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ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR (1692-1730)

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 357 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR (1692-1730), French actress, was born on the 5th of April 1692, at Damery, Marne, the daughter of a hatter, Robert Couvreur. She had an unhappy childhood in Paris. She showed a natural talent for declamation and was instructed by La Grand, societaire of the Comedie Francaise, and with his help she obtained a provincial engagement. It was not until 1717, after a long apprenticeship, that she made her Paris debut as Electre, in Crebillon's tragedy of that name, and Angelique in Moliere's George Dandin. Her success was so great that she was immediately received into the Comedie Frangaise, and for thirteen years she was the queen of tragedy there, attaining a popularity never before accorded an actress. She is said to have played no fewer than 1184 times in a hundred roles, of which she created twenty-two. She owed her success largely to her courage in abandoning the stilted style of elocution of her predecessors for a naturalness of delivery and a touching simplicity of pathos that delighted and moved her public. In Baron, who returned to the stage at the age of sixty-seven, she had an able and powerful coadjutor in changing the stage traditions of generations. The jealousy she aroused was partly due to her social successes, which were many, in spite of the notorious freedom of her manner of life. She was on visiting and dining terms with half the court, and her salon was frequented by Voltaire and all the other notables and men of letters. She was the mistress of Maurice de Saxe from 1721, and sold her plate and jewels to supply him with funds for his ill-starred adventures as duke of Courland. By him she had a daughter, her third, who was grandmother of the father of George Sand. Adrienne Lecouvreur died on the loth of March 1730. She was denied the last rites of the Church, and her remains were refused burial in consecrated ground. Voltaire, in a fine poem on her death, expressed his indignation at the barbarous treatment accorded to the woman whose " friend, admirer, lover " he was. Her life formed the subject of the well-known tragedy (1849), by Eugene Scribe and Ernest Legouve. LE CREUSOT, a town of east-central France in the department of Saone-et-Loire, 55 M. S.W. of Dijon on the Paris-Lyon railway. Pop. (1906), town, 22,535; commune, 33,437• Situated at the foot of lofty hills in a district rich in coal and iron, it has the most extensive iron works in France. The coal bed of Le Creusot was discovered in the 13th century; but it was not till 17/4 that the first workshops were founded there. The royal crystal works were transferred from Sevres to Le Creusot in 1787, but this industry came to an end in 1831. Meanwhile two or three enterprises for the manufacture of metal had ended in failure, and it was only in 1836 that the foundation of iron works by Adolphe and Eugene Schneider definitely inaugurated the industrial prosperity of the place. The works supplied large quantities of war material to the French armies during the Crimean and Franco-German wars. Since that time they have continuously enlarged the scope of their operations, which now embrace the manufacture of steel, armour-plate, guns, ordnance-stores, locomotives, electrical machinery and engineering material of every description. A net-work of railways about 37 M. in length connects the various branches of the works with each other and with the neighbouring Canal du Centre. Special attention is paid to the welfare of the workers who, not including the miners, number about 12,000, and good schools have been established. In 1897 the ordnance-manufacture of the Societe des Forges et Chantiers de la Mediterranee at Havre was acquired by the Company, which also has important branches at Chalon-sur-Saone, where ship-building and bridge-construction is carried on. and at Cette (Herault).
End of Article: ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR (1692-1730)
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