Letters on England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 136 pages of information about Letters on England.
among them than in our country—­an advantage that results naturally from the form of their government.  There are about eight hundred persons in England who have a right to speak in public, and to support the interest of the kingdom; and near five or six thousand may in their turns aspire to the same honour.  The whole nation set themselves up as judges over these, and every man has the liberty of publishing his thoughts with regard to public affairs, which shows that all the people in general are indispensably obliged to cultivate their understandings.  In England the governments of Greece and Rome are the subject of every conversation, so that every man is under a necessity of perusing such authors as treat of them, how disagreeable soever it may be to him; and this study leads naturally to that of polite literature.  Mankind in general speak well in their respective professions.  What is the reason why our magistrates, our lawyers, our physicians, and a great number of the clergy, are abler scholars, have a finer taste, and more wit, than persons of all other professions?  The reason is, because their condition of life requires a cultivated and enlightened mind, in the same manner as a merchant is obliged to be acquainted with his traffic.  Not long since an English nobleman, who was very young, came to see me at Paris on his return from Italy.  He had written a poetical description of that country, which, for delicacy and politeness, may vie with anything we meet with in the Earl of Rochester, or in our Chaulieu, our Sarrasin, or Chapelle.  The translation I have given of it is so inexpressive of the strength and delicate humour of the original, that I am obliged seriously to ask pardon of the author and of all who understand English.  However, as this is the only method I have to make his lordship’s verses known, I shall here present you with them in our tongue:—­

   “Qu’ay je donc vu dans l’Italie? 
   Orgueil, astuce, et pauvrete,
   Grands complimens, peu de bonte
   Et beaucoup de ceremonie.

   “L’extravagante comedie
   Que souvent l’Inquisition
   Vent qu’on nomme religion
   Mais qu’ici nous nommons folie.

   “La Nature en vain bienfaisante
   Vent enricher ses lieux charmans,
   Des pretres la main desolante
   Etouffe ses plus beaux presens.

   “Les monsignors, soy disant Grands,
   Seuls dans leurs palais magnifiques
   Y sont d’illustres faineants,
   Sans argent, et sans domestiques.

   “Pour les petits, sans liberte,
   Martyrs du joug qui les domine,
   Ils ont fait voeu de pauvrete,
   Priant Dieu par oisivete
   Et toujours jeunant par famine.

   “Ces beaux lieux du Pape benis
   Semblent habitez par les diables;
   Et les habitans miserables
   Sont damnes dans le Paradis.”


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Letters on England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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