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influence upon


rished, a spirit of emulation soon ren- turally degenerate into luxury and efders them universal. Books growing feminacy,as literature begins to decline. daily niore numerous, grow daily worse; The Athenians were never so diffolute fince authors, neglecting nature, copy as in the age of Demetrius Phalereus, from their predecessors, or affecting fin- from whom the corruption of literature gularity, deviate from the true path. took its rise; nor the Romans as when But as publications increase, the diffi- Seneca and Lucan depraved the public culty of literary success increases like- taste in the reign of Caligula and Nero., wise; for if it is unnecessary to read Seneca himself, and after him Rollin * the bad, yet some labour is requisite to

have well observed that the manners of discover the good. Let it be further a people have a great considered, that as books multiply, in- terature. Thus luxury enervates comdolence and luxury prevail. The con- position, and neceffarily occupies many veniences of life have always been the of those hours which ought to be deforerunners and attendants of polite li- voted to study. Yet the ambition of literature. Demosthenes, Plato, Xeno. terary fame still continues ; and we rephon, Sophocles, flourished in Greece; linquish the study of the ancients for Cicero, Cæsar, Livy, Virgil, Horace,in more compendious methods of instrucRome, when succels in war and com- tion. We are initantly accommodatmerce had introduced magnificence and ed with compilations, which may fatispoliteness. When Alexander the sixth, fy the indolent lovers of brevity, tho' and Julius the second had enlarged and they require no great exertions of gesecured the papal power in Italy, the nius, imagination, or industry. The fine arts were foon cultivated in the press teems with essays,compends,jourglorious pontificate of Leo X. The pals, encyclopædias, and other works popes and other potentates could not be of the same kind; all of which may supposed to attend to literature, or pa- serve to convey a smattering of knowtropise genius, while their thoughts ledge, but obstruct, instead of facilitatwere wholly turned upon recovering or ing, the progress of true learning. We establihing their dominions. History may safely conclude then that taste may thews us the condition of the French be upon the verge of destruction, tho' monarchy before Francis the first, and men of letters seemingly abound; and even for an age after, till Richlieu abo-, Abbe Racine was in the right when he lished the feudal power, and that fero- fáid t, L'esprit devient commun, city of manners which sprung from it quand le genie devient rare :” auas from a seminary of war. In the reign thorlings swarm as men of real genius of Henry the third scarcely were coach- disappear. es known in Paris. The houses were I would not be thought to derogate like castles or prisons, and the whole from the reputation of the present tenor of their life must neceffarily have French literati, some of whom are as been of a piece. Nor could it then have great an honour to their country as beeit imagined that they would ever at- were the most eminent of the age of tain that elegance, politeness, and taste, Lewis the fourteenth. The sciences, which afterwards prevailed in the age particularly 'natural philosophy, mediof Lewis the fourteenth. But human cine and the mathematics, have been affairs are in a perpetual flux; urbani- enriched by new discoveries and obserty and splendor, as I have already more vations, and handled with greater perthan once had occasion to observe, na- fpicuity and elegance than before.


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* Rollin des belles-lettres ; reflections sur le gout.

+ Reflexions sur la poesie, chap. II.

Whatever opposition Buffon's Natural this affectation of pleasantry as beneath Hiitory may have met with, the style is the dignity of their profession. The certainly noble and perspicuous, and in eloquence of a modern dazzles, that this refpeét will be always universally of a Cicero, of a Boffuet enlightens. admired. Yet it must be confefled that Our poetry is nearly in the same a too close attachment to the sciences condition: we have still many good cannot fail to retard the more polite. verses, but how few good poems? Ifa studies, as they introduce a habit of composition is but witty, it pleases as if philosophical precision, and of course we knew not that excess is always fauldryness and iterility, into works of taste. ty. We are weak enough to imagine " That philofophical fpirit," says M. we have more wit than our predecessors D'Alembert, “ so fashionable now-a- of the last century. For the truth of days, which would know every thing this the ladies will refer you to the and fuppone nothing, has even infected writings in the age of Lewis the fourthe belles-lettres. This,it is said,hurts teenth. Yet, strange as it may appear, their progress; and would it could be I will venture to assert that this very denied !”

flow of wit, fo predominant at present, I shall not presume to decide whe- is perhaps an effect of our want of it. ther greater advantage redounds to fo- To impofe on the world, we take every ciety from the demonftrative sciences, opportunity of displaying our all; or from the liberal arts and the belles- whereas the authors of the preceeding lettres. It is sufficient for me that I century, sure of pleasing, displayed onhave thewn the error of those who ly what was necessary. They knew contend that literature is in a better what they possessed, and they knew condition at 'present than in the last how to make a proper use of it. The century. To conclude this subject, I former are to the latter what a petty thall transcribe a passage from the ce- shop-keeper is to an extensive trader. lebrated Abbe Le Blanc * “ We The one, to allure custumers, is oblig. have renounced,” says he, “ the true ed to exhibit his whole stock; the omodels of composition, and adopted ther, certain of giving satisfaction,only such as are altogether repugnant to exhibits what is necessary to point out found taste. What befel the Romans his profession. ? he moderate use which has likewise befallen us. We are no

Racine and Boileau made of their wit longer delighted with nature; the beau- is equally a proof of their wisdum and tiful, the majestic, the fimple, disgust superiority. They acquired this noble us. Like those whose vitiated palates fimplicity by imitating the authors of can only be affected by strong liquors, the Auguftan age. Such was the chawe require sallies of wit and fancy,in- racter of Virgil, of Tully, of Livy; but genious descriptions, brilliant strings of their succeffors, however ingenious, points and antitheses. In a word, we were tainted with the abuses which had are so intent upon the superstructure, crept into literature. Tacitus's only that we negle&t the foundation. The aim seems to have been fingularity of tafte of our modern preachers and ar- expression. That grandeur which apchitects is much the same. Our ser- pears in Seneca was entirely owing to mons are witty,tho'void of eloquence; embellishment, and his affectation of our buildings overcharged with orna- sublimity thews that it was not natural ments, tho the architecture is naught. to him $. Yet unhappily these are the True orators have always considered favourite authors now-a-days. We


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* Lettres d'un François. Let. 43. * I cannot help differing from M. le Blanc when he places Tacitus in the fame


hunt for wit, we interlard our eloquence nation have just attained perfection. with it, and our taite is debased, in pro. Those then who have a less early acportion as we depart from those happy quaintance with writers of eminence, times when France carried all the arts are likewise less early infected by the to the highest point of perfection. bad example of innovators. Now Ar

“ Confess then, Sir, that we have terbury wept from Paris to the south already wandered so far that, without of France twelve or fifteen years after a speedy return, we shall run the risk the death of ewis XIV, when the of being irrecoverably loit. What great corruption had not as yet seized the need hare we of a Quintilian to more remote parts of the kingduin. It guide us !”

may even happen that an author will Thus reasons M. Le Blanc; and I influence one province and not another. shall only add an observation of Atter. Thus one of the reasons why the Turbury, the celebrated Bishop of Rochef- can literature flooriihed in the seventer. While in disgrace at the court of teenth century so much more than that George the first, he resided at Paris; of any other province in Italy,may perand being upon a journey from thence, haps be that Tailo, from whom the dein the year 1729, to meet his daughter, cline of Italian literature, in some meahe remarks in a letter to his friend Mr sure, proceeded, was never so much Pope to that he had found more good admired in Florence, owing perhaps to tafte in the southern parts of France bis controversy with the academy del. than in Paris. Far from doubting this la Crusca. circumstance, I rather think it a natural effect of the vicillitude of literature.

ANS WER A taste for the fine arts, like every other fashion, originally appears in the To Question third, (P. 276. VOL. I,) metropolis, and afterwards gradually becomes general; nay it often bappens THAT rays proceeding from the taite in town has hardly reached the a convex lens is a proposition easily country. When the belles-lettres had solvable; as on account of his immense attained perfection in Paris, we cannot distance, they are always conlidered as therefore suppose them so far advanced parallel : but it is one of the orit prin. in the other cities of France. But as ciples in optics, that such rays are rethis taste,this perfection in the fine arts, fracted to a certain point by a convexis ever fluctuating, no sooner is it dif- glass, (called, on that account, the Fofused through the provinces, by the il- cus of parallel rays.) luftrious works ifluing from the capital Hence the fun's rays, by the applicathan the source begins to be corrupted. tion of a convex lens, must be colLuxury, effeminacy and diffipation, lected to a point, and there their light which contribute so much to detroy and heat will be both accumulated, and useful learning, and are always the at- will have the same proportion, to the tendants of affectation, exceflive refine- light and heat at places where unrement, a love of novelty, and a detesta- fracted rays fall as the diameter of the tion of the beautiful fimplicity of nature lens has to that of the illumined spaț. in works of taite, are introduced into. It is on this account that a similar efthe capital when the other parts of the fect is expected upon the application of


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light with Seneca. They not only flourished at different periods, but the folidity and strength of Taçitus's Jiyle is altogether unlike the brilliant sophistry of Seneca.

+ See Pope's Letters.

lenses to the rays afforded by torches ver established in Caledonia. It is diffior tires. These terrestrial dispensers cult to say, why affertions so ill-foundof light and heat; nor is this so very ed were obtruded upon the world, if unnatural for one who is unacquainted it was not to deduce the honour of the with the principles; but to one in the present prevalent system of free-thinkleast conversant in optics, it is a mistake ing from our remotest ancestors. Irrein the nature of things, because it is ligion is never one of the virtues of fanot on account of the heat of the sun, vage life: we must defcend to polished but of his distance, that his rays are times for that sceprism which arises thus collected. But as the rays pro

from the pride and vanity natural to ceeding from these other objects at the cultivated state of the human mind. the greatest distance we have in our It is not now my business to enter into power to make the experiment) have a controversy with those who affirm ftill a considerable degree of divergen- that religion is no more than an ency; therefore by the laws of refraction gine of policy, and that the gods of all they cannot be collected to a point by nations sprung from the timidity of any lens. For in diverging rays, fal- the multitude in the first stages of foling upon the surface of a convex lens, ciety. there is but these three cases. ift. If Had the inhabitants of Britain rose the luminous body is placed nearer originally like vegetables out of the than the principal Focus of the lens: earth, according to the opinion of Cæsar then the rays of each pencil are only and Tacitus, there might have been some made to converge less. 2d. If at the foundation for suppoling that the Druiprincipal Focus, then they proceed pa- dical system of religion was never known Tallel after refraction, in both which in Caledonia. But as it is generally cases there is no im ge formed, as the allowed that the inhabitants of both pencils of rays never come to a Focus. the divisions of Britain deduced their 3d. But if the object is placed beyond origin from nations on the Continent, the principal Focus, there is an invert, it is reasonable to think that they cared image formed at a distance, increas. ried along with them the gods of their ing the nearer the object is placed and ancestors, in their transmigration to vice versa. This is the theory, and I this island. apprehend, any who will try the expe- That the Caledonians, in the time riment, will find it to agree therewith. of Julius Agricola, were not totally Therefore I presumę, that this, instead distitute of religion appears from a pala of being an unsurmountable difficulty; fage in the speech which Tacitus puis is rather a proof of the justness of the into the mouth of Galgacus; in which law of refraction, if any

that chieftain mentions both gods and ne ded.

a providence. The celebrated writer N. B. It is needless to trace the ef- also observes, that after the Caledonifect produced on such rays by concave, ans were worted in the first action with reflections, as it is known to be the the Romans, far from being intimidatfame as that of a convex lens.

ed, or cured of their own self-sufficien..

cy, they formed a resolution to renew Dr. M.Pherfan's Dissertation on the

the war with greater vigour. For this Religion of the Ancient Caledonians, purpose, says Tacitus, they armed their he was late Minister of Slate, in the young men, placed their wives and Isle of Sky.

children in places of fatety, summoned

their hveral communities together, held OME ingenious writers have been public affemblies, entered into confe

such were


ments with sacrifices and the blood of was, as I observed before, the Titranis victims *

of their neighbours to the South. In Druidism was certainly the original the ancient language of the Scots, both religion of all the branches of the Cel- the names of this divinity, are retained tic nation : yet Cæsar observes, that to this day, with a small variation of the Germans, who undoubtedly were the final syllables. Tcrran, among the principally descended from the great Highlanders, is the lower inuttering of Celtic stock, had no druids among them.' thunder, and Tarninach + fignifies the We have reason to differ in opinion loudest peals of that awful noise. from that great man.

Cæsar was too This identity of religion which premuch engrossed with his own vast pro- vailed among the ancient Germans and jeets, to enter minutely into the theo. Gauls, is a proof that tribes of the logical inititutions of the Germans. latter were the prevalent colonies of Tacitus, who made the customs and Germany. The Tectosages, a people manners of Germany, his particular ftu- of Gallia Norbonensis, poffeffed themdy, informs us that priests poiseffed selves, according to Cæsar; of the most great influence in that country. fertile regions of Germany. The Boii

Druid, or rather Druthin, is origi. and Helvettii, nations sprung from the nally a Teutonic word. Its meaning Gaulish stock, made very confiderable is, the servant of God, or the servant acquisitions near the Hercynian forest. of Truth: Dru or Iru fignify God or The Suevi were the most powerful naTruth indiscriminately. It is certain tion in Germany. Of the several tribes that every German priest was called into which the Suevi were divided, the Dry, and the Saxons of England Senones pretended to be the most nobrought that word from Germany in- ble and the most ancient. Their

preto Britain. - -The English Saxons, tensions to antiquity Tacitus supports before their conversion to Christianity, with an argument arising from the geworshipped, it is apparent, the arcient nius of their religion. gods of Gaul, and nearly under the " At a stated time,' saith the excel. fame names. The Tuisco, or Tuisto of lent historian, “ all those who have deGermany, to whom the Saxons dedi- rived their blood from the Senopes cated Tuesday, was the same with the meet, in the persons of their represenTeutates of Gaul; and the Thor of the tatives or ambassadors. This assemSaxons was the Taranis of the ancient bly is held in a wood, consecrated by Gauls.

the auguries of their predecessors, and The meaning of Teutates is God their superstitious fears of former ages. the Father of all Beings: Dyu, In this wood, after having publickly in the ancient British, which was un. sacrificed some unhappy man, they comdoubtedly the same with the language memorate the horrible beginnings of of Gaul, signifies God; and Tad, or their barbarous idolatry.” In this parTat in the Armoricán dialect, is, to this sage every one may see the strongest day, the word for father. The Thor features of Druidism, painted in the of the Celto-Scythians of Germany most lively colours, and placed in the


* Cætibus et facrificiis confpirationem civitatum fanciro.

+ Tarninach is probably a corruption of Nd’air-neam.brach, or Tarnearach, as it is pronounced, literally signifying Heavenly Father; thunder being thought the voice of the Supreme Divinity. Or perhaps it may be derived from Torneonach literally an uncommon and wonderful noise: or from Nd'air-neonach, the Wrathful Father.

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