Mehegan, William Alexander

, a French historian, of Irish extraction, as his name sufficiently denotes, was born in 1721 at Salle in the Cevennes. He addicted himself very early to letters, and the' history of his life is only the history of his publications. He produced in 1752, 1. “The origin of the Guebres, or natural religion put int;o action.” This book has too much of the cast uf modern philosophy to deserve recommendation, and has now become very scarce. 2. In 1755 he published “Considerations on the Revolutions of Arts,” a work more easily to be found; and, 3. A small volume of “Fugitive Pieces” in verse, far inferior to his prose. In the ensuing year appeared, 4. His “Memoirs of the Marchioness de Terville, with the Letters of Aspasia,” 12rno. The style of these memoirs is considered as affected, which, indeed, is the general fault prevalent in his works. In his person also he is said to have been affected and finical; with very ready elocution, but a mode of choosing both his thoughts and expressions that was rather brilliant than natural. His style, however, improved as he advanced in life. In 1759 he gave the world a treatise on, 5. “The origin, progress, and decline of Idolatry,” 12mo; a production in which this improvement in his mode of writing is very evident. It is still more so in his, 6. “Picture of modern History,” “Tableau de THistoire moderne,” which was published in 1766, in 3 vols. 12mo. Hts chief faults are those of ill- regulated genius, which is very stronglyapparent in this work it is eloquent, full of those graces of elocution, and richness of imagination, which are said to have made his conversation so peculiar but it becomes fatiguing from an excessive ambition to paint every thing in brilliant colours. He speaks of every thing in the present tense, and he embellishes every subject with images | and allusions. He died Jan. 23, 1766, before this most considerable of his works was quite ready for publication. He was married, and his wife is said to have been a woman who in all respects did honour to the elegance of his taste. All his writings are in French. 1


Necrologie pour 1767. —Dict. Hist.