Conrart, Valentin

, secretary of the French king’s council, was born at Paris 1603. The French Academy, to which he was perpetual secretary, considers him as its father and founder. It was in his house that this illustrious society took its birth in 1629, and continued to assemble till 1634; and he contributed much to render these meetings agreeable by his taste, his affability, and politeness. He therefore deservedly still enjoys a degree of celebrity in the republic of letters, though he does not rank among eminent scholars, being unacquainted with Greek, and knowing but little of Latin. He published some pieces cf no great merit; as, 1. “Letters to Felibien,Paris, 1681, 12mo. 2. “A treatise on oratorical action,Paris, 1657, 12mo, reprinted in 1686, under the name of Michel le Faucheur. 3. “Extracts from Martial,” 2 vols. 12mo, and a few other trifles. He died Sept. 23, 1675, at the age of 72. Conrart managed his estate without avarice and without prodigality. He was generous, obliging, and constant in his friendships. He was in habits of intimacy with the principal people in the several departments of the government, who consulted him in the most important afiairs; and, as he had a complete knowledge of the world, they found great resources in his judgment. He kept inviolably the secret of others, as well as his own. Being brought up a protestant, he continued firm to his profession. It is said that he revised the writings of the famous Claude, before they went to press. Conrart was related to Godeau, afterwards bishop of Vence, who, whenever he came to town, lodged at his house: several men of letters came there also, for the sake of conversing with the abbe: and this was the first origin of the academy. 2