Mothe Le Vayer, Francis De La

, a distinguished French writer in the seventeenth century, to be classed with those whose scepticism and indelicacies have disgraced | their talents, was born at Paris in 1588, of a family of gentlemen of the long robe. He was himself educated for the bar, and long held the office which his father resigned to him, of substitute procurator-general to the parliament; but his love of polite literature induced him to desert his profession, and employ his time in study and writing. By this he acquired such reputation as to be received into the French academy in 1639, of which he was accounted one of the ablest members. When a tutor was to be appointed for Louis XIV. in 1644, it was generally supposed that La Alothe le Vayer would have been the man, and it certainly was so intended by cardinal Richelieu, both on account of an excellent work he had published on the education of the dauphin, and the reputation his other writings had acquired to him; but the queen having determined not to bestow the place on a married man> the design was dropt. It is probable that the queen’s object, in refusing a married man, was to prefer an ecclesiastic, of whose religious principles she might be secure; for those of Le Vayer were already more than suspected by his work De la Vertu de Payens."

Having thus failed in obtaining the first situation in which a man of letters could be placed, he succeeded, in 1647, in being appointed to what might be considered as the second, that of preceptor to Philip, then duke of Anjou, and afterwards duke of Orleans, the king’s brother. He had also conferred on him the titles of historiographer of France and counsellor of state. By his first wife he had an only son, who died in 1664, in the thirty-fifth year of his age. His wife also being dead long before, he is said to have been so much afflicted at the loss of his son, as to determine to marry again, which he did the same year, 1664, at the age of seventy-six He died in 1672, aged eightyfour. He was a voluminous writer, and upon all subjects, ancient, modern, sacred and profane. We cannot, perhaps, to some of our readers, give a better idea of his works, than by comparing them to those of Bayle. We find in them the same scepticism and the same indecencies; and on this account Bayle expatiates on his character with congenial pleasure. In his private character, he was somewhat of a humourist, but his moral conduct was more correct than might have been expected from his writings. He is mentioned hy Guy Patin as a Stoic, who would neither praise nor be praised, and who followed his own fancies | and caprices without any regard to the opinions of the world, and his dress and usual demeanour distinguished him from other men. In the court he lived like a philosopher, immersed in books, simple and regular in his manner of living, and void of ambition and avarice. His treatise which we have mentioned, “On the Virtue of Pagans/’ was answered by Arnauld. La Mothers bookseller complaining that his book did not sell,I know a secret,“said the author,” to quicken the sale:" he procured an order from government for its suppression, which was the means of selling the whole edition. His works were collected in two volumes folio; and there was an edition, we believe the last, printed at Dresden, in 1756, in 14 vols. 8vo, so lowpriced, in the French catalogues, that there seems now little value placed on them. 1


Gen. Dict. art. Vayer. —Moreri. —Niceron, vol. XIX. —Dict. Hist.