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An English Academy Of Literature
by [?]

They were happy, and they resolved to be silent; nor was this bond and compact of friendship violated till one of them, Malleville, secretary of Marshal Bassompierre, being anxious that his friend Faret, who had just printed his L’Honnete Homme, which he had drawn from the famous “Il Cortigiano” of Castiglione, should profit by all their opinions, procured his admission to one of their conferences; Faret presented them with his book, heard a great deal concerning the nature of his work, was charmed by their literary communications, and returned home ready to burst with the secret. Could the society hope that others would be more faithful than they had been to themselves? Faret happened to be one of those light-hearted men who are communicative in the degree in which they are grateful, and he whispered the secret to Des Marets and to Boisrobert. The first, as soon as he heard of such a literary senate, used every effort to appear before them and read the first volume of his “Ariane.” Boisrobert, a man of distinction, and a common friend to them all, could not be refused an admission; he admired the frankness of their mutual criticisms. The society, besides, was a new object; and his daily business was to furnish an amusing story to his patron, Richelieu. The cardinal-minister was very literary, and apt to be so hipped in his hours of retirement, that the physician declared, that “all his drugs were of no avail, unless his patient mixed with them a drachm of Boisrobert.” In one of those fortunate moments, when the cardinal was “in the vein,” Boisrobert painted, with the warmest hues, this region of literary felicity, of a small, happy society formed of critics and authors! The minister, who was ever considering things in that particular aspect which might tend to his own glory, instantly asked Boisrobert, whether this private meeting would not like to be constituted a public body, and establish itself by letters patent, offering them his protection. The flatterer of the minister was overjoyed, and executed the important mission; but not one of the members shared in the rapture, while some regretted an honour which would only disturb the sweetness and familiarity of their intercourse. Malleville, whose master was a prisoner in the Bastile, and Serisay, the intendant of the Duke of Rochefoucault, who was in disgrace at court, louldly protested, in the style of an opposition party, against the protection of the minister; but Chapelain, who was known to have no party-interests, argued so clearly, that he left them to infer that Richelieu’s offer was a command; that the cardinal was a minister who willed not things by halves; and was one of those very great men who avenge any contempt shown to them even on such little men as themselves! In a word, the dogs bowed their necks to the golden collar. However, the appearance, if not the reality, of freedom was left to them; and the minister allowed them to frame their own constitution, and elect their own magistrates and citizens in this infant and illustrious republic of literature. The history of the farther establishment of the French Academy is elegantly narrated by Pelisson. The usual difficulty occurred of fixing on a title; and they appear to have changed it so often, that the Academy was at first addressed by more than one title; Academie des beaux Esprits; Academie de l’Eloquence; Academie Eminente, in allusion to the quality of the cardinal, its protector. Desirous of avoiding the extravagant and mystifying titles of the Italian academies,[2] they fixed on the most unaffected, “L’Academie Francaise; but though the national genius may disguise itself for a moment, it cannot be entirely got rid of, and they assumed a vaunting device of a laurel wreath, including their epigraph, “A l’Immortalite.” The Academy of Petersburgh has chosen a more enlightened inscription, Paulatim (“little by little”), so expressive of the great labours of man–even of the inventions of genius!