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The Abbé Sallier, in his introduction to the catalogue of the Royal Library, printed in 1739, &c., six volumes, folio, says that the wainscoting of its first seat, "La Tour de la Librairie," as above, (Les lambris de la bibliothèque du Roi Charles V., étoient du bois d'Irlande,) was, as observed, of Irish oak, which is confirmed by the author of the "Essai sur la bibliothèque du Roi," (Paris, 1783, 12mo.) p. 7. This fact makes it probable that the same material was used in Westminster Hall, blended perhaps with chestnut.
John Barclay's work, referred to in the Gentleman's Magazine, was printed in London, 1621, 8vo. ; but his subsequent productions, Euphormionis Satyricon, and Argenis," are far more celebrated, having both been honored, or encumbered, " cum notis variorum," of which collection they form a part-the Argenis in 1664-1669, 2 vols., 8vo., and the Euphormio in 1674, one volume. The former was in progress of impression under the care of the philosopher Gassendi, at Paris, when the author died at Rome, in 1621, at the early age of thirty-eight. These books, descriptive, under feigned names, of the French court at that period, were frequently printed during the seventeenth century; but the Elzevir editions—the "Argenis cum clave," in 1630, and Euphormio, in 1637, are the most esteemed. The purity of Barclay's style suggested to Grotius the following epitaph for him, who, born of Scotch parents in France, resided for some time, and died at Rome—
"Gente Caledonius, Gallus natalibus, hic est,
When Barclay published these works, other writers were equally engaged, either by professed history,
or its union with romance and veiled characters, in delineating the persons and events of the French court, both, at the same time, borrowing from each other, so as too often to make it rather difficult to discriminate between the original and the copy-the witness, or authentic narrator of the facts, and his plagiarist, so approaching simultaneously did they frequently appear. An advocate of Dijon, Charles Bartholemew Morisot, composed panegyrics on Henry IV. and Louis XIII., with a continuation of Barclay's Euphormio, under the pseudonyme of Alcthophilus, chiefly, indeed, against the Jesuits, and subsequently a volume entitled Peruviana, descriptive of the court scenes, under disguised names, of Henry IV.—his widow, Mary of Medicis, Cardinal Richelieu, Gaston of Orleans, &c. The first work appeared in 1625—the second in 1644. He afterwards joined Salmasius (Saumaise) in his contest with our Milton, on the subject of Charles the First's execution, in a volume bearing the impress of Dublin, 1652. A Capuchin Friar, named Lisieux, also wrote several court romances, at that period, such as Gyges Gallus-Genius Seculi, Somnia Sapientis, &c., which, according to him, were the prototypes of similar publications, followed again by an intercharge of accusations, each impeaching the other of plagiarism, while the public only looked to their comparative merit, as in the ensuing epigram, suggested, though at a later period, by a contest of the same kind:
"Un jour Regnard et de Rivière,
En cherchant un sujet que l'on n'avait point traité,
Regnard le fit en vers, et de Rivière en prose:
Mais quiconque aujourd'hui voit l'un et l'autre ouvrage,
D'avoir été le bon larron."
To the over-scrupulous, this last line may possibly appear objectionable from its allusion, but it will be excused by the occasion. The play of Regnard, here adverted to, "Le Joueur," has always been classed with the master-pieces of the French theatre, and has often assumed an English dress on our own. The author, until rivaled or surpassed by Beaumarchais, was uniformly viewed as second only to Molière. "Qui ne se plait pas à Regnard, n'est pas digne d'estimer Molière," is the observation of Voltaire. This dramatist had been a great traveller, and, like Cervantes, a captive for some time at Algiers. On his liberation, he resumed his ramblings, until stopped on the borders of Lapland by the Frozen Ocean, where he and his companions left the following commemorative inscription on the rock of Pesomare, dated the 18th of August, 1681, and subscribed by, De Fercourt, Corbesan, and Regnard, the three associates:
"Gallia nos genuit; vidit nos Africa; Gangem
Hic tandem stetimus, nobis ubi defuit orbis."
The epitaph on Earl Macartney's tomb, is almost literally a transcript of these lines, in describing his perigrinations, and official positions in various regions of the earth.
A work at this moment in course of publication at Paris by M. Quénard," Les Supercheries Littéraires, or Literary Frauds, has for its laudable object to detect and expose the numerous literary characters, who shine in borrowed plumage and unearned reputation. Three volumes have already appeared, and, though confined in its purpose to French delinquents, principally, indeed, to contemporaneous writers,-the copious subject is likely to comprise several additional tomes. These "fuci alienorum laborum,”—the drones of others' labors, as plagiarists are not inaptly denominated by Scaliger, are there stripped of their usurped fame—the stolen property is restored to the rightful owners, and the convicted pilferer, no longer upheld by delusive appearances, sinks into his native insignificance. That most prolific novelist, Alexander Dumas, is the chief object of M. Quénard's attack.
It would be easy to point out several great names, and some, too, of our own authors, not innocent of this surreptitious possession of alien right, such as Sterne, who assuredly was rich enough in his natural gifts, without clandestinely availing himself of the wit or learning of others, of which Dr. Ferriar clearly proved his guilt. Montesquieu's theory of the influence of climate was, in like manner, unavowedly borrowed from his countryman Bodin; and Montaigne was a mine that furnished many an ingenious thought to succeeding writers, as also did his disciple Charron, while both, as they acknowledged, were largely indebted to Plutarch, without specially quoting him. There are, however, books from which we may derive information, such as dictionaries, without referring to them directly. But it has been asserted on the highest
authority, "that there is nothing new under the sun," (Nihil sub sole novum, nec valet quisquam dicere; Ecce hoc recens est." Ecclesiastes i., 10.) And our own experience confirms the fact; for it would be difficult to indicate what seems a novelty, of which the rudiment may not be discoverable in some anterior author.
Conscious, however, that I have already much too far strayed from my original purpose. I must stop this aberrant course, lest I should expose myself to such an interrogatory as that addressed by the Cardinal Ippolito d'Este to Ariosto-"Ove, diavolo, Messer Lodovico avete pigliate tante coglionerie?"