Page:CromwellHugo.djvu/40

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the least judicious performance of M. Corneille himself. You are bound to do it, both for your own private renown; and for that of our people in general, who are concerned in this matter; inasmuch as foreigners who may see this precious masterpiece--they who have possessed a Tasso or a Guarini--might think that our greatest masters were no more than apprentices."

These few instructive lines contain the everlasting tactics of envious routine against growing talent--tactics which are still followed in our own day, and which, for example, added such a curious page to the youthful essays of Lord Byron. Scudéri gives us its quintessence. In like manner the earlier works of a man of genius are always preferred to the newer ones, in order to prove that he is going down instead of up--Mélite and La Galérie du Palais placed above Le Cid. and the names of the dead are always thrown at the heads of the living--Corneille stoned with Tasso and Guarini (Guarini!), as, later, Racine will be stoned with Corneille, Voltaire with Racine, and as to-day, everyone who shows signs of rising is stoned with Corneille, Racine and Voltaire. These tactics, as will be seen, are well-worn; but they must be effective as they are still in use. However, the poor devil of a great man still breathed. Here we cannot help but admire the way in which Scudéri, the bully of this tragiccomedy, forced to the wall, blackguards and maltreats him, how pitilessly he unmasks his classical artillery, how he shows the author of Le Cid "what the episodes should be, according to Aristotle, who tells us in the tenth and sixteenth chapters of his Poetics"; how he crushes Corneille, in the name of the same Aristotle "in the eleventh chapter of his Art of Poetry, wherein we find the condemnation of Le Cid"; in the name of Plato, "in the tenth book of his Republic"; in the name of Marcellinus, "as may be seen in the twenty-seventh book"; in the name of "the tragedies of Niobe and Jephthah"; in the name of the "Ajax of Sophocles"; in the name of "the example of Euripides"; in the name of "Heinsius, chapter six of the Constitution of Tragedy; and the younger Scaliger in his poems"; and finally, in the name of the Canonists and Jurisconsults, under the title "Nuptials." The first arguments were addressed to the Academy, the last one was aimed at the Cardinal. After the pin-pricks the blow with a club. A judge was needed to decide the