Page images
PDF
EPUB

beath's Modern Language Series

SELECTIONS FROM

LES CARACTÈRES

OF

LA BRUYÈRE

EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES

BY

F. M. WARREN

PROFESSOR IN YALE UNIVERSITY

BOSTON, U. S. A.

D. C. HEATH & CO., Publishers

HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY

GIFT OF

CHARLES HALL GRANDGENT
JANUARY 14, 1933

COPYRIGHT, 1906,

By D. C. HEATH & Co.

INTRODUCTION

Jean de La Bruyère, the author of Les Caractères, was born of good burgher stock at Paris, probably on August 16, 1645. Information regarding his childhood and youth is almost wholly lacking, but the records of the University of Orleans contain the statement that he took a law degree at that institution in 1665. For a time he seems to have practiced his profession in Paris, yet without much liking for it, because in 1673 he bought an office under the government, a treasurership in the financial district of Caen. By this purchase he not only gained a salary which returned him a high interest on his investment, but he also acquired a better social position than he had before enjoyed. The duties of this new charge could apparently be safely neglected by its occupant. At all events La Bruyère continued to live in the house at Paris which was occupied by his family, and maintained there something of an establishment. His real employment undoubtedly lay in cultivating his literary tastes, which widened the circle of his acquaintance in a manner most advantageous for him, so that in 1684—it is said under the patronage of Bossuet- -he was enabled to enter the household of the Prince de Condé in the capacity of tutor to Condé's grandson, the Duc de Bourbon. He taught history, geography and the institutions of France. A few letters addressed to Condé during the months which followed this appointment testify to La Bruyère's desire to make his instruction profitable to his noble pupil. In 1686 Condé died. His grandson had already been released from tutelage. La Bruyère, however,

« PreviousContinue »