1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Boufflers, Stanislas Jean

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BOUFFLERS, STANISLAS JEAN, Chevalier de (1737–1815), French statesman and man of letters, was born near Nancy on the 31st of May 1738. He was the son of Louis François, marquis de Boufflers. His mother, Marie Catherine de Beauveau Craon, was the mistress of Stanislas Leszczynski, and the boy was brought up at the court of Lunéville. He spent six months in study for the priesthood at Saint Sulpice, Paris, and during his residence there he put in circulation a story which became extremely popular, Aline, reine de Golconde. Boufflers did not, however, take the vows, as his ambitions were military. He entered the order of the Knights of Malta, so that he might be able to follow the career of arms without sacrificing the revenues of a benefice he had received in Lorraine from King Stanislas. After serving in various campaigns he reached the grade of maréchal de camp in 1784, and in the next year was sent to West Africa as governor of Senegal. He proved an excellent administrator, and did what he could to mitigate the horrors of the slave trade; and he interested himself in opening up the material resources of the colony, so that his departure in 1787 was regarded as a real calamity by both colonists and negroes. The Mémoires secrets of Bachaumont give the current opinion that Boufflers was sent to Senegal because he was in disgrace at court; but the real reason appears to have been a desire to pay his debts before his marriage with Mme de Sabran, which took place soon after his return to France. Boufflers was admitted to the Academy in 1788, and subsequently became a member of the states-general. During the Revolution he found an asylum with Prince Henry of Prussia at Rheinsberg. At the Restoration he was made joint-librarian of the Bibliothèque Mazarine. His wit and his skill in light verse had won him a great reputation, and he was one of the idols of the Parisian salons. His paradoxical character was described in an epigram attributed to Antoine de Rivarol, “abbé libertin, militaire philosophe, diplomate chansonnier, émigré patriote, républicain courtisan.” He died in Paris on the 18th of January 1815.

His Œuvres complètes were published under his own supervision in 1803. A selection of his stories in prose and verse was edited by Eugène Asse in 1878; his Poésies by O. Uzanne in 1886; and the Correspondance inédite de la comtesse de Sabran et du chevalier de Boufflers (1778–1788), by E. de Magnieu and Henri Prat in 1875.