Ronsard, Peter De

, a French poet, of a noble family, was born in Vendomois, the same year that Francis I. was taken prisoner before Pavia that is, in 1524. This circumstance is what he himself affixes to the time of his birth; though from other passages in his works it might be concluded that he was not born till 1526. He was brought up at Paris, in the college of Navarre; but, taking some disgust to his studies, became a page of the duke of Orleans. This duke resigned him to the king of Scotland, James V. whom he attended from Paris into Scotland in 1537, and continued there two years, after which he resided about half a year in England. But the duke of Orleans took him again, and employed him in several negotiations. Ronsard accompanied Lazarus de Baif to the diet of Spire; and, in his conversations with that learned man, conceived a passion for letters. He learned Greek under Dorat with Antony de Baif, the son of Lazarus; and afterwards devoted himself entirely to poetry, in which he acquired great reputation. The kings Henry II. Francis

II. Charles IX. and Henry III. had a particular esteem for | him, and became his liberal patrons. In 1562 he put himself at the head of some soldiers in Vendomois, and fought against the protestants, which occasioned the publication of some very satirical pieces against him at Orleans, in which he was represented as a priest: but he defended himself in verse, and denied his being an ecclesiastic. He had, however, some benefices in commendam; and, among others, the priory of St. Cosmas near Tours, where he died in 1585. Du Perron, afterwards cardinal, made his funeral oration; and a noble monument was erected there to his memory some years after. He was much afflicted with the gout, which, it is said, was owing to his debauched way of life. His poems consist of odes, hymns, elegies, sonnets, epigrams, and pieces of amatory poetry, not of the most chaste description. He was considered in his day as possessing great talents for poetry; but these are not so visible to the eye of modern criticism. His style is extremely harsh and obscure, which, it is said^ would have been more excusable, had he not been preceded by Marot. What learning he had appears in a pedantic affectation of allusions, examples, and words, drawn from Greek and Latin, which increase the obscurity of his style. Boileau justly says “It is the approbation of posterity alone which must establish the true merit of works. Whatever eclat a writer may make during his life, whatever eloges he may receive, we cannot conclude infallibly from this, that his works are excellent. False beauties, novelty of style, and a particular taste or manner of judging, which happens to prevail at that time, may raise a writer into high credit and esteem; and, in the next age, when the eyes of men are opened, that which was the object of admiration, shall be the object of contempt. We have a fine example of this in Ronsard, and his imitators, Du Bellay, Du Bartas, Desportes, who in the last age were admired by all the world, in this are read by nobody.” The best editions of Ronsard’s works are those by Binet, Paris, 1587, or 1604, 5 vols. 12mo, and by Richelet, 1623, 2 vols. fol. 1

1 Gen. Dict. Morri. —Dict. Hist.