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mend Cinna to his spectators merely as a loyal lover, according to the phrase of romance: in
every other light he appears contemptible, and indeed suffers himself to be used with the greatest contempt and indignity. As Shakspeare laboured to shew that the motives of Brutus were untinctured by any bad passion; every movement in the mind of Cinna has on the contrary the character of baseness, and whether he conspires, or whether he repents of it, he is still, as he acknowledges himself to be,
Un esprit malheureux, Qui ne forme qu'en lâche un dessein généreux.
From this unhappy wretch, who basely conceives a generous design, let us turn to Brutus. There we shall see the different judgment and genius of the artists. Brutus and Cinna are drawn in the same situation, conspiring against the foremost man of all this world : in the one we have the features and complexion of a villain, in the other the high-finished form of a noble patriot
UPON THE DEATH
THE Tragedies of Cinna, and Julius Cæsar, are each of them the representation of a conspiracy; but it cannot be denied that our countryman has been by far more judicious in his choice of the story. An abortive scheme, in which some people of obscure fame were engaged, and even in whom, as they are represented, the enterprise was pardoned, more from contempt of their abilities and power, than the clemency of the emperor, makes a poor figure in contrast with that conspiracy, which, formed by the first characters in Rome, effected the destruction of the greatest man the world ever produced, and was succeeded by the most memorable consequences. History furnishes various examples of men of base and treacherous natures, of dissolute manners, ruined fortunes, and lost reputations, uniting in horrid association to destroy their prince.
Ambition often cuts itself a bloody way to greatness.-Exasperated misery sometimes plunges its desperate dagger in the breast of the oppressor. The cabal of a court, the mutiny of a camp, the wild zeal of fanatics, have too frequently produced events of that nature. But this conspiracy was formed of very different elements. It was the genius of Rome, the rights of her constitution, the spirit of her laws, that rose against the ambition of Cæsar; they steeled the heart, and whetted the dagger of the mild, the virtuous, the gentle Brutus, to give the mortal wound, not to a tyrant, who had fastened fetters on his fellow-citizens, but to the conqueror, who had made almost the whole world wear their chains; and who was then preparing to subdue the only empire that remained unsubjected to them.
Can there be a subject more worthy of the Tragic Muse, than an action so important in its consequences, and unparalleled in all its circumstances? How is our curiosity excited, to discover what could engage the man of virtue in an enterprise of such a