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Literary Journals
by [?]

Intimidated by the fate of SALLO, his successor, the Abbe GALLOIS, flourished in a milder reign. He contented himself with giving the titles of books, accompanied with extracts; and he was more useful than interesting. The public, who had been so much amused by the raillery and severity of the founder of this dynasty of new critics, now murmured at the want of that salt and acidity by which they had relished the fugitive collation. They were not satisfied with having the most beautiful, or the most curious parts of a new work brought together; they wished for the unreasonable entertainment of railing and raillery. At length another objection was conjured up against the review; mathematicians complained that they were neglected to make room for experiments in natural philosophy; the historian sickened over works of natural history; the antiquaries would have nothing but discoveries of MSS. or fragments of antiquity. Medical works were called for by one party, and reprobated by another. In a word, each reader wished only to have accounts of books, which were interesting to his profession or his taste. But a review is a work presented to the public at large, and written for more than one country. In spite of all these difficulties, this work was carried to a vast extent. An index to the Journal des Scavans has been arranged on a critical plan, occupying ten volumes in quarto, which may be considered as a most useful instrument to obtain the science and literature of the entire century.

The next celebrated reviewer is BAYLE, who undertook, in 1684, his Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres. He possessed the art, acquired by habit, of reading a book by his fingers, as it has been happily expressed; and of comprising, in concise extracts, a just notion of a book, without the addition of irrelevant matter. Lively, neat, and full of that attic salt which gives a relish to the driest disquisitions, for the first time the ladies and all the beau-monde took an interest in the labours of the critic. He wreathed the rod of criticism with roses. Yet even BAYLE, who declared himself to be a reporter, and not a judge, BAYLE, the discreet sceptic, could not long satisfy his readers. His panegyric was thought somewhat prodigal; his fluency of style somewhat too familiar; and others affected not to relish his gaiety. In his latter volumes, to still the clamour, he assumed the cold sobriety of an historian: and has bequeathed no mean legacy to the literary world, in thirty-six small volumes of criticism, closed in 1687. These were continued by Bernard, with inferior skill; and by Basnage more successfully, in his Histoire des Ouvrages des Scavans.

The contemporary and the antagonist of BAYLE was LE CLERC. His firm industry has produced three BibliothequesUniverselle et Historique, Choisie, and Ancienne et Moderne; forming in all eighty-two volumes, which, complete, bear a high price. Inferior to BAYLE in the more pleasing talents, he is perhaps superior in erudition, and shows great skill in analysis: but his hand drops no flowers! GIBBON resorted to Le Clerc’s volumes at his leisure, “as an inexhaustible source of amusement and instruction.” Apostolo Zeno’s Giornale del Litterati d’Italia, from 1710 to 1733, is valuable.

BEAUSOBRE and L’ENFANT, two learned Protestants, wrote a Bibliotheque Germanique, from 1720 to 1740, in 50 volumes. Our own literature is interested by the “Bibliotheque Britannique,” written by some literary Frenchmen, noticed by La Croze, in his “Voyage Litteraire,” who designates the writers in this most tantalising manner: “Les auteurs sont gens de merite, et qui entendent tous parfaitement l’Anglois; Messrs. S.B., le M.D., et le savant Mr. D.” Posterity has been partially let into the secret: De Missy was one of the contributors, and Warburton communicated his project of an edition of Velleius Patereulus. This useful account of English books begins in 1733, and closes in 1747, Hague, 23 vols.: to this we must add the Journal Britannique, in 18 vols., by Dr. MATY, a foreign physician residing in London; this Journal exhibits a view of the state of English literature from 1750 to 1755. GIBBON bestows a high character on the journalist, who sometimes “aspires to the character of a poet and a philosopher; one of the last disciples of the school of Fontenelle.”