Batteux, Charles

, professor of philosophy in the college royal, member of the French academy and that of inscriptions, honorary canon of Rheims, was born in that diocese in 1713. He died at Paris the 14th of July 1780. Grief at finding that the elementary books for the use of the military school, the composition of which had been entrusted to him by the government, did not succeed, accelerated, it is said, his death. This estimable scholar was of a grave deportment, of a firm character without moroseness; his conversation was solid and instructive, the attainments of a man grown grey in the study of Greek | and Roman authors. We have by him, I. “Cours de belles-lettres,1760, 5 vols. 12mo; to which are added the “Beaux-arts reduits a un meme principe,” and iiis tract “de la construction oratoire,” which has been separately published. These books, more elaborate, more methodical, more precise than the “Traite d’Etudes” of Rollin, are written with less elegance and purity. The style is strongly tinctured with a metaphysical air, a stift' and dry precision reigns through the whole, but a little tempered by choice examples, with which the author has embellished his lessons. He is likewise censurable, that when he discusses certain pieces of the most eminent French writers, for instance, the fables of Fontaine, the rage for throwing himself into an estacy on all occasions, makes him find beauties, where critics of a severer taste have perceived defects. 2. “Translation of the works of Horace into French,” 2 vols. 12mo; in general faithful, but deficient in warmth and grace. 3. “The morality of Epicurus,” extracted from his writings, 1758, in 12mo; a book well compiled, and containing a great stock of erudition, without any ostentatious display of it. 4. “The four poetics, of Aristotle, of Horace, of Vida, and of Boileau,” with translations and remarks, 1771, 2 vols. 8vo, a work that evinces the good taste of an excellent scholar, with sometimes the amenity of an academic. 5. “History of primary causes,1769, 8vo. The author here unfolds some principles of the ancient philosopy. 6. “Elemens de Litterature, extraits du Cours des Belles Lettres,” 2 vols. 12mo. 7. His “Cours elementaire,” for the use of the military school, 45 vols. 12mo, a book hastily composed, in which he has copied himself, and copied others. He was admitted of the academy of inscriptions in -1759, and of the acadernie Frangoise in 1761, and was a frequent contributor to the memoirs of both societies. He was still more estimable by his personal qualities than by his literary talents. He supported by his bounty a numerous but impoverished family. 1


Dict. Hist. Saxii Onomarticon, vol. VIII.