Page images

of the multitude what to admire, capital of England's learning, which instead of teaching them what is community of language enables admirable.....Who can anticipate all her with facility to use as her own, the consequences ? The publick has certainly opportunity and intaste would be vitiated. There ducements to vie with any nation would be herds of imitators of the upon the earth in the pursuit of false excellences, to which corrupt literary distinction. . And let us criticism had given currency. not defraud her of her just praise. And instead of having our admi. Above the meteors, which fit in ration excited, and our attention great numbers across her literary fixed by distinct and splendid hemisphere, we may discern here greatness, we should be obligated and there a fixed star, It is with to turn away, wearied and confu- new and peculiar delight, that we fused, from the multifarious glitter behold the professional chair of of countless ephemeral produc- Oratory and Rhetorick in our betions.

loved university now filled by a Here let us be permitted to re- gentleman*, whom, if he were not mark the importance of an able left upon Hybla in his infancy, the and judicious management of pe- bees found in his youth, and have riodical publications. These mis- ing committed their treasures to his cellanies may undoubtedly have a lips, left him to delight his country considerable influence upon the with his mellifluous eloquence, and literature of a people. In the by his wisdom and example to hands of such men as Addison and conduct her youth to literary gloJohnson, Goldsmith and Steele, ry. In such ornaments of her they confounded absurdity and rec- academick institutions ; in her adtified opinion ; they roused atten- vancing age and opulence ; in the tion and engaged it in the service increasing munificence and taste of the Muses ; and formed and of her citizens ; and in the multirefined the publick taste. Very plied numbert and growing regreat, we are persuaded, would be spectability of her literary associathe advantage to the literature of tions, our country, we trust, will our country, if the meritorious edi- find inducements to emulate in tors of these works were enabled her course the splendour of Greby the generous patronage of the cian and Roman renown. In the rich, and the liberal contributions transport of hope we would forget, of the learned, so to conduct them, to-day, all presages of fearful that Minerva would not blush to hours, and dwell upon this delightfind her image in the frontispiece ; and the streams, which are convey • The Hon. John Quincy Adams. ed by them into the circles of the Amongst these a distinguished fashionable and the closets of the rank will in time be taken and preservstudious, might be brought, under ed by the Boston Atheneum-an associaher direction, from the fountains tion lately formed, after the model of of Ilyssus.

the Athenæum at Liverpool, for the

promotion of literature, science, and America in the freedom of her general knowledge. It has at its head government, the face of her terri- the learned Chief Justice of the state ; tory, the native powers of her citic and from the character and views of zens, the toleration, which subjects many of its members, promises to be. no reasonable efforts of the mind ant institutions of the enlightened Meco penalty or dismay, and the rich tropolis, which has given it birth.

Vol. IV. No. 9. 3M

ful expectation. As yet, we trust, and her literature will give radiit is with our country but the ance to her beams. And when morning of her appointed career. she shall have reached the meridShe will continue to rise and ian of her glory, that point from brighten-not like the comet of which a nation's prosperity begins other hemispheres, erratick in its to decline, may the God of heaven, course, baleful in its aspect, and who assigneth to the nations their threatening to unhinge the order time and their place, command and safety of the spheres--but like with the voice, to which even the the orb of day, moving on among fixed laws of nature will bow, the nations of the earth with steady THAT SHE LONG STAND STILL progress and increasing splendour. source of light, a centre of harmony, In her wisdom and virtue will be and a manifestation of his power « the greatness of her strength,” and glory to the admiring world.


Translated from a late French work.

MEN of letters have always M. de la Harpe, one of the been caressed and protected in youngest of the children, had alFrance; and it will be seen from ready distinguished himself, at an the following account, that, even early period of life, by the display before the Revolution, they were of extraordinary talents, when he admitted into the first circles. This lost both father and mother, whose memoir will, at the same time, ex- superintendance was so necessary hibit the extraordinary occurrence

to his education. This young orof the conversion of one of the phan, abandoned by all the world, modern philosophers to the doc was destitute of every resource, trines of Christianity !

except what he derived from the Jean François de la Harpe was charity of some pious and wellborn in the year 1740. His father, disposed persons. Paris, at that who was descended from a noble period, fortunately presented a family in the Pays de Vaud, entered number of establishments for chilearly in life into the service of dren of this description, and the France, obtained the cross of St. good and charitable people just Louis, and, notwithstanding his de- alluded to, had credit sufficient to ficiency in respect to wealth, and place him in one of the colleges of the impossibility of ever being able the University, as a pensioner. * to enrich himself in the profession While in this situation, the talthat had been embraced by him, ents of the young scholar began he married a young lady, more recommendable on account of her

This was then termed a "bourbeauty, her virtue, and her birth, which persons of this description had

sier," from the purse of money with than by any of the advantages been originally presented by the rules usually derived from fortune. This of the Institution. The Scotch colalliance proved as happy as could leges, like the Scotch courts of justice, possibly be expected; but the

were formed after the model of the prospect of a large family render- French, and the term bursar is accord

ingly continued to this day, in respect ed the parents at times peculiarly to such as derive any emolument from happy.

the funds of the University.

to be developed, and soon gave severed in his studies with unabatrise to the most flattering hopes. ing industry, and had good sense His future condition in life depend- enough to discover, that the repued, in some measuré, on his pre tation which a young man acquires sent success ; for it was from the at college, is neither solid nor duboursiers that the Universities de- rable. rived the greater portion of their At this period of his life an event credit, and continual triumphs ap- occurred, which, while it exhibits peared to be considered as the the despotick nature of the French price paid by the young people government, may, at the same time, for the asylum, and the attention account perhaps for his early parwhich they received. Their sit- tiality in favour of a reform. Havuation being such, that they could ing addicted himself to the componeither reckon on the succour nor

sition of satires, he was supposed the indulgence of their parents, to be the author of a lampoon athey generally distinguished them- gainst a person of great credit ;* selves; and being thus exposed to and, in consequence of bare unaua perpetual emulation, their cour- thorised suspicion, was committed age was excited, and they them. to the house of correction ! He selves were rendered capable of himself constantly protested his extraordinary efforts.

innocence, and the real author was Notwithstanding the disadvan- soon after discovered : yet this lage of being sent to college at too circumstance proved for some early an age, and being sometimes time unfavourable to his reputation, obliged to study what he could not and it was long before it became comprehend,yet, after a short inter- entirely forgotten. val, young La Harpe got to the head Notwithstanding this, M. de la of his clàss; and the University of Harpe already began to be disParis had not been able to boast of tinguished by men of letters, and such a scholar for many years ante- the first to whom he became rior to this epoch. He displayed the known, was the celebrated Didesame aptitude in rhetorick as in the rot. The interview between them, languages, and for two succeeding however, was not calculated to years he obtained all the first prizes; produce friendship; for this stripthis was a circumstance hitherto ling, then only seventeen years of unexampled.

age, had the hardihood, and, it Such an unparalleled instance may be added, the ill manners, to of success occasioned no small de. attack this celebrated man relative gree of surprise ; this boy accord- to his productions, which he apingly became the subject of con- pears to have ridiculed to his face, versation : his admittance to the with more humour than wisdom. houses of persons of distinction, By this time his verses, as well began to be considered as a kind as his college-exercises, had obof fashion ; and he was according- tained for him a certain degree of ly well known in the world, before reputation in the world ; so that, he had entirely completed his at this period, he was invited to studies.

compose the tragedy of WarThis precarious celebrity would wick: this circumstance preventhave proved extremely prejudicial ed him from experiencing many to most persons in his condition of life ; but he, on the contrary, per M. Asselin

of those vexations which authors the present day, did not produce generally complain of at their out the effect that had been expected ;) set in life. The actors, in partic- for although it occasioned much ular, were prodigal of their ap- chagrin to this young man of :.. plause'; and, 'notwithstanding its talents, who possessed po other premature reputation, a circum-, resources but those derived from a stance generally dangerous, his his abilities, yet the publick did first dramatick effort obtained a not become prejudiced against degree of success wbich may be him ; on the contrary, his tragedy considered as nearly unexampled," was performed, as usual, to crowd. for the like had not occurred since ed houses. the time that Voltaire composed It is with pain we are now his tragedies for the Parisian stagé. obliged to mention a circumstance It was to this famous man that he that confers but little credit on the dedicated his first performance; ingenuousness of the subject of and on receiving a Hattering an. this memoir. After some able: swer from this patriarch of litera- but bitter, criticisms, on : Le Siege ture, he thought proper to prefix de Calais,' which happened to be it to the work.

performed, at this period, with a : But the emoluments derived' degree of success equal to that from the representation of War formerly experienced by the Cid,' wick,' did not prove sufficient to "he was induced, by the popularity defray the expenses of a young of the play, to attempt one himman, who had been admitted inta "self, after the same manner. He i'r the first cireles, and was, at the accordingly recurred to the history. same time, far from being an econ- of France, and selected Pharamond omist. Įt therefore became ne. as his hero. cessary to occupy his time in such Having been invited to spend a manner as to be able to derive some time with Voltaire, at this further advantages from his lite- period he confided his intentions rary labours.

His reputation, to his friend, who in vain endeav, , :. which was by this time considera- oured to dissuade him. The poet ble, accordingly obtained admis- would not listen to the fate antision for him as one of the editors cipated by the critick, whose opinof the Gazette Littéraire,' a jour. ions were, however, but 190 soon Dal in which all the philosophers, realized, for the piece was damned ! as they were called, of that day On this the author, judging of wrote, and whence it undoubtedly his own labours with an equal de derived no small portion of its' gree of severity, as the publick, reputation. Marmontel, Saurin, threw the manuscript into the fire...) Dami Saville, furnished certain and thus destroyed a work, of articles ; even Voltaire himself which certain portions were per: 11 sometimes transmitted 'nis Jucu- haps worthy of a better fate, i brations."

Soon after this, at the express As the periodical work in ques. recommendation of his patron, he si tion was principally directed against" was persuaded to alter the Gus- wib • l'Année Littéraire, conducted by tave of Piron. But the criticks, 7" Freron, the latter immediately be appear to have been alarmed, and gan to libel both: Warwick and almost disgusted, at the preşump, a its author: This, like many of the tion of so young a man, and many 2 g unjust rand petulant criticisms of epigrams were, publishes againsçel:**

*t ! 34 3.1 1177

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


$ with strangers, who fer)

curly 10 him on this very account. The poor, but who, notwithstanding Parterre, too, was of the same this, had received an excellent ed., opinion at the first representation, ucation. He was at pains to in-. and every part of it seemed deter- spire her with a taste for literature, mined to exclaim, « Rendez nous and appeared, above all, solicitous Piron !" Restore us Piron !" that she should be able to converse ?

This, like his'' Pharamond,' was with him, relative to those objects accordingly played but once, and which occupied his atteation. This the tragedy of Timoleon' did not lady, who had frequented the Theprove much more fortunate, as, aire Francais, was soon capable of after a few representations, it also declaiming; and by repeating the 9 was laid aside.

speeches composed by her huss The author who, subsequently band, was thus enabled to afford to the flattering reception given to him an idea, as it were, by antici-.. his "Warwick;' had considered "pation, in what manner they would himself as the legitimate successor, Þe received on the stage. - But of the great masters of his art, and after the misadventure that occur- « ; had flattered himself with the idea, red to Gustave,' this proved of that his reputation was entirely but little service, and the young exempt from criticism, immedi. couple were soon reduced to great. ately changed from the excess of distress. confidence to the excess of dis On this, Voltaire, with his ac, couragement, and now renounced customed generosity, interposed! all hopes from the theatre. In and expressed a wish that they 11 consequence of this resolution, he should remain with him at Ferney, l. .. devoted more of his time to general until the complete re-establishment literature, which seemed to be, at of their affairs. The residence of this period, his favourite element. this kind patron was, at this peri..

The academick institutions, so od, the centre of the corresponcommon at this period in most of dence of all the philosophers of the cities of France, presented an Europe, while he himself was opportunity for young men to looked up to as their patriarch. distinguish themselves, and also Men of rank, courtiers, magis procured for them, if they were so trates, and even tradus-people, im- '", fortunate as to obtain a prize, con- posed on themselves the obligationis siderable pecuniary resources. The of performing a pilgrimage to the one French Academy had introduced Pay de Gex, in which his little dok: ?? the custom of proposing either the main was situate. Accustomed eulogies of great men, or the solu. to correspond and converse, fam.,,? tion of some great question, either miliarly with princes and even moral or philosophical. M. de la kings, he himself seemed to rest is

; i which Thomas had already dis- almost similar honours ; for his tinguished himself; and it is al. anti-chamber was crowded every

, discourses possessed a certain de paired thither merely to see him, i gree of dignity, which is rarely to and were enraptured if he but 7 be found in those of his rivals. deigned to open his mouth.-01 ' E Being now resolved to marry out It

was at this court, the first 24 he selected a young woman for his which any poet had ever formed into wife, whose parents had been very around him, that M. and Madame

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »