Bellay, Joachim Du

, a celebrated French poet, cousin to the Bellays to be noticed afterwards, was born about 1524 at Lire, a town about eight leagues from Angers. Being left an orphan at a very early age, he was committed to the guardianship of his elder brother, who neglected to cultivate the talents he evidently possessed, and although he soon discovered an equal turn for literature and for arms, he was kept in a sort of captivity, which prevented him from exerting himself with effect; and the death of his brother, while it freed him from this restraint, threw him into other embarrassments. No sooner was he | out of the care of a guardian himself, than he was charged with the tuition of one of his nephews, and the misfortunes of his family, which had brought it to the brink of ruin, and certain law-suits in which he was forced to engage, occasioned solicitudes and vexations but little suited to the studies he wished to pursue, while a sickness no less dangerous than painful confined him two years to his bed. Nevertheless he courted the muses; he studied the works of the poets, Latin, Greek, and French; and the fire of their genius enkindled his own. He produced several pieces that procured him access to the court, where Francis I. Henry II. and Margaret of Navarre, admired the sweetness, the ease, and the fertility of his vein. He was unanimously called the Ovid of France. The cardinal John du Bellay, his near relation, being retired to Rome, in 1547, after the death of Francis I. our poet followed him thither within two years afterwards, where he enjoyed both the charms of society and those of study. The cardinal was a man of letters, and the hours they passed together were real parties of pleasure. His stay in Italy lasted but three years, as his illustrious kinsman wanted him in France, where he gave him the management of his affairs; but his zeal, his fidelity, and attachment to his interests, were but poorly repaid; some secret enemies having misrepresented him to his patron. His most innocent actions were turned to his reproach sinister meanings were given to his verses; and at length he was accused of irreligion and these mortifications brought on him again his old complaints. Eustache du Bellay, bishop of Paris, moved at his misfortunes, and sensible of his merit, procured him, in 1555, a canonry of his church, which, however, he enjoyed not long; a stroke of apoplexy carried him off in the night of the 1st of Jan. 1560, at the age of thirty-seven. Several epitaphs were made on him, in which he is styled “Pater elegantiarum, Pater omnium leporum.” His French poems, printed at Paris in 1561, 4to, and 1597, 12mo, established his reputation, and are certainly very ingenious; but the author was as certainly neglectful of decorum and the proprieties of his station, and imitated the ancients, not so much in what deserves imitation, as in the liberties they sometimes take. His Latin poems published at Paris, 1569, in two parts, 4to, though far inferior to his French verses, are not destitute of merit. 1