Fontaine, Nicholas

, a voluminous French writer, the son of a scrivener at Paris, was born in 1625, and received at the age of twenty into the: society of the celebrated solitaries of Port Royal, in a subordinate office, but in the course of time obtained the^ chief superintendance of the young men who were sent there for education; He employed his leisure hours in severe literary labours, such as transcribing the works of several of these solitaries. He followed Nicole and Arnauld, to whom he had been a kind of secretary, into their different places of retreat; in 1664 he was shut up in the Bastille with Sacy, and came out of it with him in 16f>8. After the death of Sacy, in 1684, he frequently changed his retreat, but established himself finally at Mel un, where he died in 1709, at the age of eighty-four. His works are principally, 1. “Lives of the Saints of the Old Testament,” 4 torn. 8vo. 2. “Lives of the Saints” in general, the same number of volumes, or 1 in folio. 3. “Les figures de Bible,” or a history of tha Bible, in short chapters, which has often been printed under the title of “Bible de Royaumont,” and there is an English edition in 4to, with above 300 prints. 4. “Memoirs of the Solitaries of Port Royal,” 2 vols. 12mo. 5. “Translation of St.‘ ChrysostonVs Homilies on St. Paul’s Epistles,” 7 vols. 8vo. His versions are written with fidelity, but not always with vigour. He was far inferior to Arnauld and Nicole, whom he admired; but his piety was worthy of Port Royal. He was distinguished for innocence of manners, laborious, edifying simplicity of life, sincere modesty, unparalleled disinterestedness, and a steadiness of faith superior to all trials. A man of so many virtues deserves to be recorded, though not among the first class of authors. It remains to be added that his translation of Chrysostom involved him in trouble. Father Daniel, a Jesuit, accused him of Nestorianism, and denounced, him in a letter to the Sorbonne. Fontaine made a very humble and respectful retraction, and substituted several new pages in those parts which had been found reprehensible; but, as this did not prevent M. de Harlai from condemning his translation, he undertook its defence in a work where he asserts, that he has faithfully translated St. Chrysostom, and not fallen into heresies. 1