Fevre, Tannegui Le

, or Tanaquil Faber, a very learned man, father of madame Dacier, was born at Caen in Normandy in 1615. His father determined to educate him to learning, at the desire of one of his brothers, who was an ecclesiastic, and who promised to take him into his Jiouse under his own care. He had a genius for music, and early became accomplished in it but his uncle proved too severe a preceptor in languages he therefore studied Latin with a tutor at home, and acquired the knowledge of Greek by his own efforts. The Jesuits at the college of La Fleche were desirous to detain him among them, and his father would have persuaded him to take orders, but he resisted both. Having continued some years in Normandy, he went to Paris; where, by his abilities, learning, and address, he gained the friendship of persons of the highest distinction. M. de Noyers recommended him to cardinal Ue Richelieu, who settled on him a pension of 2000 livres, | to inspect all the works printed at the Louvre. The car* dinal designed to have made him principal of the college which he was about to erect at Richelieu, and to settle on him a farther stipend: but he died, and Mazarine, who succeeded, not giving the same encouragement to learning, the Louvre press became almost useless, and Faber’s pension was very ill paid. His hopes being thus at an end, he quitted his employment; yet continued some years at Pans, -pursuing his studies, and publishing various works. Some years after he declared himself a protestant, and became a professor in the university of Saumur; which place he accepted, preferably to the professorship of Greek at Nimeguen, to which he was invited at the same time. His great merit and character soon drew to him from all parts of the kingdom, and even from foreign countries, numbers of scholars, some of whom boarded at his house. He had afterwards a contest with the university and consistory of Saumur, on account of having, unguardedly and absurdly, asserted in one of his works, that he could pardon Sappho’s passion for those of her own sex, since it had inspired her with so beautiful an ode upon that subject. Upon this dispute he would have resigned his place, if he could have procured one elsewhere: and at last, in 1672, he was invited upon advantageous terms to the university of Heidelberg, to which he was preparing to remove, when he was seized with a fever, of which he died Sept. 12, 1672. He left a son of his own name, author of a small tract “De futilitate Poetices,” printed 1697 in 12mo, who was a minister in Holland, and afterwards lived in London, then went to Paris, where he embraced the Romish religion; and two daughters, one of whom was the celebrated madam Dacier, and another married to Paul Bauldri, professor at Utrecht. Huet tells, that “he had almost persuaded Faber to reconcile himself to the church of Rome,” from which he had formerly deserted; “and that Faber signified to him his resolution to do so, in a letter written a few months before his death, which prevented him from executing his design.” Voltaire,’ if he may be credited, which requires no small degree of caution, says he was a philosopher rather than a Hugonot, and despised the Calvinists though he lived among them.

T. le Fevre was agreeable in his person, andjiis stature above the common standard; but a little stiff in his behaviour. He was good-natured, but somewhat blunt in his | conversation. He had a strong aversion to falsehood and loquacity. He was always very elegant in his dress, and so expensive in this article, that he is said to have sent constantly to England for whole boxes of gloves, silk stockings, &c. and to Paris, and even to Rome, for all sorts of essences, perfumes, and powders. He was subject to sudden starts of passion in his family, which, however, were soon over. His books, his children, and his garden, in which he cultivated all kinds of flowers himself, were his ordinary diversions. He ate and slept little.

He published, 1. “Luciani de morte Peregrini libellus, cum notis,1653, 4to. He thought this the best of Luclan’s pieces; and had a design to give an edition of all his works, which, however, he never executed, 2. “Diatribe, Flavii Josephi de Jesu Christo testimonium suppositurn esse,1655, 8vo. 3. “Luciani Timon,” with a Latin version and notes. 4. “Epistolarum pars prima,1659, 4to. “Pars secunda: cui accedunt Aristophanis Concionatrices, Graece & Latine, cum notis,1665, 4to. 5. “Journal du Journal, ou, Censure de la Censure;” and afterwards, 6. “Seconde Journaline;” both in 1666, 4to. 7. “Abrege* des Vies des Poetes Grecs,” &c. with “the marriage of Belphegor, and the life of Theseus, from Plutarch,1665, in 12mo. 8. “Convivium Xenophontis.” 9. “Platonis Alcibiades primus.” 10. “Plutarchus de Superstitione” all in French translations, 1666; as was the year after, 11. “Aristippi Vita a D. Laertio.” This last was inserted by De Sallengre, in his “Memoirs de Literature,” torn. ii. p. 2. In the same volume of the same work was published, 12. “Methode pour commencer les humanites Grecques et Latines:” translated in English, and published by Phillips, in a book entitled “A compendious way of teaching ancient and modern languages, formerly practised by the learned Tanaquil Faber, in the education of one of his sons, and of his daughter the celebrated madam Dacier. To which are added, some tracts and observations on the same subject by several eminent men, namely, Roger Ascham, Richard Carew, Milton, Locke, &c. With an account of the education of the dauphin, by Bossuet bishop of Meaux,1723, 8vo. 13. “Fabulse ex Locmanis Arabico-Latinis versibus redditae,1673, 12n; and subjoined, the year after, to the first volume of the second edition of his “Epistolse.” 14. He published notes upon several Greek and Latin authors | of antiquity namely, Apollodorus, Longinus, Anacreon, Aristophanes, Ælian, Lucretius, Phyedrus, Virgil, Horace, Terence, Eutropius, Justin, Dionysius Periegetes, aad others.

The character of this critic has been very variously represented. Bochart calls him a man excellently skilled in. the Latin and Greek learning, and of uncommon sagacity and penetration. Tollius tells us, that he was a person of great wit and pleasantry, and wonderfully polished by all the elegance of the. Greek and Roman literature. Guy Patin, in a letter dated at Paris Sept. 21, 1666, gives him the character of an excellent person, and one of the first rank of learned men of that age. Nicholas Heinsius represents him as a man of learning and genius, but somewhat conceited. Morhof says, that he “was very learned, a good philologer, well skilled in the Greek language, of a very fine and enterprizing genius, who from his own imagination made a great many alterations in authors, though destitute of manuscripts; which rashness, however, sometimes succeeded very well with him, who by his own sagacity saw, what others search for with great labour in manuscripts. But he is more than once severely animadverted upon by other writers on account of his presumption; for he frequently corrects at his pleasure corrupt passages, and makes prodigious alterations in writers. Many of his conjectures are contained in his epistles, of which there are two books, in which he explains the passages of the ancients contrary to the opinion of every body; though he is highly to be valued on account of the elegance and acuteness of his genius.” Morhof also applies to him, the line

Destruit, sedificat, mutat quadrata rotundis.

Huet, bishop of Avranches, assures us that our author was well skilled in the Greek and Roman, and all the ancient learning. Niceron observes, that “his Latin style is fine and delicate, without any points or affectation; every thing is expressed very happily in it. He had likewise a good genius for Greek and Latin poetry; and his verses are worthy of the better ages. His French style has not the graces of his Latin. He knew well enough the rules of our language, but he did not truly understand the true genius and natural propriety of it. As he lived in the Province, that is, almost out of the world, he wrote | by study than custom, and he has not always observed the French turn and idiom. Besides, he spoiled his style by a vicious affectation, endeavouring to mix the serious of Balzac with the hutnour and pleasantry of Voiture. Notwithstanding these defects, what he has written in our language will still please; and if his translations have not all the elegance possible, they support themselves by their accuracy, and the learned remarks which accompany them.” Mr. William Baxter, in the dedication of his edition of Anacreon, styles him “futilis Callus,” and affirms that our author in his notes upon that poet every where trifles, and with all his self-conceit and vanity has shewn himself absolutely unfit for that task. In another place he writes thus: ' Nugatur etiam Tanaquillus Faber, ut solet;“and at last he styles him,” Criticaster Callus." Some modern critics have not been much more favourable to his critical talents. 1


Geo. Dict. —Moreri. —Niceron, vols. III. and X, Clement Bibl. Curieuse. —Saxii Onomast.