Page images



240 Memojis of the Life and Writings of M. De St. Croir. (April 1, ished were in some degree re-established founding all the distinctions, and riolaby the formation of ihe institute: and ting the first principles, of taste, pretend M. Bitaubé was placed in the class of to exalt to the rank of the epopee, and literature and fine arts; in which station place on a level with the Iliad and the he has read several dissertations on the Eneid, a work which, both in its matefirst two books of Aristotle's Politics, un rials and its whole structure, is of so the government of Sparta, on Pindar, plebeian a class ? li may certainly be and some other subjects of ancient lite believed that the principal charın of the

German poem has been lost, in its prose A celebrated German poet (Goethe) translation into Frencb; because such a had recently acquired great applause in subject requires the support of a poetical bis own country, by a poem in verse, style: but whatever idea may be formed consisting of nine cantos, to which latter of the merit of the original, it will be he had (perhaps a little wo ostentatis difficult to think that M. Bitaubé's adıniously) given the names of the nine ration of his author has not exceeded

Hermann and Dorothea, the even the limits allowed to translators. hero and heroine of the poem, are the On the new organisation of the insti. son of an inn-keeper, and a young tute, M. Bitambé left the class of literaorphan-girl, whom the victories of the ture and the fine arts, for that of history French army have forcedl, with the other and ancient literature, where he had the inhabitants of their village, to flee froin pleasure of meeting many who had been the left bank of the Rhine. M. Bitaubé, his fellow-associates of the old academy seduced by some imitations of the of belles-lettres; and he remained one of Homeric style and manucrs, becanje the most assiduous members of this class, enthusiastic in praise of this poem; did till his death. not hesitate to honour it with ihe title of Ever since his release from prison, Epic, and to compare the author with every thing had seemed to concur to liis Homer; and affirmed that he himself had happiness: be had recovered his estate, found more dificulties to encounter in his friends, and his fortune; he had been translating the German work, than in his included, without solicitation, among the Diad and Odyssey.

men of letters who were first nominatet It will perbaps appear surprising that members of the legion of honour; and no a ctiuc so well acquainted with the unfortunate event had disturbed the beauties of these latter poems, should tranquillity of his peaceable and studious not have perceived that the simplicity of life. But his greatest calamity was remamers, and the almost domestic de served for his old age; when death de. tails, which they represent with so much prived hiin of the respectable and be. truth and interest, would probably have loved wife who was its support and con. had no charins for the Greeks, if Ilomer solation, and whose destiny had been had employed his pen in recording united to his above fifty years. It was only ordinary personages; and that thuse easy to foresee that M. Bitaubé could artless delineations which prove attrac- not long survive this dreadful separation: tive in pastoral compositions, can only in fact he sunk under its effects, rather than become pleasing in epics by the contrast those of age and infirmity, on the 22nd of between grandeur and simplicity, and November, 1808; and within a single by a consideration of the elevated cha- month the husband and wife were both racters whom the poet celebrates. consigned to the same tomb. Minerva may herself be allowed to hring forward her sparkling car, yoke her fiery MEMOIRS of the life and WRITINGS of coursers with her divine hands, and give the late M. DE ST. CROIX. them their celestial pasture; and Achilles WILLIAM Emanuel Joseph Wilhelin or llector may perform the came offices: de Ciermont-Lodère de Sainte Croix, these details, instead of degrading the re- was born of a noble family, at Mormoiron, spective personages, derive a dignity from near Carpentras, in the Comtat Ve them. But if, instead of the car of war, the naissin, on the 5th of January, 1716. olject presented to our fancy is a coach; Both his descent, and the exaunple of instead of superb coursers, inere draught his immediate domestic connections, horses; and if the hero to whom they sumnioned him to a military career; and belong is only an inn-keeper or a pea- accordingly, as soon as he had finished sant; will these details of mistic sim- his studies under the Jesuits at Grenoplicity produce the same efiect on the ble, he set out at the beginning of his imagination and can we, without con- sixteenth year for the Windward Islands,

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

with the commission of captain of ca. fect resignation to its dispensations, enavalry, and in the additional character of bled him afterward to support with tranaide-de-cainp to his uncle the chevalier quillity the most distressing vicissitudes, de Sainte Croix, who had distinguished About the close of his twenty-fifth Juimself by his defence of Belleisle, and year, St. Croix married mademoiselle was now sppointed to the command of d'Elbène; and this union proved necesMartinico.' This royage, pertorined ac sarily happy, from having been founded an age when the mind receives its strong on the most amiable qualities both of the est impressions, gave young St. Croix mind and the heart. "Its fruits were two rather a preference for the sea-service; suns and a daughter; one of the former but subsequent circumstances disposed bred to the military, and the other in the of him otherwise: for, on his uncle's naval service: and all worthy of their dying in the autumn of the same year, parents, whose fondest hopes they gave he returned to France with dispatches, every promise of fulfilling. The literary and was attached to the regiment of labours of St. Croix had in other respects Grenadiers of France till he should opened flattering prospects to him. In obtain a company.

In this corps he the years 1772, 1773, and 1777, he was served during six or seven years; and on

honoured with prizes by the academy, quitting it, devoted himself entirely to of belles-lettres; and froin the first of study, his inclination for which had not these dates was enrolled among the fo. been diminished by a way of life that reign associates of that illustrious society. frequently checked its indulgence. He His situation seemed thus to assure hiin had already, by attentively perusing and of nearly all the bliss that a really wise reflecting on the principal Greek and man can hope or expect on earth, when Latin writers, laid the foundation of that suddenly be found himself involved in extensive and solid erudition which he the furious excesses of the most violent afterward turned to so much advantage. commotions; and the finest years of bis History, in its whole diversified range, life, those which he might have expected he chose for his particular province; and to pass happily in the enjoyment of that by daily applying the knowledge which respect which he had justly acquired, he acquired to some determinate object, and in the contemplation of the virtues he matured his judgment, and became and felicity of those who were must dear accustomed to bring into exercise the to him, brought only ap uninterrupted materials that reading supplied tujin with. series of mistörtunes. In the month of By such means he avoided an error April 1791, he was obliged, with all his which is too cominon ainong men of family, to leave his paternal mansion, learning; that of accumulating know- and flee before the army of brigands that ledge, without fertilising it by reflection; issued from Avignon ; and when this first and of thus excluding letters from deri- storm was succeeded by a short period of ving any active benefit from a lite dedie tranquillity that allowed him to return, cated to them. St. Croix was animated it was only to witness the havoc which with but one sentiment, the love of truth. the soldiers of Jourdan had committed His attachment to study proceeded nei- there, and to undergo new sufferings, ther from a desire of signalizing himself; In the following year, being thrown into nor of procuring any of those advantages prison, where, after a confinement of but which sometimes attend the career of a a few days, he saw the certain prospect man of letters, or shed a lustre round his of his execution, he found ineans to declining years. A nobler and more escape from Mormoiron on the 4th of generous passion was his ruling principle, October, and, by the help of a disguise, ëhe only one that can protect a man of reached Paris. Madame de St. Croixg genius against the illusions of a spirit of who was distinguished by her courage, system; that spirit which changes light fortitude, and presence of inind, had itself to darkness. The discovery of long exerted these qualities with success truth, especially in cases where it could against the fury of the brigands, and be useful to mankind by reinoring their had thus saved the life of her husband prejudices, rectitying their practical errors, and children: she was, however, near or preserving them from dangers, was the falling a sacrifice to her zeal, for an reward to which alone he aspireil, and order was issued to arrest her; bat, at the which alone he triought worthy of a man moment when it was about to be carried of letters who felt the diguity of his voca. into effect, on the 9th of March 1794, tion. This elevation of soul, united with she escaped from Avignon, to which an implicit trust in Providence and a per- place she had retired after the ilight of MONTHLY Mac. No. 197.

% H

242 Memoirs of the Life and IYritings of M. de St. Croir. (April 1, St. Croix himself, and repaired to the the imagination, tending constantly to capital to join him. The ruffians, on the promotion of virtue or the censure seeing themselves deprived of their vic- of vice. Indeed every one of his pages tim, exercised their vengeance on the bears marks of the goodness of his beart property of the amiable man whose per- and the nobleness of his sentiments. son was out of their reach: his estate was The following are short sketches of confiscated, his house given to a club, some of his principal productions : his library plundered, and his papers “ Critical Examination of the Ancient burnt. Still however St. Croix might Historians of Alexander the Great, have been accounted comparatively published at Paris in 1775, in one happy, if he had had nothing dearer to re- volume quarto. This piece, to which gret: but he was soon afterward bereft of the academy of inscriptions and bellesboth his sons; and now every object lettres adjudged a prize in the year 1772, around him seemed only to remind him first shewed the learned world how much. of his irreparable losses. After an they had to expect from the talents of interval of three years, when the deep St. Croix. The celebrated author of wounds which he had thus received were the Bibliotheca Critica inerely probeginning to heal, his daughter also was nounced the opinion of all enlightened snatched from him; and this tore them judges, in saying that it held out to our all open again. Yet ainidst these alllic. admiration a delicate judgment, expetions, being supported by the calm sun- rienced criticism, profound knowledge shine of the soul; and forgiving the of geography and chronology, and an earthly authors of bis misfortunes, eloquence springing from generous senbecause he contemplated the events of timents and an elevated soul. The aulife from a higher point of view; he never thor himself was alone dissatisfied with ceased to seek the consolation which he it: he writes as follows, at the time when 80 much needed, in religion, in study, and he was preparing the second edition for in the company of some friends whom his the press : " This is the least imperfect genius, united with so much simplicity and of my published works: it was the regoodness of heart, had inviolably attachio sult of five years' labour; and had greater ed to him. Accordingly, when attacked

than I expected, especially by a disorder which for several months among foreigners. Yet what retrenchiappeared not to endanger bis life ments, additions, alterations, and corbut to threaten him with a painful old rections, I shall be obliged to make in age, he saw these friends constantly the new edition that I am preparing! In around his bed, thinking themselves its present condition, I consider it only happy when they could make him for a as a sketch which may be improved into inoment forget his sufferings, or engage a good work.” When this second edihim in conversation respecting labours tion appeared, in 1804, the author's prewhich he proposed to resume. But this fatory observations, in which he declares hope proved deceitful; St. Croix died on

his own opinion concerning the tract in the 12th of March, 1809: and the only its former state, and explains what he consolation left to his friends, is that of had now done to render it more deknowing that his death bas excited a serving of the public applause, contain general sympathy in their regret and the following touches of an eloquence affliction for his loss, among those who flowing from the heart : “ Divine Proare capable of justly estimating talents vidence having rescued me from the and virtues.

steel of assassins, and the other dangers The number and variety of subjects of the revolution, by means of the coudiscussed by St. Croix, will at once shew rage and attachment of the person who the exient of his acquirements. The is dearest to me, on whom the happiness propriety of his judgment is erinced on of my life depends, and who mitigates all all occasions in his choice of topics for its bitterness, I bave endeavoured to liis researches, in the happiness with efface from my mind all painful recolwhich he applied the stores of his erudi lections, in applying wholly and with rion, in the connections which he estab- ardour to my first labours." He conlished or pointed out between ancient fesses that this is rather a fresh work and modern history, his critical exact, than a new edition; and in adopting this ness in balancing different testimonies, statement we may say, without fear of and the lessons which he deduces from contradiction, that this fresh work doos she past. His genius often displays honour to the nation and age to wbich itself in sublinue reflections, or sallies of it belongs; that it offers a model which


[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

will always be difficult of imitation; and he abandoned, still however intend-
indisputably places its learned author ing to answer some extravagant criti-
among the great men who hold the first cisms that had appeared on the sub-
rank in bistorical science. M. Wytten- ject of his publication; but even this
bach, a scholar worthy to decide on the purpose he did not execute.
merits of St. Croix, speaks of it as fol- « On the Condition and Fate of the
lows: “ Though we should not always be Colonies of the Ancient Nations :"
of the opinion of the author, yet we may printed at Philadelphia, 1779, in one
affirio that he has perfectly fulfilled all voluine octavo. The author, who was
the conditions necessary for writing biso always severe in judging of his own
tory well. Such is the richness of the works, speaks unfavourably of this, but
materials employed, that they appear adds: “ There are however some remarks
incapable of auginentation, and this sin. worth attention. Such, in particular, is
gle work may be considered as a repo. that on the supposed article of the treaty
sitory of the history of Alexander: no- concluded between Gelo and the Care
thing that is known concerning that thaginians, concerning human sacrifices,
hero, is here omitted; places, dates, which Montesquieu affirms to do honour
persons, facts, monuments of art, events, to che Syracusan tyrant; and of the same
circumstances, writers, all are collected description are several reflections which
together. Nor is this the whole ; for in have since been too fully justified by the
this gallery of authors of all ages, who (as French revolution.” The learned Wyc-
it were) pass under review, care has been tenbach regards this tract, not as a de-
taken to point out the particular merits sultory compilation, or a superficial sur-
and faults which characterise each age vey, but as exhibiting an intimate and
or epoch. This mass is animated by an well-practised knowledge of ancient his-
intelligence that enlivens it, and that in- tory, and a happy talent at properly ap-
spires every part with the principles of plying it; and M. Boissy d'Anglas, who
order, criticism, unity, a feeling of what has so well appreciated the merits of St.
is truly great and fine, a religious vene. Croix, says: “In this work his genius
ration for the duties of an historian, a depicts the condition of the ancient
nobleness of style, and an eloquence wor. colonies; he explains systematically the
thy of the thoughts and the sentiments." true principles which ought to regulate
He adds: “May the amiable and social institutions of this nature; and in
learned writer, who is now preparing a shewing with clearness how their
new edition of his Inquiries concerning founders applied these, he affords both
the Mysteries of Paganism, continue to memorable examples, and judicious leso
enjoy, for the benefit of that undertaking, sons for futurity.'
the love of study, the rigour of mind and “ Observations on the Treaty of Peace
body, the ease and tranquillity, and all concluded in 1963, between France and
the external advantages, which he has England:” Yverdon, 1782, one volume
employed with so much benefit on the duodecimo. At the time of the public
History of Alexander !"

cation of this tract, the two nations were
The next work of St. Croix requiring on the point of terminating the war which
to be noticed here, is “the 'Ezour established the independence of the
Vedam, or an Ancient Commentary on United States of America. St. Croix
the Vedamn, containing the Exposition wished to enlighten bis countrymen on
of the Religious and Philosophical Opi- their true interests; and for this purpose
wions of the Indians :" published at Yver- he shewed thein how humiliating and op-
don in 1778, in two volumes duodecimopressive were the conditions to which
In publishing this tract, accompanied France had agreed in that creaty, and
with some preliminary observations, his what great and dangerous faults had
purpose was, to shew how questionable been committed in drawing up the ar-
is the boasted antiquity of the religious ticles of it. It is certain however that
dogmas, and the sacred books, of the the people of England did not feel less
Indians. At the time of the appearance discontent than M. St. Croix himself, at
of this work, the authenticity of the the trenty in question; and the indignant
Ezour Vedam was a subject of contro. Junius charges the duke of Bedford with
versy; and it has been attacked since by little less than treason in the negotiation"
different writers. St. Croix once thought of it on our part.
of publishing a second edition, enriched • Contributions to the Ulistory of the
with the fruits of the researches of some. • Mémoires pour ses ver à l'Histoire, "
learned English authors : this design &c.



[ocr errors]


244 Memoirs of the Life and IVritings of M. de St. Croir. [April 1, Secret Religion of the Ancient Nations, parade of erudition." It will gratify all. or Historical Researches on the Mysteries who feel an interest in the advancement of Payanisın;" Paris, 1784, one volume of learning, and in the fame of St. Croix,

This tract, like the Critical to know that a copy of the first edition Examination of the Historians of Alex- of this work, marked with many correcander, we owe to a competition proposed tions, erasures, and additions, was found by thie academy of belles-lettres. St. among bis papers after his decease; and Croix, who had been long employed in that the literary friend to wbom he left researches concerning the mysteries of the charge of all his manuscripts, will paganism, could not have found a more sulól a part of that honourable trust, by favourable opportunity for making use giving this second edition to the world of the materials whicli he had collected with all possible dispatch. on this equally obscure and curious “ History of the Progress of the Naval question, than the subject proposed for Power of England:” originally published the prize of St. Martin in 1777, which at Yverdon in 1782; the second edition was, to make known the names and at- at Paris, in 1786, two volumes duodetributes of Ceres and Proserpine, the cimo. The author at first designed only origin and reason of those attributes, to examine the navigation-act, and its and in short the whole worship of those effects on the auginentation of the naval divinities. St. Croix, being already pre- power of England; but this examination pared, by the previous direction of his having obliged him to consider the state studies, for an investigation of this of the English marine before and after nature, entered the lists with great ad- that act, (a law against which the pub. vantages; and the acaderny, in a warding licists in eighed, without having duly and the prize to the profound and judicious iinpartially weighed its motives and contreatise of their learned associate, must sequences,) he conceived and rapidly exhave felt some complacence at their ecuted the plan of this work. selection of the topic of discussion. The The first edition, though 'composed prize-treatise, augmented with new il- with precipitation, had great success; lustrations, formed the printed volume and there were even several piracies of of which we are speaking. Let us throw it published. The author had, through a arcil over the trouble and inconvenience blameable complaisance for the editor, which the author suffered from his too put his work to press before he had progreat confidence in a scholar of more cured all the materials that were necessary learning than judgment, who undertook for completing it; and besides this, as the superintendance of its publication, he himself said, on its publication he. and let us forget the injuries whichi St. hardly knew it again, from its abounding Croix himself forgot. The treatise was with typographical errors: hence he translated into German in 1790, and the readily complied with tbe general wish, translator suppressed all the additions by giving a new edition of it, rendered which the auttior lead disavowed. “Thus," more complete and correct. The folsaid St. Crois, “my work is to be found lowing quotation will shew in what rein German rather than in French. After spects he found it principally necessary its publication in 1784,” added he, “I to amend the first edition, and what he pursued further inquiries, and collected himself thought of the second. “Having many particulars for an enlarged and come t Paris, I requested of the marshal corrected edition, but all these materials de Castries, who was then minister of were burnt or thrown away by Jourdlan's the marine, access to the papers of his soldiers, who seized my paternal dwell- office; and my request was very readily ing and turned me out of it in 1791. I' and obligingly granted. Though I did con now employed, as diligently as iny not make so much use of this permission situation and iny health allow, in repai'. as I ouglit to have done, yet I drew froin ing that loss, in order to put a pew that source several important documents; edition to press as soon as possible, and with others, some letters of marshal M. de V--- has altered and distigured Tourville, which I printed among the the former one in such a manner, as to justificatory pieces of my new edition, make it very difficult to collect from that, and which are not its least ornathose just results and consequences ments. The work was corrected, very which should fuu naiurally froin my much auginented, and almost entirely inquiries. Entertaining no doubt about re-written: I paid great attention to the them himself, he seems to have consi- style, and endeavoured to give it a ra. dered all my labour æs merely a vain pidity and conciseness that should even

« PreviousContinue »