« FöregåendeFortsätt »
chasers nor readers.” When it was inserted in his eccentric work, it met with a most favourable reception, and occasioned the others to be collected.
Joseph Warton writes, “ When Gray published his exquisite Ode on Eton College, his first publication, little notice was taken of it.” The Polyeucțe of Corneille, which is now accounted to be his master-piece, when he read it to the literary assembly held at the Hotel de Rambouillet, was not approved. Voiture came the next day, and in gentle terms acquainted him with the unfavourable opinion of the critics. Such ill judges were then the most fashionable wits of France.
It was with great difficulty that Mrs. Centlivre could get her “ Busy. Body" performed. Wilks threw down his part with an oath of detestation. Our comic authoress fell on her knees and wept.-Her tears, and not her wit, prevailed.
A pamphlet published in the year 1738, entitled “A Letter to the Society of Booksellers, on the Method of forming a true Judgment of the Manuscripts of Authors,” contains some curious literary intelligence, and is as follows:
“We have known books,” says our writer, “that in the ms. have been damned, as well as others which seem to be so, since, after their appearance in the world, they have often lain by neglected. Witness the “ Paradise Lost” of the famous
Milton, and the Optics of Sir Isaac Newton, which last, 'tis said, had no character or credit here till noticed in France. « The Historical Connection of the Old and New Testament,” by Shuckford, is also reported to have been seldom inquired after for about a twelvemonth's time; however it made a shift, though not without some difficulty, to creep up to a second edition, and afterwards even to a third. And, which is another remarkable instance, the manuscript of Dr. Prideaux's “ Connection" is well known to have been bandied about from hand to hand, among several, at least five or six of the most eminent booksellers, during the space of at least two years, to no purpose, none of them undertaking to print that excellent work. It lay in obscurity, till Archdeacon Echard, the author's friend, strongly recommended it to Tonson. It was purchased, and the publication was very successful. Robinson Crusoe's manuscript also ran through the whole trade, nor would any one print it, though the writer, De Foe, was in good repute as an author. One bookseller at last, not remarkable for his discernment, but for his speculative turn, engaged in this publication. This bookseller got above a thousand guineas by it; and the booksellers are accumulating money every hour by editions of this work in all shapes. The undertaker of the translation of Rapin, after a very considerable part of the work had been pub
lished, was not a little dubious of its success, and was strongly inclined to drop the design. It proved at last to be a most profitable literary adventure." It is, perhaps, useful to record, that while the fine compositions of genius and the elaborate labours of erudition are doomed to encounter these obstacles to fame, and never are but slightly remunerated, works of another description are rewarded in the most princely manner; at the recent sale of a bookseller, the copyright of “ Vyse's Spelling-book” was sold at the enormous price of 2,2001. ; with an annuity of 50 guineas to the author!
THE TURKISH SPY.
WHATEVER may be the defects of the “ Turkish Spy,” the author has shown one uncommon merit, by having opened a new species of composition, which has been pursued by other writers with inferior success, if we except the charming “Persian Letters” of Montesquieu. The “ Turkish Spy' is a book which has delighted us in our childhood, and to which we can still recur with pleasure. But its ingenious author is unknown to three parts of his admirers.
In Boswell's “Life of Johnson” is this dialogue concerning the writer of the “ Turkish Spy." “ B. Pray, Sir, is the “ Turkish Spy" a genuine
book? J. No, Sir. Mrs. Manley, in her “ Life,” says, that her father wrote the two first volumes; and in another book-“ Dunton's Life and Errours,” we find that the rest was written by one Sault, at two guineas a sheet, under the direction of Dr. Midgeley."
I do not know on what authority Mrs. Manley advances that her father was the author; but this lady was never nice in detailing facts. Dunton, indeed, gives some information in a very loose
He tells us, p. 242, that it is probable, by reasons which he insinuates, that one Bradshaw, a hackney author, was the writer of the “ Turkish Spy.” This man probably was engaged by Dr. Midgeley to translate the volumes as they appeared at the rate of 40s. per sheet. On the whole, all this proves, at least, how little the author was known while the volumes were publishing, and that he is as little known at present by the extract from Boswell.
The ingenious writer of the Turkish Spy is John Paul Marana, an Italian; so that the Turkish Spy is just as real a personage as Cid Hamet, from whom Cervantes says he had his “ History of Don Quixote.” Marana had been imprisoned for a political conspiracy; after his release he retired to Monaco, where he wrote the “ History of the Plot,” which is said to be valuable for many curious particulars. Marana was at once a man of letters and of the world. He had long wished to reside at Paris; in that assemblage of taste and luxury his talents procured him patrons. It was during his residence there that he produced his“ Turkish Spy.” By this ingenious contrivance he
gave the history of the last age. He discovers a rich memory, and a lively imagination; but critics have said that he touches every thing, and penetrates nothing. His first three volumes greatly pleased : the rest are inferior. Plutarch, Seneca, and Pliny, were his favourite authors. He lived in philosophical mediocrity; and in the last years of his life retired to his native country, where he died in 1693.
Charpentier gave the first particulars of this ingenious man. Even in his time the volumes were read as they came out, while its author remained unknown. Charpentier's proof of the author is indisputable; for he preserved the following curious certificate, written in Marana's own hand-writing.
“I, the under-written John Paul Marana, author of a manuscript Italian volume, entitled “L'Esploratore Turco, tomo terzo," acknowledge that Mr. Charpentier, appointed by the Lord Chancellor to revise the said manuscript, has not granted me his certificate for printing the said manuscript, but on condition to rescind four passages. The first beginning, &c. By this I promise to suppress from the said manuscript the places above marked, so that there shall remain