« ZurückWeiter »
Sacred and Profane Authors; and shews us that the Eloquence of the Holy Scripture, in many places, surpasses that of the Greeks and Romans, in native Šimplicity, Livelyness, Grandeur, and in every thing that can recommend Truth to our Asent and Admiration.
Nothing can be more proper than these Dialogues, to guard us against the vitiated Taste of false Wit ; which, serves only for Amusement and Ostentation. Such Eloquence as is founded on Vanity and Self-love, delights in gaudy Ornaments ; and neglects the genuine Graces of a noble Simplicity. For, the glittering Fancy, and quaint Turns, and forc'd Antitheses, the smooth Periods, and other artificial Ornaments of false Oratory, make a little Genius lose the Relish of those superiour and solid Beauties that force their way to the Mind, and at once enlighten, and capi tivate it.
They who value nothing but Wit, will probably dislike the Plainness of these Dialogues : but they wou'd form another Judgment of them if they consider'd that there are different Stiles of Dialogue ; of which Antiquity furnishes us with two celebrated Patterns ;
the Dialogues of PLATO; and those of LUCIAN. Plato like a true PhiloSopher, study'd chiefly to give Force and Light to his Arguments; and chose no other Stile than what is us'd in Cona versation : so that his Language is artless, easy and familiar. On the contrary Lucian is every-where witty and sparkling. All the Persons he introduces have a sprightly delicate Fancy; so that in reading him, we forget the feign’d Characters of Gods and Men who speak in his Dialogues ; and cannot but see the ingenious. Author in every thing they say. We must own however that he is an Original, who has succeeded wonderfully in this way of writing. He ridicuțd Men in the most facetious pleasing Manner : While Plato instructed them
with Gravity and Wisdom. The Archbishop of Cambray has imitated them both, on different Subjects. In his Dialogues of the Dead (which he compos’d for the Instruction of a young Prince that was his Pupil) we find the various Wit and agreeable Humour of Lucian. And in the following Sheets, where he lays down the Rules of such a grave Eloquence as is proper to move and perswade Men; he imitates Plato : every thing is natural, and instructive : and instead of Wit
and Humour we find Truth, and Wif dom shine throughout the Composure.
It was thought proper to subjoyn to these Dialogues the Author's Letter to the French ACADEMY concerning Rhetorick, Poetry, and other Subječts; which has met with so good Reception, that it cannot but be aeceptable to every polite Reader. The Dialogues, tho® but lately publish't, were compos'd reveral Years ago in the Archbishop's younger Days. But the Letter was written in his more advanced Age, in answer to one that the Academy sent him by their Secretary ; desiring his Advice on the feveral Subjects betreats of : and therefore it is pennd with the utmost Elegance and Politeness, However both in the Dialogues, and the Letter, we find the fame juft Tafte, the fame noble Genius; the very same Maxims ; and the fame Design in Writing to reduce all Compofüres to Truth, Nature, and Decency.
Τ Η Ε
S. III. Of improving a Language, 205 S.I V. A Proposal for a new Treatise of RHETORICK,
213 S. V. Of POETRY Antient and Modern,
242 S. VI. Of TRAGEDY,
269 S. VII. Of COMEDY,
283 SVIII. Of HISTORY,
288 §. IX. An Objection answerd, 301 S. X. A Comparison betwixt the Antients and Moderns,