« VorigeDoorgaan »
crimes and follies, ye are separated by a lapse of fourteen centuries, and ye are all as completely past, the one as the other! The eternity which has just commenced is as ancient as the eternity that dates from the first death, the murder of Abel. Men, nevertheless, during their ephemeral appearance on this globe, persuade themselves that they leave some trace behind them. No doubt, every fly has its shadow.
The four Stuarts passed away in the space of eighty-four years; the six last Bourbons who have worn, or were entitled to wear, the crown, reckoning from the death of Louis XV., have disappeared in the space of fifty-four years.
In both kingdoms a monarch has perished on the scaffold ; and two restorations have taken place, and have been followed by the banishment of the legitimate sovereigns; it is nevertheless true, that Europe, or rather the world, so far from having reached the end of revolutions, is only at the commencement of them.
COMPLETION AND PERFECTION OF THE
DEATH OF LANGUAGES.
On quitting the Stuarts, we enter upon the state of repose of a hundred and forty years which succeeded the fall of those princes, and left the Muses at leisure to purify their language under the shelter of liberty.
I have spoken, in the beginning of this essay, of the origin of the English language ; the successive changes in it may have been noticed in our rapid progress through ages. Let us now, that I am approaching the conclusion of my labour, consider what degree of perfection that language had attained, and how, after having been the idiom of the conteors, fableors, and harpeors, it became the idiom of the Popes, the Addisons, the Swifts, the Grays, the Fieldings, the Walter Scotts, and the Byrons.
The old English language appears to me to have been softer than the modern English ; in the