A New and Complete Translation


1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 [†]Paralipomena [105.1]

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 [Drafts for Discussions] [105.2]

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0  

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 [1]

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 On the ____ Miss Sara Sampson was repeated.[105.3]

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 In the new edition of his Progrés des Allemands etc.,[*] the Baron of Bielfeld also sought to make this play known to foreigners through an extended synopsis.[105.4] The author must be obliged to him for this honor; but should he not make any objection to the Baron’s criticism?

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Mr. von Bielfeld says: “Sara Sampson is indeed an original German play; yet the subject seems to have been taken or imitated from English novels, and the spirit as well as the taste of that nation dominates the play.”[105.5]

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 What is this supposed to mean? The subject seems to have been taken from English novels? If you are going to deny someone’s invention of something, is an “it seems” sufficient? Which English novel […]

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0  

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 [2]

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 La Critique de L’Ecole des Femmes [The Critique of the School for Wives]

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 [Here Lessing translates into German a short passage from Scene 6 of Molière’s play.][105.6]

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0  

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 TRUBLET[105.7]

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 “One must be much more rigorous with comedies than with tragedies. It is much easier to move an intelligent man, or even to make him cry, than it is to amuse him and make him laugh. The heart is always ready and willing for the emotions one wants to awaken in it; the mind, on the other hand, tends to resist humor. It seems that laughing at the wrong place would hurt our vanity much more than crying for no reason. The former is a sign of stupidity and the latter only of weakness, a weakness that itself is a form of goodness.”

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0  

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 [3]

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 On the fiftieth evening (Friday, July 24th), Molière’s School for Wives was repeated.[105.8]

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 In the second half of 1661 and throughout 1662, Molière found his theater somewhat abandoned.[105.9] The entire city gravitated toward the Italians to see Scaramouche, who had returned to Paris.[105.10] If Molière did not want to play to an empty house, he had to find a way to attract the public with something new, something in the vein of the Italian farces. He thus offered his School for Wives; but the very public that had there laughed at and applauded the most tasteless farces and the dirtiest jokes, tossed out in barely coherent language, now responded to him sternly, as if it were prepared only to hear the purest morality and the most refined entertainment. Again he took up the challenge, and he welcomed criticism as long as one regularly visited his theater.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 Nonetheless, he had it in his power the entire time to shame most of these critics, and ultimately he exercised this power in a brand new way. Namely, he collected together the most tasteless among them, gave them voice through diverse and ridiculous original characters, mixed among them a few people with good taste, and created from their dialogue about his play, another little play that he called the Critique of the first (The Critique of the School for Wives), and put it on immediately following that play.[105.11] In the following time period, more than one playwright imitated him in this new device, but never with notable success. For a mediocre play cannot ever win the reputation of being a good one with the help of an apologetic bodyguard; and a good play does not need one as it makes its way through all scornful attacks on the way to a more secure and forgiving future.

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0  

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 [4]

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 On the ____ Olint and Sophronia was repeated.[105.12]

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 On the presumed injustice that I am said to have inflicted upon H. v. C[ronegk] as a dramatic writer. Why would we want to boast to foreigners of treasures that we do not have? Thus says, for example, the Journal encyclopédique [†], that his play The Suspicious Man found acclaim in our theater and has always been well-regarded.[105.13] That couldn’t be further from the truth. It is an unbearable play and the dialogue is extremely dull.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 The things that are said there about his Olint and Sophronia are even stranger.[105.14]

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 “Encouraged by the acclaim given to his Codrus, he undertook another tragedy in which he wanted to reintroduce the chorus in the manner of the Greeks.[105.15] He wanted to see if that which Racine did so successfully with his Athalie in France could also succeed in Germany.[105.16] However, after overcoming tremendous obstacles and having already made considerable progress on his work, he suddenly gave it up, believing that his project could not succeed because of the nature of German music (attendu la nature de la Musique allemande). He believed that it was in no way fit to render the beauty of sentiments and the nobility of thoughts that he wanted to express.[‡][105.17] But it seems to us that he could have dispensed with the music altogether, as M. de Voltaire did with the chorus in his Brutus.[105.18] In any case, he gave up on the play; given the fragments he left behind that contain much beauty, it is sad that he did not put the finishing touch to his work. Germany might have been able to boast of a Christian tragedy that brought honor to its theater.”[105.19]

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 How completely absurd! The German music! If only they had added that German poetry was unsuited to music!

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 And the whole thing is simply not true. Cronegk didn’t give up on his work; he died in the middle of it.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 What the journalist adds at the end is, to all appearances, also a lie: “Un Ecrivain Anglois qui a senti le mérite de cette Tragédie, se l’est appropriée. Sa piéce a paru sous ce titre: Olindo and Sophronia, a Tragedy taken from Tasso, by Abraham Portal, Esq. London. 1758.[105.20] That would make the good Mr. Portal a plagiarist who had never heard the name Cronegk. In 1758 Cronegk’s Olint had not yet been published.[105.21]

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0  

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 [5]

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 On the sixty-fifth evening (Friday, August 14th), Mr. Heufeld’s Julie and Schlegel’s The Dumb Beauty were repeated.[105.22]

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 The two plays that Mr. Heufeld made himself known for in Vienna before his Julie were Housekeeping, and The Fashionable Lovers.[105.23] I do not know anything more about them than their titles. But I have read his fourth play, the one he wrote after Julie.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 It is called The Birthday, and it has three acts.[105.24] Its structure places it among what the French call “pièces à tiroir”; and its primary tone is that of a farce, even though its characters are far from belonging to the lowest class of persons.[105.25] It depicts various ridiculous characters who show up at a birthday that is being celebrated by a noble family in the manner customary in Vienna. The first act is composed of a series of morning visitors come to wish Frau von Ehrenwerth a happy birthday. The third act shows an evening’s entertainment among roughly the same people, in which they play cards and gamble. The middle act consists of a little comedy, called Brother Philip’s Sister.[105.26]

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0  

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 [6]

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 71st Production. Soliman the Second.[105.27]

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 Did Favart make his alterations for critical reasons? Or did he merely make them to flatter his nation? Was it to make his Frenchwoman not only the liveliest, wittiest, and most entertaining girl, but also the most noble and generous? So that people would have to say: it’s true, she is a foolish and thoughtless thing, but nonetheless she has the best heart? – Just as Boissy, in his The Frenchman in London, ended up making his dandy an honorable young man and thereby spoiled all of the good that the depiction of his follies could have effected.[105.28] Marmontel says of the role of the dandy in general (Poetiq. Fr. T. II, p. 395): “On s’amuse à recopier le Petit-Maitre, sur lequel tous les traits du ridicule sont épuisés, et dont la peinture n’est plus qu’une école pour les jeunes, qui ont quelque disposition à le devenir.[105.29]

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 French playwrights today are in general the most calculating when it comes to flattering their nation. It is only through appeal to its vanity that they can protect their attempts. Proof of this can be seen in the Siege of Calais and more recently in —.[105.30]

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 At the same time we Germans are sufficiently good-hearted fools to reprise these plays of theirs and let the callow praises of the French ring out on our German stages.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 Their tragedies of this sort cannot possibly appeal to us; and their comedies of this sort must fail utterly. We have no Roxelanes and we have no dandies; where should our actors have seen examples of these types?[105.31] It’s no wonder that they always play these roles badly. And that’s a good thing!

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0  

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 [7][105.32]

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 The[§] actors were the first to openly support the grandchild of the great Corneille.[105.33] They put on a benefit performance of Rodogune for her, and people came in droves to reward the father of French theater in his descendant.[105.34] Mademoiselle Corneille was recommended to M. de Voltaire by Le Brun; he sent for her, took over her education, and provided something of a dowry for her through the sale of an edition of her grandfather’s plays.[105.35]

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 M. de Voltaire’s gesture was seen as extraordinary; it was praised in prose and verse, and the whole story was even disguised as a special Greek novel: (La petite nièce d’Eschyle 1761).[105.36]

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 The gesture is indeed praiseworthy, but it is not more praiseworthy because it was Corneille’s granddaughter for whom Voltaire carried it out.[105.37] Rather, the honor that he could foresee would necessarily accrue to him as a result was its own kind of reward; and the dishonor that would reflect back on Fontenelle as a result may have had a bit of allure for Voltaire as well.[105.38]

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 M. de Voltaire was also given credit for an extraordinarily selfless and magnanimous gesture when he undertook to produce his Corneille commentaries. (Journal Encyc. Oct. 1761)[105.39]L’exemple qu’il donne est unique; il abandonne pour ainsi dire son propre fonds, pour travailler au champ de son voisin et lui donner plus de valeur. Que ceux qui calomnient son coeur, admirent au moins la noblesse d’un procédé si rare. Il est ordinaire que les grands hommes s’étudient, mais ils n’ont pas coutume de se commenter. Dans le nombre presque infini des Éditeurs, des Commentateurs, des Compilateurs, on peut en citer beaucoup qui ont marqué de l’érudition; quelques-uns ont eu de l’esprit; très peu de goût: voici le premier qui a du génie, et plus de goût, d’esprit et même d’érudition qu’aucun d’eux. Nous admirerons davantage l’auteur de Rodogune, de Polieucte, de Cinna, quand nous verrons toutes ses pièces enrichies des Commentaires que prépare l’auteur de Mahomet, d’Alzire et de Mèrope; ils vont fortifier l’idée que nous nous formons de Corneille, et le rendre, s’il est possible, encore plus grand à nos yeux; ils feront relire le texte avec plus de plaisir et plus d’utilité.[105.40]

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 How off the mark this flattering prophecy has proved to be! How very differently this commentary has turned out! How easy it would be to believe that in this, too, Voltaire had very selfish intentions.

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 On[**] Banks and his Essex, which is from 1682, and thus after Corneille’s had appeared.[105.41] He appears not to have been familiar with the Frenchman’s work, however.[105.42]

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 He stuck strictly to the historical circumstances, and although his play is very mediocre with respect to its arrangement and expression, nevertheless he had the artistry to incorporate very interesting situations, which have led to the play’s long life in the theater.

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 Jones produced his Essex in 1753 (see Cibber’s Life III, p. 175).[105.43] He wanted to make Banks’s play conform better to the rules, and he made it colder. But his style is better, and his language is more poetic.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 In 1761 Brooke’s version came out.[105.44] He sought to use the best from both his predecessors (while distancing himself from the accusation of plagiarism) and to avoid their errors. It is said that he was able to combine the fire and pathos of Banks with the beautiful poetry of Jones.

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 Brooke was already well-known through a Gustavus Vasa that was, however, forbidden in London, because it was thought to contain various anti-government elements.[105.45]

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 Brooke ennobled the character of Essex and did not have him speak so heatedly to the queen in the final scene.[105.46]Il a aussi fait tomber en demence la Comtesse de Rutland” (says the Journal Encyl. March 1761) “au moment que cet illustre […] époux est conduit à l’échafaud: ce moment où cette Comtesse est un objet bien digne de pitié, a produit une très-grande sensation; et a été trouvé admirable à Londres: en France il eut paru ridicule, il auroit été sifflé, et l’on auroit envoyé la Comtesse avec l’Auteur aux Petites Maisons.”[105.47] So much the worse for the French!

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0  

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 [8]

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 Canut[105.48]

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 Act II Scene 4

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 ULFO: You fought the way one should when one fights over honor.[105.49]

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 NB: The actor must not pronounce this as if Ulfo actually believed that Godewin fought at that time over honor.[105.50] He would contradict himself with what follows:

You make your venal blood the property of others

You live to your disgrace and just for foreign praise

You acted out of foolish fear, the way a slave would act.[105.51]

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 The actor must pronounce it as if the playwright had said:

You fought the way one should only fight when one is fighting over honor.

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 And this is what he really wanted to say.

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0  

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 [General Observations][105.52]

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0  

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 Interruptions in Dialogue

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 We mark them through dashes, or periods, which the French call “points poursuivans.

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 If we are to attribute this figure to the essence of the matter rather than to the laziness or embarrassment of the writer, then interrupted dialogue must at all times be filled, and filled easily.

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 Voltaire says (in his Commentaire sur le Comte d’Essex Act III Scene 2): “C’est une très grande négligence de ne point finir sa phrase, sa période, et de se laisser [ainsi] interrompre, surtout quand le personnage qui interrompt est un subalterne, qui manque aux bienséances en coupant la parole à son supérieur. Thomas Corneille est sujet à ce défaut dans toutes ses pièces.”[105.53]

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 Who worries about respectability when the characters’ emotion demands that they interrupt, or allow themselves to be interrupted?

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 In this respect Home understood the true beauties of dialogue better.[105.54] “No fault is more common among writers,” (he says, in Elements of Criticism, Vol. II p. 284),[105.55] “than to prolong a speech after the impatience of the person to whom it is addressed ought to prompt him or her to break in. Consider only how the impatient actor is to behave in the meantime. To express his impatience in violent action without interrupting, would be unnatural; and yet to dissemble his impatience, by appearing cool where he ought to be highly inflamed, would be no less so.”

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0  

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 Chorus[105.56]

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 In the ancient tragedies.

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 Among the modern English writers who have tried to reintroduce it, Mason in particular has made several attempts.[105.57] The first was his Elfrida, which I have, and which he prefaces with letters that give the reasons why he wants to write in this traditional manner.[105.58]

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 The second is his Caractacus, a Dramatic Poem, which was published in 1759.[105.59] On the occasion of this latter publication the editors of the Monthly Review (Vol. XX, p. 507)[105.60] make some very pertinent arguments against the presumed advantages of the chorus, particularly in regard to two: 1) that it offers more frequent opportunities for poetic embellishments, and 2) that it is the most pleasant and appropriate means for conveying useful instruction to the spectator. In the end they very correctly observe that Mason’s play would be better if it were less poetical.

81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0  

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 Unstudied Writers;

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 or those who were not raised to study the higher disciplines

84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0 Henry Jones, the author of the new Essex, was a bricklayer.[105.61]

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 The author of the English Olindo and Sophronia is a blacksmith or steelworker.[105.62]

86 Leave a comment on paragraph 86 0 In England in general, it has never been uncommon to find such people who, working in the meanest crafts and worst circumstances, without any instruction, have made great accomplishments not only in writing but also in other disciplines. As, for example

87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0 Henry Wild, who taught oriental languages at Oxford in 1720; he was a tailor, and known under the name of the Arabian tailor.[105.63]

88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0 Robert Hill, a tailor in Buckingham; in 1759 Spence wrote a comparison of him with the Italian Magliabechi, in order to draw a little more of the public’s attention to him and possibly improve his circumstances thereby.[105.64] He taught himself Latin, Greek, and Hebrew (see The Monthly Review Vol. XX, p. 217).[105.65]

89 Leave a comment on paragraph 89 0  

90 Leave a comment on paragraph 90 0 Delicacy[105.66]

91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 An overly sensitive outrage over all language or events that do not conform to the strictest modesty and compunction is not always proof of a pure heart and a chaste imagination. Often the most bashful conduct and the most undisciplined thoughts are found in one person. It is only because they are all too aware of the latter that they assume a more disciplined exterior. Nothing betrays such people more than the fact that they are most insulted by coarse, crude language directly expressing obscenity, and are far more forgiving of the most salacious thoughts as long as they are disguised in fine, inoffensive language.

92 Leave a comment on paragraph 92 0 And most certainly these are far more detrimental and corruptive of good morals.

93 Leave a comment on paragraph 93 0 There was an outcry over the word whore in my Minna.[105.67] The actor did not even want to dare speak it.[105.68] Nevertheless: I will not cut it, and I will use it again anywhere I believe it belongs.

94 Leave a comment on paragraph 94 0 But no one rails against Gellert’s double entendres – the shoving of the kerchief and the like – in his Lottery Ticket.[105.69] Everyone just smiles with the author over them.

95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 It is the same with Fielding and Richardson.[105.70] The coarse, crude expressions in the former’s Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones were widely frowned upon, whereas the obscene thoughts that are not uncommon in Clarissa bothered no one.[105.71] This is the judgment of the British themselves.[††][105.72]

96 Leave a comment on paragraph 96 0  

97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0 The reviewer need not be able to do better than that which he criticizes[105.73]

98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0 In general, criticizing means giving recognition to one’s disapproval.

99 Leave a comment on paragraph 99 0 One can either appeal to feelings to express this disapproval, or one can support these feelings with justifications.

100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0 The man of taste does the former; the critic does the latter.

101 Leave a comment on paragraph 101 0 Which of these two should understand how to improve upon that which he criticizes?

102 Leave a comment on paragraph 102 0 A man is not master of his feelings; but a man is master of what he says about what he feels. If a man of taste dislikes something in a poem or a painting: does he first have to pause and become a poet or a painter before he can say: I don’t like it? I find my soup too salty: am I not allowed to say it is over-salted until I can cook myself?

103 Leave a comment on paragraph 103 0 What are the justifications of the critic? Conclusions drawn from his own feelings that he has analyzed and compared with others’ feelings, and then connected to the fundamental principles of the perfect and beautiful.

104 Leave a comment on paragraph 104 0 I do not see why a man should be more reserved with his conclusions than with his feelings. The critic does not merely feel that he doesn’t like something; he appends his because to it. And should this because require him to do it better? When, in fact, this because ought to relieve him from having to do it better.

105 Leave a comment on paragraph 105 0 If, in fact, this because is a good and thorough because, he will easily derive from it what that which displeases him ought to be like in order to avoid displeasing him.

106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0 But this can badly seduce the critic into pointing out the beauty that could and should exist in place of the criticized flaw.

107 Leave a comment on paragraph 107 0 I say seduce: because one is seduced into doing things when one cannot be compelled, and into doing things that could turn out badly.

108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0 If the critic says to the dramatic writer: you should have constructed the complication of your story this way, instead of that way; you would have done better to resolve it this way rather than that way; then the critic has allowed himself to be seduced.

109 Leave a comment on paragraph 109 0 For no one could reasonably demand of him that he go so far. He has satisfied the requirements of his profession sufficiently when he simply says: your complication doesn’t hold, the development is bad, for this and that reason. The playwright can figure out how it can be improved.

110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0 Because if he wants to help him, and the playwright wants to be helped, and he goes ahead and revises based on the suggestions of the critic: then it is true that the playwright and the reader should thank him if the revision is successful. But if it does not succeed?

111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0 Then it doesn’t take much for the whole blame to fall on the critic alone. And only in such a case – in order to justify his opinion – might he be required to shove the dabbler aside from the easel and take up brush and palette himself.

112 Leave a comment on paragraph 112 0 “Good luck with the work! We’ve waited for you right here, good man! When you are done, then we will compare!”

113 Leave a comment on paragraph 113 0 And who does not believe that they can compare!

114 Leave a comment on paragraph 114 0 Woe to him if he has only made a few improvements; when he has let it be enough to just do away with mistakes; when he has not succeeded in surprising us all with completely new, completely unexpected beauty!

115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0 What kind of a doctor is it, who merely makes a blind man see, and does not simultaneously replace the dull gray eyes that nature gave him with beautiful blue or fiery black eyes!

116 Leave a comment on paragraph 116 0 “Was it worth the trouble? We were used to that mistake; and now we will need to get used to the improvement.”

117 Leave a comment on paragraph 117 0 Perhaps we would not even have noticed the mistake, and the improvement is what made us notice it. We become indignant when we find that we should not have liked something that we have liked for so long.

118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 In short, if the critic offends by criticizing, he offends twice as badly by improving the work. by way of improvement.

119 Leave a comment on paragraph 119 0 Make it better! This may be the challenge the criticized writer makes of him, but not with the intention that it will be taken up. It is intended merely as a shield to deflect the critic’s blows.

120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 If the critic takes it up and is unsuccessful: his game is over.

121 Leave a comment on paragraph 121 0 If he takes it up and is successful – But who will concede to him that he is successful? No one in the world. Neither the artist, nor his colleagues in criticism.

122 Leave a comment on paragraph 122 0 Of all of these, it is not to be expected of the criticized artist; and the others – one crow will not peck out the eyes of another: its turn might come one day.

123 Leave a comment on paragraph 123 0 But the latter will damn him for the bad example: he has overplayed his hand, now people will expect such improving from all of them; for this he must be punished!

124 Leave a comment on paragraph 124 0 And in general, critics are the only kind of crows who give the lie to the proverb.

125 Leave a comment on paragraph 125 0 [*] à Leide. 1767. 8. T. II. p. 343.

126 Leave a comment on paragraph 126 0 [†]Sept. 1761

127 Leave a comment on paragraph 127 0 [‡] Il crut appercevoir qu’elle n’étoit nullement propre à rendre la beauté des sentiments et la noblesse des pensées qu’il vòuloit exprimer.

128 Leave a comment on paragraph 128 0 [§] “The Ephesian Matron” by Ogilby. Cibb. Vol. II. p. 267. A Poem. The Ephesian Matron by Charles Johnson. Ibid. Vol V. p. 342. A Farce.

129 Leave a comment on paragraph 129 0 [**] From Samuel Daniel’s “Philotas,” which was the history of Essex under a different name. See Cibber Life Vol I. p. 147.

130 Leave a comment on paragraph 130 0 [††] The editors of The Monthly Review (Vol. XX, p. 132) when they rail against the fact that Rousseau held Clarissa to be one the best and most beautiful novels in any language. “In justice to the memory of a late very ingenious Writer, we cannot help taking notice here, how frequently we have been surprized to find persons, pretending to delicacy, so much offended at the coarse expressions they meet with in Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones; while the impure and obscene thoughts that occur in Clarissa have not given them the least umbrage. We would ask these very delicate persons, which they think of worse tendency, a coarse idea, expressed in vulgar language, in itself disgusting, or an idea equally luscious and impure, conveyed in words that may steal on the affections of the heart, without alarming the ear? On this occasion we cannot forbear exclaiming with the confidous Mrs. Slipslop “Marry come up! People’s ears are sometimes the nicest part about them.’” No doubt Slipslop says this in some English comedy, but it is taken from Molière, from the Critique of the School for Wives.

  • 131 Leave a comment on paragraph 131 0
  • [105.1] Paralipomena: “things omitted or neglected that are added as a supplement.” These items consist of notes found amongst Lessing’s papers. Most are in conversation with existing essays in the Hamburg Dramaturgy; a few are preparatory notes on plays he intended to revisit when they were remounted. The notes are organized in their presumed (but not uncontested) chronological order; see Bohnen “Textgrundlage” in Werke und Briefe 6: 1072.
  • [105.2] Drafts for Discussions (Entwürfe zu Besprechungen): these first eight items follow the order that they are arranged in the collection of Lessing’s works edited by Karl Lachmann and Franz Muncker (subtitles and numbers in brackets are theirs); see Lessing, Sämtliche Schriften [Complete Works] 15: 38–48.
  • [105.3] These comments are associated with the Hamburg National Theater’s first repeat performance of Lessing’s Miss Sara Sampson (1755) on July 20, 1767, which Lessing mentions in [73]; Lessing discusses the first performance in [13] and [14]. Repeat performances followed on Feb. 22, 1767; Sept. 12, 1768; and Feb. 23, 1769.
  • [105.4] Jakob Friedrich Freiherr von Bielfeld (1717–70): German statesman and author; Bielfeld in fact includes the entirety of an anonymous French translation of Miss Sara Sampson in his Progrès des Allemands dans les Sciences, les Belles-Lettres et les Arts, particulièrement dans la Poësie, l’Eloquence, et le Théatre [The Progress of the Germans in Science, Literature, and the Arts: Particularly in Poetry, Eloquence, and Theater] (1752; revised and expanded 1767.)
  • [105.5] Numerous English tragedies have been suggested (some more convincingly than others) as source material for Miss Sara Sampson, including George Lillo’s The London Merchant (1731), Thomas Shadwell’s The Squire of Alsatia (1688), and Charles Johnson’s Caelia (1733); the plot is indeed drawn from Shadwell and Johnson. Lessing may also have been influenced by classical sources, as well as Samuel Richardson’s enormously successful epistolary novel Clarissa (1747–48; translated into German in 1748–49). See Nisbet 196–9; and Paul Kies, “The Sources and Basic Model of Lessing’s ‘Miss Sara Sampson.’”
  • [105.6] Lessing evokes The Critique of the School for Wives (1663) in his discussion, in [53], of Molière’s L’École des femmes [The School for Wives] (1662); for an English translation of the passage, see Molière, Tartuffe and Other Plays 193. For Lessing’s German translation, see Werke und Briefe 6: 697–8.
  • [105.7] Here Lessing translates a passage from the Abbé Trublet’s Essais sur divers sujets de litterature et de la morale [Essays on Several Subjects of Literature and Morality] (1735); see Trublet 4: 215. Lessing questions an observation by Trublet on French drama in [53].
  • [105.8] Lessing discusses L’École des femmes [The School for Wives] in [53].
  • [105.9] This paragraph is a free translation from Voltaire’s Life of Molière; see Voltaire, “L’École des Femmes” in La Vie de Molière 423–4.
  • [105.10] Scaramouche (in Italian, Scaramuccia): Italian commedia dell’arte character, developed by the famous Italian actor Tiberio Fiorillo (also Fiorilli, or Fiurelli) (c.1608–94), a co-manager of the Comédie-Italienne in Paris; the Italian company, which shared performance spaces with Molière’s troupe, decamped to Italy in July 1659, returning in January 1662.
  • [105.11] See note 6 above.
  • [105.12] These comments are associated with the third performance of Cronegk’s Olint und Sophronia [Olint and Sophronia] (1764) on August 12, 1767; Lessing’s discusses the first performance in essays [1] – [5], and critiques Cronegk in [7]. A repeat performance followed on May 4, 1768.
  • [105.13] Der Misstrauische [The Suspicious Man] (French title: Le Défiant) (1765): five-act comedy by Cronegk. For the assessment referenced by Lessing, see Anon., “Des Freyherrn Johann Friedrich von Cronegk Schriften” in the Journal encyclopédique 196 (page 88 in the original).
  • [105.14] Ibid., 197 (91–2 in the original).
  • [105.15] Codrus (1757): five-act verse tragedy by Cronegk; see [1.3] and [7.5].
  • [105.16] Athalie (1691): five-act verse tragedy by Racine, based on the biblical story of Athaliah in 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 22–3; Racine’s play included a chorus of young girls.
  • [105.17] See note 13 above.
  • [105.18] Brutus (1730): five-act verse tragedy by Voltaire; the play includes a chorus of non-speaking senators. Audiences apparently laughed at the chorus in Voltaire’s earlier Oedipe [Oedipus] (1718); see Voltaire, Discours sur la tragédie 176; for the English, see Voltaire, “A Discourse on Tragedy” 87–8.
  • [105.19] For Lessing’s thoughts on “Christian tragedy,” see essays [1] and [2].
  • [105.20] “An English writer who perceived the merit of this tragedy has appropriated it. His play appeared under the title: ‘Olindo and Sophronia, a Tragedy taken from Tasso, by Abraham Portal, Esq. London. 1758.’” Olindo and Sophronia: a five-act verse tragedy by Abraham Portal (1726–1809), an English playwright of Huguenot origin. Portal cites as his source Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata [Jerusalem Delivered] (1581); see [1.4].
  • [105.21] The original, unfinished version of Cronegk’s Olint und Sophronia was first published in 1760; a completed version was published in 1764. See [1] and [1.2].
  • [105.22] August 14, 1767 saw the first repeat performance of both Franz von Heufeld’s Julie (1766) and J. E. Schlegel’s Die stumme Schönheit [The Dumb Beauty] (1747). Heufeld’s Julie was first performed on April 17, 1767; Lessing uses that occasion to discuss the play in [8] and [9]. Subsequent performances followed on Sept. 1 and Nov. 17, 1767; and April 6, July 26, and Aug. 25, 1768. Schlegel’s Die stumme Schönheit [The Dumb Beauty], was first performed on May 5, 1767; see [13]. Subsequent performances followed on Oct. 29, 1767; and Jan. 2, Jan. 5, and Feb. 13, 1769.
  • [105.23] Die Haushaltung nach der Mode, oder Was soll man für eine Frau nehmen? [Housekeeping à la mode, or What should one take for a wife?] (1765) and Die Liebhaber nach der Mode, oder Was soll man für einen Mann nehmen? [The Fashionable Lovers, or What should one take for a husband?] (1766); Lessing alludes to these plays in [8].
  • [105.24] Der Geburtstag (1767): Heufeld also produced a two-act version; see note 26 below.
  • [105.25] pièces à tiroir (“plays that belong in a drawer”): a comic genre consisting of loosely affiliated scenes that are thematically linked, often with an actor playing multiple roles.
  • [105.26] Die Schwester des Bruder Philipps [Brother Philip’s Sister] also appears as a standalone one-act with a slightly altered title: Die Tochter des Bruder Philipps [Brother Philip’s Daughter] (1769). Der Geburtstag [The Birthday] was also published in a two-act version that omits the Brother Philip insert.
  • [105.27] These comments are associated with the first repeat performance of C. S. Favart’s comedy Soliman second, ou les trois Sultanes [Soliman the Second, or the three Sultanas] (1761) on August 24, 1767. Lessing uses the first performance on July 3, 1767 to critique both Favart’s play and its source, Jean François Marmontel’s story “Soliman II”; here Lessing picks up his criticism of Favart’s depiction of the sultana Roxelane, whom Favart has made a Frenchwoman. See Essays [33] – [36]. Subsequent repetitions took place on November 11, 1767; and January 8 and 19, February 25, July 20, November 18, and December 12, 1768.
  • [105.28] Le François à Londres [The Frenchman in London] (1727): one-act prose comedy by Louis de Boissy.
  • [105.29] “We amuse ourselves by copying the dandy, on whom all the features of ridicule are worn out, and whose portrait is nothing but a school for those young men who have some disposition to become one.” See Jean François Marmontel, Poetique Françoise 2: 276. (Ed. note: the page numbers in our edition differ from those of Lessing’s.)
  • [105.30] Le Siège de Calais [Siege of Calais] (1765): tragedy by Dormont de Belloy; see [18.15].
  • [105.31] Roxelanes: flighty, insolent flirts; see note 27 above.
  • [105.32] These notes relate to Lessing’s discussion, in [32], of Voltaire’s criticism of Pierre Corneille’s tragedy Rodogune, which Lessing addresses in [29] – [32]. Lessing’s information is drawn in part from an entry in the Journal Encyclopédique; see Anon., “Lettre de Mr. [sic] de Voltaire, à Mr. [sic] l’Abbé d’Olivet.”
  • [105.33] Marie Françoise Corneille was in fact not the granddaughter of the playwright Pierre Corneille, but of his cousin (also named Pierre). Lessing’s footnote seems to relate to his discussion, in [36], of C. S. Favart’s theatrical adaptation of Marmontel’s story “Soliman II” (see note 27 above); in that essay, Lessing lists Antoine Houdar de la Motte’s one-act comedy La Matrone d’Éphèse [The Ephesian Widow] (1702) as an example of an unsuccessful adaption (of the story of the Widow of Ephesus in the Satyricon). Lessing’s first footnote reference is to “The Ephesian Matron: or Widow’s Tears” (1668), a heroic poem by the Scottish-born printer, poet, translator, and failed theatrical entrepreneur John Ogilby (1600–76); see Cibber, Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland 2: 267. His second footnote reference is to The Ephesian Matron (1730), a one-act farce by English playwright Charles Johnson (c.1660–1744); see Cibber, Lives 5: 342.
  • [105.34] The Comédie Française gave a benefit performance of Pierre Corneille’s Rodogune on March 10, 1760; although the proceeds went to Marie’s father, Jean François Corneille, a portion was put toward her schooling. (Marie Corneille was not in fact a direct descendent of the famous French playwright; see note 33 above.)
  • [105.35] The French poet Ponce Denis Ecouchard Le Brun (1729–1807) sent a poem with an accompanying letter to Voltaire in 1760, asking him to help the impoverished Marie Corneille (see note 33 above); Voltaire took the young woman in and secured her dowry through his multi-volume edited collection of P. Corneille’s plays. For the full story, see Williams, “Prelude to the First Edition” in Commentaires sur Corneille (I) 27–88.
  • [105.36] Although some praised Voltaire’s actions, there was also considerable gossip and scurrilous speculation concerning his motives. See Williams, “Prelude” 31–40. La petite nièce d’Eschyle [The grand-niece of Aeschylus] (1761): an “Athenian history translated from a Greek manuscript” by the Chevalier Jean-Florent-Joseph Neufville de Brunaubois-Montador (1707–70?); the pamphlet tells Marie Corneille’s story using Greek names (Pierre Corneille becomes Aeschylus, Voltaire Sophocles, Marie Corneille Cléonyme, and so forth). See the anonymous entry “La petite nièce d’Eschyle” in the Journal Encyclopédique Vol. 11, Book 1 (Jan 1761): 144–5.
  • [105.37] Corneille’s granddaughter: see note 33 above.
  • [105.38] Dishonor: Voltaire privately excoriated Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, who as the nephew of Pierre and Thomas Corneille, should have borne responsibility for the wellbeing of Marie Corneille. See Williams, “Prelude” 35–6.
  • [105.39] For the original, see the editor’s introduction to Voltaire’s letter about his Corneille commentaries in the Journal Encyclopédique (Anon., “Lettre de Mr. [sic] de Voltaire, à Mr. [sic] l’Abbé d’Olivet” 114–15.) For a translation, see note 40 below.
  • [105.40] “The example that he gives is unique; he abandons, so to speak, his own turf to work his neighbor’s field and give it more value. Let those who slander his heart at least admire the nobility of such a rare practice. It is common that great men study one another, but they rarely comment on one another. Among the almost infinite numbers of Publishers, Commentators, Compilers, one can name many who have displayed some erudition; some have had wit; very few have had taste: here is the first one who has shown genius and has had more taste, wit, and even erudition than any of them. We shall admire even more the author of Rodogune, Polieucte, and Cinna when we see all these plays enriched by the Comments prepared by the author of Mahomet, Alzire, and Mérope; they will strengthen the idea that we form of Corneille and make him, if at all possible, even greater in our minds; they will make us re-read the text with more pleasure and usefulness.”
  • [105.41] Reference to The Unhappy Favourite: or, The Earl of Essex (1682), by English playwright John Banks; discussed by Lessing in [54] – [59]. Thomas Corneille’s Le Comte d’Essex appeared in 1678; see [22] – [25]. Lessing’s footnote refers to Samuel Daniel’s tragedy Philotas, mentioned in [54] as potentially the first dramatization of Essex’s story; see [54.6]. Lessing slightly misrenders the title of Theophilus Cibber’s Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753); for the entry on Samuel Daniel, see Cibber, Lives 1: 145–9.
  • [105.42] For the suggested sources of Banks’s play see [54.7].
  • [105.43] The Earl of Essex by Irish-born playwright Henry Jones is mentioned in [59]. For Cibber’s entry on Henry Jones, see Lives 3: 174–7.
  • [105.44] The Earl of Essex by Irish-born playwright Henry Brooke is mentioned in [59].
  • [105.45] Henry Brooke’s Gustavus Vasa (1739) was one of the first plays to be banned for its political content after the institution in 1737 of the Licensing Act in England.
  • [105.46] That is, the final scene between Essex and Queen Elizabeth I (in Act Four); see Brooke 40–4.
  • [105.47] “He also had the Countess of Rutland tumble into madness, at the moment when this illustrious […] husband was led to the gallows: this moment when the Countess is an object worthy of pity produced a great sensation and was found admirable in London: in France, it would have appeared ridiculous, it would have been booed and the Countess would have been sent, along with the Author, to the Petites Maisons.” For the original, see Anon., “The Earl of Essex, a Tragedy” 120–1. Les Petites Maisons: insane asylum founded in 1557.
  • [105.48] Canut (1747): five-act verse tragedy by Johann Elias Schlegel, performed by the Hamburg National Theater on Sept. 23, 1767.
  • [105.49] J. E. Schegel, Canut 24.
  • [105.50] This note of Lessing’s is reminiscent of his discussions of acting in [3] – [5].
  • [105.51] J. E. Schegel, Canut 26.
  • [105.52] General Observations (Allgemeine Bemerkungen): the following five items follow the order that they are arranged in the collection of Lessing’s works edited by Karl Lachmann and Franz Muncker (the subtitle in brackets is theirs); see Lessing, Sämtliche Schriften [Complete Works] 15: 59–65.
  • [105.53] “It is a very great carelessness not to finish his sentence and to allow him to be interrupted, especially when the person who interrupts is a subordinate, who lacks propriety by cutting off the speech of his superior. Thomas Corneille is prone to this error in all his plays.” See Voltaire, “Le Comte d’Essex” in Complete Works of Voltaire 55: 1015.
  • [105.54] Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696–1782): Scottish lawyer and philosopher.
  • [105.55] Elements of Criticism (1762): a highly influential multi-volume work on aesthetics, for which Home is best known. Lessing provides Home’s original English.
  • [105.56] These remarks are associated with Lessing’s intention to discuss the third performance of Cronegk’s Olint und Sophronia (1764); see note 12 above. In Lessing’s record of performances by the Hamburg National Theater, there are two notes next to this evening; the first refers to Portal’s Olindo and Sophronia (see note 20 above). In the second, Lessing writes “Reintroduction of the chorus” and refers to Richard Hurd’s “Notes on the Art of Poetry,” which specifically mentions William Mason’s historical tragedies Elfrida and Caractacus (see note below). For Hurd’s thoughts on the function of the chorus, see “Notes on the Art of Poetry” 129–132. Lessing’s notes here also relate to his remarks, in [7], about English playwrights’ usage of prologues and epilogues.
  • [105.57] William Mason (1725–97): English clergyman, poet, and playwright. Both his historical tragedies, Elfrida (1752) and Caractacus (1759), were “written on the model of the ancient Greek tragedy” and employed a chorus.
  • [105.58] William Mason’s Elfrida, a Dramatic Poem (see note above), to which the playwright appends his “Letters: Concerning the following Drama.”
  • [105.59] See note 57 above.
  • [105.60] The remarks can be found in the “Review of Caractacus, a Dramatic Poem” in The Monthly Review 20: 507–12.
  • [105.61] Henry Jones was indeed originally a bricklayer; see note 43 above and [59.8].
  • [105.62] Lessing refers to Abraham Portal, who was in fact a goldsmith and silversmith, as well as an author; see note 20 above.
  • [105.63] Henry Wild (1684–1721), the “Arabick Taylour”: autodidactic English tailor who mastered not only Arabic, but also Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and a number of other languages; he was not admitted to Oxford, but did translation work and teaching at the Bodleian Library. 1720 is the year that he moved to London.
  • [105.64] Robert Hill (1699–1777), “the famous Buckingham Taylor”: penurious autodidactic English tailor whose struggles to acquire learning were described by Joseph Spence (1699–1768), the English clergyman and scholar, in A Parallel; in the Manner of Plutarch: between a most celebrated Man of Florence; and One, scarce ever heard of in England (1759). Antonio Magliabechi (Magilabecchi) (1633–1714): autodidactic Italian goldsmith, classical scholar, ducal librarian, and famous bibliophile.
  • [105.65] For a brief outline of Hill’s abilities, see The Monthly Review 20: 217–19.
  • [105.66] These notes are connected to Lessing’s criticism, in [59], of overly “fastidious” or “bombastic” dramatic language, as well as to the initial reception of Lessing’s Minna von Barnhelm (see notes below).
  • [105.67] Minna: Lessing’s highly successful five-act prose comedy, Minna von Barnhelm, oder das Soldatenglück [Minna von Barnhelm, or, the Soldier’s Happiness], was premiered by the Hamburg National Theater in 1767, and had either fourteen or fifteen repeat performances (see J. G. Robertson 33); it was the company’s most performed play. The word “Hure” (whore), was not then associated with prostitution, but with the ruination of an unmarried girl; for the offending line, spoken by the servant Just in Act 1, Scene 12, see Lessing, Minna von Barnhelm in Werke und Briefe 6: 27; for an English translation, see Lessing, Minna von Barnhelm 22.
  • [105.68] Lessing’s brother Karl, in his letter of March 22, 1768, mentions that the word “whore” presented difficulties for the actor in the Berlin production of Minna as well; see “Brief von Karl Lessing” in Werke und Briefe 11/1: 512.
  • [105.69] Das Loos in der Lotterie [The Lottery Ticket] (1746): five-act prose comedy by C. F. Gellert (1715–69). “shoving of the kerchief”: in Gellert’s play, the self-styled galant Herr Simon, who wishes to accompany the object of his fancy while she dresses, claims that he knows where to stuff a kerchief in a lady. See Gellert, Das Loos in der Lotterie 252.
  • [105.70] Henry Fielding (1701–54) and Samuel Richardson (1689–1761): two of the most important English novelists of the early eighteenth century.
  • [105.71] Joseph Andrews (The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams) (1742) and The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749): bawdy novels by Fielding. Clarissa; or, The History of a Young Lady (1747–48): Richardson’s epistolary novel about a virtuous young woman who is lured from her home, held prisoner, and eventually raped by an evil aristocrat.
  • [105.72] References in Lessing’s footnote: For Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s comment about Clarissa, see his Lettre à d’Alembert sur les Spectacles 170; for the English, see J. J. Rousseau, Letter to M. d’Alembert on the Theatre in Politics and the Arts 82. Mrs. Slipslop: character in Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews who is prone to malapropisms such as confidous (“confident”). For Mrs. Slipslop’s remark about ears, see Fielding, Joseph Andrews 34. In Molière’s Critique of the School for Wives (1663), female theatrical spectators of affected delicacy are described as “more chaste in their ears than in all the rest of their bodies” (180).
  • [105.73] These remarks relate to Lessing’s defense of his critical method and to his critique of the Deutsche Bibliothek der schönen Wissenschaften [German Library of Liberal Arts and Sciences] of Christian Adolf Klotz; see [96] and [101–104].
  • [†] Text in blue indicates passages ommitted by Zimmern in her 1890 translation.
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