Philippe Francois Nazaire Fabre d'Eglantine - Encyclopedia

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PHILIPPE FRANCOIS NAZAIRE FABRE D'EGLANTINE (1750-1794), French dramatist and revolutionist, was born at Carcassonne on the 28th of July 1750. His real name was simple Fabre, the "d'Eglantine" being added in commemoration of his receiving the golden eglantine of Clemence Isaure from the academy of the floral games at Toulouse. After travelling through the provinces as an actor, he came to Paris, and produced an unsuccessful comedy entitled Les Gens de lettres, ou le provincial a Paris (1787). A tragedy, Augusta, produced at the Theatre Francais, was also a failure. One only of his plays, Philinte, ou la suite du Misanthrope (1790), still preserves its reputation. It professes to be a continuation of Moliere's Misanthrope, but the hero of the piece is of a different character from the nominal prototype - an impersonation, indeed, of pure and simple egotism. On its publication the play was introduced by a preface, in which the author mercilessly satirizes the Optimiste of his rival J. F. Collin d'Harleville, whose Châteaux en Espagne had gained the applause which Fabre's Presomptueux (1789) had failed to win. The character of Philinte had much political significance. Alceste received the highest praise, and evidently represents the citizen patriot, while Philinte is a dangerous aristocrat in disguise. Fabre was president and secretary of the club of the Cordeliers, and belonged also to the Jacobin club. He was chosen by Danton as his private secretary, and sat in the National Convention. He voted for the king's death, supporting the maximum and the law of the suspected, and he was a bitter enemy of the Girondins. After the death of Marat he published a Portrait de l'Ami du Peuple. On the abolition of the Gregorian calendar he sat on the committee entrusted with the formation of the republican substitute, and to him was due a large part of the new nomenclature, with its poetic Prairial and Floreal, its prosaic Primidi and Duodi. The report which he made on the subject, on the 24th of October, has some scientific value. On the 12th of January 1794 he was arrested by order of the committee of public safety on a charge of malversation and forgery in connexion with the affairs of the Compagnie des Indes. Documents still existing prove that the charge was altogether groundless. During his trial Fabre showed the greatest calmness and sang his own well-known song of Il pleut, it pleut, bergEre, rentre tes blancs moutons. He was guillotined on the 5th of April 1794. On his way to the scaffold he distributed his manuscript poems to the people.

A posthumous play, Les Precepteurs, steeped with the doctrines of Rousseau's Emile, was performed on the 17th of September 1 794, and met with an enthusiastic reception. Among Fabre's other plays are the gay and successful Convalescent de qualite (1791), and L'Intrigue epistolaire (1791). In the latter play Fabre is supposed to have drawn a portrait of the painter Jean Baptiste Greuze.

The author's Ouvres melees et posthumes were published at Paris 1802, 2 vols. See Albert Maurin, Galerie hist. de la Revolution francaise, tome 1 I; Jules Janin, Hist. de la litt. dram.; Chbnier, Tableau de la litt. francaise; F. A. Aulard in the Nouvelle Revue (July 1885).

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