Bigot, Emeric

, an eminent patron of literature, was born at Rouen in 1626, of an ancient family, and having no inclination to rise in the offices of magistracy, as many of his ancestors had done, nor to enter into the church, he determined to devote his time and fortune to the study and advancement of polite literature. His father, dean of the court of aids in Normandy, left him a library of six thousand volumes, including upwards of five hundred manuscripts, to which he made so many additions, that at his death it was valued at forty thousand franks and that it might not be scattered, he entailed it on his family, with handsome funds for the support and enlargement of it. It was, however, sold in July 1706, and the catalogue, which was printed, is in considerable request among bibliographers. During his life-time this library was the resort of a number of men of letters, who held frequent meetings here, in which Bigot presided. His travels in Holland, England, Germany, and Italy, procured him the acquaintance and correspondence of most of the literati of Europe, who frequently consulted him, and paid great regard to his opinions. His sole passion was to contribute by his wealth and studies to the perfection and illustration of the best Greek and Latin authors, and he employed these advantages with the utmost liberality and modesty. Having discovered in the library at Florence, the Greek text of the “Life of St. Chrysostom by Palladius, he published it at Paris in 1680, 4to, with some other ancient Greek remains, hitherto in manuscript, the whole accompanied with a Latin translation by Ambrose of Camaldoli. To this he added St. Chrysostom’s epistle to Cesarius, but it being discovered that this was an attack on the doctrine of transubstantiation, the licensers refused its being published, and caused the leaves on which it was printed to be cut out. A copy of these leaves, however, having fallen into the hands of Mr. (afterwards archbishop) Wake, was published by him in his” Defence of the Exposition of the Doctrine of the Church of England against the exceptions of M. de Meaux, &c.“Lond. 1686, 4to. In this Wake has given a curious account not only of the suppression of this letter, but of the controversy to which it gave rise in archbishop Cranmer’s time. Du Pin says, that after Bigot’s death, some of his literary correspondence was published but this appears a mistake, if we except a letter of his written, in 1672, to the bishop of Trulle | against the abbé de St. Cyran’s book” Le Cas Royal," and printed at Basil in 1690. Menage and Heinsius were among his most intimate friends, and such was his general knowledge and communicative disposition, that he was consulted by every one fond of literary history and anecdote. He died Oct. 18, 1689. 1


Gen. Dict.—Moreri.—Baillet Jugemeus des Savans.—Biog. Universelle.— Saxii Onomasticon.