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Book-Worm . No . XVII . Sir , Jan . ] , 1815-WORK upon whatever subject A could scarcely fail to attract curiosity , if written in our language by a foreigner who had become a classic in his own . Such is the following publication :
"An Essay upon the Civil Wars of France , extracted from curious manuscripts , and also upon the Epic Poetry of the European Nations from Homer down to Milton . By M . de Voltaire , Author of the Henriade . The Second Edition , corrected by himself .
London : printed for N . Prevost and Comp . at the Ship , over against Southampton-Street , in the Strand . 17 £ 8 . Price , stitched , Is . 6 d . " Pp . 130 . It is well known from the biographies of Voltaire that he came into
this country in 1726 , at the age of thirty-two , for the purpose of publishing in its finished form , his celebrated Epic , parts of which had been printed at London in 1723 , under the title of The League ; and it cannot fail to be related in future histories of
poetry as a curious coincidence that the Henriade and Charlemagne both made their first appearance from the "English press . According to memoirs attributed to Voltaire , and translated in the Annual Register for 1777 , ( p . 34 ) " George the First * and more
particularly the Princess of Wales , afterwards Queen of England , raised an immense subscription ibr him . " The king died at Osnaburg , in 1727 , during Voltaire s stay in England . To the young Queen he presented the
Henriade , with an English dedica * cation which is prefixed to the Poem in his works ( x , 19 ) . The author also testified his gratitude for English par tronage by introducing in hk $ first anto a panegyric on our threefold form ofirovernment , concluding with
these lines , to which I subjoin a literal translation . Heureux lorsque le peuple , instruit duns ' son devoir .
Hespecte 7 autant qu il doit ) le souverain pouvoir ! J * lus heureuoc lorsqu ? un roi ^ doux ^ juste et politique 9 Respecte , autant qifil doit , la libertt picblique .
Happy the people , to their duties true , That pay the sovereign power allegiance due 5 Happier if just , wise , good , a King de ~ clare The public liberty , his duteous care .
It is not very creditable to the literary research of Voltaire ' s French or English Biographers , that none of them mention this Essay , though it is incidentally noticed by Ruffhead , in his JLife of Pope , 1769 , on introducing a short English letter from
Voltaire to the Bard of Twickenham , whom he compliments for having ^ dressed Homer so becomingly in aa English coat . " Mr . Hay ley also quotes the Essay in his Milton , 2 d E « J * p . 248 , as " a work which , though written under such disadvantage , possesses the peculiar vivacity of this extraor
dinary writer , an , d is indeed so curious a specimen of his versatile talents , that it ought to have found a place in that signal monument to the name of Voltaire , the edition of his workp in ninety-two volumes . 11 The following is the author ' s own account :
" Advertisement to the Reader . " It has the appearance of too great a presumption in a traveller , who hath been but eighteen months in England , to attempt to write in a language , which he cannot pronounce at all , and which he hardly understands in conversation . But 1 have done what
we do every day at school , where we write Latin and Greek , though surely we pronounce them both very pitifully , and should understand neither ofthena if they were uttered to us with the right Roman or Greek pronunciation . 1 look upon the English language -a * a learned one , which deserves to be
the object of our application in France , as the French tongue is thought a kind of accomplishment in England . ** As to this present Essay * it is intended as a kind of Preface or Introduction to the Henriade * which jw *| J-
3 * tfook-Worm . No . XVII .
to particulars , and point out in a clear and distinct manner the provisions which have been made for the due exercise of each of them . If , Sir , you judge the foregoing
observations worthy a place in the Monthly Repository , I will in the following number give some account of the eye as the organ of vision , and am . Your sincere well-wisher , Y .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1815, page 38, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1756/page/38/