1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pompignan, Jean Jacques Lefranc, Marquis de

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POMPIGNAN, JEAN JACQUES LEFRANC, Marquis de (1709–1784), French poet, was born on the 17th of August 1709, at Montauban, where his father was president of the cour des aides, and the son, who also followed the profession of the law, succeeded in 1745 to the same charge. The same year he was also appointed conseiller d’honneur of the parlement of Toulouse, but his courageous opposition to the abuses of the royal power, especially in the matter of taxation, brought down upon him so much vexation that he resigned his positions almost immediately, his marriage with a rich woman enabling him to devote himself to literature. His first play, Didon (1734), which owed much to Metastasio’s opera on the same subject, gained a great success, and gave rise to expectations not fulfilled by the Adieux de Mars (1735) and some light operas that followed. His reputation was made by Poésies sacrées et philosophiques (1734), much mocked at by Voltaire who punned on the title: “Sacrés ils sont, car personne n’y touche.” Lefranc’s odes on profane subjects hardly reach the same level, with the exception of the ode on the death of J. B. Rousseau, which secured him entrance to the Academy (1760). On his reception he made an il1-i:onside red oration violently attacking the Encyclopaedists, many of whom were in his audience and had given him their votes. Lefranc soon had reason to repent of his rashness, for the epigrams and stories circulated by those whom he had attacked made it impossible for him to remain in Paris, and he took refuge in his native town, where he spent the rest of his life occupied in making numerous translations from the classics, none of great merit.

La Harpe, who is severe enough on Lefranc in his correspondence, does his abilities full justice in his Cours littéraire, and ranks him next to J. B. Rousseau among French lyric poets. With those of other 18th-century poets his works may be studied in the Petits poètes français (1838) of M. Prosper Poitevin. His (Œuvres complètes vols.) were published in 1781, selections (2 vols.) in 1800, 1813, 1822.

His brother, Jean Georges Lefranc de Pompignan (1715–1790), was the archbishop of Vienne against whose defence of the faith Voltaire launched the good-natured mockery of Les Lettres d'un Quaker. Elected to the Estates General, he passed over to the Liberal side, and led the 149 members of the clergy who united with the third estate to form the National Assembly. He was one of its first presidents, and was minister of public worship when the civil constitution was forced upon the clergy.