Obrázky na stránke

sanction to this prejudice. Soldiers exchanged their warlike toils for the care of their souls: the countrymen suspended their agricul tural labours: groans and cries of penitence were heard in all direc tions; and bands of men and women were seen lacerating their bodies with stripes.

As if the plague had not destroyed a sufficient number of lives, persecution was extended to the Jews. The populace imputed their afflictions to these wanderers, and burnt numbers of them in France, Germany, and Italy.'

This writer is so far from being an admirer of republics, that his tenets seem decidedly monarchical. In one passage, (Vol. ii. p. 64.) he calls the Romans artful and deceitful republicans; in another, (p.61.) they are the oppressors of all nations.' He terms the philosophical writings of Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau, plots against the throne and the altar;' and he ascribes the origin of the whole to a false admiration of English habits and English liberty.

The French press seems now to be completely under the influence of government, and scarcely a book comes into our hands that is not filled with panegyrics on Bonaparte: who, according to M. JONDOT, is the restoring spirit who has reestablished social order on the ruins of civil war.' The defence of Acre is no more introduced in this history than if it had never taken place. It happens unluckily, however, for the flatterers of Bonaparte, that his conduct varies so much at different times, that what is meant for praise in one season may be regarded as sarcasm in another. Having mentioned the harsh treatment of the aged Pius VI. by the Directory, the author exclaims, (Vol. iv. p. 518.) the conqueror of Italy was then on the borders of the Nile, and could not protect this victim.'-M. JONDOT might have maintained impartiality, and avoided interference with living characters, by terminating his narrative at the beginning of the French Revolution: an event which forms but too memorable an æra in the history of mankind, and a narrative of which, in the narrow limits prescribed in this work, is necessarily possessed of little interest.

We turn now to some passages of animated description with which the volumes are interspersed. The account of the flou rishing state of literature under Louis XIV. is both elegant and instructive:

The distinctive mark of this age is that every nation in Europe made progress in literature. It was from the convent of Port Royal that the sparks which gave fire to the French nation first emanated. Blaise Pascal, by fixing our language in his "Provincial Letters," laid the foundation of the edifice; and polished writers laboured to give from time to time an elegant form and established rules to our language. Corneille, by the masculine fire of his genius, revives the


most famous Romans on the stage, and makes them speak as if he were their interpreter. Racine, whose name is identified with perfection, a poet at once tender, sublime, and full of harmony,-transports our passions at the time that he delights our fancy by the cor rectness and liveliness of his descriptions. Before the age of Corneille, comedy was in a rude state: but his Liar attracted universal appro


Moliere paints the follies of his age in a strain which is superior to Aristophanes, Terence, or Plautus. Wit, humour, and point, season each of his pieces, and make them universally admired.-La Fontaine utters the voice of nature herself, and possessed the most original mind perhaps of this surprising age; moral lessons were never delivered with so much grace as by this inimitable poet. Boileau teaches the art of making fine verses, and serves as a guide to his contemporaries by giving them excellent specimens in his own. Such an Aristarchus was required for such an age. Quinault writes lyrics full of softness, grace, sweetness, and sometimes of sublimity. Mad. de Sevigné immortalizes herself in the epistolary style by a liveliness, a grace, and a happy negligence which seem to be the prerogative of women.

On the one hand, Fenelon conveys, in the attractive shape of poetry, lessons of virtue and sound policy to crowned heads; on the other, Bossuet, from the height of his evangelic chair, alarms them with the nullity of human greatness. His eloquence is irresistible; he overthrows and crushes impiety whenever it dares to withstand him. Never did the proud and polished court of Louis XIV. hear this powerful apostle but with the closest attention. A profound and sublime historian, Bossuet, in his Essay on Universal History, attracted the admiration of every nation except the French, who for a long time under-rated this masterly performance.

The manly and austere eloquence of Bourdaloue despises ornament: but the force of his diction, the solidity and energy of his thoughts, and a knowlege of the human heart, place this Jesuit by the side of Bossuet himself. In Fléchier, art is too apparent :-yet in some of his funeral orations, especially on Turenne, he rises above himself, and makes good his claim to permanent fame. Massillon closes the list of these sacred orators, and among them all dived deepest into the human heart. His Petit Carême" is perhaps the most finished composition that was ever written.-La Bruyere developes, in his " Characters," the inconsistencies and oddities of society; while La Rochefoucauld, in his "Maxims," penetrates the springs of our self-love, and the secret motives of our actions.'

On the whole, M. JONDOT's book may be of some use to those who are already acquainted with history, but we cannot recommend it to beginners. The ability of the writer in the execution of it does not counterbalance the defects of his plan. His readers must also be on their guard against typographical errors, which are numerous. Vol. ii. p. 164, Edward III. stands for Edward I.-Page 188, Perses for Parthes.-Vol. iv. p. 513, the year 1793 for the year 1796, &c.


ART. XIX. Les Voyageurs en Perse, &c.; i. e. The Travellers in Persia. By Mad. GACON-DUFOUR. 12mo. 3 Vols Paris, 1809. Some palpable absurdities which occur. in the narrative, this production possesses considerable merit; and though we apprehend that it is altogether a work of fiction, the author has given such an air of probability to the recitals of her travellers, and has collected so many amusing and interesting documents relative to the country which they explore, that she not only preserves the illusion of their journey, but conveys a portion of general information with regard to the customs and antiquities of Persia.

Whether the maxims which are cited in Vol. III. p. 158. be taken from Persian originals, or have owed their birth to the ingenuity of the present author, we think that their merit will apologize for our inserting a few of them:

The discourse of the wise may be distinguished from that of the foolish, because the former tends to peace, and the latter to altercation.

A man deserves to be considered as wise as long as he seeks after wisdom, but when he thinks that he has attained it he is a fool. A Sage being asked who had taught him wisdom, he answered, "I learnt it from the Blind, who never set down their feet till they have tried the ground."

An Arab, who was asked how he knew that there was a God, replied, "In the same manner that I know from the traces in the sand, whether a man or a beast has passed over it."

The story which is interwoven with these Travels has little to recommend it. The episodes are numerous, because every Frenchman in the book chuses on his first introduction to relate the history of his life; and these specimens make us rejoice that this communicative disposition does not extend to the Persians, though in other respects they resemble each other very closely. No difference of national character is perceptible; the dramatis persone are all French; a Persian fair one acts and writes like a French coquette; the modern French terms are deemed so preferable to any other, that the servant of the antient Persian Sage Lokman is called his "valet de chambre;” and whithersoever the Travellers in Persia' direct their steps, they profess to find an affection and respect for the French nation. The ostensible narrator, Mons. de Longueil, also displays an excess of complaisance in the disposal of his heart, which is difficult for an English reader to imagine.

Madame GACON-DUFOUR was not long since introduced to our readers, (Vol. 53, p. 542.) as the author of several works on rural and domestic economy, and on preserving the health of country-people; and from the evidence also of the present volumes, we may conclude that she is not merely a good housewife, a Lady Bountiful, but that she possesses a cultivated mind.



To the REMARKABLE PASSAGES in this Volume.

N. B. To find any particular Book, or Pamphlet, see the
Table of Contents, prefixed to the Volume.


ABOUKIR, battle of, misre
presented by a French wri-
ter, 541.
Acids, experiments on the decom-
position of, 358.

Africa, coast of, lamentable ac-
count of shipwrecks on, and of
the fate of the crews, 198.
Agriculture, state of, in early times
in this country, 60.

Alari, Abbé, a friend and corre-
spondent of Ld. Bolingbroke,
ill requited by that nobleman,
456. His interview with New-
ton, 458.

Alcuin, an accomplished British
monk of the eighth century,
his classic taste asserted, 184.
His favour with Charlemagne,

Alkalies. See Davy.
Amiable, the English epithet, and
aimable, the French, material
difference in the application of
those terms, 488.

Animalcules, in fluids, remarks on,

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »