Page:Selected Orations Swedish Academy 1792.djvu/31
AN ORATION BY M. DE ROSENSTEIN.
temptation of a jest. The idle of every kind, who wish to augment their own number, deny the utility of literature and the effusions of genius are exposed to the decisions of that class of men, who, moving in a more exalted sphere, affect to regulate the opinions of others, but are themselves too enervated to feel, too much distracted to reflect before they pronounce sentence, too little alive to the pleasure of existence to be capable of amusement, or, if roused for a moment from their lethargy, soon revert to their wonted indifference, and repeat their usual decision equally short and equally judicious—What tedious stuff!
I divert with pleasure your attention from a picture which happily will not in future find an archetype among us. The opening prospect of Swedish literature is highly agreeable; and our functions would be equally so, were they confined to the obligations of contributing, according to our abilities, to the progress of literature, to the encouragement of rising genius, and to the task of exploring and honouring those who have arrived at a maturity of merit. But we have another field to cultivate—a field, the thorns and briars of which would soon deter the courage of a single genius—a field which the public cannot cultivate, because they could never agree on the manner in which it ought to be improved, and which a single man could never clear, because he would be perpetually exposed to the mistakes of prejudice and self-love. You cannot but perceive, gentlemen, that I speak of that grammar, which the academy is directed to compose. The difficulties attached to this labour need not be recapitulated to you, to whom they are well known; nor to the