Page images

Versailles, M. Bignon was kind enough to offer me this place, which procured both pleasure and income. I engaged him to dispose of it in favor of another. M. Lenoir having given in 1789 his resignation of the place of the king's librarian, M. de Saint Priest, at that time minister, had the goodness to propose it to me. Seduced by the hope of fixing this place for the future in the class of literary men, I was tempt ed to accept it, though I felt how much the sacrifice of my time and my literary labors would be painful to me. . But having very soon discovered, that it was only offered to me, because they thought it necessary, as circumstances were, to assure it to the President, d'Ormesson, who had treated with M. Lenoir, and that it was intended to make him my assistant, or give him the survivance. Disgusted besides with the difficulty, which my nomination caused in the interested arrangements between M. Lenoir and him, arrangements, to which I ought, and to which I chose to be a stranger, and seeing the hope vanish, which could alone conquer my repugnance, I renounced my ambitious views, which I had entertained for the cause of literature and not for myself. The manner, in which my thanks were received, and the facility, with which the affair was terminated soon after, persuaded me, that I had done wisely, and, if it had been found very necessary at first to put me in place, it was found very useful afterward to leave me out. .

I ought not to omit in reciting the events of my life my admission into the French academy, from which I had always held myself at a distance, nor the reasons, which forced. me in a manner to solicit a place the same year, 1789. M.

Bauzér had recently died; the success of the travels of Ana· charsis had inflamed the zeal of some members of that socie

ty, with whom I had long been intimate. They communicated their feelings of good will for me to a great number of their brethren, who engaged them to propose to me the place, which M. Bauzér had left vacant. I was affected by the warmth, with which they expressed the wishes of the academy; but my opinion was fixed, and, though strongly urged, .

Vol. II. No. 3.


I remained firm, opposing my age, and above all my dislike to any public representation to a new engagement. I thought myself secure, until I learned some days after, that the acado emy in one of its sittings had resolved to elect me, notwithstanding my resistance. It was easy to foresee the result of such à resolution. If after the election I accepted the place, it would be said, that I wanted to dispense with the customary visits, and to obtain a distinction, to which the greatest men had not pretended. If I refused, I should have outraged a respectable body at the very moment, they were heaping honors upon me. I hesitated then no longer ; I made my visits; my age had prevented any concurrence; and to complete my happiness M. de Boufflers, who had always shown me friendship, did in quality of director the honors of the sitting. They were indulgent for my discourse; they were enchanted with the wit, the graces, the new and striking reHections, which shone in his, and a part of the interest, which he excited, was reflected upon the choice of the academy.

Since that epoch, beaten without cessation by the revolutionary tempest, borne down with age and infirmities, pillaged of all, I possessed, deprived every day of some one of my dearest friends, trembling perpetually for the small number, that remained, my life has been only a chain of misfortunes. If fortune had hitherto treated me with too much kindness, she has fully revenged herself. But it is not my intention to complain. When we suffer the general oppression, we groan, but we do not complain. Let "my soul, oppressed with grief, only be permitted to give some tears to friendship.

I ought to say however, that in the midst of the tempest I ex*perienced a 'very unexpected consolation, that made me be*Heve for a moment, that I was suddenly transported into an

other world ; and I could not without ingratitude conceal the name of the humane and generous man, to whom I am indebted. .

Immediately after my going out of the Madelonettes, where I had been imprisoned the 2d of September in the year 1793, "upon the denunciation of I do not know what derk, as wellz as the other guardians of the library, and my nephew, Courçay, who was my assistant in the cabinet of medals, I learned, that, notwithstanding the acknowledged falsity of the denunciation, they were going to thank us, and name others in our places. This report appeared the more founded, as the keys of the cabinet, which the minister of the interior had ordered to be taken away the moment of our arrest, were confided every day, not to me or my nephew, but to the clerk of the depot, who kept it open morning and evening to the public. I expected then every moment to see taken away the last resource, which remained for subsistence; when on the evening of the 12th of October Citizen Paré, minister of the interior, gave me a letter, which he had written himself, and which he requested me to read. This letter contrasts so strongly with the manners of the day, it does so much honor to the minister, who could have written it in these wretched times, that I cannot resist my desire to transcribe it here, to pay him as far, as I am able, the tribute of my gratitude.'

The 21st day of the Ist month of the

republic, one and indivisible. Paré, minister of the interior, to Barthelemy, keeper of

the natianal library. ON reentering the national library, whence some rigorous circumstances had momentarily taken you, say, like Anacharsis, when he contemplated with extacy the library of Euclid ; it is decided, I shall not go from this place** No, citizen, you will leave it no more, and I repose my conviction on the justice of a people, who will always make it a law to recompense the author of a work, in which are recalled with such seduction the finest days of Greece, and those republican manners, which produced so many great men and great things. I confide to your care the national library. I flatter myself you will accept this honorable deposit ; and I felicitate myself, that it is in my power to offer it to you. In reading the Travels of Anacharsis for the first time, I admired that prom

* Vol. iii.

duction, where genius had given so many charms to erudition ; but I was far from thinking, that I should one day be the organ, which would serve an equitable people to give its author a pledge of their esteem.

I will not conceal from you, that this sanctuary of human science has hitherto felt but little of the influence of the revolution ; that the people are ignorant, that this domain is theirs, that they may enjoy it at all times, and that they ought only to meet with a Callias equally disposed to receive and instruct them fraternally. Cause then, citizen, this monument, so worthy of a great nation, to recal to us in fine all those precious advantages, which the mind and the eye found to treasure up in the smallest republics of antiquity.


The style more than obliging of this letter, the proceedings of the minister, the grace, with which he accompanied this benefaction, his eagerness to determine me to accept it, the proofs of interest, which he heaped upon me, were all calculated to affect me. I could hardly find terms to express the gratitude, with which I was penetrated. But the feeling of my inability to discharge in the state, in which I am, the duties of the librarian gave me strength to resist. He had the kindness to express his regret, and with difficulty consented to leave me in the place, I had so long occupied, and which had always been sufficient for my ambition.

UNDER an impression, that the readers of the Literary Miscellany would be grat

ified with the sentiments of a great and candid man on the subject of COLLEGE EVE UCATION, I bere send for insertion an extract from the sketches of ARTHUR Browne LL. D. senior fellow of Trinity College Dublin, king's professor of Greek.

DR. BROWNE was the son of the Rev. Marmaduke Browne, rector of Trinity Church Newport Rhode Island. He entered Harvard College in 1771, but quitted it after a year's residence to enter the University of Dublin, where he attained every grade of honor, but the presidency, and he would have filled that high station, had he outlived the present Provost. Dr. Browne died last May greatly lamented.*

Dr. Browne laments in another part of his work, that the gentlemen of Trinity College have been so little disposed to leave behind them written memorials of their great abilities and universal learning. Some of them have proved, says he, their power of composition and profundity of erudition in detached sermons, or smaller essays. But it must be owned, that they have been retarded by diffidence or false fastidiousness, and fear of exposing themselves to censure ; they were too apt to wrap themselves in the safe and proud criticism of conversation, without venturing to write ; but that diffidence is now wearing off, and they begin to learn, that, where none will venture, Bone can succeed.

W. Cambridge Dec. 9, 1805


THE utility of academical education has not only been doubted, but in fact denied by some learned sceptics of modern times. Smith in his Wealth of Nations, Roụsseau in his Emile, Gibbon in his Memoirs ; among writers of inferior note Vicesimus Knox in his Essays, and a thousand different authors assail the ancient towers of the University, and strive to apply the axe to the groves of Academus. Though conscious of early reverence for those sacred mansions, which some may call habitual prejudice, I will endeavour to meet the attack with candor and deliberation.

* See a biographical sketch of this eminent man in the Anthology for November last.

« PreviousContinue »