« PreviousContinue »
velling through various climates and regions; on the contrary, I think it extremely fortunate that you have had an opportunity which you are well qualified to improve. You have escaped the severity of winter in the mild and temperate climate of Italy ; you have enjoyed the spring in France and England ; and you are now spending the summenon the confines of Germany, in a place, which is the general rendezvous of Europe ; and where you may see, at a glance, an assemblage of various
nations. Is not this delightful ? Is not the great - advantage of travelling, to explore the characters
of different people? I can however easily conceive the inconvenience which a man of letters must suffer from the want of means and opportunity to pursue liis studies, and this alone is sufficient to diminish the pleasure of it.
I am exceedingly obliged to you for the extraordinary composition with which you favoured me; it is indeed a literary curiosity. But pray inform. me, when you learned the Chinese language? I did not suspect that this was one of your accomplishments, but there are no bounds to your acquisitions as a linguist. I am the more delighted with this little performance, as I can rely upon it as a faithful translation from the Chinese language, of which the few things. we have translated, appear very suspicious ; it has not only the merit of being very ancient, but in your version appear's even elegant. I impatiently expect your life of Nadir Shah; and I beg you to accept my thanks for your attention, in request
ing the Under-Secretary of State to forward a copy of it to me; nor am I less anxious to peruse the essay, which you have annexed to it, on Oriental poetry. I admire your condescension in submitting this work to my criticism ; you must be sensible that you incur little risk by it, and that you are sure of my approbation : I shall however be obliged to point out one fault, which is no trifle, --your mentioning me in such honourable terms. I have no claim to this distinction, although, if I had foreseen your intention, I would have at least exerted myself to deserve it. There are several of our Vienna ladies and gentlemen now at Spa, who are all well worthy of your acquaintance. I am informed that Lady Spencer is an intimate friend of the Princess Ezterhazy; she can introduce you. to the acquaintance of an amiable and respectable lady, who knows how to estimate the value of persons of merit. I have nothing at present worth troubling you with. I reserve this pleasure for a future opportunity; and, in the mean time, am, with great respect and veneration, Your very humble servant,
*C. REVICZKI to Mr. JONES.
Vienna, Oct. 16, 1770. Although your last letter gives me no information of your intended destination after your departure from Spa, I conclude from your very * Appendix, No. 17.
silence, that you are now in London. This opinion is confirmed by the late receipt of your letter. I was deprived of the pleasure of hearing from you during my excursion into Hungary; nor did your letter reach me till after my return to Vienna, long subsequent to its date, and when the subject of it was in fact obsolete. Most sincerely do I hope that your wishes may be gratified, and that after so much travelling, I may have the pleasure of seeing you at Vienna.
The French are light and frivolous, the Italians effeminate and enervate, and the Germans may perhaps be dull and morose; yet they are not on this account to be despised, for if nature has not endowed them with the more elegant qualities, they possess what is more valuable, and win the affections of strangers by plain dealing and simplicity of manners.
I give this testimony to the character of the Germans without partiality, for I am as much a stranger in Germany as I lately was in England ; and no one, at all acquainted with the character and country of the Germans and Hungarians, can possibly consider them the same, for they are not only dissimilar in disposition, language, and manners, but in their very nature. I will not however dissemble, but candidly confess the truth, that my way of life here is extremely pleasant; nor have I any doubt that you, who are so accurate a judge of mankind, will one day readily subscribe to my opinion of this nation.
I smile at your declaration that you are chan ged, and that you hope to be more agreeable to me, from having renounced youthful gratifications, and devoted yourself to the cultivation of literature and the pursuit of virtue; for my own part, I only wish to find you again precisely the same as when I knew and admired you in England, faultless and irreproachable. I confess indeed, that what I particularly valued in you, was the happy talent of blending pleasure and recreation, with the most intense study and thirst for. literature.
Take care however, that you do not suffer the ardour of application to deprive you of the gratifications of life, sufficiently brief in their own nature; they are indeed so connected with literature, that the wise and the learned only are qualified for the true enjoyment of them. Take care also, that you have not hereafter reason to complain, in the words of Horace:
Ah why, while slighted joys I vainly mourn,-
The chastity of the Muses, and their enmity to Venus, is a mere fable adapted to fiction; for poetry delights to repose on downy pillows. I now turn to another subject. I have not yet received your translation of the Persian manuscript which you promised me, and which indeed you seem to have sent; what has delayed its arrival, I know not, and will trouble you to enquire about it.
I have read again and again the beautiful English song, with your elegant translation of it in two languages, and I am delighted with it. I wonder however that you are so little satisfied with the Latin version of it, with which I am highly pleased.
The last letter was received by Mr. Jones, after his return to England. It inay be regretted that his correspondence during his excursion to the Continent, should have been confined chiefly to literary topics, and that his letters contain no observations of a particular nature, on the characters and manners of the French, Italians, and Germans, amongst whom he so long resided. They exhibit however what may be more interesting to those who are anxious to explore his mind and feelings, -an undisguised picture of them; and for this reason, I more particularly regret that so few of his letters should have been preserved. The account which he gives of his success in deciphering an ode of Confucius, is a remarkable proof of his ardour for universal literature, and of his invincible application in the pursuit of it. He had before acquired the keys of the Chinese language, and having accidentally discovered, through the inedium of an inelegant translation, a treasure locked up in it, he applies them skilfully, and with great perseverance, obtains access to it. , ,