Mairet, John

, a French poet of later times, was born at Besan^on, in 1604, and was gentleman in waiting to the duke of Montmorency, under whom he signalized himself in two battles against the Hugonots. His patron settled upon him a pension of 15,000 livres but, not | contented with that, he complained heavily that the poets of his time received praises and incense, like the deities of antiquity, but nothing that could support life. He was in truth a lover of good cheer, and would have been more pleased with presents of wine, or delicacies for the table, than crowns of laurel, or any unsubstantial honour. His remonstrances were not ineffectual. He received many presents from the duke de Longueville, and favours in, great number from cardinal Richelieu, the count of Soissons, and cardinal la Valette. He married in 1648, and retired to Besangon, where he principally resided from that time, though he lost his wife in about ten years. He had some talent for negotiation, and conducted the business of a suspension of arms for Franche Comte with such success, that the emperor rewarded him in 1668, by reestablishing an ancient claim to nobility that had been in his family. He died in 1686, at the age of eighty-four. Mairet was never rich, yet led a life of ease and gratification. He very early began to write. His first tragedy of “Chryseide,” was written at sixteen “Sylvia,” at seventeen “Sylvianire,” at twenty-one “The Duke de Ossane,” at twenty-three “Virginia,” at twenty-four and “Sophonisba,” at twenty-five. He wrote in all, 1. Twelve tragedies, which, though they have some fine passages, abound in faults, and are written in a feeble style of versification. Corneille had not yet established the style of the French drama. On the Sophonisba of Mairet, Voltaire has formed another tragedy of the same name. 2. A poem, entitled “Le Courtisan solitaire,” a performance of some merit 3. Miscellaneous poems, in general moderate enough. 4. Some criticisms against Corneille, which were more disgraceful to the author than to the person attacked. His Sophonisba, however, was preferred to that of Corneille, but then that drama is by no means esteemed one of the happiest efforts of the great tragic poet. 1


Niceron, vol. XXV. —Dict. Hist.Moreri.