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JEAN BAPTISTE LOUVET DE COUVRAI (176o...

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 69 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JEAN BAPTISTE LOUVET DE COUVRAI (176o-1797), French writer and politician, was born in Paris on the 12th of June 1760, the son of a stationer. He became a bookseller's clerk, and first attracted attention with a not very moral novel called Les Amours du chevalier de Faublas (Paris, 1787-1789). The character of the heroine of this book, Lodoiska, was taken from the wife of a jeweller in the Palais Royal, with whom he had formed a liaison. She was divorced from her husband in 1792 and married Louvet in 1793. His second novel, Emilie de • Varmont, was intended to prove the utility and necessity of divorce and of the marriage of priests, questions raised by the Revolution. Indeed all his works were directed to the ends of the Revolution. He attempted to have one of his unpublished plays, L'Anobli conspirateur, performed at the Theatre Frangais, and records naively that one of its managers, M. d'Orfeuil, listened to the reading of the first three acts " with mortal impatience," exclaiming at last: " I should need cannon in order to put that piece on the stage." A " sort of farce " at the expense of the army of the emigres, La Grande Revue des armees noire et blanche, had, however, better success: it ran for twenty-five nights. Louvet was, however, first brought into notice as a politician by his Paris justifie, in reply to a "truly incendiary" pamphlet in which Mounier, after the removal of the king to Paris in October 1789, had attacked the capital, " at that time blameless," and argued that the court should be established elsewhere. This led to Louvet's election to the Jacobin Club, for which, as he writes bitterly in his Memoirs, the qualifications were then " a genuine civisme and some talent." A self-styled philosophe of the true revolutionary type, he now threw himself ardently into the campaign against " despotism " and " reaction," i.e. against the moderate constitutional royalty advocated by Lafayette, the Abbe Maury and other " Machiavellians." On the 25th of December 1791 he presented at the bar of the Assembly his Petition contre les princes, which had " a prodigious success in the senate and the empire." Elected deputy to the Assembly for the department of Loiret, he made his first speech in January 1792. He attached himself to the Girondists, whose vague deism, sentimental humanitarianism and ardent republicanism he fully shared, and from March to November 1792 he published, at Roland's expense, a bi-weekly journalaffiche, of which the title, La Sentinelle, proclaimed its mission to be to " enlighten the people on all the plots " at a time when, Austria having declared war, the court was " visibly betraying our armies." On the loth of August he became editor of the Journal des dehats, and in this capacity, as well as in the Assembly, made himself conspicuous by his attacks on Robespierre, Marat and the other Montagnards, whom he declares he would have and the title of Louviers le Franc for the bravery of its inhabitants in driving the English from Pont de 1'Arche, Verneuil and Harcourt. It passed through various troubles successively at the period of the League of the Public Weal under Louis XI., in the religious wars (when the parlement of Rouen sat for a time at Louviers) and in the wars of the Fronde. See G. Petit, Hist. de Louviers (Louviers, 1877).
End of Article: JEAN BAPTISTE LOUVET DE COUVRAI (176o-1797)
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