Chaulieu, William Anfreye De

, was born at Fontenay in Normandy, in 1639. His father, counsellor of state at Rouen, placed him in the college de Navarre at Paris, where he acquired a profound knowledge of the ancient authors, and contracted an intimacy with the duke de Rochefoucault and the abbé Marsillac, whose patronage he acquired by his lively conversation and his various talents; and while he was countenanced by them, he formed an acquaintance that had a great influence on his poetical efforts. The duchess of Bouillon, a niece of cardinal Mazarin, was about to lay out a large garden, and for that purpose thought it necessary to obtain a piece of ground belonging to the estate of the family of Chaulieu. The poet, with much address, brought the treaty to effect agreeably to the desires of the duchess, and thus acquired the favour of a lady, who afterwards became the inspirer of his sonnets. Her house was a temple of the muses; she encouraged, rewarded, and inspired all such as shewed marks of poetic genius; and evinced a particular regard for Chaulieu. Through her he became known to the duke de Vendome, a great friend of the muses, who, as grand prior of France, presented him with a priorate on the isle of Oleron, with an annual revenue of 28,000 livres. To this were afterwards added the abbacies of Pouliers, Renes, Aumale, and St. Stephen, the profits of which enabled him to pass his life in ease and affluence. The first thing by which Chaulieu became known as a poet was a rondeau on Benserade’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. He soon found opportunities for appearing frequently before the public; and his acquaintance with Chapelle determined him entirely for jovial poetry. Chaulieu was no poet by profession he sung with the flask in his hand, and we are | told that in the circle of genial friends he acquired those delicate sentiments which render his poetry at once so natural and so charming. The muses were the best comforts of his age, as they had frequently been in his younger

years, when he was visited by the gout, the pains of which he contrived to alleviate, by conversations with his friends and the muses, and prolonged his life to a very advanced age, dying in 1726, in his 81st year. He was extremely desirous of becoming a member of -the academy of fine arts; and, on seeing another preferred to him, he took his revenge by satirical attacks on the management of the institution. It was the perfect consonance of his life with his poems, that gave them the natural air for which they have ever been so greatly admired. The philosophy of the graces, that animates his works, was also the rule of his life. But few of his poems were published during his lifetime, and those occasionally and detached; the trouble of collecting them he left to his friends after his death. The first editions were very imperfect, till Camusac and St. Marc took the pains to publish them in a completer collection, 1750, 2 vols. 12mo. They consist of epistles in verse, and letters in prose intermingled with verses. Both are characterised by an easy gaiety, agreeable pictures, lively strokes, genuine wit, pleasing fictions, Epicurean morality, or “sagesse commode,” as Saint Marc used to call it, and a style varied as the subject requires. They are not, however, without flat, incorrect, and puerile passages. His versification is flowing and harmonious, but frequently faulty and contrary to the rules of speech, and sometimes designedly negligent, in imitation of the simple style of Marot. Some find great harmony in the continual recurrence of the same rhymes, in which he followed Chapelle, and is praised by Dubos; and Camusac thinks that such verses are eminently adapted to music. Saint Marc, on the other hand, and the younger Racine, complain of their monotony, and conceive that the beauty of them consists solely in the conquest of greater difficulties, and that the French language is not so poor in sonorous phraseology as to stand in need of such a practice. Though the letters of Chaulieu were all actually written, and mostly directed to Bouillon, yet they are frequently interspersed with ingenious fictions. Excepting that to the chevalier Bouillon, the most remarkable letter is that addressed to M. la Fare, as the poet, with great frankness, gives us in | it his own portrait. Chaulieu’s odes are not of the higher species. 1


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