Fontaines, Peter Francis Guyot Des

, a French critic, was born of a good family at Rouen, in 1685. At fifteen, he entered into the society of the Jesuits; and, at thirty, quitted it for the sake of returning to the world. He was a pnest, and had a cure in Normandy; but left it, and resided for some time in the character of a man of wit and letters, with the cardinal d'Auvergne. Having obtained some reputation at Paris by certain critical productions, the abbe“Bignon, in 1724, committed to him the editorship of the” Journal des Scavans.“He acquitted himself well in this department, and was peaceably enjoying the applauses of the public, when in 1725 the enemies whom by critical strictures in his Journal he had created, formed an accusation against him of a most abominable crime, and procured him to be imprisoned. By the credit of powerful friends, he was set at liberty in fifteen days; the magistrate of the police took himself the trouble of justifying him in a letter to the abbe Bignon; and this letter having been read amidst his fellow-labourers in the Journal, he was unanimously re-established in his former credit. But with whatever reputation he might acquit himself in his Journal, his frequent quarrels interrupted his labours, which, however, he employed on some newperiodical works, from which he derived his greatest fame. In 1731, he began one under the title of” Nouveliiste du Parnasse, ou Reflexions sur les ouvrages nouveanx,“but proceeded only to two volumes; the work having been suppressed by authority, from the incessant complaints of authors who were there ridiculed. About three years after, in 1735, he obtained a new privilege for a periodical production, entitled” Observations sur les Ecrits Modernes;“whk:h, after being continued to thirty-three volumes, was suppressed also in 1743. Yet the year following, 1744, he published another weekly paper, called” Jugemens sur les ouvrages nouveaux,“and proceeded to eleven volumes; the two last being done by other hands. Fontaines could go no farther: for, in 1745, he was attacked with a disorder in the breast, which ended in a dropsy, and this in five weeks’ time carried him oHF.” He was,“says M. Freron,” born a sentimental person; a philosopher in conduct as well as in principle; exempt from ambitton and of a noble firm spirit, which would not submit to sue for preferments or titles. In common conversation he appeared only an ordinary man, but when subjects of | literature or any thing out of the common way were agitated, he discovered great force of imagination and wit."

Besides the periodical works mentioned above, he was the author of many others; many of them critical, some historical, and some translations from English writers, chiefly from Pope, Swift, &c. The abbe“de la Porte published in 1757,” L‘Esprit de i’Abbe des Fontaines," 4 vols. 12mo; at the head of which is the life of Fontaines, a catalogue of his works, amounting to forty-seven articles, and another catalogue of writings against him, amounting to thirty-three. He translated Virgil also, and some other classics. 1