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friend and patron, nominated him to the cure of Meudon, which he is said to have filled with great zeal and applicátication to the end of his life. His profound knowledge and skill in physic made him doubly useful to the people under his care; and he was ready upon all occafions to relieve them under bodily indispositions, as well as to consult and provide for the safety of their fouis. He died in 1553. As he was a great wit, many witticisms and facetious fayings are laid to his charge, which he knew nothing of; and many ridiculous circumstances related of his life and deatli, which it is but justice to him to omit as fabulous.

He published several things, but his Chef d'Oeuvre is " The History of Gargantua and Pantagruel" a rough satire, in the form of a romance, upon monks, priests, popes, and fools and knaves of all kinds; where wit and learning are scattered about with great profusion, but in a manner wild and irregular, and with a strong mixture of obscenity, coatie and puerile jaits, prophanc allusions, and low raillery. Hence it has come to país, that, while some have regarded it as a prime effort of the human wit, and, like Homer's poems, as an inexhaustible source of learning, science, and knowledge, others have affirmed it to be nothing but an unintelligible rhapsody, a heap of foolish conceits, without meaning, without cohetence; a collection of grofs impieties and obscenities. Both parties have reason for what they fay; that is, the truth lies between them both. Rabelais certainly intended to satirise the manners of his age, as appears plainly erough from the general turn and nature of his work; but; from a certain wildness and irregularity of manner, what he alludes to or means in some particular passages does not appear so plain. They must be greatly prejudiced against him, who will not allow him to have wit, learning, and knowledge of various kinds ; and so must they who cannot see that he is oftentimes low, coarse, prophane, and obscene.

The monks, who are the chief object of his fatire, gave some opposition to it when it first began to be published, for it was published by parts in 1535: but this opposition was foori overruled by the powerful patronage of Rabelais Ämong the great. The best edition of his works iš that with cuts, and the notes of Le Duchat and Da Monnoye; 1941, in 3 vols. 4to. Mr. Motteaux published an Engó lish translation of it at London 1708, in 2 vols. 8vo; with a preface and notes, in which he endeavours to thew, B2


that Rabelais has painted the history of his own time, under an ingenious fiction and borrowed names. Ozell published afterwards a new translation, with Duchat's notes, 5 vols. 120.

Diet. in

Tom. V.


:RACAN (HONORAT de Bevil, Marquis of), a French poet, was born at Roche Racan in Touraine, 1589.

At fixteen, he was made one of the pages to Henry IV ; Jugemens, and, as he began to amuse himself with writing verses, des sçavans,

he got acquainted with Malherbe, from whom he learned all the ikill he had in French poctry. Malherbe reproached him with being too negligent and incorrect in his versification ; and Boilcau has passed the same censure on him, yet affirms him to have had more genius than

his master; and to have been as capable of writing in the Boileau, Epic way, as he was in the Lyric, in which he particularly Şat. IX, *excelled. Menage has also spoken highly of Racan, in his Mr. Mau- additions and alterations to his “ Remarques sur les Poefics

66 de Nialherbe.” What is most extraordinary in this poet is, that lie acquired perfection in his art by mere dint of genius; for, as some relate, he had never studied at all, but even shewn an incapacity for attaining the Latin tongue. Upon quittir.g the office of page, he entered into the army; but this, more to oblige his father, the marquis of Racan, than cut of any inclination of his own: and therefore, after two or three campaigns, he returned to Paris, where he married a wife, and devoted himself to books and poetry. His works consist of sacred odes, pastorals, letters, and memoirs of the life of Malherbe, prefixed to many editions of the works of that poet. He was chosen one of the members of the French academy, at the time of its foundation. He died in 1670, aged 81. He had so low a voice, that he could scarcely be heard.

Niceron, RACINE (John), an illustrious French poet, was T.XVIII.

born at la Ferté-Milon in 1639, and educated at PortRoyal ; where he gave the greatest proofs of uncommon abilities and genius. During three years continuance there, he made a moit rapid progress in the Greek and Latin tongues, and in all polite literature. His genius lying towards poetry, made him particularly fond of Sophocles and Euripides; infomuch that he is said to have lcárned these two great authors by heart. He happened upon the Greek romance of Heliodorus, 6 of the Loves " of Theagencs and Chariclea," and was reading it very 3

greedily i

greedily ; -when his director furprising him took the book, and threw it into the fire. Racine found means to get another copy, which also underwent the same fate ; and af. tér that a third, which, having a prodigious memory, he got by heart: and then, carrying it to his director, faid, You may now burn this, as you have burned the two " former."

Leaving Port-Royal, he went to Paris, and ítudied logic some time in the college of Harcourt, The French poetry had taken his fancy, and he had already composed fome little pieces in it; but it was in 1660, when all the poets were making their efforts upon the marriage of the king, that he first discovered himfelf to the public. His “La

Nymphe de la Seine," written upon that occasion, was highly approved by Chapelain ; and to powerfully recommended by him to Colbert, that the minister fent Racine a hundred pistoles from the king, and settled a pension o! him, as a man of letters, of 600 livres, which was paid him to the day of his death. The narrowness of his circumstances had put him upon a design of retiring to Uzes ; where an uncle, who was canon regular and vicar general of Uzes, offered to resign to him a priory of his order which he then : poffesfed, if he would become a regular; and he still wore the ecclesiascical habit, when he wrote the tragedy of “ Theagenes,” which he presented to Moliere ; and that of the “ Freres Ennemis” in 1664, the subject of which was given him by Moliere.

In the mean time, the success of his ode upon the king's marriage spurred him to attempt higher things, and carried him at length entirely to the service of the theatre. In 1666, he published his tragedy of “ Alexandra;" concerning which Mr. de Valincour relates a fact, which he had from Racine himself. Reading this play to Corneille, he received the highest encomiums froin tliat great writer ; but at the same time was advised by him to apply himself to Uve Lettre any other kinds of poetty, as more proper for his genius, de Mr de

Valincour than dramatic. Corneille,” adds de Valincour,

inferée dans incapable of low jealousy: if he spoke fo to Mr. Racine, l'Histoire de so it is certain that he thought so. But we know, that l'Acad: mie

Françoiti de “ he preferred Lucan to Virgil ; whence we must con“ clude, that the art of writing excellent verse, and the d’Olivet, “ art of judging excellently of poets and poetry, do not avec les ad

ditions de " always meet in the same person."

ce Sçavant, Racine's dramatic character embroiled him at this time with the gentlemen of Port-Royal. Mr. Nicole, in his

• Vifionaires

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Mr. l'Abbé

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«« Visionaires, & Imaginaires," had thrown out occasionally some poignant strokes against the writers of romance and poets of the theatre, whom he called the public poifoners, not cf bodies, but of fouls : “ des empoison

neurs publics, non des corps, mais des ames.” Racine, taking himself to be included in this censure, was fomewhat provoked, and addressed a very animated letter to Nicole; in which he did not lo much concern himself with the subject of their difference, as endeavour to turn into ridicule the folitaires and religious of the Port-Royal. M. du Bois and barbier Daucour having each of them replied to this letter, Racine opposed them in a second as fprightly as the fift. These letters, published in 1666, are to be found in the edition of Racine's works 1728, and also in the last editions of the works of Boileau. In 1668, he published " Les Plaideurs,” a comedy ; and Andromache,” a tragedy ; which, though it had great success, was a good deai criticised. The character of Pyrrhus was thoughtoverstrained and too violent; and the celebrated actor Montfleuri had certainly reilun tu think that of Oreftes fo, fince the efforts he made in representing it cost him his life. He continued to exhibit from time to tine several great and nobie tragedies ; “ Britannicus,” in 1670 ; " Berenice," in 1671; “ Bajazet,” in 1672 ; “Mi“ thridates," in 1673; “Iphigenia,” in 1675; “ Phæ66 dra,” in 1677. During which time, he met with all that opposition, which envy and cabal are ever ready to set up against a superior genius; and one Pradon, a poet whose name is not worth remembering, was then employed by persons of the first distinction to have a 36 Phædra” ready for the theatre, against the time that Racine's should appear.

After the publication of " Phædra," he took a resoluțion to quit the theatre for ever : although he was still in full vigour, being not more than thirty-eight; and the only person, who was capable of confoling Paris for the old age

of Corneille. .But he had imbibed in his infancy a deep sense of religion: and this, though it had been fmothered for a while by his connections with the theatre, and particularly with the famous actress Champmelé, whom he greatly baved, and by whom he had a son, now at length broke out, and bore down all before it. In the first place, he resolved, not only to write no more plays, but to do a rigorous penance for those he had written; and actually forined a design of becoming a Carthufian

tom. ii.

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friar. Had not Voltaire good reason to say, that he was by
“ far a greater poet, than philosopher ?" His religious di- Siécle de

Louis XIV. rector, however, not so mad, but a good deal wiser than lie, advised him to think more moderately, and to take ineasures more suitable to his character. He


upon marrying, and settling in the world, with which proposal this humble and tractable penitent complied; and immediately took to wife the daughter of a treasurer of France for Amiens, by whom he had seven children. His next concern was to reconcile himself, as he did very sincerely, with the gentlemen of Port-Royal, whose censures on dramatic writers he acknowledged to be most juit. He made peace at first with Nicole, who received him with open arms; and Boileau introduced him to Arnaud, who also embraced him tenderly, and forgave all his satire.

He had been admitted a member of the French acadeiny in 1673, in the room of la Mothe le Vayer, deceased; but spoiled the speech he made upon that occasion, by pronouncing it with too much timidity. In 1677, lie was nominated with Boileau, with whom he was ever in ftri&t friendship, to write the history of Lewis XIV; and the public expected great things from two writers of their diftinction, but were disappointed. 56 Boileau and Ra. “ cine," says de Valincour, ** after having for some 66 time laboured at this work, perceived that it was en

tirely opposite to their genius; and they judged also, “ with reason, that the history of such a prince neither “ could nor ought to be written in less than an hundred years after his death, unless it were to be made


of “ extracts from Gazetes, and such like materials."

Though Racine liad inade it a point of religion, never to ineddle any more with poetry, yet he was again drawn, in spite of all the resistance he could make, to labour for the theatre: Ma:lam de Maintenon intreated him to compose some tragedy fit to be played by her young ladies at the convent of St. Cyr, and to take the subject from the Bible. Racine composed “ Efther;" which, being first represented at St. Cyr, was afterwards acted at Versailles before the king in 1689. It appears to me very re- Ibid. " markable,” says Voltaire, " that this tragedy had then “ universal success; and that two years after • Athaliah,' “ though performed by the same persons, had nane. It

happened quite contrary, when these pieces were played " at Paris, long after the death of the author; and when prejudice and partiality had ceased, Athalialı,' repre


66 sented



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