Villars, Monfaucon De

, a French abbe, related to the celebrated Montfaucon the antiquary, appears to have been a native, or to have been educated at Toulouse, whence he came to Paris, in hopes of recommending himself by his talents in the pulpit, which were of no mean kind, and by his lively conversation, which perhaps fully as much contributed to procure him friends. He also entertained the public with his pen, and published various works of imagination and criticism, written in a peculiar style of humour, one of which at least entitles him to the notice of the English reader. This, which was first published at Paris in 1670, was entitled “Le eomte de Gabalis, ou entretiens sur les sciences secrettes,” with an addition entitled “Les genies assistans et les gnomes irreconciliables.” D’Argonne, in his “Melanges d’Histoire et de Litterature,” gives the following account of this singular work, as quoted by Dr. Warton: “The five dialogues of which it consists, are the result of those gay conversations in which the abbe was engaged with a small circle of men, of fine wit and kumour, like himself. When the book first appeared, it was universally read as innocent and amusing. But at length its consequences were perceived, and reckoned dangerous, at a time when this sort of curiosities began to | gain credit. Our devout preacher was denied the pulpit, and his book forbidden to be read. It was not dear whether the author intended to be ironical, or spoke all seriously. The second volume, which he promised, would have decided the question; but the unfortunate abbe was soon afterwards assassinated by ruffians on the road to Lyons. The laughers gave out, that the gnomes and sylphs, disguised like ruffians, had shot him, as a punishment for revealing the secrets of the Cabala; a crime not to be pardoned by those jealous spirits, as Villars himself has declared in his book.” It was from this book that Pope took the machinery of the sylphs, of which he has made such admirable use in his “Rape of the Lock,” although it does not appear that he borrowed any particular circumstances relating to those spirits, but merely the general idea of their existence. The abbe* was killed in 1675, and it is said that the fatal shot came from one of his relations. 1

1 Dict. Hist.Moreri. Barton’s Essay on Pope.