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consigned to oblivion. The celebrated Patru being reduced to the necessity of selling his library, Despreaux purchased it at a higher price than had been offered, and left him in possession of it until his death. The authors of Cassandre experienced also repeated marks of his beneficence. Beside his poetical productions, of whose individual merit it is unnecessary to speak, he translated the Treatise on the Sublime, by Longinus: to which, on being engaged in the dispute with Perrault, on the ancients and the moderns, he added some critical remarks. His prose, though always perspicuous, is by no means equal to his poetry. Mad. de S6vigne used to say to him, " You are tender in prose, and cruel in verse." Boileau, from his entrance into the republic of letters, may be considered as the reformer and legislator of the French Parnassus: whose verses rendered familiar to every capacity the laws which reason and the most enlightened ages have avowed. He fixed, in a great measure, the language of his country, by the purity of his diction, the force and harmony of his style; and is regarded as the founder of its poetic school. Not contented with combining in his own compositions truth with poetry, he taught his art to others upon the principles of true taste. "He must necessarily have been born," says Vauvenargues, " with a very superior genius, to avoid the bad examples of his eotemporaries, and to impose upon them his decrees. Voltaire, speaking of Boileau, thus expresses himself: "I shall never cease," said he to a celebrated personage, recommending you to study that art in writing which Despreaux so well understood and so ably taught—that respect for the language—that succession of ideas—that agreeable manner with which he conducts his reader— and that natural facility which genius only displays. He always performed what he was desirous of accomplishing, MtAKOE.] BOILEAU DESPREAUX.
and attired reason, in harmonious verses, replete with imagery. At once clear, pertinent, easy, and happy in his expressions—if he rises not to any elevated height, he never sinks into insipidity. He was always acquainted with the full extent of his powers; and evinced considerable judgment in the choice of subjects upon which they were employed."
As a satirist, his admirers pretend that he surpassed Juvenal, and was at times equal to Horace; but he has been reproached for not sufficiently varying his phrases, either in prose or verse. He has been likewise censured, not indeed for condemning the voluptuous morality of Quinault, but for not having rendered justice to the talents of that poet, who was at least equal to him in elegance, if not in force and sentiment. It must be confessed that he did not treat others with the same indulgence that he did himself, either in his writings or in his conversation. What can be more flattering than the following verses, which he wrote under his own portrait?
Au joug de la raison asservissant la rime,
In his ninth Epistle, he has softened this eulogium; but even in modifying it he says sufficient.
Sais tu pour quoi mes vers sont lus dans les provinces,
Mais c'est qu'en eux le vrai, du mensonge vainqueur,
Nevertheless, upon a particular occasion, being asked for some lines by an engraver, for his portrait, he dismissed him by remarking—" I am not so great a coxcomb as to say any good of myself: nor blockhead enough to say any ill." Boileau, in writing, always composed the second line before the first, conceiving by this method that his verses had more sense and dignity. This, in his opinion, was one of the great secrets of French poetry, which had been communicated to him by Racine, of whom he acquired the art of making difficult rhymes. But this difficulty was concealed by the illustrious Tragedian, under the charm of a versification ever flowing and elegant; while the labour is frequently apparent in Boileau, particularly in his latter works.