Craufurd, Quintin (DNB00)

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CRAUFURD, QUINTIN (1743–1819), author and essayist, a younger son of Quintin Craufurd of Kilbirnie, and younger brother of Sir Alexander Craufurd, first baronet, was born at Kilwinnock on 22 Sept. 1743. He entered the East India Company's service at an early age, and, after making a large fortune, returned to Europe in 1780 and settled down at Paris. Here he passed a few years of perfect happiness, forming a fine collection of books and pictures and being admitted into the closest intimacy with the court, and especially with Marie Antoinette, to whom he was presented by his friend, Lord Strathavon, afterwards Marquis of Huntly. During this period of leisure he composed his first book, ‘Sketches relating chiefly to the History, Religion, Learning, and Manners of the Hindoos,’ which was published in London in 1790, and translated into French by the Marquis de Montesquion in 1791. After the revolution broke out in 1789 Craufurd was impelled by his friendship with the royal family to assist them in their schemes of escape from Paris. His name is mentioned in the memoirs of the time as being deeply concerned in all the plans of the royal family, and he was one of the chief assistants in the famous flight from Paris, which was cut short at Varennes. In this scheme he was more nearly concerned than any one in Paris but Count Fersen, for he it was who was entrusted with the money which the king was to have at his disposal when he was safe across the French frontier. He got safely to Brussels, and when he found that the scheme had failed he proceeded to London, where he drew up a paper under the title of the ‘Secret History of the King of France, and his Escape from Paris in June 1791,’ which was published for the first time in the ‘Bland-Burges Papers’ (pp. 364–73) in 1885. In spite of his complicity in this affair he returned to Paris, and in 1792 was one of the most active and able agents of the party who were trying to secure the escape of the family. How greatly he was trusted appears in all the secret memoirs of the time, and especially in those of Bertrand de Molleville. After the catastrophe of 10 Aug. he left France, and lived with the French émigrés at Brussels, Frankfort, and Vienna, freely assisting his old acquaintances from his liberal purse. During this period he published in 1798 a history of the Bastille, with an appendix containing his conjectures as to the personality of the Man with the Iron Mask. In 1802, after the signing of the peace of Amiens, he returned to Paris, where he devoted himself to forming fresh collections of pictures, prints, and manuscripts, to replace those which he had left in France, and which had been sold as the property of an émigré. Thanks to Talleyrand, whom he had known before the revolution, he was enabled to remain in Paris after war had broken out again with England, and he devoted himself to literature. In 1803 he published his ‘Essais sur la littérature française écrits pour l'usage d'une dame étrangère, compatriote de l'auteur,’ which went through several editions; in 1808 he published his ‘Essai historique sur le docteur Swift,’ and his edition of the ‘Mémoires’ of Madame du Hausset, the femme de chambre of Madame de Pompadour, which throw much curious light on the inner life of the court of Louis XV; and in 1809 he published his ‘Notice sur Marie Antoinette.’ The end of the long war enabled him once more to visit England, and during the latter years of his life he published two books in English and two in French, namely, ‘On Pericles and the Arts in Greece previous to and during the time he flourished,’ in 1815; ‘Researches concerning the Laws, Theology, Learning, and Commerce of Ancient and Modern India,’ in 1817; ‘Notices sur Mesdames de la Vallière, de Montespan, de Fon- tanges et de Maintenon,’ in 1818; and ‘Notices sur Marie Stuart, reine d'Écosse, et Marie-Antoinette, reine de France,’ in 1819. He was always received with marked favour at the court of the Bourbons after the Restoration, on account of his behaviour during the trying years 1789 to 1792, until his death at Paris on 23 Nov. 1819.

[Notice by François Barrière on Quintin Craufurd, prefixed to his edition of the Mémoires of Madame du Hausset in 1828; Bland-Burges Papers; Mémoires of Bertrand de Molleville; and other memoirs of old courtiers of that period.]

H. M. S.