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Zation, and thus the importation of French eloquence retarded the progress 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, says he, and the extraordinary favours, with which this prince had already honoured the fciences, animated the learned Germans to deserve them by renewed ef. forts of emulation and industry. And since that period, genius, notwithstanding the difficulties that it has yet to encounter, has by the vigour and perseverance alone, that are peculiar to it, as also by the fruits of unwearied application, made such a rapid progress in Germany, as perhaps no other nation can boaft of in the same space of time, whatever its advantages for improve. ment may have been,'-- This is true in fact ; but there seems to be a painful struggle between sincerity and civility in the incense offered on this occasion. The epocha of the literary revolution in Germany, is, we believe, well marked; but how far the great perfonage may be considered as the fosterer of the German muses, is another question. That he has always been a patron of learning and learned men, is not to be denied ; dut, that he has been the encourager of German literature, and of German philofophers, historians, and poets, we dare not af. firm. He has ever professed a kind of averfion for the German Janguage, and has feldom honoured, with marks of diftinction, the men of letters in that country. The royal academy of Berlin is certainly composed of men of the first merit; but, if we are not mistaken, the greatest part of its members are foreigners.--We could mention several particularities, that thew how far German literature and philosophy have received encouragement from the great prince, under whose noftrils our Abbé bolds che panegyrical censor with no very firm hand, tbough its odours are elegant and pleasing.
Be that as it may, letters and science have certainly made a rapid and conliderable progress in Germany since the epocha mentioned by our learned Author. He alleges, as proofs of this, the Poems of HALLER, the Mefiah 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 witry productions of LESSING, LICHTWER, ENGIL, and CRAMER, and the Philosophical Writings of SULZEK, the Jew MenDELSON, ENGEL, and Garve, which would undoubtedly da 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 historians. The reverend Defendant alinoft owns the charge, as to the first article. He however
obferves that the D'Aguesseaux, the Masillons, and others men, tioned by the illustrious critic, derived peculiar advantages, with respect to eloquence, from the constitution of the courts of justice in France, from the academies erected there profel. sedly for the improvement of oratory, and from the tone, which the genius of popery naturally gives to the productions of the pulpit. These advantages do not exist in Germany. There the law-proceedings are carried on in a barbarous language. The public academies are merely literary or philosophical. And the facred orators in the Protestant parts of the empire, having nei. ther miracles, nor visions, nor pompous legends to swell their eloquence, want many instruments of declamation that set fancy a going in the Romish pulpits. The Protestant preachers (lays our Abbé, who is himself one of the most eminent in that order) are, by their views of Christianity, happily confined to. or at least are obliged to confine themselves to, fimplicity, good sense, and perspicuity in their compositions ; nor are they allowed, by the true spirit of their profession to exceed that temperate warmth, that mitigated vehemence, which the sacred truths and obligations of religion are so admirably adapted to excite by their excellence and importance, and to modify by their folemnity. Our Abbé observes 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. vehemen ment, or over-florid species of declamation which seldom gets a farther than the fancy. We are quite of the ingenious Abbé's opinion. When fimplicity is wanting in sacred eloquence, the orator becomes unhappily the principal object of regard; and, even in men of good intention, there is an imperceptible vanity accom / panying principle, and even zeal that allures them to become so.) In such cases, truth and duty suffer, by the splendor of their attire. The hearers admire the preacher, and forget themselves; and thus the end is loft by the very means that were designed to promote it. We are not indeed of our Author's opinion, when he says, that with respect to the kind of composition, which he looks upon as the most adapted to persuade, and touch effectu. ally; Germany exhibits some orators that surpals the greatest models of pulpit eloquence among the French and Englilh. At least, after having sead several sermons of the most celebrated German preachers, we have found few or none of them equal to those of our ATTERBURY, not to mention the discourses of a Dr. BLAIR, who certainly has a peculiar manner of arraying a truth with that chaste splendor, that never alters her sweet and native fimplicity. His sermons are, we think, excellent models with respect to taste, judgment, method, and expression. There is in them a tone of gravity and conviction that fixes the mind dia, rectly on the subject. We read several of them, without think.
ing once of the author. If we might be allowed the compari. fon, we would call this highly revered artist the GUIDO of the preachers.
The royal Censor of German genius complains of the dra. matic writers of that nation, and our author acknowledges, that it is only of late that his countrymen have made any progress in this walk of literature. He however maintains, that their progress, though late, is rapid and confiderable ; and, for a proof of this, he appeals to the dramatical compositions of Engel, Lesling, and Leisewitz, which, as he observes (and we believe with truth), would be applauded on the theatres of Lon.
believend Paris:ftorical writers: wese very chan a historier
As to the historical writers, our Abbé confeffes, that, for a long time, their compositions were very imperfect, and exhibited rather accounts of the emperors, than a history of the nation. But he observes, that Marcow, Schmidt, Moefer, and Leilewitz, have wiped off this reproach. The last of these writers, says he, is at present employed in composing a history of the famous war of thirty years (a most interesting subject and period !), which will deserve a place on the fame thelf with Robertson's History of Charles V.
The Abbé's reflexions on the German language, its defects and advantages, are judicious and elegant, and contain fatisfactory answers to what his illustrious antagonist had ingeniouly observed on that head ; but we pass them in filence, as they cannot be interesting to the generality of our readers.
ART. v. Nouveaux Momoirs de l' Academie Royale des Sciences et Belles Lettres
do 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. AMONG the articles that occupy this part of the volume Al now before us, two merit particular attention, and of these we shall give a compendious account. The first confifts in two letters, written by M. D'Ansie de VILLOISON, from Venice : one addressed to M. Formey, secretary to the Aca. demy; and the other to M. Castillon. The writer, whom we had formerly occasion to mention, is a first-rate scholar; and his ardent application to the ftudy of literature, directed by an elegant caste and an acute judgment, has already given him a high rank in the learned world. The excellent Greek MSS. that dwell almost unheeded in the library of St. Mark, at Ve. nice, 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 manuscript 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 scholia (hitherto unpublished) of sixty of the most eminent critics of ancient times. These fcholia, which our academician looks upon as inestimable, are written on the margins in small characters, with fuch fine strokes of the pen, as render them, but barely legible. They are entirely different from the Exslathius of Leyden, from that of Leiplic, from the Scholia Hornejana, from those at the end of the Cambridge edition, and also from those that the learned M. Waflemberg, of Franeker, has collected on the two first books of the Iliad. Befide these 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 states of Chios, Cyprus, Crete, Marseilles, Sinope, and Argos; editions hitherto only known by name, and by some citations of Eustathius. It also exhibits a great quantity of various readings, drawn from the two editions of the famous Aristarchus, the two of Antimachus, of Colophon, from those of Zenodotus ; and Aristophanes of Byzantium, who was librarian of Alexandria under Prolemy Philadelphus; from those of Calliftrates (ihe disciple of Aristophanes); Rhianus, a poet, who flourished under Ptolemy Euergetes ; the Egyptian Sofigenes, a Peripatetic philosopher, 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 interesting letter ; from which it appears, that this Homer may (as our author observes) be properly called the Homerus Variorum of all antiquity, and more especially the Homer of the famous school of Alexandria. M. de VILLOISON enumerates all the ancient critics whose select notes are collected in this MS.; of whom the most modern lived in the times of the first Roman emperors. He also mentions the principal authors from whole works this collector has quoted and explained a variety of passages, that throw new light on several 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 (onuria) which the ancients employed to denote the verses that were falsely attributed to Homer, those that were doubtful, those that were obscure, those that were corrupted, those that were remarkable; as also the false corrections of Aristarchus and Zenodotus, the false readings of Crates, the transposicions, amphibologies, mythological or historical antiquities, the mo
and Arunder Prolem ophanes) : Feyptian Soligen
ral sentences; the expressions peculiar to Homer, the expressions which are Attic, those which have various fignifications, the, passages erroneously employed by certain critics, to prove that ibe Iliad and Odyssey were not composed by the same author, &c.
Our author has also discovered, in the same 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 onucu, and the prodigious quantity of various readings and notes, that have been already mentioned.
This edition will excite no small surprise, says M. VILLOISON, both by the number and importance of the various readings, and also by Thewing the strange manner in which the copiers have disfigured the text of Homer, as it stands at present.
This ingenious and successful adventurer in literature has also 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 version, which has never been publilhed, is en. tirely different from that of the LXX. and from all those of which Montfaucon and Babrd have given us fragments in their edicions of the Hexapla. It is also more accurate and more literal. As it is translated, word for word, from the Hebrew text, it supplies the place of the ancient MS. from which it was composed. Mr. V. mentions several reasons which convince him that this version was made by a Jew, and that it formed the 7th or 8th volume of the Hexapla of Origen.
In the letter to M. Caftillon, M. DE VILLOISON repeats what he had said concerning Homer, and mentions a work of his, as in the press, to which is subjoined a farther account of the fruits of his researches in the library of St. Mark. We Thall give the principal contents of this work in a succeeding article.
Eulogy of M. Sulzer.—This excellent, this true philosopher, whose memoirs, in this academical collection, we have so often perused 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 promise 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 small progress in the learned languages, which were to prepare him for the study of theology, for which profession his parents designed him. At the age of sixteen, when he went to the academical school of