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One would conclude, that the businefs of the most enlightened ages and the most learned bodies, is, to argue and debate on things which were invented by ignorant people. We know exactly the angle which the fail of a ship is to make with the keel, in order to its failing better; and yet Columbus discovered. America, without having the least idea of the property of this angle: However I am far from inferring from hence, that we are to confine ourselves merely to a blind practice; but, happy it were, would naturalists and geometricians unite, as much as possible, the practice with the theory.
STRANGE, but so it is, that those things which reflect the greatest honour on the human mind, are frequently of the least benefit to it! A man, who understands the four fundamental rules of arithmetic, aided by a little good sense, shall amass prodigious wealth in trade, shall become a Sir Peter Delmé, a Sir Richard Hopkins, a Sir Gilbert Heathcote, whilst a poor algebraist spends his whole life in searching for astonishing properties and relations in numLers, which at the same time are of no manner of use, and will not acquaint him with the nature of exchanges. This is very nearly the case with most of the arts ; there is a certain point, beyond which, all researches serve to no other purpose, than merely to delight an inquisitive mind. Those ingenious and useless truths may be compared to stars, which, by being placed at too great a distance, cannot afford us the least light.
than A * L'Abbé de Rothelin of the French Academy,
With regard to the French Academy, how great a service would they do to literature, to the language, and the nation, if, instead of publishing a set of compliments annually, they would give us new editions of the valuable works written in the age of Lewis the fourteenth, purged from the several errors of diction which are crept into them. There are many of these errors in Corneille and Moliere, but those in La Fontaine are very
Such as could not be corrected, might at least be pointed out. By this means, as all the Europeans read those works, they would teach them our language in its utmost purity, which, by that means, would be fixed to a lasting standard; and valuable French books being then printed at the king's expence, would prove one of the most glorious monuments the nation could boast. I have been told that Boileau formerly made this proposal, and that it has since been revived by a * gentleman eminent for his genius, his fine fense, and just taste for criticism; but this thought has met with the fate of many other useful projects, of being applauded and neglected.
Paris, April 25, 1733. HE great difficulty we have in
France of getting books from Holland, is the reason why the ninth tome of the Bibliotheque Raisonnée came but late to my hands. And I will observe by the way, that if the rest of the journal is equal to the pieces I have perused in it, it is a misfortune for our men of letters in France, that they are not acquainted with that work.
In page 496, part II. of the ninth tome abovementioned, I found a letter in which I am accused of afpersing the city of Hamburgh in the History of Charles the twelfth.
A few days since one Mr. Richey of Hamburgh, a scholar and a man of merit, having honoured me with a visit, revived
the complaint I just now mentioned in the name of his fellow-citizens.
Here follows the relation I gave, and what I myself am obliged to declare. In the heat of the unhappy war which made so dreadful a havock in the North, the Counts of Steinbock and of Welling, the Swedish Generals, formed, Anno 1713, in the very city of Hamburgh, a resolution to burn Altena, a trading city, and subject to the Danes; for the commerce of this city began to flourish so much, that the Hamburghers grew a little jealous of it.
This resolution was executed unmercifully in the night of the ninth of January. These generals lay in Hamburgh that very night; they lay in it the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth; and dated from the last mentioned city the letters they wrote to clear themselves from the impú. tation of being the authors of fo barbarous a catastrophe.
'Tis besides certain, and the Hamburghers themselves do not deny it, that the gates of their city were shut against feveral of the inhabitants of Altena; against old men, and women near their time, who came to implore an asylum ; and that several of these unhappy wretches expired under the walls of Hamburgh, frozen with cold, and oppressed with mifery, at the same time that their country was burnt to alh.s.
I was obliged to insert these particulars in the history of Charles the twelfth. One of the Persons, who furnished me with materials, declares in his letter, in the most positive terms, that the Hamburghers had given Count Steinbock a sum of money, in order to engage him to destroy Altena, as being their rival in trade.
I did not however adopt fo grievous an accufation. What reason foever I may have to be convinced of the great depravity of mankind, I yet was never so credulous with regard to crimes. I have combated, and that efficaciously, more rhan one calumny; and am even the only man who dared to justify the memory of Count Piper, by arguments, at the time that all Europe flandered him by conjectures.
INSTEAD therefore of following the account which had been communicated to me, I contented myself with relating, That it was reported, fome Hamburghers tad given a sum of money secretly to Count Steinbock. This report became universal, and was founded on appearances.
An Siistorian is allowed to intert reports as well as facts, and when he publishes a general report, an opinion, merely as an opinion, and not as truth, he is neither responsible for it, nor ought to be accused in any man