Shakespeare and Voltaire

By Thomas R. Lounsbury | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI
LATER RESULTS OF THE CONTROVERSY

IN the mean while the cause of all this tumult, the main object of all these attacks, made no sign. He had been assailed with the epithets of scribbler, scoundrel, scavenger, fool, and he had held his peace. None the less had he persisted steadily in the prosecution of his diabolical task. Henceforth the work was wholly his own. His two coadjutors had retired with the publication of the first instalment; one of them indeed died in 1780. In 1778 appeared two additional volumes, with the names of about one hundred and fifty new subscribers. What is of interest here is that they were nearly all French. In the fifth volume which came out the following year were added to the whole number about fifty more names. It was mortifying to the adherents of pure art that such an undertaking should meet with such success. But, after all, what difference did it make if useless compilations and wretched versions were received with favor by an undiscerning public! "What matters it," said La Harpe, "to enlightened spirits, who read only for instruction or pleasure, that Messrs. Le Tourneur and company translate in a barbarous style the barbarous farces of Shakespeare?"1 The comments of the wren upon the eagle are always of interest, not for any value

____________________
1
La Harpe, Correspondance littéraire ( 1802), tome iii. p. 220.

-422-

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