Marets, John Des

, de Saint Sorlin, was a man of getiius, and a favourite of cardinal Richelieu, who used to receive him at his retired hours, and unbend his mind by conversing with him upon gay and delicate subjects. On. this account, and because he assisted the cardinal in the tragedies he composed, Bayle used to say, that “he possessed an employment of genius under his eminence;” which in French is a pun, as genie means genius and engineers/lip. He was born at Paris in 1595. He has left us himself a picture of his morals, which is by no means advantageous; for he owns that, in order to triumph over the virtue of such women as objected to him the interest of their salvation, he made no scruple to lead them into atheistical principles. “I ought,” says he, “to weep tears of blood, considering the bad use I have made of my address among the ladies; for I have used nothing but specious falsehoods, malicious subtleties, and infamous treacheries, endeavouring to ruin the souls of those I pretended to love. I studied artful speeches to shake, blind, and seduce them; and strove to persuade them, that vice was virtue, or at least a thing natural and indifferent.” Marets at length became a visionary and fanatic; dealt in nothing but inward lights and revelations; and promised the king of France, upon the strength of some prophecies, whose meaning be tells us was imparted to him from above, that he should have the honour of overthrowing the Mahometan empire. “This valiant prince,” says he, “shall destroy and expel from their dominions impiety and heresy, and reform the ecclesiastics, the courts of justice, and the finances. After this, in common agreement with the king of Spain, he shall summon together all the princes of Europe, with the pope, in order to re-unite all the Christians to the true and only catholic religion. After all the heretics are re-united to the holy see, the king, as’eldest son of the chu/ch, shall be declared generalissimo of all | the Christians, and, with the joint forces of Christendom, shall destroy by sea and land the Turkish enapire, and law of Mahomet, and propagate the faith and dominion of Jesus Christ over the whole earth:” that is to say, over Persia, the empire of the great mogul, Tartary, and China.

These absurdities do not appear to have lessened hi& reputation among his countrymen, as the charge of inquisitor was bestowed upon him: and he showed himself very active in bringing about the extirpation of Jansenism. He had been a member of the French academy from its first establishment, and was always esteemed one of its principal ornaments. He wrote several dramatic pieces, which were received with great applause, especially that entitled “Les Visionaires.” He attempted an epic poem, entitled “Clovis,” which cost him several years’ labour; and he was of opinion, that it would have cost him a good many more to have finished it, if Providence had not destined his pen for works of devotion, and on that account afforded him supernatural assistance. This we learn from the preface of his “Delices de l’Esprit,” in which he professes that he dare not say in how short a time he had finished the nine remaining books of that poem, and retouched the rest. He also very seriously boasts, that “God, in his infinite goodness, had sent him the key of the treasure, contained in the Apocalypse, which was known but to few before him;” and that, “by the command of God, he was to levy an army of 144,000 men, part of which he had already enlisted, to make war upon the impious and the Jansenists.” He died in 1676, aged eighty-one.

His works are thus enumerated: 1. “A Paraphrase of the Psalms of David.” 2. “The Tomb of Card. Richelieu,” an ode. 3. “The Service to the Virgin,” turned into verse. 4. “The Christian Virtues,” a poem in eight cantos. 5. The four books, “On the Imitation of Jesus Christ,1654, 12mo, very badly translated into French verse. 6. “Clovis,” or France converted, an epic poem in twenty-six books, 1657. This poem, though the author thought so highly of it, as we have already seen, is wholly destitute of genius, and its memory is preserved more by a severe epigram of Boileau against it, than by any other circumstance. He wrote also, 7. “The Conquest of Franche Comte,” and some other poems not worth enumerating. Besides these works in verse, he published in prose, 8. “Les Delices de l’Esprit,” a fanatical and | incomprehensible work above-mentioned, which was best criticized by a person who said, that at the head of the Errata^ should be put, “for Delices, read Delires;” instead of delights of the mind, ravings of it. 9. “Avis du St. Esprit an Roi,” still more extravagant if possible than the former. 10. “Several Romances, and among them one entitled” Ariane,“or Ariadne, at once dull and indecent. 11.” La Verit6 des Fables," 1648, 2 vols. 8vo. 12. A dissertation on Poets, in which the author ventures to attack the maxims of Aristotle and Horace. Some writings against the satires of Boileau, and several against the Jansenists, complete the list. His countrymen now consider the verses of Des Marets as low, drawling, and incorrect; his prose, as disgraced by a species of bombast which renders it more intolerable than his poetry.

His niece, Mary Dupre', was born at Paris, and educated by her uncle. She was endowed with a happy genius and a retentive memory. After reading most of the principal French authors, she learnt Latin, and went through Cicero, Ovid, Quintus Curtius, and Justin. With these books she made herself so familiarly acquainted, that her uncle proceeded to teach her the Greek language, the arts of rhetoric and versification, and philosophy; not that scholastic philosophy which is made up of sophistry and ridiculous subtleties, but a system drawn from the purer sources of sense and nature. She studied Descartes with such application, that she got the surname of la Cartesienne. She likewise made very agreeable verses in her own language, and acquired a thorough knowledge of the Italian. She held a friendly and literary correspondence with several of the learned her contemporaries, as also with the mademoiselles de Scudefi and de la Vigne. The answers of Isis to Climene, that is to mademoiselle de la Vigne, in the select pieces of poetry published by father Bouhours, are by this ingenious and learned lady. 1

1 Ge. Dict. Nicron, vol. XXXV. —Moreri.