Letters concerning the English Nation

By Voltaire; Nicholas Cronk | Go to book overview

LETTER XXI. On the Earl of Rochester and Mr. Waller.

THE Earl of Rochester's Name is universally known. Mr. de St. Evremont has made very frequent mention of him,* but then he has represented this famous Nobleman in no other Light than as the Man of Pleasure, as one who was the Idol of the Fair; but with regard to my self, I would willingly describe in him the Man of Genius, the great Poet. Among other Pieces which display the shining Imagination his Lordship only cou'd boast, he wrote some Satyrs on the same Subjects as those our celebrated Boileau made choice of. I don't know any better Method of improving the Taste, than to compare the Productions of such great Genius's as have exercis'd their Talent on the same Subject. Boileau declaims as follows against human Reason in his Satyr on Man.*

Cependant à le voir plein de vapeurs légeres,
Soi-même se bercer de ses propres chimeres,
Lui seul de la nature est la baze & l'appui,
Et le dixieme ciel ne tourne que pour lui.
De tous les Animaux il est ici le Maître;
Qui pourroit le nier, poursuis tu? Moi peut-être.
Ce maître prétendu qui leur donne des loix,
Ce Roi des Animaux, combien a-t'il de Rois
?

Yet, pleas'd with idle Whimsies of his Brain,
And puff'd with Pride, this haughty Thing wou'd fain
Be thought himself the only Stay and Prop
That holds the mighty Frame of Nature up.
The Skies and Stars his Properties must seem
,
----- ----- -----
Of all the Creatures he's the Lord, he cries.
----- ----- -----
And who is there, say you, that dares deny

-101-

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