Languet, John Baptist Joseph

, great grand nephew of the preceding, doctor of the Sorboime, the celebrated vicar of St. Sulpice, atParis, and a man of extraordinary benevolence, was born at Dijon, June C, 1675. His father was Denis Languet, procurator-general of that city. After having made some progress in his studies at Dijon, he continued them at Paris, and resided in the seminary of St. Sulpice. He was received in the Sorbonne, Dec. 31, 1698, and took his degree with applause. He was ordained priest at Vienne, in Dauphiny; after which he returned to Paris, and took the degree of doctor Jan. 15, 1703. He attached himself from that time to the community of St. Sulpice; and la Chetardie, who was vicar there, chose him for his curate. Languet | continued in that office near ten years, and sold his patrimony to relieve the poor. During this period, St. Valier, bishop of Quebec, being prisoner in England, requested of the king, that Languet might be his assistant in North America. Languet was about to accept of the place, prompted to it by his zeal for the conversion of infidels; but his patrons and friends advised him to decline the voyage, as his constitution was by no means strong. He succeeded la Chetardie, as vicar of St. Sulpice, in June 1714.

His parish-church being out of repair, and scarce fit to hold 1200 or 1500 persons out of a parish which contained 125,000 inhabitants, he conceived a design to build a church in some degree proportionable to them; and undertook this great work without any greater fund to begin with than the sum of one hundred crowns, which had been, left him for this design by a pious and benevolent lad‘ T He laid out this money in stones, which he caused to be carried through all the streets, to shew his design to the public. He soon obtained considerable donations from all parts; and the duke of Orleans, regent of the kingdom, granted him a lottery. That prince likewise laid the first stone of the porch in 1718; and Languet spared neither labour nor expence during his life, to make the church one of the finest in the kingdom, both for architecture and ornaments. It was consecrated in 1745, with so much splendour, that Frederic II. of Prussia wrote the vicar a congratulatory letter, in which he not only praises the building, but even the piety of the founder, a quality which Frederic knew how to notice when it served to point a compliment.

Another work, which does no less honour to Languet, is the house de l’enfans Jésus. The nature of this establishment, as originally constituted, will best evince his piety and talents. It consisted of two parts; the first composed of thirty-five poor ladies, descended from families illustrious from 1535 to the present time; the second, of more than four hundred poor women and children of town and country. Those young ladies whose ancestors had been in the king’s service, were preferred to all others, and an education given them suited to the dignity of their birth. They were employed, by turns, in inspecting the bake-house, the poultry-yard, the dairies, the laundries, the gardens, the laboratory, the linen- warehouses, the | spinning-rooms, and other places belonging to the house. By these means they became good housewives, and able to relieve their poor relations in the country; and it was also part of the duty to succour by a thousand little kind offices, the poor women and girls who worked there, and to acquire those habits of condescension and benevolence which are of great service to society.

Languet used besides to grant great sums of money to such ladies as were examples of ceconomy, virtue, and piety, in those religious houses which he superintended. The poor women and children who formed the second part, were provided with food every day, and work at the spinning-wheel. They made a great quantity of linen and cotton. Different rooms were assigned to them, and they were arranged under different classes. In each room were two ladies of the society of St. Thomas, of Ville N‘euve, q which Languet was superior-general. These ladies were placed there to oversee the work, and to give such instructions as they thought proper. The women and the girls who found employment in this house, had in a former period of their lives been licentious and dissolute, but were generally reformed by the example of virtue before their eyes, and by the salutary advice given to them, and had the amount of their work paid them in money when they left the house. By these means they became industrious and exemplary, and were restored to the community. There were in the house de retifans Jesus, in 1741, more than 14-00 women, and girls of this sort; and the vicar of St. Sulpice employed all the means in his power to make their situation agreeable. Although the ’land to the house measured only 17 arpens (about 100 perches square, each perch 18 feet), it had a large dairy, which gave milk to 2000 children belonging to the parish, a menagery, poultry of all sorts, a bake-house, spinning-rooms, a very neat and well cultivated garden, and a magnificent laboratory, where all sorts of medicines were made. The order and ceconomy observed in this house in the education, instruction, and employment of so many people, were so admirable, and gave so great an idea of the vicar of St. Sulpice, that cardinal Fleury proposed to make him superintenilant- general of all the hospitals in the kingdom but Langut-t used to answer him with a smile, “I have always said, ui) lord, that it was the bounty of your highness led me to the hospital.” The expence of this establishment | was immense. He spent his revenue on it; an inheritance which came to him by the death of the baron of Montigni, his brother, and the estate of the abbe de Barnay, granted him by the king.

Languet was not less to be esteemed for his beneficence and his zeal in aiding the poor of every sort. Never man took more pains than he did in procuring donations and legacies, which he distributed with admirable prudence and discretion. He inquired with care if the legacies which were left him were to the disadvantage of the poor relations of the testator; if he found that to be the case, he restored to them not only the legacy, but gave them, when wanting, a large sum of his own. Madame de Camois, as illustrious for the benevolence of her disposition as for her rank in life, having left him by her last will a legacy of more than 600,000 livres, he only took 30,000 livres for the poor, and returned the remaining sum to her relations. It is said from good authority, that he disbursed near a million of livres in charities every year. He always chose noble families reduced to poverty, before all others; and there were some families of distinction in his parish, to each of whom he distributed 30,000 livres per annum. Always willing to serve mankind, he gave liberally, and often before any application was made to him. When there was a general dearth in 1725, he sold, in order to relieve the poor, his household goods, his pictures, and some scarce and curious pieces of furniture, which he had procured with difficulty. From that time he had only three pieces of plate, no tapestry, and but a mean serge bed, which madam e de Camois had lent him, having before sold all the presents she had made him at different periods. His charity was not confined to his own parish. At the time that the plague raged at Marseilles, he sent large sums into Provence to assist the distressed. He interested himself with great zeal in the promotion of arts and commerce, and in whatever concerned the glory of the nation. In times of public calamity, as conflagrations, &c. his prudence and assiduity have been much admired. He understood well the different dispositions of men. He knew how to employ every one according to his talent or capacity. In the most intricate and perplexed affairs he decided with a sagacity and judgment that surprized every one. Languet refused the bishopric of Couserans anid that of Poictiers, and aeveral others which were offered | him by Louis Xtv. and Louis XV. under the ministry of the duke of Orleans and cardinal Fleury. He resigned hia vicarage to Mons. l’Abbé du Lau, in 1748, but continued to preach every Sunday, according to his custom, in his own parish church; and continued also to support the house de rev fans Jesus till his death, which happened Oct. 11, 1750, in his seventy-fifth year,- at the abbey de Bernay, to which place he went to make some charitable establishments. His piety and continued application to works of beneficence did not hinder him from being lively and chearful; and he delighted his friends by the agreeable repartees and sensible remarks he made in conversation. 1


Moreri.—Dict. Hist.—Dodsley’s Annual Register for 1763.