Images de page

firmities of the body often affect the understanding. I repeat it to thee again, Gil Blas, as soon as thou shalt judge mine in the least impaired, be sure to give me notice. And be not afraid of speaking freely and sincerely, for I shall receive thy advice as a mark of thy affection.

Gil B. Your grace may always depend upon my fídělity.

Arch. I know thy sincerity, Gil Blas; and now tell me plainly, hast thou not heard the people make some remarks upon my late homilies?

Gil B. Your homilies have always been admired, but it seems to me that the last did not appear to have had so powerful an effect upon the audience as former ones.

Arch. How, sir, has it met with any Aristarchus ?

Gil B. No, sir, by no means, such works as yours are not to be criticised; everybody is charmed with them. Nevertheless, since you have laid your injunctions upon me to be free and sincere, I will take the liberty to tell you that your last discourse, in my judgment, has not altogether the energy of your other performances. Did you not think so, sir, yourself?

Arch. So, then, Mr. Gil Blas, this piece is not to your taste? Gil B. I don't say so, sir: I think it excellent, although a little inferior to your other works.

Arch. I understand you; you think I flag, don't you? Come, be plain; you believe it is time for me to think of retiring.

Gil B. I should not have been so bold as to speak so freely, if your grace had not commanded me; I do no more, therefore, than obey you; and I most humbly beg that you will not be offended at my freedom.

Arch. God forbid! God forbid that I should find fault with it. I don't at all take it ill that you should speak your sentiments, it is your sentiment itself, only, that I find bad. I have been most egregiously deceived in your narrow understanding.

Gil B. Your grace will pardon me for obeying

Arch. Say no more, my child, you are yet too raw to make proper distinctions. Be it known to you, I never composed a better homily than that which you disapprove; for, my genius, thank Heaven, hath, as yet, lost nothing of its vigor: henceforth

Aris tar'chus was a celebrated grammarian of Samos. He was famous for his critical powers; and he

revised the poems of Homer with such severity, that, ever after, all severe critics were called Aristarchi.

I will make a better choice of a confidant. Go! go, Mr. Gil Blas, and tell my treasurer to give you a hundred ducats, and may Heaven conduct you with that sum. Adieu, Mr. Gil Blas! I wish you all manner of prosperity, with a little more taste.

LE SAGE. ALAIN LE SAGE, a French novelist and dramatist, was born in 1668. In 1692, after having studied at the Jesuit College of Vannes, he came to Paris, where he was admitted as an advocate, but soon betook himself exclusively to literature. Few of his plays were successful; and for many years his career was very obscure. Entering on the study of Spanish literature, he used models from that language for his comic novels, some of which are among the liveliest and wittiest of their class. His most celebrated work is "Gil Blas," from which the above is taken. He died at Boulogne, in 1747.




HE poëm was at length published. Alas, who that knows the heart of an author-of an aspiring one-will need be told what were the feelings of Maldura, when day after day, week after week passed on, and still no tidings of his book. To think it had failed, was wormwood to his soul. "No, that was impossible." Still the suspense, the uncertainty of its fate were insupportable. At last, to relieve his distress, he fastened the blame on his unfortunate publisher; though how he was in fault he knew not. Full of this thought, he was just sallying forth to vent his spleen on him, when his servant announced the Count Piccini.'

2. "Now," thought Maldura, "I shall hear my fate:" and he was not mistaken; for the Count was a kind of talking gazette. The poëm was soon introduced, and Piccini rattled on with all he had heard of it. He had lately been piqued' by Maldura, and cared not to spare him. After a few hollow professions of regard, and a careless remark about the pain it gave him to repeat unpleasant things, Piccini proceeded to pour them out one upon another with ruthless volubility. Then, stopping as if to take breath, he continued, "I see you are surprised at all this; but indeed, my friend, I can not help thinking it principally owing to your not having suppressed your name; for your high reputation, it seems, has raised such extravagant expectations as none but a first-rate genius could satisfy."

1 Piccini, (pèt cho' ne).

'Piqued, (pekt), offended.

3. "By which," observed Maldura, "I am to conclude that my work has failed? "Why, no-not exactly that; it has only not been praised--that is, I mean in the way you might have wished. But do not be depressed; there's no knowing but the tide may yet turn in your favor." "Then I suppose the book is hardly as yet known?" "I beg your pardon-quite the contrary. When your friend the Marquis introduced it at his last conversazione every one present seemed quite au fait on it, at least they all talked as if they had read it."

4. Maldura bit his lips. "Pray, who were the company?" "Oh, all your friends, I assure you: Guattani, Martello, Pessuti, the mathematician, Alfieri, Benuci, the Venetian Castelli, and the old Ferrarese Carnesecchi: these were the principal, but there were twenty others who had each something to say." Maldura could not but perceive the malice of this enumeration; but he checked his rising choler. "Well," said he, "if I understand you, there was but one opinion respecting my poem with all this company?"

5. "Oh, by no means. Their opinions were as various as their characters." "Well, Pessuti-what said he ?" "Why you know he's a mathematician, and should not regard him. But yět, to do him justice, he is a very nice critic, and not unskilled in poëtry." "Go on, sir, I can bear it." Why then, it was Pessuti's opinion that the poem had more learning than genius." "Proceed, sir." "Martello denied it both; but he, you know, is a disappointed author. Guattani differed but little from Pessuti as to its learning, but contended that you certainly showed great invention in your fable-which was like nothing that ever did, or could happen. But I fear I annoy you." 6. " Go on, I beg, sir." "The next who spoke was old Carnesecchi, who confessed that he had no doubt he should have been delighted with the poem, could he have taken hold of it; but it was so en regle,' and like a hundred others, that it put him in mind of what is called a polished gentleman, who talks and bows, and slips through a great crowd without leaving any impression. Another person, whose name I have forgotten, praised the versification, but objected to the thoughts."

[ocr errors]

1 Conversazione, (kön ́ver såt`se- 2 Au fait, (ò få ́), expert; well ino`nå), a meeting for conversation, structed. particularly on literary subjects.

3 En regle, according to rule; stiff

7. "Because they were absurd ?" "Oh, no, for the opposite reason-because they had all been long ago known to be good. Castelli thought that a bad reason; for his part, he said, he liked them all the better for that-it was like shaking hands with an old acquaintance in every line. Another observed, that at least no critical court could lawfully condemn them, as they could each plead an alibi.' Not an alibi, said a third, but a double; so they should be burnt for sorcery With all my heart, said a fourth; but not the poor author, for he has certainly satisfied us that he is no conjuror.



8. "Then Castelli-but, 'faith, I don't know how to proceed." "You are over-delicate, sir. Speak out, I pray you." "Well, Benuci finished by the most extravagant eulogy I ever heard." Maldura took breath. "For he compared your hero to the Apollo Belvedere,' your heroine to the Venus de Medicis, and your subordinate characters to the Diana,' the Hercules,' the Antin'ous, and twenty other celebrated antiques; declared them all equally well wrought, and beautiful-and like them too, equally cold, hard, and motionlèss. In short, he maintained that you were the boldest and most original poet he had ever known; for none but a hardy genius, who consulted nobody's taste but his own, would have dared, like you, to draw his animal life from a statue gallery, and his vegetable from a hortus siccus."

9. Maldura's heart stiffened within him, but his pride contrōlled him, and he masked his thoughts with something like composure. Yet he dared not trust himself to speak, but stood looking at Piccini, as if waiting for him to go on. "I believe

[blocks in formation]

that's all," said the count, carelessly twirling his hat, and rising to take leave. Maldura roused himself, and, making an effort, said, "No, sir, there is one person whom you have only named -Alfieri; what did he say ?"-"NOTHING!" Piccini pronounced this word with a graver tone than usual: it was his fiercèst bōlt, and he knew that a show of feeling would send it home. Then, after pausing a moment, he hurried out of the room.


WASHINGTON ALLSTON, universally acknowledged as of the first eminence among American painters, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, November 5th, 1779. He received his early education at the school of Mr. Robert Rogers, in Newport, Rhode Island, entered Harvard College in 1796, and received his baccalaureate degree in 1800. Immediately after leaving college he chose his vocation, embarked for London in 1801, and became a student of the Royal Academy, of which Benjamin West, the distinguished American painter, was then president. Here he remained three years, and then, after a sojourn at Paris, went to Rome, where he resided four years, and became the intimate associate of Coleridge. In 1809 he returned to America for a period of two years, which he passed in Boston, where he married the sister of the Rev. Dr. Channing. In 1811 he went a second time to England, where his reputation as a painter was now well established. He received by his picture of the "Dead Man raised by the Bones of Elisha" a prize of two hundred guineas, at the British Institute, where the first artists in the world were his competitors. Here he published a small volume, "The Sylphs of the Seasons, and other Poems," which was reprinted in Boston the same year. This year his wife died, an event which af fected him deeply. He returned home in 1818, and resumed his residence at Boston. In 1830 he married a sister of Richard H. Dana, and removed to Cambridgeport. His lectures on art were commenced about the same period, four only of which were completed, and these did not appear until after his decease. Besides his lectures, his poems, and many short pieces which have since been given to the public, Mr. Allston was the author of “Monaldi," a story of extraordinary power and interest, from which the above extract is taken. He died very suddenly, on the night of the 8th of July, 1843, leaving but one painting incomplete, "Belshazzar's Feast, or the Handwriting on the Wall," upon which he had been engaged at intervals for nearly twenty years.





ANGLE. Ah, my dear friend! We were just speaking of your tragedy. Admirable, Sir Fretful, admirable! Sneer. You never did anything beyond it, Sir Fretful,-never in your life.

In this scene from "The Critic, or a Tragedy Rehearsed," Sheridan caricatured the foibles of Richard

Cumberland, a vain and sensitive, though excellent man, a writer of several plays, who died in 1811.

« PrécédentContinuer »