1902 Encyclopedia > François de Neufchateau

François de Neufchateau
French statesman and and poet

FRANCOIS DE NEUFCHATEAU, NICOLAS LOUIS, COUNT (1750-1828), a French statesman and poet, was born at Saffais, in the district of Meurthe, 17th April 1750. He studied at the college of Neufchateau in the Vosges, and at the age of fourteen published a volume of poetry which obtained the approbation of Rousseau, and secured for its author so much eclat that Neufchateau conferred on him its name, and he was elected member of some of the principal academies of France. In 1783 he was named procureur-general to the council of St Domingo. He had previously been engaged on a translation of Ariosto, which he finished before his return to France five years afterwards, but it perished during the shipwreck which occurred during his voyage home. After the Revolution he was elected deputy to the National Assembly, of which he first became secretary and then president. In 1793 he was imprisoned on account of the political sentiments of his drama Pamela, but a few days afterwards the Revolution of the 9th of August restored to him his freedom. In 1798 he became minister of the interior, in which office he distinguished himself by the thoroughness of his administration in all departments. It is to him that France owes its system of inland navigation. From 1804 to 1806 he was president of the senate, and in that capacity the duty devolved upon him of soliciting Napoleon to assume the title of emperor. In 1808 he received the dignity of count. Retiring from public life in 1814, he occupied himself chiefly in the study of agriculture, until his death, 10th January 1828. Fran-çois de Neufchateau had very multifarious accomplishments, and interested himself in a great variety of subjects, but his fame rests chiefly on what he did as a statesman for the encouragement and development of the industries of France. His maturer poetical productions did not fulfil the promise of those of his early years, for though some of his verses have a superficial elegance, his poetry generally lacks force and originality. He had considerable qualifications as a grammarian and critic, as is witnessed by his editions of the Provinciales and Pensées of Pascal, Paris, 1822 and 1826, and Gil Bias, Paris, 1820. His principal poetical works are Poésies Diverses, 1765 ; Ode sur les Parlements, 1771 ; Nouveaux Contes Moraux, 1781 ; Les Vosges, 1796 ; Fables et Contes, 1814; and Les Tropes, ou les Figures de Mots, 1817. He is also the author of a large number of works on agriculture.

See H. Bonnelier, Mémoires sur François de Neufchateau, Paris, 1829; and J. Lamouroux, Notice historique et littéraire sur la vie et les écrits de Francois de Neufchateau, Paris, 1843.

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