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Pressy, his worthy bishop, to his fraternity, and to the public.
“ I have seen few resemblances more striking than that of the Abbé Le Sage to his brother Mons. de Montmenil ; he had even a portion of his talents, and of his most agreeable qualities. No one could read verses more agreeably. He possessed the uncommon art of that variation of tone, and of employing those brief pauses, which, without being actual declamation, impress on the hearers the sentiments and the beauties of the author.
“ I had known, and I regretted, Mons. Montmenil. I entertained esteem and friendship for his brother; and the late Queen, in consequence of the account which I had to lay before her of the Abbé Le Sage's situation, and his narrow fortune, procured him a pension upon a benefice.
“ I had been apprized not to go to visit Mons. Le Sage till near the approach of noon ; and the feelings of that old man made me observe, for a second time, the effect which the state of the atmosphere produces in the melancholy days of bodily decline.
“ Mons. Le Sage'awaking every morning so soon as the sun appeared some degrees above the horizon, became animated, acquired feeling and force, in proportion as that planet approached the meridian ; but as the sun began to decline, the sensibility of the old man, the light of his intellect, and the activity of his bodily organs, began to diminish in proportion; and no sooner had the sun descended some degrees under the horizon, than he sunk into a lethargy, from which it was difficult to rouse him.
ALAIN RENE LE SAGE. ' 425 “ I took care only to make my visit at that period of the day when his intellect was most clear, which was the hour after he had dined. I could not view without emotion the respectable old man, who preserved the gaiety and urbanity of his better years, and sometimes even displayed the imagination of the author of the Diable Boiteux and of Turcaret. But one day, having come more late than usual, I was sorry to see that his conversation began to resemble the last homilies of the Bishop of Grenada, and I instantly withdrew.
Mons. Le Sage had become very deaf. I always found him seated near a table on which lay a large hearing-trumpet; that trumpet, which he sometimes snatched up with vivacity, remained unmoved on the table, when the nature of the visit which he received did not encourage him to hope for agreeable conversation. As I commanded in the province, I had the pleasure to see him always make use of it in conversation with me; and it was a lesson which prepared me to sustain the petulant activity of the hearing-trumpet of my dear and illustrious associate and friend Mons. de la Condamine.
« Monsieur Le Sage died in winter 1746-7. I considered it as an honour and duty to attend his funeral, with the principal officers under my command. His widow survived him but a short time; and a few years afterwards, the loss of the Abbé
1 Mons. de la Condamine, very deaf and very importunate, was the terror of the members of the Academie, from the vivacity with which he urged enquiries, which could only be satisfied by the inconvenient medium of his hearing-trumpet.
Le Sage became the subject of regret to his Chapter, and the enlightened society to which he was endeared by his virtues.”
The interesting account of Monsieur de Tressan having conducted Le Sage to an honoured tomb, we have but to add, that an epitaph, placed over his grave, expressed, in indifferent poetry, the honourable truth, that he was the friend of Virtue rather than of Fortune. Indeed when the giddy hours of youth were passed, his conduct seems to have been irreproachable; and if, in his works, he has assailed vice rather with ridicule than with reproach, and has, at the same time, conducted his story through scenes of pleasure and of license, his Muse has moved with an unpolluted step, even where the path was somewhat miry. In short, it is highly to the honour of Le Sage, that—differing in that particular from many of his countrymen who have moved in the same walk of letters,—he has never condescended to pander to vice by warmth or indelicacy of description. If Voltaire, as it is said, held the powers of Le Sage in low estimation, such slight regard was particularly misplaced towards one, who, without awakening one evil thought, was able, by his agreeable fictions, to excite more lasting and more honourable interest than the witty Lord of Ferney himself, even though Asmodeus sat at his elbow to aid him in composing Candide and Zadig.
1 « Sons ce tombeau Le Sage abattu, Par le ciseau de la Parque importune. S'il ne fut pas ami de la Fortune,
Il fut toujours ami de la Vertu."
Of the author of the Adventures of a Guinea, a satire which, from its resemblance to the Diable Boiteux, arranges naturally with those of the author of Gil Blas, we can say but little.
CHARLES JOHNSTONE was an Irishman by birth, though it is said a Scotsman by descent, and of the Annandale family. If so, we have adopted the proper orthography, though his name seems to have sometimes been spelt Johnson. He received a classical education; and, being called to the Bar, came to England to practise. Johnstone, like Le Sage-and the coincidence is a singular one-was subject to the infirmity of deafness, an inconvenience which naturally interfered with his professional success ;-although, by a rare union of high talents with eloquence and profound professional skill, joined to an almost intuitive acuteness of apprehension, we have, in our time, seen the disadvantage splendidly surmounted. But Johnstone possessed considerable abilities, of which he has left at least one admirable example, in the Adventures of a Guinea. His talents were of a lively and companionable sort, and as he was much abroad in the world, he had already, in his youth, kept such general society with men of all descriptions, as
enabled him to trace their vices and follies with a pencil so powerful.
Chrysal is said to have been composed at the late Lord Mount Edgecomb's, in Devonshire, during a visit to his lordship. About 1760, the work was announced in the newspapers as “a dispassionate distinct account of the most remarkable transactions of the present times all over Europe.” The publication immediately followed, and, possessing at once the allurement of setting forth the personal and secret history of living characters, and that of strong expression and powerful painting, the public attention was instantly directed towards it. A second edition was called for almost immediately, to which the author made several additions, which are incorporated with the original text. But the public avidity being still unsatisfied, the third edition, in 1761, was augmented to four volumes. The author, justly thinking that it was unnecessary to bestow much pains in dovetailing his additional matter upon the original narrative, and conscious that no one was interested in the regular transmission of Chrysal from one hand to another, has only connected the Original Work and the Continuation by references, which will not be found always either accurate or intelligible,—a point upon which he seems to have been indifferent.
"][“ Dr Johnson told me,” (1773,) says Boswell, “ he did not know who was the author of the “ Adventures of a Guinea ;' but that the bookseller bad sent the first volume to him in manuscript, to have his opinion if it should be printed ; and he thought it should.”- CROKER'S Boswell, vol. ii., p. 500.]