WOBO: Search for words and phrases in the texts here...

Enter either the ID of an entry, or one or more words to find. The first match in each paragraph is shown; click on the line of text to see the full paragraph.

Currently only Chalmers’ Biographical Dictionary is indexed, terms are not stemmed, and diacritical marks are retained.

denominated the founder of the Russian theatre, was the son of Peter Sumorokof,

, denominated the founder of the Russian theatre, was the son of Peter Sumorokof, a Russian nobleman, and was born at Moscow November 14, 1727. He received the first rudiments of learning in his father’s house, where, besides a grammatical knowledge of his native tongue, he was well grounded in the Latin language. Being removed to the seminary of the cadets at St. Petersburg!*, he prosecuted his studies with unwearied application, and gave early proofs of his genius for poetry. Even on holidays he would retire from his companions, who were engaged in play, and devote his whole time to the perusal of the Latin and French writers: nor was it long before he himself attempted to compose. The first efforts of his genius were love-songs, whose tenderness and beauties, till then unexpressed in the Russian tongue, were greatly admired, and considered as certain prognostics of his future fame. Upon quitting the seminary, he was appointed adjutant, first to count Golovkin, and afterwards to count Rosomouski: and being soon noticed and patronized by count Ivan Shuvalof, he was introduced by that Maecenas to the empress Elizabeth, who took him under her protection. About the twenty-ninth year of his age, an enthusiastic fondness he had contracted for the works of Racine, turned his genius to the drama; and he wrote the tragedy of “Koref,” which laid the foundation of the Russian theatre. This piece was first acted by some of his former schoolmates, the cadets, who had previously exercised their talents in declamations, and in acting a French play. The empress Elizabeth, informed of this phenomenon in the theatrical world, ordered the tragedy to be exhibited in her presence, upon a small theatre of the court, where German, Italian, and French plays had been performed. The applause and distinction which the author received on this occasion, encouraged him to follow the bent of his genius, and he produced other tragedies, several comedies, and two operas. With respect to his tragedies, Racine was his model; and the Russian biographer of Sumorokof, who seems a competent judge of his merit, allows, that though in some instances he has attained all the excellence of the French poet, yet he has failed in many others; but it would be uncandid to insist upon such defects in a writer who first introduced the drama among his countrymen. The French overlook in their Corneille still greater faults. “His comedies,” continues the same author, “contain much humour; but I do not imagine that our dramatic writers will adopt him for their model: for he frequently excites the laughter of the spectator at the expence of his cooler judgment. Nevertheless, they present sufficient passages to prove, that he would have attained a greater degree of perfection in this line, if he had paid more attention to paint our manners, and to follow the taste of the best foreign writers.