Segrais, John Renaud De

, a French poet, was born at Caen in 1624, and first studied in the college of the Jesuits there. As he grew up, he applied himself to French poetry, and was so successful as to be enabled to rescue himself, four brothers, and two sisters, from the unhappy circumstances in which the extravagance of a father had left them. In his twentieth year he met with a patron who introduced him to Mad. de Montpensier, and this lady appointed him her gentleman in ordinary, in which station he remained many years, until obliged to quit her service, for opposing her marriage with count de Lauzun. He immediately found a new patroness in Mad. de la Fayette, who admitted him into her house, and assigned him apartments. Her he assisted in her two romances, “The princess of Cleves” and “Zaida.” After seven years, he retired to his own country, with a resolution to spend the rest of his days in solitude; and there married his cousin, a rich heiress, about 1679. Mad. de Maintenon invited him to court, as tutor to the duke of Maine: buthedid notchooseto exchange theindependenceof a retired life for the precarious favours of a court, and therefore continued where he was. He was admitted of the French academy in 1662; and was the means of re-establishing that of Caen. He died at this place, of a dropsy, in 1701. He was very deaf in the last years of his life, bufe was much courted for the sake of his conversation, which was replete with such anecdotes as the polite world had furnished him with. A great number of these are to be | found in the “Segraisiana;” which was published many years after his death, with a preface by Mr. de la Monnoye; the best edition of it is that of Amsterdam, 1723, 12mo.

The prose writings of Segrais, though for the most part frivolous enough, yet have great merit as to their style, which may be considered as a standard. Of this kind are his “Nouvelles Francoises;” but he was chiefly admired for his poems, which consist of *' Diverses Poesies,“printed at Paris in 1658, 4to;” Athis," a pastoral and a translation of Virgil’s Georgics and Æneid. Of his eclogues, and particularly of his translation of Virgil, Boileau and D’Alembert speak very highly, but his Virgil is no longer read. 1


Niceron, vol. XVI. Sejraisiana, D’Alembert’s Hist, of the Members of the French Academy.