Béranger, Pierre Jean de

Béranger, Pierre Jean de, a celebrated French song-writer, born at Paris, of the lower section of the middle class, and the first of his countrymen who in that department rose to the high level of a true lyric poet; his first struggles with fortune were a failure, but Lucien Bonaparte took him up, and under his patronage a career was opened up for him; in 1815 appeared as an author, and the sensation created was immense, for the songs were not mere personal effusions, but in stirring accord with, and contributed to influence, the great passion of the nation at the time; was, as a Republican—which brought him into trouble with the Bourbons—a great admirer of Napoleon as an incarnation of the national spirit, and contributed not a little to the elevation of his nephew to the throne, though he declined all patronage at his hands, refusing all honours and appointments; has been compared to Burns, but he lacked both the fire and the humour of the Scottish poet. “His poetical works,” says Professor Saintsbury, “consist entirely of chansons political, amatory, bacchanalian, satirical, philosophical after a fashion, and of almost every other complexion that the song can possibly take” (1780-1859).

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

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