« IndietroContinua »
him a rich pelisse, and he had returned this present by giving hin two Lyons waistcoats, which he had just received. He concluded with informing Nadau that he had had a letter from Louison, a mulatto, one of the two valets-de-chambre, who followed him to Europe; that the poor fellow had complained to him chat lie was out of employment, and attacked with a disorder which required an expensive treatment, he had therefore caused him to be put under the care of a skilful surgeon at Cadiz, whom he had paid for the purpose, and had at the sunic time forwarded to Louison, money sufficient to get back to Martinique. He in this manner, by actions, as well as by words, supported the chaPurier lic haci assumedl, anirl this is assuredly not the Icast reparkable part of his history.
Liewain received also aliter, but it contained only civilities. He condolcd with hin on thee losses he had suffered on his account, and gave him hopes that he should inden:nify himn for them, ut some time or other. These letters were both the first and last from him. Ii appears that tired of his confinement, however commodious it had been rendered, the young man found means one day to make his escape. A merchant ship anclored izhout this time in the road of (;ibraltar. The captain who was an Englishman, went ashore and told the commanding officer that he had on board liis ressol the person so famous ilıroughout the country ly the name of the prince of Modena, and that he asked leave to come on shore. " Let him take care low he does so," answeieri the conimandant; I would treat him con maniera, in the English style, and he should be imprisoned immediately."* The captain took his word for it; he set sail
* 'The above conversation took place in the presence of a French officer of engineers in the service of the East India company. The commandant added some circunstances relative to the manner in which the pretended prince hac livel at Ceuta. He was served in plate by the monks, and treated with great respect. As he was passionately fond of riding on horseback, and the enclosures of the convent did not afford a sufficiently large field for this exercise, le had caused a wall which separated a couple of orchards to be taken down, and here he used to hunt dcer, wild on tame, which were procured for the purpose. It was thought the monks tired of their guestz had favoured his escape.
again, and with him disappeared for ever this extraordinary individual, leaving no other trace of his existence behind him; but the remembrance of an enigma which is probably inexplicable.
Note by the editors of the Archives Literaires, from which the above is translated.
The account we have here laid before our readers appears to us to unite the interest of a novel with the precision of history. It is extracted from an authentic Memoir, sent some years ago to one of the ministers of Louis the 15th; who gave a copy to one of our associates. We have done no more than abridge the Memoir, and amend its style, which is very incorrect, but no alteration whatever in the facts has been admitted. We have even thought proper to preserve some trifling details, the unimportance of which attests, in our opinion, the fidelity of the narrative.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
A COMPARISON BETWEEN HOMER AND THE SACRED
THERE is, as has often been remarked, a chastity, sublimity, and eloquence, in the sacred writings, beyond the ability of uninspired mortals to rival. Although this proposition has often been broadly asserted, it may not be uninstructive to examine it somewhat in detail, and to establish it by incontrovertible examples. And first, when we introduce the example of that tremendous Being whom we worship, let it not be thought that we cite such awful instances to amuse the literary indolence of our readers; that we mean to festoon his holy altar with the flowers of criticism, as a worthy substitute for that homage of the heart, which he enjoins as the test of our fealty and allegiance. Longinus, who felt a reverence for Homer little short of idolatry, and who, in his Treatise on the Sublime and Beautiful, made his writings the standard of illustration, with all the contempt of his nation for the Jews, prostrated his prejudices, and paid his literary adoration to that Divinity, who epoke the fountain of light into existence. The mind of this great critic was probably at that time torn by two conflicting sensations, his contempt for the Jews, and his reverence for the writings of Moses.
Literature was his predominant passion, and of course triumphed in the struggle. Let then the example of this illustrious heathen warn Christians of their duty. Let them believe that a book that could arrest the approbation of Longinus, is at least worthy of being read. Thousands and thousands professing Christianity, have dwelt with rapture on the passages of Homer, which this critic has cited with approbation, while they feel no pleasure in his commendation of the book on which their'temporal and eternal happiness is dependent. May it not be a paradox in the cars of future ages to be told that the Scriptures were reverenced by an heuthen and despised by a Christian? It is much to be lamented that the system of ancient mythology, which swayed the mind of Longinus, prevented him from taking a large and expanded view of a question so important. He could not break the fetters of his idolatry, and contrast the puny Jove of Ilomer with that mighty Deity, who is the object of our adoration. Homer, as before remarked, was confessedly the idol of Longinus, and he has deigned to cast an eye of approbation on the writings of Moscs. Let us then compare the presence which the Sovereign of the universe makes in the two volumes. Homer thus describes the flight of Jupiter to mount Ida, to survey the battle between the Trojans and the Greeks:
“Ile call'd his coursers, and his chariot took,
Here, the chariot of the heathen deity appears peculiarly
grand—the firmament is made to tremble under the coursers' feet; but the god himself seems subordinate: he is indeed
represented as “shining on his throne;" but this part of the description is so general, and the other so minute, that our eyes turn involuntarily to the contemplation of his chariot. To this we may oppose with success the following passage from the Psalms: “ He bowed the heavens, and came down, and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly, yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place, his pavilion round about was dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds past, hailstones and coals of fire.” Here we behold a picture, not portrayed with the serenity of Homer's pencil. All is tumultuous, awful, grand and majestic. Here is strikingly displayed the amazing difference between fancy and inspiration. Homer enters the presence of his Deity with a familiarity untempered with awe, and conscious of the elevation of his subject -he leisurely meditates, he heightens, he embellishes. On the other hand the Psalmist, full of divine horror at the spectacle, pours forth his description with all the tumult of prophetic fear, and appears to tremble and recoil while he speaks. The heavens are shaken by the presence of the Deity, the mighty winds the vehicles of his movements; but when we venture to prolong our gaze, and to ascertain the appearance of an object so terrific, the Psalmist, sinking beneath the weight of inspiration, exclaims, « darkness was his secret place, his pavilion round about was darkness and thick clouds of the skies.” This has been the custom with the most celebrated masters of the pencil to veil with benevolent darkness what they felt themselves incompetent to execute, and to leave to the agitated imagination of the spectator to supply the deficiency of their pencils. How poor does Homer's Ida appear, when contrasted with Sinai; those two mountains, which were made the respective residences of the heathen and Christian Deities?" And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount (Sinai), and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, so that all the people that was in the camp trembled." 5 And all the people saw the thunderings and the
lightnings; and heard the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, and when the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off.” Here we observe the same magnificent harbingers as David did announcing the approach of the Deity, and the same terrific darkness involving his presence. Longinus cites the following passage from Homer as an instance of the sublime, and soars into raptures in his comments. The inferior divinities, by Jove's permission, mingle in the Grecian and Trojan contests.
“ But when the powers descending swell'd the fight,
There is not probably a passage in all Homer, that condenses more sublimity than the present one. We may be allowed to remark, that as all the hcathen deities were agents, it behorer the