Page:Selected Orations Swedish Academy 1792.djvu/34
AN ORATION BY M. DE ROSENSTEIN.
works of Boileau, and the Operas of Quinault. It must indeed be allowed, that writers of a bad taste have frequently found readers, and even admirers: but posterity has never failed to condemn their works to eternal oblivion; and their names are known only by the victorious pleasantries of contemporary critics.
Permit me, gentlemen, to make one observation in this place, which time will not, however, permit me to develope at full length. The history of letters evinces, that the false taste which has preceded the brilliant ages of literature, has ever been eradicated by the true; but that after a purity of taste had triumphed for some time, a bad taste, different from the first, began to insinuate itself, increased by little and little, and at last obtained an evil ascendancy.
The literature of this country has not yet arrived at that point, from which, according to the ordinary fate of human labour, a fall is to be feared. But are we therefore exempt from danger? It must not be dissembled, that the cultivation of the Belles Lettres amongst us commenced at a period later than with other nations, who, on account of priority, have acquired in some degree the right of serving us as models. But if amongst some of these nations the corruption of taste be already commenced; if a people, whose compositions have been praised for purity of taste, exquisite elegance, and simple grace, begin already to degenerate into a style affected, turgid, and disgraced with quaint conceit and farfetched ornaments; if a nation, distinguished by vigorous thoughts and