Bitaube', Paul Jeremiah

, a French poet and miscellaneous writer, was born at Konigsberg, Nov. 24, 1732, of a family of French refugees, of the protestant religion. After completing his education, he became a clergyman of that communion, and appears to have formed his taste for oratory and poetry from a frequent perusal of the Bible, the style of the historical part of which he much admired. He was a no less warm admirer of Homer. Although a Prussian by birth, he was a Frenchman at heart, and having accustomed himself to the language of his family, he felt a strong desire to reside in what he considered as properly his native country, conceiving at the same time that the best way to procure his naturalization would be through the medium of literary merit. As early as 1762, he published at Berlin a translation of the Iliad, which he called a free translation, and was in fact an abridgment and this served to introduce him to D’Alembert, who recommended him so strongly to the king, Frederick II. that he was admitted into the Berlin academy, received a pension, and afterwards visited France in order to complete his translation of Homer. A first edition had been printed in 1764, 2 vols. 8vo, but the most complete did not appear until 1780, and was followed by the Odyssey in 1785. Such was the reputation of both among his countrymen, that the academy of inscriptions admitted his name on their list of foreign members. Modern French critics, however, have distinguished more correctly between the beauties and defects of this translation. They allow him to have been more successful in his “Joseph,” a poem published first in 1767, and with additions in 1786, and now become almost a classic in France. It was translated into English in 1783, 2 vols. 12mo, but is certainly not likely to become a classic in this country, or where a taste prevails for simplicity and elegance. His “Joseph” was followed by “Les Bataves,” a poem of which some detached parts had appeared in 1773, under the title of “Guillaume de Nassau,| Amsterdam. This was reprinted in 1775, and again in 1796. During the war in 1793, as he attached himself to the French interest, he was struck off the list of the academy of Berlin, and his pension withdrawn but on the peace of Bale, his honours and his pension were restored. If his sovereign punished him thus for acting the Frenchman, he was not more fortunate with his new friends, who imprisoned him because he was a Prussian. On the establishment of the institute, however, Bitaube was chosen of the class of literature and the fine arts but gave a very bad specimen of his taste in translating the “Herman and Dorothea” of Goethe, and comparing that author with Homer, whose works, from this opinion, we should suppose he had studied to very little purpose. Some time before his death, which happened Nov. 22, 1808, he was admitted a member of the legion of honour. His other works were 1. “Examen de la Confession de Foi du Vicaire Savoyard,1763, a very liberal expostulation with Rousseau on account of his scepticism. 2. “De l’influence cles Belles-lettres sur la Philosophic,Berlin, 1767, 8vo; and 3. “Eloge de Corneille,1769, 8vo none of which are in the collection of his works published at Paris in 1804, 9 vols. 8vo. Bitaub cannot be ranked among writers eminent for genius, nor is his taste, even in the opinion of his countrymen, of the purest standard; but his works procured him a considerable name, and many of the papers he wrote in the memoirs of the Paris academy discover extensive reading and critical talents. His private character appears to have been irreproachable, and his amiable manners and temper procured him many friends during the revolutionary successions. 1


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