Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

species of composition. In his Ecclesiastes, very excellent rules are laid down for preaching. In his Dialogues, the superstitions of the Romish church are exposed with all the pleasantry of Lucian; an author to whom his genius bore great resemblance; and some of whose dialogues he has translated with their original spirit. Indeed, among the many translators of Greek authors who flourished at that time, Erasmus seems to have been in all respects the most eminent. To him was the restoration of literature principally owing. More than one prince solicited his friendship, and invited him to their courts. We see in a letter of Erasmus, written in the year ]516, that Francis I. who shared with Leo X. the glory of reviving sciences and arts in Europe, having declared to Petit, his confessor, that he intended to bring into France the most learned men he could find, Petit had charged Buda;us, and Cop, the royal physician, to write to Erasmus, to engage him to settle in Fiance: that Stephen Poncher, ambassador from the king at Brussels, pressed him still more; but that Erasmus made his excuses, because his Catholic Majesty Charles V. had retained him in the Low

N 2 Countries. Countries. The life of Erasmus, which' deserves ^v**" the finest pen, has been wretchedly and frigidly written by Knight; although, indeed, the materials he has collected are curious and useful.

47. But see! each muse in Leo's golden days,

Starts from her trance, and trims her wither'd bays:
Rome's ancient Genius, o'er its ruins spread,
Shakes off the dust, and rears his rev'rend head.*

History has recorded five ages of the world, in which the human mind has exerted itself in an extraordinary manner; and in which its productions in literature and the fine arts, have arrived at a perfection not equalled in other periods. The First, is the age of Philip and Alexander; about which time flourished Socrates, Plato, Demosthenes, Aristotle, Lysippus, Apelles, Phidias, Praxiteles, Thucydides, Xenophon, ^Eschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Menander, Philemon. The Second age, which seems not to have been sufficiently taken notice of, was that of Ptolomy Philadelphus, king of iEgypt; in which appeared Lycophron, Aratus, Nicander, Apollonius Rhodius, Theocritus, Callimachus,

Eratosthenes,

[ocr errors]

Eratosthenes, Philicus, Erasistratus the physician, Timasus the historian, Cleanthes, Diogenes the painter, and Sostrates the architect. This prince, from his love of learning, commanded the Old Testament to be translated into Greek. The Third age is that of Julius Caesar, and Augustus; marked with the illustrious names of Laberius, Catullus, Lucretius, Cicero, Livy, Varro, Virgil, Horace, Propertius, Tibullus, Ovid, Phsedrus, Vitruvius, Dioscorides. The Fourth age was that of Julius II. and Leo X. which produced Ariosto, Tasso, Fracastorius, Sannazarius, Vida, Bembo, Sadolet, Machiavel, Guicciardin, Michael Angelo, Raphael, Titian. The Fifth age, is that of Louis XIV. in France, and of king William and queen Anne in England; in , which, or thereabouts, are to be found, Corneille, Moliere, Racine, Boileau, La Fontaine, Bossuet, La Rochefoucault, Paschal, Bourdaloue, Patru, Malbranche, De Retz, La Bruyere, St. Real, Fenelon, Lully, Le Saeur, Poussin, La Brun, Puget, Theodon, Gerardon, Edelinck, Nanteuil, * Perrault, Dry den, Tillotson, Temple, Pope, N 3 Addison,

* The Architect

Addison, Garth, Congreve, Rowe, Prior, Lee, Swift, Bolingbroke, Atterbury, Boyle, Locke, Newton, Clarke, Kneller, Thornhill, Jervas, Purcell, Mead, Freind.

Concerning the particular encouragement given by Leo X. to polite literature, and the fine arts, I forbear to enlarge; because a friend of mine is at present engaged in writing, The History Of The Age Of Leo X. It is a noble period, and full of those most important events which have had the greatest influence on human affairs. Such is the discovery of the West-Indies, by the Spaniards; and of a passage to the East, by the Portugueze; the invention of printing; the re-> formation of religion; with many others: all which will be insisted upon at large, and their consequences displayed. I shall only here transiently observe, that some efforts to emerge froni barbarity had long before this time appeared in Italy. Dante wrote his sublime* and original

poem,

* See particularly the beginning of the third canto of the Inferno, as also the beginning of the sixth, particularly the inscription oyer the gate of Hell:

Pec poem, which is a kind of satirical epic, and which abounds in images and sentiments almost worthy of Homer, but whose works he had never seen, about the year 1310. Giotto, the disciple of Cimabue, the friend of Pante, and subject of his praises, was employed, about the same time, by Benedict XL and a picture of mosaic work done by him, over the gate of St. Peter's church at Rome, is still remaining. A Tuscan, called Guy of Arezzo, invented the musical notes in use at present: and Bruneleschi built palaces at Florence, in the style of ancient architecture. Soon afterwards, Boccace and Petrarch polished, and fixed the standard of, the Italian language.* To Petrarch the honour is N 4 generally

Per me si va nella città dolente;
Per me si va nell' eterno dolor, &c.
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi, che entrate.

Whence Milton,

Hope never comes,
That comes to all

* " Veggiamo in un medesimo progresso di tempo (dal regno principalmente dell' una,.e dell' altra Sicilia, e poi della Lombardia, e de vari, e distinti luoghi d'Italia) sorgere scrittori, i quali anno favella con Dante, Petrarcha, Boccacio, ed altri , Toscani

« ZurückWeiter »