Vaugelas, Claude Favre De

, an elegant French writer, was born of an ancient family at Chamberry in 1585. His father Antoine Favre, or Antony Faber, was first president of the senate of Chamberry, and published several learned works upon law-subjects. (See Favre.) Vaugelas was sent to the court very young, and there spent his whole life. He was gentleman in ordinary, and afterwards chamberlain, to the duke of Orleans, whom he attended in all his retreats out of the kingdom, and was afterwards governor to the children of prince Thomas. He had a pension from the crown early settled on him; but it never was paid him till Cardinal Richelieu employed the French academy upon forming a dictionary of the language. On that occasion the academy represented to the cardinal, that the only way to have one well executed, was to commit the chief management of it to Vaugelas. His pension was then re-established and punctually paid. But, although | he had other advantages besides this, and a handsome patrimony from his father, and was not a man of luxury or extravagance, yet when he died in 1605, he did not leave enough to satisfy his creditors.

He was ont- of those who first corrected and refined the French language to an extraordinary degree of purity. He had cultivated it with peculiar care and attention from his infancy, and formed himself chiefly upon Coeffeteati, whose writings he held in such esteem, and, above all, his “Roman History,” that he could hardly allow any phrases or expressions to be pure and genuine but what were to be found in that work: which made Balzac say pleasantly, that, “in the judgment of Vaugelas, salvation was no more to be had out of the Roman History than out of the Roman church.” His principal talent was in prose: for though he wrote some verses in Italian that were admired, yet he could not succeed in his own language. His most important works are, 1. “Remarques sur la Langue Franchise, Paris, 1647,” in 4to. Mr. de la Monnoye has observed of the preface to this excellent treatise, that it is a masterpiece of elegance and solidity. 2. “Quint.-Curce de la vie & des actions d’Alexandre le Grand, traduit du Latin, Paris, 1653,” in 4to. Vaugelas spent thirty years in translating this author, perpetually altering and correcting it, as it was his principal object to make it a model of the purest style. Voiture, who was the intimate friend of Vaugelas, used to rally him on this fastidious nicety and long delay, and told him that it could never be finished; for that, while he was polishing one part, the language must needs undergo some revolution, and he would have all the rest to do over again: and he applied to him Martial’s epigram upon the barber, who was so long in shaving one part of the face, that the beard in the mean time grew again upon the other. It is allowed, however, that the French language owes much to Vaugelas, and Voltaire says his translation of Quintus Curtius was the first good book written with purity; and that there are few of the expressions and terms that are yet become obsolete. 1


Niceron, vol. XIX. art. Favre. —Dict. Hist.