« AnteriorContinuar »
Though Cellini was so blind to his own imperfections as to commit the most unjustifiable actions, with a full persuasion of the goodness of his cause and the rectitude of his intention, yet no man was a keener and more accurate observer of the blemishes of others; hence his book abounds with sarcastick wit and satirical expression. Yet though his portraits are sometimes grotesque and overcharged, from misinformation, from melancholy, from infirmity, and from peculiarity of humour; in general it must be allowed that they are drawn from the life, and conformable to the idea given by cotemporary writers. His characters of pope Clement the seventh, Paul the third, and his bastard son Pier Luigi; Francis the first, and his favourite mistress madam d' Estampes ; Cosmo duke of Florence, and his duchess, with many others, are touched by the hand of a master.
General history cannot descend to minute details of the domestick life and private transactions, the passions and foibles of great personages; but these give truer representations of their characters than all the elegant and laboured compositions of poets and historians.
To some a register of the actions of a statuary may seem a heap of uninteresting occurrences; but the discerning will not disdain the efforts of a powerful mind, because the writer is not ennobled by birth, or dignified by station.
The man who raises himself by consummate merit in his profession to the notice of princes, who converses with them in a language dictated by honest freedom, who scrupleś not to tell them those truths which they must despair to hear from courtiers and favourites, from minions and parasites, is a bold leveller of distinctions in the courts of powerful monarchs. Genius is the parent of truth and courage; and these, united, dread no opposition.
The Tuscan language is greatly admired for its elegance, and the meanest inhabitants of Florence speak a dialect which the rest of Italy are proud to imitate. The style of Cellini, though plain and familiar, is vigorous and energetick. He possesses, to an uncommon degree, strength of expression, and rapidity of fancy. Dr. Nugent seems to have carefully studied his author, and to have translated him with ease and freedom, as well as truth and fidelity,
VIEW OF THE CONTROVERSY
Mons. CROUSAZ AND MR. WARBURTON,
ON THE SUBJECT OF
MR. POPE's ESSAY ON MAN,
IN A LETTER TO THE
EDITOR of the GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE, vol. xiii.
Mr. URBAN, IT Twould not be found useless in the learned
world, if in written controversies as in oral disputations, a moderator could be selected, who might in some degree superintend the debate, re. strain all needless excursions, repress all personal reflections, and at last recapitulate the arguments on each side; and who, though he should not assume the province of deciding the question, might at least exhibit it in its true state, This reflection arose in
the consideration of Mr. Crousaz's Commentary on the Essay on Man, and Mr. Warburton's Answer to it. The importance of the subject, the reputation and abilities of the controvertists, and perhaps the ar. dour with which each has endeavoured to support his cause, have made an attempt of this kind necessary for the information of the greatest number of Mr. Pope's readers.
my mind upon
Among the duties of a moderator, I have men. tioned that of recalling the disputants to the subject, and cutting off the excrescences of a debate, which Mr. Crousaz will not suffer to be long unemployed, and the repression of personal invectives which have not been very carefully avoided on either part; and are less excusable, because it has not been proved, that either the poet, or his commentator, wrote with any other design than that of promoting happiness by cultivating reason and piety.
Mr. Warburton has indeed so much depressed the character of his adversary, that before I consider the controversy between them, I think it necessary to exhibit some specimens of Mr. Crousaz's sentiments, by which it will probably be shewn, that he is far from deserving either indignation or contempt; that his notions are just, though they are sometimes introduced without necessity; and defended when they are not opposed; and that his abilities and parts are such as may entitle him to reverence from those who think his criticisms superfluous.
In page 35 of the English translation, he exhibits an observation which every writer ought to impress upon his mind, and which may afford a sufficient apology for his commentary.
On the notion of a ruling passion he offers this remark: 'Nothing so much hinders men from obtaiping a complete victory over their ruling pas.
sion, as that all the advantages gained in their days of retreat, by just and sober reflections,
whether struck out by their own minds, or borrowed from good books, or from the conversation s of men of merit, are destroyed in a few moments by a free intercourse and acquaintance with lie bertines; and thus the work is always to be begun anew. A gamester resolves to leave off play, by which he finds his health impaired, his family ruined, and his passions inflamed; in this resolution he persists a few days, but soon yields 'to an invitation, which will give his prevailing
inclination an opportunity of reviving in all its • force. The case is the same with other men:
but is reason to be charged with these calamities 6 and follies, or rather the man who refuses to listen * to its voice in opposition to impertinent solici
On the means recommended for the attainment of happiness, he observes, “ that the abilities which our Maker has given us, and the internal and external advantages with which he has invested us, are of two very different kinds; those of one
kind are bestowed in common upon us and the • brute creation, but the other exalt us far above • other animals. To disregard any of these gifts would be ingratitude; but to neglect those of greater excellence, to go no farther than the
gross 6 satisfactions of sense, and the functions of mere
animal life, would be a far greater crime. We are • formed by our Creator capable of acquiring know
ledge, and regulating our conduct by reasonable * rules ; it is therefore our duty to cultivate our