RACES OF MEN

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RACES OF MEN. (See Man.) RACINE, Jean. This great French tragic poet, born Dec. 21,1639, at FerteMilon, lost his parents when a child, and was educated in the abbey of PortRoyaldesChamps. (q. v.) Here the future direction of his tastes was already indicated in his love for the old Greek dramatic poets, among whom Euripides was his favorite. From PortRoyal, Racine went to the college Harcourt, where he completed his studies. His first production was an ode on the marriage of Louis XIV, which procured him, through Colbert's mediation, a pension, afterwards increased to 2000 livres, and a present of 100 louisd'ors. From this time, he continued to reside at Paris, on terms' of friendship with Boileau, and devoted entirely to poetry. His first tragedyLa Theba'ide, on les Frfres Ennemisappeared in 1664, and, although much inferior to his later works, was received with great favor. In this piece, he imitated Corneille; in his later ones, he followed a more independent course. His Alexandre (1666), though not approved by Corneille, was received with almost universal applause in Paris; and his Andromache (1668) was still more successful. Through all the faults of the latter production, the power of the poet is perceptible; and, from this time forward, Racine was generally preferred by his countrymen to Corneille, whom they had previously looked upon as inimitable. The ease and harmony of his versification, and his delineations of tender love, contributed mainly to this result. Racine replied to the tasteless criticisms of marshal Crequi and the count d'Olone by an epigram; but he had a more difficult struggle to sustain with St. Evremont, who was a sort of arbiter elegantiarum in France at that time. In 1638 appeared Racine's comedy Les Plaideurs, an imitation of the Wasps of Aristophanes, which makes us wish that its author had done more in that department. Historical truth is most accurately preserved in his Britannicus pieces, and the least faithful in their his torical coloring. Mithridaies (1673) contains single scenes and situations of great merit. Phhdre (1677), and Iphigenie, which appeared two years earlier, are among the masterpieces of the French stage. In Athalie (1691), which at first was looked upon in France as an entire failure, Racine displays the whole compass of his genius. In 1673, he was received into the academy, and, several years later, was invited by Louis XIV to write, in connexion with Boileau, a history of his reign, and was named royal historiographer; but he did not proceed far in this work. After a mistaken piety had withdrawn the poet from the theatre, he wrote Esther, at the request of Madame de Maintenon. It was received by the court, now sunk into an abject superstition, with the greatest applause, having been represented by the pupils at St. Cyr, in 1689. Racine had hitherto enjoyed the favor of the court; but, having fallen into disgrace with the king, he died of chagrin, April 22, 1699* The cause of his disgrace was a treatise upon the sufferings of the people in consequence of the prodigality of the government, written by the direction of Madame de Maintenon, and which offended a monarch who was accustomed only to flattery. An edition of his works by Boisgermain appeared in 1767, and a more complete one by Lenormand in 1808. In forming an estimate of Racine's genius, we must distinguish the faults of his situation from those of the writer. (See France, Later ature of, division Dramatic Poetry.) A certain stiffness and coldness; subjects drawn from Grecian and Roman antiquity, and treated with the French gallantry and polish; a strict adherence to rules, which forbids all lyric freedom, or even romantic coloring; and the faults which arise from these circumstances, instead of detracting from Racine's merit, tend to elevate our opinion of him. He availed himself, with great skill, of all the means afforded by the narrow field which was left open for a French tragic poet, to elevate the tone of feeling and the action. His tenderness in the delineation of the passion of love is unsurpassed, and none, before or since, has better depicted the conflict of contending passions. In harmony of versification and grace of expression, he is inimitable. RACK. (See Arack, and Torture.) RADCLIFFE, Ann, an eminent novelist, was born in London, in 1764. Hei maiden name was Ward, and, at the age of twentythree, she was married to William Radcliffe, proprietor and editor of the English Chronicle. Mrs. Radcliffe's first performance was a romance, entitled the Castles of Athlen and Dumblaine, and the next the Sicilian Romance; but the first of her works that attracted much attention was the Romance of the Forest, which was followed by the Mysteries of Udolpho, which placed her at the head of a department of fiction then rising into esteem. Her last work of this kind was the Italian. She also published a volume of Travels through Holland and along the Rhine, in 1793. Mrs. Radcliffe possessed the art of exciting a high degree of interest in her narrative: her descriptive powers were of a superior order, especially in the delineation of scenes of terror, and in those aspects of nature which suggest tender or melancholy associations. She died in London, in 1823. (See Scott's Lives of the Novelists.)