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(1) "Ordered Fletcher (at four o'clock this afternoon) to copy out seven or eight apophthegms of Bacon, in which I have detected such blunders as a schoolboy might detect, rather than commit. Such are the sages! What must they be, when such as I can stumble on their mistakes or mis-statements? I will go to bed, for I find that I grow cynical.” — B. Diary, Jan. 5. 1821

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(1) ["If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined,

The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind."— Pope.]

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Having stated that Bacon was frequently incorrect in his citations from history, I have thought it necessary in what regards so great a name (however trifling), to support the assertion by such facts as more immediately occur to me. They are but trifles, and yet for such trifles a schoolboy would be whipped (if still in the fourth form); and Voltaire for half a dozen similar errors has been treated as a superficial writer, notwithstanding the testimony of the learned Warton:-" Voltaire, a writer of much deeper research than is imagined, and the first who has displayed the literature and customs of the dark ages with any degree of penetration and comprehension." (1) For another distinguished testimony to Voltaire's merits in literary research, see also Lord Holland's excellent Account of the Life and Writings of Lope de Vega, vol. i. p. 215. edition of 1817. (2)

(1) Dissertation I.

(2) [Till Voltaire appeared, there was no nation more ignorant of its neighbours' literature than the French. He first exposed, and then corrected, this neglect in his countrymen. There is no writer to whom the authors of other nations, especially of England, are so indebted for the extension of their fame in France, and, through France, in Europe. There

Voltaire has even been termed "a shallow fellow," by some of the same school who called Dryden's Ode "a drunken song; "a school (as it is called, I presume, from their education being still incomplete) the whole of whose filthy trash of Epics, Excursions, &c. &c. &c. is not worth the two words in Zaïre," Vous pleurez," (1) or a single speech of Tancred: - a school, the apostate lives of whose renegadoes, with their tea-drinking neutrality of morals, and their convenient treachery in politics - in the record of their accumulated pretences to virtue can produce no actions (were all their good deeds drawn up in array) to equal or approach the sole defence of the family of Calas, by that great and unequalled geniusthe universal Voltaire.

I have ventured to remark on these little inaccuracies of "the greatest genius that England or perhaps any other country ever produced," (2) merely to show our national injustice in condemning generally, the greatest genius of France for such inadvertencies as these, of which the highest of England has been no less guilty. Query, was Bacon a greater intellect than Newton ?


Being in the humour of criticism, I shall proceed, after having ventured upon the slips of Bacon, to touch upon one or two as trifling in the edition

is no critic who has employed more time, wit, ingenuity, and diligence in promoting the literary intercourse between country and country, and in celebrating in one language the triumphs of another. Yet, by a strange fatality, he is constantly represented as the enemy of all literature but his own; and Spaniards, Englishmen, and Italians vie with each other in inveighing against his occasional exaggeration of faulty passages; the authors of which, till he pointed out their beauties, were hardly known beyond the country in which their language was spoken. Those who feel such indignation at his misrepresentations and oversights, would find it difficult to produce a critic in any modern language, who, in speaking of foreign literature, is better informed or more candid than Voltaire; and they certainly never would be able to discover one, who to those qualities unites so much sagacity and liveliness. His enemies would fain persuade us that such exuberance of wit implies a want of information; but they only succeed in showing that a want of wit by no means implies an exuberance of information.-LORD HOLLAND.]


"Il est trop vrai que l'honneur me l'ordonne, Que je vous adorai, que je vous abandonne,

Que je renonce à vous, que vous le désirez,

Que sous une autre loi... Zaïre, VOUS PLEUrez?"—

Zaïre, acte iv. sc. ii.

(2) Pope, in Spence's Anecdotes, p. 158. Malone's edition.

(3) ["Read Campbell's Poets. Corrected Tom's slips of the pen. A good work, though-style affected— but his defence of Pope is glorious. To be sure, it is his own cause too, but no matter, it is very good, and does

of the British Poets, by the justly celebrated Campbell. But I do this in good will, and trust it will be so taken. If any thing could add to my opinion of the talents and true feeling of that gentleman, it would be his classical, honest, and triumphant defence of Pope, against the vulgar cant of the day, and its existing Grub-street.

The inadvertencies to which I allude are,

Firstly, in speaking of Anstey, whom he accuses of having taken "his leading characters from Smollett." Anstey's Bath Guide was published in 1766. Smollett's Humphry Clinker (the only work of Smollett's from which Tabitha, &c. &c. could have been taken) was written during Smollett's last residence at Leghorn in 1770.—“ Argal,” if there has been any borrowing, Anstey must be the creditor, and not the debtor. Mr. Campbell to his own data in his lives of Smollett and Anstey.

I refer

Secondly, Mr. Campbell says in the life of Cowper (note to page 358. vol. vii.) that he knows not to whom Cowper alludes in these lines: "Nor he who, for the bane of thousands born,

Built God a church, and laugh'd his word to scorn."

The Calvinist meant Voltaire, and the church of Ferney, with its inscription "Deo erexit Voltaire."

Thirdly, in the life of Burns, Mr. Campbell quotes Shakspeare thus:

"To gild refined gold, to paint the rose,

Or add fresh perfume to the violet."

This version by no means improves the original, which is as follows: "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,

To throw a perfume on the violet," &c. - KING JOHN.

A great poet quoting another should be correct: he should also be accurate, when he accuses a Parnassian brother of that dangerous charge "borrowing: " a poet had better borrow any thing (excepting money) than the thoughts of another- they are always sure to be reclaimed; but it is very hard, having been the lender, to be denounced as the debtor, as is the case of Anstey versus Smollett.

As there is "honour amongst thieves," let there be some amongst poets, and give each his due, none can afford to give it more than Mr. Campbell himself, who, with a high reputation for originality, and a fame which cannot be shaken, is the only poet of the times (except Rogers) who can be reproached (and in him it is indeed a reproach) with having written too little.

Ravenna, Jan. 5. 1821.

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