Esprit, James

, a French moral writer, was boni at Beziers in loll, and entered in 1629 into the oratory, which he quitted five years afterwards to mix again in society; in which, indeed, he -possessed all the qualities adapted to please sense, wit, and the advantages of a good figure. The duke de la Rochefoucault, the chancellor Se’guier, and the prince de Conti, gave him unequivocal testimonies of their esteem and friendship. The first introduced him into the circles of fashion the second obtained for him a pension of 2000 livres and a brevet of | counsellor of state; the third heaped his favours upon him, and consulted him upon all occasions. Esprit died in 1678, at the age of sixty-seven. He was a member of the French academy, and one of those who shone in the infancy of that society. His works are: 1. “Paraphrases on some of the Psalms,” which cannot be read with much pleasure since the appearance of those of Masillon. 2. “The fallacy of Human Virtues,Paris, 1678, 2 vols. 12mo; and Amsterdam, 1716, 8vo, which was intended as a commentary on the Maxims of the duke de la Rochefoucault; but In some places, say his countrymen, it may be compared to the ingenious and lively Horace commented by the heavy Dacier. He cannot, however, be censured for directing his reflections more on persons than on vices a defect too frequent among modern moralists; and it is to his credit that after having shewn the fallacy of merely human virtues, he concludes all his chapters by proving the reality of the Christian virtues. Louis de Bans has taken from this book, his “Art of knowing mankind.1


Moreri.—Niceron. vol. XV.