Belloi, Peter Lawrence Buyrette Du

, of the French academy, was born at St. Flour, in Ativergne, in 1727, and educated at Paris under one of his uncles, a distinguished advocate of parliament. After having finished his studies with applause at the College-Mazarin, he took to the bar; or rather, in entering on this profession, he followed his uncle’s inclinations in opposition to his own. Captivated bv an ardent passion for literature, and despairing of ever being able to move his benefactor, a man severe and absolute in all his determinations, he expatriated himself, and went to Russia, to exercise the profession of a comedian, that he might be dispensed from exercising that of a lawyer at Paris. Being returned to that capital in 1758, he brought upon the stage his tragedy of “Titus,” imitated from the Clemenza di Tito of Metastasio. This copy of a piece barely tolerable, is only a very faint sketch of the nervous manner of Corneille, whose style the author strove to resemble. Du Belloi afterwards wrote “Zelmire,” wherein he accumulated the most forced situations and the most affecting strokes of the dramatic art. It was attended with success in representation, but will not bear examination in the closet. The “Siege of Calais,” a tragedy which he brought out in 1765, was a shining epocha of his life. This piece, which presents one of the most striking events in the history of France, procured the author the recompense it deserved. The king sent him a gold medal, weighing twenty-five louis d’ors, and a considerable gratification besides. The magistrates of Calais presented him with the freedom of their city in a gold box; and his portrait was placed in the hôtel-de-ville, among those of their benefactors. These testimonies of gratitude were thought due to a poet who set his brethren the example of choosing their subjects from the national history; and he would have been the more deserving of them if he had taken better care of his versification, which is frequently incorrect and harsh. In style, likewise, he was very deficient; but this was | overlooked in the generous and noble sentiments, and the pathetic situations which constituted the attractions of the Siege de Calais, Voltaire wrote the most flattering letters to the author, but for some reason retracted his encomiums after his death; and it was generally the fate of this tragedy to be too much extolled at first, and too much degraded afterwards. “Gaston and Bayard,” in the plan of which are several faults against probability, did not excite so lively emotions as the mayor of Calais; yet still the public admired the honest and steady character, and the sublime virtues, of the “CheValier sans peur et sans reproche.” His two pieces, “Peter the cruel,” and “Gabrielle de Vergi,” the former of which was immediately condemned, and the latter applauded without reason, are much inferior to Bayard. The author understood the proper situations for producing a grand effect; but he wanted the art to prepare them, and to bring them on in a natural manner. He substituted extraordinary theatrical efforts for the simple and true pathetic, and the little tricks of oratory for the eloquence of the heart; and by this means he contributed not a little to degrade and debase the French drama. The fall of “Peter the cruel” was a fatal stroke to his extreme sensibility, and it is said hastened the term of his life. He was attacked by a lingering distemper, which lasted for several months, and exhausted his very moderate share of bodily strength. A beneficent monarch (Louis XVI.) before whom the Siege de Calais was performed the first time, being informed of the lamentable condition of the author, sent him a present of fifty louis d’ors, and the players, from motives of a laudable generosity, gave a representation of the same tragedy for the benefit of the dying poet. He expired shortly after, on the 5th of March 1775, justly regretted by his friends, who loved him for goodness of disposition and warmth of friendship. M. Gaillard, of the acaclemie Fransoise, published his works in 1779, in 6 vols. 8vo. In this edition are contained his theatrical pieces, three of which are followed by historical memoirs of a very superior kind, with interesting observations by the editor; divers fugitive pieces in poetry, for the most part produced in Russia, but very unworthy of his pen, and the life of the author by M. Gaiilard. 1