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geft, to accelerate his return to Ferney. The archbifhop of Paris wrote to the king for that purpose ; but Voltaire had friends at court, who, by artful representations of his age and infirmities, and also of his intention to return to his rural retreat, as soon as his strength and the season would permit him, warded off the blow, and prevented the issuing of the royal mandate.
Things were in this posture, when this frail object of philofophical adoration was seized with a spitting of blood. Tronchin, bis physician, represented to him the danger of his case, prescribed a regimen for his body and for his mind; advised him, as a friend, to employ the latter in matters of more consequence than dramatic representations, to mitigate bis impetuosity, to calm his passions, and to pass the few remaining moments of his life in tranquillity and repose. The counsel, says our Author, was wise; the patient was very unwilling to die; and yet the advice of the physician and the friend was treated, as usual, with pleasantry:'-The comedians, who were to act Irene, were sent for on Sunday the 22d of December.—Each actor received his part, which they all rehearsed in M. de Voltaire's presence ; and, as he was dissatisfied with the performance of almost every person, he made them repeat several times the same passages; he repeated them himself with a violent exertion of lungs, to let the bunglers right;, and being agitated, during the whole sitting, with succeisive fits of immoderate anger, a hemorrhage ensued; which was published in the Paris Journal, as dangerous, and even mortal. The clergy of the Romish church, who too often seek to make proselytes (as new props to their ecclesiastico-political system), thought they should appear with a triumphant aspect, if they could bring this old chieftain of infidelity, in a penitential posture, within the pale of the church. According. ly, when they heard he was so ill, they had several meetings at the archbishop's; and there it was resolved, to attempt his conversion, or, at least, to endeavour to make him perform some external act of religion, that might do credit to mothercburch. A certain abbé Gaulthier was employed (says our Author) to work the miracle of conversion, or to play the trick of obtaining the act above-mentioned ; nor did he act his part un. successfully :-he made his way, somehow or other, to the patient, represented himself to Voltaire as a person sent to him from God- and spoke to him with such a tone of confidence and superiority, as determined the dying poet to undergo the ceremony of confeffion. He also forced from him a confession of his faith, figned in due form; in which the apostle of infidelity declares his resolution to live and die in the Roman-catholic re. ligion; of which he makes a solemn profeffion, and retracts L14
were heighed at them, and the remotion
every thing that stands in opposition to it, in the writings he had published.'
This was but a solemn farce, as we learn from our Author ; and Voltaire was no sooner recovered from the emotion produced by the threats of the physician, and the remonstrances of the priest, than he laughed at them both. The Encyclopedists, however, were heinously offended at this solemn act of religion, and reproached him seriously with it, as contrary to the essential spirit of their party, which obliges its members to die hard. He, indeed, himself, says our Author, “ blushed at his weakness, and alleged for his excuse the pitiful apprehenfion of his body's being deprived of Christian burial. For some days he entertained the design of returning to Ferney, to hide his shame, but the fresh incense he received from his worshippers, and the congratulations that were presented to him on occasion of his recovery, effaced the remembrance of his infirmity; and the success of the first representation of his tragedy, restored him again to high spirits.'
The acting of this piece ( Irene) occupied the Public for many days before it was performed : every one was anxious to fecure a place : much grave deliberation was employed also in chusing a seat for the Author. Some were for placing him in an arm-chair upon the stage, that the Public might contemplate him at their case ;-others were for seating him in the Queen's box, behind her Majesty ;-others again thought he would fit with more propriety in the box of the Gentlemen of the Bed-chamber;--but the opinion of the physicians prevailed; and they absolutely ordered him to stay at home. -The audience was numerous and brilliant : all the royal family, except the King, were present :--the two first acts of the piece were warmly applauded; the three last froze the veins of box, pit, and gallery, though they contain, here and there, good thoughts, and lively expreisions. Our Author appreciates the merit of Irene, and places it among the indifferent tragedies of Voltaire. Flattery spoke another kind of language; meffengers were dispatched from the theatre, while the piece was acting, to inform the Author of its brilliant success; and when he heard that the pasiages, in which the clergy were stigmatised, met with peculiar applause, he thought himself indeninified for the mortifica. tions he had received in his penitential conferences with the Abbé Gaulthier. Thirty blue ribbons, and a deputation from the French academy, came to assure him of the interest they took in the applause with which his tragedy had been performed : and he was so enchanted with all these splendid tokens of approbation, which were exaggerated to conceal from him
the , the different impressions which had been made upon the audience by the last acts of his piece, that he rose up in his bed, and began to prepare a new tragedy (called Agathocles) for the stage.
All this was no more than a prelude to the most extraordinary theatrical festival, that perhaps ever was, or will be invented, and which exhibited a most singular mixture of the great and the little -- che affe&ting and the ridiculous, the elegant and the difgusling, that can be well conceived.- This festival was the coronation of the poet; the circumstances of which have been amply enumerated in almost all the European news-papers, and which drew many tears, and much laughter, from a prodigious multitude of spectators.-It was, upon the whole, a splendid mountebank-business; beneath the dignity of a man of genius, especially when we consider it as performed in his presence. Had it been exhibited after the death of the poet, in honour of his memory, as one of the principal ornaments of the French Parnassus,--this circumstance would have covered it from the reproach of absurdity and bad taste.
Several ridiculous scenes were mingled with these testimonies of applause:-a mountebank sold noftrums to the populace, which he put off in the name of the idol of the day :-the Abbe Beauregard preached against him at Versailles, with the spirit and virulence of an inquisitor:- he was received a member of the society of Free-Masons-visited the ladies, was present at the meetings of the French academy, and undertook a large part (even the whole letter A,) in the revision of the Dictionary of the French Language, published by that society.
All these objects of study, ambition, and pleasure, extinguished the feeble remains of life in this singular man. He lost his feep, contracted a strangury, took too large a portion of a soporific dofe, that had been sent him by the Marechal de Richlieu, fell into a sleep, which lasted thirty-six hours, awaked, called the Marechal, his brother Cain, wrote a few lines to M. de Lally, to testify his pleasure at the justice done to the memory of his father, and (while he was saying to the Curate of St. Sulpice, who was assailing him with religious questions and remonftrances, Mr. Curate! pray let me die in peace) he expired.---The clergy, in a scandalous manner, refuted him burial. By the means, however, of his nephew, the Abbe Mignot, he was interred, by a stratagem, in the Abbey of Scellieres in Cham, pagne. The French academy asked leave to perform a funeral service, for the repose of his soul : but their request was rendere ed fruitless by the clergy, who thought themselves dispensed from contributing to the repose of a man, after his death, who had been always disturbing their tranquillity during his life. How glorious their revenge!
· Art, ART. VIII. . Storia della Letteratura Italiana, &c.-i, e. An History of Italian
Literature. By JEROME TIRABOSCHI, Librarian to the Duke of Modepa. and Professor in the University of that City, Vol. VII. containing the Period that begins with the Year 1500, and ends with 16co. Part I. 460. Modena. 1777. . ' IN this first part of the seventh volume, the Author sets out,
with an interesting account of the state of Italy in the fixteenth century. It is very remarkable, that it was amidit the tumults and desolations of war, occasioned by the ambition of thole monarchs who disputed some of the richest provinces of Italy, that literature rose to the highest pitch of improvement and lustre in that country. This fact is illustrated in the first chapter of the first book. In the second, we have an account of the liberality and munificence of the Italian princes, and Roman pontiffs, in the encouragement of letters. Our Author paffes slightly over the pontificate of Julius I. who was only a warrior, but dwells with pleasure on the auspicious adminiftration oi Leo X. the restorer of letters, the Augustus of modern Italy, whom a crown would have become better than a mitre, and whose memory will be dear to the lovers of the arts and sciences, in all ages. The merits of the succeeding pontiffs are here appreciated with a decent freedom, and with a liberal spirit. Among the sovereign.princes, who are mentioned as the protectors of learning, the houses of Medicis and Est shine forth with a surpaling lustre. The Gonzagues, the Dukes of Urbing, and some of the Dukes of Savoy, make also an honourable appearance in this list.
In the third chapter, the Author treats of the universities and public schools, erected at Bologna, Padua, Pavia, Turin, Rome, Macerata, Fermo, &c. in the sixteenth century, and of the wise regulations made by the council of Trent for the advancement of learning; that, more especially, by which the bifhops were obliged to found in their dioceses, seminaries for the instruction of young ecclefiaftics. The three following chapters contain an account of the academies, libraries, and collections of antiquities, which contributed to the improvement of literature and science during this period; as allo, of the travellers, whose discoveries have transmitted their names with honour to posterity.
This first part contains also two chapters of the second book; the first, relative to theology and ecclesiastical sciences; the fecond, to philosophy and mathematics. In this latter, Ms. Tiraboschi takes notice of the advantages which philosophy derived from che progress of literature, and relates several particularities of Poinponazzi, the famous Peripatetician of
Mantua, that were unknown to the authors who, before him, gave accounts of the life and writings of that philosopher. The writers also in architecture, music, morals, and politics, are mentioned in this chapter. A new edition, in octavo, of this instructive work, is publishing at Florence, of which twelve volumes, which comprehend the first five of the quarto edition, have already appeared.
Ar t. IX. Memoires de Litterature tirés des Registres de l'Academie Royale des In.
Jcriptions et Bulles Lettres, &c. i. e. Memoirs of Literasure, taken from the Registers of the Royal Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Letters, from 1770 60 1772, inclusive. 410. Vol. XXXIX.
Paris. 1777 First Memoir concerning the Moral Part of the History of Heroe
datus. By M. DE ROCHEFORT. Second Memoir, Herodotus compared with Homer. By the same. , TN the first of these memoirs, M. DE ROCHEFORT endeavours
to ihew, that Herodotus was led to imitate Homer, not only by his natural taste, and the peculiar cast of his genius, but also by the circumstances of the time in which he wrote, and by the taste and spirit of the nation to which he belonged. To render this palpable, he makes some previous reflexions on the nature of historical composition in the time of Herodotus,-on the great esteem in which the writings of Homer were then held, on the political situation of Greece, and the state of poetry and philosophy at that period, --as also on the purposes to which they were made subservient. Poetry, says our Academician, was, for a long time, the only instrument employed to keep on record the most interesting events, and maxims, of a religious and policical nature. The Greeks had no other historians than the poers; but the poets, perceiving the pasion of this people for the marvellous, availed themselves of this weakness, and imposed fable and fiction upon their credulity. This abuse, grown excessive, produced a reformation ; but, while they avoided one extreme, they fell into another. History, deprived of the charms of poetry, became dry and insipid, and was nothing more than a succinct chronicle of such events as were deemned of the greatest importance. This transicion, however, from historical poetry to unadorned and compendious narration, was neither lo fudden nor rapid, as to exhibit no intermediate steps and gradations. Cadmus, Pherecydes, and others, retrenched the rithmus in their histories, but still animated their narration with poetical expression. Herodotus, Ctesias, and Hellanicus, were looked upon as the most fabulous among the historians; from whence our Author concludes, that history, in their time, was still, more or less, blended with poetry, and differed considerably from what