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his sermons draws from him the following amusing piece ot fre.tfulness.
"Johnston kept them a month on the way; Wilson kept them three, and does nothing, only hints a sort of contemptuous censure of them ro you, and huffs them out ot hie hands. The booksellers despise them, and I am forced to print them, when the season for sale is over, or burn them. God's will be done! If I had wrote against my Saviour, or his religion, my work would long ago have been bought, and repnnted, and bought again. Millar would have now been far advanced in his third edition of it! But why do I make these weak complaintsf I know my work is calculated to serve the cause of God and truth, and by no means conlempiibly executed. I am confident also, I shall, if God »parrs me life to give it the necessary introduction, sell it to advantage, and receive the thanks of every good man for it. I will therefore be in the hands of God, and not of Mr. Millar, whose indifference to my performances invite me not to any overtures."—Vol. v. p. 234, 235.
Although Richardson is not responsible for more than one fifth part of the uulness exhibited in this collection, still the share of it that may be justly imputed to him is so considerable, and the whole is so closely associated with his name, that it would be a sort of injustice to take our final leave of his works, without casting one glance back to those original and meritorious performances, upon wh-eh his reputation is so firmly established.
The great excellence of Richardson's novels consists, we think, in the unparalleled minuteness and copiousness of his descriptions, and in the pains he takes to make us thoroughly and intimately acquainted with every particular in the character and situation of the personages with whom we are occupied. It has been the policy of other writers to avoid all details that are not necessary or impressive, to hurry over all the preparatory scenes, and to reserve the whole of the reader's attention for those momentous passages in which some decisive measure is adopted, or some great passion brought into action. The consequence is, that we are only acquainted with their characters in their dress of ceremony, and that, as we never see them except in those critical circumstances, and those moments of strong emotion, which are but of rare occurrence in real life, we are never deceived into any belief of their reality, and contemplate the whole as an exaggerated and dazzling illusion. With euch authors we merely make a visit by appointment, and see and hear only what we know has been prepared for our reception. With Richardson, we slip, invisible, into the domestic privacy of his characters, and hear and see every thing that is said and done among them, whether it be interesting or otherwise, and whether it gratify our curiosity or disappoint it. We sympathise with the former, therefore, only as we sympathise with the monarch? and statesmen of history, of whose condition as individuals we have but a very imperfect conception. We feel for the latter, as for oar private friends and acquaintance, with whose whole situation we are familiar, and as to whom we ran conceive exactly the effects that will be produced by every thing that may befal them. In the
art Richardson is undoubtedly without an equal, and, if we except De Foe, without a competitor, we believe, in the whole history of literature. We are often fatigued, as we listen to his prolix descriptions, and the repetitions of those rambling and inconclusive conMm -.liions, in which so many pages are consumed, without any apparent progress iu the story: but, by means of all this, we get so intimately acquainted with the characters, and so impressed with a persuasion of their reality, that when any thing really disastrou? or important occurs to them, \ve feel as for old friends and companions, and are irresistible led to as lively a conception of their sensations, as if we had been spectators of a real transaction. This we certainly think the chief merit of Richardson's productions: For. great as his knowledge of the human heart, and his powers of pathetic description, must be admitted to be, we are of opinion that he mich: have been equalled in those particulars by many, whose productions are infinitely 1ем interesting.
That his pieces were all intended to be strictly moral, is indisputable; but it is not quite so clear, that they will uniformly be found to have this tendency. We hare already quoted some observations of Mrs. Barbau Id's on this subject, and shall only add, in general, that there is a certain air of irksome regularity, gloominess, and pedantry. attached to most of his virtuous characters which is apt to encourage more unfortunate associations than the engaging qualities with which he has invested some of his vicious ones. The mansion of the Harlowes, which. before the appearance of Lovelace, is represented as the abode of domestic felicity, и » place in which daylight can scarcely be .«opposed to shine; and Clarissa, with her foraal devotions, her intolerably early rising; her day divided into tasks, and her quantities oi needle-work and discretion, has something in her much less winning and attractive than inferior artiste have often communicated to an innocent beauty of seventeen. The solemnity and moral discourses of Sir Charles, his bows, minuets, compliments, and immoveable tranquillity, are much more likely to excite the derision than the admiration of a modera reader. Richardson's good people, in short are too wise and too formal, ever to appear in the light of desirable companions, or to excite in a youthful mind any wish to resemble them. The gaiety of all his characters, too. is extremely girlish and silly, and is mur more like the prattle of spoiled children, thai the wit and pleasantry of persons acquainted with the world. The diction throughout is heavy, vulgar, and embarrassed; though the inierest of the tragical scenes is too power! to allow us to attend to any inferior consideration. The novels of Richardson, in short. though praised perhaps somewhat bfyond their merits, will always be read with мmiration; and certainly can never aPPfar.? greater advantage than when contrasted wil the melancholy farrago which is here entitl* his Correspondence.
Correspondance, Littéraire, Philosophique et Critique. Addressee à un Souverain d'Allemagne, depini 1770 jusqu'à 1782. Par le Baron De Grimm, et par Diderot. 5 tomes. 8vo. pp. 2250. Paris: 1812.
This is certainly a тегу entertaining book -thuugh a little too bulky—and, the greater par! of it, not very important. We are glad in dee it, however; not only because we are giaii lo see any tking entertaining, but also because it makes us acquainted with a person, of whom every one has heard a great deal, and most people hitherto known very little. There is no name which comes oftener across us, in the modern history of French literature, than that of Grimm; and none, perhaps, whose right to so much notoriety seemed to most people to stand upon such scanty titles. Coming from a foreign country, wititout rank, fortune, or exploits of any kind to recommend him, he contrived, one does not very well see how, to make himself conspicuous for forty years in the best company of Paris; and at the same time to acquire great influence and authority among literary men of all descriptions, without publishing any thing himself, but a few slight observations ii[«m French and Italian music.
The volumes before us help, in part, to explain this enigma ; and not only give proof of talents and accomplishments quite sufficient to justify the reputation the author enjoyed among his contemporaries, but also of such a degree of industry and exertion, as entitle him, we think, to a reasonable reversion of bine from posterity. Before laying before our readers any part of this miscellaneous cKronicle, we shall endeavour to give them a general idea of its construction—and to tell them all that we have been able to discover about its author.
Melchior Grimm was born at Ratisbon in 1723. of very humble parentage; but, being tulerably well educated, took to literature at тегу early period. His first essays were aile in his own country—and. as we understand, in his native language—where he composed several tragedies, which were hissed upon the stage, and unmercifully abused in Ae closet, by Lessing, and the other oracles oí Teutonic criticism. He then came to Paris, « a sort of tutor to the children of M. de Schomberg, and was employed in the humble capacity of reader to the Duke of Saxe-Gotha, '»tien he was first brought into notice by Rousseau, who was smitten with his enthusiM'.n for music, and made him known to IMeroL the Baron d'Holbach, and various wber persons of eminence in the literary *«U. His vivacity and various accomplishments soon made him generally acceptable; while hie uniform prudence and excellent B°*i sense prevented him from ever losing of the fnende he had gained. Rousseau, chose to quarrel wilh him for life.
upon his sitting down one evening in a seat which he had previously fixed upon for himself; but with Voltaire and D'Alembert, and all the rest of that illustrious society, both male and female, he continued always on the most cordial footing; and, while he is reproached with a certain degree of obsequiousness toward the rich and powerful, must be allowed to have used less Mattery toward his literary associates than was usual in the intercourse of those jealous and artificial beings. When the Duke of Saxe-Gotha left Paris, Grimm undertook to send him regularly an account of every thing remarkable that occured in the literary, political, and scandalous chronicle of that great city; and acquitted himself in this delicate office so much to the satisfaction of his noble correspondent, that he nominated him, in 1776, his resident at the court of France, and raised him at the same time to the rank and dignity of a Baron. The volumes before us are a part of the despatches of this literary plenipotentiary; and are certainly the most amusing slate papers that have ever fallen under our obversation.
The Baron de Grimm continued to exercise the functions of this philosophical diplomacy, till the gathering storm of the Revolution drove both ministers and philosophers from the territories of the new Republic. He then took refuge of course in the court of his master, where he resided till 1795; when Catharine of Russia, to whose shrine he had formerly made a pilgrimage from Paris, gave him the appointment of her minister at the court of Saxony—which he continued to hold till the end of the reign of the unfortunate Paul, when the partial loss of sight obliged him to withdraw altogether from business,
j and to return to the court of Saxe-Gotha, where he continued his studies in literature and the arts with unabated ardour, till he sunk at last under a load of years and infirmities in the end of 1807.—He was of an uncomely and grotesque appearance—with huge
'• projecting eyes ana discordant features, which he rendered still more hideous, by daubing them profusely with white and with red paint —according to the most approved costume of petits-maîtres, in the year 1748, when hu made his debut at Paris.
The book embraces a period of about twelve years only, from 1770 to 1782, with a gap for 1775 and part of 1776. It is said in the titlepage to be partly the work of Grimm, and partly that of Diderot,—but the contributions of the latter are few, and comparatively of little importance. It is written half in the style of a journal intended for the public, and half in that of private and confidential cor
respondence; and, notwithstanding the retrenchments which the editor boasts of having made in the manuscript, contains a vast miscellany of all sorts of intelligence ;—critiques upon all new publications, new operas, and new performers at the theatres;—accounts of all the meetings and elections at the academies,—and of the deaths and characters of all the eminent persons who demised in the period to which it extends;—copies of the epigrams, and editions of the scandalous stories that occupied the idle population of Paris during the same period—interspersed with various original compositions, and brief and pithy dissertations upon the general subjects that are suggested by such an enumeration. Of these, the accounts of the operas and the actors are (now) the most tedious,—the critical and biographical sketches the most lively,—and the general observations the most striking and important. The whole, however, is given with great vivacity and talent, and with a degree of freedom which trespasses occasionally upon the borders both of propriety and of good taste.
There is nothing indeed more exactly painted in these graphical volumes, than the character of M. Grimm himself ;—and the beauty of it is, that as there is nothing either natural or peculiar about it, it may stand for the character of most of the wits and philosophers he frequented. He liad more wit, perhaps, and more sound sense and information, than the greater part of the society in which he lived—But the leading traits belong to the whole class, and to all classes indeed, in similar situations, in every part of the world. Whenever there is a very large assemblage of persons who have no other occupation but to amuse themselves, there will infallibly be generated acuteness of intellect, refinement of manners, and good taste in conversation ;— and, with the same ceitainty, all profound thought, and all serious affection, will be generally discarded from their society. The multitude of persons and things that force themselves on the attention in such a scene, and the rapidity with which they succeed each other and pass away, prevent any one from making a deep or permanent impression; and the mind, having never been tasked to any course of application, and long habituated to this lively succession and variety of objects, comes at last to require the excitement of perpetual change, and to rind a multiplicity of friends as indispensable as a multiplicity of amusements. Thus the characteristics of large and polished society, come almost inevitably to be, wit and heartlessness—acuteness and perpetual derision. The same im)>atience of uniformity; and passion for variety, which gives so much grace to their conversation, by excluding tediousness and pertinacious wrangling, make them incapable of dwelling for many minutes on the feelings and concerns of any one individual: while the constant pursuit of little gratifications, and the weak dread of all uneasy sensations, render them equally averse from serious sympathy and deep thought. They speedily find
out the shortest and most pleasant way to all truths, to which a short and a pleasant way can readily be discovered; and then lay it down as a maxim, that no others are worth looking after—and in the same way, they do such petty kindnesses, and indulge such light sympathies, as do not put them to any trouble. or encroach at all on their amusement«,— while they make it a principle to wrap themselves up iu those amusements from the a*sault of all more engrossing or importúnale affections.
The turn for derision again arises naturally out of this order of things. When passion and enthusiasm, affection and serious occupation have once been banished by a short-sighted voluptuousness, the sense of ridicule it almost the only lively sensation that remain»; —and the envied life of those who have nothing to do but to enjoy themselves, would be utterly listless and without interest, if they were not allowed to laugh at each other Their quickness in perceiving ordinary lollies and illusions too, affords great encouragement to this laudable practice;—and as none ot them have so much passion or enthusiasm left, as to be deeply wounded by the shafte of derision, they fall lightly, and without rankling, on the lesser vanities, which suppîy in them those master springs of human acuca and feeling.
The whole style and tone of this publication affords the most striking illustration of these general remarks. From one end of it to the other, it is a display of the most complete heartlessness, and the most uninterrupted levity. It chronicles the deaths of half 'be author's acquaintance—and makes jests npon them all; and is much more serious in di»cussing the merits of an opera dancer, than in considering the evidence for the being o! i God, or the first foundations of morality. Nothing, indeed, can be more just or conclusive, than the remark that is forced from M Grimm himself, upon the utter careles?TM» and instant oblivion, that followed the death of one of the most distinguished, active, ar.J amiable members of his coterie;—"tant il est vrai que ce qui nous appelions la Soitdt, est ce qu'il y a de plus léger, de plus ingratet de plus frivole au monde!"
Holding this opinion very firmly оогИте», it will easily be believed that we are very fe from envying the brilliant persons who composed, or gave the tone to this exquisite « ciety ;—and while we have a due admiratior for the elegant pleasantry, correct taste. Mil gay acuteness, of which they furnish, porhay*. the only perfect models, we think it more de sirable. on the whole, to be the spectators than the possessors of those accomplishments* and would no more wish to buy them at tW price of our sober thinking, and settled affections, than we would buy the dexterity <» J fiddler, or a ropedancer, at the price of our personal respectability. Even in the days 01 youth and high spirits, there is no solid enjoyment in living altogether with people «'^ care nothing about us ; and when we b6?1". grow old and unamuseable, there «*"
so comfortless as to be surrounded with those who think of nothing but amusement. The spectacle, however, is gay and beautiful to those who look upon it with a srood-natnred sympathy, or indulgence; and naturally suggests reflections that may be interesting to the most serious. A judicious extractor, we have no doubt, might accommodate both classes of readers, from the runple magazine that lies before us.
The most figuring person in the work, and Irxl^ed of the age to which it belongs, was beyond all question Voltaire,—oi whom, and 'it whose character, it presents us with many very amusing traits. He receives no other name throughout the book, than "The Patriarch'1 of the Holy Philosophical Church, of which the authors, and the greater part of their friends, profese to be humble votaries and disciples. The infallibility of its chief, Ьлигетег. seems to have formed no part of the iTeeJ of this reformed religion; for, with all hi? admiration for the wit, and playfulness. and talent of the philosophic pontiff, nothing ran exceed the freedoms in which M. Grimm indulges, both as to his productions, and his character. All his poetry, he says, after Tancred. is clearly marked with the symptoms 'if approachimr dotage and decay; and his vie\rs of many important subjects he treats a» altogether erroneous, shallow, and contemptible. He is particularly offended with Irm for not adopting the decided atheism of the Systeme de la Nature, and for weakly stopping short at a kind of paltry deism. "The Patriarch," says he, "still sticks to his Rewiifrateur-Vcneeur, without whom he fancies :he world would go on very ill. He is resolute enough, I confess, for putting down the nd of knaves 'and bigots, but is not for parting with that of the virtuous and rational. He reasons upon all this, too, like a baby—a very vnart baby it must be owned—but a baby notwithstanding. He would be a little puzrled, I take it, if he were asked what was Ihe colour of his god of the virtuous and wise, ic. &c. He cannot conceive, he says, how mere motion, undirected by mtelligence,should "тег have produced such a world as we inhabit—and we verily believe him. Nobody слп conceive it—but it is a fact nevertheless; and we see it—which is nearly as good." We ¡rive this merely as a specimen of the H;*ciple'e irreverence towards his master; for nothing can be more contemptible than the fawning of M. Grimm in support of his own isolating opinions. He is more near being nicht, where he makes himself merry with ih» Patriarch's ignorance of natural philosophy. Every Achilles however, he adds, has ;i vulnerable hee!—and that of the hero of Ferner is his Physics.*
* This ie only true, however, with regnrd to natural tmtory and chemistry; for as lo the nobler P*rt of phyeice. which depends on science, hi» at'amments were equal perhaps to those of any of b« «ge and conntry, with the exception of D'Alembert. Even hi« astronomy, however, though by oo means " mince et rnccourtie." had a tendency K> confirm him in that paltry Deiam, for which he
M. Grimm, however, reveals worse infirmities than this in his great preceptor. There was a young Mademoiselle Raucour, it seems, who, though an actress, enjoyed an unblemished reputation. Voltaire, who had never seen her, chose one morning to write to the Maréchal de Richelieu, by whom she was patronized, that she was a notorious prostitute, and ready to be taken into keeping by any one who would offer for her. This imputation having been thoughtlessly communicated to the damsel herself, produced no little commotion; and upon Voltaire's being remonstrated with, he immediately retracted the whole story, which it seems was a piece of pure invention; and confessed, that the only thing he had to object to Madlle. Raucour was, that he had understood they had put off the representation of a new play of his, in order to gratify the public with her appearance in comedy;—"and this was enough," says M. Grimm, "to irritate a child of seventynine, against another child of seventeen, who came in the way of his gratification!"
A little after, he tells another story which is not only very disreputable to the Patriarch, but affordsa striking example of the monstrous evils that arise from religious intolerance, m a country where the whole population is not of the same communion. A Mons. de B. introduced himself into a protestant family at Montauban, and after some time, publicly married the only daughter of the house, in the church of her pastor. He lived several years with her, and had one daughter—dissipated her whole property—and at last deserted her, and married another woman at Paris—upon the pretence that his first union was not binding, the ceremony not having been performed by a Catholic priest. The Parliament ultimately allowed this plea; and farther directed, that the daughter should be taken from it» mother, and educated in the true faith in a convent. The transaction excited general indignation; and the legality of the sentence, and especially the last part of it, was very much disputed, both in the profession and out of it ;—when Voltaire, to the astonishment of all the world, thought fit to put forth a pamphlet in its defence! M. Grimm treats the whole matter with his usual coldness and pleasantry ;—and as a sort of apology for this extraordinary proceeding of his chief, very coolly observes, "The truth is, that for some time past, the Patriarch has been suspected, and indeed convicted, of the most abominable cowardice. He defied the old Parliament in his youth with signal courage and intrepidity; and now he cringes to the new one, and even condescends to be its panegyrist, from an absurd dread of being persecuted by it on the very brink of the tomb. "Ah! Seigneur Pat
is ao unmercifully rated by M. Grimm. We do not know many quartains in French poetry more beautiful than the following, which the Patriarch indited impromptu, one fine bummer evening—
"Tone ces vastes pnys d'Azur et de Lumière,
riarche!" he concludes, in the trae Parisian accent, "Horace was much more excusable for flattering Augustus, who had honoured him, though he destroyed the republic, than you are, for justifying, without any intelligible motive, a proceeding so utterly detestable, and upon which, if you had not courage to »peak as became you, you were not called upon to say any thing." It must be a comfort to the reader to learn, that immediately after this sentence, a M. Vanrobais, an old and most respectable gentleman, was chivalrous enough, at the age of seventy, to marry the deserted widow-, and to place her in a situation every way more respectable than that of which she had been so basely defrauded.
There is a great deal, in the first of these volumes, about the statue that was voted to Voltaire by his disciples in 1770.—Pigalle the sculptor was despatched to Ferney to model him, in spite of the opposition he affects to make in a letter to Madame Necker, in which he ver)- reasonably observes, that in order to be modelled, a man ought to have a face— but that age and sickness have so reduced him, that it is not easy to point out whereabouts his had been; that his eyes are sunk into pits three inches deep, and the small remnant of his teeth recently deserted; that his skin is like old parchment wrinkled over dry bones, and his legs and arms like dry spindles ;—in short, "qu'on n'a jamais sculpté un pauvre homme dans cet état." Phidias Pigalle, however, as he" calls him, goes upon hie errand, notwithstanding all these discouragements; and finds him, according to M. Grimm, in a state of great vivacity. "He skips up stairs," he assures me, "more nimbly than all his subscribers put together, and is as quick as lightning in running to shut doors, and open windows; but, with all this, he is тегу anxious to pass for a poor man in the last extremities; and would take it much amiss if he thought that any body had discovered the secret of his health and vigour." Some awkward person, indeed, it appears, has been complimenting him upon the occasion; for he writes me as follows :—" My dear friend—though Phidias Pigalle is the most virtuous of mortals, he calumniates me cruelly; I understand he goes about saying that I am quite well, and as sleek as a monk !— Such is the ungrateful return he makes for the pains I took to force my spirits for his amusement, and to puff up my buccinatory muscles, in order to look well in hi« eyes !— Jean Jacques, to be sure, is far more puffed up than I am; but it is with conceit—from Which I am free." In another letter he says, —" When the peasants in my village saw Pigalle laying out some of the instruments of his art, they flocked round us with great glee, and said. Ah! he is going to dissect him— how droll !—so one spectacle you see is just as good for some people as another."
The account which Pigalle himself gives of his mission, is extremely characteristic. For the first eight days, he could make nothing of hie patient,—he was so restless and fall of grimaces, starts, and gesticulations.
He promised every night, indeed, to give him a long sitting next day, and always Kept hn word;—but then, he could no more sit (till, than a child of three years old. He dictated letters all the time to his secretary; an.t in the mean time, kept blowing peas in the air, making pirouettes round his chamber, or indulging in other feats of activity, eoualjy fatal to the views of the artist. Poor Phidias was about to return to Paris in despair, writhou: having made the slightest progress in his design; when the conversation happening by good luck to turn upon Aaron's golden calf, and Pigalle having said that he did not thmk such a thing could possibly be modelled and cast in less than six months, the Patriarch was во pleased with him, that he submitted to any thing he thought proper all the rest 01 the day, and the model was completed that very evening.
There are a number of other anecdotes, extremely characteristic of the vivacity, Япpatience, and want of restraint which djstmguished this extraordinary person. One of the most amusing is that of the congé which he gave to the Abbé Coyer, who was kind enough to come to his castle at Femey. with the intention of paying a long visit. Th* second morning, however, the Patriarch interrupted him in the middle of a dull accourt of his travels, with this perplexing questioj. "Do you know, M. L'Abbé, in what you ilifM entirely from Don Quixotte?" The pool Abbé was unable to divine the precise point of distinction ; and the philosopher was pleated to add, "Why, you know the Don took »II the inns on his road for castles.—but it tppears to me that you take some castles for inns." The Abbé decamped without waiting for a further reckoning. He' behaved still worse to a M. de Barthe. whom he invited to come and read a play to him, and afterward? drove out of the house, by the yawns and frightful contortions with which he amused himself, during the whole of the pertorrcanee.
One of his happiest repartees is said to have been made to an Englishman, who had recently been on a visit to the celebrated Haller, in whose praise Voltaire enlarged with great warmth, extolling him as a great poet. a great naturalist, and a man of universa. attainments. The Englishman answered, that it was very handsome in M. De Voltaire to speak so well of Mr. Haller, inasmuch as he the said Mr. Haller, was by no means я> liberal to M. de Voltaire. "Ah!" raid the Patriarch, with an air of philosophic mdu! gence, « I dare say we are both of u» «•'.»' much mistaken."
On another occasion, a certain M. ¿e •' Ange, who valued himself on the graceful turn of his compliments, having come to w>' him, took his leave with thie studied allusion. to the diversity of his talents, "My visit day has only been to Homer—another топь ing I shall pay my respects to Sophocle« »г.'. Euripides—another to Tacitus—and anoffi to Lucian.» «Ah, Sir!" replied the Patriarch, «I am wretchedly old,—could you not