Page:Florian - The Fables, 1888.djvu/11

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PREFACE.

Jean Pierre Claris de Florian, the author from whose fables the following selections have been made, was born in 1755, in the Chateau de Florian, at the foot of the Cevennes in Languedoc, France. His mother was a lady of beauty and excellence of character, of Spanish origin, whose maiden name was Gilette de Salgué. One of his uncles had married a niece of Voltaire, and it was probably through Voltaire's influence that at the age of thirteen he became a page in the family of the Duke de Penthièvre, a nobleman of great worth and distinction, who was respected even by his enemies.

From the house of this nobleman Florian went to Ferney to complete his education. It was there, while imbibing a taste for letters, that he excited a lively interest in Voltaire, who was pleased by his frank, talented, and amiable conversation, and used occasionally to help him in getting his lessons. It is creditable to the independence and integrity of Florian's character that, although brought at an early age under the influence of a genius so winning and powerful as that of Voltaire, he yet preserved his individuality and followed a literary career peculiarly his own, which was quite opposite to that of his old and gifted friend.

At the age of sixteen Florian entered the artillery school of Bapaume. It appears that he was very well pleased with the military profession, and from the royal corps of artillery he joined, as Lieutenant, the Dragoon regiment of Penthièvre, where he was promoted to a Captainey. But as he advanced in years, his attach-