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lation, and thus the importation of French eloquence retarded the progrefs of German literature.
Our learned and courtly Abbé places the happy, the halcyon epocha of German literature, at that ever memorable and glorious point of time, when Frederick II. ascended the throne of Pruffia. The protection, fays he, and the extraordinary favours, with which this prince had already honoured the fciences, animated the learned Germans to deferve them by renewed efforts of emulation and induftry. And fince that period, genius, notwithstanding the difficulties that it has yet to encounter, has by the vigour and perfeverance alone, that are peculiar to it, as allo by the fruits of unwearied application, made such a rapid progrefs in Germany, as perhaps no other nation can boaft of in the fame fpace of time, whatever its advantages for improvement may have been.'-This is true in fact; but there feems to be a painful ftruggle between fincerity and civility in the incenfe offered on this occafion. The epocha of the literary revolution in Germany, is, we believe, well marked; but how fer the great perfonage may be confidered as the fofterer of the German mufes, is another queftion. That he has always been a patron of learning and learned men, is not to be denied; but, that he has been the encourager of German literature, and of German philofophers, hiftorians, and poets, we dare not af firm. He has ever profeffed a kind of averfion for the German language, and has feldom honoured, with marks of diftinction, the men of letters in that country. The royal academy of Berlin is certainly compofed of men of the first merit; but, if we are not mistaken, the greatest part of its members are foreigners. We could mention feveral particularities, that shew how far German literature and philofophy have received encouragement from the great prince, under whofe noftrils our Abbé holds the panegyrical cenfor with no very firm hand, though its odours are elegant and pleafing.
Be that as it may, letters and fcience have certainly made a rapid and confiderable progrefs in Germany fince the epocha mentioned by our learned Author. He alleges, as proofs of this, the Poems of HALLER, the Meffiah of KLOPSTOCK, the Idyls and the Death of Abel of GESNER, the Romances of WIELAND, the Fables and Moral Writings of GELLERT, the elegant and witty productions of LESSING, LICHTWER, ENGIL, and CRAMER, and the Philofophical Writings of SULZER, the Jew MENDELSON, ENGEL, and GARVE, which would undoubtedly do honour to any nation in Europe.
The royal plaintiff, in this literary cause, had alleged in his letter, that Germany was deftitute of eminent orators, of good dramatic writers, and able hiftorians. The reverend Defendant almoft owns the charge, as to the first article. He however
obferves that the D'Agueffeaux, the Maffillons, and others mentioned by the illuftrious critic, derived peculiar advantages, with respect to eloquence, from the conftitution of the courts of juftice in France, from the academies erected there profeffedly for the improvement of oratory, and from the tone, which the genius of popery naturally gives to the productions of the pulpit. Thefe advantages do not exift in Germany. There the law-proceedings are carried on in a barbarous language. The public academies are merely literary or philofophical. And the facred orators in the Proteftant parts of the empire, having neither miracles, nor vifions, nor pompous legends to fwell their eloquence, want many inftruments of declamation that fet fancy a going in the Romish pulpits. The Proteftant preachers (fays our Abbé, who is himself one of the most eminent in that order) are, by their views of Chriftianity, happily confined to, or at leaft are obliged to confine themselves to, fimplicity, good fense, and perfpicuity in their compositions; nor are they allowed, by the true fpirit of their profeffion to exceed that temperate warmth, that mitigated vehemence, which the facred truths and obligations of religion are fo admirably adapted to excite by their excellence and importance, and to modify by their folemnity. Our Abbé obferves very juftly, on this occafion, that the eloquence of mild and gentle warmth is much more adapted to touch the heart, than either the over vehe ment, or over-florid fpecies of declamation which feldom gets farther than the fancy. We are quite of the ingenious Abbé's opinion. When fimplicity is wanting in facred eloquence, the orator becomes unhappily the principal object of regard; and, even in men of good intention, there is an imperceptible vanity accompanying principle, and even zeal that allures them to become fo. In fuch cases, truth and duty fuffer, by the fplendor of their attire. The hearers admire the preacher, and forget themselves; and thus the end is loft by the very means that were defigned to promote it. We are not indeed of our Author's opinion, when he fays, that with refpect to the kind of compofition, which he looks upon as the most adapted to perfuade, and touch effectually; Germany exhibits fome orators that furpafs the greatest models of pulpit eloquence among the French and English. At leaft, after having read feveral fermons of the most celebrated German preachers, we have found few or none of them equal to those of our ATTERBURY, not to mention the difcourfes of Dr. BLAIR, who certainly has a peculiar manner of arraying truth with that chafte fplendor, that never alters her fweet and native fimplicity. His fermons are, we think, excellent models with respect to tafte, judgment, method, and expreffion. There is in them a tone of gravity and conviction that fixes the mind directly on the subject. We read feveral of them, without think
ing once of the author. If we might be allowed the comparison, we would call this highly revered artift the GUIDO of the preachers.
The royal Cenfor of German genius complains of the dramatic writers of that nation; and our author acknowledges, that it is only of late that his countrymen have made any progrefs in this walk of literature. He however maintains, that their progrefs, though late, is rapid and confiderable; and, for a proof of this, he appeals to the dramatical compofitions of Engel, Leffing, and Leifewitz, which, as he obferves (and we believe with truth), would be applauded on the theatres of London and Paris.
As to the hiftorical writers, our Abbé confeffes, that, for a long time, their compofitions were very imperfect, and exhibited rather accounts of the emperors, than a history of the nation. But he obferves, that Mafcow, Schmidt, Moefer, and Leilewitz, have wiped off this reproach. The laft of these writers, fays he, is at prefent employed in compofing a hiftory of the famous war of thirty years (a moft interefting fubject and period!), which will deferve a place on the fame shelf with Robertfon's Hiftory of Charles V..
The Abbé's reflexions on the German language, its defects and advantages, are judicious and elegant, and contain fatiffactory answers to what his illuftrious antagonist had ingenioufly obferved on that head; but we pass them in filence, as they cannot be interefting to the generality of our readers.
Nouveaux Memoirs de l'Academie Royale des Sciences et Belles Lettres de Berlin. i. e. New Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Belles-Lettres of Berlin, for the Year 1779. Printed at Berlin, 1781.
HISTORY OF THE ACADEMY.
MONG the articles that occupy this part of the volume now before us, two merit particular attention, and of thefe we fhall give a compendious account. The first confifts in two letters, written by M. D'ANSIE DE VILLOISON, from Venice one addreffed to M. Formey, fecretary to the Academy; and the other to M. Caftillon. The writer, whom we had formerly occafion to mention, is a firft-rate fcholar; and his ardent application to the ftudy of literature, directed by an elegant taste and an acute judgment, has already given him a high rank in the learned world. The excellent Greek MSS. that dwell almoft unheeded in the library of St. Mark, at Venice, drew M. VILLOISON to that city, and he has found the
trouble of his journey amply rewarded by the hidden treasures of Grecian literature which he has discovered there.
The most curious and important manufcript which he found in this collection, is an ILIAD of the tenth century, written on vellum, in a large folio fize, and enriched with the notes and fcholia (hitherto unpublifhed) of fixty of the most eminent critics of ancient times. Thefe fcholia, which our academician looks upon as ineftimable, are written on the margins in fmall characters, with fuch fine ftrokes of the pen, as render them, but barely legible. They are entirely different from the Euftathius of Leyden, from that of Leipfic, from the Scholia Horneiana, from those at the end of the Cambridge edition, and alfo from thofe that the learned M. Waffemberg, of Franeker, has collected on the two firft books of the Iliad. Befide thefe fcholia, the MS. under confideration contains Various Readings, equally numerous and important, drawn from the ancient editions of Homer, which were given by the cities and ftates of Chios, Cyprus, Crete, Marfeilles, Sinope, and Argos; editions hitherto only known by name, and by fome citations of Euftathius. It also exhibits a great quantity of various readings, drawn from the two editions of the famous Ariftarchus, the two of Antimachus, of Colophon, from thofe of Zenodotus; and Aristophanes of Byzantium, who was librarian of Alexandria under Ptolemy Philadelphus; from those of Calliftrates (the difciple of Ariftophanes); Rhianus, a poet, who flourished under Ptolemy Euergetes; the Egyptian Sofigenes, a Peripatetic philofopher, and Philemon of Crete.
To enter into a farther detail of the literary treasures contained in this MS. would carry us too far. The curious will find them specified at length in this interefting letter; from which it appears, that this Homer may (as our author obferves) be properly called the Homerus Variorum of all antiquity, and more efpecially the Homer of the famous fchool of Alexandria. M. DE VILLOISON enumerates all the ancient critics whofe felect notes are collected in this MS.; of whom the most modern lived in the times of the firft Roman emperors. He also mentions the principal authors from whofe works this collector has quoted and explained a variety of paffages, that throw new light on feveral parts of the Iliad.
Another particularity in this MS. that renders it precious, is its containing, at the margin of each line, the critical marks (anua) which the ancients employed to denote the verses that were falfely attributed to Homer, thofe that were doubtful, thofe that were obfcure, thofe that were corrupted, thofe that were remarkable; as alfo the falfe corrections of Ariftarchus and Zenodotus, the falfe readings of Crates, the tranfpofitions, amphibologies, mythological or hiftorical antiquities, the mobologie
ral fentences, the expreffions peculiar to Homer, the expreffions: which are Attic, thofe which have various fignifications, the paffages erroneoufly employed by certain critics, to prove that the Iliad and Odyffey were not compofed by the fame author,
Our author has alfo difcovered, in the fame library, a small Greek treatise, which has furnished him with an explication of these critical marks, and a key to the different cyphers. This he intends to prefix to the new edition of the Iliad, which he proposes to publish from this valuable MS. with the onña, and the prodigious quantity of various readings and notes, that have been already mentioned.
This edition will excite no fmall furprife, fays M. VILLOISON, both by the number and importance of the various readings, and alfo by fhewing the ftrange manner in which the copiers have disfigured the text of Homer, as it stands at prefent.
This ingenious and fuccessful adventurer in literature has alfo copied, in the library of St. Mark, a new Greek version of the Pentateuch, of the three books of Solomon, of Ruth, of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and of the book of Daniel. This valuable verfion, which has never been published, is entirely different from that of the LXX. and from all those of which Montfaucon and Bahrd have given us fragments in their editions of the Hexapla. It is alfo more accurate and more literal. As it is tranflated, word for word, from the Hebrew text, it fupplies the place of the ancient MS. from which it was compofed. Mr. V. mentions feveral reafons which convince him that this verfion was made by a Jew, and that it formed the 7th or 8th volume of the Hexapla of Origen.
In the letter to M. Caft l'on, M. DE VILLOISON repeats what he had faid concerning Homer, and mentions a work of his, as in the prefs, to which is fubjoined a farther account of the fruits of his refearches in the library of St. Mark. We fhall give the principal contents of this work in a fucceeding article.
Eulogy of M. SULZER.-This excellent, this true philofopher, whofe memoirs, in this academical collection, we have fo often perufed and reviewed with pleasure, was born at Winterthun, in the canton of Zurich, October 16, 1720. He was the youngest of twenty-five children. His early education did not promife much, though it was by no means neglected. He had little inclination for what is called in the schools the study of humanity, and made but a fmall progrefs in the learned languages, which were to prepare him for the study of theology, for which profeffion his parents defigned him. At the age of fixteen, when he went to the academical school of