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one of the ablest French writers of the last century, was born at

, one of the ablest French writers of the last century, was born at Paris, Nov. 20, 1739. His father, an officer of the artillery, died when he was very young, and left him in poverty. He obtained, however, the patronage of M. Asselin, principal of the college of Harcourt, who conceived an affection for him, received him among his pupils, and soon after obtained a pension for him. During his education he displayed a turn for poetry and satire, and was accused of writing a satirical poem on his benefactor. He protested his innocence and his reverence for M. Asselin; but this not appearing satisfactory, he was confined for some months in a house of correction. One of his biographers says in the Bastille; but, wherever it was, we are told that it made a deep impression on him. His first poetical productions after this affair, were of a species then very fashionable, and called Heroides, in which Colordeau, Ranee, and Dorat had distinguished themselves, and La Harpe was thought little inferior to Dorat. In 1763, when only in his twenty-fourth year, he wrote his tragedy of “Warwick,” which met with deserved success, and still preserves its popularity on the stage. “Timoleon,” which he produced in 1764, and “Pharmond,” in 1765, were much less applauded. They showed a laudable ambition to excel, but it was too much to expect three such tragedies as “Warwick” within so short a space of time.