Regnard, John Francis

, one of the best French comic writers after Moliere, was born at Paris in 1647. He had scarcely finished his studies, when he was seized with a passion for travelling, and an ardent desire to see the different countries of Europe. He went to Italy first, but was unfortunate in his return thence; for, the English vessel bound for Marseilles, on which he embarked at Genoa, was taken in the sea of Provence by the Barbary Corsairs; and he was carried a slave to Algiers. Having some acquaintance with the art of French cookery, he procured an office in his master’s kitchen. His amiable manners and pleasant humour made him a favourite with all about him, and not a little so with the women; but being detected in an intrigue with one of them, his master insisted upon his submitting to the law of the country, which obliged a Christian, convicted of such an offence, either to turn Mahometan, or to suffer death by fire. Regnard, however, was saved from either punishment, by the intervention of the French consul, who having just received a large sum for his redemption, sent him home, about 1681.

He had not been long at Paris, before he set out to visit Flanders and Holland, whence he passed to Denmark, and afterwards to Sweden. Having done some singular piece of service to the king of Sweden, this monarch, who perceived that he was travelling out of pure curiosity, told him, that Lapland contained many things well worthy of | observation; and ordered his treasurer to accommodate him with whatever he wanted, if he chose to proceed thither. Regnard embarked for Stockholm, with two other gentlemen that had accompanied him from France; and went as far as Torneo, a city at the bottom of the Bothnic Gulph. He went up the river Torneo, whose source is not far from the Northern cape; and at length penetrated to the Icy sea. Here, not being able to go farther, he and his companions engraved these four lines upon a rock:

"Gallia nos genuit, vidit nos Africa; Gangem

Hausimus, Europamque oculis lustiavimus omnem;

Casibus & variis acti terraque marique,

Hie tandem stetimus, nobis ubi defuit orbis."

While he was in Lapland, his curiosity led him to inquire into the pretended magic of the country and he was shewn some of the learned in this black art, who, not succeeding in their operations upon him, pronounced him a greater magician than themselves. After his return to Stockholm, he went to Poland, thence to Vienna, and from Vienna to Paris, after a ramble of almost three years.

He now settled in his own country, near Dourden, about eleven leagues from Paris, and wrote a great many comedies, which were acted with success, particularly his “Gamester.” He was made a treasurer of France, and lieutenant of the waters and forests, which enabled him to indulge his taste for pleasure and gaiety. It has been said that he died of chagrin in his 52d year, Sept. 4, 1709, and that he even contributed himself to shorten his days; but both these reports are contradicted in the new edition of the Diet. Hist. (1811), and his death attributed to imprudent conduct after taking medicine. The best edition of his works, which consist of comedies and his travels, is that of Paris, 1730, 4 vols. 8vo, with notes. 1