Bouhours, Dominick

, a celebrated French critic, was born at Paris in 1628; and has by some been considered as a proper person to succeed Malherbe, who died about that time. He entered into the society of Jesuits at sixteen, and was appointed to read lectures upon polite literature in the college of Clermont at Paris, where he had studied; but he was so incessantly attacked with the head-ach, that he could not pursue the destined task. He afterwards undertook the education of two sons of the duke of Longueville, which he discharged to the entire satisfaction of the duke, who had such a regard for him, that he would needs die in his arms; and the “Account of the pious and Christian death” of this great personage was the first work which Bouhours gave the public. He was sent to Dunkirk to the popish refugees from England; and, in, the midst of his missionary occupations, found time to compose and publish many works of reputation. Among these were “Entretiens d‘Ariste & d’Eugene,” a work of a critical nature, which was printed no less than five times at Paris, twice at Grenoble, at Lyons, at Brussels, at Amsterdam, at Leyden, &c. and embroiled him with a great number of critics, and with Menage in particular; who, however, lived in friendship with our author before and | after. There is a passage in this work which gave great oifence in Germany, where he makes it a question, “Whether it be possible that a German could be a wit” The fame of it, however, and the pleasure he took in reading it, recommended Bouhours so effectually to the celebrated minister Colbert, that he trusted him with the education of his son, the marquis of Segnelai. The Remarks and Doubts upon the French language has been reckoned one of the most considerable of our author’s works; and may be read with great advantage by those who would perfect themselves in that tongue. Menage, in his Observations upon the French language, has given his approbation of jt in the following passage: “The book of Doubts,” says he, “is written with great elegance, and contains many fine observations. And, as Aristotle has said, that reasonable doubt is the beginning of all real knowledge; so we may say also, that the man who doubts so reasonably as the author of this book, is himself very capable of deciding. For this reason perhaps it is, that, forgetting the tide of his work, he decides oftener than at first he proposed.” Bouhours was the author of another work, “The art of pleasing in conversation,” of which M. de la Grose, who wrote the eleventh volume of the Bibliotheque Universelle, has given an account, which he begins with this elogium upon the author “A very little skill,” says he, “in style and manner, will enable a reader to discover the author of this work. He will see at once the nice, the ingenious, and delicate turn, the elegance and politeness of father Bouhours. Add to this, the manner of writing in dialogue, the custom of quoting himself, the collecting strokes of wit, the little agreeable relations interspersed, and a certain mixture of gallantry and morality which is altogether peculiar to this Jesuit. This work is inferior to nothing we have seen of father Bouhours. He treats in twenty dialogues, with an air of gaiety, of every thing which can find a way into conversation; and, though he avoids being systematical, yet he gives his reader to understand, that there is no subject whatever, either of divinity, philosophy, law, or physic, &c. but may be introduced into conversation, provided it be done with ease, politeness, and in a manner free from pedantry and affectation.” He died at Paris, in the college of Clermont, upon the 27th of May 1702; after a life spent, says Moreri, under such constant and violent fits of the head-ach, that he had | but few intervals of perfect ease. The following is a list of his works with their dates: 1. “Les Entretiens d‘Ariste et d’Eugene,1671, 12ro. 2. “Remarques et Doutes sur la langue Franchise,” 3 vols. 12mo. 3. “La Manier de bien penser sur les ouvrages d‘ esprit,Paris, 1692, 12mo. 4. “Pensees ingenieuses des anciens et des modernes,Paris, 1691, 12mo. In this work he mentions Boileau, whom he had omitted in the preceding; but when he expected Boileau would acknowledge the favour, he coolly replied, “You have, it is true, introduced me in your new work, but in very bad company,” alluding to the frequent mention of some Italian and French versifiers whom Boileau despised. 5. “Pensees ingenieuses des Peres de l’Eglise,Paris, 1700. This he is said to have written as an answer to the objection that he employed “too much of his time Oh profane literature. 6.” Histoire du grandmaitre d’Aubusson,“1676, 4to, 1679, and lately in 1780. 7. The lives of St. Ignatius, Paris, 1756, 12mo, and of St. Francis Xavier, 1682, 4to, or 2 vols. 12mo. Both these are written with rather more judgment than the same lives by Ribadeneira, but are yet replete with the miraculous and the fabulous. The life of Xavier was translated by Dryden, and published at London in 1688, with a dedication to king James II. 's queen. Dryden, says Mr. Malone, doubtless undertook this task, in consequence of the queen, when she solicited a son, having recommended herself to Xavier as her patron saint. 8.” Le Nouveau Testament," translated into French from the Vulgate, 2 vols. 1697 1703, 12mo. 1


Baillet Jugemens des Savans. —Moreri. —Dict. Hist.Saxii Onomast