Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

in certain of their poems, and boat of philosophers that are worthy of instructing mankind. The Enlib have reaped very great benefit from the writers of our_nation, and therefore we ought (since they have not Tcrupled to be in our debt to borrow from them. Both the English and we came after the Italians, who have been our instructors in all the arts, and who:1 we have Turpalles in some. I cannot determine which of the three nations ought to be honoured with the palm ; but happy the writer who could display their various me rits.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

That ought to be fhewn to MEN OF LETTERS.

NET

EITHER the English, nor any

other people, have foundations esta blish'd in favour of the polite arts like those in France. There are universities in molt countries, but 'tis in France only that we meet with so beneficial an encouragement for astronomy, and all parts of the mathematicks, for physick, for researches into antiquity, for painting, sculpture and architecture. Lewis the fourteenth has immortaliz'd his name by thefe several foundations, and this immortality did not coit him two hundred thousand livres a year. I must confess, that one of the things

much wonder at, is, that as the parliament of Great Britain - have promised a reward of twenty thousand pounds Sterling to any person who may discover the longitude they should never have once thought to imitate Lewis the fourteenth in his munificence with regard to the arts and fciences.

MERIT

I very

Merit indeed meets in England with rewards of another kind, which redound more to the honour of the nation. The English have so great a veneration for exalted talents, that a man of merit in their country is always fure of making his fortune. Mr. Addison in France would have been elected a member of one of the academies, and, by the credit of some women, might have obtain’d a yearly pension of twelve handred livres ; or else might have been imprisoned in the Bestile, upon pretence that certain strokes in his Tragedy of Cato had been discover'd, which glanc'd at the porter of some man in power. Mr. Addison was rais'd to the post of secretary of state in England. Sir Isaac Newton was made warden of the royal mint. Mr. Congreve had a considerable * employment. Mr. Prior was plenipotentiary. Dr. Swift is Dean of St. Patrick in Dublin, and is more revered in Ireland than the primate himself. The religion, which Mr. Pope profeffes, excludes hinı indeed from preferments of every kind, but then it did not prevent his gaining two hundred thousand livres by his excellent translation of Homer. I myself faw a long time in France the author of + Rhadamiffus ready

Secretary for Jamaica.

+ Mr. de Crebillon.

I 5

to perish for hunger : And the son of one of the greatest men * our country ever gave birth to, and who was beginning to run the noble career which his father had set him, would have been reduced to the extremes of misery, had he not been patronized by Mr. Fagon.

But the circumstance which mostly encourages the arts in England, is the great veneration which is paid them. The picture of the prime minister hangs over the chimney of his own closet, but I have seen that of Mr. Pope in twenty noblemens houses. Sir Isaac Newton was revered in his life-time, and had a due respect paid to him after his death; the greateit men in the nation difputing who should have the honour of holding up his pall. Go into Westminster-Abbey, and you'll find, that what raises the admiration of the spectator is not the mausoleums of the English kings, but the monuments, which the gratitude of the nation has erected to perpetuate the memory of those illustrious men who contributed to its glory. We view their statues in that abbey in the same manner, as those of Sophoches, Plato, and other immortal personagesg. were viewed in Athens; and I am perfuadéc., that the bare fight of those glorious monuments has fired more than one breast,

* Racine.

and

and been the occasion of their beconing great men.

The English have even been reproached with paying too extravagant honours to mere merit, and censured for interring the celebrated actress Mrs. Oldfield in West 2012 ster-Abby, with almost the same pomp as Sir Isaac Newton. Some preted that the English had paid her these great funeral honours, purposely to make us more strongly sensible of the barbarity and injustice which they object to us, for having buried Mademoiselle" le Couvreur ignominiously in the fields.

But be assured from me, that the English were prompted by no other principle, in burying Mrs. Oldfield in IV ostminfi cr-Abbey, than their good sense. They are far from being so ridiculous as to brand with infamy an art which has immortalized an Euripides and a Sephocles; or to exclude from the body of their citizens a set of people whose business is to set off, with the v' most grace of speech and action, those pieces which the nation is proud of.

Under the reign of Charles the first, and in the beginning of the civil wars railed

by a number of rigid fanaticks, who at last were the victims to it, a great many pieces were published against theatrical and other shews, which were attacked with the

greater virulence, because that monarch and his

I 6

queen,

« AnteriorContinuar »