French historian, b. at Paris, December 28, 1659; d. there October 12, 1737
Catrou, FRANCOIS, French historian, b. at Paris, December 28, 1659; d. there October 12, 1737. He was the son of Mathurin Catrou, secretary to Louis XIV. During his college days a marked facility and grace in composition gave promise of his future literary success. At eighteen he entered the Society of Jesus. During his regular period of Jesuit probation and study his talents for preaching were discovered, and at the completion of his course in 1690 he began his active career as a preacher, in which office he continued for ten years with remarkable success. In 1701 he founded the “Journal de Trevoux”, and was an active member of its staff for twelve years. While thus engaged in journalistic duties he found time for historical research, and to his productions in this line his fame is chiefly due. His principal works are: (I) “Histoire generale de l’empire du Mogul”, published in five duodecimo volumes, 1715, the matter being drawn, in the main, from the memoirs of the Venetian traveller Manuzio (translated into Italian as “Istoria generale del Imperio del Mogul” by Domenico Occhi, Venice, 1751, and into English as “History of the Mogul Dynasty”, London, 1826). (2) “Histoire du fanatisme dans la religion protestante”, a controversial work dealing principally with the Anabaptists and the Quakers; the best edition, 1740, in two duodecimo volumes, Paris. (3) “Histoire romaine”, with geographical and critical notes in twenty-one quarto volumes (1725-37), edited a second time in 1737: The notes are from the pen of P. Rouille, S.J. This gigantic work was translated into Italian by Fra Zannino Marsecco, Venice, 1730-37, and into English by R. Bundy, as “The Roman History with Notes, done into English from the Original French of the Rev. Fathers Catrou and Ronnie”, London, 1728-37, in six folio volumes. The French work was highly praised at the time for its deep research and solid reasoning, but its somewhat pompous style soon brought severe censure from the critics. Its appearance in an English dress gave occasion to some very bitter attacks; but, though censured, this work was the source of Nathaniel Hooke’s inspiration. In his “Roman History” he drew freely from the text of Catrou and more freely from the critical notes of Rouille. (4) “Traduction de Virgile”, with critical and historical notes. The translation is at all times free and not infrequently inaccurate. The notes and the accompanying life of Virgil manifest a thorough acquaintance with both poem and poet. Catrou’s Virgil was a constant companion of the historian Gibbon during his early studies. “I always consulted the most learned and ingenious commentators”, he writes in his autobiography; “Torrentius and Dacier on Horace, and Catrou and Servius on Virgil”.
DENNIS J. KAVANAGH