Pompignan, John James Le Franc

, marquis of, a French nobleman, still more distinguished by his talents in poetry than by his rank, was born at Montauban in 1709. He was educated for the magistracy, and became advocategeneral, and first president of the court of aids at Montauban. His inclination for poetry, however, could not be repressed, and at the age of twenty-five he produced his tragedy of “Dido,” in which he approved himself not only one of the most successful imitators of Racine, but an able and elegant poet. After this success at Paris, he returned to his duties at Montauban, which he fulfilled in the most upright manner; but having suffered a short exile, on account of some step which displeased the court, he became digusted with the office of a magistrate. As he had now also increased his fortune by an advantageous marriage, he determined to remove to Paris, where at first he was received as his virtues and his talents deserved. His sincere | attachment to Christianity brought upon him a persecution from the philosophists, which, after a time, drove him back to the country. Voltaire and his associates had nowinundated France with their deistical tracts the materialism of Helvetius in his book de TEsprit, had just been brought forward in the most triumphant manner the enemies of Christianity had filled the Encyclopedic with the poison of their opinions, and had by their intrigues formed a powerful party in the French academy, when the marquis of Pompignan was admitted as an academician, in 1760. He had the courage, at his admission, to pronounce a discourse, the object of which was to prove that the man of virtue and religion is the only true philosopher. From this moment he was the object of perpetual persecution. Voltaire and his associates were indefatigable in pouring out satires against him: his religion was called hypocrisy, and his public declaration in its favour an attempt to gain the patronage of certain leading men. These accusations, as unjust as they were illiberal, mingled with every species of sarcastic wit, had the effect of digusting the worthy marquis with Paris. He retired to his estate of Pompignan, where he passed the remainder of his<laysin the practice of a true philosophy, accompanied by sincere piety and died of an apoplexy in 1784, at the age of seventy-five, most deeply regretted by his neighbours and dependents. The shameful treatment of this excellent man, by the sect which then reigned in the academy, is a strong illustration of that conspiracy against religion, so ably detailed by M. Barruel, in the first volume of his Memoirs of Jacobinism. When once he had declared himself a zealous Christian no merit was allowed him, nor any effort spared to overwhelm him with disgrace and mortification. His compositions nevertheless were, and are, esteemed by impartial judges. His “Sacred Odes,” notwithstanding the sarcasm of Voltaire, “sacred they are, for no one touches them,” abound in poetical spirit, and lyric beauties though it is confessed also that they have their inequalities. His “Discourses imitated from the books of Solomon,” contain important moral truths, delivered with elegance, and frequently with energy. His imitation of the Georgics of Virgil, though inferior to that of the abbe De Lille (whose versification is the richest and most energetic of modern French writers), has yet considerable merit and his “Voyage de Languedoc,” though not equal, in easy and | lively negligence to that of Chapelle, is superior in elegance, correctness, and variety. He wrote also some operas which were not acted and a comedy in verse, in one act, called “Les Adieux de Mars,” which was represented with success at the Italian comic theatre in Paris. The marquis of Pompignan was distinguished also as a writer in prose. His “Eulogium on the Duke of Burgundy,” is written with an affecting simplicity. His “Dissertations,” his “Letter to the younger Racine,” and his “Academical Discourses,” all prove a sound judgment, a correct taste, and a genius improved by careful study of the classic models. He produced also a “Translation of some dialogues of Lucian,” and some “Tragedies of Æschylus,” which are very generally esteemed. He was allowed to be a man of vast literature, and almost universal knowledge in the fine arts. Yet such a man was to be ill-treated, and crushed if possible, because he had the virtue to declare himself a partizan of religion. Even his enemies, and the most inflexible of them, Voltaire, were unable to deny the merit of some of his poetical compositions. The following stanza in particular, in “An- Ode on the Death of Rousseau,” obtained a triumph for him in defiance of prejudice. The intention seems to be to illustrate the vanity of those who speak against religion:

"Le Nil a vu sur ses rivagea

De noirs habitans des deserts

Insulter par leurs cris sauvages

L‘Astre clatant de l’univers.

Cris impuissans fureurs bizarres

Tandis que ces monstres barbares

Poussoient d’insolentes clameurs,

Le Dieu, poursuivant sa carriere,

Versoit des torrens de lumiere

Sur ses obscurs blasphe*mateurs."

Thus on the borders of the Nile, the black inhabitant* insult by their savage cries the star of day. Vain cries, and capricious fury! But while these barbarous monsters send up their insolent clamours, the God, pursuing his career, pours floods of light upon his dusky blasphemers.” “I have hardly ever seen,” says M. la Harpe, “a grander idea, expressed by a more noble image, nor with a more impressive harmony of language. I recited the passage one day to Voltaire, who acknowledged that it united all the qualities of the sublime; and, when I named the author, still praised it more.| The marquis’s brother, John George Le Franc, a prelate of great merit, was archbishop of Vienne, and like him combated the principles of the pbilosophists. He wrote various controversial and devotional works, and some of another description, as, “A Critical Essay on the present State of the Republic of Letters,1743Pastoral Instructions for the Benefit of the new Converts within his Diocese” Devotion not at enmity with Wit and Genius“”Mandates prohibiting the Reading of the Works of Rousseau and the Abbe Raynal." He died, in 1790, soon after the revolution had begun its destructive work, which he in vain endeavoured to resist. 1