Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/266

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252
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

Assuming this, there is no doubt of one conspicuous fact. Buckle remarked in his famous book that the 'union of the French with the English intellect was by far the most important fact in the history of the eighteenth century.' He shows that nearly all the famous French authors of the century had learned English, and that many had visited England. In the preceding century English was a 'barbarous jargon.' classed by Corneille, as M. Texte observes, with 'Turkish and Sclavonian.' M. Texte traces some of the steps by which the change took place. When Louis XIV. tried to trample out French Protestantism by revoking the Edict of Nantes, he was really scattering the sparks for a new conflagration. Thousands of refugees settled in England, Holland, and elsewhere. Industrious and educated men supported themselves in the humbler walks of literature. In London they naturally drifted into Grub Street, and kept up a correspondence with their countrymen in Holland, which had come to be a great intellectual, as well as commercial, centre of exchange. Such names as Motteux, Boyer, Coste, Desmaiseaux, meet us constantly in the earlier annals of English journalism. They habitually gathered at the 'Rainbow' in Marylebone, and