1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mercier, Louis Sebastien

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MERCIER, LOUIS SEBASTIEN (1740-1814), French dramatist and miscellaneous writer, was born in Paris on the 6th of June 1740. He began his literary career by writing heroic epistles, but early came to the conclusion that Boileau and Racine had ruined the French language, and that the true poet was he who wrote in prose. The most important of his miscellaneous works are L' An 2440 (1 770); L'Essai sur l'art dramatique (1773); Néolagie' (1801); Le Tableau de Paris (1781-1788); Le nouveau Paris (1799); Histoire de France (1802) and Satire contre Racine et Boileau (1808). He decried French tragedy as a caricature of antique and foreign customs in bombastic verse, and advocated the cnméclie larrnoyante as understood by Diderot. To the philosophers he was entirely hostile. He denied that modern science had made any real advance; he even carried his conservatism so far as to maintain that the earth was a circular flat plain around which revolved the sun. Mercier wrote some sixty dramas, among which may be mentioned Jean H ennuyer (1772); La Destruction de la ligue (1782); Jennéval (1769); Le Juge (1774); Natalie (1775) and La Brouette du 'vinaigrier (1775). In politics he was a Moderate, and as a member of the Convention he voted against the death penalty for Louis XVI. During the Terror he was imprisoned, but was released after the fall of Robespierre. He died in Paris on the 2 5th of April 1814. See Léon Bechard, Sebastien Mercier, sa vie, .son zeuvre (Paris, 1903); R. Doumic in the Revue des deux mondes (15th July 1903).