Racine dissertation anglais
THE GRAND ALEXANDER.
To Madam Bourneau.
ince I have read the Grand Alexander, the old age of Corneille does not so much alarm me; and I am not so apprehensive that the writing of Tragedies will end with him. However, I could wish, that before his death he would adopt the Author of this Piece, and, like a tender father, give a right cast to the Judgment of one, who alone deserves to be his Successor. I wish that he would give him a good taste of Antiquity, which he enjoys to so much advantage; that he would make him enter into the Genius of those dead Nations, and know judiciously the Character of Heroes that are now no more. This is, in my opinion, the only thing which is wanting in so great a Genius. Some of his Thoughts are strong and bold; his Expressions equal the force of his thoughts: but then you must give me leave to say, he is not acquainted with Alexander, or Porus. By his performance one would think, that he had a mind to give the world a greater idea of Porus, than of Alexander, in which it was not possible for him to succeed : for the History of Alexander, as true as it is, has much of the air of a Romance in it; and for an Author to make a greater Hero than him, is to affect to deal in fiction, and rob his Work, not only of the credit of truth, but the agreeableness of probability. Let us not therefore imagine any thing greater than this Conqueror of the World, otherwise our imaginations will range too far, and soar too high. If we would give other Heroes an advantage over him, let us take from them the Vices which he had, and give them the Virtues which he had not : let us not make Scipio greater, altho there never was amongst the Romans, a soul so aspiring as his; he should be made more just, more dispos’d to do good, more moderate, more temperate, and more virtuous.
Let not those that are most partial to Cesar, against Alexander, alledge in his favour, either his passion of Glory, greatness of Soul,