1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Boisrobert, François le Metel de
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Boisrobert, François le Metel de
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BOISROBERT, FRANÇOIS LE METEL DE (1592-1662), French poet, was born at Caen in 1592. He was trained for the law, and practised for some time at the bar at Rouen. About 1622 he went to Paris, and by the next year had established a footing at court, for he had a share in the ballet of the Bacchanales performed at the Louvre in February. He accompanied an embassy to England in 1625, and in 1630 visited Rome, where he won the favour of Urban VIII. by his wit. He took orders, and was made a canon of Rouen. He had been introduced to Richelieu in 1623, and by his humour and his talent as a raconteur soon made himself indispensable to the cardinal. Boisrobert became one of the five poets who carried out Richelieu’s dramatic ideas. He had a passion for play, and was a friend of Ninon de l’Enclos; and his enemies found ready weapons against him in the undisguised looseness of his life. He was more than once disgraced, but never for long, although in his later years he was compelled to give more attention to his duties as a priest. It was Boisrobert who suggested to Richelieu the plan of the Academy, and he was one of its earliest and most active members. Rich as he was through the benefices conferred on him by his patron, he was liberal to men of letters. After the death of Richelieu, he attached himself to Mazarin, whom he served faithfully throughout the Fronde. He died on the 30th of March 1662. He wrote a number of comedies, to one of which, La Belle Plaideuse, Molière’s L’Avare is said to owe something; and also some volumes of verse. The licentious Contes, published under the name of his brother D’Ouville, are often attributed to him.