« AnteriorContinua »
JOHN BUNCLE, ESQ.
Nec Vixit Male, qui Natus Moriensque fefellit.
HAVING, in the preceding volume, mentioned the famous Abbé Le Blanc, I think I ought to say something of him in this place, by adding a few remarks in relation to this extraordinary man.
He was in England in the year 1735, and wrote two volumes of Letters in octavo, which were translated into English, and printed for Brindley in 1747. In this account of England, the French monk pretends to describe the natural and political constitution of our country, and the temper and manners of the nation ; but it is evident from his epistles, that he knew nothing at all of any of them.
Voltaire, however, that wonderful compound of a man, half-infidel, half-papist; who seems to have had no regard for Christianity, and yet compliments
popery, at the expence of his understanding ;* who wrote the history of England with a partiality and
* Voltaire's words are:-And notwithstanding all the troubles and infamy which the church of Rome has had to encounter, she has always preserved a greater decency and gravity in her worship than any of the other churches; and has given proofs, that when in a state of freedom, and under due regulations, she was formed to give lessons to all others. Is not this facing the world, and contradicting truth with a bold front? Decency and gravity in the church of Rome! The licentious whore. And formed to give lessons ! Lessons, Voltaire ! Is not her wisdom, in every article of it, earthly, sensual, devilish; and her zeal, that bitter, fierce, and cruel thing, which for ever produces confusion and every evil work? With a just abhorrence, and a manly indignation, we must look upon this mystery of iniquity, and never let that horror decay, which is necessary to guard us against the gross corruptions of the Roman church ; the idolatry of her worship, the absurdity and impiety of her doctrines, the tyranny and cruelty of her principles and practices. These are her lessons, Voltaire; and you ought to ask the world pardon for daring to recommend a church, whose schemes and pieties bid defiance to reason, and are inconsistent with the whole tenor of revelation. This is the more incumbent on you, as you say you are a philosopher, and let us know in more places than one in your writings, that by that word, you mean a man who believes nothing at all of any revelation
malevolence almost as great as Smollet, and pretended to describe the Britannic constitution, though it is plain from what he says, that he had not one true idea of the primary institutions of it, but taking this nation to be just such another kingdom of slaves as his own country, railed at the Revolution, and like all the Jacobite dunces, prated against the placing the Prince of Orange on the throne, and the establishment of the succession in the present protestant heirs; though it is most certain, that these things were the atural fruit and effect of our incomparable constitution, and are de jure.
In short, that Zoilus and plagiary, that carping superficial critic, as a good judge calls him; who abuses the English nation in his letters, and denies Shakespeare (who furnishes out more elegant, pleasing, and interesting entertainment, in his plays, than all the other dramatic writers, ancient and modern, have been able to do; and, without observing any one unity but that of character, for ever diverts and instructs, by the variety of his incidents, the propriety of his sentiments, the luxuriancy of his fancy and the purity and strength of his dialogue) almost every dramatic excellence; though in his Mahomet, he pilfers from Macbeth almost every capital scene : Voltaire, I say, speaking of this Abbé Le Blanc, wishes he had travelled through all the
world, and wrote on all nations, for it becomes only a wise man to travel and write. Had I always such cordials, I would not complain any more of my ills. I support life, when I suffer. I enjoy it when I read you. This is Voltaire's account of the Abbé. How true and just it is, we shall see in a few observations on what this reverend man says of our religion and clergy.
The substance of what this French monk reports, vol. ii. from p. 64, to p. 75, in his letter to the President Boubier," is this :
* Reader-Bouhier, president of the French academy, to whom Le Blanc inscribes his fifty-eighth letter, died in 1746. He was a scholar. L'Abbé de Olivet, speaks of him in the following manner ; “ Je me suis prêté à ce nouveau travail, et d'autant plus volontiers, que M. le Président Bouhier a bien voulu le partager avec moi. On sera, sans doute, charmé de voir Cicéron entre les mains d'un traducteur aussi digne de lui, que
Cicéron lui-même étoit digne d'avoir pour traducteur un savant du premier ordre.” Tusc. Disp. tom. i. p. 13. And again; “ Le feu M. Président Bouhier, le Varron de notre siecle, et l'homme le plus capable de bien rendre les vraies beautez d'un original Grec ou Latin, avoit tellement retouché ses deux Tusculanes, qu'on aura peine à les reconnoître dans cette nouvelle édition.” Tusc. Disp. tome ii. p. 1.