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Original Drawing in the Possession of JJohner Egr MP.
Published by J. Anderson 8th Feb? 1792.
LITERARY WEEKLY INTELLIGENCER,
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 8. 1792.
MEMOIRS OF JEAN ROISSART.
JEAN FROISSART is scarcely known but as a historian; we have a chronicle written by him much very esteemed; for besides the naturals implicity of the stile, which renders it so very amusing, it must be looked upon as a useful work to those who wish to know the manners of the age in which he lived. But he composed a great number of poems, which have never yet been published. M. de la Curne de St. Palaye, as much distinguished by his great knowledge, as for his politeness in pointing out to the learned the springs from whence he drank, has had the goodness to communicate to the public his manuscripts of the poems of Jean Froissart. This service is not the only one for which we are indebted to this learned academician, we eagerly seize this opportunity of publicly testifying our gratitude.
* This fine portrait, which represents Froissart in the act of presenting his book to Richard 11. of England, is taken from an original drawing in a very fine manuscript copy of his works, in the pofsefsion of F. Johnes Efq; communicated by him in the most obliging manner to the Editor. BB
Jean Froissart was born at Valenciennes, a city of Hainault, about the year 1337. From one part of his poems we may guess his father's name was Thomas, and that he was a painter of heraldry. He himself was a canon and treasurer of the collegiate church of Chimay.
His poetry is graceful and easy; and there is in it a tenderness and simplicity, that is very pleasing. His stile is not brilliant, but natural ;-richer in sentiment, than in wit.
His eager and impatient temper fhewed itself early in his infancy by an extreme difsipation, and as he grew older, by his love for travelling. To follow the details of his life which M. de la Curne de St. Palaye has published in the memoirs of the academy of belles lettres, you never see him long in one place. After many journies into different provinces of France, you see him pass over to England, where he is much courted; he comes back again to France, and then returns to England, where he stays five years as secretary of the chamber to queen Philippa.
You find him again in France, at Melun sur Seine, about the 20th of April 1366; and the same year at Bourdeaux, when the princess of Wales was brought to bed of a son who was afterwards Richard II. of England.
By order of the prince of Wales, whom he wished to follow in his expedition to Spain, he returned back to queen Philippa; but the next year you see him running from one court to another in Italy At Milan he received from count Amadeus, une cotte
hardi (a pourpoint) worth twenty gold florins; and at Ferrara, from Peter 1. king of Cyprus, a present of twenty ducats. The same year, having lost his protectrefs queen Philippa, he returned to his own country; but ever governed by his rambling passion, went through Germany to lengthen the road.
On his return he obtained the curacy of Lestines. Of all the actions of our good curate Froifsart, during his ministry there, one only is known, and he tells it us himself, which is, that the tavernkeepers of Lestines had 500 livres of his money. He was still curate, when by letters from the duke of Anjou, sealed the 12th December 1381, fifty-six quires of his chronicle were seized, which he was getting illuminated for Richard II. at that time at war with France. This fact is taken from a manuscript journal of the bishop of Orleans, chancellor to the duke of Anjou.
Froissart having afterwards attached himself to Wenceslaus de Luxembourg, duke of Brabant, collected the songs and roundelays of that prince with some of his own poetry, under the name of Melindor, or the knight of the golden sun; after the death of Wenceslaus, who did not live to see the work completed, Froissart was made clerk of the chapel to Guy count of Blois. One finds him in the years 1385, 1386, and 1387, sometimes in the neighbourhood of Blois, at others in Touraine. He was anxious to visit the southern provinces of the kingdom, which were at that time the theatre of warlike exploits; and having letters of recommendation from the count of Blois, he went to Gaston Phoebus, count of Foix and Bearne, a good prince, but a bad poet, who received him with
a most flattering distinction. It was in going to the court of Gaston Phoebus, that having stopped at a nunnery between Lunel and Montpelier, he inspired so strong a passion, that the young person cried most bitterly, as he tells us himself, at his departure.
Gaston Phoebus paid all Froifsart's expences during the time he remained at Ortez, the usual habitation of that prince. Every night about twelve o'clock, which was the supper hour of the count, Froifsart read to him different parts of Melindor, which amused him much, and Gaston never dismifsed him without his having finished all the wine on the table. At his departure the count gave him some presents, and invited him to return soon again to his court. It was about this time that he was robbed near Avignon. The pretext of this journey was his wish to visit the tomb of the cardinal of Luxembourg, who died in the odour of sanctity; but the real motive was a secret commifsion he had from the lord of Coucy. From thence he came to Paris, and then he went through Hainault, Holland, and Piccardy. He returned to Paris, set out for Languedoc, came back to Paris, went to Valenciennes, Bruges, Sluys and Zealand, returned to his own country, and all this in less than two years. He was again at Paris in 1392, at the time the constable de Clifson was afsafsinated.
What contributed to this unsettled disposition was an unfortunate attachment, which he formed when young, and preserved in his old age. He read with a young lady romances, of which he was very fond.