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HENRI ESTIENNE (1531–1598)

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Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 800 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HENRI ESTIENNE (1531–1598), sometimes called Henri II., was the eldest son of Robert. In the preface to his edition of Aulus Gellius (1585), addressed to his son Paul, he gives an interesting account of his father's household, in which, owing to the various nationalities of those who were employed on the press, Latin was used as a common language. Henri thus picked up Latin as a child, but by his own request he was allowed to learn Greek as a serious study before Latin. At the age of fifteen he become a pupil of Pierre Danes, at that time the first Greek scholar in France. Two years later he began to attend the lectures of Jacques Toussain, one of the royal professors of Greek, and in the same year (1545) was employed by his father to collate a MS. of Dionysius of Halicarnassus. In 1547 he went to Italy, where he spent three years in hunting for and collating MSS. and in intercourse with learned men. In 1550 he visited England, where he was favourably received by Edward VI., and then Flanders, where he learnt Spanish. In 1551 he joined his father at Geneva, which henceforth became his home. In 1554 he gave to the world, as the firstfruits of his researches, two first editions, viz. a tract of Dionysius of Halicarnassus and the so-called " Anacreon." In 1556 he discovered at Rome ten new books (xi.-xx.) of Diodorus Siculus. In 1557 he issued from the press which in the previous year he had set up at Geneva three first editions, viz. Athenagoras, Maximus Tyrius, and some fragments of Greek historians, including Appian's 'Avv1(3a?ucii, and 'I(3ripucii and an edition of Aeschylus, in which for the first time the Agamemnon was printed in entirety and as a separate play. In 1559 he printed a Latin translation from his own pen of Sextus Empiricus, and an edition of Diodorus Siculus with the new books. His father dying in the same year, he became under his will owner of his press, subject, however, to the condition of keeping it at Geneva. In 1566 he published his best-known French work, the Apologie pour Herodote, or, as he himself called it, L'Introduction au traite de la conformite des merveilles anciennes avec les modernes ou Traite preparatif a l'Apologie pour Herodote. Some passages being considered objectionable by the Geneva consistory, he was compelled to cancel the pages containing them. The book became highly popular, and within sixteen years twelve editions were printed. In 1572 he published the great work upon which he had been labouring for many years, the Thesaurus Graecae linguae, in 5 vols. fol. The publication in 1578 of his Deux Dialogues du nouveau frangois italianize brought him into a fresh dispute with the consistory. To avoid their censure he went to Paris, and resided at the French court for a year. On his return to Geneva he was summoned before the consistory, and, proving contumacious, was imprisoned for a week. From this time his life became more and more of a nomad one. He is to be found at Basel, Heidelberg, Vienna, Pest, everywhere but at Geneva, these journeys being undertaken partly in the hope of procuring patrons and purchasers, for the large sums which he had spent on such publications as the Thesaurus and the Plato of 1578 had almost ruined him. His press stood nearly at a standstill. A few editions of classical authors were brought out, but each successive one showed a falling off. Such value as the later ones had was chiefly due to the notes furnished by Casaubon, who in 1586 had married his daughter Florence. His last years were marked by ever-increasing infirmity of mind and temper. In 1J97 he left Geneva for the last time. After visiting Montpellier, where Casaubon was now professor, he started for Paris, but was seized with sudden illness at Lyons, and died there at the end of January 1598• Few men have ever served the cause of learning more devotedly. For over thirty years the amount which he produced, whether as printer, editor or original writer, was enormous. The productions of his press, though printed with the same beautiful type as his father's books, are, owing to the poorness of the paper and ink, inferior to them in general beauty. The best, perhaps, from a typographical point of view, are the Poetae Greeci principes (folio, 1566), the Plutarch (13 vols. 8vo, 1572), and the Plato (3 vols. folio, 1578). It was rather his scholarship which gave value to his editions. He was not only his own press-corrector but his own editor. Though by the latter half of the 16th century nearly all the important Greek and Latin authors that we now possess had been published, his untiring activity still found some gleanings. Eighteen first editions of Greek authors and one of a Latin author are due to his press. The most important have been already mentioned. Henri's reputation as a scholar and editor has increased of late years. His familiarity with the Greek language has always been admitted to have been quite exceptional; but he has been accused of want of taste and judgment, of carelessness and rashness. Special censure has been passed on his Plutarch, in which he is said to have introduced conjectures of his own into the text, while pretending to have derived them from MS. authority. But a late editor, Sintenis, has shown that, though like all the other editors of his day he did not give references to his authorities, every one of his supposed conjectures can be traced to some MS. Whatever [may be said as to his taste or his judgment, it seems that he was both careful and scrupulous, and that he only resorted to conjecture when authority failed him. And, whatever the merit of his conjectures, he was at any rate the first to show what conjecture could do towards restoring a hopelessly corrupt passage. The work, however, on which his fame as a scholar is most surely based is the Thesaurus Graecae linguae. After making due allowance for the fact that considerable materials for the work had been already collected by his father, and that he received considerable assistance from the German scholar Sylburg, he is still entitled to the very highest praise as the producer of a work which was of the greatest service to scholarship and which in those early days of Greek learning could have been produced by no one but a giant. Two editions of the Thesaurus were published in the 19th century—at London by Valpy (1815–1825) and at Paris by Didot (1831–1863). It was one of Henri Estienne's great merits that, unlike nearly all the French scholars who preceded him, he did not neglect his own language. In the Trajte de la conformite du langage francois avec le Grec (published in 1565, but without date; ed. L. Feugere, 1850), French is asserted to have, among modern languages, the most affinity with Greek, the first of all languages. Deux Dialogues du nouveau francois italianize (Geneva, 1578; ed. P. Ristelhuber, 2 vols., 1885) was directed against the fashion prevailing in the court of Catherine de' Medici of using Italian words and forms. The Project du livre intitule de la Precedence du langage francois (Paris, 1579; ed. E. Huguet, 1896) treats of the superiority of French to Italian. An interesting feature of the Precedence is the account of French proverbs, and, Henry III. having expressed some doubts as to the genuineness of some of them, Henri Estienne published, in 1594, Les Premices ou le I. livre des Proverbes epigrammatizez (never reprinted and very rare). Finally, there remains the A pologie pour Herodote, his most famous work. The ostensible object of the book is to show that the strange stories in Herodotus may be paralleled by equally strange ones of modern times. Virtually it is a bitter satire on the writer's age, especially on the Roman Church. Put together without any method, its extreme desultoriness makes it difficult to read continuously, but the numerous stories, collected partly from various literary sources, notably from the preachers Menot and Maillard, partly from the writer's own multifarious experience, with which it is packed, make it an interesting commentary on the manners and fashions of the time. But satire, to be effective, should be either humorous or righteously indignant, and, while such humour as there is in the Apologie is decidedly heavy, the writer's indignation is generally forgotten in his evident relish for scandal. The style is, after all, its chief merit. Though it bears evident traces of hurry, it is, like that of all Henri Estienne's French writings, clear, easy and vigorous,uniting the directness and sensuousness of the older writers with a suppleness and logical precision which at this time were almost new elements in French prose. An edition of the Apologie has recently been published by Liseux (ed. Ristelhuber, 2 vols., 1879), after one of the only two copies of the original uncancelled edition that are known to exist. The very remarkable political pamphlet entitled Discours merveilleux de la vie et actions et deportemens de Catherine de Medicis, which appeared in 1574, has been ascribed to Henri Estienne, but the evidence both internal and external is conclusive against his being the author of it. Of his Latin writings the most worthy of notice are the_De Latinitate falso suspecta (1576), the Pseudo-Cicero (1577) and the Nizoliodidascalus (1578), all three written against the Ciceronians, and the Francofordiense Emporium (1574), a panegyric on the Frankfort fair (reprinted with a French translation by Liseux, 1875). He also wrote a large quantity of indifferent Latin verses, including a long poem entitled Musa monitrix Principum (Basel, 1590). The primary authorities for an account of the Estiennes are their own works. In the garrulous and egotistical prefaces which Henri was in the habit of prefixing to his editions will be found many scattered biographical details. Twenty-seven letters from Henri to John Crato of Crafftheim (ed. F. Passow, 183o) have been printed, and there is one of Robert's in Herminjard's Correspondence des Reformateurs dans de pays de langue fran§aise (9 vols, published 1866–1897), while a few other contemporary references to him will be found in the same work. The secondary authorities are Janssen van Almeloveen, De vitis Stephanorum (Amsterdam, 1683) ; MVIaittaire, Stephanorum historia (London, 1709) ; A. A. Renouard, Annales de l'imprimerie des Estienne (2nd ed., Paris, 1843); the article on Estienne by A. F. Didot in the Nouv. Biog. gen. ; Mark Pattison, Essays, i. 67 if. (1889); L. Clement, Henri Estienne et son oeuvre francaise (Paris, 1899). There is a good account of Henri's Thesaurus in the Quart. Rev.'for January 182o, written by Bishop Blomfield. (A. A. T.)
End of Article: HENRI ESTIENNE (1531–1598)
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