Vavassor, Francis,

a Jesuit of France, eminently distinguished for his accomplishments in the belles-lettres, was born in 1605, at Paray, a small town in Charolois, in the diocese of Autun. He entered into the society of the Jesnits in 1621; and, after having finished the course of his studies, taught polite literature and rhetoric for seven years. Afterwards he was called to Paris, to explain the Holy Scriptures; which province he sustained | for six and thirty years, all the while cultivating poetry and classical literature, in which he particularly excelled. He died at Paris in Dec. 1681. He understood the Latin tongue very exactly, and also spoke it with the greatest purity and elegance. He was a man of good talents, great acuteness, solid and accurate judgment, and profound learning; so that he had all the qualities necessary to make him, what he was generally allowed to be, a very good critic.

His book “De Ludicra Dictione,” printed in 1658, was written to oppose a bad taste, which then prevailed in France, when the works of Scarron and Dassouci were very popular; by shewing, that the Greeks and Komans knew nothing of the burlesque style, although Mons. le Clerc is of opinion, that something of it may be found in Aristophanes. He wrote this at the request of Balzac, who had a great dislike to this style; but Balzac died before it was published. As all the authors of antiquity, who have mixed any pleasantries or bon-mots in their writings, were necessarily to be examined in the course of this treatise, Vavassor had an opportunity of shewing very extensive reading. Another of his works, not approved much less than the former, is his book “De Epigrammate,” printed in 1669, and reprinted with his “Epigrams” in 1672, 12mo; in which there are many new and just observations. It however laid the foundation of a dispute between him and Rapin who, in his “Reflections on Aristotle’s poesy,” printed in 1674, after having said, that the epigram, of all the works in verse that antiquity has produced, is the least considerable, adds, “I find nothing considerable to say on those who have attempted any thing in this way among the moderns. It is one of the sorts of verse, in which a man has little success; for, it is a kind of a lucky hit if it proves well. An epigram is little worth unless it be admirable; and, it is so rare to make them admirable, that it is sufficient to have made one in a man’s life. Maynard has succeeded the best in this way of all our French poets.A man jealous of his reputation, and naturally splenetic, which is said to have been Vavassor’s character, must have been extremely hurt with this; and accordingly the year after, 1675, he published “Remarks upon the Reflections of Rapin,” which had no name to them and, for the sake of abusing him, pretended not to know, while every body else knew very well, who the author of those reflections was. Rapin complained loudly of this ill-treatment; and Vavassor’s book, by way of re* | dress, was suppressed by order of the society. Vavassor’s other treatises are chiefly theological. j-*ii his works were collected and printed at Amsterdam, 1709, in folio; with a prefatory discourse by Le Clerc. 1

1 Le Clerc’s preface. —Niceron, vol. XXVII.