The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

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I shall conclude my Paper with a Story out of Boccalini [6] which sufficiently shews us the Opinion that judicious Author entertained of the sort of Criticks I have been here mentioning.  A famous Critick, says he, having gathered together all the Faults of an eminent Poet, made a Present of them to Apollo, who received them very graciously, and resolved to make the Author a suitable Return for the Trouble he had been at in collecting them.  In order to this, he set before him a Sack of Wheat, as it had been just threshed out of the Sheaf.  He then bid him pick out the Chaff from among the Corn, and lay it aside by it self.  The Critick applied himself to the Task with great Industry and Pleasure, and after having made the due Separation, was presented by Apollo with the Chaff for his Pains. [7]


[Footnote 1:  First published in 1690.]

[Footnote 2:  Dryden accounted among critics the greatest of his age to be Boilean and Rapin.  Boileau was the great master of French criticism.  Rene Rapin, born at Tours in 1621, taught Belles Lettres with extraordinary success among his own order of Jesuits, wrote famous critical works, was one of the best Latin poets of his time, and died at Paris in 1687.  His Whole Critical Works were translated by Dr. Basil Kennett in two volumes, which appeared in 1705.  The preface of their publisher said of Rapin that

he has long dictated in this part of letters.  He is acknowledged as the great arbitrator between the merits of the best writers; and during the course of almost thirty years there have been few appeals from his sentence.

(See also a note on p. 168, vol. i. [Footnote 3 of No. 44.]) Rene le Bossu, the great French authority on Epic Poetry, born in 1631, was a regular canon of St. Genevieve, and taught the Humanities in several religious houses of his order.  He died, subprior of the Abbey of St. Jean de Cartres, in 1680.  He wrote, besides his Treatise upon Epic Poetry, a parallel between the philosophies of Aristotle and Descartes, which appeared a few months earlier (in 1674) with less success.  Another authority was Father Bouhours, of whom see note on p. 236, vol. i. [Footnote 4 of No. 62.] Another was Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle. called by Voltaire the most universal genius of his age.  He was born at Rouen in 1657, looking so delicate that he was baptized in a hurry, and at 16 was unequal to the exertion of a game at billiards, being caused by any unusual exercise to spit blood, though he lived to the age of a hundred, less one month and two days.  He was taught by the Jesuits, went to the bar to please his father, pleaded a cause, lost it, and gave up the profession to devote his time wholly to literature and philosophy.  He went to Paris, wrote plays and the Dialogues of the Dead, living then with his uncle, Thomas Corneille.  A discourse on the Eclogue prefixed to his pastoral

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