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Gellert. Different causes have conspired, even to the present moment, to impede the progress

of the Germans in the higher walks of literature. When Greece gloried in the triumphs of the arts and sciences, the Romans were occupied in the destructive arts of war, which almost extinguished the sparks of learning in their empire. In this respect, we may be compared to the Romans: to this melancholy truth may be likewise added, that our writers are neglected by those that ought to patronize them; this was not the case under the brilliant reigns of Augustus and Louis XIV.

The King. Saxony has, notwithstanding, produced two Augustuses.

Gellert. Under the auspicious dawn

The King. But can it be otherwise expected, when the public mind is torn asunder by such divisions ? Gellert. That is not the point: I only wish

I that every sovereign should encourage genius in his own dominions.

The King. Have you ever travelled out of Saxony?

Gellert. I have been once in Berlin.
The King. I think you ought to travel.

Gellert. I do not feel myself disposed to travel; and if I even did, my circumstances would not permit me.

The King. What is your ordinary disease ! that of all men of letters, I presume.


Gellert. Be it so, since your Majesty has thought proper to give it that name: it would be 'excessively vain in me to say so myself.

The King. I am not exempt from its effects myself; you should exercise more than you do ; you should ride out, and take rhubarb once a


Gellert. The remedy would be more dangerous than the disease: if the horse was spirited, I should risk my neck :-I am but an indifferent horseman.

The King. In that case you should take a carriage.

Gellert. I am not rich enough.

The King. Too frequently the case with the votaries of the muse! Times are very bad.

Gellert. Yes, Sire, very bad indeed; but your Majesty can render them better.

The King. How?

Gellert. By restoring the blessings of the Empire.

The King. How can I do that? Don't you know that I have three enemies in three crowned heads?

Gellert. It may be so; I am little acquainted with modern history; the ancient is my

favourite study.

The King. Which of the epic poets, Homer or Virgil, do you prefer?


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Gellert. Homer, in point of genius and creation, is certainly entitled to the preference.

The King. Virgil is more correct.

Gellert. We live in an age too remote from that af Homer, to be able to decide, with any degree of confidence, on the style and manners of those early days : it is on the authority of Quintilian that I give the preference to Homer.

The King. We ought not to pay, in my judgment, too servile a deference to the opinion of the ancients.

Gellert. I do not bow to their opinion merely because they are ancients—that would be a blind

a submission indeed; but I am obliged to consult the sentiments of others in such a case as that in question, which time has enveloped in a cloud, that I cannot pierce with my own eyes.

The King. I am told that your fables are justly admired ; would you favour me with the recital of one of them?

Gellert. I do not know, in truth, Sire, that I can trust to my memory.

The King. Try, I entreat you; moment in my closet in order to give you time to recall your ideas. (The King, on his return.) Well, have you succeeded ?

Gellert. Yes, Sire, a shortone: “A certain Athenian painter, in whose bosom the love of fame had extinguished every thought of fortune, requested,


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one day, that a judge of his art would give his opinion of a painting which represented the God of war. The connoisseur very candidly pointed out what struck him as defects, particularly the too great appearance of art throughout the whole of the composition. At the instant, a person of less refined taste stepped in, who, at the first glance, exclaimed with transport, Good Hea

ven, what a picturę! Mars is all alive; he • breathes !—what terror in his looks ! Survey • that foot those fingers—those nails ! - what • taste !--what an air of grandeur in that helmet,

and in all the armour of the terrible God!' The painter blushed, and let fall this whisper in the ear of the connoisseur : "I am convinced of the solidity of your judgment, and the justness of your taste ;' on which he drew his brush over the painting."

The King. Now for the moral.

Gellert. You shall have it : When the productions of an author, on any subject whatever, do not meet with the approbation of a man of taste and judgment, it militates very much against them ; but when they call forth the admiration of the weak and the ignorant, they ought to be committed to the flames.

The King. Excellent. M. Gellert, I feel all the truth of your apologue, and the beauty of the composition ; but when Gottsched read his


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translation of the Iphigenia of Racine, I had the original before my eyes, and I assure you, that I did not understand a word of what he read to me.

If I should remain a few days here, will you come and see me, and read some of your fables to me?

Gellert. I am afraid, Sire, that I should not please ; I have got a kind of habitual tone that

; is not pleasing to a polished ear: I contracted it in our mountains,

The King. I understand : the tonation of our Silesians : you should endeavour, however, to read your own productions, if you wish that they should not lose a great deal of their merit. -But see me soon again, and often.-Farewell, M. Gellert.

The King was heard to say that night, at supper, “ M. Gellert is a man very different from Gottsched; and of all the German writers, he is the most ingenious."

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Hands. NOW, cousin Feet, as we have lived so many years in amity, what do you think if we were to converse a little together, on our past conduct? 3


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