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always advanced three steps from the throne to receive privileged the family of La Fontaine to be for ever exempt, him.
from laxes, and decreed that the productions of the mind, If ever the voice of individuals can recompense a life of were not seizable, when the creditors of Crebillon would literary labour it is in speaking a foreign acceni-it sounds have attached the produce of his tragedies. These dislike the distant plaudit of posterity. The distance of linctive honours accorded to genius were in unison with space between the literary character and the inquirer in their decree respecting the will of Bayle. It was the subsom respects represents the distance of time which sepa- ject of a law-suit between the heir of the will, and the inrates the author from the next age. Fontenelle was never heritor by blood. The latter contested that this great litemore gratified than wheu a Swede, arriving at the gates of rary character, being a fugitive for religion and dying in a Paris, inquired of the custom-house officers where Fonte- prohibited country, was without the power of disposing of pelle resided, and expressed his indignation that not one of his property, and that our author, when he resided in thero had ever heard of his name. Hobbes expresses his Holland, was civilly dead. In the parliament of Toulouse proud delight that his portrait was sought after by foreign the judge decided that learned men are free in all couners and that the Great Duke of Tuscany made the philo- tries; that he who had sought in a foreign land an asylum sopher the object of his first inquiries. Camden was not from his love of letters, was no fugitive ; that it was uniosensible to ihe visits of German noblemen, who were worthy of France to treat as a stranger a son in whom desirous of seeing the British Pliny; and Pocock, while she gloried; and he protested against the notion of a civil he received no aid from patronage at home for his Oriental death to such a man as Bayle, whose name was living studies, never relaxed in those unrequited labours, from throughout Europe. the warm personal testimonies of learned foreigners, who Even the most common objects are consecratea when bastened to see and converse with this prodigy of eastern associated with the memory of the man of genius. We learning.
still seek for his tomb on the spot where it has vanished; Yes! to the very presence of the man of genius will the the enthusiasts of genius still wander on the hills of Pauworld spontaneously pay their tribute of respect, of admi- silippe, and muse on Virgil to retrace his landscapes or rauion, or of love; many & pilgrimage has he lived to re as Sir William Jones ascended Forest-hill, with the Alleceive, and many a crowd has followed his footsteps. There gro in his hand, and step by step, seemed in his fancy to are days in the life of genius which repay its sufferings. have trodden in the foot-path of Milton; there is a grove Demosthenes confessed he was pleased when even a fish at Magdalen College which retains the name of Addison's woman of Athens pointed him out. Corneille had his para walk, where still the student will linger; and there is a ticular seat in the chuaire, and the audience would rise to cave at Macao, which is still visited by the Portuguese salute him when he entered. At the presence of Raynal from a natior.al feeling, where Camoens is said to have ia the House of Commons, the speaker was requested to composed his Lusiad. When Petrarch was passing by suspend the debate till that illustrious foreigner, who had his native town he was received with the honors of his writton on the English parliament, was there placed and fame; but when the heads of the town, unawares to Pedistingmshed, so his bonour. Spinosa, when he gained a trarch, conducted him to the house where the poet was humble livelihood by grinding optical glasses, at an obscure born, and informed him that the proprietor had often wished village in Holland, was visited by the first General in Eu to make alterations, but that the towns-people had risen to rope, who, for the sake of this philosophical conference, insist that the house which was consecrated by the birth of Buxpended his march.
Petrarch should be preserved unchanged; this was a triIn all ages, and in all countries, has this feeling been umph more affecting to Petrarch than his coronation at created : nor is it a temporary ebullition, nor an individual Rome. In the village of Certaldo is still shown the house nonpur: it comes out of the heart of man. In Spain, of Boccaccio; and on a turret are seen the arms of the Mewhatever was most beautiful in its kind was described by dici, which they had sculptured thero, with an inscription the name of the great Spanish bard; every thing excellent alluding to a small house and a name which filled the was called a Lope. Italy would furnish a volume of the world. · Foreigners,' says Anthony Wood of Milton, public honours decreed to literary men, nor is that spirit have, out of pure devotion, gone to Bread-street to see extinct, though the national character has fallen by the
the house and chamber where he was born;' and at Paris chance of fortune ; and Metastasio and Tiraboschi re the house which Voltaire inhabited, and at Ferney bis stucoired what had been accorded to Petrarch and to Poggio. dy, are both preserved inviolate. Thus is the very apartGorinany, patriotic to its literary characters, is the land of ment of a man of genius, the chair he studied in, the table the enthusiasm of genius. On the borders of the Linnet, he wrote on, contemplated with curiosity ; the spot is full in the public walk of Zurich, the monument of Gesner, of local impressions. And all this happens from an uncrected by the votes of his fellow.citizens, altests their sen
satisfied desire to see and hear him whom we never can gibility; and a solemn funeral honoured the remains of see nor hear; yet in a moment of illusion, if we listen to a Klopstock, led by the senate of Hamburgh, with fifty thou traditional conversation, if we can revive one of his feel. and rotaries, so penetrated by one universal sentiment, ings, if we can catch but a dim image of his person, wo that this multitude preserved a mournful silence, and the reproduce this man of genius before us, on whose features interference of the police ceased to be necessary through
we so often dwell. Even the rage of the military spirit the city at the solemn burial of the man of genius. Has has taught itself to respect the abode of genius ; and Cæeven Holland proved insensible? The statue of Eras sar and Sylla, who never spared their own Roman blood, mue, in Rotterdam, still animales her young students, and alike felt their spirit rebuked, and saved the literary city of offers a noble example to her neighbours of the influence Athens. The house of the man of genius has been spared even of ine sight of the statue of a man of genius: nor
amidst contending empires, from the davs of Pindar to must it be forgotten that the senate of Rotterdam declared
those of Buffon; and the recent letter of Prince Schwartz. of the cougrant Bayle, that such a man should not be enberg to the Countess, for the preservation of the philo. contulered as a foreigner.' In France, since Francis Isopher's chateau, is a memorial of this elevated feeling. * erraind genus, and Louis XIV krew to be liberal to it, And the meanest things, the very household stuff asso. the impulse was communicated to the French people. ciated with the memory of the man of genius, become the There the stalues of their illustrious men spread inspira- objects of our affections. At a festival in honour of Thom Lion on the spots which living they would have bauntedin their theatres the great dramausts; in their Institute
* In the grandeur of Milton's verse we perceive the feeling there illuminous authors; in their public edifices their other he associated with this literary honour. then of genius.* This is worthy of the country which
• The great Emathian conqueror bid spare
The house of Pindarus when temple and tower • We cannot bury the Fame of our English worthies--that Went to the ground
Sonnet VIII, Erits before ur, Independent of our selves; but we bury the influence of their inspiring presence in those immortal memo.
"To the Countess of Buffon, in Montbard. rials of genius easy to be read by all men, their states and "The Emperor, my Sovereign, having ordered me to pro. their trusts, eonmigning them to spous seldom visited, and often vide for the security of all places dedicated to the sciences, con ot-cure to the viewed. Count Algaroui has ingeniously and of such as recall the remembrance of men who have done saal 'Larcent que nous employons en tabatières et en pom honour to the age in which they lived, I have the honour to prus arvin: aux anciens célébrer la mémoire des grands send to your ladyship a safeguard for your chateau of Monthomopar des monumens dignes de passer à la postérité; bard. et it rulou boule des four de joie pour une victoire rempor.
•The residence of the Historian of Nature must be sacred tte, jisé rérent des arcs de triomphe de morphyre et de mar. in the eyes of all the friends of science. It is a domain which br.' May we not, for our honour, and for the advantage of belongs to all mankind. -I have the honour, &c. our artims, predict better times for ourselves ?
son the poet, the chair in which he composed part of his singular revolution in the human mind, and, by its 16-4c Seasons was produced, and appears to have communicated tion, in human affairs, was not effected by merchants prosome of the raptures to which he was liable who had sat firing over them by superior capital ; or by admirals and gein that chair ; Rabelais among his drollest inventions, nerals humiliating them by victories; but by our authors, could not have imagined that his old cloak would have whose works are now printed at foreign presses, a circumbeen preserved in the University of Montpellier for future stance which proves, as much as the commerce and doctors to wear on the day they took their degree; nor could Shakspeare, that the mulberry tree which he plante had our nation displayed more limited resources than its
prowess of England, the ascendency of her genius. Even ed would have been multiplied into relics. But in such instances the feeling is right with a wrong direction ; and
awful powers have opened; had the sphere of its dominion
been only its island boundaries, could the same literary while the populace are exhausting their emotions on an character have predominated, we might have attained to old tree, and an old cloak, they are paying that involuntary the same eminence and admiration in the hearts of our cou. tribute to genius which forms its pride, and will generate tinental neighbours. The small cities of Athens and of the race.
Florence will perpetually attest the influence of the literaCHAPTER XIX.
ry character over other nations; the one received the tri
butes of the mistress of the universe, when the Romans THE INFLUENCE OF AUTHORS.
sent their youth to be educated at Athens; while the Wherefore should not the literary character be associat- other, at the revival of letters, beheld every polished Eued in utility or glory with the other professional classes of ropean crowding to its little court
. society? These indeed press more immediately on the at
There is a small portion of men, who appear marked out tention of men; they are stimulated by personal interests, by nature and habit, for the purpose of cultivating their and they are remunerated by honours; while the literary by disclosing them to the people. Those who govern a no
and giving activity to their sentiments, character, from its habits, is secluded; prodcing its usefulness in concealment, and often at a late period in life; not
tion cannot at the same time enlighten them--authors always too of immediale application, and often even unva
stand between the governors and the governed. lued by the passing generation,
Important discoveries are often obtained by accident; It is curious to observe of the characters of the other by the single thought of a man of genius, which has someclasses in society, how each rises or falls in public esteem,
times changed the dispositions of a people, and even of an according to the exigencies of the times. 'Ere we had age, is slowly matured in meditation. Even the mochan swept from the seas all the fleets of our rivals, the naval
cal inventions of genius must first become perfect in its hero was the popular character; while military, from the
own solitary abode, ere the world can possess them. The political panic occasioned by standing armies, was in people are a vast body, of which men of genius are the variably lowered in public regard ; the extraordinary the philosophical writer; these are axioms as demonstras
eyes and the hands; and the public mind is the creation of change of circumstances, and the genius of one man, have entirely reversed the public feeling.*
ble as any in Euclid, and as sure in their operation, as any The commercial character was long, even in this coun
principle in mechanics. When Epicurus published his try, placed very low in the scale of honour; the merchant doctrines, men immediately began to express themselves was considered merely as a money-trader, profiting by the
with freedom on the established religion; the dark and individual distress of the nobleman, and afterwards was
fearful superstitions of paganism fell into neglect, and viewed with jealous eyes by the country gentleman. A
mouldered away, the inevitable fate of established false Dutch monarch, who initiated us into the mysteries of hood. When Machiavel, living amidst the principalities banks and loans, by combining commercial influence with of Italy, where stratagem and assassination were the polje political power, raised the mercantile character.
tics of those wretched rivals, by lifting the veil from these But the commercial prosperity of a nation inspires no
cabinets of banditti, that calumniated man of genrus, alarmveneration in mankind; nor will its military power win
ed the world by exposing a system subversive of all human their affection. There is an interchange of opinions, as
virtue and happiness, and led the way to political freedom, well as of spices and specie, which induces nations to When Locke and Montesquieu appeared, the old systems esteem each other; and there is a glorious succession of of government were reviewed; the principles of legislation authors, as well as of seamen and soldiers, for ever were developed : and niany changes have succerded, and standing before the eyes of the universe.
are still to succeed. Politicians affect to disbelieve that It is by our authors that foreigners have been taught to abstract principles possess any considerable influence on subdue their own prejudices. About the year 1700, the the conduct of the subject. In times of tranquillity,' they Italian Gemelli told all Europe that he could find nothing say, 'they are not wanted, and in times of confusios they among us but our writings to distinguish us from the are never heard.' But this has been their error ; 11 19 10 worst of barbarians. Our civil wars, and our great revolu- leisure, when they are not wanted, thar they are studied tion, had probably disturbed the Italian's imagination. Too by the speculative part of mankind; and when they tre long we appeared a people whose genius partook of the
wanted they are already prepared for the active multitude, density and variableness of our climate, incapacitated who come like a phalanx, pressing each other with 20 even by situation, from the enjoyment of arts which had unity of teeling and an integrity of force. Paley would mi aoi yet travelled to us ; and as if Nature hersell had de close his eyes on what was passing before him; and; be signed to disjoin us from more polished neighbours and has observed, that during the convulsive troubles as Geneva brighter skies. We now arbitrate among the nations of the political theory of Rousseau was prevalent in the the world; we possess their involuntary esteem , nor is
contest8 ; while in the political disputes of our country, there a man of genius among them who stands unconnect those ideas of civil authority displayed in the works of ed with our intellectual soveregnty.
Locke, recurred in every form. How, therefore, can the • We conquered France, but felt our captive's charms,
character of an author be considered as subordinate in 10 Her arts victorious triumphed o'er our arms.'
ciety? Politicians do not secretly think so, at the moment
they are proclaiming it to the world: nor do they fancy, At the moment Pope was writing these lines, that si
as they would have us imagine, that paper and pens are lent operation of genius had commenced, which changes the fate of nations. The first writers of France were
only rags and feathers; whatever they affect, the truth passing over into England to learn to think and write, or
and Buffon began his Natural History, our own naturalis thought and wrote like Englishmen in France. This
Ray had opened their road to Nature.'Bacon, Newton, and
Boyle, reduced the fauciful philosophy of France mlo espari. *Mr Gifford, in his notes to his recent Translation of Per ment and demonetration. Helvetius, Diderot, and their te. sius, with his accustomed keenness of spirit, has detected this thers, gleaned their pretended discoveries from our Shattesface in our popular manners. “Persius, whenever he has occa bury, Mandeville, and Toland, whom sometimes they only sion for a more worthless character than ordinary, commonly translated. Even our novelists were closely Imitaced.Our repairs to the camp for him. Fielding and Smollet in compli. great compilations of voynges and travels, Hackluyl, Chur, ance with the cant of their times, manifested a patriotic abhor. chill, &c, furnished Montesquieu with the moral facta bere rence of the military; and seldom went farther for a blockhead,
quired for his large picture of his · Esprit des Loll.' The a parasite, or an adept in low villany, than the Armylist. We Cyclopædia of Chambers was the parent of the French work. have outlived this stupid piece of injustice, and a led-captain' Even historical compilers existed in our couniry helore the is no longer considered as the indispensable vice or every
race appeared in France. Our Universal Hizory, and Sun novel.' | Voltaire borrowed all the genius of our country; our poetry
ley, Echard, and Hooke, preceded Ralin and other French
abridgers of bistory; while Home and our philosopbiral bis. and our philosophy. Buffon began by translating Hales's torians set them a nobler example, which remains fte them • Vegetablo Static's';' and before Linnæus classed his plants, yet to rival.
is that they consider the worst actions of men, as of far | nius of our own country; and our aathors are defrauded less consequence than the propagation of their opinions. even in the debt we are daily incurring of their posthuThey well know, as Sophocles declared, that 'opinion is mous fame. ever stronger than truth. Have politicians not often ex When an author writes on a national subject, he posed their disguised terrors ? Books, and sometimes their awakens all the knowledge which lies buried in the sleep authors, have been burnt ; bul burning books is no part of of nations; he calls around him, as it were, every man of their refutation. Cromwell was alarmed when he saw the talents; and though his own fame should be eclipsed by Oceana of Harrington, and dreaded the effects of that his successors, yet the emanation, the morning lighi, broke volume more than the plots of the royalists; while Charles from his source. Our naturalist Ray, though no man was II. trembled at an author, only in his manuscript state; more modest in his claims, delighted to tell a friend that and in the height of terror, and to the honour of genius, it since the publication of his catalogue of Cambridge was decreed, that. Scribere est agere.'*
Plants, many were prompted to botanical studies, and to Observe the influence of authors in forming the charac herbalise in their walks in the fields. A work in France, ter of men, where the solitary man of genius stamps his under the title of. L'Ami des Hommes,' first spread there own on a people. The parsimonious, habits, the money a general passion for agricultural pursuits; and although getring, precepts, the wary cunning, and not the most the national ardour carried all to excess, yet marshes were seruvulous means to obtain the end, of Dr Franklin, im- drained and waste lands enclosed. The Emilius of Rousprinted themselves on his Americans ; loftier feelings could seau, whatever errors and extravagancies a system which not eevale a man of genius, who became the founder of a would bring us back to nature may contain, operated a trading people, retaining the habits of a journeyman print. | complete revolution in modern Europe, by changing the er : while the clegant tastes of Sir William Jones could education of men; and the boldness and novelty of some inspire the servanis of a commercial corporation to open of its principles communicated a new spring to the human new and vast sources of knowledge ; a mere company of intellect. The commercial world owes to two retired phitraders, influenced by the literary character, enlarge the losophers, in the solitude of their study, Locke and Smith, stores of the imagination and collect fresh materials for the those principles which dignify Trade into a liberal purhistory of human nature.
suit, and connect it with the happiness of a people. I have said that authors produce their usefulness in pri Beccaria, who dared to raise his voice in favour of huvacy, and that their good is not of immediate application, manity, against the prejudices of many centuries, by his and often unvalued by their own generation. On this oc work on "Crimes and Punishments,' at length abolished casion the name of Evelyn always occurs to me. This torture; and Locke and Voltaire, on Toleration,' have author supplied the public with nearly thirty works, at a long made us tolerant. But the principles of many works tine when laste and curiosity were not yet domiciliated in of ihis stamp have become so incorporated in our minds our country; his patriotism warmed beyond the eightieth and feelings, that we can scarcely at this day conceive the year of his age ; and in his dying hand he held another le fervour they excited at the time, or the magnanimity of gacy for his nation. Whether his enthusiasm was intro their authors in the decision of their opinions. ducing to us a taste for medals and prints; or intent on And to whom does the world owe more than to the purifying the city of smoke and smells, and to sweeten it founders of miscellaneous writing, or the creators of new by plantations of native plants; or having enriched our and elegant tastes in European nations? We possess one orchards and our gardens; placed summer-ices on our peculiar to ourselves. To Granger our nation is indebted tables, and varied even the sallads of our country; fur for that visionary delight of recalling from their graves the nishing ' a Gardener's Kalendar,' which, as Cowley said, illustrious dead, and as it were, of living with them, as was to last as long as months and years,' and the horis far as a familiarity with their features and their very looks culturist will not forget Father Evelyn in the heir of his forms a part of life. This pleasing taste for portraits seeing fame, Millar; whether the philosopher of the Royal So- peculiar to our nation, and was created by the ingenuity ciety, or the lighter satirist of the toilette, or the fine mo of a solitary author, who had very nearly abandoned those ralist for active as well as contemplative life ;-yet in all many delightful associations which a collection of fine porthese changes of a studious life, the better part of his traits affords, by the want of a due comprehension of their history has not been told.-While Britain retains her nature among his friends, and even at first in the public. awful situation among the nations of Europe, the • Sylva' Before the miscellanists' rose, learning was the solitary of Evelyn will endure with her triumphant vaks. In the enjoyr ent of the insulated learned; they spoke a language third edition of that work the heart of the patriot exults at of their own; and they lived in a desert, separated from ite result: he tells Charles, I how many millions of tim the world ; but the miscellanists became their interpreters, ber trees, besides infinito others, have been propagated opening a communication between two spots, close to each and planted at the instigation, and by the sole direction of other, yet which were so long separated, the closet and this work.' It was an author in his studious retreat, who the world. These authors were not Bacons, Newtons, casting a prophetic eye on the age we live in, secured the and Leibnitzes; but they were Addison, Fontenelle, and late victories of our naval sovereignty. Inquire at the Feyjoo, the first popular authors in their nations who Admiralty how the fleets of Nelson have been con
taught England, France, and Spain to become a reading structed ? and they can tell you that it was with the oaks people; while their fugitive page imbues with intellectual which the genius of Evelyn planted.f
sweetness, an uncultivated mind, like the perfumed mould The same character existed in France, where De Ser. which the swimmer in the Persian Sadi took up; it was a res in 1599 composed a work on the cultivation of mul- piece of common earth, but astonished at its fragrance, he berry trees in reference to the art of raising silk-worms. asked whether it were musk or amber! I am nothing but He laught his fellow citizens to convert a leaf into silk, earth ; but roses were planted on my soil, and their and silk to become the representative of gold. Our author odorous virtues have deliciously penetrated through all encountered the hostility of the prejudices of his times in my pores; I have retained the infusion of sweeiness; giving his country one of her staple commodities; but I otherwise I had been but a lump of earth.' lately received a medal recently struck in honour of De There is a singleness and unity in the pursuits of Serres, by the Agricultural Society of the department of genius, through all ages, which produces a sort of conthe Seine. We are loo slow in commemorating the ge- sanguinity in the characters of authors. Men of genius,
*Algernon Sydney was condemned to death for certain in their different classes, living at distinct periods, or in manuscripts found in his library; and the reason alleged was, remote countries, seem to be the same persons with that scribere est agere-that to write is to act. The papers another name : and thus the literary character who has which arved to condemn Sydney, it appears, were only an. fuerit Filmer's obsolete Defence of Monarchical Tyranny
long departed, seems only to have transmigrated. In the The metaphysical inference drawn by the crown lawyers is
great march of the human intellect he is still occupying the
same place, and he is still carrying on with the same pownot a necessary consequence, Authors may write that which they may not afterwards approve ; their mánuscript opinions ers, his great work, through a line of centuries. are very liable to be changed, and authors eren change those In the history of genius there is no chronology, for to us opiniona they have published. A man ought only to lose his every thing it has done is present; and the earliest athead for his opinions, in the metaphysical sense ; opinions tempt is connected with the most recent. Many men of against opinionis; but not an axe against a pen.
Sinco this has been writen, the Diary of Evelyn is pub. genius miist arise before a particular man of genius can lisha!: it cannot add to his general character, whatever it may
Before Homer there were other bards--we have
appear. bo: but we may apucipalo much curious amusement from the
a catalogue of their names and works. Corneille could diary or a literary character whose studica formed the business
not have been the chief dramatist of France, had not the of life
founders of the French drama preceded bim; and Pope
could not have appeared before Dryden. Whether the as his writings made John Huss the reformer of Bohemia, works of genius are those of pure imagination, or searches so the writings of John Huss led Martin Luther to be the after truth, they are alike tinctured by the feelings and the reformer of Germany; so extensive and so incalculable events of their times; but the man of genius must be are the consequences which sometimes follow from buman placed in the line of his descent.
Our historian has accompanied this by giving Aristotle, Hobbes, and Locke, Descartes and Newton, the very feelings of Luther in early life on his first perusal approximate more than we imagine. The same chain of of the works of John Husk : we see the spark of creation intellect Aristotle holds, through the intervals of time, is caught at the moment; a striking influence of the generaheld by them; and links will only be added by their suc tion of character! Thus a father spirit has many sons; and cessors. The naturalists, Pliny, Gesner, Aldrovandus, several of the great revolutions in the history of man have and Buffon, derive differences in their characters from the been opened by such, and carried on by that secret creaspirit of the times; but each only made an accession to tion of minds visibly operating on human affairs. In the the family estate, while each was the legitimate repre-history of the human mind, he takes an imperfect view, sentative of the family of the naturalists. "Aristophanes, who is confined to contemporary knowledge, as well as he Moliere, and Foote, are brothers of the family of national who stops short with the Ancients, and has not advanced wits : the wit of Aristophanes was a part of the common with their descendants. Those who do not carry their reproperty, and Moliere and Foote werc Aristophanic. searches through the genealogical lines of genius, will Plutarch, La Mothe le Vayer, and Bayle, alike busied in muulate their minds, and want the perfect strength of an amassing the materials of human thought and human ac entire man. tion, with the same vigorous and vagrant curiosity, must Such are the great lights of the world,' by whom the have had the same habits of life. If Plutarch was credu torch of knowledge has been successively seized and lous, La Mothe le Vayer sceptical, and Bayle philosophi- transmitted from one to the other. This is that noble cal, the heirs of the family may differ in their dispositions, image borrowed from a Grecian game, wbich Plato has but no one will arraign the integrity of the lineal descent. applied to the rapid generations of man to mark how the My learned and reflecting friend, whose original researches continuity of hnman affairs is maintained from age to age. have enriched our national history, has thus observed on The torch of genius is perpetually transferred from hand to the character of Wickliffe ; To complete our idea of the hand amidst this feeting scene. importance of Wickliffe, it is only necessary to add, that * Turner's History of England, vol. ii. p. 432.
END OF THE LITERARY CHARACTER.
CONTENTS OF THE LITERARY CHARACTER &c.
I. On Literary Characters,
X. Want of Mutual Ésteem,
407 408 412 415 418 420 421 424 427 428 425 480 433 436 437 438 441 442 446