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some other respects, and particularly with respect to the patient, laborious and thorough investigation of the various objects of knowledge; the depth of erudition ; the discipline and subordination of academic establishments; and the general moral influence of literary and scientific acquirements, the last age cannot with propriety boast of much progress
NATIONS LATELY BECOME LITERARY.
THE last century is not only distinguished by numerous discoveries, and by rich additions to the general stock of science; but also by the rise of several nations from obscurity in the republic of letters, to considerable literary and scientific eminence. To attempt to give a full view of the commencement and progress of a taste for literature in those nations, would lead to a minuteness and extent of discussion altogether beyond the limits of our plan. The design of the present chapter, therefore, is only to state some general facts, and to connect with them such names and collateral events as may appear to demand notice, either for the purpose of throwing light on the principal object of inquiry, or of doing honour to meritorious individuals. In the list about to be given of new literary countries, it will not be possible, for various reasons, to include all that might with propriety be mentioned. Passing by several nations, therefore, of inferior character, the most important of those which, in the last century
have become literary, are Russia, Germany, and the United States of America. To each of these some attention will be separately directed.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Russia had scarcely a literary existence. Almost entirely without learned men, and destitute of the means of acquiring knowledge, the whole Empire may be said, with little exception, to have been sunk in ignorance and barbarism. The language of the country was in a miserably confused and chaotic state, without rules, and with scarcely any fixed character; and, of course, no writers of taste in that language had appeared. It is true, the art of printing was introduced into Russia as early as the sixteenth century, and some feeble efforts were made, about the same time, to enlighten and civilize the people. Efforts still more vigorous and extensive, to effect the same purpose, were made in the seventeenth century; but they were soon relaxed, and little was done in this way until Peter the Great ascended the imperial throne.
The crown devolving on PETER, at the close of the seventeenth century, he early formed the design of introducing into his empire, as far as possible, the various arts of civilized life, and that attention to letters and science which he found to be so useful in other nations. For this
For this purpose he travelled into foreign countries; made himself acquainted with their literary and scientific institutions; sent some of the most conspicuous young noblemen in his dominions into different parts of Europe, for the purpose of improving themselves in literature; and invited many foreigners of distinction to settle at his court. He established a printing-office in Petersburgh, for publishing books in the vulgar tongue; and among many other works, caused a large edition of the Bible in that language to be printed and scattered through his dominions. He instituted also, besides schools of less celebrity, in different parts of the empire, a Mathematical school, a Seminary for instruction in navigation, a Museum for the collection of curiosities from all parts of the world, and an Observatory, for the promotion of astronomical science: in short, he endeavoured, as far as possible, to transplant, from all other nations, into his own country, every thing that appeared to him ornamental or useful. By these means he produced a taste for letters and science among some of the higher classes of his subjects, and laid the foundation of that general improvement in his empire, which has since risen to such an honourable height."
The establishment of the Imperial Academy of Arts and Sciences forms an important æra in the history of Russian literature. This institution owes its origin to Peter the Great, who, during his travels, observing the advantages of public societies for the promotion of useful knowledge, determined to form an association of this kind in his own country. For this purpose, when in Germany, he consulted LEIBNITZ and WOLF, and availed himself of their learning and experience in the formation of his plan. With their aid he at length completed the constitution of the Academy, and signed it on the tenth of February, 1724, but was prevented by his sudden death from putting it into effective operation. His decease, however, did not defeat the laudable and well-formed design. The academy was established by CATHERINE I. on the twenty
n For more minute information on the subject of Russian literature than it is convenient to give in the present sketch, see oxe's Travels, and Tooke's Survey of the Russian Empire, his History of Russia, and his Life of Catherine II.
first of December, 1725, and the first meeting took place two days afterwards. This Empress not only favoured the institution, but also exercised great munificence towards it. She made a liberal grant of money for the support of fifteen members eminent for learning and talents, who were pensioned under the title of Professors in the various branches of literature and science. And that nothing might be omitted which could promote her leading object, she invited a number of eminent foreigners to Petersburgh, for the purpose of filling the professorial chairs, for which provision had been made. The most distinguished of these foreigners were Nicholas and DANIEL BERNOULLI, the two De LisLES, BULFINGER, Wolf, and EuLER, whose profound erudition and scientific industry could not fail of promoting the interests of knowledge wherever they were placed.
Perhaps few institutions of this nature, in modern times, have been more diligent or more successful in pursuing the objects for which it was formed than this Academy. Besides its published transactions, which amount, it is believed, to near fifty volumes, and which are full of valuable information both in literature and science; its members have done much, both in their official and private capacities, to diffuse almost every branch of useful knowledge throughout the empire. Perhaps no country can boast of having produced within the space of a few years, such a number of excellent publications on its internal state, its natural history, its topography, and geography, and on the manners, customs, and languages of different nations, as have issued from the press of the Academy.
These exertions of PETER and CATHARINE were aided by some of their native subjects, who began to perceive the importance of literature,
and to forın plans for the diffusion of it among the people. It was in the reign of the former, that those improvements in the Russian, or Sclavonian language, commenced, which have since made such honourable progress. To THEOPHANES Prokopovirca; Archbishop of Novogorod, a man of learning and taste, and a native of Russia, much honour is due, for labouring to promote among his countrymen a taste for polite literature. . He not only cultivated, and endeavoured to extend the influence of learning, during his life, but likewise left a legacy, to be applied to the same object after his decease.
In this laudable zeal for promoting the literary interests of his country, THEOPHANES was followed by LomoNOZOF, who, it was before observed, has been styled the great refiner of the Russian language. His labours may be considered as forming an era in the literary progress of his country, and are always mentioned as having been eminently conducive to this progress.
During the short reign of Peter II. the Aca
o Theophanes ProkopovITCH was born in Russia, in 1681, and died Archbishop of Novogorod, in 1736. After receiving as good an education as his country afforded, he went to Rome, where he resided three years, and where his literary and scientific acquirements were greatly extended. He was profoundly learned, not only in Latin, Greek and Hebrew literature, but also in Philosophy and Theology. He was the first Russian divine who published a regular systematic view of the doctrines of his church. principal work composed in Latin, under the title of Christiana Orthodoxa Theologia. His discourses are deemed classical performances.
Lomonozor was the son of a fishmonger at Kolmogori, in Russia. He was born in the year 1711, and died in 1764, in the 54th year of his age. He was fortunately taught to read, an accomplishment by no means common among persons of such humble origin in Russia. His genius for poetry was first kindled by the perusal of the Song of Solomon, done into verse by POLOTSKY, in a very rude and miserable manner. He filed from his father, who would have compelled him to a disagreeable marriage, and took refuge in a monastery at Moscow, where he had an abundant op: portunity of indulging his taste for letters. He was afterwards taken under the patronage of the Imperial Academy Petersburgh, and proved one of the most distinguished literary characters of the age. His works were collected after his death, in three volumes octavo.