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[149] passages in their language, taking none but of the very first order, and I undertook to reply passage by passage, and page by page, taking only my two favorites. All the morning the ladies were in council with Voltaire, Racine, Corneille,—in short, a whole library. In the evening they covered the table with books till there was not room to put down a pin-cushion, and were a little abashed to find I took from my pocket nothing but your little ‘Paradise Lost,’ which alone exhausted their three great authors. In short, in four evenings they had no more passages of the first order of poetry to offer, and I had still Shakespeare's best plays in reserve, so that I prevailed on putting the vote, by four to two, without counting myself. . . . .



To Dr. Walter Channing.

Paris, August 12, 1817.
. . . . If you wish to have my opinion of the French theatre, I am perfectly ready to say that it affords an entertainment such as I have never known elsewhere, and for the most natural of all reasons,— because it is more cultivated and more important here; because it enters much more deeply and intimately into the system of life, and instead of being an accidental amusement, it is an every-day want. I do not speak now of their tragedy, which wants force and passion, and pleases me little; it has all the beauties of an inimitable diction, but as to the ordinary pretence of the French men of letters that it is the continuation and perfection of the Greek, I think it entirely false. How, for instance, can they compare a theatre, of which a story is related like that of the first representation of the Eumenides of Aeschylus, with a theatre of proprieties and conventions? A Greek was not more unlike a Frenchman than the theatres of the two nations. But in respect to the comedy, I cannot avoid agreeing with the French critics. In fact, it seems to me to make a genus in the drama by itself, and it is a great injustice to it to call it by the same name that is worn by other genera in other nations. ‘The Misanthrope,’ for instance, or ‘Tartuffe,’ have but little in common with the English comedy, except inasmuch as Sheridan and a few others have imitated the French; and still less can the intriguing comedy of Spain, or the vulgar buffoonery of Italy, pretend to a relationship.

This excellency of the French comedy is, too, very natural and

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