Corneille and Fontenelle are the citizens, of whom Rouen is most proud: the house in which Corneille was born, in the Rue de la Pie, is still shewn to strangers. His bust adorns the entrance, together with an inscription to his honor. The residence of his illustrious nephew, the author of the Plurality of Worlds, is situated in the Rue des bans Enfans, and is distinguished in the same manner. The whole Siecle de Louis XIV, scarcely contains two names upon which Voltaire dwells with more pleasure.—Rouen was also the birth-place of the learned Bochart, author of Sacred Geography and of the Hierozoeicon; of Basnage, who wrote the History of the Bible; of Sanadon, the translator of Horace; of Pradon, “damn’d,” in the Satires of Boileau, “to everlasting fame;” of Du Moustier, to whom we are indebted for the Neustria Pia; of Jouvenet, whom I have already mentioned as one of the most distinguished painters of the French school; and of Father Daniel, not less eminent as an historian.—These, and many others, are gone; but the reflection of their glory still plays upon the walls of the city, which was bright, while they lived, with its lustre;—“nam praeclara facies, magnae divitiae, ad hoc vis corporis, alia hujuscemodi omnia, brevi dilabuntur; at ingenii egregia facinora, sicuti anima, immortalia sunt. Postremo corporis et fortunae bonorum, ut initium, finis est; omnia orta occidunt et aucta senescunt: animus incorruptas, aeternus, rector humani generis, agit atque habet cuncta, neque ipse habetur.”
The more remote and historical honors of Rouen would present ample materials. Prior to the Roman invasion, it appears to have been of less note than as the capital of Neustria.
Julius Caesar, copious as he is in all that relates to Gaul, makes no mention of Rouen in his Commentaries. Ptolemy first speaks of it as the capital of the Velocasses, or Bellocasses, the people of the present Vexin; but he does not allow his readers to entertain an elevated idea of its consequence; for he immediately adds, that the inhabitants of the Pays de Caux were, singly, equal to the Velocasses and Veromandui together; and that the united forces of the two latter tribes did not amount to one-tenth part of those which were kept on foot by the Bellovaci.—Not long after, however, when the Romans became undisputed masters of Gaul, we find Rouen the capital of the province, called the Secunda Lugdunensis; and from that tine forward, it continued to increase in importance. Etymologists have been amused and puzzled by “Rothomagus,” its classical name. In an uncritical age, it was contended that the name afforded good proof of the city having been founded by Magus, son of Samothes, contemporary of Nimrod. Others, with equal diligence, sought the root of Rothomagus in the name of Roth, who is said to have been its tutelary god; and the ancient clergy adopted the tradition, in the hymn, which forms a part of the service appointed for the feast of St. Mellonus,—