Perrot, Nicolas

, sieur d'Ablancourt, a scholar of considerable parts, and once admired for his translations from ancient authors, was born at Chalons, April 5, 1606. He sprung from a family which had been illustrious in the law, and the greatest care was bestowed on his education. His father, Paul Perrot de la Sailer, who was a protestant, and also a man learning, sent him to pursue his studies in the college of Sedan; where he made so rapid a progress, that, at thirteen, he had gone through the classics. He was then taken home, and placed for some time under a private tutor, after which he was sent to Paris, where he studied the law five or six months, and was, when only in his eighteenth year, admitted advocate of parliament but did not adhere longto the bar. Another change he made about this time of great importance, was that of his religion, for popery, of which he embraced the tenets at the persuasion of his uncle Cyprian Perrot, who, in hopes of procuring him some valuable benefices, took great pains to recommend the church as a profession, but in vain. Nor did he succeed better in retaining him as a convert, for fte had scarcely distinguished himself in the republic of letters, by writing a preface to the “HonneXe Femme,” for his friend, father Du Bosc, than he felt a desire to return to the religion he had quitted. He was now, however, in his twenty-seventh year, and had sense enough to guard | against precipitation in a matter of so much consequence. He studied, therefore, the differences betwixt the Romish and reformed church, and after three years’ investigation, during which he did not disclose his intention to any one, he set out from Paris to Champagne, where he abjured popery; and very soon after went to Holland, till the clamour which followed this step was over. He was near a year in Leyden, where he learned Hebrew, and contracted a friendship with Salmasius. From Holland he went to England; then returned to Paris; and, after passing some weeks with M. Patru, took an apartment near the Luxembourg. He passed his days very agreeably; and though he devoted the greatest part of his leisure to books, mixed occasionally in society, and was the respected associate of all the learned in Paris. In 1637 he was admitted a member of the French academy, but was soon after forced to leave Paris, on account of the wars; and therefore retired to his estate, called Ablancourt, where he lived till his death. He died Nov. 17, 1664, of the gravel, with which he had been afflicted the greater part of his life.

He was a man of great acuteness, imagination, judgment, and learning, and thought equal to the production of any work; yet we have no original pieces of his, excepting the “Preface” above mentioned, “A Discourse upon the Tmjnortality of the Soul,” and a few letters to Patru. But he made French translations of many ancient writers, which were once admired for their elegance, purity, and chasteness of style. Among these are Tacitus, Lucian, Caesar, Thucydides, and Arrian; but he took too great liberties with the sense of his author, for the sake of imitating his manner, and producing something like an original. He is said to have succeeded best while he profited by the advice of Patru, Conrart, and Chapelain; and it is certain that those translations written in his latter days, vv^ien he had not that advantage, are inferior to the others. When he was asked, why he chose to be a translator, rather than an author, he answered, that “he was neither a divine nor lawyer, and consequently not qualified to compose pleadings or sermons that the world was filled withtreatises on politics that all discourses on morality were only so many repetitions of Plutarch and Seneca; and that, to serve one’s country, a man ought rather to translate valuable authors, than to write new books, which seldom contain any thing new.” The minister Colbert, | judging him very capable of writing the “History of Louis XIV.” recommended him to that monarch; who however, upon being informed that Perrot was a protestant, said, that “he would not have an historian of a religion different from his own.” Perrot was a man of great talents in conversation, and said so many good things that Pelisson regretted there was not some one present to write down all he spoke. 1


Moreri. —Dict. Hist. Life by Patru,