Bongars, James

, an able classical scholar and negociator, was born at Orleans of a protestant family in 1554; | and studied at Strasburg in 1571, but in 1516, he studied the civil law under the celebrated Cujacius. During this time he applied much to critical learning; and though, says Bayle, he went not so far as the Lipsiuses and Casaubons, yet he acquired great reputation, and perhaps would have equalled them if he had not been engaged in political affairs. He was employed near thirty years in the most important negociations of Henry IV. for whom he was several times resident with the princes of Germany, and afterwards ambassador, but however published his edition of Justin at Paris, 1581, in 8vo. He had a critical and extensive knowledge of books, both manuscript and printed; and made a very great collection of them, some of which came afterwards to the library of Berne in Swisserland, and some, with his manuscripts, to the Vatican. Besides an edition of Justin, he was the author of other works; which, if they did not shew his learning so much, have spread his fame a great deal more. Thuanus highly commends an answer, which he published in Germany, to a piece wherein the bad success of the expedition of 1587 was imputed to the French, who accompanied the Germans; and the world is indebted to him for the publication of several authors, who wrote the history of the expeditions into Palestine. That work is entitled “Gesta Dei per Francos;” and was printed at Hanau in 1611, in two volumes, folio. He published also in 1600, at Francfort, “Rerum Hungaricarum Scriptores,” fol. There are letters of Bongars, written during his employments, which are much esteemed; and upon which Mr. Bayle remarks, that though he did not, like Bembo and Manucius, reject all terms that are not in the best Roman authors, yet his style is elegant. His letters were translated, when the dauphin began to learn the Latin language; and it appears by the epistle dedicatory to that young prince, and by the translator’s preface, that nothing was then thought more proper for a scholar of quality, than to read this work of Bongars. Bongars died at Paris in 1612, when he was 58 years of age: and the learned Casaubon, whose letters shew that he esteemed him much, laments in one of them, that “the funeral honours, which were due to his great merit, and which he would infallibly have received from the learned in Germany, were not yet paid him at Paris.” Mr. Bayle thinks that Bongars was never married: yet tells us, that he was engaged in 1597, to a French lady, who had the misfortune to die upon the very day appointed for | the wedding, after a courtship of near six years. This Bongars speaks of in his letters, and appears to have been exceedingly afflicted at it. His Latin letters were published at Leyden in 1647, and the French translation above mentioned in 1668, along with the originals, 2 vols. 12mo, but that of the Hague in 1695 is the most correct. His edition of Justin is rare and valuable. It was printed from eight manuscripts, accompanied with learned notes, various readings, and chronological tables; but the Bipont editors seem to think he sometimes took unwarranted liberties with the text. 1


Gen. Dict. —Moreri. Dibdin’s Classics. —Saxii Onomast.