« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
elle, et ce ne fut meme que par reflection subite, qu'il en donna le reste à l'ainée.*
I have thus put the reader in possession of every observation respecting this agreeable author,+ which it would be important or proper to communicate. If his opinion of Sterne's learning and originality be lessened by the perusal, he must, at least, admire the dexterity and the good taste with which he has incorporated in his work so many passages, written with very different views by their respective authors. It was evidently Sterne's purpose to make a pleasant, saleable book, coute que coute; and after taking his general plan from some of the older French writers, and from Burton, he
* Paysan Parvenu, partie 2me.
+ I have seen some anecdotes of Sterne, in the European Magazine, in which Madame de L mentioned in the Sentimental Journey, was said to be Madame de Lamberti, and the Count de B- the Count de Bretueil ; upon what autho, rity I do not know,
made prize of all the good thoughts that came in his way.
Voltaire has compared the merits of Ra. belais and Sterne, as satirists of the abuse of learning, and, I think, has done neither of them justice. This great distinction is obvious; that Rabelais derided absurdities then existing in full force, and intermingled much sterling sense with the grossest parts of his book; Sterne, on the contrary, laughs at many exploded opinions, and forsaken fooleries, and contrives to degrade some of his most solemn passages by a vicious levity. Rabelais flew a higher pitch, too,
than Sterne. Great part of the voyage to the Pays de Lanternois,* which so severely, stigmatizes the vices of the Romish clergy of that age, was performed in more hazard of fire than water.
* I do no recollect to have seen it observed by Rabelais's Commentators, that this name, as well as the plan of the Satire, is imitated from Lucian's True History. Lucian's town is called Lychnopolis,
The follies of the learned may as justly be corrected, as the vices of hypocrites; but for the former, ridicule is a sufficient punishment. Ridicule is even more effectual to this purpose, as well as more agreeable than scurrility, which is generally preferred, notwithstanding, by the learned themselves in their contests, because anger seizes the readiest weapons; Jamque faces et saxa volant; furor arma ministrat:
And where a little extraordinary power has accidentally been lodged in the hands of disputants, they have not scrupled to employ the most cogent methods of convincing their adversaries. Dionysius the younger sent those critics who disliked his verses, to · work in the quarries ;* and there was a pleasant tyrant, mentioned by Horace, who obliged his deficient debtors to hear him read his own compositions, amaras historias, by way of commutation. I say nothing of the holy faith of pike and gun," nor of the strong cudgel with which Luther terminated a theological dispute, as I desire to avoid religious controversy. But it is impossible, on this subject, to forget the once-celebrated Dempster, the last of the formidable sect of Hoplomachists, who fought every day, at his school in Paris, either with sword or fist, in defence of his doctrines in omni scibili.* The imprisonment of Galileo, and the example of Jordano Bruno, burnt alive for asserting the plurality of worlds, among other disgraceful instances, shew that laughter is the best crisis of an ardent disputation.
The talents for so delicate an office as that of a literary censor, are too great and numerous to be often assembled in one person.
Rabelais wanted decency, Sterne learning, and Voltaire fidelity. Lucian alone supported the character properly, in those pieces which appear to be justly asscribed to him. As the narrowness of party yet infests philosophy, a writer with his qualifications would still do good service in the cause of truth. For wit and good sense united, as in him they eminently were, can attack nothing successfully which ought not to be demolished,
* Jan. Nic. Erythræ. Pinacothec.
+ Brucker. His. Critic. Philosoph. tom. v. p. 28, 29. The famous Scioppius published a shocking letter of exultation on this execution.