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Solomon, the German, wrote a most ele, physician. We have remaining but two gant dictionary of the Latin tongue, still volumes folio of his philological perpreserved in the university of Louvain : ' formances. However, the historian who Pantaleon, in the lives of his illustrious prefixes the life of the author to his work countrymen, speaks of it in the warmest says that he wrote many more, as he kept strains of rapture. Dictionary writing on writing during the course of a long was at that time much in fashion.

life. Constantine Porphyrogeneta was a man Lambertus published an universal hisuniversally skilled in the sciences. His tory about this time, which has been tracts on the administration of an empire, printed at Frankfort in folio. An universal on tactics, and on laws, were published history in one folio! If he had consulted some years since at Leyden. His court- with his bookseller, he would have spun for he was emperor of the East-was it out to ten at least; but Lambertus might resorted to by the learned from all parts have had too much modesty. of the world.

By this time the reader perceives the Luitprandus was a most voluminous spirit of learning which at that time prehistorian, and particularly famous for the vailed. The ignorance of the age was not history of his own times. The compli- i owing to a dislike of knowledge, but a ments paid him as a writer are said to false standard of taste was erected, and a exceed even his own voluminous produc- wrong direction given to philosophical tions. I cannot pass over one of a later inquiry. It was the fashion of the day to date made him by a German divine : write dictionaries, commentaries, and com“Luitprandus nunquam Luitprando dis- pilations, and to evaporate in a folio the similis.”

spirit that could scarcely have sufficed for Alfric composed several grammars and an epigram. The most barbarous times dictionaries still preserved among the had. men of learning, if commentators, curious.

compilers, polemic divines, and intricate Pope Sylvester the Second wrote a metaphysicians deserved the title. treatise on the sphere, on arithmetic and I have mentioned but a very incongeometry, published some years since at siderable number of the writers in this Paris.

age of obscurity. The multiplicity of their Michael Psellus lived in this age, whose publications will at least equal those of books on the sciences, I will not scruple any similar period of the most polite antito assert, contain more learning than those quity. As therefore, the writers of those of any one of the earlier ages. His eru- times are almost entirely forgotten, we dition was indeed amazing ; and he was may infer that the number of publications as voluminous as he was learned. The alone will never secure any age whatsoever character given him by Allatius has, per- from oblivion. Nor can printing, contrary haps, more truth in than will be to what Mr. Beumelle has remarked, pregranted by those who have seen none of vent literary decline for the future, since his productions. There was, says he, no it only increases the number of books, science with which he was unacquainted, without advancing their intrinsic merit. none which he did not write something upon, and none which he did not leave

CHAPTER III. better than he found it. To mention Of the present State of Polite Learning in his works would be endless. His com

Italy. mentaries on Aristotle alone amount to | FROM ancient we are now come to mothree folios.

dern times, and, in running over Europe, Bertholdus Teutonicus, a very volumi- we shall find that wherever learning has nous historian, was a politician, and wrote been cultivated, it has flourished by the against the government under which he same advantages as in Greece and Rome; lived; but most of his writings, though and that, wherever it has declined, it sinks not all, are lost.

by the same causes of decay. Constantius Afer was a philosopher and Dante, the poet of Italy, who wrote in

the thirteenth century, was the first who age are not sufficient to revive the splenattempted to bring learning from the dour of decaying genius; nor should we cloister into the community, and paint consider them as the standard by which human nature in a language adapted to to characterise a nation. Our measures modern manners. He addressed a bar- of literary reputation must be taken rather barous people in a method suited to their from that numerous class of men who, apprehensions; united purgatory and the placed above the vulgar, are yet beneath river Styx, St. Peter and Virgil, heaven the great, and who confer fame on others and hell, together, and shows a strange without receiving any portion of it themmixture of good sense and absurdity. The selves. truth is, he owes most of his reputation In Italy, then, we shall nowhere find a to the obscurity of the times in which he stronger passion for the arts of taste, yet lived. As in the land of Benin a man no country making more feeble efforts to may pass for a prodigy of parts who can promote either. The Virtuosi and Filosofi read, so in an age of barbarity a small seem to have divided the Encyclopedia degree of excellence ensures success. But between each other. Both inviolably it was great merit in him to have lifted attached to their respective pursuits; and, up the standard of nature, in spite of all from an opposition of character, each the opposition and the persecution he holding the other in the most sovereign received from contemporary criticism. To contempt. The Virtuosi, professed critics this standard every succeeding genius re- of beauty in the works of art, judge of sorted; the germ of every art and science medals by the smell, and pictures by feel. began to unfold; and to imitate nature ing: in statuary, hang over a fragment was found to be the surest way of imitating with the most ardent gaze of admiration; antiquity. In a century or two after, mo- though wanting the head and the other dern Italy might justly boast of rivalling extremities, if dug from a ruin, the Torso ancient Rome; equal in some branches of becomes inestimable. An unintelligible polite learning, and not far surpassed in monument of Etruscan barbarity cannot others.

be sufficiently prized; and anything from They soon, however, fell from emulating Herculaneum excites rapture. When the the wonders of antiquity into simple intellectual taste is thus decayed, its admiration. As if the word had been relishes become false, and, like that of given, when Vida and Tasso wrote on sense, nothing will satisfy but what is best the arts of poetry, the whole swarm of suited to feed the disease. critics was up.

The Speronis of the age Poetry is no longer among them an imiattempted to be awkwardly merry; and tation of what we see, but of what a visionthe Virtuosi and the Nascotti sat upon the ary might wish. The zephyr breathes merits of every contemporary performance. the most exquisite perfume, the trees After the age of Clement VII. the Italians wear eternal verdure; fawns, and dryads, seemed to think that there was more merit and hamadryads, stand ready to fan the in praising or censuring well, than in sultry shepherdess, who has forgot, indeed, writing well ; almost every subsequent the prettiness with which Guarini's shepperformance since their time being de- herdesses have been reproached, but is so signed rather to show the excellence of simple and innocent as often to have no the critic's taste than his genius. One or meaning. Happy country, where the two poets, indeed, seem at present born pastoral age begins to revive !—where the to redeem the honour of their country. wits even of Rome are united into a rural Metastasio has restored nature in all her group of nymphs and swains, under the simplicity, and Maffei is the first that has appellation of modern Arcadians !- where introduced a tragedy among his country in the midst of porticoes, processions, and men without a love-plot. Perhaps the cavalcades, abbés turned shepherds, and Samson of Milton and the Athalia of shepherdesses without sheep indulge their Racine might have been his guides in innocent divertimenti ! such an attempt. But two poets in an The Filosofi are entirely different from the former. As those pretend to have got think through a page. Never fatigued their knowledge from conversing with themselves, they think the reader can the living and polite, so these boast of never be weary; so they drone on, saying having theirs from books and study. Bred all that can be said on the subject, not up all their lives in colleges, they have selecting what may be advanced to the there learned to think in track, servilely purpose. Were angels to write books, to follow the leader of their sect, and only they would never write folios. to adopt such opinions as their universities, But let the Germans have their due: if or the inquisition, are pleased to allow. they are dull, no nation alive assumes a By these means they are behind the rest more laudable solemnity, or better underof Europe in several modern improve stands all the decorums of stupidity. Let ments; afraid to think for themselves; and the discourse of a professor run on ever so their universities seldom admit opinions heavily, it cannot be irksome to his dozing as true, till universally received among pupils, who frequently lend him sympathe rest of mankind. In short, were I to thetic nods of approbation. I have somepersonize my ideas of learning in this times attended their disputes at graduation. country, I would represent it in the tawdry On this occasion they often dispense with habits of the stage, or else in the more their gravity, and seem really all alive. homely guise of bearded school philosophy. The disputes are managed between the

followers of Cartesius, whose exploded CHAPTER IV.

system they continue to call the new phi. Of Polite Learning in Germany. losophy, and those of Aristotle. Though If we examine the state of learning in both parties are in the wrong, they argue Germany, we shall find that the Germans with an obstinacy worthy the cause of early discovered a passion for polite lite- truth; Nego, Probo, and Distinguo grow rature; but unhappily, like conquerors loud; the disputants become warm, the who, invading the dominions of others, moderator cannot be heard, the audience leave their own to desolation, instead of take part in the debate, till at last the studying the German tongue, they continue whole hall buzzes with sophistry and to write in Latin. Thus, while they cultivated an obsolete language, and vainly There are, it is true, several societies in laboured to apply it to modern manners, this country which are chiefly calculated they neglected their own.

to promote knowledge. His late majesty, At the same time, also, they began at as Elector of Hanover, has established one the wrong end, -I mean by being commen- at Gottingen, at an expense of not less tators; and though they have given many than a hundred thousand pounds. This instances of their industry, they have university has already pickled monsters, scarcely afforded any of genius. If criti. and dissected live puppies without number. cism could have improved the taste of a Their transactions have been published in people, the Germans would have been the the learned world at proper intervals most polite nation alive.

We shall no- since their institution, and will, it is hoped, where behold the learried wear a more one day give them just reputation. But important appearance than here; nowhere had the fourth part of the immense sum more dignified with professorships, or above mentioned been given in proper dressed out in the fopperies of scholastic rewards to genius, in some neighbouring finery. However, they seem to earn all countries, it would have rendered the the honour of this kind which they enjoy. name of the donor immortal, and added Their assiduity is unparalleled and did to the real interests of society. they employ half those hours on study Yet it ought to be observed, that, of which they bestow on reading, we might late, learning has been patronized here by be induced to pity as well as praise their a prince who, in the humblest station, painful pre-eminence. But, guilty of a would have been the first of mankind. The fault too common to great readers, they society established by the King of Prussia write through volumes, while they do not at Berlin is one of the finest literary insti.

error.

tutions that any age or nation has produced. had it widened the basis of its institution, This academy comprehends all the sciences though they might not have propagated * under four different classes; and although more discoveries, they would probably the object of each is difterent, and admits have delivered them in a more pleasing of being separately treated, yet these classes and compendious form. They would have mutually influence the progress of each been free from the contempt of the illother, and concur in the same general natured and the raillery of the wit, for design. Experimental philosophy, mathe- which, even candour must allow, there is matics, metaphysics, and polite literature, but too much foundation. But the Berlin are here carried on together. The members academy is subject to none of all these are not collected from among the students inconveniences; but every one of its indiof some obscure seminary or the wits of a viduals is in a capacity of deriving more metropolis, but chosen from all the literati from the common stock than he contriof Europe, supported by the bounty, and butes to it, while each academician serves ornamented by the productions, of their as a check upon the rest of his fellows. royal founder. We can easily discern how Yet very probably even this fine instimuch such an institution excels any other tution will soon decay. As it rose, so it now subsisting. One fundamental error will decline with its great encourager. among societies of this kind is their addict- The society, if I may so speak, is artificially ing themselves to one branch of science, supported. The introduction of foreigners or some particular part of polite learning. of learning was right; but in adopting a Thus, in Germany, there are nowhere so foreign language also—I mean the French many establishments of this nature; but -in which all the transactions are to be as they generally profess the promotion published, and questions debated, in this of natural or medical knowledge, he who there was an error. As I have already reads their Acta will only find an obscure hinted, the language of the natives of farago of experiment, most frequently ter- every country should be also the language minated by no resulting phenomena. To of its polite learning. To figure in polite make experiments is, I own, the only learning, every country should make their way to promote natural knowledge ; but own language from their own manners ; to treasure up every unsuccessful inquiry nor will they ever succeed by introducing into nature, or to communicate every ex- that of another, which has been formed periment without conclusion, is not to from manners which are different. Besides, promote science, but to oppress it. Had any academy composed of foreigners must the members of these societies enlarged still be recruited from abroad, unless all their plans, and taken in art as well as the natives of the country to which it science, one part of knowledge would have belongs are in a capacity of becoming repressed any faulty luxuriance in the candidates for its honours or rewards. other, and all would have materially as- While France, therefore, continues to supsisted each other's promotion. Besides, ply Berlin, polite learning will flourish : the society which, with a contempt of all but when royal favour is withdrawn, learncollateral assistance, admits of members ing will return to its natural country. skilled in one science only, whatever their diligence or labour might be, will lose

CHAPTER V. much time in the discovery of such truths Of Polite Learning in Holland and some other as are well known already to the learned

Countries of Europe. in a different line; consequently, their HOLLAND, at first view, appears to have progress must be slow in gaining a proper some pretensions to polite learning. It eminence from which to view their subject, may be regarded as the great emporium and their strength will be exhausted in not less of literature than of every other attaining the station whence they should commodity. Here, though destitute of what have set out. With regard to the Royal may be properly called a language of Society of London, the greatest, and per- their own, all the languages are understood, haps the oldest institution of the kind, cultivated, and spoken. All useful inven. tions in arts, and new discoveries in science, school divinity should hold its ground there are published here almost as soon as at for nearly six hundred years. The reason the places which first produced them. Its must be, that philosophical opinions, which individuals have the same faults, however, are otherwise transient, acquire stability with the Germans, of making more use of in proportion as they are connected with their memory than their judgment. The the laws of the country; and philosophy chief employment of their literati is to and law have nowhere been so closely criticise or answer the new performance united as here. which appear elsewhere.

Sweden has of late made some attempts A dearth of wit in France or England in polite learning in its own language. naturally produces a scarcity in Holland. Count Tessin's instructions to the prince, What Ovid says of Echo may be applied his pupil, are no bad beginning. If the here: "Nec loqui prius ipsa didicit nec Muses can fix their residence so far northreticere loquenti.” They wait till some ward, perhaps no country bids so fair for thing new comes out from others; exa- their reception, They have, I am told, a mine its merits, and reject it, or make it language rude but energetic; if so, it will reverberate through the rest of Europe. bear a polish. They have also a jealous

After all, I know not whether they sense of liberty, and that strength of thinkshould be allowed any national character ing peculiar to northern climates, without for polite learning. All their taste is de- its attendant ferocity. They will certainly rived to them from neighbouring nations, in time produce somewhat great, if their and that in a language not their own. intestine divisions do not unhappily preThey somewhat resemble their brokers, vent them. who trade for immense sums without The history of polite learning in Den. having any capital.

mark may be comprised in the life of The other countries of Europe may be one single man: it rose and fell with the considered as immersed in ignorance, or late famous Baron Holberg. This was, making but feeble efforts to rise. Spain perhaps, one of the most extraordinary has long fallen from amazing Europe with personages that has done honour to the her wit, to amusing them with the greatness present century. His being the son of a of her catholic credulity. Rome considers private sentinel did not abate the ardour her as the most favourite of all her children, of his ambition, for he learned to read and school divinity still reigns there in tri- though without a master. Upon the death umph. In spite of all attempts of the Mar- of his father, being left entirely destitute, quis D'Ensenada, who saw with regret the he was involved in all that distress which barbarity of his countrymen, and bravely is common among the poor, and of which offered to oppose it by introducing new the great have scarcely any idea. How. systems of learning, and suppressing the ever, though only a boy of nine years old, seminaries of monastic ignorance--in spite he still persisted in pursuing his studies, of the ingenuity of Padre Feio, whose travelled about from school to school, and book of vulgar errors so finely exposes begged his learning and his bread. When the monkish stupidity of the times, at the age of seventeen, instead of apply. the religious have prevailed. Ensenada ing himself to any of the lower occupations, has been banished, and now lives in exile. which seem best adapted to such circumFeio has incurred the hatred and contempt stances, he was resolved to travel for of every bigot whose errors he has at improvement from Norway, the place of tempted to oppose, and feels, no doubt, the his birth, to Copenhagen, the capital city unremitting displeasure of the priesthood. of Denmark. He lived there by teach. Persecution is a tribute the great must ing French, at the same time avoiding ever pay for pre-eminence.

no opportunity of improvement that his It is a little extraordinary, however, scanty funds could permit. But his ambihow Spain, whose genius is naturally tion was not to be restrained, or his thirst fine, should be so much behind the rest of knowledge satisfied, until he had seen of Europe in this particular; or why the world. Without money, recommen

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