Freret, Nicolas

, an author of profound learning and considerable abilities, grossly misapplied, was born at Paris in 1688. He was bred nominally to the law, but his inclinations and talents not being suited to that profession, he devoted himself, from an early period, to his favourite studies of chronology and history. At twenty-five he was admitted into the academy of inscriptions, where he produced at the same time “A Discourse on the Origin of the French.” This treatise, at once bold and learned, added to some indiscreet conversations, occasioned his being confined in the Bastille. In his confinement, he could obtain no book but the dictionary of Bayle, which he consequently read so earnestly as almost to learn it by heart. He imbibed, at the same time, the scepticism of Bayle, and even went beyond him in the grpssness and impudence of his infidel sentiments, as clearly appears by some of his writings. These were, 1. “Letters of Thrasybulus to Leucippe,” in which atheism is reduced to a system. 2. “Examination of the Apologists for Christianity,” a posthumous work (not published till 1767), no less obnoxious than the other. Besides these, he was the author of, 3. Several very learned memoirs in the volumes of the academy, to which his name is prefixed; and a few light publications of no consequence. He died in 1749, in his | 61st year. His works were revived afterwards, and eagerly disseminated by Voltaire and his associates in their hostilities against religion and morals. 1