De Villars, l’Abbe de Montfaucon
(1635–1673)
This churchman, author, and mystic was a native of southern
France. He was born in Alet, near Toulouse and the seaport
town of Bordeaux. At an early age he took holy orders, and in
1667 left the south and moved to Paris, eager to win fame as
a preacher. His eloquence in the pulpit won him numerous admirers,
but he grew more interested in literature than in clerical
affairs, and in 1670 he published his first and most important
book, Comte du Gabalis.
Ostensibly a novel, this volume seems largely a veiled satire
on the writings of La Calprenède, then very popular both in
France and England. The satirical element in de Villars’s work,
however, is supplemented by a curious blend of history, philosophy,
and mysticism. Since much of the mysticism was of a nature
distinctly hostile to the dogmas of Rome, the author soon
found himself out of favor with his brother clerics. Probably it
was for this reason that he renounced the pulpit. De Villars’s
literary activities were not impaired by persecution; in 1671 he
issued De la Délicetesse, a speculative treatise, couched in the
form of dialogues, in which the author takes the part of a priest
who has been writing in opposition to Port Royal (Jansenist)
doctrines.
Like its predecessor this new book made a considerable stir,
and de Villars began to write voluminously. At the same time
he plunged deeply into the study of various kinds of mysticism,
but his activities were terminated suddenly. In 1673 he was
murdered on the public high road not far from Lyon, on his
way from Paris.
Within the first decade succeeding his death three posthumous
works appeared. L’Amour sans Faiblesse, Anne de Bretague
et Ailmanzaris, and Critique de la Bérénice de Racine et de Corneille,
the latter winning the praise of Mme. de Sévigné, a shrewd
judge.
De Villanova, Arnold Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
410
As late as 1715 a further work by de Villars was issued, a sequel
to the Comte de Gabalis, bearing the significant title Nouveaux
Entretiens sur les Sciences secrètes. This volume elicited wide
interest among eighteenth-century thinkers and may be defined
as a treatise opposing the philosophical theories of Descartes,
or rather, opposing the popular misapprehension and
abuse of those theories.
Sources:
De Villars, Abbe. Comte de Gabalis. London: Printed for B.
M., Printer to the Cabalistical Society of the Sages, at the Sign
of the Rosy-Crucian, 1680. Reprint, New York: Macoy Publishing
& Masonic Supply, 1922.