in particular, he entertains, as we have already hinted, the most profound, but the most silent, contempt, which he expresses somewhat in the Irish mode, by the most violent and obstreperous abuse.-Take a sample
'Come, hackney'd critic, shock'd at every speck
But no encourager of poetry :
Come, canting Chiron-Mentor from a stew;
All this perhaps may have a meaning; probably, if it resembles the rest of this ingenious author's works, it may even have a double meaning, but that it can in any case mean indifference and silent -contempt of his critics, is what Mr. Colman, or even an abler advocate of absurdity, would find it hard to convince us.
But we must not give up too much time to Mr. Colman and his Answer. If we were malevolent towards him, we should make large extracts from his poem;' but we have no enmity to him or to his trifling muse,' as with great truth and candour he characterizes his intellect; he may trifle as long as he will, but he shall not corrupt, not at least undetected and unchastised.
Mr. Colman affects a taste for Shakespeare; we hope he will thank us for recalling and recommending to his serious consideration the admonitory observation which Henry the Fifth addresses to one who had a thousand times more gaiety and wit, and not many more years than Mr. George Colman the Younger'Fall to thy prayers, old man: How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!'
Anr. VI. ΕΥΡΙΠΙΔΟΥ ΗΡΑΚΛΕΙΔΑΙ. Euripidis Heraclidae. Ex recensione Petri Elmsley, A. M. qui annotationes suas et aliorum selectas adjecit. Oxonii, excudebat Samuel Collingwood. 1813. pp. 144.
F the comparative merit of the three great tragedians were to be estimated from the quantity of their writings which have been preserved to us, Euripides would undoubtedly bear off the palm: and it seems not unreasonable to conclude, that the critics of antiquity thought most highly of that poet, whose works have been handed down to posterity the least impaired. Certain it is that Euripides was more universally read than either of his brother tragedians; his poems are more frequently cited for the purposes of illustration by writers on ethics; and we know that Chrysippus made such extensive use of the Medea of Euripides in a certain treatise, that the work was called in derision, the Medea of Chrysippus.' In point of fact, however, these circumstances afford but an uncertain criterion; since other causes may be assigned, sufficient to account for the superior care with which the tragedies of Euripides seem to have been preserved. One is to be found in his moralizing and sentimental turn; and in the vast number of precepts applicable to the ordinary relations of life, interspersed through all his writings. In the perusal of his plays we see no traces of that
'fine frenzy' which bursts out in almost every scene of Aeschylus; our attention is not kept on the stretch by that sustained and majestic tone which is the peculiar characteristic of Sophocles; but there is more which comes home to every man's reason and feelings, less poetry indeed, but more common sense. Euripides was unquestionably a more attentive observer of human nature than either of his predecessors in the drama; he was more versed in the learning of the times, and a better philosopher. In the first and last of these points his superiority was so conspicuous, that his enemies (of whom he seems to have had not a few) insinuated that he was assisted in the composition of his dramas by Socrates. Hence his plays were better adapted for the instruction of youth, and more frequently cited by writers on ethics and physics: the natural consequence of which was, the multiplication of copies of his works. A poet who expressed, in simple and perspicuous language, precepts adapted to the mechanic and the husbandman, no less than to the hero or the king, and who clothed in melodious numbers the most abstruse doctrines of natural as well as moral philosophy, would of course be more generally read than those, whose superior polish or loftier flights of poetry could be justly appreciated only by men of refined feeling and liberal education. And that this was the case with Euripides, is proved in a remarkable manner, by the well-known story of the Athenian captives, who returned after the Sicilian expedition, from which it appears, that even the common people of Athens had the verses of this poet at their fingers' ends.
The peculiar merit of Euripides is thus sensibly and shortly stated by a critic of antiquity. Menander's accurate and graceful delineations of character, surpassed all the strength and raciness of the older comic poets; and the sweetness and persuasiveness of Euripides, although it fall short of the dignified elevation of tragedy, render him very useful to a man engaged in active life, and powerful in representing the manners and passions of his characters. Being not unskilled in philosophy, he intermingles with his poetry precepts and axioms serviceable to all conditions of men.'
From these causes it proceeds, that the general estimation in which the plays of Euripides were held, is by no means inconsistent with the fact of his poetical inferiority; a fact, of which we know, from the testimony of Aristophanes and Dio Chrysostom, that the critics both of the same and subsequent ages were sufficiently sensible. Both those excellent judges condeinn in him as a defect, the very quality, which probably procured to his works so general a circulation, viz. his sententiousness. Euripides was lamentably given to moralize. In the very midst of some pathetic apostrophe or burst of passion, an impertinent yun foists itself in, and
destroys all the effect. In the Supplices, Adrastus, in the greatest distress, makes piteous application to Theseus, prostrating himself on the ground and embracing his knees. Theseus, instead of answering, begins a soliloquy on the sum of human happiness and misery, between which he institutes a comparison extended through fifty lines, the result of which is, that there are three orders of citizens, of which the middle one is best behaved, and in consequence he professes himself unable to give any assistance to Adrastus. Some editors of ancient authors have, with a laudable regard for their readers, taken care to indicate the occurrence of a gnome, by planting opposite to it a finger post, or by inclosing it in inverted commas; the obvious purpose of which is, to point out all those parts which may be omitted without detriment to the sense. By means of this device we are enabled to go very expeditiously through Euripides, who is decorated with as many of these direction-posts as any of the cross ways in the neighbourhood of London.
Another gross fault in Euripides is the introduction of low or ridiculous characters, or of ludicrous speeches in the mouth of grave personages. If it has been objected to him that he makes his slaves and heralds talk like philosophers and princes, it is no less true that his kings and heroes sometimes descend from the elevation of the buskin into low and colloquial phraseology. Every reader of taste must be disgusted with the vulgar and absurd scene of the Orestes, in which the Phrygian slave is introduced. At v. 729 of the play before us is a remarkable instance in which the judgment of the poet forsook him, or accommodated itself to the humour of the spectators. The low jocularity of the servant, and the energetic feebleness of Iolaus, who hobbles slowly across the stage praising his own celerity and vigour, reminds us of the valour of Sir Andrew Aguccheek. The voraciousness of Hercules, the great gourmand of antiquity, is injudiciously displayed in the most interesting and critical part of the Alcestis, and it is not in the dignified tone of royalty that Menelaus threatens to give an old man a bloody coxcomb, who refuses to deliver up to him a certain letter. The principal defects of Euripides are well summed up in the following words. Τὸ δὲ πανουργὸν, κομψοπρεπές τε καὶ γνωμολογικὸν, ἀλλότριον Ts Tрayatlas. Of his inconsistency there are many instances; some of which Musgrave has noticed in the present play. It was remarked of him long ago, ἐναντία πολλάκις ἑαυτῷ λέγει.
Of the seventeen tragedies of Euripides which have survived the general wreck of literature, those which stand first in the common arrangement, are unquestionably the first also in merit. And this probably is the reason, why they have experienced the fate of favourite children, who have been caressed and nursed up, while the younger branches of the family lay in piteous plight, crying in
vain for assistance. So much has been done for the first seven or eight plays by skilful bonesetters, that we have them now tolerably free from dislocations and flaws, and in so respectable a condition, that they would probably be recognized by Euripides as his legitimate offspring. One or two indeed have fallen under the hands of very violent operators, and have been almost entirely rebuilt upon a new model, ὥστε μηδένα Γνῶναι φίλων ἰδόντ ̓ ἂν ἄθλιον δέμας, while the remainder have been obliged to rest contented with an occasional visit bestowed upon them v após by some compassionate critic, and to envy the more fortunate lot of their elder brothers and
The Heraclidae, who experienced rough treatment during their lifetime, have long remained in a neglected state, without any particular demerit on their part; on the contrary M. Prévost, who made them a present of a French dress, thinks them a very deserving family. It was therefore with great pleasure that we found them introduced to us by Mr. Elmsley, washed and combed, and their clothes neatly mended. They are now fit company for genteel people; and may take their place by the side of the queen of Troy, the prince of Argos, the fifteen Phoenician ladies, and the princess royal of Colchos.
Mr. Elmsley in the volume before us gives a corrected text, a collation of the Aldine edition, select annotations of preceding commentators, and his own very valuable remarks. We are certainly under the full influence of that laudable propensity of critics, which disposes us to find fault; but we are nevertheless compelled to acknowledge, that Mr. Elmsley's annotations are one of the happiest mixtures of critical and illustrative remark that has ever been bestowed upon any portion of the Greek drama. We do not agree with him in all his restorations of the text, nor in all his interpretations, and we shall freely state the grounds of our dissent; but these points of difference are few and unimportant, in comparison of the instances in which we recognize the hand of the skilful critic and the judicious interpreter. We shall now specify the principal features which distinguish the present from preceding editions, and suggest to Mr. Elmsley's consideration a few remarks which may perhaps tend to its further improvement.
V.1 .Πάλαι ποτ ̓ ἐστὶ τοῦτ ̓ ἐμοὶ δεδογμένον. We prefer τοῦτό μοι δεδεγμένον, the reading of Stobaeus. The emphasis should be thrown upon TOUTO, and not upon the pronoun, which to a certain degree it is, as the verse now stands. The same reasoning does not apply to v. 818. of the Medea.
3. Ὁ δ ̓ εἰς τὸ κέρδος λῆμ ̓ ἔχων ἀνειμένον. “ Propensum in lucrum plerique interpretes. Malim lucro deditum.' P. E. We render it, solutum in lucrum. Virgil. Aen. IV: 530. Solvitur in somnos. Georg. IV, 198. nec cor