Lomonozof

, a celebrated Russian poet, the great refiner of his native tongue, was the son of a person who trafficked in fish at Kolmogori: he was born in 1711, and was fortunately taught to read; a rare instance for a person of so low a station in Russia. His natural genius for poetry was first kindled by the perusal of a metrical translation of the Song of Solomon, by Polotski, whose rude compositions, perhaps scarcely superior to our version of the Psalms by Sternhold and Hopkins, inspired him with such an irresistible passion for the muses, that he fled from his father, who was desirous of compelling him to marry, and took refuge in the Kaikonospaski monastery at Moscow; there he had an opportunity of indulging his taste for letters, and of studying the Greek and Latin languages. In this seminary he made so considerable a progress in polite literature, as to be noticed and employed by the Imperial academy of sciences. In 1736 he was sent at the expence of that society, to the university of Marburgh in Hesse Cassel, where he became a scholar of the celebrated Christian Wolf, under whom he studied universal grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy. He continued at Marburgh four years, during which time he applied himself with indefatigable diligence to chemistry, which he afterwards pursued with still greater success, under the famous Henckel, at Freyberg, in Saxony. In 1741 he returned into Russia; was chosen in 1742 adjunct to the Imperial academy; and in the ensuing year, member of that society, and professor of chemistry. In 1760 he was appointed inspector of the seminary, then annexed | to the academy; in 1764 he was gratified by the late empress Catherine with the title of counsellor of state; and died April 4 that year, in the fifty-fourth year of his age. Lomonozof excelled in various kinds of composition; but his chief merit, by which he bears the first rank among the Russian writers, is derived from his poetical compositions, the finest of which are his odes. The first was written in 1739, while he studied in Germany, upon the taking of Kotschin, a fortress of Crim Tartary, by marshal Munich. The odes of Lomonozof are greatly admired for originality of invention, sublimity of sentiment, and energy of language; and compensate for the turgid style, which in some instances have been imputed to them, by that spirit and fire which are the principal characteristics in this species of composition. Pindar was his great model; and if we may give credit to Levesque, a gentleman well versed in the Russian tongue, he has succeeded in this daring attempt to imitate the Theban bard, without incurring the censure of Horace: “Pindarum quisquis studet emulari,” &c. In this, as well as several other species of composition, he enriched his native language with various kinds of metre, and seems to have merited the appellation bestowed upon him, of the Father of Russian Poetry. A brief recapitulation of the principal works of Lomonozof, which were printed in 3 vols. 8vo, will serve to shew the versatility of his genius, and his extensive knowledge in various branches of literature.

The first volume, beside a preface on the advantages derived to the Russian tongue from the ecclesiastical writings, contains ten sacred and nineteen panegyric odes, and several occasional pieces of poetry. The second comprises “An Essay in Prose, on the Rules for Russian Poetry;” “Translation of a German Ode;” “Idylls;” *Tamiraand Seiim, a Tragedy;“” Demopboon, a Tragedy;“” Poetical Epistle on the Utility of Glass;“two cantos of an epic poem entitledPeter the Great;“” A Congratulatory Copy of Verses“” An Ode“” Translation of Baptist Rousseau’s Ode, ‘ Sur le Bonheur’“”Heads of a Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy”Certain Passages translated in verse and prose, according to the original from Cicero, Erasmus, Lucian, Ælian, Ammianus Marcellinus, Quintus Curtius, Homer, Virgil, Martial, Ovid, Horace, and Seneca;“which Russian translations were brought as examples in his lectures upon. | Rhetoric; lastly,” Description of the Comet which appeared in 1744.“The third volume consists chiefly of” Speeches and Treatises read before the Academy j“”Panegyric on the Empress Elizabeth”On Peter the Great;“” Treatise on the Advantages of Chemistry;“”On the Phenomena of the Air occasioned by the Electrical Fire“with a Latin translation of the same” On the Origin of Light, as a new theory of Colours“” Methods to determine with precision the Course of a Vessel;“”On the Origin of Metals by the Means of Earthquakes“”Latin Dissertation on Solidity and Fluidity;“” On the Transit of Venus, in 1761," with a German translation.

Besides these various subjects, Lomonozof made no inconsiderable figure in history, having published two small works relative to that of his own country. The first, styled “Annals of the Russian Sovereigns,” is a short chronology f the Russian monarchs and the second is the “Ancient History of Russia, from the Origin of that Nation to the Death of the Great Duke Yaroslaf I. in 1504” a performance of great merit, as it illustrates the most difficult and obscure period in the annals of this country. 1

1

Coxe’s Travels through Russia, vol. II. p. 197.