Imatges de pÓgina
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« I hesitated at first to distribute the agremens of my water-closet, properly inclosed in crystals ornamented with gilded copper, to the vassals of my empire; but these relics have been received with so much respect, that the usage must be continued, which after all exhibits nothing repugnant to sound morals, and brings much money into our sacred treasury.

If any impious reasoner should ever endeavour to persuade the people that one end of our sacred person is not so divine as the other, -should they protest against our relics, you will maintain their value and importance to the utmost of your power.

" And if you are finally obliged to give up the sanctity of our nether end, you must take care to preserve in the minds of the reasoners the most profound respect for our understanding, just as in a treaty with the Moguls, we have ceded a poor province, in order to secure our peaceable possession of the remainder.

“ So long as our Tartars of great and little Thibet are unable to read and write, they will remain ignorant and devout; you may therefore boldly take their money, intrigue with their wives and their daughters, and threaten them with the anger of the god Fo if they complain.

“When the time of correct reasoning shall arrive, (for it will arrive some day or other), you will then take a totally opposite course, and say directly the contrary of what your predecessors have said, for

you ought to change the nature of your curb in proportion as the horses become more difficult to govern. Your exterior must be more grave, your intrigues more mysterious, your secrets better guarded, your sophistry more dazzling, and your policy more refined. You will then be the pilots of a vessel which is leaky on all sides. Have under you subalterns continually employed at the pumps, and as caulkers to stop all the holes. You will navigate with difficulty, but you will still proceed, and be enabled to cast into the fire or the water, as may be most convenient, all those who would examine whether you have properly refitted the vessel.

“ If among the unbelievers is a prince of Kalkas, a chief of the Calmucks, a prince of Casan, or any other powerful prince, who has unhappily too much wit, take great care not to quarrel with him. Respect him, and continually observe that you hope he will return to the holy path. As to simple citizens, spare them not, and the better men they are, the more you ought to labour to exterminate them; for being men of honour they are the most dangerous of all to you.

“ You will exhibit the simplicity of the dove, the prudence of the serpent, and the paw of the lion, according to circumstances.”

The dalai-lama had scarcely pronounced these words when the earth trembled ; lightnings sparkled in the firmament from one pole to the other; thunders rolled, and a celestial voice was heard to exclaim, “Adore God and not the grand lama.”

All the inferior lamas insisted that the voice said, “ Adore God and the grand lama;" and they were believed for a long time in the kingdom of Thibet; but they are now believed no longer.

PRIOR, BUTLER, AND SWIFT. It was not known to France that Prior, who was deputed by queen Anne to adjust the treaty of Utrecht with Louis XIV. was a poet. France has since repaid England in the same coin, for cardinal Dubois sent our Destouches to London, where he passed as little for a poet as Prior in France. Prior was originally an attendant at a tavern kept by his uncle, when the earl of Dorset, a good poet himself and a lover of the bottle, one day surprised him reading Horace; in the same manner as Lord Ailsa found his gardener reading Newton. Ailsa made his gardener a good geometrician,* and Dorset made a very agreeable poet of his vintner

* This geometrician was called Stowe He composed a mediocre work on the Integral Calculus; but one which, for the time in which it was written, exhibited very extensive information.

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It was Prior who wrote the history of the soul under the title of Alma', and it is the most natural which has hitherto been composed on an existence so much felt, and so little known. The soul, according to Alma, resides at first, in the extremities; in the feet and the hands of children, and from thence gradually ascends to the centre of the body at the age

of puberty, Its next step is to the heart, in which it engenders sentiments of love and heroism; thence it mounts to the head at a mature age, where it reasons as well as it is able; and in old age it is not known what becomes of it; it is the sap of an aged tree which evaporates, and is not renewed again. This work is probably too long, for all pleasantry should be short; and it might even be as well were the serious short also.

Prior made a small poem on the battle of Hochstet. It is not equal to his Alma; there is however one good apostrophe to Boileau, who is called a satirical flatterer for taking so much pains to sing that Louis did not pass the Rhine. Our plenipotentiary finished by paraphrasing, in fifteen hundred verses, the words attributed to Solomon, that “ all is vanity..” Fifteen thousand verses might be written on this subject; but wo to him who says all which can be said upon it !

At length queen Anne dying, the ministry changed, and the peace adjusted by Prior being altogether unpopular, he had nothing to depend upon except an edition of his works; which were subscribed for by his party: after which he died like a philosopher, which is the usual mode of dying of all respectable English

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Hudibras. There is an English poem which it is very difficult to make foreigners understand, entitled Audibras. It is a very humourous work, although the subject is For the rest, it is almost without example, that men who have begun late to instruct themselves exhibit great talents, although the efforts which they make to exalt themselves beyond their education often evince great sagacity and strength of mind. This observation goes to destroy the exaggerated opinion of Rousseau on negative education.-French Ed.


the civil war of the time of Cromwell. A struggle which cost so much blood and so many tears, originated a poem which obliges the most serious reader to smile. An example of this contrast is found in our Satire of Menippus. Certainly the Romans would not have made a burlesque poem on the wars of Pompey and Cæsar, or the proscription of Anthony and Octavius. How then is it that the frightful evils of the League in France, and of the wars between the king and parliament in England, have proved sources of pleasantry? because at bottom there is something ridiculous hid beneath these fatal quarrels. The citizens of Paris, at the head of the faction of Sixteen, mingled impertinence with the miseries of faction. The intrigues of women, of the legates and of the monks, presented a comic aspect, notwithstanding the calamities which they produced. The theological disputes and enthusiasm of the puritans in England, were also very open to raillery; and this fund of the ridiculous, well managed, might pleasantly enough aid in dispersing the tragical horrors which abounded on the surface. If the bull Unigenitus caused the shedding of blood, the little poem “Philotanus” was no less suitable to subject; and it is only to be complained of for not being so gay, so pleasant, and so various as it might have been; and for not fulfilling in the course of the work the promise held out by its commencement.

The poem of Hudibras of which I speak, seems to be a composition of the satire of Menippus and of Don Quixote. It surpasses them in the advantage of verse and also in wit; the former indeed does not come near it; being a very middling production ; but notwithstanding his wit, the author of Hudibras is much beneath Don Quixote. Taste, vivacity, the art of narrating and of introducing adventures, with the faculty of never being tedious, go farther than wit; and moreover, Don Quixote is read by all nations, and Hudibras by the English alone..

Butler, the author of this extraordinary poem, was contemporary with Milton, and enjoyed infinitely more temporary popularity than the latter, because his work.

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was humourous, and that of Milton melancholy. Butler turned the enemies of king Charles II. into ridicule, and all the recompense he received was the frequent quotation of his verses by that monarch. The combats of the knight Hudibras were much better known than the battles between the good and bad angels in Paradise Lost; but the court of England treated Butler no better than the celestial court treated Milton; both the one and the other died in want, or very near it.

A man whose imagination was impregnated with a tenth part of the comic spirit, good or bad, which pervades this work, could not but be very pleasant; but he must take care how he translates Hudibras. It is difficult to make foreign readers laugh at pleasantries which are almost forgotten by the nation which has produced them. Dante is little read in Europe, because we are ignorant of so much of his allusion; and it is the same with Hudibras. The greater part of the humour of this poem being expended on the theology and theologians of its own time, a commentary is eternally necessary. Pleasantry requiring explanation ceases to be pleasantry; and a commentator on bon mots is seldom capable of conveying them.

Of Dean Swift. How is it that in France so little is understood of the works of the ingenious Doctor Swift, who is called the Rabelais of England ? He has the honour, like the latter, of being a churchman and an universal joker; but Rabelais was not above his age, and Swift is much above Rabelais.

Our curate of Meudon, in his extravagant and unintelligible book, has exhibited extreme gaiety and equally great impertinence. He has lavished at once erudition, coarseness, and ennui. A good story of two pages is purchased by a volume of absurdities. There are only some persons of an eccentric taste who pique themselves upon understanding and valuing the whole of this work. The rest of the nation laugh at the humour of Rabelais, and despise the work; regarding him only as the first of buffoons. We regret that

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