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lantry. Our author's attachment to this lady ended but with his life. Her affectation and illtemper gave him, however, many hours of uneasiness and disquiet. When she visited him in his very last illness, and her company seemed to give him fresh spirits, the antiquated prude could not be prevailed on to stay and pass
the night at Twickenham, because of her reputation. She occasioned an unhappy breach betwixt him and his old friend Allen. · The works of Voiture, on which much of this epistle turns, after having been idolized in France, are now justly sunk into neglect and oblivion. The characteristical
Etruscæ Veneres, Camænæ Iberæ;
Corneille was invited to read his Polyeucte at the hotel de Rambouillet; where the principal wits of the time usually assembled, and where Voiture presided. It was very coldly received; and in a few days, Voiture came to Corneille, and in gentle terms told him, it was the opinion of his friends, that the piece would not succeed. Such ill judges were then the most fashionable wits of France.
difference betwixt Voiture and Balsac* is well expressed by Boileau, in two letters written under their names, from the Elysian Fields, to the Duc de Vivonne, in p. 155 of vol. iii. of his works. And Boileau, speaking often of absurd readers and critics, loved to relate, that one of his relations, to whom he had presented his works, said to him,
Pray, Cousin, how came you to insert any other person's writings among your own? I find in your works two letters, one from Balsac, and the other from Voiture." In the other epistle to the same person, the calamitous state of an unfortunate lady, banished from town to
Old-fashion'd halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks,
and the coarse compliments of a rural squire,
Who with his hound comes hollowing from the stable,
are painted with humour.
* Descartes, who, as well as Leibnitz, was an elegant scholar, wrote a judicious censure of Balsac, in admirable Latin. Balsac was, however, much superior to Voiture. But he was affectedly turgid, pompous, and bloated on all subjects and on all occasions alike. Yet was he the first that gave form and harmony to the French prose; which was still more improved by the Provincial Letters of Pascal.
The Town Eclogue was written in concert with Lady Wortley Montague, who published four more of this sort. Gay wrote a Quaker's Eclogue, and Swift a Footman's Eclogue ; and said to Pope, “ I think the pastoral ridicule is not exhausted : what think you of a Newgate pastoral, among the whores and thieves there!" When Lady M. W. Montague would sometimes shew a copy of her verses to Pope, and he would make some little alterations, No,” said she, “Pope; no touching ; for then, whatever is good for any thing will pass for yours, and the rest for mine.”
Next follows a close translation of a fable from Boileau ; which fable Boileau removed from the end of his Epistle to the King, by the advice of the great Prince of Conde, as unsuited to the subject, and finished with it an Epistle to L'Abbé des Roches, tom. i. p. 285. It will be no unuseful, or, perhaps, unpleasing, amusement to compare these two pieces. * And I will not think of making any apology for so frequently quoting
* In the fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth and twelfth verses, Pope is inferior to the original.
a writer so pure, sensible, and classical, as Boileau.
Once (says an author, where I need not say)
* I cannot forbear mentioning a work, not so well known as it deserves to be, the Latin Fables of J. Desbillons, a Jesuit, printed first at Paris, and afterwards at Manheim, 8vo. 1768, in a most chaste and unaffected style. To speak in his own words;
Me Fabularum suavis indoles capit,
“ The fables in your Esop, (said Pope to Vanbrugh,) have the very spirit of La Fontaine.” “ It may be so, (replied Vanbrugh;) but I protest to you I never have read La Fontaine's Fables.” Patru, wbo was consulted as a capital critic, by all the wits of France, dissuaded La Fontaine from attempting to write Fables: fortunately he disregarded his advice:
Un jour, dit un Auteur, n'importe en quel chapitre,
We will pass over the next ten little pieces, stopping only to commend the verses on the Grotto, and the lines addressed to Southerne, when he was eighty years old. In the former is a passage of a striking and awakening solemnity:
Approach! great Nature, studiously behold
* Who was one of the most able and eloquent of that respectable body of patriots that leagued together against. Sir