Page images
PDF
EPUB

cries aloud till tire air resounds with ed; when a fourth giant arrives, and his clamar. His neighbors as- separates the rivals by repeating the semble and surround him.

Re

following lines : member, dear moralizer, say they, Gardez pour l'ennemi la fureur de vo

Géans, arrétez-vous ; what you yourself have said to us.

coups. When I gave you lessons, replied Giants, retire, and cease these rude alarms he, when I then offered consolation, and launch on fees the fury of your arms." it was you who had lost wives but

He lost his father and mother early is now...it is mine who is dead. X. life. His friends advised him to assume Journal de litterature, des sciences et de: the profession of the law, when he bad

gone through a course of philosophics studies. In compliance with this ad

vice, Boileau soon became a proficien BIOGRAPHY.

in legal knowledge, and was admitte advocate at the age of twenty.

Hi

mind, pure and elegant, was soon dis. Few of our readers we presilme are gusted with the quibbles and chicanery unacquainted with the naine of the cele. Of his new profession; and he quitte brated French satirist BOILEAU. Tke it to enter into another, which promised following sketch of his life and writings to be more satisfactory to his feelings is compiled from an English translation and more edifying to his understand of the Bolæana, connected with the ing. He for some time applied himse. meagre account of this great poet, by to theological authors; but absurd in which it is prefaced.

terpretations of holy mysteries, violen NICHOLAS BOILEAU,

disputes on matters of little moment Surnamed DESPREAUX, a celebrated darkness, drove the sagacious Boileat

and speculations involved in tenfola French poet, was born at the village from the cloisters of the Sorbonne.-of Crone near Paris, in 1636. The

Left to himself, he discovered the rea infancy of Boilean was painful and irk- I powers of his mind; and, employed on

He was at eight years old cut criticism and poetry, he created envy for the stone ; and he felt all his life among the best poets of his age by his time the consequences of the operation. superior genius, and awed the indifferHaving lost his mother when very

ent writers by the acuteness and severi young, and his father being absorbed

ty of his strictures. The sagacity of his in business, the education of this emi- intellect taught him to discover the fol nent poet was entrusted to an old fe. lies and vices of his contemporaries, and male serrant, who treated him with the integrity of his own heart inclince great harshness. He had to endure him to reprobate them. Boileau became likewise the hatred and jealousy of his a writer as formidable by the harshness elder brother, Giles toileau ; from of his censures, as fascinating by the si whose presence he used to fly, by hid- and humor of his satire. ing himself, and passing his time in a turret near the top of the house : which

When he first commenced his satiri exile he endured till his fifteenth year. from his friends, that he was about to

cal career, he received admonitory hint: Boileau used to say, that if life was again offered him on the terms of re

stir up against himself an host of formi passing his miserable early years, he dable enemies, who would continually should refuse to accept of it. His sub. keep their eyes upon him on every op lime genius overcame all these disad. portunity. "I care not for them,” ali vantages. He was but just placed in swered the intrepid satirist; "I willenthe fourth class, when, with a inind im-deavor to be an honest man, and I shall proved, and inspired with the perusal of defy their malice.” ancient writers, he felt an ardor of be. The predictions of his friends were ing a poet, and he attempted a comedy fully verified for when the satires ou “ 1 introduced,” he used to say, “three Boileau first came out, the rage and in giants on the stage, preparing to com- dignation occasioned by them among hat with each other, on account of a the higher as well as the lower classes Lady with whom they were all enamor- of poets, &c. were universal and ex

some.

treme. M. Fourcroi, a famous lawyer, as it were with his thoughts, display ilwhose disposition in general was jeal. most as inuch invention as the first proous and malignant, and especially a- duction of a thought entirely newt."gainst M. Despreaux, circulated a print. Speaking of Boileau's great work, the el paper al over Paris, couched in Art of Poetry, the same eleginnt, acute, these terms : “ Be it known to all who and candid critic above cuvicii ob-feel themselves injured by and ininical serves: “ The brevity of his precepts, to some lately published satires, that enlivened by proper imagery, the just. a meeting will be held on such a day, ness of his metapbors, the larmoliy of and on such an hour, at the house of his numbers, as far as Alexandrine line: Sieur Rohet, an attorney; and a court will admit; the exactness of his method, composed of inalcontents will sit, to con. the perspicacity of his remarks, and the sider the ways and means of redressing energy of his style, all duly considered, the complaints of those whose charac- may justify my opinion that it is the best ters are aspersed by the aforesaid Sa- composition of the kini extant. It is tires."

scarcely to be conceived how much is Notwithstanding his professed inde comprehended in four shot cantos. pendence Boileau was not superior to He that has well digested these, cannot uneasinesses occasioned by the abuse be said to be ignorant of any important pablislied against him; but was the first rule of poetry. The tale of the Physiperson to applaud any ingenious satire cian turned Architect, in the fourth levelled at him. “I look on myself,” canto, is told with vast pleasantry. It. says he, “like an enchanted hero ; is to this work be owes his immortality : shom the blows of luis enemies either and which was of the highest utility to do not reach, or wound very slightly his nation, in diffusing a just way of With all their malice (he would add) thinking and writing, banishing every they have not found out the vulnerable species of false wit, and introducing part of Achilles.”_"Where does it lie?" general taste for the manly simplicity said a friend. “That I shall not tell of the ancients, on whose writings this you,” replied the satirist : “ you must poet had formed his taste.”+ find out that.” It is probable that he The higli opinion entertained by Louisalladed to the sameness of his writings, XIV, of the taste and talents of cir poct, particularly in his prefaces; the cha- is erinced by the following anecdote. racter of which is too monotonous. The old Duke de la Feuillade, mcct.

His early and profound knowledge ofling Boileau one day in the Gallery of ancient authors' exalted the literary Versailles, repeated to him a sonnet of character of the poet beyond the mal. Charleval, which ended with these lines:. ice of petty competition. “Those who Ne regardez point mon cisage, flattered themselves that they shoukl Pegardcz seuleincat à ma tenu're amities diminish the reputation of Boileau, by The Poet answered, that he saw r.othprinting in thic manner of a cominentary, ing remarkably good in the sonnet; and at the bottom of each page of his works, objected to those two lines, on a countthe many lives he has borrowed from of the play of words which they cúntain. Horace and Juvenal, were grossly de- ed. The Duke perceiving the Princess ceived." The verses of the ancients, Royal coming trougli tie gallery, he: which this poet turned into French real the sonnet hastily to her as she with so much address, and which be passed. The lady told him it was very hath happily made so homogeneous, and fine. The Duke returned to Buileau ;; of a piece with the rest of the work, that and in a sneering manner observed, every thing seems to be conceived in a tirat he must have a very fastidious continued train of thought, by the very taste, ii he disapproved of verses which same person, confer as much honour on both the King and Princess had praised. M. Desprcaux as the verses which are “I do not doubt the King's supericrity. purely his own. The original turn which in taking towns, and suining battles ; he gives to his translations, the bold.

nor do I doubt the talents of Madame ness of his expressions, so little forced and natural, that they seem to be born + Wurton's Essay or. Pope, vol. 1.

The fouits, achu wrote the fourtals S Fix your e;es no more on my could's of Trevoux, strongly objcct plagarisin tonance, lit fix them orly on ihe genderen Baileau.

of my friendship

the poct.

myself."

the Princess : but in regard to a know-coxcomb." On other occasions he used ledge of poetry ?" replied Boileau, “I to restrain the panegyrist' by saying, think I am at least their equal.” The “I would rather people would read me Duke ran in great haste to the King ; than praise me.” Boileau was languid and told him, with great marks of dis- in conversation ; a defect which he begust and indignation, the arrogant trayed from his early years. He imspecch of the poet. “My Lord,” re- proved very much on acquaintance. plied the King, “I am sorry to say that His method of discoursing was pleasing I am obliged to confess th at M. Boileau and affable : to use his own expressions is perfectly in the right.”

on the subject, it had neither claws nor The confidence of the King is made talons. To men of merit he was by noo more manifest by the appointment of means niggard of his praise ; but peBoileau, in 1677, in conjunction with dants, and shallow pretenders to literRacine, to write his history. In thc ature, felt the utmost severity of his campaign of Gand, Boileau and Racine wit. Candor and equity dictated his in consequence of that appointment, opinions on all occasions; and he has were ordered to follow the King to the well described these parts of his char. tield of action, in which Louis had frc- acter, in the following two verses in his quently exposed himself to great dan. Art of Poetry: ger. The courtiers intreated his Ma. L'ardeur de se montrer, et non pas de jesty to be more careful of his person :

médire, his historian begged that the Monarch Arma la vérité du vers de la satire. would not occasion him so soon to finislı

Chant. ii. his history; adding, that the cannon. Alike unskill'd in partial praise or ball had come within seven paces of his blame,

[name. Majesty. " How far were you off it ?" Truth arm'd with satire vindicates her asked the King. "A hundred,” replica

In 1684 he was chosen a member of “ And were you not in fear," the French Academy. In the year " Yes, Sire, I was much alarmed for 1701 he was elected pensionary of the pour Majesty. and very much indeed for

Academy of Inscriptions and Medals At the death of Racine, Boileau till the year 1705, when, being deaf and

which place he filled with great bonor came to court, to solicit the King to ap- infirm, he obtained leave to resign, point M. Valincourt his successor as joint-historiographer. " M. Boileau," the remainder of his life tranquilly,

He then quitted the court, and passed said the King, “ you and I have suffered

ainongst a few friends. Boileau died in it great loss in the late M. Racine.”'_

March 1711, at the age of 75. It is some consolation, Sire," replied When this eminent satirist was on the

poet, " that he met his last mo. his death bed, his friends were willing ments courageously, and like a Christ. tian, since he was always very fearful dence in his recovery that the poet's

to inspire him with a degree of contiut death”—“Oh aye ! replied the feelings told him was groundless. He King, "I remember that you were the repeated the line in Malherbe : valiant men at the siege of Gand.”

• Je suis vaincu du tems, je céde à son Racine 'used to relate a very singu

outrage.l.ir instance of the satirist's powers of Timelias prevaild, I cannot but obey. mimickry. Boileau (says Racine) once This critical acumen was not blunted undertook to irritate tlie steps of an er- | by age nor sickness, for during this traordinary dancer, whom he had seen, period a person begged leave to read to in the exhibition of his skill. Boileau liin anew tragedy; the satirist listened executed all the difficult steps and atti- to the two first scenes, and then es. tudes of the performer with great suc- claimed, “Why do you wish to hasten eess; though he had never been taught my end?” to dance, and never practised the art at Although his satirical humour had any time before.

created bin many eneinies, yet the Boileau was not insensible to praise, number of the friends of Boileau, who but uneasy when it did not appear inci. attended at his funeral, was very condentally given. When any one was too siderable. An old woman of the lower profuse of such incense, the poet tx- class, perceiving the multitude which claimed, “You shall not make me a filed the streets, observed siwewdly,

[ocr errors]

* The man had a great many friends, Youro, in his poetical epistle to Tick. forsooth, yet they say that he spoke illell, alluding to Addison's Spectators, of every body." This however was a says, vulgar error for he never, withheld his " A chance amusement polished hardfan approbation from any composition in age.which he discovered instances of gen. But it has been since discovered that ius cr talent. When a friend read to the reverse is the fact; for Addison him a work of this description, the sat. had collected his materials to the isfaction which te feit fushed in bis amount of three folio volumes. eyes, and thundered in his speech. Yet he seemed no longer master of

Happiness. opposite sensations to these, when any Active in indoience, abroad we roam, absurd specimen of verse or prose was in search of happiness, which dwells brought before him.

at home : Having exhausted our biographical With vain parsuit fatigu'd, at length materials, we may be permitted to add, you'll find, that though the minor literati of his age No place excludes it from an equal vere liberal in their calumnies on his mind.

Elphinator. character and conduct, as well as their attacks on his writings, yet the former The French have been desirous in will be viewed with candor by posterity, all ages and under all circumstances to and the latter may be ranked with those attain universal sovereignty. This love which are destined to immortality. of domination, this wish for national

We shall close this sketch of the life ascendaney pervades all classes and is and writings of M. DESPREA Ux with almost as powerful in the breast of the the lines written by Rousseau to be placed shoe-black, as the bosom of the Embeneath the portrait of this great poet. peror. Philosophers are not exempt To us they appear truly characteristic. from it, and no sober-minded man can La rérité par lui démasqua l'artifice :

resist an inclination to smile at the Le faux dans ses écrits par lui fut com- gravity with which the following pásbattu ;

I justice ; sage in St. Pierre discloses the senti.
Mais toujours au merite, il suť rendre ments of that author. Speaking of
Et ses Vers furent moins la satyre du Paris, he says,
vice,

“Time was when, on the faith of our Que l'éloge de la vertu. political writers, I looked upon that city

as too great. But I am now far from thinking that it is of sufficient extent

and sufficiently majestic, to be the cap. For the Emerald.

ital of a kingdom so flourishing. I DESULTORY SELECTIONS, could wish that, our sca ports excepted, AND ORIGINAL REMARKS.

there were no city in France but Paris ; that our provinces were 'covered only

with bamlets and villages, and subdi. SOCRATEs used to say, that he had vided into small farms; and that, as father inscribe his sentiments in the there is but one oentre in the kingdom, bearts of men than on the skins of ani. there might likowise be but one capital. mals. But surely this wish would con. Would to God it were that of all Europe, fine their utility to his neighbors.

On

naj, of ske whole earth; and that, as the contrary, it seeins the duty of.a phi- men, of all nations bring thither their losopher not only to exert his wisdom industry, their passions, their wants, for the benefit of the age in which he and their misfortunes, it should give lives, but to transmit his instructions to them back, in fortune, in enjoyment, in posterity. He should, therefore, by virtues and in sublime consolations, the committing them to writing, make them ; reward of that asyium which they there pass into the hearts of all his acquain- resort to seek !" Studies of Nature. tance, strangers, and future ages.

La fille raisonnable.
Literary Labor.

Notre ouré crie et s'emporte,
ADDI30x, before he commenced his Il me défend d'aimer Lubin !
Spectators, bad amassed materials. Il me dit d'aimer mon prochain,
with the assiduity of a student.

Et Lubin demeure à ma porte.

3

water

SIR RICHARD STEELE, SAVAGE, and More clung about the barge ; fish under

PHILLIPS. These three celebrated characters, Wept out their eyes of pearl, and swam after spending an evening together at a

blind after. tavern in Gerrard-street, Soho, sallied I think the bargemen might, with easier out some time after midnight, in high

thighis,

leves, glee and spirits. They were accosted Hare rou'd her thither in her people's by a tradesman, near the top of Hedge. For howsoe'er, thus much my thoughts lane, who, after begging their pardon

have scann'd,

[land for addressing them on the subject, She had come by water, had she come by told them, that " at the top of the lane he had seen two or three suspicious. looking fellows, who appeared to be

Every great, rich and consequential bailiffs, so that if any of them were ap- man, who has not the wisdom to hold prehensive of danger, he would advise his tongue, must enjoy his privilere of them to take a ditierent route." talking, and there inust be dull fellows : Not one of them waited to thank the to listen to him ; again, if, by talking man, but flew off

' different ways : each about what he does not understand, he conscious from the embarrassment of gets into embarrassments, there must his own affairs, that such a circum- be clever fellows to help him out of stance was likely to happen to himself them : when he would be merry, there

must be witty rogues to make him Truth without a compliment.

laugh ; when he would be sorrowful, Kind Kitty kiss'd her husband with there must be sad rogues to sigh and these words,

groan and make long faces : as a great My own sweet Will, how dearly do I man must be never in the wrong, there love thee!

must be hardy rascals, who will swear he If true, quoth Will, the world no such is always in the right; as he must never affords :

show fear, of course be must never see And that 'tis true, I dare his warrant be: danger; and as his courage must at no For ne'er heard 1 of woman, good or ill, tiine sink, there must be friends at all But always dearly lov'd her own sweet

times ready to prevent its being tried. Will.

Cumberland.

[ocr errors]

INDOLENCE.

JUNIUS. Seneca has a very just observation on I consider Tristram Shandy as the this propensity of the mind. Self

most eccentric work of my time, and constrairit,” says he, “is necessary, to Junius the most acrimonious; we have force the mind into exertion." Cogen-heard much of his style : I have just da mens, ut incipiet. The human ap- been reading him over with attention, petite, at certain seasons, will grow and I confess I can see but little to adLanguid, and by tasting food regains its mire. The thing to wonder at is, that powers. It is necessary, with respect a secret, to which several must have to the mind, that the disgust, the inap. been privy, has been so strictly kept; if titude to toil, should be over-ruled : Sir William Draper, who baffled him in and when once it is set in motion, the some of his assertions, had kept his thoughts follow one another in abund- name dit of sight, I am inclined to think ance, and with a facility which appear- he might have held up the cause of caned impossible to the mind in a state of dor with

The publisher of inaction,

Junius I am told was deeply guaran.

teed; of course, although he might not Queen Elizabeth, who died at Green know his author, he must have known wich, was brought thence to Whitehall, whereabouts to look for him. I rever by water in a grand procession. I: was heard that my friend Lord George on this occasion, as Camden informs us, Germain was amongst the suspected that the following quaint lines were authors, till by way of jest he told me so written :--."

not many days before his death : I did The Queen was brought by water to not wané him to disavow it, for there Whitehall;

(fall : could be no occasion to disprove an ab. At ciery stroke the oars did tears letsolute impossibility. The man who

success.

« PreviousContinue »