Page:Poetry of the Magyars.djvu/64

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MAGYAR BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

forms of poetry, and is especially monotonous in the Magyar, which, with its many poetical capabilities, undoubtedly wants variety in its ryhmes. But Bessenyei was the representative of the French school, and it has been said of him, as of many of the French dramatists, that his Greeks and Romans are all disfigured Frenchmen. Bessenyei was the son of an obscure tavern-keeper at Berczel, and was born in 1740. He learnt a little Latin in the preliminary school, which he soon forgot, and in the course of time became a soldier in the Hungarian body-guards at Vienna. There he began again to study, mastered the French language, and was captivated by the French literature. He wrote several dramatic pieces, and an imitation of Pope's Essay on Man, Az embernek próbája. In the later part of his life he became almost wholly a prose writer, and published several philosophical works. His example served greatly to impede the project of the Emperor Joseph, whose determination to drive out the Hungarian by means of the German language, was rash and futile. Bessenyei died in 1811, an object of great affection and interest among the Hungarians.

Orczy has much that is artificial. He was almost unknown as a poet, until Révai published