Page images


THREE French poets have distinguished themselves in pastoral poetry; Deshoulières, Segrais, and Fontenelle. The latterb, however, did not possess the simplicity so necessary to that style; Segrais, with more poetical talent, had not so pure a dictiond as Madame Deshoulières. Among her • Idyls,' there are some of the greatest merit. b Celui-ci ;— n'avait pas ;—d une diction aussi pure ;me il y en a.

[ocr errors]

MAHMOUD, CHAN OF TARTARY. A POOR woman complained to Mahmoud, chan of Tartary, who conquered Persia in the tenth century, against a person who had murdered her only son in the province of Yrac, in Persia. How would you have one dos justice at such a distance ?" said Mahmoud :-“Why did you conquer countries, which you cannot govern, at such a distance?" replied the unfortunate mother.—VOLTAIRE.

f d'une personne.- Comment voulez-vous qu'on fasse ?



This dramatic writerh ranks far belowi the favourite of Thaliak, the keen and witty Moliere; yet, one of his Comedies, · Le Glorieux,' would do honour to that great writer himself, and is looked uponm as one of the best plays in the French language.

Destouches has not the strength, the gaiety, nor the brilliant colouring' of Moliere: but his works have a moral tendency, and inspire a taste foro virh écrivain ; est fort inférieur à ;-* Thalie ;-au piquant;-met on la considère ; pièces ;coloris ;—p but;—le goût de la ;

tue, a* quality in which the writings of the latter were sleficientt. Nothing can beu more injurious to society than those elegant and witty productions by which the public are taught tox smile at knavery and to applaud vice; things cease to weary their real form; and what every honest and unbiassed' hearta would abhor in common life, is too often beheld without disgust on the stage.

Vice, which of itself is uglye and loathsome, becomes dangerous when it assumes an elegant mask ; and thuss by degrees corruption poisons mindsh formed for virtue.

* dont; ce dernier ;- manquaient ; ne peut être ;* qui apprennent au peuple à ;-y de prendre ;--2 impartiale ;-a âme ; -b société ;—se voit trop souvent;—d au ;—e difforme ;-prend ;—8 c'est ainsi que ;=h des cæurs.



Frederic. You are Professori Gellert ?
Gellert. Yes, sire.

Frederic. The Ambassador of England has told me that you arek a man of the greatest merit. What country do you come from?

Gellert. From Hanichen, near Freyberg.

Frederic. You are honoured with the title of the German La Fontaine ; ". but, tell me, have you read La Fontaine ?

Gellert. Yes, sire, I have read him, but without the intention of imitating him. I have endeavoured to be° original, after my own way.P

Frederic. You did right.9 But why has not our

[ocr errors]

1 le Professeur ;- que vous étiez ;–1 De quel pays êtes-vous ;

On vous honore du ;- La Fontaine d'Allemagne ;- cherche à étre ;-p à ma façon ;-9 avez bien fait ;

Germanył produced a greater number of good authors ?

Gellert. Your Majesty appears to me to be prejudiced against the Germans.

Frederic. Not at all, I assure you.
Gellert. At least against those who write.

Frederic. It is true, I have no great opinion of them:why have we not good historians ?

Gellert. Sire, we have several :u Cramer, among others, who has continued Bossuet. I could name*, besides, to your Majesty, the learned Mascow.

Frederic. A German to continue Bossuet's History; indeed! how can that be ?y

Gellert. He has not only continued Bossuet's History, but he has performed that difficult task with the greatest success. One of the most celebrated professors in the Statesa of your Majesty has judged that continuation quite as elegant, and superior in point of exactness,b to that which Bossuet had begun.

Frederic. Did you never leavec Saxony ?d
Gellert. I have been once at Berlin.
Frederic. I think you ought to travel.

Gellert. I have no inclination for travelling; besides, I cannot travel, in the state in which I am.

Frederic. What is your usual complaints ? that of learned menh, no doubt.

Gellert. I agreei; since it pleasesk your Majesty to call it so; but I could not, without an excess of vanity, call it so myself.


[ocr errors]

i notre Allemagne n'a-t-elle pas ;-s prévenue ;-Point du tout ; _u nous en avons plusieurs ;= Je pourrais encore citer ;-y comment cela se peut-il ;-- rempli ;-a des Etats ;- quant à l'exactitude ;—. Ne sortîtes-vous jamais de ; la Saxe;e Je crois que ;f les voyages ;-& maladie ordinaire ; savans ;

A la bonne heure ;=k puis qu'il plait à jod je n'aurais pu ;


Frederic. You must take a great deal of exercise, and often ride on horseback".

Gellert. The remedy might prove worse° than the disease, if the horse were mettlesome.

Frederic. Take a coach.
Gellert. I am not rich enough for that.

Frederic. I understand;—that'sp where the shoe pinches the men of letters of Germany: it is true, the times are bad.

Gellert. Yes, sire, very bad indeed'!—but, if it pleased your majesty to restoret peace to Europem Il vous faut beaucoup ;–2 monter à cheval ;—° pourrait être plus dangereux ;—p voilà ;-9 blesse ;—r en effet ;–5 plaisait à ; -t de rendre.

Continuation. Frederic. Whichu do you prefer as an* epic poet -Homerx or Virgil?

Gellert. Homer, as a* creative genius, deserves the preference.

Frederic. Virgil, however, is more correcty than the other: but, Mr. Gellert, it is said that you have written fables, which* are* much esteemed. Will you recite onez?

Gellert. I have a bad memory, but I will endeavour to do ita.

Frederic. You will oblige me. I shall step into my closet for a few minutes, in order to give you time to recall your thoughts. (The King,-on returning,)d-Welle, have you succeeded?

Geliert. Yes, sire, here is onef:

“ A certain Athenian painter, who preferred the u Lequel ;-* d'Homère ;-y châtié ;Voulez-vous m'en réciter une ;—a tâcherai de le faire ; Je vais passer dans mon cabinet quelques ;—c le tems de rappeler ;- en rentrant :- Eh bien ;-f en voici une.


love of glory to that of fortune, one day asked as connoisseur his sentimentsh on one of his paintings, which represented the god Mars. The connoisseur pointed outi the defects which he thought werek in the work, and added, that art was too apparent in the generality of the composition. At that moment, a man of a shallow mind appeared", who no sooner perceived the picture than he exclaimed with transport, O Heaven, what a masterpiece"! Mars is living! he breathes! he fills the spectator with terroro! Behold that foot, those fingers, those nails! What taste! What grandeur in the appearance of that helmet and in the armour of the terrible god!' The painter blushed at these words, and said to the connoisseur, 'I am now convinced of the solidity of your judgment.'”

Frederic. Now, the moral ?

Gellert. “When the productions of an author do not satisfy a good judge, the inference is against them; but, when they are admired by a blockhead, they ought to be thrown into the fires."

That is very well, Mr. Gellert, (said the king;) I feel the beauty of that composition. Come and see met often; I wish to hear moreu of



[ocr errors]

& demandait un jour à un ;-h sentimens ;– lui dit ;- croyait
trouver ;- se faisait trop sentir;—m paraît un homme très borné;-
n chef-d'oeuvre;-o de terreur ;-P armure de ce ;-9 maintenant;
-r c'est un très grand point ;-s il faut les jeter au feu ;- venez
me voir ;-u j'ai envie d'entendre encore.

LA FONTAINE. Of the writings of this author nothing can be recommended excepty his fables. In these? he has

* Parmi les ouvrages ;-; on ne peut recommander que ;-. C'est

là que;

« PreviousContinue »