Fresne, Charles Du Cange Du

, commonly called Du Cange, a learned Frenchman, was descended from a good family, and born at Amiens in 1610. After being taught polite literature in the Jesuits college there, he went to study the Jaw at Orleans, and was sworn advocate to the parliament of Paris in 1631. He practised some time at the bar, but without intending to make it the business of his life. He then returned to Amiens, where be devoted himself to study, and ran through all sorts of learning, languages and philosophy, law, physic, divinity, and history. In 1668, he went and settled at Paris; and soon after a proposal was laid before Colbert, to collect all the authors who at different times had written the history of France, and to form a body out of them. This minister liking the proposal, and believing Du Fresne the best qualified for the undertaking, furnished him with memoirs and manuscripts for this purpose. Du Fresne wrought upon these materials, and drew up a large preface, containing the names of the authors, their character and manner, the time in which they lived, and the order in which they ought to be arranged. Being informed from the minister that his plan was not approved, and that he must adopt another, and convinced that if he followed the order prescribed, the whole work would be spoiled, he frankly told his employers that since he had not been happy enough to please those in authority, his advice was, that they should look out some of the best hands in the kingdom; and at the same time he returned them all their memoirs. (See Bouquet). Being thus disengaged from a tedious and laborious undertaking, he finished his Glossary of low Latin, or “Glossarium Mediæ et infimæ Latinitatis,*


The following anecdote is related of Mr. Du Cange: He snpt for certain booksellers of Paris, and after pointing to an old trunk which stood in a corner of his cabinet, he told them that it contained materials sufficient to make a book, and if they would undertake to print it, he was. ready to treat wiih them. With pleasure they embraced his offer; but after they had searched for the manuscript, they found only a heap of small bits of paper not larger than the breadth of a finger, and which seemed to have been torn to pieces as of no manner of use. Du Cange laughed at their mis-


take, and positively assured them that the manuscript was in the trunk. At length, one of them having viewed with great attention some of these scraps of paper, he discovered some observations which he knew to be the work of Du Cange. He found, too, that it was not impossible to place them in order, because at the beginning of every word which the learned author undertook to explain, he had ranged them alphabetically. With this key, and the knowledge he had of the extensive erudition of Mr. Du Cange, he did not hesitate a moment to bid money for the trunk and the riches it con. tamed. The treaty was concluded, without further explanation; and such was the origin of the famous “Gloslarium Mediae & infimae Latinitatis.

| which was received with general commendation; and though Hadrian Valesius, in his preface to the Valesiana, notes everal mistakes in it, it is nevertheless a very excellent and useful work. It was afterwards enlarged by the addition of more volumes; and the edition of Paris, by Carpentier, in 1733, makes no less than six in folio; to which Carpentier afterwards added four of supplement. Both have been since excellently abridged, consolidated, and improved, in 6 vols. 8vo, published at Halle, 1772 1784. His next performance was a “Greek Glossary of the middle age,” consisting of curious passages and remarks, most of which are drawn from manuscripts very little known. This work is in 2 vols. folio. He was the author and editor also of several other performances. He drew a genealogical map of the kings of France. He wrote the history of Constantinople under the French emperors, which was printed at the Louvre, and dedicated to the king. H published an historical tract concerning John Baptist’s head, some relics of which are supposed to be at Amiens. He published, lastly, editions of Cinnamus, Nicephorus, Anna Commena, Zonaras, and the Alexandrian Chronicon, with learned dissertations and notes.

Du Cange, as he is more commonly called, died in 1688, aged seventy-eight; and left four children, on whom Louis XIV. settled good pensions, in consideration of their father’s merit.

Though the general merits and abilities of this profound and accurate etymologist have been often recorded, Dr. Burney pays tribute to his memory for the assistance which he has frequently afforded musical historians, when all other resources failed. In the slow progress of the art of music from the time of Guido, whose labours were wholly devoted to the facilitating the study of canto fermo by the monks and choristers; in the glossary " De la Basse Latinitey 6 volumes folio, we find the derivation and early use of musical terms and phrases, particularly in | France and neighbouring states; and there is scarcely term connected with the music of the church, of which an early use may not be found, either in this Glossary, or in its continuation by Carpentier, 4 vols. folio. 1