Online Encyclopedia

PONCE DENIS ECOUCHARD LEBRUN (1729-1807)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 353 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
PONCE DENIS ECOUCHARD LEBRUN (1729-1807), French lyric poet, was born in Paris on the 11th of August 1729, in the house of the prince de Conti, to whom his father was valet. Young Lebrun had among his schoolfellows a son of Louis Racine whose disciple he became. In 1755 he published an Ode sur les desastres de Lisbon. In 1759 he married Marie Anne de Surcourt, addressed in his Elegies as Fanny. To the early years of his marriage belongs his poem Nature. His wife suffered much from his violent temper, and when in 1774 she brought an action against him to obtain a separation, she was supported by Lebrun's own mother and sister. He had been secretaire des commandments to the prince de Conti, and on his patron's death was deprived of his occupation. He suffered a further misfortune in the loss of his capital by the bankruptcy of the prince de Guemene. To this period belongs a long poem, the Veillees des Muses, which remained unfinished, and his ode to Buffon, which ranks among his best works. Dependent on government pensions he changed his politics with the times. Calonne he compared to the great Sully, and Louis XVI. to Henry IV., but the Terror nevertheless found in him its official poet. He occupied rooms in the Louvre, and fulfilled his obligations by shameless attacks on the unfortunate king and queen. His excellent ode on the Vengeur and the Ode nationals contre Angleterre on the occasion of the projected invasion of England are in honour of the power of Napoleon. This " versatility " has so much injured Lebrun's reputation that it is difficult to appreciate his real merit. He had a genius for epigram, and the quatrains and dizaines directed against his many enemies have a verve generally lacking in his odes. The one directed against La Harpe is called by Sainte-Beuve the " queen of epigrams." La Harpe has said that the poet, called by his friends, perhaps with a spice of irony, Lebrun-Pindare, had written many fine strophes but not one good ode. The critic exposed mercilessly the obscurities and unlucky images which occur even in the ode to Buffon, and advised the author to imitate the simplicity and energy that adorned Buffon's prose. Lebrun died in Paris on the 31st of August 1807. His works were published by his friend P. L. Ginguene in 1811. The best of them are included in Prosper Poitevin's " Petits poetes francais," which forms part of the " Pantheon litteraire." LE CARON, HENRI (whose real name was THOMAS MILLER BEACH) (1841–1894), British secret service agent, was born at Colchester, on the 26th of September 1841. He was of an adventurous character, and when nineteen years old went to Paris, where he found employment in business connected with America. Infected with the excitement of the American Civil War, he crossed the Atlantic in 1861 and enlisted in the Northern army, taking the name of Henri Le Caron. In 1864 he married a young lady who had helped him to escape from some Confederate marauders; and by the end of the war he rose to be major. In 1865, through a companion in arms named O'Neill, he was brought into contact with Fenianism, and having learnt of the Fenian plot against Canada, he mentioned the designs when writing home to his father. Mr Beach told his local M.P., who in turn told the Home Secretary, and the latter asked Mr Beach to arrange for further information. Le Caron, inspired (as all the evidence shows) by genuinely patriotic feeling, from that time till 1889 acted for the British government as a paid military spy. He was a proficient in medicine, among other qualifications for this post, and he remained for years on intimate terms with the most extreme men in the Fenian organization under all its forms. His services enabled the British government to take measures which led to the fiasco of the Canadian invasion of 1870 and Riel's surrender in 1871, and he supplied full details concerning the various Irish-American associations, in which he himself was a prominent member. He was in the secrets of the " new departure " in 1879-1881, and in the latter year had an interview with Parnell at the House of Commons, when the Irish leader spoke sympathetically of an armed revolution in Ireland. For twenty-five years he lived at Detroit and other places in America, paying occasional visits to Europe, and all the time carrying his life in his hand. The Parnell Commission of 1889 put an end to this. Le Caron was subpoenaed by The Times, and in the witness-box the whole story came out, all the efforts of Sir Charles Russell in cross-examination failing to shake his testimony, or to impair the impression of iron tenacity and absolute truthfulness which his bearing conveyed. His career, however, for good or evil, was at an end. He published the story of his life, Twenty-five Years in the Secret Service, and it had an immense circulation. But he had to be constantly guarded, his acquaintances were hampered from seeing him, and he was the victim of a painful disease, of which he died on the 1st of April 1894. The report of the Parnell Commission is his monument. LE CATEAU, or CATEAU-CAMBRESIS, a town of northern France, in the department of Nord, on the Selle, 15 M. E.S.E. of Cambrai by road. Pop. (1906) 10,400. A church of the early 17th century and a town-hall in the Renaissance style are its chief buildings. Its institutions include a board of trade-arbitration and a communal college, and its most important industries are wool-spinning and weaving. Formed by the union of the two villages of Peronne and Vendelgies, under the protection of a castle built by the bishop of Cambrai, Le Cateau became the seat of an abbey in the 11th century. In the 15th it was frequently taken and retaken, and in 1556 it was burned by the French, who in 1559 signed a celebrated treaty with Spain in the town. It was finally ceded to France by the peace of Nijmwegen in 1678.
End of Article: PONCE DENIS ECOUCHARD LEBRUN (1729-1807)
[back]
PIERRE ANTOINE LEBRUN (1785–1873)
[next]
LECCE (anc. Lupiae)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.