Henault, John D'

, a French poet, was the son of a baker at Paris, and at first a receiver of the taxes at Fores. Then he travelled into Holland and England, and was employed by the superintendant Fouquet, who was his patron. After his return to France, he soon became distinguished as one of the finest geniuses of his age; and gained a prodigious reputation by his poetry. His sonnet on the miscarriage of mad. de Guerchi is looked upon as a master-piece, though it has little intrinsic merit. He also wrote a satirical poem against the minister Colbert, which is reckoned by Boileau among his best pieces. This was written by way of revenging the disgrace and ruin of his patron Fouquet, which Henault ascribed to Colbert. The minister being told of this sonnet, which made a great noise, asked, “Whether there were any satirical strokes in it against the king” and being informed there were not, “Then,” said he, “I shall not mind it, nor shew the least resentment against the author.” Henault was a man who loved to refine on pleasures, and gloried in infidelity. He went to Holland on purpose to visit Spinoza, who did not much esteem him. When, however, sickness and death came to stare him in the face, he became a superstitious convert, and was for receiving the Viaticum or Sacrament, with a halter about his neck, in the middle of his bed-chamber. He died in 1682.

He had printed at Paris, 1670, in 12mo, a small collection of his works, under the title of “Oeuvres Diverses,” or “Miscellanies:' containing sonnets, and letters in verse and prose to Sappho, who was probably the celebrated madam lies Houlieres, to whom he had the honour to be preceptor. Henault had translated three books of Lucretius: but his confessor having raised in him scruples and fears, he burnt this work, so that there remains nothing of it but the first 100 lines, which had been copied by his friends. Voltaire says, that” he would have gained great reputation, had these books that were lost been preserved, and been equal to what we have of this work." 2


Gen. Dict. —Moreri.