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36. No place fo facred from fuch fops is barr'd, Nor is Paul's church more fafe than Paul's church-yard; Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead:

For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. *

THIS stroke of fatire is literally taken from Boileau.

Gardez-vous d' imiter ce rimeur furieux,
Qui de fes vains ecrits lecteur harmonieux
Aborde en recitant quiconque le falüe,
Et poursuit de fes vers les paffans dans la rue,
Il n'est Temple fi faint des Anges respecte,
Qui foit contre fa mufe un lieu du furete. +

Which lines allude to the impertinence of a French poet, called Du Perrier; who, finding Boileau one day at church, infifted upon repeating to him an ode, during the elevation of the hoft; and defired his opinion, whether or no it was in the manner of Malherbe. Without this anecdote, the pleasantry of the fatire would be overlooked. It may here be occafionally observed, how many beauties in this fpecies of writing are loft, for want of

* Ver. 622.

Art. Poet. Chant. iv.


knowing the facts to which they allude. The following paffage may be produced as a proof, Boileau, in his excellent Epistle to his Gardener at Anteuil, fays,

Mon maitre, dirois-tu, paffe pour un Docteur, Et parle quelquefois mieux qu' un Predicateur. † Ir feems, our * author and Racine returned one day in high fpirits from Versailles with two honeft citizens of Paris. As their converfation

* The names of Corneille and Racine being often mentioned in this work, it will not be improper to add an ingenious Parallel of their respective merits, written by Fontenelle.

I. Corneille had no excellent author before his eyes, whom he could follow: Racine had Corneille.

II. Corneille found the French stage in a barbarous state, and advanced it to great perfection: Racine has not supported it in the perfection in which he found it.

III. The characters of Corneille are true, though they are not common: The characters of Racine are not true, but only fo far forth as they are common.

IV. Sometimes the characters of Corneille, are, in some refpects, false and unnatural, in that they are noble and fingular: Those of Racine are often, in fome refpects, low, on account of their being natural and ordinary.

V. He that has a noble heart would chufe to resemble the heroes of Corneille: He that has a little heart is pleased to find his own resemblance in the heroes of Racine.

+ Epitre 11.


verfation was full of gaiety and humour, the two citizens were vaftly delighted: and one of them, at parting, ftopt Boileau with this compliment, I have travelled with Doctors of the Sorbonne, and even with Religious; but I never heard fo many fine things faid before; en verite vous parlez cent fois mieux qu' un PREDICATEUR."


VI. We carry, from hearing the pieces of the One, a defire to be virtuous: And we carry the pleasure of finding men like ourfelves in foibles and weakneffes, from the pieces of the Other.

VII. The Tender and the Graceful of Racine is fometimes to be found in Corneille : The Grand and Sublime of Corneille is never to be found in Racine.

VIII. Racine has painted only the French and the present age, even when he defigned to paint another age, and other nations: We fee in Corneille, all thofe ages and all those nations, that he intended to paint.

IX. The number of the pieces of Corneille is much greater than that of Racine: Corneille, notwithstanding, has made fewer tautologies and repetitions than Racine has made.

X. In the paffages where the verfification of Corneille is good, it is more bold, more noble, and, at the fame time, as pure and as finished as that of Racine; but it is not preferved in this degree of beauty and that of Racine is always equally fupported.

XI. Authors

Ir is but juftice to add, that the fourteen fucceeding verfes in the poem before us, containing the character of a TRUE CRITIC, are fuperior to any thing in Boileau's Art of Poetry from which, however, POPE has borrowed obfervations.


XI. Authors inferior to Racine have written fuccefsfully after him, in his own way: No author, not even Racine himfelf, dared to attempt, after Corneille, that kind of writing which was peculiar to him.

This comparison, of the juftness of which the reader is left to judge, is faid greatly to have irritated Boileau, the invariable friend and defender of Racine. It may be remarked, that Boileau had mentioned Fontenelle with contempt, in a stanza that originally concluded his Ode to the King, at present omitted. Thefe were the lines.

J'aime mieux nouvel Jcare
Dans les airs cherchant Pindare
Tomber du ciel le plus haut ;
Que louè de Fontenelle,
Razer, craintive Hirondelle,
La terre, comme Perault.

This ode was parodied in France; but not with fuch incomparable humour, as by our Prior, in England.

To these remarks of Fontenelle may be added what Voltaire fays, with his usual vivacity and brevity; " Corneille alone formed himself; but Louis XIV. Colbert, Sophocles, and Euripides, all of them contributed to form Racine."

37. The


The mighty STAGYRITE first left the shore,
Spread all his fails, and durft the deep explore.
He fteer'd fecurely, and discover'd far,

Led by the light of the Mæonian ftar. *

A NOBLE and juft character of the firft and the best of critics! And fufficient to repress the fashionable and naufeous petulance of feveral impertinent moderns, who have attempted to difcredit this great and useful writer! Whoever surveys the variety and perfection of his productions, all delivered in the chastest style, in the cleareft order, and the moft pregnant brevity, is amazed at the immenfity of his genius. His logic, however at prefent neglected for thofe redundant and verbose systems, which took their rife from Locke's Effay on the Human Understanding, is a mighty effort of the mind: in which are discovered the principal fources of the art of reasoning, and the dependencies of one thought on another; and where, by the different combinations he hath made of all the forms

* Ver. 646.


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