Men of the Time, eleventh edition/About, Edmond-François-Valentin

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ABOUT, Edmond-François-Valentin, a French author, born at Dieuze (Meurthe), Feb. 14, 1828, pursued his studies at the Lycée Charlemagne, won the prize of honour in 1818, and passed in 1851 to the French School of Athens. In Greece he directed his attention to archæological studies, and made his first appearance as an author with "La Grèce Contemporaine" (1855), which was well received. In the Revue des Deux Mondes he published a kind of autobiographical novel, "Tolla," in 1855. This led to a charge of plagiarism being brought against M. About. In 1841, it was said, there was published at Paris a book founded on facts, entitled "Vittoria Savorelli: istoria del secolo XIX." A Prince D—— bought up the whole edition, and destroyed all but a few copies. One of these fell into the hands of M. About, who founded "Tolla" upon it, supposing, as was alleged by his accusers, that his copy was unique, and that he was, therefore, secure from detection. However, a fierce controversy arose on the subject, and M. About ultimately avowed the obligations concerning which he had long been silent. "Tolla" was followed by "Les Mariages de Paris" in 1856, and "Germaine" in 1857. His well-known pamphlet, "La Question Romaine," which urged the abolition of the Pope's temporal power, and was supposed to have been inspired by the Emperor, appeared soon after. In 1860 he published two other political pamphlets, "The New Map of Europe," and "Prussia in 1860." "Les Coquins d'Agents de Change" was published in 1861, the third edition of "Le Cas de M. Guérin," "Madelon," and "Dernières Lettres d'un bon jeune homme à sa cousine Madeleine," in 1863; "Le Progrès" in 1864; "La Vieille Roche" in the Moniteur du Soir in 1865; "Le Turco" in 1866: "L'Infâme" in 1867; "Les Mariages de Province" in 1868; "L'A, B, C du Travailleur," a popular handbook of political economy, in the same year; and "L'Homme à l'Oreille cassée," translated into English with the title of "Colonel Fougas' Mistake." M. About, who received the Legion of Honour August 15, 1858, married Mdlle. de Guillerville, May 24, 1864. He has written several vaudevilles and other dramatic pieces. In 1866 M. About was commissioned by the Emperor to draw up a report on the state of public opinion in France. In 1868 he became one of the leading contributors to the Gaulois newspaper. On the commencement of the conflict between France and Prussia he went to the seat of war as special correspondent of the Soir, and sent to that journal a series of articles, which attracted much attention. In May, 1872, he left the Soir, to assume the chief editorship of the well-known Radical journal Le XIXe Siècle. M. About's arrest by the Germans, while he was on a visit to Strasbourg in Sept. 1872, was for a brief period the main topic of newspaper comment in Europe. His work, entitled "Alsace," appeared in 1872. After the decease of M. Philarète Chasles in 1873, M. About succeeded that accomplished journalist as Paris correspondent of the London Athenæum.