Billaut, Adam

, known under the name of Maitre Adam, a joiner at Nevers, about the close of the reign of Louis XIII. and the beginning of that of Louis XIV. was called by the poets of his time Le Virgile au rabot. He made verses amidst his tools and his bottles. Cardinal Richelieu and the duke of Orleans settled pensions on him, and Corneille was among his panegyrists. His “Chevilles,1644, 4to; his “Villebrequin,1663; his “Rabot,” in 12mo, &c. had a great run. Among a considerable number of dull frivolities we meet with some happy lines. He died in 1662 at Nevers, which he never could be brought to quit for a lodging at Versailles. He had a just notion of greatness, and was capable of feeling and inspiring the charms of friendship. An epicurean without libertinism, and a stoic without supersition, he so associated these two sects as to have it said, that if Epicurus and Zeno had lived in his time, he would have brought them to drink together. He stuck to his mediocrity in order to preserve his happiness. The poets his contemporaries were his friends, and not envious of his fame. Mainard says, that the muses ought never to be seated but on tabourets made by the hand of this poetical joiner. St. Amand proved that he understood the art of poetry as well as that of making boxes. The duke de St. Aignan tells him, in some very agreeable lines, that, by his verses and his name, he is the first of men. Such praises were probably offered in ridicule; but Billaut knew how to make the most of his friends, and is said to have tried the sincerity of their friendship with very little ceremony. A new edition of his works was published in 1806, 12mo, Paris, and the year before a comedy was acted on the Paris stage, with some success, called “Chevilles de Maitre Adam.” Two poetical tradesmen, in his time, endeavoured to rival him, but without success, Ragueneau, a pastry-cook, and Reault, a locksmith. Each addressed a sonnet to him that of the pastrycook concludes with a point quite in character:

"Tu souffriras pourtant que je me flatte un peu

Avecqxie plus de

bruit tu travailles sans doute,

Mais pour moi je travaille avecque plus de

feu." 2

Gen. Dict.—Dict. Hist.Moreri.—Biog. Univ.