Bergerac, Savinien Cyrano De

, was born about 1620, in the castle of Bergerac in Perigord, and was at first very indifferently educated by a poor country priest. He afterwards came to Paris, and gave himself up to every kind of dissipation. He then entered as a cadet in the regiment of guards, and endeavoured to acquire reputation on the score of bravery, by acting as second in many duels, besides those in which he was a principal, scarce a day passing in which he had not some affair of this kind on his hands. Whoever observed his nose with any attention, which was a very remarkable one, was sure to be involved in a quarrel with him. The courage he shewed upon these occasions, and some desperate actions in which he distinguished himself when in the army, procured him the name of the Intrepid, which he retained to the end of his life. He was shot through the body at the siege of Mouzon, and run through the neck at the siege of Arras, in 1640; and the hardships he suffered at these two sieges, the little hopes he had of preferment, and perhaps his attachment to letters, made him renounce war, and apply himself altogether to certain literary pursuits. Amidst all his follies he had never neglected literature, but often withdrew himself, during the bustle and dissipation of a soldier’s life, to read and to write. He composed many works, in which he shewed some genius and extravagance of imagination, | Marshal. Gassion, who loved men of wit and courage, because he had both himself, would have Bergerac with him but he, being passionately fond of liberty, looked upon this advantage as a constraint that would never agree with him, and therefore refused it. At length, however, in compliance with his friends, who pressed him to procure a patron at court, he overcame his scruples, and placed himself with the duke of Arpajon in 1653. To this nobleman he dedicated his works the same year, fur he had published none before, consisting of some letters written in his youtH, with a tragedy on the death of Agrippina, widow of Germanicus. He afterwards printed a comedy called “The Pedant,” but his other works were not printed till after his death. His “Comic history of the states and empires of the Moon” was printed in 1656. His “Comic history of the states and empires of the Sun,” several letters and dialogues, and a fragment of physics, were all collected and published afterwards in a volume. These comic histories and fragments shew that he was well acquainted with the Cartesian philosophy. He died in 1655, aged only thirtyfive years, his death being occasioned by a blow upon his head which he unluckily received from the fall of a. piece of wood a few months before.

The earl of.Orrery, in his “Remarks on the life and writings of Swift,” has taken occasion to speak of him in the following manner “Cyrano de Bergerac is a French author of a singular character, who had a very peculiar turn of wit and humour, in many respects resembling that of Swift. He wanted the advantages of learning and a regular education; his imagination was less guarded and correct, but more agreeably extravagant. He has introduced into his philosophical romance the system of des Cartes, which was then much admired, intermixed with several fine strokes of just satire on the wild and immechanical inquiries of the philosophers and astronomers of that age; and in many parts he has evidently directed the plan which the dean of St. Patrick’s has pursued.” This opinion was first quoted in the Monthly Review (vol. X), when Derrick translated a. id published Bergerac’s “Voyage to tha Moon,1753, 12mo. But Swift is not the only person indebted to Bergerac. His countrymen allow that Moliere, in several of his characters, Fontenelie, in his “Plurality of Worlds,” and Voltaire, in his “Micromegas,” have taken many hints and sketches from this eccentric writer. There | have been various editions of his works at Paris, Amsterdam, Trevoux, &c. the last was printed at Paris, 1741, 3 vols. 12 mo. 1


Biog. Universelle. —Dict. Hist.Moreri, et L’Avocat in Cyrano.