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design, then, Sir, in this epistle, was to insult Boileau's memory. And what was your motive? The same which made you detract from the praises of 'Corneille, and sometimes from those of Racine, viz. because you yourself had written tragedies: the same, which made you disparage Malherbe and Rousseau, because you never wrote a single ode that de erved to be called a good one: the same which made you

criticize Fontaine, because you have not a grain of naïveté in your genius or your style. It is impoflible for you to be ignorant that, as long as Boileau's satires are remembered, and they will be long remembered, yours.will be condemned ; and that the trin, the only. epic poem in our language, though the subject be a trifling one, will bear testimony against the Henriade, which has so little of the epic in it, though the subject be a no

In your Esay on Epic Peetry, you had a fair opportua nity of saying something concerning the Lutrin, but not a syllable : on the contrary, you tell us, that Boileau meddled only with didaktic subjects, which require nothing but fimplicity I fall make amends for this omission in my letter upon the Henriade, where I hope to be able to prove to you, that this celebrated Henriade is only an historical poem like the Pharsalia, and that the Lutrin is the only poem in our language that can give us an idea of the true epic.

Zoile de Quinaut, et flatteur de Louis. You had rather not write at all, than not begin a work of what kind soever, by an antithesis, your favourite figure: And what an antithesis is this! the most injurious and the most absurd that can be imagined. Boileau, Zoile de Quinaut. Quinault then is transformed into a Homer, for having written fume pretty verses, in the worst species of composition, if, after all, the opera may be deemed å species : and Boileau, for having justly censured the morality and the insipidity of such shapTodies, is considered as the Zoilus of this Homer of the opera. You will never be reproached, Sir, with being the Zoilus of any middling writer, but with being the Zoilus of Corneille, of Boileau, of Fontaine, of both the Ruffeaus, of Crebillon, of Montesquieu, of Buffon, &c. in a word, of all those who are the objects of your jealousy.

As to-- flatteur de Louis, this is equally absurd. In the first place, what a strange contrast ! Lewis XIV opposed to Quinault! As if Boileau ou ht not to have praised Louis le grand, because he had cenfured Quirault! If this famous writr had commended any wretched Author, which he never did, then he might, with justice, have been reproached with partiality and want of judgment, as there is just reason for repr 'aching you, Sir, for having disparaged and infulted much greater men than Quinault, and for having, at the same time, praised, Aattered, and offered up incense to such men as La Motte, Perrault, &c.

If Boileau has bestowed great praise upon Lewis XIV. wherein is he to blame? Where is the Aattery? Had not this king some very commendable qualities ! He had his infir. mities and frailties, undoubtedly; and what king, what man is without them? Could he be reproached with profcriptions like Augustus ! And yet that emperor was commended by Horace and by Virgil. Could Boileru see the love of his prince for what was great, for the liberal arts, &c. the favourable reception which distinguished abilities never failed to meet with, and the rewards that were liberally bestowed upon merit; could he see this, I say, without enthusiasm? Was it poffible for him not to be warmed with gratitude, when his prince, spoke to him in such engaging and fuch Aattering terms? But who ever praised with more delicacy or dignity than Boileau ? On what occasion are his praises mean or infipid ? In this respect be is fuperior to every poet. In order to be convinced of this Jet me beg of you, Sir, to read once more those parts of his works, wherein he speaks of Louis-le-grand, his eighth epiftle, the conclusion of his Art of Poetry, &c. What ingenious, what noble, what natural turns of expreffion! Besides, has Boileau praised none but his prince ? All the great men of the age he lived in, in every different walk of life, were praised by him, and he never retracted his praises. The great Conde, Turenne, Vivenne, Nantouillet, Rochefoucault, Colbert, &c. all received their juft portion of praise. You yourself, Sir, have bestowed as many pompous praises, at least, upon Lewis XIV. as Boileau did. But what do I say? Boileau had the noble courage to speak the language of truth to his prince. Read his first epistle, wherein he expresses himself with lo much force and spirit against conquerors, and relates the con. versation of Pyrrhus and Cineas, which is a very adroit censure of the vast enterprizes of Lewis.

On peut être héros fans ravager la terre.
Il est plus d'une gloire. En vain aux conquerans
L'erreur, parmi les rois, donne les premiers rangs.
Entre les grands héros ce sont les plus vulgaires,

Chaque siécle eft fécond en beureux téméraires. Is this the language of Aattery, Sir ? Is it possible to speak truth to a king in bolder terms, than to place him in the number of the heureux téméraires ? And what renders the character of BoiIcau yet more respectable, he still continued attached to those whom he loved, even when they had incurred the king's dir. pleasure. When Jansenism was á crime at court, he was the first to turn into ridicule the fashionable, madness of calling the Janfenifts men of great merit and virtue, with a view to blacken their characters. He did justice, in the most public and open manner, to the virtues and abilities of the famous Arnaud, though in disgrace; and consecrated his veneration and tenderness for him, by that beautiful epitaph wherewith he ho. noured his tomb.

derness

But have not you, Sir, who accuse Boileau of having flattered Lewis XIV. carried your incense from court to court? Have not you offered it up, with a very liberal hand, not only to fovereigns inferior in every respect to Louis-le-grand, but to a thousand other persons very little esteemed by the Public?

This is a specimen of our Author's observations upon Voltaire's epistle to Boileau ; we recommend the whole to the attentive and impartial perufal of Voltaire's numerous admirers; although it should tend, in some degree, to lessen that veneration in which his character as a writer has long been held.

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ART.

XIII.
Les Trois Siecles de notre Litterature, ou Tableau de L'Esprit de nos

Ecrivains, depuis François I. jusqu'en 1772 : par ordre alphabétique.
-The three Ages of French Literature, &c. 8vo. 3 Vols. Paris,
1772.
N the preface to this ingenious and entertaining work, the

Author draws a very melancholy, though we are afraid, too
just a picture of the prefent ftate of Literature and Morals in
France.
An

age of genius, of reason, of greatness, and of glory, says he, is succeeded by a frivolous, weak, giddy, and absurd age. The theatre of Literature is invaded by three sorts of enemies, who degrade it; a tyrannical and contradictory philosophy choaks the very seeds of genius; a false tafte destroys true and solid principles; and a blind facility of admiring every thing banishes emulation and discourages merit. Rules are despised, ranks confounded, and great masters insulted; knowledge is Jittle honoured, mediocrity favourably received, nay even celebrated, and a bold and daring spirit supplies the place of genius, We see almost every moment the most whimsical publications, astonishing success, ufurped reputations, and were it not for fome Writers who are incapable of yielding to the torrent, good taste and reason would have neither disciples nor support.

In such a state of things, it is impossible for zeal not to raise its voice. Whilst prejudice, or the spirit of party, continue to dispense praise or censure, the progress of degeneracy will infallibly become more rapid. It is the duty, therefore, of the impartial scholar, the friend of truth and justice, to combat such ufurpations, to open the eyes of the multitude, to pronounce, according to invariable rules, upon the merit or demerit of so many Authors, forgotten through injustice, or applauded through seduction. And why thould we be afraid of taking this office

upon us?

The

The Republic of Letters is a state perfe&tly free, in wbich every citizen enjoys the same privileges, though he does not enjoy the fame honours; the most illustrious has no rights but what are supported by merit and talents, and the moft ob. {cure does not exceed the limits of his power, when he passes sentence upon them; the only thing necessary is to found his determinations upon justice and folid principles.

It would be ridiculous, after this, to ask us, what are the master-picces which you have produced ? If the Writers wbom we cenfure were to put this question to us, we might answer; the fear of doing no better than you, has kept us from giving our works to the Public, and the knowledge we have of what is indispensably necessary in a good work has determined us to censure yours. If it were necessary to add other reasons, we might say, Must one be an excellent Painter before he can have a right to judge of the faults or beauties of the Painter who exposes his pictures to the critical eye of the Public ? It is fufficient to be a Spectator. It has been said a thousand times, that the man who publishes his works acknowledges every individual for his judge.

Dès que l'impression fait éclore un Poëte,

Il est esclave de quiconque l'achete. Boileau was in the right, and we submit to his authority.

Let us not be reproached with assuming a decisive tone in the greatest part of our articles. We declare before-hand that our intention is to deliver our own sentiments, and that, by omitting the following modes of expreslion,-it seems to us, it appears to us, in our opinion, &c. we mean only to avoid repetitions. The falle modesty of such language is incapable of producing any other effect but that of weakening the truth, and fatiguing the Reader by a tiresome and disgusting monotony.

It would be equally unjust to find fault with certain strokes of criticism, wherein pleasantry, drops from us, as it were, of its own accord, at the fight of ridicule; if we had known any other method better adapted to mark and expose it, we should certainly have employed it. The same may be said in regard to certain emotions of zeal which particular circumstances have excited in us; the greatness of the provocation, and the prospect of impunity have always made the fame impressions upon every mind that has any sensibility or regard to justice ; and the judicious part of our Readers will pardon us the more readily, as they will be sensible by what they feel in themselves, that when the cause of religion, morals, and taste, is to be vindicated against the errors of several popular Writers, one cannot express himself too strongly. Writers who attack society have no right to demand 'respect, since they themselves are wanting in that respect which every good citizen thinks indispensably necessary.

Among Among the Writers whom we have censured, the pretended Philosophers of the age will be particularly distinguished; and this, indeed, they ought to expect, if they are capable of doing justice to their own characters. Those who do not judge of Authors for themselves, but follow the opinion of the multitude, have hitherto looked upon them as burning and shining lights, as superior geniuses, as the benefactors of mankind; as for us who have read them, who know them, who have studied them thoroughly, we assign them their proper rank and station, and throw down those altars which inconsideration had erected in honour of them.

There is nothing more extraordinary in the history of the human mind, than the foolish enthusiasm which the philosophy of the present times excited, as soon as it began to raise its voice. The volatile geniuses of the capital communicated the enthusiastic spirit to the provinces, and the tyranny of the mode rendered the diftemper epidemical. It was impollible, indeed, to make any resistance. The golden age was to appear again under this new Aftræa; new Prometheures seemed to have stolen purer fires from heaven, to animate the human race, and make it happy. Beneficence, humanity, toleration, knowledge, virtue, bappiness, &c. were the blessings which the Philosophers promised to mortals; superstition, fanaticism, ignorance, paviry, were the anathemas of their zeal.

But this bright horizon was foon overcast; this gracious and gentle philosophy soon assumed a different tone, and exchanged its soft and compassionate language for that of rage and declamation. Its light became a faming torch, ready to set fire to every thing; divine toleration was changed into an inexorable fury; the most important truths, the moft facred principles, the most indispensable duties, heaven, earth, the altar, the throne, every thing, in a word, would have felt its fatal influence, if men had been as ready to practise its inaxims, as they were eager to publish them. All on a sudden errors, lies, ca. lumnies, injuries, absurdities, torrents of gall and impiety poured forth from the box of this modern Pandora.

So glaring and sudden a transformation could not fail to open the eyes of those who had any discernment. Strange Philosophers, it was said, who demand favour from every body, and shew it to no body!

But people have gone farther; they have not only read the books of these Philosophers, but they have followed them into the world, and watched their behaviour in public and private life, and then it was very easy to feel that what might have been considered as the mere effect of a momentary delirium, of the rage for scribbling, of the love of fingularity, as having dropt from their pen undefignedly, &c. was but too frequently realized

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