Beaumarchais, Pierre Augustin Caron de (17321799)

Beaumarchais, Pierre Augustin Caron de (Beaumar`chais, Pierre Augustin Caron de) , a dramatist and pleader of the most versatile, brilliant gifts, and French to the core, born in Paris, son of a watchmaker at Caen; ranks as a comic dramatist next to Molière; author of “Le Barbier de Seville” (1775), and “Le Mariage de Figaro” (1784), his masterpiece; astonished the world by his conduct of a lawsuit he had, for which “he fought against reporters, parliaments, and principalities, with light banter, clear logic, adroitly, with an inexhaustible toughness of resource, like the skilfullest fencer.” He was a zealous supporter of the Revolution, and made sacrifices on its behalf, but narrowly escaped the guillotine; died in distress and poverty. Of the two plays he wrote, Saintsbury says, “The wit is indisputable, but his chansons contain as much wit as the Figaro plays.” He made a fortune by speculations in the American war, and lost by others, one of them being the preparation of a sumptuous edition of Voltaire. For the culmination and decline, as well as appreciation, of him, see the “French Revolution,” by Carlyle (17321799).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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