Freron, Elie Catherine

, a French journalist, generally known for having been the constant object of the satire of Voltaire, was born at Quimper, in 1719. His talents were considerable, and he cultivated them in the society of the Jesuits, under fathers Brumoy and Bougeant. In 1739, on some disgust, he quitted the Jesuits, and for a time assisted the abbé des Fontaines in his periodical publications. He then published several critical works on his own account, which were generally admired, but sometimes suppressed by authority. His “Letters on certain writings of the time” began to be published in 1749, and were extended, with some interruptions, to 13 volumes. In 1754 he began his “Anne Litie>aire,” and published in that year 7 volumes of it; and afterwards 8 volumes every year as long as he lived, which was till 1776. In this work, FreVon, who was a zealous enemy of the modern philosophy, attacked Voltaire with spirit. He represented him as a skilful plagiary; as a poet, brilliant indeed, but inferior to Corneille, Racine, and Boileau; as an elegant, but inaccurate historian; and rather the tyrant than the king of literature. A great part of this Voltaire could bear with fortitude; but a very skilful and victorious attack upon a bad comedy, “La Femme qui a raison,” drove him beyond all bounds of patience; and henceforward his pen was constantly in motion against Fre>on, whose very name at any time would put him in a rage, nor was Freron more a favourite with the encyclopedists, whose principles he exposed.

Frron, though very skilful in his criticisms, and of uncommon abilities (as Voltaire himself confessed before he was irreconcileably provoked) suffered by the perpetual hostilities of an antagonist so high in reputation. His <* Anne'e Litte>aire," being constantly accused by Voltaire of partiality, began to be suspected, and the sale in some measure decreased. In foreign countries his talents were not well understood. He is the hero of Voltaire’s Dunchid, and nothing more is known about him. He was, in truth, a man of great natural genius and liveliness, with a correct taste, acute powers of discrimination, and a | pecwliar talent of entertaining his reader, while he pointed out the faults of a work. He had an active zeal against false philosophy, innovation, and affectation, and was steadily attached to what he considered as sound principles. In private life he was easy and entertaining. Such were the real talents of this formidable journalist. It must be owned, also, that he had his partialities; that he was sometimes too precipitate in his judgments, and too severe in his censures. Too strong a resentment of injustice sometimes rendered him unjust. His language also was sometimes over-refined, though always perfectly pure. The academies of Angers, Montauban, Nancy, Marseilles, Caen, Arrai, and the Arcadi at Rome, were eager to have him enrolled among their members. He died in March 1776, at the age of fifty-seven.

Besides his periodical publications, Freron left several works, l. “Miscellanies,” in 3 vols. comprising several poems, to which it has only been objected that they are gather over-polished. 2. “Les VraisPlaisirs,” or the loves of Venus and Adonis; elegantly translated from Marino. 3. Part of a translation of Lucretius. He also superintended and retouched Beaumelle’s critical commentary on the Henriade, and assisted in several literary works. His son, Stanislaus Freron, was one of the most active accomplices in the atrocities which disgraced the French revolution, and appears to have had no higher ambition than to rival Marat and Robespierre in cruelty. He died at St. Domingo in 1802. 1


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