« PreviousContinue »
tance with him in England, we think our readers would be pleased to meet with still farther details, though of a light nature, of our great countryman :
There took place at this time a great void in our society at Auteuil, by the departure of Franklin, who returned to America. He had lived at Passy, and the communication between Passy and Auteuil was direct. We, Madame Helvétius, Cabanis, the Abbé de la Roche, and myself, used to dine with him once a week. He also came to dine very frequently at Auteuil, and our meetings were very gay. For one of these dinners on some anniversary of his birth day, or of some fête for American liberty, I wrote the following song:
"Que l'histoire sur l'airain
Le verre en main
En politique il est grand;
Tel est notre Benjamin.
Comme un aigle audacieux,
De l'habile Benjamin.
Par Louis et Benjamin.
On ne combattit jamais
Du projet de Benjamin.
L'Anglais sans humanité,
De leur père Benjamin.
Si vous voyez nos héros
Ce n'est pas mon sentiment
Au dire de Benjamin
Ces Anglais sont grands esprits
On les voit assez souvent
Faute de vin,
Comme le croit Benjamin ?
Puissions-nous dompter sur mer
La santé de Benjamin.
Franklin was very fond of Scotch songs, and often remembered the powerful and gentle emotions he had received from them. He related to us, that in travelling in America he met, beyond the Alleghany mountains, with the habitation of a Scotsman, living far from society, on account of the loss of his fortune, with his wife, who had been handsome, and a daughter of 15 or 16 years old; and that in a fine evening, seated in front of their door, the woman sung the Scotch air, "so merry as we have been," in so soft and touching a manner, that he melted into tears, and that this impression was still vivid in his mind after thirty years. His manners were delightful; perfect good humor and simplicity, an uprightness of mind that appeared in the smallest occurrences, and above all, a gentle serenity, which was easily excited to gaiety. Such was the society of this great man, who has placed his country in the rank of independent nations, and made one of the most important discoveries of the age.
He did not speak long in succession, excepting in relating anecdotes, a talent in which he excelled, and which he liked very
much in others. His stories had always a philosophical object. Many of them had the form of apologues, which he had himself imagined, or which when invented by others, he had applied with wonderful skill.'
In 1788, the Abbé Morellet succeeded to an excellent benefice, the priory of Thimer, of about fifteen thousand livres income. He soon established himself and family there. But at this time the revolution began to appear, and the assembly of the notables took place. Morellet wrote one or two tracts on the form to be given to the states general, and was, at this time, like Necker and many others, in favor of doubling the Tiers Etat, from the fear that the people would not obtain their rights against the joint influence of the nobility and clergy. His opinion was soon changed, and in the year following he speaks of the same class thus: 'I then knew that the people was about to become the tyrant of every one, who had any thing to lose, of all authority, of all discipline, of the troops, the assembly and the king, and that we were to expect the horrors that have always accompanied a similar domination. I confess that from that moment I was seized with fear at the sight of this immense power, till then disarmed, but which was beginning to feel its strength, and preparing to put it forth to the utmost.' In 1790 he lost his residence at Thimer, which was sold by the national assembly, with the other goods of the church. This was followed by the equally unpleasant occurrence of the rupture of his friendship with Madame Helvétius, which had lasted thirty years. The other inmates of her house were democrats; the Abbé had lost every thing by the revolution, and they could no longer live in harmony. He continued to publish from time to time short political works adapted to the occasions which presented themselves. The academy was soon after suppressed, and Morellet, who had just been chosen director, employed himself in secreting the portraits and removing the papers of the institution. He had been allowed a liquidation of his claims, by the national assembly. To obtain payment of this, it was however necessary to procure a certificate of civisme. These certificates were granted by the committee of public safety in each section, to be subject to examination for approval at the hotel de ville by the general council. He did not know at the time of his application to his section, that they were confirmed with some difficulty, and that their rejection was usually followed by an immediate ar
rest. He attended several times without success at the hotel de ville. Descriptions of the proceedings in this body and the national convention are common. On one occasion when Morellet was there, the proces-verbal of the last meeting was read. One article was a resolution of the joy of the patriots at the arrest of Bailly, who was denominated an enemy of the people,' and whose execution was ordered in anticipation of his trial. Another article decreed that thereafter no pretty women should be allowed to present requests at the mayor's office to obtain the liberty of aristocrats. One of the clerks, interested perhaps in the abuse, undertook to represent the impracticability of executing the resolution, that the office was necessarily open to all women, old or young, ugly or pretty, for the payment of taxes, the sale of the domains, &c. But his representation had no effect, and it was concluded that no pretty woman was afterwards to present herself at the mayor's office, which would evidently operate as an universal prohibition. Then entered five sections, who came to present their contingent of young recruits from eighteen to twenty-five. These passed through the saloon always to the beat of drums, and sometimes. with full martial music. After they had each sworn to exterminate tyrants and cement the edifice of liberty with their blood the president in the bonnet rouge gave out the Marseilles hymn, with ça ira, which were both sung after each troop passed. This manner of performing the public business was in general very agreeable to the spectators, though occasionally it drew forth the remark, mais c'est dróle de passer comme ça tout le tems de leur assemblée à chanter; est-ce qu'ils sont là pour ça?' The form of obtaining the certificate, was for the president, on the name of the applicant's being called out, to inquire, is there any one who knows the citizen and answers for his civisme? If no person answered, his request was passed over; if any of the members said, 'I know the citizen, and answer for him,' it was granted. On Morellet's coming forward, no one answered for him, and the president said, 'I hear it whispered to me, that the citizen is suspected of incivisme.' As soon as the president had uttered these words, a member arose and opposed granting the certificate to Morellet, on the ground that he had defended the cause of despotism fifteen or sixteen years before. This accusation being strenuously denied by our author, a committee was nominated to examine his works and decide on their civisme. On repairing at New Series, No. 12.
ART. XVI.-A translation of the first book of Ovid's T in heroic English verse, with the original text. By F Arden, Counsellor at Law. New York, 1821.
WHATAVER may be thought of the merits of this au poetry, the candor of his preface should certainly secure from illnatured criticism. The following exposition o object to which his efforts were principally directed, will terially assist the reader in forming an impartial and thor judgment of his success.
The present essay claims to be no more than an experim effort, in which the translator has so markedly preferred the w and order of his text to less restrained attempts at imitative gance, that in no instance has he dropped expressive terms of original, or presumed to vary from its manner, unless the ge of our language, or some metrical obstacle, seemed to require liberty. He is not conscious, however, of needing much in gence either for what he has omitted, or may in any way ventured to change.
A course so straightened not only diminishes opportunities ornamental display, but renders the display itself proportiona difficult; the reader is therefore cautioned against anticipati of high poetical beauties, and intreated to rest satisfied with a gree of smoothness in the composition, exceeding, perhaps, w its alleged closeness might have prepared him to expect.
If it be asked, why this has not been executed in greater co formity to the prevailing style of verse translation? I answ that an attempt to render a Latin Poem such as it would appe if originally composed in English, seems, to my apprehensio rather calculated to cover the freedoms of its translator, than su ceptible of attainment; that my intent was not to exhibit Ovid i the folds of paraphrastic drapery, but to convey what he wrote and that I was particularly desirous to learn how my manner executing this intent would be received.
I will not attempt to deprecate severity of criticism, by enu merating the disadvantages under which my little work was com pleted, and yet these were perhaps as great as have attended the presentation of any ancient classic in modern language; my bes excuse is in the fidelity of the version; and I have only to re quest, that the critical reader will bear in mind the goal at which I purposed to arrive, and by comparing my lines with the original, ascertain how nearly I have approached it.'
Modest as these promises are, it is a high as well as just praise, to say that they are amply fulfilled. guages generally studied in this country or
Of all the lanin England, the