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New Testament. There was not one of them who had ever seen a printed copy before. They admired it much; and every priest, as it came into his hands, began to read a portion, which he did fluently, while the women came round to hear. asked the old priest whether I should send them some copies from Europe. They would be worth their weight in silver,' said he. He asked me whether the Old Testament was printed in Syriac as well as the New. I told him it was, but I had not a copy. They professed an earnest desire to obtain some copies of the whole Syriae bible; and asked whether it would be practicable to obtain one copy for every church. I must confess to you,' said Zecharias, that we have very few copies of the prophetical scriptures in the church. Our church languishes for want of the scriptures.' But he added, the language that is most in use among the people is the Malayalim, (or Ma labar,) the vernacular language of the country. The Syriac is now only the learned language, and the language of the church; but we gene rally expound the scriptures to the people in the vernacular tongue."
Critical Remarks, by Mr Fox, on the most eminent Greek Poets. From Letters appended to Trotter's Memoirs of Fox.
was much gratified, my dear Sir, with your letter, as your taste seems so exactly to agree with mine; and am very glad, for your sake, that you have taken to Greek, as it will now be very easy to you, and if I may judge from myself, will be one of the greatest sources of amusement to you. Homer and Ariosto have always been my favourites; there is
something so delightful in the wonderful facility, and the apparent absence of all study, in their expression, which is almost peculiar to them. I think you must be very partial, however, to find but two faults in the twelve books of the Iliad. The passage in the 9th book, about Aar, appears to me, as it does to you, both poor and forced; but I have no great objection to that about the wall in the 12th, though, to be sure, it is not very necessary. The tenth book has always been a particular favourite with me, not so much on account of Diomede's and Ulysses's exploits, (though that part is excellent too,) as on account of the beginning, which describes so forcibly the anxious state of the generals, with an enemy so near, and having had rather the worst of the former day. I do not know any description any where that sets the thing so clearly before one; and then the brotherly feelings of Aga. memnon towards Menelaus, and the modesty and amiableness of Menelaus's character (whom Homer, by the way, seems to be particularly fond of) are very affecting. Ariosto has certainly taken his night expedition either from Homer's or from Virgil's Nisus and Euryalus. I scarcely know which I prefer of the three; I rather think Virgil's; but Ariosto has one merit beyond the others, from the important consequences which arise from it to the story. Tasso (for he, too, must have whatever is in the Iliad or Æneid) is a very poor imitation, as far as I recollect.
"I suppose, as soon as you have done the Iliad, you will read the Odyssey; which though certainly not so fine a poem, is, to my taste, still pleasanter to read. Pray let me know what parts of it strike you most, and believe me you cannot oblige me more than by corresponding on such subjects. Of the other Greek poets, Hesiod,
think, to be liked in him so well as the parts of Apollonius to which I have alluded. I have said nothing of Aristophanes, because I never read him. Callimachus and Moschus are worth reading; but there is little of them. By the way, I now recollect that the passage about death, which I said was in Bion's elegy upon Adonis, is in Moschus's upon Bion. Now you have all my knowledge about Greek poetry. I am quite pleased at your liking Ariosto so much; though indeed I foresaw you would, from the great delight you expressed at Spenser, who is certainly inferior to him, though very excellent too. Tasso I think below both of them, but many count him the first among those three; and even Metastasio, who ought to be a better judge of Italian poetry than you or I, gives him upon the whole the preference to Ariosto.
Hesiod, Pindar, Eschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Apollonius Rhodius, and Theocritus, are the most worth reading. Of the tragedians, I like Euripides the best; but Sophocles is, I believe, more generally preferred, and is certainly more finished, and has fewer gross faults. Theocritus, in his way, is perfect ;-the two first Idylls, particularly, are excellent. I suppose the ode you like is Ada
Kunga, which is pretty enough, but not such as to give you any adequate idea of Theocritus. There is an elegy upon Adonis, by Bion, which is in parts very beautiful, and particularly some lines of it upon the common-place of death, which have been imitated over and over again, but have never been equalled. In Hesiod, the account of Pandora, of the golden age, &c. and some other parts, are very good; but there is much that is tiresome. Perhaps the work, which is most generally considered as not his, I mean the As, is the one that has most poetry in it. It is very good, and to say that it is inferior to Homer's and Virgil's shields, is not saying much against it. Pindar is too often obscure, and sometimes much more spun out and wordy than suits my taste; but there are passages in him quite divine. I have not read above half his works. Apollonius Rhodius is, I think, very well worth reading. The beginning of Medea's love is, I believe, original, and though often copied since, never equalled. There are many other fine parts in his poem, besides some which Virgil has improved, others scarce equalled. There is, however, in the greater part of the poem, an appearance of labour, and a hardness that makes it tiresome. He seems to me to be an author of about the same degree of genius with Tasso; and if there is more in the latter to be liked, there is nothing, I
I am very glad you prefer Euripides to Sophocles, because it is my taste; though I am not sure that it is not thought a heresy. He (Eur.) appears to me to have much more of facility and nature in his way of writing than the other. The speech you mention of Electra is, indeed, beautiful; but when you have read some more of Euripides, perhaps you will not think it quite unrivalled. Of all Sophocles's plays, I like Electra clearly the best, and Ithink your epithet toOed. Tyrs.avery just one. It is really to me a disagreeable play ;and yet thereare many who not only prefer it to Electra, but reckon it the finest specimen of the Greek theatre. I like his other two plays upon the Theban story both better, i. e. the Oed. Col. and the Antigone.
In the latter there
is a passage in her answer to Cicero that is, perhaps, the sublimest in the world; and, in many parts of the play, there is a spirit almost miraculous, if, as it is said, Sophocles was past
past eighty when he composed it. Cicero has made great use of the passage I allude to, in his oration for Mile. I suppose you selected Hipp. and Iph. in Aulis, on account of Racine; and I hope you have observed with what extreme judgment he has imitated them. In the character of Hipp. only, I think he has fallen short of his original. The scene of Phedra's discovery of her love to her nurse, he has imitated pretty closely; and if he has not surpassed it, it is only because that was impossible. His Clytemnestra, too, is excellent, but would have been better if he had ventured to bring on the young Orestes as Eur. does. The change which you mention in the Greek Iphigenia, I like extremely; but it is censured by Aristotle as a change of character, ́not, I think, justly. Perhaps the sudden change in Menelaus, which he also censures, is less defensible. Now, though the two plays of Eur. which you have read, are undoubtedly among his best, I will venture to assure you, that there are four others you will like full as well; Medea, Phænisse, Heraclidæ, and Alcestis; with the last of which, if I know any thing of your taste, you will be enchanted. Many faults are found with it, but those faults lead to the greatest beauties. For instance, if Hercules's levity is a little improper in a tragedy, his shame afterwards, and the immediate consequence of that shame being a more than human exertion, afford the finest picture of an herioc mind that exists. The speech beginning πολλά That naga, &c. is divine. Besides the two you have read, and the four I have recommended, Hercules Furens, Iph. in Tauris, Hecuba, Bacchæ, and Troacles, are all very excellent. Then come Ion, Supplices, Electra and Helen; Orestes and Andromache are, in my judgment, the worst.
I have not mentioned Rhesus and Cyclops, because the former is not thought to be really Euripides's, and the latter is entirely comic, or rather a very coarse farce; excellent, however, in its way, and the conception of the characters not unlike that of Shakespeare in Caliban. I should never finish, if I were to let myself go upon Euripides. In two very material points, however, he is certainly far excelled by Sophocles: 1st, in the introduction of proper subjects in the songs of the chorus; and, 2dly, in the management of his plot. The extreme absurdity of the chorus, in Medæa suffering her to kill her children, and of that in Phædra letting her hang herself, without the least attempt to prevent it, has been often and justly ridiculed; but what signify faults, where there are such excessive beauties? Pray write soon, and let me know, if you have read more of these plays, and what you think of them.
I said nothing of Eschylus, because I know but little of him; I read two of his plays, the Septem apud Thebas, and the Prometheus, at Oxford; of which I do not remember much, except that I like the last far the best. I have since read the Eumenicles, in which there are, no doubt, most sublime passages; but in general the figures are too forced and hard for my taste; and then there is too much of the grand and terrific, and gigantic, without a mixture of any thing, either tender or pleasant or elegant, which keeps the mind too much on the stretch. This never suits my taste; and I feel the same objection to most parts of the Paradise Lost, though in that poem there are most splendid exceptions, Eve, Paradise, &c. I have heard that the Agamemnon, if you can conquer its. obscurity, is the finest of all Eschylus's plays, and I will attempt it when
I have a little time. I quite long to hear how you are captivated with Alcestes, for captivated, I am sure, you will be.
I was just going to end without noticing Pindar. I dare say the obscurities are chiefly owing to our want of means of making out the allusions; his style is more full of allusions than that of any other poet, except, perhaps, Dante, who is on that account so difficult, and as I think, on that account only. The fine passages in Pindar are equal to, if not beyond, any thing; but the want of interest in the subjects, and, if it is not blasphemy to say so, the excessive profusion of words, make him something bordering upon tedious. There is a fire in the celebrated passage in the 2d Olympick, which begins coas olλ dws Qux, that is quite unequalled in any poem whatever; and the sweetness in the preceding part, describing the happy islands, is in its way almost as good. Pray let us hear from you soon, that you are well and happy; if you read the Heraclidæ of Euripides, pray tell me if you are particularly struck by one passage in Demophoon's part; if you miss it, I will point it out to
Account of distinguished French Ladies. Translated from Madame Genlis's "Histoire des Femmes Françaises les plus celebres."
Madame du Deffant.
T was impossible to know Maher character, without being confirmed in the opinion, that false philosophy relaxes all the springs of the soul, January 1812.
withers the imagination, and dries up the heart. Madame du Deffant had a fund of goodness; she was obliging, generous; she combined, in conversation, extreme simplicity, with a great deal of wit; she was the only female philosopher who had neither pedantry nor pretensions, neither the ambition of ruling, nor the desire of shining, and attracting admirers; the only one, in short, who had not the absurd intolerance of impiety. But, with too sound an understanding to be strongly attached to her errors, too much weakness and indolence to reject them, she lived in the most painful uncertainty.
Madame du Deffant, discontented, restless, had a temper extremely unequal; her soul was susceptible neither of joy nor of any other sentiment in a lively degree; but her conversation was always agreeable, because always rational. Her house, during more than twenty years, was the rendezvous of all the men of letters, who were most distinguished for their talents and celebrity. She served a great number of them, and found more than one ungrateful. She had received into her house a young person of good birth, but with no fortune, (Mad. L'Espinasse,) who soon supplanted her benefactress in her own house, formed there a separate society, who 'daily preferred the apartment of Mad. L'Espinasse to the drawing-room of Mad. du Deffant. The latter, hurt by being thus abandoned, complained; the other replied with hauteur; the misunder❤ standing increased, and became violent. At last Mad. L'Espinasse, through the friends whom she had formed in the house of Mad. du Def
a pension from
king. This certainly was a very extraordinary favour, for it was not founded upon any species of claim. Then
Then Mad. L'Espinasse abandoned for ever the person who had given her an asylum. She formed a colony of wits, deserters from the house of Madame du Deffant; this insurrection produced a little literary republic, which detested the ancient sovereign whose yoke they had thrown off. Never were the American insurgents more embittered against his Britannic majesty, than was M. d'Alembert, (the Washington of this revolt) against Mad. du Deffant. La Harpe says, that Mad. L'Espinasse had a soul singularly loving-singularly indeed, since she had two violent passions at once, degree of the loving faculty, with which she alone, I be. lieve, was ever endowed. La Harpe says, that the death of a young Spanish lord, the Count de Mora, overwhelmed with grief Mad. L'Espinasse, and that profound chagrin shortened her days. This, however, was not the sole cause of the ruin of her health; she had, it is true, a violent love for this young Spaniard; but at the same time, she loved with ardour M. Guibert, and she had likewise a passionate attachment to M. d'Alembert, who was the confident of her two loves, and himself distractedly fond
of her. If the heart often sinks under the torments of a single passion, it is not wonderful that it should be unable to resist the strange anxieties caused by two or three. All these things appear, to the vulgar, shameful and incomprehensible follies, the fruit of a depraved imagination, especially as the heroine of this romance, so new in its kind, was up. wards of forty; but modern philosophy admires this vast faculty of loving, this amorous philanthropy, which renders the heart of an energetic and feeling woman the same to her adorers, as that of a good mother is to her children. We might write beneath the portrait of Mad. L'Espinasse:
Madame du Deffant died in 1780, aged 84; she had been blind for 30 years.
THIS lady, born 1699, was the patroness of some artists, and of all modern philosophers. She was the widow of a glass manufacturer, who left her a considerable fortune. She opened her house also to foreigners. She paid particular attention to Count Poniatowsky, who was afterwards king of Poland, and who called her his mother. When this prince was upon the throne, he wrote to Mad. Geoffrin, Mamma, your son is a king. He invited her to visit him, and, though sixty-nine, she had the resolution to undertake this long journey. At Vienna, through which she passed on her way to Warsaw, the empress lavished upon her the most flattering attentions. She was received at Warsaw by the king with the utmost kindness and favour. She died at Paris in 1777. She did not forget her friends in her will; she left legacies to Thomas and d'Alembert; this last showed her eulogy so few days after her death, that, had it been possible to doubt the sensibility of a philosopher, we might have supposed it prepared at all hazards during her illness. But, as an impromptu, this writing is most astonishing; for it is difficult to conceive, that a man plunged in deep grief should have the faculty of arranging phrases, antitheses,