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and the sentiments expressed with a new energy.

It is doubtless very proper that the authors of the present day should constantly remind us of the respect which is due to the master-pieces of French literature. It is thus we can only expect to acquire a good taste, a severe, and I would say an impartial criticism, if in our times the latter epithet be entitled to its true application in France. The great evils which our literature has now to dread, are sterility, coldness, and monotony. The study of the perfect and generally known works which we possess instructs us very completely as to what we ought to avoid, but inspires us with nothing new ; while, by reading the productions of a people whose manner of thinking differs so much from that of the French, the mind is excited by new combinations, and the imagination is animated by the bold flights it condemns as much as by those it approves. In studying these

works,

works, our authors might succeed in adapta ing to the French taste, which is perhaps the purest in the world, some original beauties which would give to the literature of the nineteenth century a character entirely

its own.

We imitate only the most perfect authors, and in imitation there is nothing illustrious ; but writers whose irregular gee nius has not permitted them to polish all the riches they possess, may be bappily explored by men of taste and talent; the ore of the inines can be rendered useful in all nations, but when coined it becomes proper to one only.. We are not indebted for Zaire to Phedre, but to Othello. Though Racine derived great advantages from his intimate knowledge of Grecian literature, still much was left for his genius to perform. But would he have risen to such eminence had he only studied works which rendered, as his own now, do, emulation,

hopeless

hopelessy.instcad of encouraging it by opening to it a new field of exertion.

I am of opinion therefore that those national prejudices which induce the French to neglect the study of the authors of other countries, must present a great obstacle to their future success in the career of literature. But a still greater obstacle exists in the mode in which the progress of the human mind is proscribed under the name of philosophy. The fashion of the day, or the spirit of a party, constantly transports the calculations of the moment into the dominion of ages, and makes temporary considerations the ground of attacking eternal ideas. Were this system to prevail, the mind would no longer have the means of developing itself, it would be always confined to the fastidious circle of the same thoughts, the same combinations, and even the same phrases. Limited in its prospect of the future, it must be condemned to

look

look back, at first with regret, afterwards with a sense of inferiority, and would doubtless remain stationary at a point far below the eminent rank attained by those writers of the eighteenth century, who are presented to it as models. The writers of that age were men of rare genius ; they possessed the dignity of true talent; and they sought for and disclosed truths which were concealed by the clouds of their own times.

The love of liberty glowed in the old blood of Corneille. In Telemachus, Fenelon gave severe lessons to Lewis XIV. Bossuet summoned the sovereigns of the earth before the tribunal of Heaven, whose decrees he pronounced with a noble courage. But Pascal, the boldest of all, notwithstanding the horrid terrors which troubled his imagination, and abridged his life, has infosed into his detached thoughts, the germs of a number of ideas which succeed ing writers have developed. The great!

men

men of the age of Louis XIV. possessed therefore one of the principal requisites of genius, they outstripped the knowledge of their age ; but it is not to be expected that we, whose views are constantly retrograde, can ever equal those who first occupied the walk to which we confine ourselves, and who, were they to arise again, would start from another point, and soon leave all their new contemporaries behind them.

It has been observed, that the influence of religious opinions has contributed greatly to the splendour of the literature of the eighteenth century, and that no work of imagination can arise to distinction where those opinions do not prevail. A work, which even its adversaries must admire for the uncommon, brilliant, and original imagination it displays, le Genie du Christianişine, has strongly supported this literary system. I have also endeavoured to point out the favourable changes which christianity has introduced into literature; but

as

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