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The following Lectures, delivered at the Sorbonne, were first published in the Journal des Debats, and were so much admired that, at the earnest request of his hearers, the learned Professor consented to revise them for publication, in the form of a book. In presenting them to the American public, the translator claims for himself no other credit, as he has had no other object, but that of faithfully representing the thoughts of the original.
A foreign journal* of high reputation, soon after its appearance, passed such deserved eulogy upon the author, as well as his work, that it is deemed unnecessary to say more in its recommendation than simply to extract a few of its critical remarks:
“M. Saint-Mark Girardin is an honor to the literature, an honor to the journalism of France. Learned without pedantry, and acute without flippancy, he possesses all the qualities which make a writer estimable. He has keen insight, sound judgment, healthy morality, varied acquirements, and an eloquent style. We have not read a work for some time which has given us so much pleasure, as the Cours de Littérature Dramatique.' The subject is interesting, the execution brilliant. It is a work which awakens all kinds of pleasant recollections, and rouses attention to some of the
* Foreign Quarterly Review.
most beautiful passages of ancient and modern art. It is a work eminently suggestive. It not only gives new views, but suggests others in abundance; and this, perhaps, is the most valuable quality a book can possess.
“M. Saint-Mark Girardin's object is to examine the manner in which the ancient poets, and those of the seventeenth century, expressed the natural sentiments of mankind, such as love, parental love, love of life, jealousy, honor, &c., and the manner in which they are expressed by the moderns. The rules of good taste and sound healthy feeling, are exemplified in the one; the excesses of caprice and falsehood, are developed in the other. The work is an invaluable guide to the young poet, because it not only lays down general principles, but illustrates them fully.”
After such a graphic and clear statement of the merits and character of the work, nothing is left for the translator to add, but to express his hopes that this undertaking will not be entirely devoid of interest and instruction.
OF THE NATURE OF DRAMATIC EMOTION.
The sympathy which man feels for man is the source of the pleasure which the arts give which proceed from the imita. tion of human nature. It is especially on the stage that this sympathy is excited and developed, because it is there that the imitation is more faithfully represented. On the stage we see not only the form and countenance of the individual, but we also see the emotions of his heart. We find pleasure in gratifying the moral curiosity which we possess in obsery. ing our like, in seeing how they live and act; in pitying their misfortunes if they are unhappy, and in laughing at their faults if they are ridiculous. The Theatre satisfies this sentiment by the exhibitions of Comedy, which gratify our malignity, and those of Tragedy, which excite our pity; not that we love the misfortunes of others, but we love the pity which we feel in witnessing them on the stage, where the sufferings of the actors are only fictitious. The soul experiences plea. sure in the agitation which the sight of human passions gives it, a pleasure the more agreeable, since it knows that these passions are only an image and an illusion which it creates.