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language of Plautus; while Horace, and a whole tribe of critics censure him severely, impeach his wit of grossness and obscenity, and accuse his comedies of being not only destitute of beauty, but frequently unintelligible. It should be remembered however that Horace lived in the Augustan age, when not only the Roman language but the Roman taste, had arrived at the utmost height of purity and refinement. Besides, great men, as well as their inferiors, are subject to unjust prejudices. When the inflexible virtue and severe judgment of Johnson were insufficient to encounter his prejudices in the cases of Milton, Grey, Watts and Blackmore, we may easily suppose the judgment of Horace, accurate as it was, to have been warped by prejudices no less unreasonable and groundless. For our parts we acknowledge that, on this one occasion at least, we differ from HORACE and completely coincide with the opinion of VARRO, who has left us the following stanza on the death of Plautus ;

Postquam morte captus est Plautus,
Comedia luget, scena est deserta;
Deinde Risus, Ludus, Jocusque, et numeri
Innumeri simul omnes collachrymarunt.

But a more indisputable proof of the superior merit of Plautus, is that he continued for five hundred years to be the principal favourite of the stage; even in the reign of Dioclesian, his comedies were acted with applause; nor can any one who reads his productions wonder that it should be so, since not even his cnemies have denied that he was more happy than any other of the comic writers in the characters he has portrayed, that the incidents of his plays are more varied and interesting, that his plots are more replete with truly comic intrigue and unexpecte ed business, and that his catastrophes are surprising yet natural. That poet of antiquity from whom Shakspeare, Dryden and Mo. liere have borrowed, may safely be ranked with the first writers of the world.

TERENCE is to be considered rather as a translator than an inventor of comedy, it being related of him that he translated no less than one hundred and eight of the plays of Menander, of which six only are cxtant. His great merit consists in the al


most unexampled purity of his language, in the artless elegance and simplicity of his diction, in the continual delicacy of his sentiments, and the exquisite fineness of his taste, in the beauty of his expressions, the dignity of his characters, the faithful pictures he has drawn of nature and manners, and the simple regularity of his dialogues.

The merits of these two great men have been compared, contrasted, and analyzed by some of the most learned and enlightened critics antient and modern, and from the whole of their strictures this general conclusion may be drawn: They were both eminently endowed with genius and wit; but Plautus indulged his to licentiousness—Terence restrained his with too much severity. Julius Cæsar wished that Terence had possessed the humour, vis comica, of Plautus, and Quintilian wished that Plautus had the amenity and delicacy of Terence.

Nothing related of the British stage in the days of Charles the Second exceeds in licentiousness and indecency, nothing to be seen on it at this its full spring tide of folly, exceeds in corruptDess of taste the Roman theatre even at its outset. Not only tragedy, comedy, and farce, but satire, masque and even pantomime found its way upon it. Pantomime never flourished in Paris or London with influence more baleful to public taste than it did in Rome, even during the reign of Augustus. But by so much as mere folly is more tolerable than vice, by so much was Pantomime more innocent than the satires and farces of the Romans. Those of the Greeks were extremely censurable, but those of the Romans were much worse ; for while they assumed to hold up vice to abhorrence, they, by way of rendering it loathsome, exposed it to view by lascivious descriptions and obscene actions and attitudes. To such an infamous degree of grossness did they strain their strange and abominable notions, that by way of antidote to the poison of their pieces, and of throwing away the vicious impressions made by the charms of the actresses, those very actresses were, as soon as the piece was over, entirely stript of their drapery, and exhibited in that situation to public view.

If, therefore, not to be the worst stands in some rank of praise," pantomime may lay claim to some little negative com

mendation, and those who admire it may quote high authority in justification of their taste. SENECA entertained a passionate fondness for it, and makes no scruple to avow his opinion; and Lucian maintains the very heterodox doctrine that pantomimes are as affecting as the very best dramatic compositions. These, and worse exhibitions--buffoonery, gross, stupid and obscene; athletic exercises, tumbling, leaping, and bear-dancing, so exclusively engaged the taste of the Roman people that they frequently stopped one of the best plays of Terence, and compelled the actors to quit the stage and make way for the ropedancers, bear-dancers, and gladiators. A refusal on the part of the performers was out of the question, since if the mob were not gratified they would never again allow the same comedy to be performed. This abuse firmly established farce, satire and pantomime, which by way of compromise with the multitude were always thenceforward performed after the play.

At first, all classes of people took their places promiscuously in the Roman theatre, and between the patricians and plebeians the only distinction was, that the latter were obliged to put every thing in preparation for the former; but Scipio Africanus and Lælius, the friends of Terence, and who, by the bye, are supposed to have assisted him in the composition of his plays, introduced a more consistent arrangement, separating the different orders of society in public, and from that time a more perfect regularity obtained in the theatres. This important alteration led to the building of amphitheatres in a style of splendour and magnificence before unheard of. On the usurpation of Cæsar, a place of distinguished eminence was allotted to this emperor and imperial family, and another of inferior eminence to the senators; the patricians, next ih order, sat by themselves, and the residue of the house was filled by the plebeians.

At this day one is astonished to hear of a building of this kind containing one hundred thousand spectators without the smallest incommodation. Yet such a one was built by the great conqueror, who subdued the world for Rome, and then subdued Rome herself to his own controul. This amphitheatre was open at the top, but his successor Augustus raised a majestic purple canopy over it. Here, from policy, he regularly attended; or if

by accident he was withheld from going himself, sent his family to apologise to the people for his absence. This accomplished politician, as expert at managing the multitude as his uncle Julius had been in subduing them, clearly saw the errors of his great predecessor, and wisely profited by them. Knowing that that wonderful man had impaired his popularity by neglecting to please and flatter the people, he diligently cultivated their good graces, promoted their pleasures and made himself a party in them; and by that means engaged their own interest and cooperation in all his schemes for ruling them. Thus, by dexterously ministering to their personal enjoyments, he continued to the end of a long reign of forty-four years to cajole them into his own measures, and so entirely gained their affections, that though he left them not even the shadow of liberty, they lamented his death as a public calamity.

It is difficult to imagine the magnificence and splendour of the Roman amphitheatres, or the ingenuity of the mechanical stage devices. Marcus SCAURUS, (the son of that Marcus Æmilius Scaurus, who when consul carried the Roman standard so successfully into Spain, and when sent against Jugurtha was supposed to have taken an immense bribe from that prince) built a theatre at Rome which contained thirty thousand spectators. The scene alone of it was supported by three hundred and sixty columns of marble, each thirty-eight feet in height, and was adomed with three thousand majestic statues of brass. Pliny says of this celebrated edifice, that it proved more fatal to the manners, and the simplicity of the Romans than all the proscriptions and the wars of Sylla had done to the inhabitants of the city.Their machinery was no less superb and extraordinary: In some cases chariots traversed the theatre, and actors representing gods descended from above, or winged their way across the painted firmament. It is reasonable to suppose that in the performance of these hazardous enterprises many fatal accidents occurred. There is one particularly recorded by Suetonius, who tells us that an actor was once performing the part of ICARUS, who is fabled by Ovid to have fled with his father Dædalus from Crete, but by rising so high that the heat of the sun melted the wax which fastened his wings, to have fallen into the Ægean sea

The unfortunate performer exerted himself on the occasion so violently, that he insured the fate of Icarus by falling from a prodigious height, and was dashed to pieces. It is pretty remarkable that the emperor Nero, who was present at the repre. sentation, was covered with the blood which the force and veloci. ty of the fall occasioned to gush from all parts of the body.


The profession of an actor, highly honourable in Greece, was in general held disreputable in Rome. “ France" says a writer of that country, “ imitates both Greece and Rome in regard to actors; for while the French think of them as the Romans did, they live with them like the Grecians." The English think of the actors generally as the Romans did, but make exceptions in favour of those whose honourable conduct deserves it, and not less willingly associate with an honest man because he happens to be a player. Reasons not very dissimilar governed both the Greeks and Romans; their best players were not merely actors, they were poets and philosophers also, and most illustrious in arms as well as letters. In Rome few of their poets were actors, and the two most celebrated of them were of very low rank. Plautus was, as has already been mentioned, a servant to a baker and miller, and Terence was born a slave. Yet no sooner did the merit of Terence give him a fair title to it than the first characters of Rome, setting aside the degrading circumstances of his birth (for slavery is the very lowest stage of human degradation) took him to their protection and made him the inmate of their houses and bosoms: for Lælius surnamed Sapiens or the Wise, and immortalized by Cicero in his treatise de Amicitia, and Scipio Africanus, made him their associate and helped him to compose his plays; and Claudus Æsop the actor, and the immor. tal Roscius (the first the preceptor and the other the bosom friend of Cicero) at length raised the profession, even in Rome, to high repute. The accounts handed down of these two celebrated actors are astonishing-Asop was a tragedian—Roscius generally confined himself to comedy. But though in consideration of the priority which is conceded to tragedy over comedy,

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