Select orations, and other important papers, relative to the Swedish Academy/6
|←Cursory Remarks on Taste and the Belles Lettres||Select orations, and other important papers, relative to the Swedish Academy (1792)
|London: J. Johnson, St. Paul's Churchyard pages 99-104|
DELIVERED IN THE SWEDISH ACADEMY,
BY THE SENATOR
COUNT T. G. OXENSTIERNA,
PRESIDENT TO THE GRAND COUNCIL OF THE ROYAL CHANCERY, FIRST LORD
OF THE BEDCHAMBER TO HIS MAJESTY, GRAND MASTER OF HER MAJESTY'S
HOUSEHOLD, COMMANDER OF THE ORDER OF THE POLAR STAR;
On his Admission, March 20, 1786.
COUNT T. G. OXENSTIERNA,
If a warm attachment to pursuits, to which this Academy is devoted, were a qualification sufficient for becoming a member of it, no one perhaps would have a stronger claim than myself to a place in this assembly. Wholly engrossed by the happiness of such a situation, I should feel a pleasure, which the comparison of my own defects with your distinguished talents, would be unable to disturb. In the contemplation of my unmerited good fortune, I should be sometimes diverted from reflection upon the distance, which separates your productions from the trifles which, though they have served occasionally to amuse a vacant hour, were little calculated to attract the public attention.
Destitute as I am of every talent which, by securing your approbation, is certain to secure a seat at your illustrious board; I am nevertheless impressed with the most lively sense of the eminent service which a Monarch, dear to our hearts, has done to the cause of polite literature, by fixing upon you, Gentlemen, as the proper instruments for raising it to perfection. Incapable of affording any example in myself, I have the singular felicity, of being numbered in the society of such, as are most amply endowed with every requisite, to make them models of excellence. Charmed with the prospect, my fancy anticipates the height, to which those soaring geniuses will attain, who, following the light of your instructions, will hereafter exalt the reputation of our literature by a purity of diction, added to elevation, and energy of thought. Already, invigorated by your precepts, poetry prepares to transmit to posterity, in the most brilliant and glowing colours, a picture of the opinions and polished manners of an enlightened age. Already solicitous to immortalize in the language of our country the memory of its great men, eloquence discovers in the persons of those, who have enriched her with the choicest ornaments of speech, the most deserving objects of her praise. With admiration I contemplate the protector of the belles lettres condescending to enrol his illustrious name with the names of those whom he has directed to promulgate and maintain the rules which genius avows, and of which his own is an eminent example.
This code, seconded and supported by his example, will finally settle and decide the opinions of a reflecting age, which no longer regards the study of polite literature as tending to cast a damp upon the martial spirit of a manly people. The country which has given birth to heroes, now delights to deck with literary laurels the warrior brow; and in the fine arts, so often accused of enervating the mind, sees only that mild influence which, by smoothing the ruggedness of virtue, gives her charms which the Graces alone can bestow. Cloathed in the resplendent robes of genius, and invested with the magnificent grandeur of history, Virtue will henceforward present herself to a people, whose veneration shall amply compensate her past oppression. Her future triumph is secured; and by poetry and eloquence transmitted to after ages, the memory of her immortal actions shall brighten to the admiring view of far remote posterity.
Awakened by the dawn of the age of Gustavus from a long night of torpidity, the Swedish Muses find here a peaceful asylum. Charmed with inhabiting a temple, which he has dedicated to their service, happy in assembling at the cheerful call of a genius, who animates them by his example no less than his munificence, they repair towards the North in a garb far more becoming, than when, following the footsteps of our ancient warriors, they engraved on the rude tombs of pirates the Runic praise. Now their only difficulty is to select an object from the multitude of heroes who press forward to immortality; while at the foot of that throne, where formerly, in rude and dissonant notes, they sang savage scenes of slaughter and devastation, they now celebrate the serenity of concord, the blessings of liberty, and the love of the human race.
With ungrateful silence the Muses have never been reproached. Never have they abandoned to oblivion the memory of their benefactors. It is not now for the first time, that the heir to the sceptre of the Vasa's, receives the homage of their adoration. The glory of his ancestors adorns their annals, a glory, which they are ever ready to vindicate as their own. To their now protector they now approach with the same tribute of love and veneration, which to the name of Gustavus they have ever willingly offered up. With alacrity they discharge the duty, which Fame commits to their care; and eager to paint the sublimest virtues, they quit the fictions of antiquity, to present to the world in colours, tempered by Genius and the Graces, a picture drawn by the hand of truth.